Disclosure: Post sponsored by Crock-Pot® brand slow cooker & Mirum Shopper, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.
With the new year upon us, for many people this month is about a reset. This can take on so many different faces and applications, depending on the person. Working as a Nutritional Therapist and seeing clients, it is never my job to tell anyone what their diet should be. I work together with each of my clients to devise a plan and a course of action that works for them based on foundational nutritional information and of course, their own health needs. We are all bio-individuals who each need very different things. What I love so much about the work that I do, both here on the website and with my one-on-one nutrition clients, as well as when I am teaching yoga, is the distinct privilege I have in helping to empower people! To educate and provide them with the tools to make the very best choices for themselves, whatever that looks like for them and whatever they are ready for.
Whether it be in the kitchen with cooking, on the mat with their yoga practice or when it comes to making decisions about their health and their highly individualized path to healing, it’s an incredible honor that I never take lightly and am constantly beyond grateful for having the opportunity to share.
While January is certainly focused on resolutions and making better choices for most people, I also sadly see a lot of folks using this month as a means to “right the wrongs of December” or to almost punish themselves for indulging over the holidays! I myself don’t subscribe to the notion of resolutions, it just isn’t for me personally, but I just cannot watch this collective mindset of January needing to be a time to “cleanse” our eating sins and the underlying message that we should attach guilt to our food and then fix it later. But, I digress, I talk more about this in depth here on my Instagram, mostly I just want to drive home the point that a new year and a new fresh start or reset, that these are beautiful times to put into practice new habits, new approaches and long-lasting lifestyle shifts and choices that we can endure beyond January and throughout our life. Regardless of your approach, a shift toward nutrient-dense, real, whole foods is something I think we can all agree on.
With all the cold winter weather, getting back to the grind of work and school and a collective shift toward more wholesome eating, I find myself, as well as many of my clients being all about the whole food, comfort food. Veggie-loaded soups and stews, roasts with all the winter veggies and so on.
In all of my many years of cooking and a lifetime of eating, I have found that chili is very telling of a person’s style of cooking. It’s a window into the soul of the cook. There are so so many styles of chili, even I have at least 4 or 5 styles that I make. My classic beef chili, I had developed a recipe for a mean post of Cincinnati-style chili thanks to several friends that hail from Cincy, I also love a veggie loaded quinoa-based chili from time to time, too. And now there is this beauty, Crock-Pot® Chicken Chili with Squash and Kale.
If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (username: tastyyummies) you know that we’ve been working with and donating our time to Feeding Long Beach since before Thanksgiving. This wonderful non-profit organization is on a mission to end hunger in the local community. The week of Christmas we were at Beacon for Him Ministries for our usual Tuesday deal, packing sack lunches for the homeless. I was in the kitchen cutting up some fresh produce to put in every lunch and Theresa, who works at the Ministries was also in the kitchen, making the biggest pot of chili I have ever seen. It took up four burners on the massive commercial stove top and it was very saucy and loaded with lots of meat and beans. The aroma of the onions and peppers and all the spices wafted through the air of the kitchen brought smiles on the faces of everyone that walked in and caught the scent. I had a wonderful conversation with Theresa about chili, all the many ways to make it, the challenges she faces in making it for so many people especially when it comes to dealing with varying tastes and just how much we both love it.
Of course, as soon as I came home, all I could think about was chili. The smell still in my nose. I decided I wanted to make a chili different than my usual, a little saucier, inspired by Theresa’s. I also wanted to make it with ground chicken instead of my usual beef. I took a look at all the veggies we had on hand from our weekly CSA box and the idea for this Crock-Pot® Chicken Chili with Squash and Kale was born. Making it in the Crock-Pot® brand slow cooker meant that it was slow cooking ALL day, to bring about the most developed of flavors. Everything has ample time to come together in a symphony of mulit-layered flavor. I also love that with it cooking low and slow it gives the squash time to cook without getting mushy and without overcooking the meat – as it could with a higher heat on the stove and of course, there are no worries of anything sticking. Mostly, I loved that throughout the entire day the whole house was filled with that same aroma from the Ministries a few weeks prior. It smelled like comfort and love!
This Crock-Pot® Chicken Chili with Squash and Kale is a robust and flavorful rendition of your classic chili and for me, it’s much different than my usual chilis that are darker, thicker and smokier. This is brighter, lighter and very aromatic.
Adding the kale at the end makes this chili a complete meal all on it’s own, especially if you top it with some avocado to get some additional fat up in there. I include a list of suggestions for chili toppings, but as I said, chili is usually as unique as the person themselves that is making it. Mark and I take ours very differently. I like mine with white onions and a few green onions, cilantro, hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime. Mark, he likes his with shredded sharp cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro and Fritos! I would love to hear how you make your chili, what do you serve it with and what are your favorite secrets?
I make this in a large batch, even for just the two of us. I like to have it on hand for multiple meals throughout the week and I even enjoy packing some up and sharing with friends. It also freezes very well.
- 2 lbs ground organic chicken (I prefer dark meat and from a local farmer)*
- 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 red bell peppers (you can also use orange, yellow or green)
- 28 ounces can or jar organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash (pumpkin also works wonderfully)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- red pepper flakes, optional, for extra heat
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups kale, roughly chopped, stems removed
- green onions
- white onions
- lime wedges
- hot peppers, serrano, jalapeño, poblano, etc
- hot sauce
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- tortilla chips, fritos, etc
- Add the ground chicken, onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, chicken broth, squash, tomato paste and spices to the Crock-Pot®. Season with salt and pepper. (No need to brown the meat first, if you don't want to) Do not add the kale now.
- Give everything a good stir. Place the lid on the Crock-Pot® and cook on low for 8 hours. Once cooked through, take the lid off and mix once more to combine everything.
- Add the kale and stir it in. Place the lid back on while you prep the toppings, to allow it time to wilt. Add more salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary.
- Serve hot. Garnish with your favorite toppings.
You can use any other ground meat that you'd like, beef, turkey, pork, bison, lamb, etc.
Spinach, chard or any other leafy green would also work in place of the kale
If you like beans in your chili, add two cans (rinsed and drained) of your favorite beans. I made this once before with chickpeas and kidney beans and it was perfect!