Slow Cooker White Bean, Turkey, and Pumpkin Chili

Saturday night, I returned to Nashville from a week-long visit to see family and friends in Oregon. It was a wonderful time filled with laughter, tears, good food, good coffee (Tennessee should take notes!), friends, family, tattoos, kitties, snow-capped mountains, hugs, and all the things my heart needed. There was also . . . um . . . gluten. I was doing great–until my uncle made a batch of Parkerhouse rolls. I ate a warm roll fresh from the oven that night, slathered in butter and requiring a great deal of finger licking and savoring, and then I promptly stayed awake all night long. It was worth it though. It also signaled the beginning of what I referred to as Thanksgiving: the Glutening. All bets were off. I ate gravy, pumpkin pie, and more. I felt, uh, not awesome. And I knew that the gluten festival needed to come to an end once I got back to Nashville. I wanted to make something hearty and comforting and different and also wanted to use my new slow cooker. I finally landed on this seemingly strange combo of pumpkin, turkey, and beans.

This recipe was my jumping-off point, but I made quite a few changes, primarily to the seasoning and spices, which were way too light-handed for my taste (and any recipe that doesn’t include a mention of salt as part of the actual cooking process is inherently flawed as far as I’m concerned). Without the additional spices and salt and pepper, it would have been very bland. I’m also not shooting for any skinny-fy-ing and prefer to cook only with coconut oil or butter and full-fat, unmodified cheese, etc., so I made tweaks there as well. The base recipe was an AWESOME place to start though.

Wouldn’t it be neat if I had taken pictures? Yeah, that. I forgot. But you can look at the pics from the inspiration link above if you’re can’t imagine what pumpkin chili would look like.

A few notes:

  • I used a 3.5-quart slow cooker, and it was very full. Like I was a little nervous about a Mt. Vesuvius situation around 5:30pm.
  • Total prep time to brown meat, dice and sauté onion, etc., was only 15 minutes. You could easily do this in the morning before heading to work (a requirement if there is any hope for me on a work morning). You could also do prep the night before, refrigerate the meat and onions, and add everything to the slow cooker in the morning. You’d probably want to increase your cook time a little in that case.
  • I cooked on high because I didn’t get my rear in gear earlier in the day. I’m assuming lower and slower would only add to the flavor.
  • Tropical Traditions expeller-pressed coconut oil is THE BEST coconut oil I’ve come across. I initially bought it from my naturopath and haven’t found anything that comes close in quality or price. It has a neutral flavor that doesn’t interfere with savory dishes (it doesn’t taste or smell like coconut at all!). I buy it by the gallon.
  • I prefer to brown the meat and sauté the onion in a stainless pan so I can get some good browned bits for deglazing. You just can’t replicate that in a nonstick pan.
  • (Could I micromanage your cooking process any further? Holy bossy boots.)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 T coconut oil (or more!)
  • 2 lb ground turkey (I used ground turkey with dark meat–it’s cheaper, more flavorful, and will help put some meat on my bones. You’re welcome to use 99% lean white meat only if you prefer OR leftover Thanksgiving turkey.)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 t cumin
  • 2-3 t chili powder, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 t cayenne (more or less, depending on whether you’d like it spicy)
  • 2 15-oz cans white northern, navy, or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
  • 2 c chicken stock (homemade is best! low-sodium if you’re purchasing off the shelf)
  • cheddar cheese, shredded, for topping (optional)
  • sour cream for topping (optional)
  • cilantro and/or scallions, chopped, for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add first tablespoon of coconut oil (feel free to add more than 1 tablespoon. I probably used 4 tablespoons total because I want to get as much coconut oil in my meals as possible). Add ground turkey and salt and pepper, and cook until done, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Add to slow cooker.
  2. Add second tablespoon of coconut oil to pan, then onions. Sauté  3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cumin, and sauté another minute. Pour a small amount of chicken stock in pan to deglaze the pan, and pour contents into slow cooker.
  3. Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chiles, stock, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves. Stir to combine ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  4. Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving.
  5. Top with optional cheese, sour cream (or Greek yogurt), and cilantro/scallions.

You could serve this with all sorts of sides–GF tortilla chips or corn tortillas, rice, quinoa, a baked potato. I ate a big bowl of it all on its own last night, with a little sour cream and cilantro, and it was fantastic. I froze half of the leftovers and put half in the fridge. For one little ol’ me, this recipe will translate into six or seven meals.

Enjoy!

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Confessions Part II . . . and Breakfast

My second confession is that I eat a lot, both in quantity and frequency.

When I was younger I used to be a little self-conscious about it, but somewhere between college and early adulthood I got over it. And now I seem to have quite the reputation. A couple years ago during a colleague’s going away party, he mentioned with a grin that he had to transfer departments because, “MacKenzie always ate all the food at the parties.” Early in our marriage, my husband would raise an eyebrow at dinner and say, “Are you seriously going to eat all of that?” Almost seven years later, he mostly just scrapes his leftovers onto my plate when he’s finished.

So anyway, for everyone else out there who has a large appetite and who is trying to make nutritious and gluten-free decisions, I thought I’d share a list of some breakfast ideas.

Some people actually suggest it’s better for your metabolism to eat many small meals throughout the day. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily eat small meals, but I do eat pretty often. I used to just eat a yogurt for breakfast at my desk in the mornings, but since I’ve tried to cut out most of my gluten and dairy intake, I sometimes eat at home and when I get to work.

Here are a few things I like:

• Scrambled eggs with goat cheese
• Fresh, homemade smoothies—these are not as time-consuming as you would think, and they are really filling
• Van’s Gluten-free Waffles—these are great with butter and agave or honey chevre
• An apple with almond butter
• A banana

Of this list, I usually need to pick at least two. We’ll be sure to share some of our smoothie recipes.

What are your favorite breakfast foods?