This Healthy Lentil Chili is packed full of whole foods, plant-based proteins, and flavor. You won’t even miss the meat!
Have you tried lentils yet? They are one of my favorite “pulses.” Isn’t that a cool word? I just learned about what the word “pulse” in relationship to food meant last year and I find myself saying it often; it makes me feel smart/fancy. What is a pulse? Well, let me tell you!
According to Pulses.org,
“Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Pulses grow in pods and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Pulses are annual crops that yield between one and 12 grains or seeds. The term “pulses” is limited to crops harvested solely as dry grains, which differentiates them from other vegetable crops that are harvested while still green. Pulses are healthy, nutritious and easy to cook with. Growing pulses also promotes sustainable agriculture, as pulse crops help decrease greenhouse gases, increase soil health, and use less water than other crops. Pulses are a low fat source of protein with high levels of protein and fiber. Pulses also contain important vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and folate.”
Dry beans, lentils, chickpeas, and yellow and green split peas are the types of pulses that I most commonly use and eat, but pulses include all kinds of things that I had never heard of before, like cowpeas, bambara beans, and lupins (Harry Potter anyone?!). Fun stuff, huh? When I think about meatless meals, I often try to include a pulse in the mix because I know they are a great source of plant-based protein.
This lentil chili is an awesome example of a healthy whole food protein-packed meatless meal. It is delicious! I plugged this into MyFitnessPal and with the ingredients that I used, a cup serving (with no toppings) came out at under 350 calories but had almost 22 grams of protein! You can plug in what you use to get all the details/nutrition specs, but the preliminary reports are looking good. Plus, it’s full of fiber and really keeps you full. Add it to your meal plan for next week!
Craving more? Subscribe to Bless this Mess to get new recipes, meal plans, and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! If you try this lentil chili, let me know what you think! Leave a comment, pin it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #blessthismesseat on Instagram. I love to see your kitchen skills in action!
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 pound bag of brown lentils (about 2¼ cups)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes with the juice (14.5 ounce), fire-roasted if you can find them
- 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- ⅓ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional toppings: tortilla chips, avocado, hot sauce, jalapeños
- Add the oil to a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, 6 cups of vegetable stock, and dry lentils, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low and allow it to gently simmer. Cook, covered, until the lentils are soft and cooked through, stirring often, about 30 minutes.
- When the lentils are cooked, place a few cups of the cooked lentil mixture in your blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender) and blend. Add the blended mixture back to the pot and stir to combine. Adjust the thickness of your chili to your liking with additional vegetable stock as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Stir in cilantro and serve.
This lentil chili recipe is so full of flavor, you aren’t going to miss the meat at all. I added some hot sauce and chopped jalapeños to my bowl, and my husband and kids added lots of cheese and dipped tortilla chips to it. They didn’t even ask about the lentils. I think they thought they were beans. I have notes in the recipe on how to adjust the thickness of this chili. I kept mine nice and thick, and the leftovers got even thicker in the fridge. I used them the next day as a taco filling. I threw it on corn taco shells with all kinds of veggies, hot sauce, and some cheese, and it was perfection. My husband used it as a topping for nachos, too.
I can’t wait for you to try this! Let me know if you do.
One last plug for pulses: I was featured on Pulses.org with one of my favorite chickpea recipes. It’s a dessert, and you aren’t going to believe it. Check out the recipe on their site here. This isn’t a sponsored post, but I sure would like to work with them in the future. Fingers crossed. My other favorite pulse recipes are these roasted chickpea, vegetable, and quinoa bowls, homemade roasted red pepper hummus, and slow cooker sausage and bean soup with spinach. Eat all the pulses! Enjoy, from my home to yours.