• Hannah Estabrook

Reality Bites: Crowd-Pleasing Crock Pot Chili with Cilantro-Avocado Cream


When I think of chilly fall nights, I picture knitted sweaters, hot tea, a roaring fire… and a big pot of vegan chili. This recipe is an old standby at my house; once the cold weather hits, we whip up a big batch of this hearty and satisfying chili on a weekly basis. It’s loaded with a variety of protein-rich beans and fresh veggies, then generously spiced with southwestern flavor, accentuated by the addition of a couple unexpected (and top secret!) ingredients, and finally topped with a dollop of tangy cilantro-avocado cream.

As if that wasn’t already enough, this also just so happens to be one of those magical things called Crock Pot Meals. That’s right, you throw it together in your slow cooker in only a matter of minutes before you head out the door in the morning, and when you come home late that evening, after a long and exhausting day, you will be rewarded by a steaming pot of delicious chili, just waiting to be devoured! Now that’s what I call service.

And if you thought it couldn’t possibly get any better, then brace yourself, because this is the meal that just keeps on giving. One batch of this chili makes more than enough to feed your entire family, and your friends, and your friends’ friends for a week. (*slight exaggeration*) But seriously, you’ll be set with plenty of leftovers to satisfy all of those late-night chili cravings.

Ingredients:

For the chili:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 2 tbsp minced garlic

  • 1 green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 cup frozen corn

  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 14oz can tomato sauce

  • 2 14oz cans of beans, drained (black, kidney or pinto are my favorites!)

  • 1 package of Yves Original Ground Round* (optional)

  • 2 tbsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 squirt of your favorite hot sauce

*Yves Original Ground Round is a seasoned vegan soy product that is most often used a substitute for ground beef in recipes. This recipe is equally awesome without it, but it makes for a heartier chili.

For the cilantro-avocado cream:

  • 2 ripe avocados

  • ½ lime, juiced

  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro

  • ½ tsp salt

  • Cold water, as needed

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the chili ingredients in a large Crock Pot or other slow-cooker and cook over low heat for 6-8 hours. (I recommend putting it on before you leave for school/work in the morning, so that dinner is already prepared when you come home in the evening!)

  2. Shortly before serving, make the avocado-cilantro cream by blending all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender until it forms a smooth cream. It should be about the consistency of yogurt, so add cold water as needed until you’ve achieved this.

  3. To serve, spoon out a generous portion of chili and top it with a dollop (or two) of the cilantro-avocado cream. Leftovers store well in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer in sealed containers for at least a month. Enjoy!

Super Food Spotlight:

Avocado!

Creamy, rich, and subtly sweet; avocado is the definition of decadence, and lucky enough for us, it happens to be ridiculously nutritious as well. Avocado is best known for its plentiful supply of monounsaturated fatty acids (or “good fats”) that help to lower the risk of many cancers and cardiovascular diseases In fact, over 77% of the calories in avocado come from these healthy fats!

Now, I know what you’re thinking; isn’t fat supposed to be unhealthy? Although this has been a common misperception in the past, nutritionists are now urging people to unlearn “fat-phobia” in an effort to actually improve their overall health. Although some highly-processed saturated and trans fats, like those found in palm oil and low-quality meats, can be bad for us when consumed in large quantities, getting a good daily dose of natural, plant-based fats like those found in nuts, seeds and avocado, is one of the best ways to amp up the nutrition in your diet.

Avocado in particular has a dense concentration of other nutrients as well, including vitamins K and C, as well as fiber.

Try it today!

  • Add sliced avocado to your favorite sandwich, wrap or salad to add some delicious creaminess, and extra nutrition.

  • Try a new take on breakfast; mash up ½ of a ripe avocado and spread it on to your favorite toast with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

  • Substitute mashed avocado for some of the butter or oil in a recipe when making baked goods like muffins or brownies.

  • Cut an avocado in half, and eat it with a spoon for a healthy on-the-go snack!