CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Not-Quite Vegan Chili

Americans eat a lot of meat, more than any other place in the world. That’s a fact.

If you were like me, meat was usually on the supper table at least four or five days a week. Perhaps living in a rural area of the country, where meat prices were lower, had something to do with that.

Regardless of the reason, many of us carried that habit into our adult lives and continue to do so.

Things are changing, though, and one of the big reasons is that studies have shown that people — particularly among individuals younger than 50 — whose diets that are high in red meats have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

But in a culture where meat has played such a prominent role, it’s not easy to go “cold turkey.”

In our house, we still eat red meat but not like we did 15 years ago. We consume a lot more poultry — chicken and wild game birds such as pheasants — as well as  fish and seafood. We also often have meatless meals.

Another avenue I’ve been exploring is adding meat substitutes such as textured vegetable protein (soy) to traditional meat-based entrees like the following chili recipe.

Vegetable protein is good start GREAT OPTION, I think, for those who like red meat but hope to cut back for health reasons. And it’s easier on the pocketbook, too. AND IT TASTES GOOD, TOO. TRUST ME!

Not-Quite Vegan Chili
½ pound ground chuck or bison
1 cup dried textured vegetable protein
2 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 Hungarian wax pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 dried cayenne peppers, chopped
2 dried Thai peppers, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushroooms, sliced
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
¼ cup sugar (can be brown)
1 15½-ounce can kidney beans
1 15½-ounce can pork and beans
1 15½-ounce can chili beans
Place textured vegetable protein in frying pan with water. Heat and allow TVP to absorb water. Set aside. Brown burger. Place burger, TVP and remaining ingredients in large pot. Cook for 2 to 3 hours.

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