Chili is one of my favorite meals, for many reasons.  To start with the obvious, a bowl of flavorful, warm-cooked goodness can’t be beat.  Chili comes together quickly and makes the house smell inviting.  Everyone in my house is always happy with chili night.  To go with the less obvious, it is naturally gluten-free, and our recipe required no substitutions or alterations when we switched over.  Lastly, my own two little chili secrets: I fill it with vegetables, triple the recipe, and freeze the two extra two batches in freezer-safe bags.  On a busy afternoon in the near-future, I will be thrilled to have a healthy, home-cooked meal waiting for me in my freezer.

 Hearty, healthy chili

My husband, who does precious little of the cooking but tends to have very discerning tastes (I love him anyway!), found this recipe online when he decided our chili recipe was boring.  I have to admit, we’ve enjoyed this one since we switched to it last year.  I’ve made a few changes to make it a little healthier and family friendly.  Those who know me well know that I almost never cook a recipe as is.  Recipes are just jumping-off points, right?

To start with the meat, I brown and drain a pound of lean ground turkey in place of the shredded turkey.  I skip the green pepper (no one in our house is a fan) although next time I think I’d substitute red pepper.  Since we don’t like our food spicy, I halve the ground cumin and chili powder, and omit the red pepper flakes entirely. Of course, adjust this to your family’s tastes.  Rather than two cans of kidney beans, I go for variety- one can of kidney, one can of either pinto or a white bean, and a can of black beans.  Drain and rinse your beans if they’re canned.  Lastly, and for my favorite part, I add the vegetables.  Grate in two medium zucchini (peel them first, or use yellow squash, if you think your family will pick out the green) and add in 1/2 cup of pureed butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato.  Serve over brown rice, with sour cream and shredded cheese, and I promise, everyone will eat it up.  My husband’s friend came over recently when we made this, and afterwards he admitted that although he didn’t usually like chili and was hesitant to try it, he loved the meal and asked for the recipe.  Success!

One word of caution.  If you are gluten-free, double-check your ingredients.  Although everything in this recipe should be naturally gluten-free, I was dismayed to find that some canned beans, bags of dried beans, cans of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and spice containers stated, “Processed on equipment shared with wheat,” or “Make contain traces of wheat.”  When we became gluten-free, I switched some of the brands that we were using, and made calls to companies to make sure their products were safe.  An easy fix, but worth your time to ensure safety.

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