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Kid-Friendly Vegetarian Chili

Updated on February 6, 2012
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Brainy Bunny is the mother of two. Together they read, craft, and play games for fun.

Olives are the secret ingredient that make kids love this chili!
Olives are the secret ingredient that make kids love this chili! | Source

Do you struggle to get vegetables and healthier options into your kids' diet? Are you tired of the expense and health drawbacks of eating a lot of red meat? Add kid-friendly vegetarian chili to your weeknight repertoire and satisfy your whole family! This recipe is very easy to make, even when kids are underfoot, because if you get distracted and forget some ingredients, you can throw them in later. It's almost impossible to ruin this chili!

Vegetarian Chili Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 15 oz. can dark kidney beans
  • 1 12 oz. bag vegetarian crumble
  • chili powder
  • 5 oz. frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup manzanilla olives

1. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a very large skillet or large pot. (Make sure you have a lid that fits your pan or pot, because you'll need it later!) Dice the onions and green pepper, and cut the olives in half. Set the olives aside for later.

2. Cook the onions, green pepper, and minced garlic over medium or medium high heat until the onions start to get translucent and the green pepper is just starting to lose its brightness. This won't take long; you can use the time to give your can opener a workout on the tomatoes and beans.

3. Shake a little bit of chili powder on your veggies and stir them up. This gives the chili flavor a chance to spread throughout the dish without adding too much heat. (You can add more later to personal taste.)

4. Empty the bag of vegetarian crumble into the veggie mixture. Stir it up together to distribute it evenly and break up any clumps. Vegetarian crumble is already fully cooked, so you don't need to worry about browning it or draining off fat. So easy!

5. Pour in the entire can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Now is a good time to add another shake of chili powder.

6. Add in both types of beans, the frozen corn, and the olives. If a little bit of olive brine falls in with the olives, don't fret; olives are the secret ingredient that makes this chili so appealing to kids!

7. Make sure the mixture is thoroughly mixed, and bring it to a slow boil. Taste it. If it still needs more chili powder, add it now. If you're keeping it very mild for your kids, you can always add a little hot sauce to your own portion to spice it up.

Tip

Don't try to cook this on high heat to speed things up; burning it is pretty much the only thing that can go wrong with this dish!

8. Cover it, turn the heat down to medium low, and let it simmer. Once again, it's hard to get this wrong: if you only have 15 minutes until you need to get dinner on the table, it'll be ready; if you don't need to sit down for an hour yet, keep the flame low and the flavors will meld nicely.

Serve with white rice and some grated cheddar cheese for an easy, healthy weeknight meal for the whole family.
Serve with white rice and some grated cheddar cheese for an easy, healthy weeknight meal for the whole family. | Source

Serving Suggestions

Our go-to sides for this kid-friendly vegetarian chili are white rice and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. However, it is also great to scoop up with tortilla chips or even roll up in soft flour tortillas to make "chili burritos". It reheats well in the microwave, and the leftovers stay delicious for several days in the fridge. (This is a good thing; this recipe is quite large and can feed a family of four two dinner meals when accompanied by rice or another filling starch.) Enjoy!

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    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Hi, AliciaC. You probably could do it with ground beef, but of course you'd have to brown and drain the beef, not just toss it in like the crumble. Try it and let me know how it goes.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love chili, and this sounds like a very tasty version. The only ingredient I don't generally have at home is vegetarian crumble. I'm going to get some and give this recipe a try!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, livelonger. The olives add a bit of umami taste, and in my opinion it's the olives that make the leftovers taste better rather than worse the next day. Let me know how you like it!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This sounds fantastic!! I'm a vegetarian and would have NEVER thought of olives adding that special taste and texture, but it makes complete sense. Can't wait to try this out.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I'm so glad! It really is a straightforward dish to cook, and it makes a big batch so you can invite company for a casual dinner, or enjoy leftovers.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      This sounds like a delicious dish that even I can cook. I've bookmarked the hub and added the ingredients that we don't have on hand to our grocery shopping list.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
      Author

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I like to use a lot of chili powder, too, but to keep it mild for the kids I usually go easy. Sometimes I'll scoop out the kids' portions after I've let it simmer for a while. Then I go to town with more chili powder for me and the hubby and let it simmer a bit longer.

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Mmmmm! This looks delicious! I like to use a LOT of chili powder, and I love the olives in there. Besides, it hard to go wrong with black beans and corn.