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Spicy Vegetarian Chili

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This recipe was developed as part of a partnership between Bariatric Foodie and Celebrate Vitamins. Here on Bariatric Foodie you’ll find pictures and helpful recipe hints, then use the button at the bottom of this post to click through to the Celebrate Vitamins website to view and download the recipe, complete with nutrition information!

I know what you’re thinking. That does not look vegetarian. That looks like it’s chock full of meat. Nik, are you lying to us??? Are you trying to pull the aprons over our eyes???

No…I’m not. That chili really does not have a single scrap of meat in it!

It’s be a long time since I’ve cooked with textured vegetable protein. But I felt it was time.

Now I know some folks have different feelings about TVP because it is a soy-based product. And I respect your feelings about that!

But for me it’s a handy thing to have around the house for several reasons:

  1. It packs a lot of protein into a small serving size (12g in just 1/4 cup!)
  2. It doesn’t taste like anything…which means you can make it taste like anything.
  3. Ounce-for-ounce it’s generally cheaper than animal protein.

And chances are you’ve had TVP and didn’t know it. Non-meat crumbles (to use in place of ground meat)? That’s basically TVP. Imitation bacon bits? That is also TVP! (Check the label if you don’t believe me.)

This is why, for me, TVP is here to stay in my kitchen! That and…I have this child who waxes and wanes in and out of vegetarianism. Poor kid. She’s conflicted. She genuinely doesn’t like the idea of animals dying to be her food. But she also has an affinity for steak. The struggle is real.

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S’anyway, I wanted to share this recipe precisely because it packs an impressive protein punch. With the TVP and the beans, you get a lot of protein, but then with the addition of a few veggies (in this case tomatoes, onions, peppers and butternut squash, you’re getting a lot of micro-nutrient action as well.

But here’s the deal.

I genuinely think this recipe works best spicy. Generally I try to look out for my non-spicy Foodies. And you may like this recipe just fine without the spicy elements. I do not. Between the slightly nutty flavor of the TVP and the slight sweetness of the squash, for me it needs the spicyness to hold it all together. Your mileage may vary.

This recipe is a great make-ahead recipe. With TVP, the longer you let it “rest,” the more flavor infused it will be. When cooking TVP, you just want to make sure to check it even if it is on a low simmer. TVP sucks up water until it is filled with it (which is why it looks like ground meat when it is done cooking). I like this chili thick and saucy, so I didn’t put a ton of liquid in it, but you also don’t want it to so thick it’s almost solid! So watch that.

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Now…with all that information, this chili is a great addition to any #MeatlessMonday or if you just aren’t feeling meat right now, so hop on over to the Celebrate website and get it!

Gimme That Recipe!

Oh also…if you follow a vegetarian diet (or just cook vegetarian meals) and have a different source of protein you suggest for chili, leave a comment! We’d love to learn about it.

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