12 – 14 servings · Prep time 30 min · Cook time: Low 6 to 8 hrs; High 3 to 4 hrs



This coming week my schedule is going to ramp up dramatically. The show I’m in, It’s a Wonderful Life at the Cottage Theatre, in Cottage Grove, OR, opens on December 6 so we’ll start having nightly rehearsals. I also work full-time and leave the house every day from about 7:40 to 4:30. Two days a week I like to walk with two walking buddies right after work for about an hour, and I also have a board meeting to attend one evening after work…so needless to say, I won’t have a lot of time to be “in the kitchen.” So I’m preparing meals this weekend like this nutritious spicy chili I cooked on Saturday. In doing so, I’m set to have some tasty food ready to go in the fridge so all I have to do is eat and go, or grab and go and heat it up at the theatre. I won’t be tempted to whiz through “Fast-food Alley” or make any other unhealthy choices, or even worse not eat at all which would only put my body into a starvation mode panic! This truly tastes great. You can make it as spicy as you want. It’s truly versatile, and I find that it tastes even better as it “marinates” in the fridge. Oh, and did I mention that it freezes very well!


  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 1 tbl garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 small green zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 3 tbl vegetable broth
  • 1 tbl Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 cups red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used home-cooked)
  • 1-1/2 cups garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (I used home-cooked)
  • 2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained (I used home-cooked)
  • 10 oz of vegetable broth (after cooking my beans I always reserve the juices when I drain and cool the beans – that’s what I used here – a perfect blend for a 3-bean chili)
  • 1-cup thick/chunky seasoned pasta sauce (I used some homemade sauce from the freezer that I made this summer from my garden tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, oregano, basil, and rosemary)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp basil
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes


DSCN0483Prep all of your ingredients so they are ready to go.


In a large saucepan, sauté, in the 3 tbl vegetable broth, the chopped onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are almost tender. Add the mushrooms, zucchini and Red Wine Vinegar and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. While these veggies are cooking ing, put the cauliflower in a small microwaveable dish with 2 tsp of water, cover and cook on high for about 3 min just to soften.

DSCN0487In a 7-quart slow cooker, combine all the beans; add the vegetable broth, pasta sauce and sprinkle with prepared seasonings. Spoon in the onion, mushroom and zucchini mixture and add the cauliflower. Stir gently to blend mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (mine was finished in about 7 hours) or high for 3 to 4 hours.


Serve hot. Add chunky salsa if desired, also feel free to garnish with green onions, non-dairy shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. I prefer to sprinkle with 2 to 3 tbl of nutritional yeast.

DSCN0501Serve with 1 slice of: whole grain bread OR warm pita bread OR warm corn bread. You could also add a small leafy green salad with balsamic vinegar, a few cherry tomatoes, slices of cucumber, onions and red peppers.

During the week, I will serve a heaping cup of chili it over a half-cup of brown rice or bulgur or quinoa that I will cook on Sunday and portion out into individual containers. For at least one of my meals, I most likely will quickly sauté about 2 cups of kale and add it to the chili. Truly, this recipe is just the start of some very yummy eating for the week.

The prep time for this recipe was only about 30 minutes. Then I was able to leave it cooking in the slow cooker while I spent a portion of my day working on gathering and creating some props for the play. (I’m helping with this task as well performing in the show!) Truly, the trick to eating healthy is being prepared. Don’t let “I’m too busy to eat healthy” be an excuse to not keep your goal of making health lifestyle choices. Besides, nothing is more delightful than walking in the door and smelling something wonderful wafting from the kitchen.

Cheers, Karen

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