Crockpot Vegan Lentil Chili

From the time I was young, I would often experience stomach pain after dinner. So, I quickly developed a little routine for whenever that happened – I would quickly finish up my post-dinner conversations, try and pawn off my chores to one of my brothers, and head to bed early. Most of the time, I would wake up the next morning feeling totally normal. No big deal. This stomach-pain-induced-early-bedtime was a normal (and weekly) occurrence for me. As my brother (who has similar issues) aptly put, my stomach pain was  simply “a part of me”.

However, after the birth of my second son things suddenly got much worse.  I didn’t realize exactly how much worse until one day when my son yelled up the stairs,”No bathroom again, Mom. You play me ‘stead.” There is nothing quite like the words of a toddler to put things into perspective. In that moment, I realized that my “normal” stomach nuisances were maybe not so normal after all. So, on the advice of a friend, I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. There, I was put on a strict elimination diet and tested for food intolerances. Prior to my appointment, I had done some research and so I was expecting that course of treatment, but I wasn’t expecting was the results. Apparently, I am intolerant to wheat, dairy, and fructose. Since I am vegetarian already, those results were – shall I say – discouraging.

Now, I am adjusting to my new life as, essentially, a gluten-free vegan. I always joke with my friends that, while I may have been teetering on the brink of hipster-dom for quite some time, nature has, decidedly, pushed me over the edge. I always wondered what it would be like to go to a restaurant and ask, “What on your menu is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian?”. Well, now I know. And I can tell you that it feels like what I imagine wearing a Star Wars T-Shirt to a Trekkie convention must feel like: you shouldn’t be there, it’s obvious that you don’t belong, and that you’re probably just there to try to make people angry.

In all honesty, the dairy-free, wheat-free part of my diet has actually not been too difficult, but the low fructose/low FODMAP certainly has been a challenge. Unfortunately, fructose (and fermentable sugars) is in just about everything including; garlic and onions, most legumes, and a host of otherwise healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables. So, if you were wondering where me and my blog went – that’s where. To the land of people who are re-learning how to cook and hoping desperately to find something other than lettuce to eat. Thankfully, all the hard-work and food-related sacrifices have been worth it. I am now almost entirely IBS symptom free. Yay!

In light of all this, my food blog will be adapting somewhat. I am hoping to continue to share simple and delicious recipes with you all. However, now they will be (mostly) gluten-free, dairy-free, and low fructose.  I hope that you will continue to find recipes here that everyone in your house will enjoy, even if they are free of those ingredients we hold most dear (I’m looking at you bread and cheese!).

As such, I bring to you (drum roll please)…

Crockpot Vegan Lentil Chili

This recipe was in the works long before I learned about my new dietary restrictions and (thankfully) could be easily adapted to suit my new-found needs. Also, I’m so happy to have finally come up with a delicious chili recipe that uses lentils instead of beans! I don’t know about you, but I just don’t like beans in my chili.

I understand that beans are an essential part of the chili experience, but just like dried fruit in baked goods, I just can’t seem to get on board. As a kid, I would always (ironically?) request that my dad make his chili with extra meat instead of beans. I always got the same response,

“So, you mean you just want meat-sauce, then?”

Well…kinda, ya. And, if, I’m honest, I still kinda do. That’s why I decided to try my hand at an exclusively lentil-based chili. Green (black, and brown) lentils have a texture and taste very similar to ground beef when cooked in stews and soups. They expand, get slightly crumbly, and have very little texture of their own which makes them perfect for something as flavour-packed as chili. Now, I’m not sure about you, but I have also spent years looking for a chili recipe that even comes close to what you can get from a restaurant or can. So many recipes I have tried were either too thin, too tomato-y, or both. Then I stumbled on this recipe and it was almost perfect! The surprising secret ingredient? Cocoa powder! Savoury and chocolate, who knew? (Well, actually the Mayans, but that’s a story for another day!).

Tricks of the Trade:

My husband loves pouring his chili over a bed of perogies. If you have not tried that yet, you must.  (This, unfortunately, not at all gluten-free, dairy-free, or low FODMAP friendly).

Forgot to get the crockpot ready? No problem! You can easily make this on the stove. Sautee the vegetables first and then add all the wet ingredients (tomatoes, tomato purée) and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Crockpot Vegan Lentil Chili
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Crockpot Vegan Lentil Chili

This Crockpot Vegan Lentil Chili packs a lot of punch for very little effort. It is smooth, rich, spicy, and slightly tangy and has quickly become a family favourite!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes 400 ml
  • 4-5 chives
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 thai red chili pepper optional, for heat; may omit or use a pinch of cayenne instead
  • 1 sweet pepper
  • 1 zucchini optional
  • 1 can green lentils well drained
  • 1 can corn optional
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Remove the seeds from the jalapeño and red thai chili. Chop hot peppers, Roma tomatoes, and chives roughly. Throw them all into a single-serve blender cup and puree. 

  2. Chop remaining vegetables into bite-sized pieces. 

  3. Put all the ingredients, including tomato puree into a crockpot. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

  4. Serve with rice, nachos, or perogies!

Recipe Notes

ADDITIONAL LOW FODMAP INSTRUCTIONS*: 1 Serving = 1 cup of Chili. Serve with 1/2 cup of wild or brown rice and 1/2 cup of easily wilted green or additional veggie. I typically serve on a bed of wilted spinach or swiss chard. 

NOT LOW FODMAP? Feel free to add 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic if you do not need to follow a low FODMAP diet. Also, you can substitute the can of lentils for 3/4 cup of dried (green, brown, or black) + 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock. 

*Please note: This is merely a guide and what works for me. Everyone is different and you may need to adjust these proportions to suit your individual needs.

None of the information shared on this blog is a substitute for medical advice. If you are experiencing IBS symptoms,  please contact a medical practitioner.

 

 

 

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