Sweet Potato Chili

(Original Recipe: SunnyVegan)

My roommate Rosalie is infinitely sweeter than a sweet potato. Adorned with contagious giggles and a beautiful smile, she never ceases to be a constant source of joy and playfulness in my life.

Bright-eyed and prickly-pear-jammed!

I was eager to get her in the kitchen with me last night to make dinner, listen to Frank Sinatra Christmas music, sip Candy Cane tea, and share laughter. When I posed to her the question of what to cook, we determined we wanted one (or all) of three things: tofu, butternut squash, or sweet potato. We wanted something hearty after an afternoon of hard climbing (ok, who am I kidding – I only climbed once due to my injured ankle – but I just couldn’t resist!)

Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon this little sucker. We ALMOST had everything to make it – but, as usual, the majority of ingredients ruled out the absent minor ingredients, and before we could say “But what about cilantro?” we had already chopped two sweet potatoes and half of a red onion. (Couldn’t resist the recipe, either.)

[And on the topic of resistance – what’s up with all this Christmasistence?! That’s a word I just coined about resisting what you really want to eat around Christmastime. With the abundance of new chefs creating recipes (including desserts) that are sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan, there’s no excuse for NOT trying a Mint Cacao Cookie Truffle or a Vegan Gingerbread Cupcake just because “it’s sweet,” or just because “it’s the holidays.” Allow yourself to indulge in all the wonderful flavors of Christmastime (peppermint, gingerbread, pumpkin, cinnamon, spiced apple) – all it takes is a little effort to find the perfect recipe. And in the spirit of Christmas, give some away so you don’t feel like you have to finish twenty peppermint brownies all by yourself. Just give, give, give!]

I was happy to share this meal with Rosalie as well as my other wonderful roommate Mike who had just finished a two-day fast and Vision Quest. What a perfect recipe to warm our hearts and bellies.


(Serves 3, or 2 very hungry people)

•2 tbsp olive oil
•1/2 red onion, diced
•3-4 gloves chopped garlic (we’re garlic fiends.)
•2-3 cups 1/2 inch cubed sweet potatoes
•1/2  of a medium butternut squash, 1/2 inch cubed
•1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
•1 large tomato, diced
•1 large carrot, sliced
•1 green bell pepper, diced
•3-4 leaves of kale, in pieces (they’ll cook down)
•14 ounces water (if it begins to stick to the pan)
•zest of one small lime,
•juice of small lime
•2 tbs fresh cilantro
•1 tbsp chili powder
•1 tbsp cumin
•salt & pepper
•salsa (we used Mango), if desired
•alfalfa sprouts, if desired
•whole wheat tortilla chips, if desired
Pour the evoo in the pan, add onion and cook over medium low heat until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet potatoes, and squash and mix well. Add cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder and stir. Add beans, diced tomato, carrot, bell pepper, kale, and simmer for 30 minutes.
(Our little stove light proves lackluster for dinner-time photographs. I apologize.)
Add 2 tbsp cilanto and lime zest juice, simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Serve topped with salsa of choice, alfalfa sprouts, and whole wheat tortilla chips (we made our own at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes in the oven – super delicious!) Garnish with fresh cilantro and/or vegan cheese.
– – –
Rosalie and I decided to chant Om a few times before tasting the chili. Our voices are in a similar range, and create the most gorgeous tonal quality chanting together. It was as if only one person was Om-ing. Such a peaceful practice to share with another before a meal.
After the first bite, we began to chant something different. “Nooommmmmm.” Soooo delicious! The crunch of the chips paired with the smooth, sweet and spicy potato/bean mixture was killer – and the sweet salsa and sprouts added a crisp and tanginess to it that made it out of this world. I’m happy we could utilize some of other other vegetables like carrots, kale, and bell pepper as well without taking away from the star ingredients.
Love versatile recipes like this that you can have fun with. To me, that’s what cooking is all about: working with what you’ve got, and creating something spectacular out of it.