Vegan Pumpkin Chili

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A few months ago, I had someone ask me if it was possible to get enough protein in your diet if you are a vegetarian. My first answer was yes, but I decided to try it out for a day to see just how hard it really was. I love that kind of thing. OK, pretty much any experiment that involves food and I’m there. Yep, protein met with one had tied behind my back. This past weekend I was messing around and decided to take it to another level and give a vegan day a whirl.

No animal products at all. Now before you get excited, let me set expectations here. I didn’t do this for moral reasons or health reasons, LOL. I just like trying out new things when it comes to food. It also helps make me a better coach to my vegan clients. I have a couple that are vegan and even a raw vegan. It’s one thing to make suggestions, but it’s better if I have a realistic understanding of what I’m asking them to do.

It’s been a while since I made a pot of chili, it’s winter and cold, and chili is pretty easy to de-animal… so chili was the winning dish! I pretty much just gathered up a bunch of beans, veggies, and chili-type spices and tossed them in a pot to simmer. It turned out really well and was nice and filling. Let me tell you, the serving size was a major bowlful. I wasn’t quite sure I was going to be able to eat it all and it was only 300 calories!

I had a choice between pumpkin and butternut squash, and the pumpkin won out just because the can looked more exciting. I’m all about the packaging apparently. Butternut squash would be great here too if you have that. You can also mix up the beans however you’d like – black beans, kidney, pinto, or whatever you have. You’ll need about 2 cans’ worth. I broke a sweat and got a forearm pump opening all the cans for this sucker. 😉

Vegan Pumpkin Chili Vegan Pumpkin Chili

  • 1 cup (121g) yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup (60g) carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium (134g) red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 14 – 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the onion, carrots, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the veggies soften. Stir them every now and then so they cook evenly. Add the garlic, jalapeno, soy sauce, and spices, and cook for about 1 minute just to toast the spices.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes to just thicken it slightly. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite chili toppings like tortilla chips, avocado, or even some shredded vegan cheese.

Makes 4 monstrous servings (!) at approximately 301 calories each – 16g protein, 57g carbs, and 1g fat.

I usually eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and I knew getting my usual amount was going to be tough to do. I lowered my expectations for the day quite a bit, but I still didn’t expect just how tough it would be to even hit that number. So my first observation was that vegans will really need to work to get their protein even moderately high. Not necessarily an issue but something to keep in mind.

Without a vegan protein powder or a meat substitute like tempeh, it was impossible for me to even come near my protein number due to the sheer volume of food. I was stuffed all day because it was a lot of food for fewer calories. I can pack it away too, but this was hard for me to do! I also had issues being way low on fat and found that I needed to add in nuts, oils and other healthy fats to meals to make up for my choices being pretty low.

All in all it was fun to try out and I definitely learned a lot. If you aren’t vegan, you can easily sub in chicken broth for the veggie broth and throw in grilled chicken or brown some ground beef with the veggies in the first step. Easy as can be.

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