Lentils make such a terrific substitute for ground meat! This lentil chili did not disappoint!
I’m always looking for innovative ways to increase plant proteins like lentils, beans and tofu. I make lentil sloppy joes and lentil spaghetti sauce often. And I toss beans into soups, salads and stews several times each week. That’s because they have a host of health benefits, including fighting heart disease, some types of cancer, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. They have beneficial effects on both short term and long term fasting blood sugar levels. It seemed only fitting to share this lentil chili recipe during a cold month like this one. And I’m very proud to say that you can find an almost identical version in my NEW book Prediabetes: A Complete Guide, which is available for presale on Amazon right now.
In addition to the protein, lentils and other legumes contain potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and a whole lot of dietary fiber, including a special type called resistant starch. As the name suggests, resistant starches resist digestion in the small intestine. Instead they shimmy to the colon where they feed our gut bacteria. In the process, the beneficial bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which protect the colon cells, make the gut environment more hospitable to the friendly bacteria and less hospitable for their harmful cousins. SCFAs even improve the way our bodies respond to insulin, which is a huge plus to people with diabetes and prediabetes.
For an in depth look at different types of fibers and their health effects, check out What You Need to Know About High Fiber Foods.
How to Enjoy Lots of Lentil Chili!
This lentil chili recipe fills a very big pot. That’s because I really like this recipe and the cook-once, eat often strategy. I’m happy to eat it for lunch a few times after making it earlier in the week for dinner. Plus, I’ve gotten clever with leftovers.
Innovative Ways to Serve Leftover Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili
Don’t you love the cook once, eat twice or thrice strategy? For leftover variety, try one or more of these:
- Wrap leftovers into big lettuce leaves.
- Cut mini bell peppers in half and scoop out the seeds. Fill the peppers with leftover lentil chili, sprinkle with reduced fat cheddar cheese. Bake and enjoy as an appetizer.
- Cut large bell peppers in half, scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave until soft about 3 – 4 minutes. Wipe out the moisture from the inside of the bell peppers and fill with the leftover lentil chili. Sprinkle with some reduced fat cheddar cheese and bake at 350°F until heated through, about 10 minutes.
- Turn it into a tostada. Bake a corn tortilla in the oven at 350°F until crisp, about 8 minutes. Spread a mixture of mashed avocado and plain nonfat Greek yogurt over the tortilla. Top with leftover and heated lentil chili. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and cilantro.
- 1 tablespoon canola or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 very large onion, chopped (about 2½ cups)
- 3 large carrots chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 large bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 large sweet potato (about 16 ounces), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup green lentils, dry
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 12-fluid ounces low sodium vegetable juice
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and bell peppers until soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste. Stir about 30 seconds.
- Add the sweet potato and the spices (chili powder through cayenne pepper). Stir. Add the lentils, tomatoes, vegetable juice and vegetable broth. Raise the heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes or until the chili is thick and the lentil are soft.
Top the chili with your favorite chili toppings such as diced avocado, scallions, cilantro and nonfat Greek yogurt. I especially like the yogurt to boost the protein content.
Do you have a clever way to use leftover chili?
Cheers to happy, healthy eating and the cook once, eat twice or thrice strategy!