by Anna Marie Trotman

This week you may be considering what kind of food you’re going to serve for the Super Bowl and when you think about it, there may not be a lot of healthy options! Because February is American Heart Month, I’ll share with you a yummy heart healthy chili recipe.

I’m not into football, but I always liked the Super Bowl. Maybe because I have great memories of Super Bowl Sunday from the days when I lived in California. Maybe it was the commercials, the halftime show, the party with all the unhealthy goodies, or perhaps it was the margaritas that were definitely in abundance. The festivities started early in the afternoon. The lavish display of food and drink has continued throughout the decades. Over the past ten years or so, the food in our house has gotten much healthier and so has the Super Bowl menu. I want to encourage our Birth Center families to make small changes in your menu planning, like using spices to season your food instead of massive amounts of salt and fat.

For Superbowl 51, I’m not going crazy, friends will bring over suggested snacks. I’ll make a couple of recipes that have been favorites over the years, modified to be heart healthy, delicious, and nourishing that also work well for any size gathering.   

Vegetarian Chili  

Put your slow cooker to work.

I adapted this recipe from my mom who used hamburger cooked in its own fat. I now use Trader Joe’s “Beef-less Ground Beef” or you can get a version of “beefless” ground meat at the supermarket. People are very surprised that they are not eating meat. Sautéing the “Beef-less Ground Beef” with olive oil, onions, and garlic layers the flavors. Adding a paste of spices makes it oh so delicious.

Makes 7 or 8 – 1 Cup Servings

  • 2 packages of Beef-less Ground Beef (finely crumbled)
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 5 or more large cloves of garlic (1 clove = 1 TBS)
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS tomato paste (get it in the tube)
  • 3 TBS of ground chili powder (you can use more if you like)
  • 2 15.5oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Secret Ingredient – Dark chocolate – 2 large squares semi-sweet 70% or higher cocoa  

Note: A true dark chocolate will never have sugar listed first in the ingredients. It should always be below the cocoa ingredients.


  • Fine chop onions
  • Chop garlic
  • Crumble Beefless Ground Beef
  • In a 12 inch skillet add 1 TBS of olive oil, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium low until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until soft, if the mixture starts to stick add a bit of water. Stir in crumbled “Beefless Ground Beef.” Add another pinch of salt and a little more water. (This is how you begin to layer the flavors), then transfer to your slow cooker (or stove top soup pot).
  • Bloom your spices: In your skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Add Chili Powder, cumin, and a little more salt. When you start to smell the spices (bloom) stir in the sauce from the chipotle chilies (to taste). Keep stirring the mixture for a few more moments. Then add the tomato paste and stir for about 2 or 3 more minutes.
  • Add spices to “meat” mixture and stir. Add canned tomatoes, then stir. After the chili is heated, add chocolate and stir. Cook on low for about 2 hours. I add the rinsed beans almost at serving time, or they get mushy.  If the chili is too thick add a little water.


Serve with freshly grated sharp cheese, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (let your guests know that the chilies are hot hot hot!), and greek yogurt to substitute for sour cream. For color and taste, add cilantro (optional).

Serve blue or corn tortilla chips with a homemade guacamole, corn bread, and antipasto for snacking.

Touch Down!

Hint: If you it make a day ahead, the chili just gets better. All you have to do is heat it up and eat it up.