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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Black Bean Chili With a Twist


Chili contains everything a healthy meal should have--protein, healthy fat, and fiber--all in one bowl. And it's one of the most versatile dishes I can think of. Vegetarians can add beans or crumbled tofu or tempeh. Omnivores can add ground meat like beef, pork, chicken, or even lamb. Here I added black beans and ground beef, along with an unexpected twist: cocoa powder.

In the United States, cocoa powder is usually added to sweet foods, but around the world, it's used as a savory spice in a wide variety of dishes. It adds an interesting complexity and here it pairs well with the other flavors in this recipe. And it's good for you too. Cocoa powder is a rich source of the polyphenols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, and catechins shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer.

This dish is an excellent example of how to use meat as a condiment in a plant-based meal. It's also an economical way to add grass-fed and pasture-raised meats to any diet.

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef, seasoned with sea salt, at room temperature
  • Sea salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons non-alkalinized cocoa powder
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato purée 
  • 2 cups cooked black beans  
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 1 can chipotle in adobo, peppers and sauce puréed until smooth
  • Whole milk Greek yogurt
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Minced fresh chili pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Chopped avocado

  1. Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Break up the ground beef as you drop it into the pot. Wait until it has started to brown and rendered plenty of fat before stirring. Break up the meat into smaller pieces and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown.
  3. Add a generous pinch of sea salt along with the pepper, cumin, turmeric, paprika, corriander, cinnamon, rosemary, and cocoa powder. Stir to coat the meat and vegetables with the spices and cook 2 minutes more, stirring as needed to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, black beans, bone broth, and two to three tablespoons of the chipotle-adobo purée. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and maintain at a slow simmer for 30 minutes more more, until the meat and vegetables are very tender. 
  5. Taste the chili for heat and seasoning, then make any adjustments.
  6. Ladle the chili into soup bowls and garnish as you wish. I like a dollop of yogurt, scallions, fresh chili and cilantro. I would have added avocado but I ate it as an appetizer, cut in half and filled with home-made vinaigrette.

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