When my son was born three months ago, one of my closest friends brought over two meals for my family and I: spinach linguini with homemade marinara sauce and the most delicious garlic bread; and vegetarian nachos made with blue corn chips, beans, salsa, cheese and sauteed sweet potatoes and onions (which may sound unusual, but it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted).
Of all the wonderful gifts I received after my son’s birth, these meals felt especially touching. I know that in many circles, providing food to a new mom is the norm, but this was a new experience for me. It was such a relief to not have to worry about dinner while we were adjusting to life as a family of four. And there’s something so fundamentally generous about feeding another person; it’s the most basic way to say, “I care about you” to another person.
The experience stuck with me, and so when my friend had her baby last week, I was thrilled to be able to return the favor. One of the things I made for her family was a pot of chili. This is one of my favorite recipes; although there’s a little prep work involved if you prefer not to use canned beans and tomatoes, it’s extremely easy. It’s also high in fiber, chock full of lycopene, and low in fat if you use lean beef (I typically get 90-95% lean beef from Trader Joe’s).
*3 cups chili beans (either canned or dried beans that have been cooked–use a mix of pinto and kidney will do)
*At least 2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh, frozen or canned)
*Half a large yellow or sweet onion, diced
*3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin or diced
*1 to 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
*2/3 to 1 pound very lean beef or bison (optional)
*Salt, turmeric, cumin and chili powder to taste (I use quite a bit of salt and chili powder, and a sprinkle of cumin and turmeric. I also add a dash of Worcestershire sauce)
*Put the chili beans, tomatoes and corn in a slow cooker or a large pot and turn the heat on low.
*Sauté the onions and garlic in some cooking spray, then add to the mixture above.
*Then cook the meat until it’s brown; drain off any excess fat, and add that to the rest of the chili.
*Add in spices and cook on medium for an hour, or on low for two to three hours (I prefer cooking it longer–it’s more flavorful that way). Be sure to stir it every ten to twenty minutes.