Friday, January 24, 2014

Favorite Bean & Tofu Chili

Do you have a favorite, "any time of the year" food? 
Mine is chili!

I just love a hearty bowl of chili, but until now I just haven't been overly excited about the meatless chili recipes I have tried.  A few nights ago I invited my mom up for dinner. My mom normally refuses to eat tofu, but to my surprise agreed to try my new version of meatless chili…with tofu of course.

You can see the tofu and the different beans give this chili lots of texture.

My mom actually ate her entire bowl of chili and went home with the recipe! I think that means I finally got it right, so now I am going to share it with you. I hope you like it too!! 

This meatless chili has no added fat, and is full of fiber and other healthy ingredients. It is quick to make and the leftovers are fantastic too. We liked it so much I made a double batch two nights later so we would have plenty in the freezer for busy nights ahead.

I read through some information this week that said people on Yeast Free Diets can include GMO free tofu as a food choice... that's exciting news!  

Note * To Prepare tofu for this recipe or any other recipe that you might want to have a more stable or "meaty" texture, (lasagna or tacos)... follow these easy steps:
- Purchase 1 package of firm or extra firm tofu. I suggest finding one that says NON GMO soybeans.
-Open the package and pour out the liquid. Wrap the tofu square in a couple paper towels to soak up a bit more liquid.
-Place tofu in a freezer container and freeze over night or until ready to use. You can freeze tofu up to 5 months for best quality.
-When ready to use tofu it must be defrosted. I prefer the microwave, but overnight in the refrigerator is fine too.  Drain off the liquid and gently squeeze tofu to rid of even more liquid. Wrap tofu in a couple paper towels or in a clean dish towel, and gently squeeze. I like to eliminate as much of the moisture as possible in the defrosted tofu.  This gives me the best results in recipes.

 Favorite Bean & Tofu Chili       Serves 6-7
1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu - frozen, defrosted, and excess liquid removed. See note *
Chop or cut up tofu into small pieces.
1 yellow onion chopped finely. 
1 sweet pepper chopped finely, any color.
1 Tbsp minced garlic.
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1- 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed.
1- 15 oz can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
2-15 oz red beans, drained and rinsed.
1 large can tomatoes or 3- 15 oz cans, pureed. Or freezer bag full of home grown tomatoes defrosted and pureed. (I talk about this below)
1 cup of water or as desired for preference of thickness.

In a large kettle sauté  onions and peppers in small amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Add seasonings and tofu. Sauté a few minutes more, add 1/4 cup more water if needed or some of the tomato puree.
Pour in all the beans and the tomatoes, stirring well. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of additional water if chili seems a little thick. It can vary depending on juiciness of tomatoes.

And it's ready to serve!

Folks following weight watchers can count each serving as 7.5 points if serving 6.

I'd like to share a few tips:
Here you can see the spongy texture of the squeezed out tofu.

Chop up the tofu in small pieces. You can also use your hands to break it up into small pieces.

I love this nifty tool called, Mix & Chop, from Pampered Chef!! This tool makes nice little crumbly pieces, you can actually use it right in your kettle. 

We grow our own tomatoes and freeze them, check out this easy method in my Food Tips. To use them in recipes like chili, lasagna, and other soups, I simply dump a bag of the frozen tomatoes in a large microwave safe bowl and defrost in the microwave. I then use some of the liquid to sauté my onions, peppers and seasonings instead of using oil.

Then in a blender type of processor, dump in the tomatoes and the rest of the liquid in the bowl.  You may have noticed that I have left the skin on the tomatoes. Why not?  It's faster that way and they are going to be pureed anyway. Since we grow our own tomatoes I know they are chemical free.

Whip them up until they are all blended, mine actually look a bit frothy after I've blended them.

Tomatoes are blended and ready to go in the chili.  My blended tomatoes measure about 32 ounces.

Any color of peppers will be fine, I prefer a little of each.  Well, ok...I don't use green, mostly because I prefer the flavor of sweet peppers. If you like green peppers…toss some in too!!

The easy steps:
Sautee onions, peppers, tofu, and seasonings in a large kettle using some of the liquid from the tomatoes or water.

Add pureed tomatoes and beans. Mix well. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve with some corn bread and a salad.  My husband's favorite "Corny" Corn Bread, or my favorite Gluten Free Corn Bread.

 If you want to make Corny Corn Bread fat free, replace the egg with two egg whites or Enger-G Egg Replacer, and the oil with applesauce. It still rises nicely and is great tasting too!  Now you have a fat free corn bread and a fat free chili!


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