Unbelievable Chili

Today is the first day of fall. With the weather actually cooling down, I feel like I can use my oven and start making soups again! Chili has long been a family favorite, and one more dish I thought was gone forever once I found I couldn’t eat nightshades. For what is chili without tomatoes and peppers? Well, it’s pretty good, actually. Much to the surprise of my tasters (including me), this chili looks and tastes like, well, chili.

unbelievable_chiliUnbelievable Chili

1 lbs ground beef (450 g)
1 large onion, diced (140 g)
6 cloves garlic, minced (18 g)
2 T dried oregano leaves
1 T cumin
2 t ground coriander
2 t dried thyme leaves
1 t salt
½ t ground black pepper
pinch of ground cloves
1¾ c pureed pumpkin (425 g)
4 c Tomato-Free Tomato Sauce (click here for recipe)
2 c water

  1. Brown ground beef with onion and garlic
  2. Add spices and cook until onion is soft and translucent
  3. Stir in pumpkin, tomato-free sauce, and water
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened

Yield 2 qts chili


  • This is a rather mild chili recipe. For a hotter blend, try adding small amounts of one or more other spicy ingredients (such as wasabi, horseradish, or ground mustard) to taste.
  • Several people have asked what looks like tomatoes in the bowl–it’s onions, colored red by the beets and cranberries in the tomato-free sauce!

What do you like to start cooking up in fall?


Fig Bars

Paging through the calendar of unusual holidays at brownielocks.com, I discovered today (January 16th) is Fig Newton Day. To celebrate, I offer you my take on the classic cookie. I was inspired by Elana Amsterdam’s recipe, but she made hers with almond flour and I wanted mine without nuts. I also wanted a smaller bar, so I could eat more of them! During my testing process, the kids gobbled theirs up with big grins and pronounced them “really good.” My husband, who still indulges his sweet tooth occasionally in grain- and dairy-filled goodies, said they taste just like the real thing.

Fig Barsfig bars

½ c dried figs, about 10 figs (75 g)
3 T water
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract, divided
½ c coconut flour (57 g)
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
3 large eggs
2 T coconut oil, melted
1½ T honey (32 g)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F line a large baking sheet with parchment
  2. Place figs in a small container, cover with water, lemon juice and ½ t vanilla, and set aside
  3. Whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until frothy and uniform in color
  5. Beat oil, honey, and remaining ½ t vanilla into eggs
  6. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms
  7. Puree figs and liquid into a paste
  8. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces (about 90 g ea)
  9. For each portion, form a thin log and roll out between pieces of parchment into a 12×3 rectangle
  10. Spoon 2 T fig paste onto dough and smooth into an even layer along the center of the rectangle
  11. Use parchment to fold long sides of dough over fig paste and transfer bar to prepared pan
  12. Bake bars for 10-11 min until golden and firm
  13. Allow to cool 2-3 min on pan
  14. Cut each log into 8 1½-in bars before removing to wire rack

Yield 24 bars

What is your experience trying to recreate store-bought treats in your own kitchen?

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I first discovered fresh guacamole when I was in college. It quickly became my go-to party dish. When I found out that I can’t tolerate nightshades, I thought perhaps my excellent guacamole days were over. I mean, I know you CAN make guacamole with just avocados and salt, but it’s really not the same. After some testing and tweaking, I finally have the proportions for my new recipe just right; I don’t even miss the tomatoes and peppers! I hope you like it as much as we do.


Meat from 4 avocados, mashed (400 g)
1/3 c finely diced onion (60 g)
1 bunch cilantro (60 g)
2 cloves garlic, minced (6 g)
1 t lime juice
½ t salt

  1. Stir together all ingredients until well blended.
  2. Serve immediately or press cover directly on the surface of the dip to minimize browning.

Yield 2 cups

What do you like to dip in guacamole?

Monday Meatloaf

The weather has cooled, and something about the feel of autumn puts me in the mood for meatloaf. I would have guessed, once upon a time, something with “meat” in it’s name wouldn’t be too hard to make without grains. I would have been wrong. I used to make a great recipe with pork rinds and cheese in the binding. Then we went totally dairy free about three years ago and I hadn’t made a decent meatloaf in a while. Until last month, when my husband tossed together a loaf that was remarkably stable. I asked him how he got it not to fall apart when he cut it. His secret, it turns out, was garlic and onion powder. I’ve made this about once a week since then and the kids clean their plates and ask for more every time. (Please forgive the poor-quality photo. My daughter was anxious to eat and kept grabbing for the dish!)

Monday MeatloafMonday Meatloaf

2 lbs raw ground beef (900 g)
2 large eggs
1 T onion powder
1 T garlic powder
2 t salt
2 t crushed rosemary
1 t black pepper
½ t dried thyme leaves
¼ t dry mustard powder

¼ c Cranberry-Beet Ketchup (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Stir together all loaf ingredients until thoroughly combined
  3. Press mixture evenly into a 9×5 loaf pan
  4. Bake for one hour
  5. Remove loaf from oven and spread with ketchup, if using
  6. Increase oven temperature to 400°F and bake for an additional 15-20 min until internal temperature reaches 165°F

NOTE: This recipe is sugar-free with the optional topping omitted.

We usually serve meatloaf with baked squashed or a mashed root vegetable and some greens. What do you like with your meatloaf?