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Unusual Chili Additions

Oct 05, 2022

Chili is one of those dishes that can be made a million different ways, with endless possibilities for ingredients. For this reason, chili is a cold weather staple, and learning a few new ways to enjoy it can help you add a new recipe or two to your meal rotation this season.  


While traditional recipes typically call for beans, tomatoes, and ground beef, this hearty dish has no hard and fast rules. Since the current dietary guidelines recommend limiting red and processed meats, you might want to try a red meat free version to reduce your risks of Cardiovascular Disease, type-2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.  Here's one I recently made, and I love it.


Since chili can be a blank canvas, it's a great dish to experiment with different ingredients to create unique flavor profiles. Here are some unusual chili additions you can try this season. 


Chocolate: It might sound strange, but chocolate is a great addition to chili. The sweetness pairs well with the spiciness of the chili peppers, and it adds a depth of flavor that you didn't know was missing. Try adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder or a couple of ounces of dark chocolate to your next batch of chili.


Coffee: Coffee is another ingredient that might seem out of place in chili, but it actually works really well. It adds a rich flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly. Try adding a cup of coffee to your next batch of chili.


Fruit: Fruit might not be the first thing you think of when making chili, but it can be a great addition. Sweet fruits like pineapple and mango are delicious in chili, and they add a touch of sweetness that balances out the spice.  


Vegetables: Vegetables are a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your chili. There are endless possibilities here – try adding spinach, carrots, or even sweet potatoes. The options are endless.


Beans: Beans are a classic addition to chili, but there's more than one kind to choose from -- Black beans, kidney beans, and cannellini beans are all delicious in chili. Red lentils can substitute for ground meat well.  And they're a great source of protein and fiber. 


Vinegar: Vinegar can help to brighten the flavors of your chili, making the spices pop. However, it can also make the dish more acidic, so be careful not to go overboard. When adding vinegar to chili, start with just a tablespoon or two and taste as you go. 


Nuts: Nuts are another great way to add flavor and texture to your chili. They also give it a bit of crunch, which is always welcome. Try adding some chopped nuts to your next batch of chili.


Quick Chili:  If you need a quick meal, try one of my go to recipes that uses pantry/freezer staples.  PCRM's quick chili.  If you can open a can, you can make this chili.

These are just a few of the many delicious and surprising additions you can make to your chili. So, don't be afraid to experiment and find the perfect combination of ingredients for you. 


What other creative additions have you made to your chili?

Email me at [email protected] and let me know, I'd love to try some new ingredients in my next batch of chili.


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