Chili sans carne!
I love a good chili on a cold winter night. A good chili, in my humble opinion, is thick with lots of ingredients that fill me up and keep me warm. A hearty bean chili hits the spot!
Living to 100 years old
Lately, I have been obsessed with learning about the diet and particular foods that promote health and longevity. I went to a conference centered around the vegan lifestyle and heard Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, speak about his research into the places that have the most centenarians (people who live to 100 and beyond).
I was intrigued. After all, I have a grandmother who is over 100 years old. I’ve asked her what she would suggest for living a long life and she gave me some really good advice – don’t smoke, get enough sleep, live in peace, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and very little (if any) meat. Fish and eggs were okay to eat once in a while.
She probably didn’t eat a lot of meat, since my grandmother raised two boys during the worst time in history in rural Russia. She probably didn’t have much money for that. But from what I remember of visiting her when she lived alone, she always had sweets to offer me. Always a cup of tea with jam (no toast), or honey, or homemade preserves.
The Food of Longevity
As it turns out, one of the foods discussed in The Blue Zones that is common to all five places is beans. Beans are low fat, high in protein, and have slow burning carbohydrates promoting a slow release of energy and increasing satiety.
Centenarians living in the Blue Zones consume beans daily.
As a vegan myself, I eat beans often (if not daily) because they are a great source of protein. The recommendations of days of ole of eating beans and rice together at a single meal are not really advocated anymore either.
The thinking is that your body will collect the amino acids (individual protein molecules) it needs and will piece them together as needed to make enzymes, DNA, muscle, whatever is needed.
Did I also mention that beans are instrumental in fighting cancer?
It’s true. They contain compounds that strengthen the immune system and enhance the ability of immune cells to identify and break down cancer cells.
Because they are low in (all, but particularly saturated) fat, beans are a great source of protein for individuals with heart disease and diabetes.
Maybe that’s why they are the longevity food common to all five regions of Blue Zones.
Chili Sans Carne
1½ medium onions, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
6-7 carrots, shredded
3 (15-oz) cans of beans, (a combination of red, pinto, and cannellini beans works well)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin, ground
2 bay leaves
- Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent.
- Add garlic and sauté a minute more.
- Add all other ingredients and mix well.
- Let cook 2-3 hours over low heat. The chili will be ready sooner that 2 hours, but the longer the ingredients cook together, the more the flavors will marry. This can also be made in a slow cooker over a longer period of time.