A vegetable hideout

During winter or cooler weather everyone craves a nice bowl of hot, yummy soup, stew or chili. It warms  your hands, hearts and bellies. These one bowl meals can be excellent ways to get in some ingredients you may not be able to serve on their own. If you have a picky eater in your family this is for you.

Are there any particular colors or textures your family members have an aversion to? There are ways to include a lot of these ingredients into soups, stews and casseroles to get your family to eat them. After all you know they are healthy for all.

Over the Super Bowl weekend one of the favorite meals is Chili. There are many recipes out there and there are equal number of secret ingredients that make the Chilis famous. My secret ingredients for the Chili are the vegetables and spices I can hide in there.

I like to begin with a sautéing onions, garlic and ginger in a pan until lightly browned. Adding the ground meat (you can choose to use beef, turkey or chicken) to the onion mixture seasons the meat well while browning.

Here come the ingredients you want to hide. I chop any vegetables I want to include and add them to the meat and onion mixture. All colored peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, celery, carrots are good options. Once they are cooked through, add the beans (again use any kind you like). I like to mix dark red kidney and black beans for the color.

Then come the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix well and then add the spices. My favorite are ground cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and chili powder. With all the tomatoes and browned meat the turmeric does not make the chili “yellow” but you get the anti-inflammatory benefit of it.

I prefer not to add salt until the very end. Taste the chili before adding any salt. The canned tomato products and beans may have enough salt and you may not need to add anymore.

You can also alter the proportion of beef to beans (increase beans) to reduce the saturated fat and increase the fiber.

Vegetable Hideout Chili

2 Tablespoons Canola or Peanut Oil

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves Garlic, minced

1″ piece of Ginger, peeled and minced

1 pound Ground meat (lean  grass-fed beef, turkey or chicken)

1 Zucchini, diced

1 Red Pepper, diced

1 stalk Celery, diced

1 15 oz. can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz. can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

1 5 oz. can Tomato Paste

2 teaspoons Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Chili Powder

1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder

Salt, if needed

Fresh chopped Avocado and Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a large 6-8 qt. heavy bottom pot on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger, sauté until lightly browned. Add the ground meat and cook stirring occasionally  until no pink parts remain.

Add chopped vegetables, stir well and cover. Let cook for about 10 minutes or until well-softened. Add beans, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix well and cover. Let heat through, about 15-20 minutes.

Add spices, stir well to mix. Taste the chili to determine if any salt is needed. Serve with fresh chopped avocado and cilantro, if desired. Enjoy a serving of vegetables hidden in your chili bowl. Chili can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.