A confession: 30 years ago I cheated in a chili cook-off. I was a professional musician on the road with a Broadway show, and the cast and crew decided to have a chili competition in Denver. My roommate and I bought some amazing local chili at a health food market and submitted it to the contest—and we won. Of course, if we’d had this recipe at the time, we could’ve won the contest legitimately.
Chili usually evokes images of simmering pots, slowly bubbling with rich odors wafting through the room—the smell of fragrant meats and peppery spices. But maybe the best thing about chili is that it’s versatile. In this version, Chef Jeannette introduces an exotic and unexpected taste: mango, which lightens up the heaviness of classic chili without sacrificing a single wonderful flavor.
Of course, you can’t talk about chili and nutrition without mentioning beans. They’re loaded with fiber, which has been associated with lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Beans also contain protein, and they digest very slowly, providing sustained energy and making them ideal for those who need to avoid the “blood-sugar roller coaster.” Plus, they’re loaded with protective phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Fruit ’n’ Spice Chili
This tantalizing no-cook chili maximizes both flavor and nutrients by using a ton of fresh vegetables. The cut corn provides a surprising and delightful burst of juicy sweetness in every bite.
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped, or 1½ cups frozen mango cubes, thawed
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and quartered
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. coriander
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can small red beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears fresh organic corn, shucked and kernels sliced off the cob, or 1 cup frozen organic corn, thawed
4 medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh chives or green onion, optional
1 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
per bowl: 273 cal; 11g pro; 7g total fat (1g sat fat); 51g carb; 0mg chol; 582mg sod; 14g fiber; 17g sugars
Notes from: Chef Jeannette
Don’t let the long ingredients list fool you. This chili is easy to make and—because there’s no cooking time—takes only about 20 minutes from pantry to place mat. Fresh, juicy peaches can substitute for the mango during the summer months, but be sure to peel off their fuzzy skins before blending. If you have any leftover poultry on hand, add a little shredded chicken or turkey for an extra blast of protein that won’t add many calories.
Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, is a certified holistic health counselor and recipe developer. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is a nationally known health, nutrition, and weight-loss expert. Bessinger and Bowden have collaborated on numerous cookbooks, including The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes. Visit them online at thecleanfoodcoach.com and jonnybowden.com.