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Vegetarian Chili + Sweet Country Cornbread Recipe

There are very few foods from my childhood that I still eat. I use to LIVE on macaroni & cheese, chicken nuggets, Cocoa Puffs, and pizza. Over the years, I’ve replaced those foods with things like vegetables, fruits, salmon, and granola. The pizza, however, has and never will leave/be replaced in my diet. I mean, come on, it’s pizza! Who can live without it? A better question is, who would want to live without it? Not me! I’ll trade a little extra time in the gym for a slice (or multiple slices) of pizza any day!

Okay, okay, enough talk about pizza, and my undeniable love for it, this isn’t even a recipe for pizza (but, I’m sure I’ll be sharing one with you soon)! Like I was saying, the foods I eat now are very different than what I ate 20 years ago, except for a few foods like the occasional slice of pizza, and the often enjoyed bowl of chili and sweet country cornbread.

Even though the chili I make today is slightly different than the chili I enjoyed in childhood (this recipe is vegetarian + more nutritious), it’s just as filling and delicious. My chili has even received certified approval by many avid meat eaters in my family. In fact, the first time I made it for Ryan he was convinced meat was in it!

This Recipe Is One Of My Favorites Because

  1. It reminds me of my childhood.
  2. Is not only healthy, but super filling and satisfying (thanks to the kidney beans, lentils, and black beans).
  3. Easy to make + I don’t have to worry about lunch/dinner for the rest of the week!

Now, I’ve made this chili both on the stovetop and in a slow cooker. Even though both versions are easy to make, and taste the same, I prefer using a slow cooker because it makes the whole process of dinner pretty effortless. By using a slow cooker, I’m able to throw all the ingredients in the morning (after a few minutes of sautéing some of the ingredients) and then simply forget about it.

After a long day of working/running errands, I’m able to come back home to two of my favorite things—a fresh homemade meal, and a clean kitchen. Is it just me or is there something about a clean kitchen, and knowing that you don’t have to clean anything up after dinner, that makes any meal taste sooo much better?

I also love that when I use my slow cooker, there’s a healthy meal ready to go whenever I may get hungry. Because we all know that when we get hungry, we tend to make bad decisions, many of which involve takeout or a delivery guy…often a pizza delivery guy 🙂

Although there are many benefits of using a slow cooker, it does take 7-8 hours to cook, whereas the stovetop version takes just over an hour. I’m going to show you how to make both versions, so you can pick whichever one works best for you and your schedule.

Whether you make the stovetop or slow cooker version, you have to try my Sweet Country Cornbread, it’s too easy to make and too good to pass up!

Sign up below, and you’ll get not only my Sweet Country Cornbread recipe, but also a little something extra sent straight to your inbox! Already a subscriber? No need to sign up below, just head over to the Subscriber Only Free Resources Library to get my Sweet Country Cornbread Recipe + exclusive content created just for subscribers!

When I make chili on the stove, I use a dutch oven, but you could use any large pot for this recipe. For both versions, I start by sautéing the onions, peppers, jalapeños, and garlic in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. I love whenever I have to sauté onions; there’s nothing yummier than the smell of onions sautéing!

If you don’t like one of the ingredients used, feel free to replace it with one of your favorite vegetable substitutes. I used two varieties of bell peppers because I love their taste and that they are full of vitamin C. Yellow peppers alone have 341mg of Vitamin C, that’s 569% of your daily value! Bell Peppers are excellent sources of vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and are also one of my favorite snacks when dipped in hummus. Yum!

I don’t find this chili very spicy at all, neither does Ryan, who tends to be on the more sensitive side when it comes to spicy foods. But, if you’re super sensitive to spiciness, you can start off using one jalapeño, and by making sure to remove all the seeds (more seeds=more heat). On the other hand, if you’re like me and love spicy food, don’t remove any of the seeds!



Whenever I finish cooking anything, from chili to cake, my kitchen always looks like a disaster. SOOO, I LOVE LOVE LOVE meals that give me ample time to clean up as I cook. As the veggies, spices, and lentils cook, I take those 20 minutes to clean up the kitchen. Then, after I add the tomatoes, beans, and corn I take the next 30 minutes to make my Sweet Country Cornbread, you can get the recipe at the bottom of this page!

But hey, if you want to leave the kitchen and the dishes for tomorrow morning, this recipe gives you 50 minutes of downtime, which you can use for anything! Be the ultimate multitasker (which I already know you are) and use this time to read your bible, pick up your house a bit, take the dog for a walk, answer emails, or maybe even do a few squats!

serves 6-8


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced medium
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced thinly
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper, a few pinches
  • 2 cups water (plus 4 more cups for stovetop version)
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz can)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15oz can)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp maple + agave nectar syrup mix
  • 4 oz cream cheese


For the slow cooker

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, yellow + orange peppers, jalapeños, and a pinch of salt; sauté 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. While this cooks, in a separate bowl mix together all the spices, open and rinse beans, open can of tomatoes, and set aside.
  2. Add garlic to pan, sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cream cheese (make sure only to add 2 cups of water at this point). Cover and set to low for 7-8 hours, until lentils are very tender.
  4. Once lentils are tender, add more water to the chili (depending on your preference of how thick or thin you like your chili to be), and stir.
  5. Add cream cheese in tablespoon square slices, cover. Stir every 10 minutes or so until cream cheese is fully melted.

For the stove

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, yellow + orange peppers, jalapeños, and a pinch of salt; sauté 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. While this cooks, mix all the spices in a separate bowl.
  2. Add garlic, and sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the seasoning mixture (chili powder, cumin, oregano, cloves, salt, and pepper), stir until the mixture coats the onion mixture, toast for 1 minute.
  3. Add 4 cups water and lentils to the pan, give it a quick stir. Cover the pot, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil covered for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. While this cooks, open and rinse beans and can of tomatoes, set aside.
  4. Add the kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, and corn. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add 2 more cups of water, lime juice, maple+agave syrup mix, and cream cheese (in Tbsp square slices). Cook on low, uncovered until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated into chili.

Here’s a little something just for you! Don’t worry about grabbing a piece of paper and pen to write down all these ingredients, just print the grocery list below!

I even left room for you to write down the rest of your grocery list! This is the list I use whenever I go to the store, it makes finding everything so easy, and I never forget anything. In the Mini Meal Plan square, I write down my meal plans for the entire week. To print, simply right click the image below, click “Save Image As,” and save to desktop. Then, find the file on your desktop, double-click it, once it’s open all you have to do is hit print!

Kristy’s Sweet Country Cornbread Recipe

You could eat this chili with a slice of avocado on top, tortillas, or crackers, but in my book, chili just isn’t chili without some homemade sweet cornbread!  Sign up below, and you’ll get not only my Sweet Country Cornbread recipe but also a little something extra sent straight to your inbox! Already a subscriber? No need to sign up below, just head over to the Subscriber Only Free Resources Library to get my Sweet Country Cornbread Recipe + exclusive content created just for subscribers!

  • Brown and green lentils retain their shape better and thus are better than red and yellow lentils (for this recipe), which tend to disintegrate.
  • The amount of water you add will affect how thick your chili ends up being, adjust to your preference.
  • Easily make this chili vegan by omitting the cream cheese.
  • Have a picky eater? Make this recipe more kid-friendly by blending the chili in a high-speed blender. This way, they won’t be able to see all the veggies!

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