Back when I decided to become a vegetarian 6 years ago, it was hard.
I made the decision to cut meat out of my diet for health reasons...not for save the animals reasons. I still LOVE cheese, yogurt, eggs, milk, chocolate, sour cream, butter, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, cheese, half-and-half, ice cream, and cheese. I really love cheese. Those are animal products making my animal needs few, but significant.
I grew up on a farm. In Kansas. Where we ate our own cows. That means that every meal I ate for the first years of my life revolved around meat. At least every meal once I my mom was done breast feeding me.
"We'll have steak/roast beef/chicken/ground beef/pork chops/turkey/brats/hamburgers/MEAT with a side of ________."
Getting out of that train of thought really required A LOT of effort in the beginning. I spent about 8 months transitioning away from meat--first, I quit purchasing any meat; then, I cut one at a time [pork, beef, chicken]; then, I went to Europe where I stayed with host families and ate whatever they served me; then, I was straight pescatarian [I eat fish 3-4 times a month or if my body is really craving protein]. The way I wanted to reform my thinking was to choose food based on 1. color, 2. protein, 3. variety.
Needless to say, it was a looong process.
Now, I actually enjoy looking at a meaty recipe and trying to think about how I can veg-ify it. It's a challenge.
For this vegetarian chili, I was inspired by a recipe told to me by a volunteer at work and a recipe posted in the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine.
- 2 Tbsp, Vegetable Oil
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 2-3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
- 1 cup Carrots, chopped
- 1/2 head Cauliflower, chopped
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 2-4 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 Tbsp Slap Ya Mama [or other combination of cayenne, salt, pepper, and seasonings]
- 2 cans Chili Beans [I used Bush's-1 mild and 1 medium]
- 1 can Diced Tomatoes, with juice
- 1 large can Tomato Juice
- 1 bag Frozen Corn
As I usually say, the amazing thing about soup is that you can adjust the levels of ingredients to your liking. Hate carrots? Maybe you'll use peppers instead. Hate beans? Maybe you'll put in ground beef or a ground soy-beef. Hate chili powder? You probably shouldn't make chili. Like things less spicy? Skip the cayenne. Like things more spicy? More cayenne and maybe some hot sauce.
Just cook it until the vegetables are soft and delicious. Mine were al dente after about 45 minutes of simmering, which I loved for the added bite in my soup. This makes a lot of soup, so I froze about half of it to be eaten at a later date. (-:
Top it with sour cream, cheese, corn crackers [I really wish I had some of these!], a side of corn bread, or something crunchy. Enjoy!