This vegetarian sweet potato chili is about to be your new winter comfort food go-to

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Photo: Joel Kahn
the plant-based solution book
Photo: Sounds True

January is basically a month-long meal-time paradox: Short days and cold weather illicit cravings for comfort food (mac and cheese, anyone?), but post-resolution intensions are saying “just the salad, please.” Here’s a dish that lets you have it both ways: an ingredient list that reads like it’s straight out of a salad bar, but the end result is a cozy—yet protein-packed—bowl of vegetarian chili.

The recipe comes courtesy of The Plant-Based Solution, a new book by cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn, MD. After 30 years working directly with patients suffering from heart disease, he traded his scalpel for a pen and an integrative approach, and now focuses on healing patients through nutrition. The book is brimming with research on avoiding heart disease. (Hint: more fruits and vegetables, less fat.) Dr. Kahn knows that “willpower without ‘skillpower’ can be frustrating” so he also included a meal plan. (Some of the recipes come straight from his family’s Detroit-based healthy restaurant GreenSpace Café.)

Because Dr. Kahn wants his patients to aim for a diet that’s no more than 25 percent of calories from fat—a sweet spot for avoiding heat disease—he emphasizes avoiding oils while cooking, even “healthy” ones like olive and coconut. In this recipe, you sauté the aromatics in just a splash of water instead of olive oil, which works surprisingly well for turning the crunchy onions and celery into a soft an aromatic base for the chili. Ready for a meal that will make your tastebuds as happy as your heart? Keep reading for his go-to chili recipe.

Scroll down to get the heart-healthy recipe.
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Sweet potato-lentil chili

Serves 6

Splash of water
1 3/4 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
2 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups dry red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) black beans or kidney beans, rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Lime wedges (for serving)

1. In a large pot on medium heat, add the water, onions, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices, and stir through.

2. Cover and simmer over medium heat for six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot.

3. Rinse the lentils. Add them to the pot with the water, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to bring to a boil.

4. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf, and stir in the lime juice. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe originally from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton and re-printed by The Plant-Based Solution by Joel Kahn, MD.

If you’re craving more comfort food, check out this Paleo shepherd’s pie and this ketogenic meal you can make in your slow cooker.

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