Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Bean Chili with Wheat Berries

Yesterday we awoke to yet another winter storm with frozen precipitation. Thankfully it didn’t amount to much, but enough to stay home and avoid the terrible drivers which always seem to go out when it snows. Whenever it snows I want something hot to eat for dinner. For some unknown reason snow makes me think of chili. Since we weren’t going to the store I used what we had on hand and this is what I made.

Two Bean Chili with Wheat Berries
Makes 4 entrée sized servings


1 cup red kidney beans, picked through and rinsed
1 cup pinto beans, picked through and rinsed
1 cup wheat berries
8 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
10 peppercorns
32 ounces peeled Roma tomatoes, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
½ tablespoon cocoa powder
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
20 sprigs of cilantro, finely minced – for garnish


In a large heavy bottomed pot combine the beans, wheat berries, and water. Make a sachet with the bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns and add them to the pot. If the beans were not presoaked bring the water to boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat and allow the beans to sit undisturbed for an hour. Then cook the beans until tender. Remove the sachet.

Add the remaining ingredients (except the avocado, lime and cilantro). Simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can marry. Taste the chili for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper before serving.

To serve top the chili with diced avocado, lime juice and cilantro. If desired dust the avocado with a little chili powder or paprika. We had our chili with a few corn chips and a green salad.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 525.25
Calories From Fat (15%) - 79.87
Total Fat - 9.48g
Saturated Fat - 1.42g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 775.86mg
Potassium - 1928.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 92.41g
Fiber - 24.16g
Sugar - 9.97g
Protein -25.34g


Since it was a weekend I knew I would be taking dinner to my parents. It has become a tradition for me to cook dinner on the weekends. Most of the time I don’t mind but sometimes it is a little too much “family”, if you know what I mean. My father is very accommodating and will eat anything I prepare. My mother, on the other hand, has an opinion about everything. No matter what I cook it is too “hot”. As you will notice this chili has no crushed red pepper but somehow it was still “too hot”. I guess it was the black pepper. Sometimes I wonder if we are really related. I will put sriracha on anything and my mother thinks black pepper is too spicy. The reason I told this story is that I think this dish needs some crushed red pepper flakes. I would have started with ½ teaspoon of them if the dish was just for Dan and me.

I liked the acidity of the lime juice with the chili. Fresh cilantro also added a nice lightness to the dish. We had our chili with a few corn chips for crunch. This dish with a small green salad was a complete meal.

Unrelated note:

I have been very busy today starting our spring cleaning. A little early I know, but I was in a purging mood so I went with it.

Heather from “Where’s the Beach” and I were chatting about life and one of the things that came up was Facebook and Twitter. Being nearly a senior citizen these are things that are unfamiliar to me. I have decided to start with Twitter and see how that goes. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a link to Twitter on my blog is anyone that is interested.

On a related note if you are looking for inspiration to exercise please check out Heather’s blog. I can’t read one of her daily entries without wanted to get up and burn some calories. Thanks for the daily inspiration Heather. I really need it, and appreciate it.

Are any of you big readers? Do you always have a few books that you are reading? I love books and am always reading, or about to read something.  I buy so many books my house is starting to resemble a library. Currently the following books are waiting for me to devour them are:

• “Beating Cancer Through Nutrition” by Patrick Quillin, PhD
• “Thrive: The Vegan Nutritional Guide” by Brendan Brazier
• “Cooking with Foods That Fight Cancer” by Richard Beliveau, PhD and Denis Gingras, PhD
• “Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients” by Russell L. Blaylock, MD
• “Everyday Raw” by Matthew Kenney
• “Get On It! BOSU Ball Balance Trainer” by Jane Aronovitch, et. al.
• “Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen” by Ani Phyo

The first two I have been reading on a off for about a month. The others showed up on Friday. I am a bit of an on-line shopper. As you can see my books are about health, nutrition, cancer, exercise or food. These are my favorite topics. What are you reading now? Do you have a favorite book, or books that you would recommend? I would love to know. I am always looking for new things to read.

Also if anyone wants to know if I recommend any of these, please comment here or send me an email and I will let you know when I finish reading them. The cookbooks I was intending to review once I finish reading them.

For now I need to get going and get a few more things done. Tonight we had another variation of soup from the Deborah Madison book Oraphan sent me. Great book if anyone loves soup you should check it out.

Don’t forget today is the last day to submit a recipe for the Healthy Cooking Challenge. I won’t be checking Flickr until tomorrow morning. If anyone has a recipe but needs a few extra hours send me an email and let me know. It will take a few days to compile the data and discuss it with the judges.

Does anyone have a suggestion regarding the next topic for the challenge? Aisling suggested Vegan Fast Food. How do we feel about that? I thought was a good idea but am open to other suggestions.


  1. Looks like a perfect meal for a cold day. I like the idea of vegan fast food for next challenge.

  2. Rose,

    Thanks for weighing in. Vegan fast food does sound appealing doesn't it? We will need to figure out exactly what that means so we can define it.


  3. Oh wheat berries in chili, love the idea. I really like the texture of wheat berries. Definitely going to have to try that one out. Thanks sooooo much for mentioning me. You totally inspire me too!!! Big hug!

  4. Heather,

    I added wheat berries for the chew, which you probably guessed. This is a trick I have been using for a while. Works great in chili and bolognese.

    You are very welcome for the mention. Since you inspire me to get off my tush the same may happen for others. At least I hope so.

    Big hugs to you too! :)


  5. Great post, Alicia! Thanks for including what you're reading. How is "Thrive: The Vegan Nutritional Guide"--that sounds like something I could really get into!

    You already know most of what I'm currently the non-food genre, though, after hearing that JD Salinger passed away, I reread Catcher in the Rye--it was a pleasure to read it without teaching it!


  6. LJ,

    I have only skimmed "Thrive..." so far but it looks great. The parts I have read agree with Doc Fuhrman, which I like. I will let you know what I think as soon as I finish reading it.


  7. LJ,

    "Catcher in the Rye" is a great suggestion. I haven't read it since college, and that was long time ago. It must have been good because I remember liking it then even though I was forced to read it.


  8. LOL, Alicia, I was an English teacher for 11 years...I've "forced" a lot of people to read a lot of books that they've been surprised to enjoy. I always say that they're classics for a reason. ;)


  9. LJ,

    I had the impression you were a former teacher from your earlier comment. Glad you took my reply in the spirit in which it was intended. ;)


  10. I should have included what I'm reading right now.
    The Visionary by Donald Passman
    The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen
    The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage
    The 30-Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

    There's a definite cooking theme going on here right now! LOL.

  11. Heather,

    Definitely a cooking theme going on! I only have the Conscious Cook so I will be curious to hear what you have to say about the other two books. Are you planning to review them on your blog?


  12. Between you and Heather with all of this wheat berry love I won't be able to avoid trying some much longer! I love this idea of it in chili, I can imagine the texture is great.

    I'm digging the vegan fast food theme. I can imagine it going in a few different directions, but either way I'm sure it will be fun and challenging!

  13. Sarah,

    I am a big fan of wheat berries, the hubby not as much but he likes them here. You should try them. Since I know you have a pressure cooker make them in that. I posted the pressure cooked method a while back if you want to take a look.

    Thanks for letting me know you like the fast food idea. Rose and I still need to figure out how to define it. That may take a few days.

    talk to you later,

  14. thanks for enjoying my book! my next one will have over 250 recipes that start from stripped down basics using only 3-4 ingredients, then building upon that to create new flavors. it's called Ani's Raw Food Essentials, and will be available April 1st. it's my first hard cover too!

  15. Ani,

    Thank you! I love that your recipes are more accessible than most raw books. Most days I don't want to start a recipe a day or two before we are going to eat it.

    Can't wait to see your next book!


  16. Your two bean chili looks wonderful! I've never tried wheat berries before but it surely sounds yummy! I love that you topped the chilli with avocado and lime. Sounds like a perfect meal with green salad and some corn chips, I love it!

    I also have a long list of books that I bought and received as gifts during the holidays and never got a chance to read them. Please let me know how you like "Everyday Raw", I've wanted to try Raw diet for such a long time but it's really hard with busy schedule and my family prefers cooked food!

  17. Oh, I forgot to say I love the idea of vegan fast food for next challenge. I hope I can make it this time, sorry I was too late for the last one but I posted it anyway, check it out (lol).

  18. Oraphan,

    I haven't finished documenting the recipes for the challenge yet so you aren't too late. I didn't see your recipe on Flickr. Did you post it on your blog?

    Once I have finished reading both new raw books I will let you know what I think. At the moment Ani's Raw Food Kitchen is my new favorite raw book. But to be fair I haven't tried a recipe from Everyday Raw yet.

    My hubby prefers "hot" food too. That is why we got the dehydrator, so I could make warm "raw" food. I will keep you posted on this.


  19. Oh, Alicia! It will take me forever to learn how to post my recipe on Flickr. I guess I will try to be on time for next challenge.

  20. Oraphan,

    I can put it on Flickr for you. If I have any problems I will let you know.


  21. Thank you so much, Alicia! I'm not ready to learn anything new at this time. I really appreciate your help:)

  22. Oraphan,

    I will take care of it as soon as I get home. Expect to see it up in the next hour or so.



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