I love football season! It starts with crisp sweater weather and ends with my second-favorite food holiday of the year. You see what I did there? I referenced clothes and food and conveniently avoided mention of my favorite players or teams. That’s because while I adore an opportunity to frequent a hip craft brewery and eat elevated pub food, I tend to get more excited about the loaded pretzel nuggz than the winning run…or touchdown…or goal…or whatever.
There was this one time I got wrapped up in the big game. It’s probably because dinner was served just before and my belly was full. It was a cold, rainy evening, and my then boyfriend, now husband, came over to my place. Our relationship was new and I guess I wanted to seem agreeable and athletic and so I agreed to let him watch the Ohio State game. For most of the first and second quarters I sat next to him, engrossed in a good book while trying to ignore his grunts of disappointment and screams of excitement. II must have been half paying attention because the next thing either of us knew, I leapt off the couch, emitting a foreign, guttural cheer, and pumped my fists in the air just as Ohio State scored the winning touchdown.
I don’t know what happened that night, but I swear it’s never happened again. I’ve made similar throaty groans for a creamy onion dip or a perfectly charred brat but never in response to watching sports. And so as we approach this year’s Super Bowl, or America’s second best food holiday as I like to call it, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite football food.
The big game calls for an even bigger spread, and I’m the first person to wave the white flag of surrender. It’s the one day a year I really get down with all of my favorite regularly off-limit foods. Beer: check! Chips: check! Hot dogs and wings: double check! Cheesy dips: check! While I definitely plan to indulge this Super Bowl Sunday, it’s also nice to have a couple of delicious, but secretly healthy dishes tucked next to the bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed corn dogs.
My Game Day Vegetarian Chili is warm, hearty, and a little spicy. It’s creamy and rich and comforting and…chock full of veggies and hearty beans. No one will miss the meat, but if anyone complains about you putting vegetarian chili on your buffet, well hey, you can either get low and tackle the offending guest or throw a little of the chili along with a fat block of cream cheese into your crock pot. That creamy, luscious dip should get them off your back, but if it doesn’t, feel free to pour it over a big bowl of plantain chips for some of the best nachos you’ve ever eaten.
I may only watch the Super Bowl for the glitzy half time show and those adorable puppy commercials, but I don’t just make this chili for game day. Or because it’s healthy. Once you’ve made my chili, not only will you be proud to set it out among your favorite indulgent game day treats, you’ll also feel totally comfortable busting it out on a weekday when you’re eating healthy and saving your cheat points for the weekend. It’s perfect for both occasions. Win, win!
My Game Day Vegetarian Chili is warm, hearty, and a little spicy. It’s creamy and rich and comforting and…chock full of veggies and hearty beans.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 red onion chopped into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 bell pepper chopped into 1/4 inch dice (I used yellow, but you can use any color you like)
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeds and ribs removed and minced
- 3 large cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups crushed tomatoes (I used a 24-ounce jar of organic, strained tomatoes)
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can lentils (15 ounce)
- 1 can red kidney beans (15 ounce)
- 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
- 1 sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven to medium.
Add the oil and the chopped onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until the veggies have softened.
Add the tomato paste and spices and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute or until the tomato paste has darkened to a deep red and the spices are fragrant.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stock, Worcestershire sauce, and beans and turn the heat up to medium-high.
When the liquid has come to a boil add the diced sweet potato, turn the heat down to medium and allow the sweet potatoes to simmer in the chili for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with your favorite chili toppings. I like avocado, cilantro, and green onions.