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Healthy Recipes: Veggie Chili

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Chili for Kids And Parents, Too

By Dana Jacobi 
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

While I always create the recipes for Something Different, I love this vegetarian chili so much that I am sharing it just as it came to me. I think that you, too, will appreciate both its bright flavors and its unexpected source.

Besides the irresistible taste, I like the sensible cost for making this colorful black bean chili and the reasonable time to prepare and cook it. So how did I discover it?

I belong to a professional association, Les Dames d’Escoffier, whose mission is supporting women working in the world of food. We also have a community-based program called Green Tables. In New York City, our Green Tables partner is Wellness In The Schools (WITS), a program created by chefs and public school parents. WITS helps schools improve the food served in the school lunch program while we focus on students’ families and help them to eat better at home.

It’s a challenge to teach parents to make meals using more produce and less fat and meat, with recipes they’ll really use and that everyone will like. This chili proved it was a perfect choice when we served it on parent’s day in several public schools. Kids literally dragged their parents over to taste what they had sampled. Their parents happily took a copy of the recipe because they liked it, too. So did all the adult volunteers, some of whom – no names, please – are famous for their discerning palates.

Red sweet peppers and tomato paste are not typical chili ingredients, but they are part of what makes this chili created by WITS outstanding. The sweetness they bring balances the chili’s pungent garlic and cumin. They also blend well with the heat that is comfortable enough to suit most people everyone. (Pass a bottle of hot sauce for chili-heads who insist on having incendiary heat.)

On Halloween, this would be a great choice, especially using orange sweet peppers in place of red. While the recipe makes chili for four, it multiplies beautifully if you have a crowd coming to celebrate.

Veggie Chili

Veggie Chili

  • 1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, deribbed, and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ground chili powder
  • 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (14½-oz.) can no-salt added diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1½ Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Chopped scallions, for garnish
  • Reduced-fat sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions, sweet pepper, garlic and jalapeño pepper and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 cup water, then beans and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, scallions and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Makes 4 servings (5 cups).

Per serving: 214 calories, 5 g total fat <1 g saturated fat), 35 g carbohydrate, 
11 g protein, 12 g dietary fiber, 367 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.



The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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