My Favorite Dinner- Guest Post: Chili and Cornbread

Today I am bringing you another guest post. I am excited about this post for various reasons. First being that Stephanie, over at Keeper of the Home, has a heart for healthy, good tasting cooking (which is why I asked her to do a guest post!). I always enjoy reading her blog which is often focused on nutrition and health issues. It has been fun getting to “know” her through the blogging world. Secondly, I am excited about this post because it takes a familiar food, and makes it in a nutritionally focused way without sacrificing flavor. Thirdly, this is a great meal because it is so frugal! Fourthly, she gives great instructions. All great reasons to try this recipe out! Thanks Stephanie!

My favorite dinner: Chili and cornbread

Although not all chili or cornbread recipes could be considered healthy (and some are downright un-healthy!), by starting with the right ingredients and making a few adjustments, this can actually become a perfectly nourishing and satisfying meal. It is a favorite in our family, and one that I often make when entertaining large groups of people, because it is easy to make in large quantities, extremely filling, and very frugal!

Chili and cornbread have wide appeal, and there are as many different recipes as there are cooks. It seems that everyone has a preference for how they like this hearty, meal-in-a-bowl. Personally, I like mine chunky, with a variety of beans and veggies, some ground beef, and just a bit on the milder side (though my recipe is easy to spice up more, if you like it that way). I have a family of cornbread fanatics, so I’ve had to learn to perfect my own version of a light and fluffy, whole grain (and soaked), mildly sweet cornbread.

This meal begins the night before, with a quick 5 minute prep. Ready?

For the cornbread, you’ll need:

1 cup whole grain flour (Wheat, spelt, and kamut are all great; other flours you may have to experiment with)
1 cup cornmeal (the best choice is organic, as corn is often a genetically modified crop and can be heavily sprayed)
Either 1 cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup water

With a spoon or spatula, mix the cup of liquid with the flour and cornmeal in a small mixing bowl, until it is all evenly moistened. Cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel, and let sit overnight.

Next, get out a medium sized pot with a lid. Add to the pot 2 cups of dried beans. Here’s the combination I prefer (though you can do any combination you like):

1 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup pinto beans
1/2 cup black beans

Add enough water so that it is several inches higher than the dried beans (if doesn’t matter if you add too much water, so err on the side of too much). Then, you can go to bed!

The next day (I often do mine in the morning, while cooking, serving and cleaning up breakfast), continue on with the chili by putting the pot of beans and water on the stove, on high (you may need to add more water if all the water was soaked up by the beans during the night). Bring the water to a boil, skim off any foam that rises to the top, and then turn it to low and allow the beans to simmer (covered) until tender, usually about one hour. Drain the water, and rinse the beans under cool water, and set aside until later.

Chili Ingredients:

1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bell pepper (any color), diced small
1 lb. ground beef
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 5.5 oz. cans tomato paste
3 large carrots, shredded (you could also use mushrooms instead, for a nice variation)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
2 cups of dried beans, cooked (see steps above)


1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
1/2 tsp. Spike (a healthy seasoning salt- substitute with other seasoning salt, or sea salt if you don’t have it)
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.Add the onions and olive oil to a large stock pot, on medium heat, and saute until the onions start to soften. Add the green or red peppers, and continue to cook until onions are translucent.

2.Add the ground beef, and cook thoroughly.

3.Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and shredded carrots, as well as the beans. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, to thin if necessary. Bring the chili to a low boil, and then turn the temperature down to low, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

4.Add the seasonings, and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes to blend the flavors. Do a quick taste test to decide it you need to adjust the seasonings, and if not, it’s ready!


While the chili is simmering in Step 3, it’s the perfect time to finish the cornbread that was started last night. Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup butter

1.Preheat the oven to 425 F, and grease either a 9 x 13 or an 8 x 8 inch pan.

2.In a small saucepan, melt the butter and honey.

3.To the flour/cornmeal/yogurt from last night, add the baking powder, salt and eggs and mix thoroughly, then pour in the butter/honey mixture and stir until just mixed.

4.Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 min. for a 9 x 13 pan, and about 30 min. for an 8 x 8 pan, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Serve with a bit of shredded cheese, or cultured sour cream dollopped on top. Enjoy!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Kirstin says

    hmmm, that looks yummy! I may have posted a recipe for veggie chili..not sure. But I put tons of veggies in it and then I added some couscous for texture. It was great! And everyone loved it.

    Do you happen to know why corn is a veggie that is so hard for people to digest? I don’t have a problem with it, or any other food for that matter, but hubby does and I was just curious

    • Deborah says

      You could try buying masa harina (you can find it at a local Kroger), which is corn meal that has already been nixtamalized, or soaked in lime water.

  2. Kimi Harris says

    I have often heard that corn is very hard to digest, but I have never heard why that was! An interesting question though! Perhaps that’s why it is traditionally soaked a lime solution. 🙂

  3. says

    I made this Chili for the first time tonight and I have to say that it is awesome! Everyone of my family loved the flavour and complimented dinner 🙂 This will definitely be my only Chili recipe from now on.

  4. Dina says


    I notice that you don’t seem to soak in dairy usually, so how do you make cornbread? My issue is that I keep kosher and do not mix meat and dairy. Can I soak this cornbread with vinegar or lemon juice?

    • Susannah says


      I am making this recipe this week. I also keep kosher and plan to skip the ground beef since it will be fairly filling without the ground beef. The yogurt makes the corn bread really special.


  5. Megan says

    I made this today to serve a crowd and it was so good! It got lots of compliments and it is definitely the only recipe I will be using now (I’ve been trying to get that perfect chili recipe for years!). Thanks Stephanie!

  6. Eyrie says

    Is it best to use dried beans? I’ve canned beans before for the convienence. How does the pressure canning change the bean? Or does it? Thanks!

  7. mandy says

    looks good, i’ve got all the ingredients and i’ll be making this in a couple days! one question: when i mix the cornbread ingredients together with the yogurt, should i leave it out on the counter, or put it in the fridge?


  8. Natalie says

    We just made this for the first time tonight, and it is sooooo yummy! I love cornbread and hadn’t made it for several years since we started soaking grains, so I was so excited to find this recipe! We only added one carrot to the chili and thought that was plenty.

  9. Josefina says

    Corn should always be soaked in lime water, so instead of regular corn flour, it’s best to use masa harina which has already been treated with lime. It makes the niacin available, which of course is important for people who rely on corn as a staple, in order to not develop pellagra. But if one eats it only occasionally, maybe it’s no big deal. However, the long soaking process (1-2 weeks) may also improve digestability.

  10. Linda says

    I was wondering if there is a way to do this without soaking the beans overnight and without using canned(I don’t use canned anything)?


    • karen says

      I rarely remember to soak beans overnight. They will just take longer to cook if you don’t soak them. I cook most of my bean in the crockpot and freeze for later. HTH

        • Sarah :) says

          You can “quick” cook beans by bringing them to a rolling boil for 10 mins, then letting them sit in the hot water for an hour. They will be at least 1/2 cooked at that point, and so a 2-ish hour cook with the chili should bring them to soft and squishy. Personally, I skip the sitting part, and usually just boil them for an hour or 2, then drain and rinse. Then add them to whatever I’m making and continue cooking until they are soft. There isn’t really a “right” way to do it, just apply heat and water until they are soft (Note, I don’t soak grains and I don’t know if soaking beans is the same kind of thing – if there are digestive benefits to the overnight process that you lose in the “quick” process.)

  11. bre says

    You’ve gotta know that Spike is NOT a healthy seasoning choice, right? Hydrolyzed soy protein and soy granules, nothing is organic and all the spices are most likely irradiated? Love the rest, but please please please use Herbamare as a seasoning salt instead….

  12. says

    I have made this recipe last week and taste of the dish was awesome. Last time I have followed the recipe girl blog and it was the awesome experience.

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