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  • Writer's pictureMaite

Cacao Spiced Chili - Vegan

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

You had me at cacao.

This superfood is full of so much goodness, I use it everyday for it's mood boosting benefits and the great alternative to coffee, more on this on a future post! But did you know that it can add great depths to your savory dishes? You can find it in moles, steak rubs, sauces of all kinds and beyond.

The spices in combination with the cacao, the herbs and the tomatoes are really what makes the base of this dish, beyond this you can play with the rest of these ingredients:

  • Coconut oil - olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil, will work well too.

  • Poblano Peppers - Red or green bell peppers would be great.

  • Butternut squash - Any hearty vegetable like cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, play, play, play.

  • Portobello mushrooms - zucchini would be a nice substitution.

  • Pinto beans - exchange for black beans, black eyes peas, chili beans, or even better a combination of all of them.

NOTE! Do keep the big squeeze of lime right before serving, it finishes the dish, trust me!



  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoon cacao powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, use less if preferred

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 onions, small dice

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, leaves only

  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, leaves only

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 3 poblano peppers, medium dice

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, large dice, 2 cups total

  • 2 portabello mushrooms, large dice

  • 1 can whole tomatoes (28oz)

  • 2 cups cooked beans pinto beans

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • Fresh limes, squeezed

Garnish ideas: cilantro leaves, lime wedges, sprouts, yogurt, cheese, herb-infused olive oil, sour cream or toasted cashews. Get creative!



In a large pot over medium heat add the coconut oil and the garlic, moving constantly until fragrant and golden. Add the onions and the salt, sweat for about 5 minutes stirring a few times. Add all the spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, chipotle powder, ground star anise, ground cloves, black pepper, cayenne pepper) & the cacao powder! Stir until fragrant, approximately 3 more minutes. If the spices are sticking to the bottom of the pot, avoid burning by adding some juice from the tomatoes.

Next, add the thyme, the oregano, the bay leaves, the can of tomatoes (with juice), the peppers, squash, mushrooms, beans, and maple syrup. Stir well and bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook about 60 min on low heat, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom. It's done when the squash is tender but not so much that it dissolves to the touch.

Finish with a fresh squeeze of lime right before serving, garnish, and enjoy! Serve over polenta, rice, or simply eat as is.

Note: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for a month, don't add lime until ready to eat the flavor will change over time, fresh is always better with citruses.

Prep time: 20min

Cook Time: 1hr 15min

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