Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili

By April Swiger, Contributing writer

Comfort food at its finest – this unique chili recipe is satisfying, nourishing, and quick to put together for any night of the week. Vitamin A, C, and beta-carotene-rich butternut squash serves as a delicious base for this recipe, making it hearty enough to prepare without any additional grains (something our family has experimented with eliminating recently). This winter gourd is my favorite for cold-weather recipes, and a staple in my kitchen until spring starts to make its appearance.

Chili is my go-to recipe for crowds, and I typically make it 3-4 times a month for my family. It’s a relatively simple meal, especially for busy moms who desire to cook nourishing food for their families. Put everything in a pot, let it simmer, and serve it with a variety of yummy toppings. To be honest though, my typical recipe was beginning to bore me. I served chili with rice, roasted potatoes, tortillas, organic corn chips, you name it I probably tried it! It was time for a change.

Butternut squash is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients essential to help combat cold and flu season. A mere one cup serving will give your immune system a very nice boost. On top of that, who can resist that gorgeous tangerine color? I use a strong vegetable peeler to easily take the skin off, and then quickly chop it into small pieces for this recipe.

This recipe makes a very large pot and serves our family of three a hearty dinner, as well as a filling lunch the next day. The leftovers are equally as delicious, and it freezes great as well!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
 
This simple chili recipe has a unique twist with the addition of butternut squash! It proves to be filling, nourishing, and perfect for any night of the week.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small - medium butternut squash (2-3lbs), chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1½ cups crushed tomatoes (I love the BPA free Pomi cartons during the winter when fresh tomatoes aren’t as accessible)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 3 cups broth
  • OPTIONAL: Cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado, chopped green onions, etc.
Instructions
  1. Place the chopped onion, beef, and butter in a large pot. Cook on medium high heat until the meat is browned and completely cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the squash, garlic, and gather the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (garlic, squash, beans, tomatoes, spices, broth) to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the squash is soft.
  4. Top with your favorite chili toppings. I love avocado and cheddar cheese!

 

Easy Mint Chocolate Fudge (Dairy and Gluten free)

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Velvety smooth fudge, rich in chocolate, mingled with refreshing peppermint is a must-try this season. This mint chocolate fudge is the perfect way to satisfy a craving, or finish off a hearty meal this holiday season. Even better it’s surprisingly quick to make, and can be boxed up easily to give as a lovely gift.

I am a huge fan of fudge. It’s always my go-to treat during summer vacations at the beach, and my top pick off the Christmas dessert table. The first time I made fudge at home I used Kimi’s recipe for the easiest, healthiest, most scrumptious fudge ever (also see this version using maple syrup). It definitely lived up to its name, and I have made it many times since then to satisfy those pesky little chocolate cravings. I love that her recipe, and the one I created as well, is free from refined sugar, dairy, gluten, and all other kinds of yucky ingredients the more typical fudge recipes have. This version starts with chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder for a more stable fudge for gift giving.

My 3 year old son is a major chocolate lover. He saw me pull out my bag of chips and immediately wanted to help with whatever I was doing. I purposefully made this recipe as simple as possible because, well, life can be a bit crazy with a toddler in tow…especially during the holiday season! He had so much fun helping me dump all the ingredients into a big bowl (not as much as he enjoyed trying to finished product though). I received a hearty “yum yum yummy in my tum tum tummy!” after his first bite 🙂

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)

There are some fantastic chocolate chips on the market that are completely allergy free, and would be a great option for this recipe. I have used the Enjoy Life Brand of chocolate chips, which are very allergy friendly, a number of times and find the flavor and texture top notch!

You can use either the (Affiliate links)  Semi-Sweet chocolate chips, or the dark chocolate chips in this recipe. Truly though, any chocolate of your choice should work, and the amount of honey you add to sweeten the recipe can be adjusted to your liking as well. I used Frontier’s Natural Mint Extract for flavoring my fudge, and it was delicious!

Homemade gifts are some of my favorite to give. Even the most frugal and simple recipe can be made extra special with its presentation. This fudge wrapped in parchment paper, tied up in colorful bakers twine, and a special box makes for a very thoughtful gift.

Other healthy, and homemade, gifts you may enjoy:

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
 
This velvety mint chocolate fudge is simple to make, includes nourishing ingredients, and is a lovely gift to give this season!
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teapoons peppermint extract
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl, and create a double boiler by placing it over a pot of lightly simmering water.
  2. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Stir continuously until all of the ingredients are smooth and incorporated.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into a parchment paper lined dish. If desired, top with crushed candy cane pieces. Refrigerate until hardened, and cut into small square pieces to serve.

 

Banana Muffins (w/Banana Chocolate Chip option!)

Jennifer shares a delightful grain-free muffin with us today. Using coconut and almond flour, lots of nourishing eggs, and sweet bananas, these muffins would make a fun start to the day. The chocolate chip variation sounds especially delicious. -Kimi

These muffins are a new favorite in our home! I typically make them plain, but have also added some homemade dark chocolate chips to them for a fun, chocolatey twist. They make a nice snack during the day or side for breakfast. Enjoy!

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Cinnamon and Vanilla Walnuts

These nuts are slightly sweet and salty and laced with cinnamon and vanilla. I’ve made candied nuts quite a bit in the past, but I love this newest recipe. It’s not as sweet, so I like them better for snacking on or for putting in salads. They add just the right amount of sweet and saltiness to a salad. Yum! This method of using an egg white coating adds a very nice crunchy texture.

This simple recipe is perfect for doing with children. My four year old loved making these nuts with me (despite the fact that she doesn’t enjoy walnuts as much as I do). They would also make a very nice homemade gift if packaged in a nice jar (and perhaps a bow?).

Of course, if you wanted a sweeter version, you can easily up the sweetener, up to double. Other variations I’ve thought of include doubling the vanilla, and trying it with different nuts (I think this combo would be delicious with cashews!).

Cinnamon and Vanilla Walnuts

1 egg white
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of rapadura, sucanat, maple sugar, or palm/coconut sugar
2 1/2 cups of walnuts

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (the rack should be in the middle of the oven). And either lightly coat a cookie pan with coconut oil or butter or cover with parchment paper.

1)Lightly beat the egg white with a whisk (just until a bit foamy). Add the cinnamon, vanilla, salt and sugar. Stir in the walnuts, coat the walnuts well.

2) Remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon (allowing extra coating to drip out), and place on the cookie sheet. Spread out on the cookie sheet so that the nuts aren’t touching for the most part. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

3) Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.