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A Chicago Spring Chili

Mark and I have toyed with the idea of moving to Boulder. 360 days of sun. Jackets optional in the winter. Living and loving the sweet outdoor life all doped up on Vitamin D. Sounds so good that I'm actually struggling to make the case now for staying in Chicago, even with some killer chili. I've lived in Chicago all my life, except for four years at Syracuse and roughly two years in NYC. Chicago is home. We've had several friends move to sunny California only to turn right back around and come home to Chicago.

So why do we stay? What's so special about this gray, bone-chilling place that even the promise of sun-soaked days elsewhere can't keep us away? Yup, no surprise, it's the people - and the food's a close second. Stuck inside, we eat together a lot. I'm not saying this chili is going to make you stick around if Boulder is beckoning, but I am saying it will take the chill out of any gray, rainy, cold Chicago spring day. To visitors, this sorry excuse for spring would justify the change fee on any early flight out of here. To us tough Chicagoans, it signals that summer will soon be here - that's when we take the cue to take our meals outdoors.

This bean-free, veggie-loaded chili is light and saucy. Puréeing zucchini and red peppers in the sauce is a common trick to get more veggies in any dish for kids and some kid-like adults. Purée longer for a saucier version or a little less for more veggies with a bite. Another option would be to toss in some cut up zucchini and red pepper after puréeing the sauce for something more to sink your teeth into.


  • 1 package organic ground turkey

  • 1 red pepper

  • 2 zucchini

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • 1 celery stalk

  • 1 T chili powder

  • 1 T cumin

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 14.5 oz BPA-free can of organic tomato sauce (1/2 can only for thicker chili)

  • 14.5 oz BPA-free can of organic diced tomato

  • 1 cup veggie or chicken broth (1/2 cup only for thicker chili)

  • 2 T avocado oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Cilantro, avocado, lime to top


  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat

  • Sauté onions until soft

  • Add turkey, cook until brown

  • Remove turkey and onions and place on a plate off to the side.

  • Add red pepper and celery, cook until soft

  • Add zucchini, cook for 3 minutes

  • Add spices

  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and broth

  • Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are soft.

  • With a hand-blender, purée veggies until sauce is at desired consistency.

  • Add turkey and onions, and any other chopped veggie you'd like for more bite. Simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Add topper such as cilantro, lime, avocado to taste.

Serves: 4-5

Time: 40 minutes with prep

HEARTFUL RECIPE - One of our real food recipes that focuses on veggies, protein, healthy fats and/or healthy carbs and doesn't include gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, corn or peanuts.

Write-up by Pam.

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