Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Baby its cold outside!

It was -4 degrees when I got into my car this morning. That's not counting windchill. By the time I got to the highway a couple minutes later, the temperature had dropped to -6 (I didn't take another picture for fear of running off the road, so please take my word for it). The walk into work (about 8-10 minutes from my parking lot) was so cold that I felt sick to my stomach as I reached the front lobby. 

By the time I left work today it was a balmy 12 degrees out. I'm so ready for spring! Instead of going to the gym like I'd originally planned, I decided to take today as a rest day, since I did my long run (8.5 miles) at the gym yesterday. I'm not following a strict training program for the Hyannis Half Marathon in February, but I am structuring my long runs as I have in the past, and as I've read in several articles in Runner's World magazine: increase the distance of your long runs for two weeks, then cut it back on the third week, and so on. Two weeks ago I ran 8 miles, last weekend I ran 10, so this weekend I cut it back to 8.5. Next weekend I'll probably run 11 or 12. Anyway...back to the freezing cold and my nice warm meal...

Yes, instead of going to the gym I think I'd like to dig into a big bowl of Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili!
I came across this recipe on Serious Eats a week or two ago (in the "Eat For Eight Bucks" section, which often has great ideas) and have been excited to make it. I pretty much stuck to the original recipe, except excluded the cilantro, swapped out the chipotle pepper (I couldn't find one), and almost all of my ingredients were organic.
I started by dicing, mincing, peeling, and chopping all of my ingredients so they'd be easily accessible as I needed them. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onions and peppers until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, cumin and chili powder and continue to saute until very fragrant - about 2 minutes.
Stir in beans (after draining and rinsing), tomatoes, chipotle (or other hot pepper) and salt.
Turn heat to high, pour in beer. Believe it or not, I didn't have a bottle of dark beer in my fridge. Then I remembered that there were a couple bottles of beer leftover from the last time Pat and I made beer at home (home brewed IPA=deliciousness). I opened a bottle (luckily it was in the cold hallway outside our side door), took a sip, and was surprised at how good it was!
Simmer for 10 minutes, then add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes - until potatoes are tender but not falling apart.
When finished, spoon chili into bowls, squeeze a wedge of lime on top, and add a dollop of sour cream (or for something better tasting and better for you - use 0% vanilla or plain Greek yogurt - that's what I used.)

This chili is really good...and really spicy! It came out to be a little spicier than I normally eat, but after adding a little more Greek yogurt, it was the perfect balance of spice and creaminess.

After indulging in a bowl and then some, I'm liking this more and more each bite. To better explain myself, I've come up with a list of things I like about this chili, in no particular order:

  • Filling, hearty, and really warms you up
  • Full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants
  • Beautiful colors for a drab white winter day
  • Mostly organic (everything in this is organic with the exception of the spices and the homemade beer)
  • Great alternative to meat chili and is more exciting than just plain vegetarian bean chili
  • Inexpensive! I got most of my ingredients at Trader Joe's

Now that you know this, I think you should make yourself a pot. There are reports that we could be getting more snow tomorrow night, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday...a nice bowl of this chili would certainly help get you through another cold winter day.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small sweet onions, diced
  • 1 orange and 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • (1) 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • (3) 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 minced hot pepper (or 2 tbsp minced canned hot pepper)
  • 1 bottle dark beer (or homemade IPA!)
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • salt
  • lime
  • vanilla or plain Greek yogurt (for topping)

  1. Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onion and peppers until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and chili powder and continue to sauté until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, hot pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn heat to high, and pour in beer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add sweet potatoes.
  2. Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Spoon chili into bowls, squeeze some lime in bowl and a add dollop of Greek yogurt.

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