Are you sliding a bit into the same old menu night after night? Ready to get on track with some healthy eating ideas for the new year? It will be here sooner than you think. If you want some new ideas, read on. This vegetarian chili is very easy to make, keeps well in the refrigerator and can be reheated for multiple meals.* It makes an easy one-dish meal for those nights when you don’t have a lot of time or energy to put together a “perfect” three course home-cooked meal.
You know, the fantasy meal that we all serve in our mind – freshly pressed white table linens, glowing candles, beautiful flowers, angelic faces around the table speaking softly about their day…..got that image?….it sounds just like dinner at your house, doesn’t it?…let’s move on….
Quinoa is an edible seed that in recent years has achieved celebrity status as one of the “wonder grains” of the world (although technically a seed, not a grain). Thought to be originally cultivated by the Incas in the Andes of South America over 6,000 years ago, it began finding its way into the the US food supply a few years back and has gradually managed to become something of a staple among people looking for plant-based protein sources which are not derived from soy or wheat. In fact, the United Nations even declared 2013 “International Year of the Quinoa”.
One cup of uncooked quinoa contains around 24 grams of protein, according to the USDA National Food and Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Quinoa also contains the 9 essential amino acids which qualifies it as a “complete” protein. In theory, quinoa is naturally gluten-free but it could be subject to cross-contamination during harvesting or processing. Be very careful about the brand and source of your quinoa if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Beans help boost the protein in this vegetarian chili
In this dish, Pam and I have also included two types of beans (pinto and red kidney), so you are also getting good additional plant-based protein from the beans too. One cup of either cooked pinto beans or red kidney beans provide around 15 grams of protein and over 13 grams of fiber. So between the quinoa and the beans, a serving of this recipe supplies around 11 grams of protein overall, or the equivalent of around 1 and 1/2 ounces of grilled flank steak (and that’s before you add a bit of Greek yogurt or cheese, if desired, as part of the garnish).
*Food safety Tip: If you are reheating this chili to eat on another night, make sure the temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F before you serve it. Place a thermometer in the middle of the chili (be careful not to touch the sides or bottom of the pan).