Hearty Slow-Cooker Chili

I almost just said I have a confession to make... but I think everyone on the planet already knows this about me.  At least, if everyone on the planet did know me, they would know this.

I have a really hard time sitting in one place for just about any period of time.  It's true.  I'm just not much of a sitter.

No matter what is going on, if I am supposed to be planted in a chair, you can bet I'll disappear in a few moments.  There is usually a very good reason.  Like I needed to open the fridge, shut it again, and sit back down.  You know... just to make sure everything was still there.

Or I really needed tea.  Ten minutes after I sat down.  Hey, it was important.

Sometimes this can be a good thing, my tendency to get up and move around.  Things get cleaned.  Often at the expense of something else I should have been doing (like writing this and other blog posts) but you know what, I like vacuuming, okay?  It's like a mini-workout.  I feel like I'm multitasking.  

The best slow-cooker dish to make this fall, filled with seasonal farmers' market produce! #fallrecipes #healthycooking

And yet, sometimes, it can be not a great thing.  I often find myself missing crucial scenes in any movie over an hour and a half long.  It's possible I subconsciously sabotage my own interest in sitting through a movie by ordering a large diet soda at the theatre.

In fact, truth be told, any time I write something longer than, say, three paragraphs, I'll have thought of something or another to get myself out of that darned chair, if only for two seconds.
Side note:  If anyone ever wanted to make a donation to a "Get Courtney a Treadmill-Desk Fund," so that no Courtney ever again has to choose between writing her blog and compulsively vacuuming her living room, it could be considered a great service toward the readers of her blog.

Ah, to have a treadmill-desk...  But I digress.

My mind can be as wandering as my feet, but I think that's one reason to get a new slow-cooker recipe up in here.  I often need a simple recipe that I can put together in a matter of minutes and not have to think about until it's actually time to eat, especially if we're having guests for dinner.  Then I can go run around doing other stuff, like... vacuuming.  

The best slow-cooker dish to make this fall, filled with seasonal farmers' market produce! #fallrecipes #healthycooking

This recipe has all the flavor and complexity of an involved dinner, but only because of all the great, seasonal, ingredients - not the work it took to make it.  This chili is at a medium-spicy level because of the two poblanos and the chili powder, but you could certainly bump it up a notch by adding a single hot pepper - one minced (10 g) serrano or habanero pepper with the seeds would do.  

I like the spice in the chili, but what I really love is the density.  It's so full of delicious veggies, it becomes uber-thick, like a chunky stew.  The pumpkin puree and butternut squash give it a nice, almost creamy, consistency in the background, while the celery and peppers add a fun (and, in my opinion, mandatory) fresh-veggie crunch.

Are you ready to get a little multi-tasky now?  I can almost see you fidgeting in your seat to get going on dinner plus eight other things.  Right?  It's okay.  I totally understand.

The best slow-cooker dish to make this fall, filled with seasonal farmers' market produce! #fallrecipes #healthycooking

Hearty Slow-Cooker Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • 3 celery ribs, ends removed and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced organic tomatoes (low-sodium would be ideal)
  • 2 cups cubed butternut/ pumpkin/ or acorn squash (cooked squash, leftover from a previous meal works, but uncooked works as well.  If the squash is pre-cooked OR frozen, just wait to add it during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking time to heat through.)
  • 2 Morning Star Chipotle Black Bean frozen patties (optional, but in my opinion this added great flavor, texture, and nutritional value!)
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 oz) can mixed beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. each: cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Prep all ingredients, then add all at once to the slow cooker.  Cook about 5-6 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  Perfect for having dinner ready right when your dinner guests are!
  2. OR, if you want to have this all ready within about an hour instead, and have the time to pay attention to it the whole time...
  3. Preheat olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat for a few minutes.  
  4. Add the bell peppers through poblano peppers and saute for about 5-7 minutes.  If using uncooked cubed butternut squash, add them with the first ingredients.  Add everything else and bring the heat down to a simmer.  Cover loosely with the pot's lid + simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all the ingredients are cooked through and the flavors come together.  (During the last 10 minutes, be sure to add cooked or frozen squash, if using!)
  5. Serve with some excellent homemade cornbread, like this simple recipe here!

Makes 8-12 dinner portions (depending on how much cornbread you eat with it!)

Nutrition per 1/12 batch including veggie burgers (approximately 1 heaping cup): 147 calories; 24 g carbs; 5 g fiber; 3 g fat; 8 g protein