Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed with Black Bean, Corn and Pumpkin Chili

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Literally the easiest thing EVER. I made this chili from scratch for my carbo-loading food festival this week (last few days before the race!) and it is SO delicious. It does require a little prep, however – I used dried black beans, soaked them overnight and then pre-cooked them the night before making this chili, so throwing this dish together would be a breeze. I also learned something new: eating raw or undercooked beans is dangerous! Why? Beans contain a compound called lectin. Lectins are glycoproteins that are present in a wide variety of commonly-consumed plant foods. Some are not harmful, but the lectins found in undercooked and raw beans are toxic. I find it interesting that unlike a lot of other plant foods (most vegetables), beans have a better nutritional profile after they are cooked. Boiling destroys the lectin and renders them safe to eat. The toxic lectins are thought to exist in order to discourage animals and other pests from eating the raw beans or seeds of the plant. Animals are apparently able to smell the toxic lectins. Make sense – even your pooch will sniff food before eating it and turn away from anything that doesn’t smell juuuust right (bring on the peanut butter!). Us humans have no such olfactory sense, so we can’t tell that those raw beans are going to cause a serious bout of Montezuma’s revenge. Kidney beans are particularly dangerous, not only because they are one of the most consumed beans globally, but they also have the highest concentration of lectins. For comparison, cannellini beans have only about a third the amount of lectin of red kidney beans (yet even that amount is still enough to make you sick).

The toxin in kidney beans is called phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Your body reacts to this poison by emptying the entire digestive tract as quickly as possible. Sounds fun, right??! Exactly how you want to spend your night. πŸ˜‰
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So, we can take away a few important lessons here:
1. Soak your beans overnight.
2. Drain beans before cooking, and change the water.
3. Cook beans thoroughly, according to package directions.
4. Make sure all beans and brought to a boil for the specified amount of time.
5. Don’t eat raw beans, dude.

Black Bean Prep:

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My pre-soaked, pre-cooked black beans ready to jump into the chili

In order to follow all of these important points, I soaked 1 cup of dried beans in a large glass bowl covered with water (I put plastic wrap over the top so the water wouldn’t evaporate – it’s still pretty warm in Boston). I rinsed and drained my beans, and transferred them to a medium saucepan the next day. I added 32 ounces of veggie broth, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp caynne, 1 bay leaf, a dash of Herbamare (salt seasoning), a few turns of black pepper, and 1 Tbsp dried garlic*. I brought the liquid to a rolling boil, then turned the heat down to allow them to simmer covered for 1- 2 hours. You can also do this in a crockpot, bring to a boil on high, and then cook on low until you’ve achieved the desired consistency. Once my beans were soft, I transferred everything – beans and liquid to a large airtight container, allowed them to cool completely and then put them into the refrigerator overnight to use the next day in the chili. Or, you can use two 15.5 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained.
*Please note: Even though I added spices and seasoning to the beans alone before adding them to the chili, I added more seasoning to the chili itself to make the entire dish more flavorful. So yes, you add double the seasoning if you are cooking the beans from scratch. It tastes awesome.

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Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed with Black Bean, Corn and Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried black beans, cooked following directions above
  • Black bean cooking liquid (or 32 oz veggie broth)
  • 1 16 oz jar of salsa, medium or hot
  • 1 15.5 oz can of pumpkin, or 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 3 ears of fresh sweet corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • Dash of Herbamare
  • Few turns of black pepper
  • bay leaf
  • Sweet potatoes (4)
  • Avocado (1)

Directions

  1. I was serving this chili over baked sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 400Β°F, pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork five or so times on each side, and place into the oven to roast for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

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    My baked sweet potato ready to be stuffed with chili.

  2. Meanwhile, grill or boil your corn. I boiled my ears of corn for 10 minutes, allowed them to cool enough to touch, and cut the kernels off the cob.
  3. Transfer your beans, bean cooking liquid (or broth), spices and jar of salsa into a medium saucepan. Stir to mix, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low to simmer and add the corn. Cover and simmer on low until the potatoes are done.

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    Chili simmering away. πŸ™‚

Serve chili over a sweet potato, top with avocado, Greek yogurt, a squeeze of lime, freshly chopped cilantro – whatever you like! Enjoy. πŸ˜€

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Sweet potato stuffed with chili…NOMS!

This dish really was quite simple. Yes, it does require some preparation and planning ahead if you use dried beans, but when you get down to it, it’s a lot of simmering downtime. And, it is full of nutrients, protein, fiber and my favorite combo ever: sweet potato and black beans. In addition, the ingredients are inexpensive and you can make it for as many or as few people as you like – it’s easily scale-able to feed a crowd. You can eat the chili as it is, or served over baked potato or on top of greens for taco salad, or as a burrito/taco/enchilada filling. This was really, really delicious. I can’t wait to make this again when pumpkin is in season! πŸ˜€

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!!

With warmth,

L

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