Easy Crockpot Pumpkin Chili

Here I go again, putting pumpkin in everything!  Chili is one of fall's essential dishes however, so why not make it even more fall-like?  Pumpkin makes chili creamy and adds a depth of flavor that will leave you wanting more.  And eat as much as you like; it is one of the healthiest things you can eat, especially this time of year when the "eating season" has begun and sugary treats are everywhere you turn.  

You can make this recipe two different ways.  You can omit the ground poultry which will make this a scrumptious and savory vegan meal. This hearty recipe is so easy, you can just dump the ingredients in the crock pot and walk away.  An hour later, the lovely aroma will alert you that it is done.   The second way to whip up this dish is to brown the ground poultry with the garlic and onions, then toss it all in the crockpot and violà, the perfect fall comfort dish.  Make it for game day, potlucks, lunches or a hearty dinner.  The recipe makes 10 servings, so if you are not cooking for a crowd, freeze half of it and save it for a night you do not want to cook.  It reheats well and may even have deeper, more married flavors after it sits for a spell.  

Years ago, I fell in love with clean eating.  Just pure, natural ingredients (organic or biodiverse whenever I can.)  No refined, processed foods or anything that may have transfats or partially hydrogenated oils.  Eating clean has made a difference in how I feel, but more so it has also had a huge impact on how my food tastes.  It really makes a difference in how my taste buds take in all the savory and delicious flavors.  For any of you who think eating healthy has to taste bland, I would love for you to give clean eating a try so you could learn for yourself how great a palate, uninhibited by tons of salts, fats, sugars and refined, processed ingredients, can really savour food.  All my recipes are "clean" recipes, and as I showcase those wonderful pure ingredients, like below, it is my hope that you, too, will fall in love with food--real, unencumbered, food. 

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil (only need it if you are sauteing first)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno (more if you like spicy--it is mild with only one)
  • 1 can black beans, 15 oz, drained, or 1 1/3 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 can pumpkin pureé, 15 oz.
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained (keep the juices!) 
  • 1 Tablespoon pure balsamic vinegar (Make sure you are using high quality or from Italy; otherwise, it is mostly just corn syrup.)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • Optional:  1 pound ground turkey or chicken (85% or higher fat)

For Poultry Version:  In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion, jalapeno and pepper and sautee for 1 minute.  Add ground poultry and stir frequently, breaking up the pieces of poultry until it browns, about 4 to 5 minutes.   Transfer to slow cooker or crockpot (unless using a dutch oven) and add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes to 1 hour (the longer you simmer, the more the flavors will blend together.)  Top chili with sour cream or shredded cheese, and serve.

For Vegan Version:  Add all ingredients to slow cooker or Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.  (You can first sauté the garlic, onion and peppers for 4 minutes if you like; however, I do not find a huge difference in the taste.) 

Top with chives, avocado or green onions, and serve. 

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