FALL RECIPES- Acorn Squash and Chicken Chili

So, fall is here in Southern California…even though it doesn’t particularly feel like it. Today the forecast says it will get down to a chilly 70 degrees, only to get back up to 91 degrees on Saturday. I am dusting off my UGGS as we speak…haha!

Anyhow, even though it hasn’t cooled down a ton here, the fall vegetables are out in full force at the grocery stores, so I picked up a few of my favorites last week. I always buy spaghetti squash, but one of my other favorites during the fall is acorn squash. This little green and orange nugget of joy has a sweet flavor when baked. One cup has only 56 calories and 25% of your daily Vitamin C!

One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is to just cut one in half, bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes and drizzle it with coconut oil, a little cinnamon and brown sugar. But today I decided I wanted to do something a little more filling and put together a delicious chili that will last for a few days in my refrigerator…which is a good thing, because I have a busy week. Any time I can make a healthy and hearty meal that I can put in tupperware and carry with me to work for lunch is a good meal.

This chili was a little different. It called for a cup of pilsner, which is a light beer. It also called for unsweetened cocoa powder, which has become a staple in my chilies, because it adds a rich but subtle dash of flavor.

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ACORN SQUASH AND CHICKEN CHILI

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 acorn squash seeded, cooked, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup pilsner/light beer
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained
Juice of 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
Cilantro, for serving

Feel free to add sour cream, greek yogurt or sliced avocados as well!

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, five-spice powder and chili powder and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the squash pieces, chicken pieces, tomatoes, beer, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and lime juice and cook for 5 minutes. Let the stew cool slightly, then ladle into bowls and top each serving with some cilantro.

ENJOY!

Kick Off Fall With Spicy Pumpkin Chili!

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a few days now, but got overwhelmed with health clinics during random hours. Sorry folks, but here it is! I realize it is only a few days after Labor Day, but who is counting? Fall is coming, and pumpkin recipes are already being tossed around on the internet. I am a HUGE fan of pumpkin. Pumpkin pies, bars, cookies, smoothies, puddings…you name it! I do tend to use my pumpkin puree for sweet dishes, but I was found this savory dish and decided to add some twists to it and make it my own.

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Just as a refresher, for those of you who ask, what’s so great about PUMPKIN? (How dare you!! Kidding, kidding!) One cup of cooked pumpkin contains about 200% of your daily Vitamin A intake, which aids in vision. It is also a major source of fiber and has three grams in one cup serving and only 49 calories. Remember, FIBER is what keeps you full longer. Pumpkins also have the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which can help play a role in cancer prevention. Cooked pumpkin also contains more potassium per cup than one banana…so adding a cup of that a smoothie could be a nice snack switch up.

Get some pumpkin with this recipe right here…

Spicy Pumpkin Chili 

1 pound lean ground turkey (optional)

1 medium-sized purple onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped

.5 can pinto beans

.5 can black beans

.5 can kidney beans

1 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes, diced

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 Tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

Crumble ground turkey into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until almost browned.

Add onions and garlic and continue cooking until meat is browned and onions are tender.

Transfer meat to a slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and cook on high for 2-3 hours.

Serve topped with fresh avocado. If you want to sprinkle some cheese or Greek yogurt, feel free as well, but the pumpkin makes this chili so creamy I didn’t miss the dairy.

Also, if you are a vegetarian, feel free to add more beans…a full can of pinto, black and kidney would be fine. And if you have time to cook dry beans, that is also a great option. I just needed to put this together for a few quick lunches for myself this week and the canned were a little easier and still healthy!

 

Chicken and Quinoa Chili…With A Little Bit of Chocolate!

Typically when I think of making chili, it’s winter time. Something thick, warm and hearty for the cooler weather (it gets sort of cool in Los Angeles, right?). But this morning when I awoke, it wasn’t cold but it was overcast and dismal, and somehow it got me in the mood to get creative. I had seen a chili recipe online I liked, but I wanted to modify it. The idea of using quinoa to make it a little heartier, but also higher in fiber, was tempting. Not to mention using bell peppers in the chili for added color, flavor and vitamins.

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One other ingredient I added was chocolate. But when I say chocolate, I didn’t melt down a chocolate bar or baking chocolate. I used a chocolate powder. Not just any chocolate powder, a raw vegan cacao superfood powder. Does this sound crazy? Well, it’s not. My friend Sophie has an amazing raw superfood protein powder line called Philosophie, and one of the blends, which happens to be my favorite, is called Cacao Magic. This blend has 8 ingredients in it, all of which are organic, and raw cacao powder and cacao nibs are the main ingredients. I received a large bag of this powder a few months back from her when I created a raw dessert for an event Vision Fitness and Wellness did in collaboration with Lorna Jane. I fell in love with it then and used it for creating chocolate mousses, smoothies, even adding it to almond butter sometimes! Once I ran out, I went and bought more, and a small bag of it is sitting on top of my refrigerator. As I was creating this chili, I had gone to get something off the refrigerator and I saw the bag and it got my creative wheels spinning. I had used cacao powder in a chili mix I had made before, but never her specific powder. I figured it would make the sauce a little richer and the thought of adding more nutrients to a meal is always appealing to me.

In the end, if you don’t own this powder, raw cacao powder from your nearest Sprouts or Whole Foods or health food store will do, but it is a great investment, especially if you like chocolate.

The chili came out amazing, by the way and there is leftovers for tomorrow and probably the next day as well…lunch anyone?

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Chicken and Quinoa Chili…with Chocolate!

2-3 Large Chicken Breasts

1 Can 15oz Red Kidney Beans (washed and drained)

1 Can (15oz) Cannellini Beans (washed and drained)

2 Cups Cooked Quinoa, red or white

1 Can (8oz) Organic Tomato Sauce

1 Onion (chopped)

4-5 Garlic Cloves (minced)

1 Cup Red and Orange Peppers (chopped)

2 Tbsp Honey

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Lemon (juiced)

Lemon Pepper

2 tbsp Philosophie Cacao Magic

First, cook quinoa as the package you buy it in recommends to. I usually buy low sodium chicken broth and use 2 cups to one cup of quinoa. It typically takes about 12 minutes to cook through.

Broil your chicken in the oven, adding lemon pepper or whatever spice you chose (that just happens to be my favorite).

Once the chicken is cooked shred it with a fork (or your hands if they are clean) and set it aside.

In a big pan add olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions, garlic and peppers for about 2 minutes.

Then add the lemon and honey, mix and lower heat.

Next, add the beans, quinoa, chicken and tomato sauce. Add more lemon pepper or sea salt if you wish. Mix well.

Lastly, add the cacao magic powder and a couple dashes of cayenne and stir it all together.

ransfer the mixture to a bake proof dish and bake for about 30 minutes until all water dries and everything looks crispy. While cooking in oven mix/toss a couple of times.

Feel free to add sliced avocado or a cheese of your choice if you wish. I the flavor of this chili is really good, so you won’t need much.

Playing With Spices…Burn Baby Burn…Chili Inferno!!!

I have made chili before, but usually when I make chili, or when I make just about anything, I focus on making it healthy, making sure vegetables are added, etc…I got a rude awakening a few weeks back when my boyfriend said to me that I needed a lesson in seasoning. Excuse me…what did you say? He said my dishes are good, but to him they looked better than they tasted and I need to learn how to season things. He said the basic seasonings might work for my taste buds, but if I am serving other people who are used to eating unhealthy and/or heavily salted foods, I might want to try playing around a bit more with seasonings. Image 4

So I kept that in mind tonight when making a very easy turkey chili recipe. I wanted to play around a bit with the spices and see if I could make it taste delicious without adding more salt and just adding spices. Here are the spices I added and the benefits of each of them…many of you might find this very interesting…

Chili powder-don’t confuse the dried powder with the chili seasoning packets in the grocery store. Those are loaded with extra sodium and who knows what else! The plain powder contains Vitamins A and C and small amounts of minerals such as potassium and phosphorus.

Paprika-contains Vitamins A and E and iron as well as carotenoids, which give it that deep red color. The lutein and zeaxanthin content of this spice also benefits your eyesight by preventing harmful light rays from damaging eye tissues. Just 1 tablespoon of paprika contains more than 100% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.

Oregano-is a natural source of Vitamin K and Omega-3. It is also considered an antioxidant, but probably more readily so if you use the fresh version instead of the dry, which I used in my recipe.

Cayenne Pepper-contains Vitamins C, B6 and E, potassium, manganese and flavonoids. Contains capsaicin, which may have pain relieving properties. Cayenne is also known helping burn addition calories because it is so spicy. This doesn’t mean you need to go crazy with it though!!

Cumin-it is said to aid in digestion and digestive disorders. It is also said to help with curing the common cold and anemia.

Ginger-improves absorption of nutrients into the body, aids in digestion, keeps away nausea and stomach ailments. It is also said to help with inflammation and nose/throat congestion.

Black Pepper-aids in congestion and digestion.

Cacao Powder-you are probably thinking…WHAT? But I have heard of real cacao powder giving dishes like chili a little kick, or at least makes them taste slightly more exotic. Raw cacao powder is high in magnesium, fiber, B vitamins and other essential minerals. Some people call this a superfood. I just call it awesome.

I used about a teaspoon of each of these spices in my chili recipe (except the cacao and chili powder, I used two tablespoons!), so overall you would have to eat the ENTIRE chili to get all the benefits, but I am sure a little of each spice helps to some degree. The taste is fantastic, and I have a feeling if you let it sit until the next day and the spices sink in, it tastes even better. This is a ground turkey chili, but you could make it vegetarian by just using beans or adding tofu or tempeh. You could make it paleo by removing the beans, and it’s gluten-free on its own. I added sautéed spinach and kale and had a lovely Monday night dinner.

LOTS O’ SPICES CHILI

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1 pound of ground kosher organic white turkey meat

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cups of water

1 (28oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

1 (16 oz.) can of white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

5-6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons of chili powder

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Stir in onion, and cook until tender.

Pour water into the pot. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic. Then add the cacao and chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.