You’re all busy training for the Third Annual GUWellness 5k on October 25th, but are your legs doing all the work? Training isn’t just about going through the motions, it’s also important to give your body the fuel (and water) it needs to perform. Daily workouts may keep that pizza and greasy Chinese food from swelling your waist line, but you aren’t getting the best bang for your bite, leaving you tired, dehydrated and sore.
Fortunately, there’s no need to invest in pricey protein bars or chalky powder supplements to reach optimum performance. Nature has you covered when it comes to complete nutrition, as Professor Thomas Sherman has highlighted over the last few weeks here. The chili recipe below does double duty: it’s loaded with nutrients that enhance your training and gives you the warm fuzzies after a long run in the chilly autumn air (added bonus: can easily made vegan and is naturally gluten-free).
Quinoa – Packed with protein and magnesium, this whole grain superfood supports exercise recovery and helps build muscle. Some studies indicate it may have anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
Sweet Potatoes – Loaded with complex carbohydrates and vitamins A & C, these Thanksgiving favorites help level out blood sugar, reduce inflammation and give sustained energy along with a host of other health benefits.
Greek Yogurt – Swap plain greek yogurt for sour cream and enjoy the benefits of probiotics (including a stronger immune system and easy digestion) as well as an extra bit of protein, calcium, and B vitamins.
Black Beans – Possibly the world’s least controversial “health food” black beans provide protein and fiber along with a multitude of vitamins and other nutrients that aid digestion and may even help fight off cancer.
Sweet & Smoky Black Bean Chili Recipe
Perfect for fall, this chili is one of my favorites. Smoky, spicy and slightly sweet, it hits the spot on crisp fall nights and is easy to throw together on a weeknight. Quinoa and piles of black beans give it a hearty texture that will fill up even the most dedicated meat lovers. Opposed to quinoa? you can easily substitute lentils, either brown or red, though red will give you a creamier texture. Lentils are another nutrient-rich legume that contain potassium, B vitamins and iron (particularly beneficial to female and vegetarian runners, who are prone to iron deficiencies, which lead to muscle fatigue).
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1-2 stalks of celery
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 chipotle peppers (re-hydrated if dried or canned in adobo sauce)
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbs chili powder
2 tbs cumin
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 lb of dry black beans, soaked overnight
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. package of tomato purée (I like Pomi)
1 cup quinoa
Add oil to a large stockpot over medium heat. While the oil heats up, chop onion, carrot, celery and bell peppers and add to the pot. Cook until vegetables begin to soften and onion starts to turn clear (about 5-7 minutes) stirring to prevent burning. Meanwhile, chop the sweet potatoes into rough, 1 inch cubes and set aside. Add garlic to pot and reduce heat to medium low. cook, stirring often until garlic becomes fragrant (about 2 minutes). Chop chipotles and add to pot along with the remaining spices and sweet potatoes. Stir well to combine. Add soaked black beans and their soaking liquid and both cans of tomatoes (if you are particularly concerned about excess carb intake or are prone to gas, you can ditch the soaking liquid and add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock or water). Increase heat to near-medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Check beans for tenderness at the 45 minute mark and continue to cook, checking every 15 minutes, until desired tenderness has been reached.
Once the beans are good to go, stir in quinoa and cook another 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is soft, but maintains a subtle bite (if your chili is looking a little on the thick side, add an additional cup of water or vegetable stock in with the quinoa).
Top with diced avocado, cilantro and a squeeze of lime (or your favorite chili toppings) for maximum deliciousness. Pair your big bowl of chili with a seasonal kale or jicama salad and you’ll be a superfood super hero!
Disclaimer: This recipe was written by GUWellness team member, Sarah Cotton, who is not a nutritionist. Sarah is a lifelong lover of cooking (and eating), and is cultivating wellness in her own life by making healthy, more compassionate and sustainable food choices.