If you looked at me (Regina) you’d never think I had a weight problem, but the truth is I battle it every day of my life. I love to eat and don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be around all things food everyday. One of my tricks is plant based eating. Here’s the thing, when you swap in foods like lentils and beans for meat you get to eat so much more and that’s what I like, VOLUME. When you spend your life watching your weight you want to get the most bang for your buck!
Like me, my friend Michael is a Lifetime Weight Watcher’s member and when we want to knock off some pounds we pull out his Smokin’ Lentil Chili recipe because it’s not only delicious but super satisfying. The smoky flavors helps give this chili a meaty taste without using any. As much as I want to be a vegetarian I just love bacon too much and a little really kicks up the flavor so once in a while I use it. With all the vegetables and lentils, it’s still plant based. Just cook 2 strips of bacon and crumble it into the chili while it’s cooking. And, you could cook the onions in the bacon fat instead of the olive oil. So grab you ingredients (see recipe below) and let’s get cooking.
And while you’re at it…don’t miss the Breaking Down Nutrition companion podcast, 3 Ways to Eat Plant-Based on the Cheap.
Heat the oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Olive, canola, soy or corn oil all work. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. This gives you a rich aromatic base.
As you’ll see in the super quick video below, we like to cook our spices to fully integrate them into the dish and help develop their flavors. And it doesn’t take long. Starting to smell spicy already, isn’t it?
Add water, lentils and tomatoes starting with water so you don’t burn the spices, garlic or onion.
When you increase the heat and bring the chili to a boil, you will see white bubbles on the top…what looks like foam. Go ahead and skim this off.
Just to give you an idea of amounts here’s a list of some common plant proteins:
|Tofu, 4 oz||11 grams|
|Lentils, (1/2 cup cooked)||9 grams|
|Quinoa (1 cup cooked)||8 grams|
|Edamame, shelled (1/2 cup cooked)||8 grams|
|Almond or Peanut Butter, (2 tablespoons)||7 grams|
|Nuts (1/4 cup)||6 grams|
|Whole Wheat Bread (1 slice)||5 grams|
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3-4 cloves chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Chopped avocado
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. This gives you a rich aromatic base.
- Add chili powder, ground cumin, oregano and paprika; stir 30 seconds. We like to cook our spices to fully integrate them into the dish and help develop their flavors.
- Add water, lentils and tomatoes.
- Increase heat and bring to boil, skimming off any foam from surface.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, adding more water by half cupfuls as needed if dry, about 45-50 minutes (we cooked for 50 min).
- Divide into 8 servings. Garnish with scallion, cilantro and lime and avocado.
Freeze the extra for a quick go-to dinner for busy nights.
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