Healthy, nutritious foods do not have to cost a lot, and this vegetarian chili, chock full of nutrients and fiber is a great example. The meaty portobello mushrooms beautifully mimic actual meat, and the combination of spices is fragrant and gives this dish just the right amount of bite. Even though my family eats meat, we actually prefer this vegetarian chili to chili con carne. I serve it with my reduced-fat, reduced-sugar cornbread – it is airy and fluffy and far less oily and sweet than most cornbreads, and that’s how we prefer it.
I usually prefer simple recipes with few ingredients, but this recipe is great to make on a cold winter day when you’re in the house anyway and don’t have much else to do. If you have kids, let them help! Depending on their ages, many of the tasks needed for this recipe – especially mixing and stirring – can be done by kids starting at around age four.
The total cost for each delicious, healthy, filling serving comes to just under $5. If you live outside of the Bay Area of California, your costs may be lower (everything is more expensive here). You may lower it further by avoiding organic ingredients.
While not as cheap as a $1 fast food meal, I do consider it affordable, especially since in the long run, eating junk is very costly in terms of medical costs.
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons Canola oil ($0.15)
1 large yellow onion, chopped ($1.42)
2 red bell peppers, chopped ($4.38)
2 tablespoons minced garlic ($1.70 for entire jar)
2 tablespoons green diced chili peppers (canned) ($1.29 for entire can)
5 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, wiped and cubed ($7)
2 tablespoons chili powder (Assume $1 for all spices)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 (14-1/2-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped ($0.88)
2 (15-oz) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained ($3.78 for organic beans)
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce ($0.88)
1 cup vegetable broth ($1.25)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro ($1.89 for entire bunch)
2. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. The mushroom add a lot of volume at first, so you may need to add them in 2 batches, waiting for the first batch to lose some volume before adding the second batch.
3. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, stir in the cilantro, cover and allow to rest for about ten minutes.
6. Serve in a bowl on top of long grain white rice, brown rice, or with corn bread.
Total Cost: About $26.87, or $4.47 per serving
Makes 12 servings
1.5 cup cornmeal ($2)
2.5 cups reduced fat (2%) milk ($1.3 for organic milk)
2 cups all-purpose flour ($0.72)
1 tablespoon baking powder ($0.22)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar ($0.21)
2 eggs ($0.73 for organic eggs)
1/3 cup Canola oil ($0.45)
Total: $5.63, or $0.47 per serving
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9 X 13 pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine corn meal and milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.