Monday, November 10, 2014

Time For A Change - Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Change can be good and change can be bad.  Unfortunately, even bad change can be unavoidable.

About a year ago I noticed while working out that I had some pain in my hip crease when I bent forward.  I didn't think much of it.  I was heavily involved with a body coaching program and my workouts were a huge part of my life.  I figured I was bound to strain something now and then.  It didn't hurt so badly that it impeded motion, so I ignored it.  The pain never went away and I decided that I should have someone look at it.  I went to my orthopedist, who had me do an MRI and some physical therapy.  The pain never went away.  I had a second MRI with dye injection.  This finally showed some tears in my labrum (the seal around the hip joint).  I would either have to live with the pain or have surgery.  Since I knew I didn't want to be in pain (however mild that pain was) for the rest of my life, I decided to go ahead and have the surgery. 

Now that the surgery is complete, my life has definitely changed.  Regular intense workouts, as well as dance, and even riding, are a thing of the past.  I may not be doing regular activity for another 6 months.  Right now it's just therapeutic moves as I shuffle around on crutches with a brace on my hip.  I have a long way to go to get my old life back.

Since I'm not crushing it in the weight room, galloping the equines around, or shaking my booty in Zumba or jazz class anymore, I also have to make some serious changes in my eating habits.  Gone are the days of giant hunks of protein for muscle building and big portions.  I have to eat quite a bit more conservatively now.

As I sit at home, bored and in pain, I am designing menus to get me through the next few weeks where physical activity will be very limited.  Many of my meals are plant-based and lower in fat than I previously ate.  I'm trying to bring the calorie counts down and the nutrients up.  I need my vitamins and minerals while I'm convalescing.

Here is my first recipe.  I was inspired for this by the holiday shops in Bryant Park.  You might remember an old post where I visited a vegan food stand called Two Tablespoons where I ate a somewhat disappointing cup of sweet potato and black bean chili.  I felt that it was not spicy or smokey enough.  Now I'm making my own version.  I even soaked and cooked my own beans since I am home more to do this now.   Since the Two Tablespoons version lacked both smoke and spice, I really ramped up the chipotle and added some ancho chili powder as well and even a bit of cinnamon.  I used fire roasted tomatoes for my tomato base.  I also added spinach to it so I can really make this a nutritional powerhouse.

I have an excuse for bad photos today!  I'm in too much pain to get out lights and props and linens and good tableware.  I had to photograph this as I ate it out of the first bowl I could reach without pain.

This is a very hearty chili with plenty of spice.  You don't need much to make a meal.  A little goes a long way.  There is so much heft and flavor in it that even I don't miss the meat.

Pretty good for chili made standing on one leg!

Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbl chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups black beans cooked from dried (or 1 15oz can)
  • 1 28 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 bag spinach leaves
  • Salt to taste
 Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling salted water.  You want them soft enough to run a knife through them, but they shouldn't be falling apart.

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add onions and cook until soft.  Add in the garlic, ancho, chipotle, and cinnamon.  Stir until onions are coated and mixture is very fragrant.  Add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and beans.  Stir gently and cook for at least another 30 minutes.  At the end, stir in the spinach leaves until they wilt.