A long winter can take its toll—pledges of losing weight in the new year start to fade from memory. Despite the grudging use of the treadmill and stationary bike, I’ve noticed a few extra pounds have gathered. Oh, and the doc wants me to consider cholesterol-lowering meds. Ugh! Time to consider alternatives. What would be a great-tasting cold-weather dish using mostly Michigan ingredient foods?
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A Tasty Guilt-Free Wintertime and March Madness Treat
Admittedly I’m a meat and potatoes guy. I like red meat and genuinely like to include it in my everyday diet. However, after a bit of research, I found I can have a healthy Michigan Style Vegetarian Chili using mostly locally grown ingredients. It also uses a meat substitute, so I won’t feel I’m missing out on the high protein I seem to crave.
The Love of Michigan Beans
According to the Michigan Bean Commission, the Thumb region is a top producer of dry beans globally. White navy beans are famous food in Michigan. In fact, they are served every day in the Senate dining room in Washington DC as Senate Bean Soup. Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay’s moderating effects surround the area’s rich farmland on three sides, making for ideal growing conditions. This healthy Michigan Chili is one of those hometown recipes that keep you coming back.
The Health Benefits of Eating Beans
The typical white or black bean has high protein, complex carbs, and fiber. In addition, beans contain a powerhouse of nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Thus, they are a perfect base for a meatless, cholesterol-free yet satisfying recipe.
One academic paper on the Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans shows beans may contribute to the health benefits associated with eating a vegetarian diet. The beans grown in Michigan are rich in soluble fiber and resistant starch, all of which contribute to the low glycemic level of these foods. In addition, some research suggests that diets that include beans reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol may reduce the risk factors for metabolic syndrome and decrease the risk of ischemic heart disease and diabetes.
What Beans are Grown in Michigan?
Michigan is known for growing several types of beans, with the state being one of the top bean producers in the United States. The types of beans that are typically grown in Michigan include:
- Navy Beans: Also known as “pea beans”, these small white beans are popular for use in soups, stews, and baked bean dishes.
- Black Beans: These beans are often used in Mexican and Latin American cuisines. They have a slightly sweet flavor and are popular in salads, soups, and as a side dish.
- Kidney Beans: Named for their kidney-like shape, these beans are a common ingredient in chili and are often used in salads and stews.
- Cranberry Beans: These beans have a creamy texture and a mild flavor, making them suitable for a variety of dishes.
- Pinto Beans: are the most popular bean in the United States and Mexico. They’re often used in refried beans, chili con carne, and other Mexican dishes.
- Small Red Beans: They are similar to kidney beans but smaller. They are often used in Creole and Cajun cuisine.
- Azuki Beans: Azuki beans are small, oval-shaped, and have a deep red color. They are known for their sweetness and are commonly used in desserts. Although the skins can be tough, the inside is incredibly smooth.
It’s worth noting that the actual varieties grown can vary from year to year, based on market demand, weather conditions, and other factors.
A Mostly Michigan Ingredient Chili
By trial and error, we have a mostly Michigan Bean Chili Recipe. We strove for Michigan-grown ingredients and sought out our local brands to round things out. We hope that we have a tasty, healthy, and economically award-winning chili recipe here. Looking forward to welcoming your suggestions and sending us your Michigan ingredient recipe, and we will gladly post it.
All Michigan Ingredient Bean n’ Veggie Chili
Here is a simple recipe that can have a million variations. My chili is never the same way twice. However, here is a starting point.
Michigan Chili Recipe Ingredients:
- 2 cups dried Michigan kidney beans, soaked overnight
- 1 pound Kellogg’s Incogmeato® Plant-Based Ground
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers (any color), diced
- 2 jalapeños, minced (remove seeds if you prefer less heat)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans diced tomatoes (or 4 fresh Michigan grown tomatoes, diced)
- 1 cup Michigan corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen)
- 1/4 cup Michigan maple syrup (We use Battels Maple Syrup)
- 2 tablespoons Sachili Flavor Topping: Smoked Red Pepper Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional, for garnish)
- 1 cup Pinconning cheese, shredded (optional, for garnish)
Prep Instructions Michigan Style Chili:
- Rinse and drain the soaked kidney beans. Place them in a large pot, cover with fresh water by a couple of inches, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 60-90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
- While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the Incogmeato® Plant-Based Ground and cook until browned, breaking it up into crumbles as it cooks.
- Add the diced onion, bell peppers, and jalapeños to the pan with the Incogmeato®. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and Sachili Flavor Topping: Smoked Red Pepper Seasoning to the pan and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant.
- Once the beans are cooked, drain them, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Add the beans, cooked Incogmeato® and veggies, diced tomatoes, corn, maple syrup, chili powder, and cumin to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Bring the chili to a simmer and let it cook for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. If the chili gets too thick, add some of the bean cooking water to thin it out.
- Season the chili with salt and pepper to taste.
- If desired, serve the chili hot, garnished with chopped cilantro and shredded Pinconing cheese.
This recipe should serve 6-8 people. Enjoy your locally-sourced Michigan Style Vegetarian Chili!
FAQ on Michigan Style Chili
Are the Red Hot Chili peppers from Michigan?
Ok, this has nothing to do with our recipe but it is an interesting FAQ. Anthony Kiedis, the lead vocalist and one of the founding members of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Kiedis spent his early years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, under the guidance of his mother. Later, he moved to Hollywood to live with his father, just before turning twelve.
What is Michigan-style chili?
We hold that Michigan-style chili is made with primarily Michigan-sourced ingredients. These include Michigan dry kidney beans, venison, or Kellogg’s meatless alternative, Maple syrup from any of the local sugar bushes in Michigan and finally, top it off with Pinconning Cheese.
How does Michigan Style Vegetarian Chili contribute to a healthier diet?
Michigan Style Vegetarian Chili uses a meat substitute, offering a high-protein dish that is cholesterol-free. This contributes to a healthier diet and may reduce the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, ischemic heart disease, and diabetes.
Related Michigan Style Food Articles
Michigan Food – Gibby’s Fries – A Summer Tradition – Gibby’s Fries are fresh-cut homemade French fries that can only be found at carnivals, festivals, and fairs during the summer months. We dropped in on the Huron Community Fair during Sunday’s setup. Gibby’s was already doing business, and the fryers were hot. We also look at where French fries were invented and the types of French fries out there. The answer may surprise you.
Kinde Michigan – Our Beantown – Many want to keep this place a secret. It’s a slice of a true American farming community in the Thumb of Michigan. John Kinde founded the village in the 1880s during the region’s transition from lumbering to agriculture. Home of great Polka and the Michigan Northern Bean.
Michigan Bean Commission – Great Recipes – Top recipes from the advocate of bean growing in Michigan
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Michigan’s Vlasic Pickle Soup – This is a quick, savory, hearty main course soup perfect for a camp lunch. The potential variations are endless. It’s easy to prepare, and this dill pickle soup seems to taste even better the next day. We picked Vlasic dills as they are locally grown and processed in Imlay City. A perfect Michigan meal.
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