| The Best Vegan Chilli |
Being vegan is never as difficult as people think. Maintaining a vegan diet with ease is about turning simple choices into everyday conscious habits. For most people, everyday decisions about what food you chose to buy, eat, and stock your fridge will happen in a matter of milliseconds and with very little thought or inconvenience… the same as the choice to buy or put on black socks instead of white or grey, or even those hipster ones that are super thin and have silly colours and weird patterns. All the choices to make it simple are right there in front of us all. We just have to be brave enough to become aware of them and then actively make those decisions… that’s when after a while it magically becomes an unacknowledged habit.
The amount of healthy plant-based food alternatives that are available today, even in our chain supermarkets, make almost everything you need to transition into a plant-based diet or to simply maintain your vegan course within arms reach. When I chose to begin my vegetarian lifestyle as a teenager the only place you could find a veggie dog was at the hotdog stand on the corner of Queen and Spadina in Toronto. I actually remember considering taking a train into the city just because I would crave them so badly. But slowly every dollar spent towards meat alternatives and healthier products has acted like a vote, and the capitalistic invisible hand of the marketplace has began to stock replace the empty calorie, unhealthy, and cruelty ridden foods with the great nourishing alternative options. That’s how it works- the more we care about what we put into our bodies, the more the grocer has to stock his shelves with what we want. I remember when Yves veggie burgers first appeared on my grocery shelves for the first time, I had a single man parade down Hwy 2 all the way home. And now, fast forward more than half my life, and a plant based diet is easier than ever before for your shopping logistics, wallet, health, energy levels, our earth, and all the animals. All of which make it super easy to take a little extra thought at the beginning to turn it into a simple habit.
I chose to include my chili recipe to my very first blog on this site because I think it illustrates the simplicity of living veg/vegan lifestyle. These days there almost seems to be an alternative for almost every meat and dairy product so I wanted to share a recipe that included them all. The beauty of my chilli recipe is just like that of any vegan diet, you can customize it to fit your own unique taste pallet and the accessibility of what products your local market stocks. So if you can’t find or don’t want to include certain items in the recipe you don’t have to. And the best part of all is that just like if you want to experiment with your daily diet and habits, you can with this recipe… there is very little you can do to fail when switching things up. That’s why I like being vegan, it helped me understand that you can have fun with food- you can have fun when cooking and eating healthy, and that by making compassionate choices you will help stock shelves with proper food and save creatures lives at the same time.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
1 packet of chili seasoning
1 shaker of cumin seasoning
1 shaker of cayenne pepper
1 shaker of garlic powder
1 can of tomato soup
2 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
2 or three cans of beans of all kinds (black, mixed, kidney, navy)
Ground Beef Alternative- Two cups of TVP (textured vegetable protein)
TVP is a godsent. It’s the perfect ground beef alternative and my personal favorite of all that are out there. It is super cheap and can be bought at any Bulk Barn or at a lot of supermarkets etc., and can be used in ANYTHING that calls for ground beef, from hamburger helper, to tacos and spaghetti sauce. There are a lot of ground beef alternatives on the market- Yves brand being the most popular… and they are all pretty good… TVP however reigns supreme to me.
- 1 can lentils
- 2 small cans of corn
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 pack of tofu
- 1 handful of mushrooms
- 2 roasted garlic cloves
- 1 tomato
- 1 green pepper
- 1 handful of chopped onion
Note- The best thing about my chili is the experimentation from pot to pot. From different veggies, to different meat & protein alternatives, to different canned legumes and whatnot, its incredibly fun to try new and different things… as it is extremely difficult when the base is made right to screw the rest up. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, lemon juice, ketchup, bbq sauce, vegan mayo, asparagus, different spices and sauces, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whatever… just play around and see what different things will do with the base and for the end result.
- 1 big ass pot
- 1 sweet knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 killer big ass spoon or ladle
- First open all the cans.
- Chop the shit out of all your ingredients.
- Soak the TVP in hot water for two minutes, or pour water on it in a mug and put it in the microwave for one minute.
The Dump & Stir:
- Put the pot on an element & turn it to medium.
- Dump the TVP in.
- Dump the tomato soup, 1 can of water, the chili seasoning, a couple good shakes of cayenne pepper, and 2 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes on top of the TVP.
- Start stirring your little heart out until thoroughly mixed.
- Dump all your veggies in and keep stirring that baby good until even more thoroughly mixed.
- Dump all cans of beans and extra left over ingredients in.
- Stir like the wind…
- Just keep stirring….
The Personal Taste Test
This is where it’s really up to the chef. Take a spoon out, scoop some up, and have a taste. In my book, you should be checking for three main sensations… chili flavor, hot spice, and garlic. Depending on your own personal favored pallet utilize your shakers of cayenne pepper (for spice), cumin (for chili flavor), and garlic… well for garlic- a shake here and a dash or pinch there. Every time you put a little more in, stir it up a bit and have another taste. Keep in mind that later once the spices have cooked in and settled they will become more potent, so tread carefully. But also, and most importantly… be brave. 😉
Bubble Then Simmer
Once you’re at a point where you seem to like the flavor… crank the heat almost up to full and stir like the dickens. Once the chilli starts to boil, stir for another 60 seconds and turn the heat back down to low. Stir on low for about 2 or 3 more minutes and then pop a lid on and let it sit, simmering from anywhere of 10 minutes to an hour. Its up to you how hungry you are at this point balanced against how well you want it all to settle in the pot. The longer you leave it, the better it tastes.
I like 30 minutes… it usually works perfect for me.
Note- Its actually best letting it sit overnight with no heat, but who has patience for that… that’s what leftovers are for. And with this recipe, you will be eating chili for at least a couple weeks on and off.
When you’re ready to eat it, pull the pot off the element and stir it up again as a lot of the liquid should be on the top layer of the chilli. Now its ready to be served!
- Tofutti brand vegan sour cream
*Actually way better tasting than sour cream. Creamier and a touch sweeter.
2. Hot sauce
*Any kind of hot sauce will do.
3. Nutritional yeast
Thanks to my good friend McArthur, well, I was introduced to the wonder and brilliance of nutritional yeast. Just like TVP it can easily be found at Bulk Barn and a bunch of other places and it is a secret vegan dream come true. Nutritional yeast is healthy for you and acts like creamy or cheesy topping. It turns soups into cream soups, turns noodles into mac and cheese, sits on salads like parmesan cheese, and tastes like shredded cheese for chili and other such hot dishes. It’s brilliant! Go buy some. Seriously.
NOTES ON THE AFTERMATH
On the stove: There is a shelf-life of a few days.
In the refrigerator: A shelf- life of a couple weeks.
I always freeze a ton of chilli in plastic tupperware containers which then I have stored for months on end before thawing for a last minute bowl.
Just so you’re not eating bowls upon bowls of straight chili I suggest pairing it or eating it with:
- spaghetti or other Italian noodles or shells and such…chilligetti!
- nachos- chilli nachos!
- veggie dogs and burger- chillidogs & chiliburger!
- brown rice- rice’n chill!
- on top of french fries- chilly fries!
So there you have it:
Amazing VEGAN chilli on a budget and made in about 30 to 45 minutes depending on how hungry you are. Chilli is not hard to make at all, and to make it vegan is just as easy as buying a couple things differently than you might otherwise. Its healthy AND its cruelty free… except for the farts… those are extremely cruel to the people around you… I suggest you blame the dog.