Chili has never been one of my "favorite" things to eat - especially before being vegan. Kidney beans are not my cup of tea and I certainly wasn't a fan of meat, tomatoes and beans with spices as the full complexity of a chili.
Because my husband literally loves chili, I found ways to compromise and build up some flavor profiles. They always include a Mexican flair with chipotle chili, black beans, lime & cilantro. While I have another recipe that he has perfected in the slow cooker for carnivore folks, I tried that recipe as vegan and...gross. The slow cooker isn't a good medium for the recipe I had in mind.
Fast forward to a bag of TVP that he had grabbed for me (*which I had never used before BTW), and I thought, why not? Let's do a chili stove top and see where we land. The result was two thumbs up from my husband and a joyous "you can make this anytime" comment. Nailed it! Aztec Chili is here to stay!
Sustainability Spotlight: So, what is TVP? The Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) I used is de-fatted soy flour that has been cooked under pressure and then dehydrated. It forms a pantry staple that has long shelf life and is a complete protein (affording all the amino acids needed for you body), while providing iron, magnesium, and fiber. Sounds like a "super star" right?
TVP can be made from soybeans, but there are other options for those that are allergic to soy that include sunflower seeds, pea protein, wheat, oats and cottonseed. All of these ingredients are high on the list of being a likely GMO (Genetically Modified Organics). GMOs were developed by seed and chemical companies as a way to reduce the need for pesticide use and thereby increase crop yields. However, they are also designed to resist herbicides which has only increased the use of such chemicals like glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Round-Up, which has been subject to litigation most recently for its propensity as a carcinogen (cancer causing agent) in humans. "Since the introduction of these crops in the mid-1990s, glyphosate use has spread like a cancer across the U.S. Farmers now apply 16 times more of the herbicide than they did before GMOs came on the market. The explosion in glyphosate use is not only bad for farmers’ health, it’s also bad for the environment, especially for certain birds, insects and other wildlife. For example, populations of monarch butterflies have fallen to all-time lows as the result of massive spraying of glyphosate on crop fields. (www.ewg.org).
There's a solution to the problem, food labels! Buy "Non-GMO Certified" products which ensure that you are not contributing to the environmental issues that have been linked to GMO crops. The TVP I utilized in this recipe has such certifications / labels and was a readily available choice next to similar products which did not have the same food labels. If we want to be more sustainable with our food, it's up to us (the consumer) to make educated choices and select the products that ensure impacts to the environment are limited at the start; where we source our food - the crops.
So, grab your Non-GMO certified bag of TVP and get cooking because this chili is amazing, vegan (reducing carbon emissions from no animal products) and gives you meals throughout the week. Sustainability checklist - check, check, check!
1 + 1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein - I used Bob's Red Mill TVP)
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (grated)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed & drained)
1 tsp smoked salt (divided)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 + 1/2 cups vegetable stock - ensure it's stock not broth due to short cooking time, you need that concentrated flavor profile of stock
(1) 6-oz can chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (all sauce + 2-3 chilis diced - optional to add extra heat with more chilis)
1 large handful cilantro (chopped)
1 lime (juiced)
1 tbsp brown sugar
(1) 4 oz can tomato paste
(2) 14 oz cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
In a small bowl, mix TVP with the boiling water to rehydrate - set aside for ~10 minutes.
While your TVP rehydrates, in a 5 qt Dutch Oven, add avocado oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and 1/2 tsp smoked salt. Saute for ~5 minutes (or until the onion starts to sweat and just becomes golden on the edges).
Now, add the garlic, bell pepper, black beans and your rehydrated TVP. Saute another full minute and then add the remaining 1/2 tsp smoked salt plus cumin, coriander, chili powder and black pepper. Stir to meld and mix well.
Deglaze your pan with the 1/2 cup of your vegetable stock; stir (I like to "scrape" with a bamboo spatula) to scrape up the bottom bits well. Now, add the rest of your stock, the adobo sauce and whatever chilis you are using, the tomatoes and tomato paste.
Stir well to combine and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook ~10 minutes (stirring once or twice). Uncover and cook an additional 5-10 minutes till slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and add your lime juice and cilantro; stir well.
Serve in bowls and enjoy! This is a great make ahead recipe for a Sunday so you can have leftovers throughout the week for lunches or a lazy dinner.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie