Chili: it is the one meal that is a guarantee to hit the spot on an October night. Chili is extremely versatile, customizable, and frankly- one of those “set it and forget it” meals. The trick is to let it aaaaaall simmer together to create those warm and embracing flavors you are looking for in this dish. What is also great about chili is that it can be a literal pot of quality protein and vegetables- like my Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash! Packed with fresh ingredients, the chili satisfies with nutrients that taste good, but also have some benefits for your health- you know you need that. Thank GOURD for that! Also, a perk, the bowl is edible too (because we’re about being good to our bodies and the earth, right?)
The Key Ingredients
Kale (and other hearty greens)
Yes, they are bitter- I know. Not without good reason though. Bitter foods are a sign that they aid in digestion. While the bitter bite of hearty, earthy greens or roots like radishes may be off-putting, they stimulate the release of specific enzymes that increase bile and amylase amounts to make absorbing the nutrients within these foods easier for the body. Hearty greens, like kale, swiss chard, or collard greens, are remarked for their impressive content of vitamin K, calcium, iron, and phytonutrients (you can thank that deep and dark green color). Pro-tip: the iron in plants can hinder absorption of meat iron, so a perfect way to enjoy these greens is with a plant-based salad like this one!
Chili Powder, Cayenne, and other red spices
Another ode to the color of the rainbow: red. Similar to chromotherapy, red stimulates blood flow, especially of the eyes like that of lycopene. Red plus spicy equals major health benefits. Capsaicin, the main spice component of peppers, boosts metabolism, circulation, and suppress appetite. In a recent study, eating just a small dose of cayenne a day can increase caloric burn afterwards1. The high spice level of peppers triggers nerve endings in the digestive system that also increase immunity and beneficial inflammation, ultimately fighting off infections.
Acorn Squash (and other similar gourds)
Who doesn’t love a good squash? Lowkey (but highkey) one of my favorite aspects of fall. Squashes, in my opinion, are MUCH more satisfying and filling than most typical “plate-fillers” carbs have become known to be (not to say they do NOT belong on your plate- all foods absolutely do). Squashes, sturdy in structure, contain fiber, Vitamin C, water, and essential electrolytes. Like most foods in nature, the fact that squashes, like avocados, combine electrolytes with water acts an innate balance, intended how it is supposed to be. I use it as edible plateware here, but check out this recipe for another incredibly delicious and meaty use of squashes.
And who could forget about bone broth? Sought for its natural protein content, it is a complete protein that aids in rebuilding and repairing muscle fibers, tendons, and wounds- especially within the gut. Once broken down, these components aid in sleep, antioxidant activity, and other important metabolic functions. Many bone broths sold in stores contain other herbs and spices that only compliment these benefits.
A dinner that boasts nutritional benefits is a dinner to look forward to! Get cookin’ below and check out other recipes on here, Civilized Caveman, or my platform for more home-cooked goodness!
Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash
- crock pot, stock pot, or instant pot
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil
- 1 whole White onion diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 whole Green Bell Pepper diced
- 3 cups carrots sliced
- 1 lb Ground meat of choice
- 1 tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt and Pepper each
- 1 can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo blended
- 1 bottle Epic Artisanal Jalapeño Bone Broth
- 1 can Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 Jalapeño diced
- 1 bag Cauliflower “Rice”
- 5-6 leaves Swiss Chard cut into strips (or other hearty leafy green- kale, turnip, beet, mustard, etc)
- 2 Acorn Squash halved
- Prepare ingredients as noted
- Heat oil in pot, add in garlic, onion, jalapeno and spices until browned
- Begin to cook ground meat with carrots, tomatoes and bell pepper
- Once meat begins to brown, add in bone broth and adobo pepper paste. Let simmer for 4-5 hours
- While chili is simmering, steam squash for approximately 5 minutes to soften- cut in half. Finish steaming for about 15-20 more minutes until soft
- About 20 minutes before serving, add leafy greens and cauliflower rice. Finish simmer
- Scoop portions into squash halves and serve as is- try scraping out some squash with each bite!
1. D.Mattes, Richard. “The Effects of Hedonically Acceptable Red Pepper Doses on Thermogenesis and Appetite.” Physiology & Behavior, Elsevier, 18 Nov. 2010, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938410004063.
About the Author
Tatum Guerrero is an aspiring Registered Dietician and a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Through her journey of adopting a Paleo lifestyle, Tatum has been able to learn how proper nutrition can heal the mind and body. She hopes to use her credentials to emphasize the importance of whole, real food and make these options more accessible to youth and at-risk groups. You can follow her at RootedTates Instagram, or her website, therootedlife.online.
Want to learn which ingredients are the best to cook with?
Check out our friends over at Wellness Force Radio and learn about how good nutrition impacts your health with Udo Erasmus: