Hearty Plant-Based Quinoa Chili


Even though it's still 90° degrees out in San Diego, we are officially in the middle of my favorite season: autumn. Which means it's time for one of my favorite fall activities: cooking chili.

This year, I've been interested in working more plant-based dinners into the rotation. As a lifelong meat eater, I don't have a lot of practice cooking meals that aren't constructed around meat. I also have a hard time feeling like I'm getting enough protein or like my meal is hearty enough when I attempt plant-based dinners.

But if there's any meal that defines heartiness it's chili. I don't think it's even possible for chili not to be hearty. So, inspired by a recipe I saw in a cookbook at my friend Makena's house, I attempted my own version of the One Pot Quinoa Chili from "28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot" by Jessica Jones and Wendy Lopez and it was delicious. 

Fresh jalas from the garden!

Jessica and Wendy's book has a lot of other amazing plant-based recipes and their Instagram account,  @foodheavenshow, is super inspiring. These two bicoastal registered dietitians have such a refreshing and realistic take on eating healthy. I will definitely be going back to their cookbook for more of our plant-based dinners this fall.

Ultimately, this recipe is as simple as it is tasty and it will easily provide dinner for two and at least 4-6 lunches to boot. It's also a great excuse to harvest your home garden or use up any veggies before they go bad!

Hearty Plant-Based Quinoa Chili
Yield: 6-8 Servings

  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 large zucchinis, diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 jalape├▒os, seeded and chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 15.5oz cans of organic tomato sauce
  • 1 15.5oz can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5oz can of organic chickpeas / garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp diced green onions
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Chop up all the veggies and mix together in one bowl with the minced garlic. Set aside. 
2. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, pour the bowl of veggies in and cook for 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the water, tomato sauce, black beans and chickpeas and stir. 
4. Once all the veggies, beans and liquids are mixed together, add the uncooked quinoa and spices. Cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Note: I don't really measure out spices, I just kind of eyeball it and keep adding it in as I cook. Go light with the red chili pepper flakes though, unless you want it really spicy!
5. Top bowls with some cheddar cheese and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!
6. Oh yeah! And compost what's left! :D