If you on a regular exercise regime, protein is an important part of your diet, and chili is a great meal for that. You can use any beans and or meat you want, and you can add vegetables, like carrots and celery. The flavor profile is up to you, as well. Plus, making chili can be really quick and easy with canned beans and salsa, or you can make it from scratch by soaking the beans and getting all fresh vegetables and herbs. I have made it both ways, and will post a few variations. If you make it all from scratch and forgo meat, chili is a really inexpensive dish, as well.

Wind McAlister’s Sonoma Spice Queen is a wonderful spice shop in a cute Victorian house in downtown Petaluma. She and her company make small batch spice mixes and rubs, which you can find every Saturday at the Walnut Park summer farmers market. No only do they have seasonal favorites, but they are constantly working on making new mixes, like their Diablo Chili Verde, which is spicy and tangy with flavors of lime and tomatillos. All of blends are free of sugar, salt, gluten, and fillers and smell amazing. If you needs some flavor help and are not sure which herbs and spices you want to use, stop by the farmers market booth or the shop. Wind is super knowledgeable and can offer some great suggestions.

Soaking reduces the cooking time.

Soaking reduces the cooking time.

Slow Cooker Four Bean Chicken Chili
Based on my Black and Red Bean Turkey Chili, this chili would go really well with my Paleo Cornbread.
This recipe makes a lot of chili, so feel free to reduce it by half.

1 C Dried Red Chili Beans
1 C Dried Black Beans
1 C Dried Black Eyed Peas
1 C Dried Navy Beans
1 T Olive Oil
1 lb Ground Chicken
1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, finely chopped
8 Large Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
6 Stalks Celery, sliced
4 Large Carrots, optional
1 – 2 C Corn Kernels, optional
16 oz Medium-Spicy Salsa
2 Large Dried Bay Leaves
2 T Sonoma Spice Queen’s Diablo Verde Chili Mix
1/4 C Lime Juice
7 C Hot Chicken Broth
2 C Hot Water

Optional Garnishes
Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
OR Daiya Pepper-Jack Style Shreds
Crushed Corn Chips
Salsa Fresca
Chopped Avocado
Sliced Scallions

Sort your beans, discarding any pebbles and misshaped, discolored, or underdeveloped beans. In a strainer, rise off any dust. Soak the beans for 8 to 12 hours or overnight in a large pot with enough water to completely cover them after they double in size, adding more water if necessary. Drain and rinse.

Rinse the beans really well.

Rinse the beans really well before cooking.

In a very large crock pot, place the oil, chicken, onions, garlic, vegetables, salsa, herbs, spice mix, lime juice, and beans in order, so if you run out of room when adding the beans (like I did), you can put the rest of them in another pot to cook for on the stove. It is easier for flavor balance if the broth and hot water are mixed together in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. Pour in the broth until the liquids cover the beans in the slow cooker. (If you had to put beans in another pot, add the rest of the liquid to them, making sure the broth is at least two inches above the beans. Add more water if necessary, and have more ready to add as the beans cook.) Set the crock pot to cook on high for 6 hours or until they are tender. Garnish as desired and serve.