• St. Martin's Press
If It Makes You Healthy - Sheryl Crow and Chuck White with Mary GoodbodySee larger image
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If It Makes You Healthy

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Excerpt Recipe: Mom's Chili

Mom’s Reconstructed Chili

 From Sheryl Crow and Chef Chuck


CHUCK: I learned to make this big-and-bold-tasting chili from my mom, who made it often when we were kids.  Both my mom’s family and my dad’s made this chili, and so it’s no surprise that my sister, Jackie, and I follow the tradition now that we are grown.  Of course, when we were young, Mom and Dad made it with beef, but because I am a vegetarian and Sheryl likes to eat as healthfully as possible, I switched out the beef and substituted ground soy.  Guess what?  You can hardly tell the difference.  Made with soy, the chili tastes just as robust and intense as beef-based chili.  Serves 6-8.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, preferably expeller-pressed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound ground soy burger alternative
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • One 12-ounce can light beer, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • Two 14- to 15-ounce cans chili hot beans with can juices, preferably organic
  • Two 14- to 15-ounce cans pinto beans, preferably organic, drained
  • Two 14- to 15-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, preferably organic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fat-free saltines or cornbread for serving, optional
  • Hot pepper sauce, for serving, optional


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and when hot, sauté the onion and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the ground soy and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the soy further and encourage even cooking.  Add cumin, chili powder, paprika, and chili flakes and continue to cook, stirring, until the spices are slightly toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Using a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, stir in half of the beer and the soy sauce.  Add the rest of the beer and stir to mix.
  3. Add the chili hot beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, and 1 cup of water and mix well.  Add the bay leaves and oregano and stir to mix.
  4. Bring the chili to a low boil over medium-high heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so until the stew is well blended.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes, until the flavors blend.  Stir the chili occasionally during cooking.  Adjust the heat up or down to maintain a simmer.  Serve hot, with crumbled saltines or cornbread, and some extra hot sauce, if desired.