Comfort Food: Vegetarian Chili


I woke up this morning to the welcome sound of rain drops on the roof overhead. It was the perfect day to hunker down at home in front of the fireplace with a soothing cup of hot tea and a good book. Too bad I had a busy work day in store!

This cold, wet weather is perfect for some serious comfort food, and a one-pot dish like chili is always sure to please. With a little ingenuity, creating a satisfying bowl of warm chili doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. I recently revamped one of my favorite Sunset magazine recipes with an eye toward creating a quick, healthy vegetarian version of the meat-heavy original. The new and improved version is both tasty and easy to put together–even at the end of a long day.

I picked up most of the main ingredients–some already prepared–at our local Trader Joes. I found “beef-less” ground meat alternative and pre-cooked brown lentils in the refrigerator section, which I substituted for hamburger. Canned organic black beans replaced the need to soak and slow cook dry beans, and a pre-cut bag of chopped onion saved both time and tears.


I even replaced the bacon in the original recipe with a half teaspoon of smoked sea salt, which achieved the desired flavor without adding meat.
The result was delicious–and my family didn’t even notice the difference! Enjoy this hearty, fiber-rich remake which is lighter in calories and fat, but heavy on flavor.
The Farminista’s Meat-less Chili (Sh-h-h-h–don’t tell them it’s vegan too. They’ll never know!)
*Serves 4-6
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3/4 package Trader Joes diced fresh onion OR 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz. Trader Joes “Beef-less” ground meat alternative
  • 3/4 package Trader Joes Steamed Lentils (about 14 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ancho Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed organic fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz.) can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Anchor Steam or other medium-bodied beer
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium-size stock pot. Add diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and starting to brown (about 4 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook one minute.
2.  Add ground meat alternative, lentils, spices, and smoked salt. Stir to combine and add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and beans. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes–stirring occasionally.
3.  Adjust seasonings if desired. Serve warm with Trader Joes Garlic Naan and side toppings of choice.
*Suggested topping options: Clover Three-Cheese Mexican Shred or Daiya brand Dairy-Free Pepper-Jack Shred Cheese, sliced avocado, chopped onion, and sour cream (regular or vegan).
Categories: Healthy Eating, Seasonal Recipes, SLOW Food, UncategorizedTags: , , , , , ,


  1. You are a genius, Karen! Sometimes I’ll make a quick chili with TJ’s packaged Indian dishes (shelf-stable, not frozen), with either two cans of kidney beans or my own brown lentils (takes about 15 minutes to make these). I prefer to cook my own lentils to tone down the sodium levels. Serve with sour cream & dal. Delish!

  2. Veggie chili is the best – you can add anything you like!

  3. Yeah – it is rainy in CA. Hope everyone is safe, though. This chili looks like a delcious dinner to have on a cold rainy day.Very appetizing photo.

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