Put those nutritious vegetable scraps to good use this Earth Day! Try this Healthy Spring Vegetable Lasagna and learn more about ways to reduce food waste! I am very happy to introduce you to a new colleague of mine in the food blogging world! Jenna Gorham, a […]
A healthy ramen soup with Bok Choy and hints of miso makes this college staple a major upgrade! Many of us likely remember the famous ramen noodles in its small and square, bright and saturated colors. And better yet, the number of these packages you could purchase […]
This comforting white bean chili is light in calories and big in flavor! Rich in cauliflower and immune-boosting mushrooms, this hearty recipe gets its warmth from the delicate spice blend, Ras el Hanout!
I knew I was in the mood for chili when the temperature in Boulder dropped to a high of 6 degrees (the lowest it has been for December in years). When chili comes to mind, most of us probably think of tomato-based versions with black and red kidney beans. These are also delicious, but I wanted to make a lighter and warming white chili this time. What better way to warm up a white bean chili than with Ras el Hanout!
Wait, what is Ras el Hanout?
Ras el Hanout is a beautiful North African spice blend of sweet and savory spices, like nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and paprika. Since it is not a common seasoning to have in the kitchen, you can easily make your own blend with spices and herbs you most likely already own. Check out this recipe from Food.com and more information about the blend in one of my favorites, The Kitchn blog and feel free to play around with these spices based on your taste preference.
This chili packs in so much flavor from this blend, that you will not miss the salt! I usually add a small pinch of sea salt to my soups because I am cooking with low sodium broth. For this recipe, I used regular vegetable broth and did not add salt. If you are trying to watch your sodium intake, I highly recommend a low sodium broth and adding more garlic in place of table salt.
What makes this white bean chili so healthy?
Most chilis we see in restaurants (or even tailgate parties) are saturated with excess shredded cheese and grease from ground meat sitting on top. Cheese is still an optional topping here, but in moderation of course! Who doesn’t love cheese? The broken pieces of cauliflower and mushrooms will lend a similar taste to ground meat. If you prefer meat, aim for lean meats such as ground chicken or turkey (still just as good). The fiber and protein-rich white beans will also keep you satisfied for hours. For some great tips on a healthy chili swap check out Eating Well’s article here.
Besides being healthy, this chili is also extremely easy to make! The majority of the cooking simply consists of simmering these delicious spices and flavors. Prior to simmering, the vegetables and proteins are sauteed with the spices for up to a minute. This brings out its aromatic components. The soft texture in this recipe is created by a handheld immersion blender. If you don’t own one of these amazing gadgets, feel free to use a masher or place in a blender in small batches.
As the holidays are nearing their end, now is the best time to aim for some lighter, yet flavorful foods. Eating MORE of the right foods than focusing on eating LESS overall should be a habit all year round. With only 20% of resolutions actually succeeding, those crash diets are not going to last. Be good to yourself and don’t deny the foods you enjoy. As we have all heard, everything in moderation is key, right?
Whether your resolutions consist of trying yoga, eating less meat, or being more organized, I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium Cauliflower, cored and chopped
- 1 mild chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 8oz white mushrooms, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout spice blend*
- 2 15oz cans white beans (pinto, Northern White, chickpea)
- 4 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if preferred)
- 1-2 scallions chopped, optional
- Shredded cheese of your choice for topping, optional
- Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a non-stick pan or skillet. Cook the onions until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, and chili pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until cauliflower is softened.
- Add the spice blend and cook for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the beans and vegetable broth and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
- Once the chili is cooked through, use an immersion blender to puree some of the cauliflower. If an immersion blender is not available, feel free to use a masher or transfer portions of the chili in a blender to give it the thickened consistency of a ground meat chili.
Ras el Hanout is a blend of spices as mentioned previously in the post. Please adjust with the spices of your liking. These spices include: nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and clove. If cheese is not part of your diet and you would love to have that cheesy taste, try topping it with nutritional yeast (good source of B12 for a bonus).
Instead of white potatoes, why not try these healthy latkes with vitamin-rich sweet potatoes and zucchini? Use those leftover “zoodles” for something other than pasta! Potato latkes had always been a family staple at my household growing up. I remember the big jar of Mott’s applesauce […]
Winter is coming and so is soup season! Try this Creamy Tomato Lentil soup recipe to keep you warm and satisfied! This recipe for a creamy tomato lentil soup uses low fat coconut milk and lentils to keep you feeling fulfilled with energy-boosting MCT fats, […]
Vegetarian meatballs packed with legumes and iron-rich spinach that still give the meaty taste without the meat!
Vegetarian meatballs even for meat lovers? After researching many different recipes and powering through three cooking trials, I finally created my “meatiest” meatless meatball!
Meatballs, either turkey or beef, were always a favorite growing up. After losing my mother in high school, I still remember so clearly the times as a child being her sous chef and getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. I remember the texture and smells of the raw onion and italian seasonings even to this day!
Homemade is Better than Store-Bought
Have you ever tried reading the nutrition label of a food item and thought you were reading either a foreign language or a portion of an advanced chemistry book? Majority of the time these ingredients are artificial and processed, in other words, not beneficial in any way! The least and most simple ingredients listed the better! In this case, most meatballs store-bought in the freezer section are filled with binders and excessive sodium. Another great reason to make them at home, you can sneak in any veggies you want for extra nutrition (or picky eaters). Making your own version at home, whether it is vegetarian or with lean poultry or beef will cut out these artificial bad guys and make your gut happier.
Three Times The Charm!
When I started thinking about creating my own version of vegetarian style meatballs I wanted to replicate that memory of the texture and smell. My first attempt was using lentils for a good source of protein. In my version, they came out shapeless (too gooey) before baking and then too dry on the outside; they reminded me of a delicious falafel, but not a meaty meatball. I thought for the second attempt, well they need more mushrooms and lentils to hold together with the egg mixture; nope!
On the final attempt (after running out of lentils), I noticed there were many versions of chickpeas and thought, why not? I had chickpeas in my pantry and went at it! I decided to add different flavoring as the cumin and paprika wasn’t noticeable in the first two and relied on my mother’s old recipe with Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning. Since this is a vegetarian recipe I used soy sauce, and tomato paste for a sweet and savory flavor. Lastly, the first two recipes included sautéed onions and mushrooms; for the final recipe I used raw onion also similar to my childhood recipe.
The Many Uses of a Meatball
These vegetarian meatballs can be excellent as a sandwich, a bite-size snack, and yes on top of pasta. After baking these for 35 minutes, I simmered them in tomato sauce. Recently, my family gave me as a gift a gourmet tomato sauce by Dean & Deluca (they know me too well) and had to use it! This recipe is also great for a post-workout or midday snack. It packs in only 45 calories with 2g protein and 2g fiber per meatball. As I mentioned topping it over pasta, I had mine with homemade sweet potato gnocchi that was so easy and fun to make provided from the food blog, Pinch of Yum.
This batch makes up to 20 meatballs and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and freezer for 3 months.
If this recipe has already convinced you to go ahead and have spaghetti and meatballs then I have done my job! I hope these healthy, vegetarian meatballs satisfy your cravings!
More rolled oats (gluten free) can be substituted in place of the bread crumbs and Tamari for the soy sauce to remove gluten in this recipe.
- 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- handful (1/4 cup) of fresh parsley, optional
- 1/4-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (or Tamari)
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Coriander
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 375. Set aside a greased or non-stick cookie pan.
- Throw all ingredients together into a food processor except the egg to taste and adjust for seasonings.
- Once you've reached your flavor preference, throw in the egg and pulse until thoroughly blended.
- Using your hands (or a cookie scooper) make the mix into small meatballs and lay on the pan. Makes 18-20 small meatballs.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping over halfway for even browning.
Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan MS, RD is a recent transplant to Boulder, CO after working as an inpatient dietitian for almost five years in Boston. She is hoping to explore health and wellness and the food industry while she explores beautiful Colorado. Katie is passionate about her new cooking hobby and started a food blog, One Hungry Bunny, in April 2016. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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