Vegetarian Chili Beans with Kale and Skillet Cornbread

Chili Beans with Kale and Skillet Cornbread
Chili Beans with Kale and Skillet Cornbread

My “Cooking for Special Diets” class has morphed into “Vegetarianism for Teen-age Girls” this semester.  I have some wonderful young ladies who are new to the concept of being vegetarians so we’re starting with the basics.  This week we covered types of Vegetarians and Vegans, and various reasons that motivate them including health, ethical, spiritual, and ecological concerns.  (These teens were influenced by pictures of cute baby animals on Facebook and made the switch.  This happens a lot among teenagers, as they see changing their diet as something within their power to affect larger outcomes.  The problem comes when they eliminate a large part of their diets and then don’t know what to replace those foods with.  That’s where my classes come in!)

Along with the motivation behind the diets, we discussed some specific definitions and variations among vegetarian diets.  These included:

Lacto-vegetarian – dairy foods and plant foods

Ovo-vegetarian  – eggs and plant foods

Lacto-ovo vegetarian – dairy foods and eggs as well as plant foods

Pescaterian – fish and seafood and plant foods

Vegan or ‘strict vegetarian’ – only plant foods and products.

Raw Vegan/Raw Foodist  –  unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius).

Macrobiotic – unprocessed vegan foods, occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Emphasis on the consumption of lacto-fermented vegetables, Asian vegetables such as daikon and sea vegetables.

Flexitarians – a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat.

Freegans – a basic vegetarian diet, unless the food is acquired for free

American Vegetarian – a vegetarian who sometimes eats bacon.  🙂  (Don’t hate on me for that, I found it out on the blogosphere!)

We also discussed essential nutrients and complimentary proteins.  To round it all out we made some dynamite Chili Beans with Kale and Roasted Red Pepper along with some Southern Skillet Cornbread, cooked in my cast iron skillet to impart extra iron into the food.  (Not to mention a delicious crispy crust!)

I will come right out and admit it, I hate tofu.  (I rather like tempeh, but I’ll save that for another blog!)  I want to equip these girls with a stockpile of tasty, healthy, easy-to-prepare meals that are satisfying to everyone in their families and their still-developing bodies.  And I want to introduce them to protein sources that don’t include tofu!

I think these dishes suit that order nicely ~

Chili Beans with KaleSkillet Cornbread with Chili Beans

1 14 oz can organic kidney beans
1 14 oz can organic black beans
1 large red bell pepper
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 large handfuls shredded fresh kale
3 large cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. Mexican seasoning blend
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Place red pepper over an open flame and blacken the outer skin completely.  Once all of the red skin is black, place in a bowl with a lid and allow to steam for a few minutes.

Open, rinse and drain beans.  Place in a medium saucepan.  Add just enough water to cover.

Place cumin seeds in a dry skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Toss and continue to heat until you just start to smell the aroma of the cumin oil.  Remove from heat and place in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.  Pulverize the seeds, add the powder to the beans.

Add other seasonings and allow to heat.  Sautee onion in the same pan you toasted the cumin until translucent.  Add to the beans. Give everything a stir. Add more water if it becomes too dry, but not enough to make it soupy.

Add half of the shredded kale and stir into the mixture to ‘melt down’.

Remove the cover from the pepper.  Take to the sink and under running water, remove all of the blackened skin.  It should slip off easily.  Pat dry and remove the stem and seeds.  Cut the pepper into strips and then into 1 inch chunks.

Stir in the remaining kale, roasted pepper and tomato chunks.  Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Serve with Skillet Cornbread


Southern Skillet Cornbread

1 ½ cups white corn meal
½ cup plain flour or all purpose gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp baking powder*
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 egg beaten
1 ½ cups milk, buttermilk, or dairy alternative (I like unsweetened almond/coconut milk)
¼ cup oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place oil in an 8” cast iron skillet and put it in the oven for five minutes or until it is hot.  Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and blend well.  Add the egg and milk to the dry ingredients and mix.  Carefully pour the hot oil from the skillet into the batter and stir well.  Pour the batter into the hot iron skillet and bake it for

20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.

*make your own baking powder by mixing 2 parts Cream of Tartar to 1 part baking soda.


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