Where will you start?

november is my favorite autumn month. But this time last year I was in Boston, polar vortex imminent, living in a shabby apartment, missing family and friends; I needed some comfort food fast and Ben & Jerry’s was no longer cutting it. I decided to spend a Saturday to make some good ole’ chili. Not only was the making of it cathartic but this health-conscious turkey quinoa chili brought much needed warmth into my frigid Boston November.

This guilt-free chili will give you all of the warmth and comfort you need this November and is packed with a lot of “good stuff”.

It’s been forever since my mom made chili and since, she’s started making better food choices as has my dad—she’s reduced sugar and salt intake, he’s given up red meat. Living with parents constantly looking for new healthy foods, they tend to get excited about guilt-free tasty and indulgent dishes. So I promised to unearth my turkey chili recipe for them to enjoy. Dad was very excited about the quinoa, but unaware of the other surprising ingredients I’d add to make for a flavorful Autumn-themed chili.

Here’s what you’ll need


TIP: If you’re like my mom and you’re watching your salt intake, remember other ingredients such as vegetable stock and Worcestershire sauce can add to the flavor. Also, you can opt for low sodium versions of both.

1 14.5 oz can of black beans

1 12 oz can of red kidney beans

1 cup of quinoa

1 lb ground turkey

1 32 oz bag of frozen corn

1 14.5 oz can of veggie stock

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

1 large onion (or 2 medium ones)

1 large green bell pepper

1 large red bell pepper


some sprigs of fresh thyme

6 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like a kick)

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of brewed coffee

1 1/2 cups of Angry Orchard Crisp Apple hard cider

Olive oil

S&P to taste

Mise en place tips!

Pull out a chair, a stool, or kitchen cart to place your crock pot dish on while you assemble your chili. This way, you can optimize counter space without having to constantly move your dish around.

Employ a “garbage bowl” for easy clean-up. You can even use produce scraps for composting!

miseenplace1Make your life easier: measure out all your dry ingredients/spices and put them in a dish. Then, put away everything you don’t need.

First the Quinoa

  1. rinse quinoa in 2 cups of water
  2. bring 2 cups of water to a boil
  3. cook quinoa on medium heat for 15 minutes
  4. fluff with a fork and set aside

Put your knife skills to the test!

  1. dice large onion, set ¼ aside for the turkey
  2. chop green pepper and red peppers
  3. mince cloves of garlic (set some aside for ground turkey)
  4. chop cilantro (should yield approximately 2 tablespoons)

Then, the ground turkey!

  1. heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan
  2. caramelize ¼ of diced onions, 1/3 of minced garlic
  3. season ground turkey with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cumin
  4. cook ground turkey just shy of medium

Brew coffee, save a cup—enjoy the rest with cream and sugar (or you can get a cup from your favorite local café)


Strain and rinse beans in a colander



Look at all the pretty colors!!!!

In your crock pot dish throw in:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • The rest of the diced onions
  • The rest of the minced garlic
  • All of the chopped peppers
  • All of the strained and rinsed beans
  • Frozen corn (For soupy chili add ½ or less, For heartier chili add ½ or more)
  • Cooked quinoa
  • All of the diced tomatoes
  • Can of veggie stock
  • hard cider
  • brewed coffee
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 healthy tablespoons of tomato paste (save some for adjusting thickness and taste for later)

Put your dish in the cooker and put on high heat and stir. Add your spices, cilantro, and Worcestershire sauce. Put a lid on it, plop on the couch and commence movie marathon.

You might want to save this recipe for a rainy day this on a rainy day.


Let the marriage of flavors commence!

Chili should cook for 6-8 hours on medium heat or 3-5 hours on high heat.

You can make adjustments along the way by adding more water for a soupier chili or more tomato paste for a thicker chili OR if you would prefer that the chili not be too tomatoey, take some of the liquid out. Also to help with thickening, put the lid on partially, toward the end, so that the steam can escape. Be advised: Quinoa will help with absorption in a liquidy chili.

An hour before cooking is through, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and stir.



This guilt-free chili will give you all of the warmth and comfort you need this November and is packed with a lot of “good stuff”. This recipe uses less salt, no sugar, and is made hearty with beans and veggies (of which you can always add to). Most importantly though, this recipe features power foods such as quinoa and red kidney beans which are, as you may know, packed with protein and fiber. Perhaps the only indulgence is the hard cider (and I know you drink more of that on the weekends!). “Yummy, flavorful, healthy chili?” you ask amazed. Yes. And you’re very welcome.

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