Try this spicy meat-replacement!

When I complained to my doctor about the aches and pains of aging, she suggested I investigate the vegan lifestyle. She recommended a terrific book, Forks Over Knives, to get me started. Research has shown that eliminating animal products from one’s diet can have a variety of health benefits, from less inflammation to weight loss—just look at President Bill Clinton, who switched to a vegan diet a few years ago.

A pot of soyrizo chili Since I haven’t eaten beef in nearly 3 decades, and eliminated pork over 20 years ago, going vegan—for at least a majority of my meals—would not prove difficult for me. I love ancient grains like quinoa, protein-rich kale, and beans of all kinds. Though I do like tofu, I’m not that skilled at cooking with it.

I love chili, and make a great vegetarian version, but I missed the meaty texture. I was thrilled when I sampled a taste of Soyrizo—soy chorizo—at my local health food store. Rich and spicy, I knew it would be the perfect addition to my chili. My husband was skeptical, so it sat in our fridge for a few weeks before I tried it.

Garden CilantroThough it was mid-March, I still had some cilantro in my kitchen garden that had over-wintered despite the unseasonal deep-freeze we had in January. It’s one of my favorite herbs, and easy to grow. I could not make chili without it! I had everything else I needed: onions, canned diced tomatoes and mild green chilis, frozen organic white corn and a quart of cooked black beans in my freezer.

The result was this recipe:Soy Chorizo Chili with Rosemary Polenta.pdf (click the link for a downloadable/printable PDF). Served with a side salad, it makes terrific meal for a chilly day. If you’re not ready to go full vegan, but would like another option for “Meatless Mondays” garnish with shredded cheese and/or plain Greek Yogurt.

If you do try the recipe, please email me with feedback. I’d love to hear what you think!