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Garden Fresh Lentil Chili

Posted Sep 08 2012 7:38pm
I'll be honest. I'm not a big fan of the month of September. If it wasn't for my husband's birthday landing in this month I would boycott the 30 days all together. But alas, I'm just being childish and need to get my act together. September is here whether I fight it or not!

So here we are. Going into the 2nd week of September and I am trying to be brave and make it through to October. I have been asking myself why I dislike this month for a few years now, and I think I figured out maybe a few reasons this past week. 

One reason being that it is a month of starting back at school, routines, and the "normal" week. I love and savor the summer weeks of no where to be and yet plenty of places to explore. {Yes, I still live within the school-world-schedule because of my husband's job and love a summer holiday.} 

So when September shows her face I am usually willing to ignore it for a few days and then have to except it as real. Yes, September usually is a month of beginnings as well, and that is definitely something to celebrate, so I guess there is good and excitement amidst the flurry. But there is definitely a call for bravery in the discovery in how to live in that tension of the old and the new.
This month also reveals other frustrating visual tensions. Like the tension between hot summer weather and the cooler fall tempts. It has been raining on and off here the past few days and the cool brisk fall air has arrived (for a few days at least!). It seems as if summer is having her last fight and eventually gives into the cool fall breeze making itself known. I am looking forward to the cool tempts. Actually praying and dreaming for them, but the on and off hot switch leaves me a bit crazy. I rather pull of the band-aid with a rip and have us fully into cool and colorful October already!

I guess I'm discovering that I am the kind of person that doesn't do well with tension. For better or worse, this is just the kind of person I am. The healing journey will bring you to many places in the road where you start to learn more and more about yourself. More of what you can handle and more of how you need to push yourself to be something more (or less) depending on the truth you are finding in yourself. You have to be willing to live in the tension of letting go of the old and embracing the new.

This is a part of this gluten-free journey as well. Many of us have bad days with our health, diet or gluten. It's how we are wired. We are sensitive inside and out and this will show us new experiences and we have to learn how to be brave, cope and learn from the old and the new. We have to learn how to live in the tension of our gluten-free being in a gluten-filled world. We have to try and be flexible when we feel the need to live in a rigid world most of the time. Don't let bitterness, pain and frustration keep you stuck in the old. Embrace, explore and strive to discover the new. You might just find that the new can be better than you ever imagined. 

My hope for you is that you find yourself on the healing journey working through the tensions. So that you can live, celebrate and thrive actually living in the tension.  Not wishing for the life before or the life ahead. That you live fully present and live discovering more about yourself in this great amazing world.  
And that is where this lovely vegetable chili becomes a part of my September wailings. It represents the bounty still coming from my garden's womb and also the need to cook a pot of warming and inviting chili for comfort. It is a representation of hope for the fall, and a way to cope with the endings and beginnings of this time of year. 

Also, almost all of the veggies in this chili are from my own backyard and was a great use of the tons of green bell peppers I have in every corner of my kitchen counter. Which is something I needed to embrace and celebrate as well!
Garden Fresh Lentil Chili Recipe
(gluten, dairy, nut, and meat-free {vegan})
2-3 TB of olive or coconut oil for sauteing
1 large sweet yellow onion diced
1 ts. of grated fresh ginger
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 large cup of chopped celery (3 stalks)
1 medium-large chopped zucchini or summer squash
3 large bell peppers (or 6 small sweet peppers)
1 large cup of chopped carrots (3-4 carrots)
6 cups of roasted fresh tomatoes and juices (8-10 medium tomatoes)
2 medium roasted ancho or pablano peppers
4 cups of vegetable stock or broth
4 cups of pure water
2 cups of soaked and rinsed dry green lentils
2 cups of cooked chili bean mix  (black, kidney and pinto) 
or use 1 can of black beans and another can of bean of choice
handful of fresh chopped cilantro (or 1 TB of dried)
2 TB of chili powder
1 TB of ground cumin
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
sea salt and black pepper to taste

First, roast 8-10 medium to large tomatoes and 2 ancho peppers in the oven on 400 degrees or under a broiler for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes and peppers skins shrink down or are a bit charred. Cool off and remove skins from the tomatoes and put the tomatoes in a blender if you prefer a smoother sauce. Then chop the peppers with or without the seeds to add the the chili. If you like spicier, keep the seeds in. Hold on the side until you are ready to mix together.

In a large 8.5-12 quart pot, saute the onion, garlic, ginger and celery in the oil for 5 minutes or until soft. Then add the peppers, zucchini and carrots and cook for another few minutes until color changes a bit. Then add the tomatoes (puree or roughly chopped) and the anchos. Stir well and then add the rinsed lentils, beans, broth and water. Stir well again and then add the rest of the seasoning ingredients. 

Cook on medium to high heat until a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and let cook for 50-60 minutes until the lentils are soft but not too mushy and the sauce is cooked and blended well together. 

Serve warm. Some options to serve up a nice bowl of this chili are over a bed of cooked quinoa or brown rice. Top with chopped avocado and fresh cilantro or herbs. Or if you prefer extras like organic corn chips, vegan sour cream or cheese those go well with this too. My favorites are cold avocado and fresh herbs. Also a fresh squeeze of some lime or lemon juice is always a nice last touch as well!

Some other additional ingredients that I did not have on hand or in my garden would be to add 1 cob of organic sweet corn kernels. Or sub the zucchini for 1-2 cups of small diced pieces of a winter squash like butternut. I will add that next time when I buy some at the market. Otherwise the zucchini or summer squash work perfect too.

I hope you enjoy this hearty bowl of delisiousness and find comfort, peace and hope for the journey today!

Much love as always!
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