3 Vegan Meals with Chilli, Quinoa, Tacos & Steamed Veg (but no Quorn!)

As many of you will know, during a recent and rare visit to a local café, I was innocently duped into having vegetarian chilli by a young woman who believed it was vegan. In fact it contained Quorn mince, which is gluten-free and vegetarian, but not vegan. I was really upset when I later realised; it’s taken me decades of being vegetarian to finally make the leap to veganism. It hasn’t been easy, but I was proud of myself and now I felt I’d failed. It took the shine off what had been lovely afternoon out in a beautiful setting. (See Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli).

The only thing I felt I could do to make amends (in my way of thinking) was to create a vegan chilli at home and in having it for dinner that following day – and publishing it on social media as well as my blog – somehow I would go some way to erasing my blip and to providing regular meat-eaters and vegetarians with an alternative for their menus.

Quinoa was cooked separately, then added to the cooked sauce to give some added texture in place of ‘mince’. This recipe made enough for a bowl of chilli and quinoa one evening, chilli with 3 tacos and green salad the next, and the leftover quinoa I had with corn on the cob and vegetables the third day.

imageI’ve used chilli flakes because we don’t normally eat fresh chillies, I try to keep nightshade foods to a minimum as they can exacerbate skin and joint inflammation, which is also why I’ve used tomato paste rather than tomatoes. But don’t be put off, it still has a kick and is very tasty. The onion and crushed garlic are missing from the chopping board – they’d already gone in the pot before I remembered to take a photo!

You might be surprised at a couple of the items, or if you’re my son, then probably not!

All measurements are approximate, all ingredients used were organic where possible, vegan and gluten-free. 

Ingredients for the Chilli Sauce

Approx. 1 Tsp Solid Coconut Oil

1 Onion

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed

1 Tsp Chilli Flakes

 French Beans, washed and chopped

Broad Beans

1 Carrot, washed and chopped small

2 Large Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and chopped

1/2 Courgette (small zucchini)

Half a tin of Kidney Beans, rinsed


1/2-1 Tsp Raw Cacao Powder*

2 Cacao Buttons (or just under 1/4 Cup melted cacao butter)#

Big Squeeze Tomato Paste

1-2 Tsps Bouillon Powder

dissolved in

Approx. 300-400 mls Hot water (enough to almost cover the veg)

A Good Splash of Tamari

Black Pepper


Melt coconut oil until hot but not smoking.

Stir fry onions and crushed garlic for a couple of minutes.

Add chilli flakes.

Add rest of vegetables and heat through, stirring regularly, place lid on and sweat for a few minutes.

Add kidney beans and sweetcorn, bouillon powder in hot water, tomato paste, tamari and black pepper.

Mix the cacao powder with literally a few drops of water (an egg cup is easiest to use) and add to sauce with broken cacao buttons.

Stir well, replace lid and cook on low heat about 45 -50 minutes, until all veg cooked through. Keep an eye on the liquid.

Meanwhile, gently cook 1 Cup Quinoa in approximately 1 Cup of stock to give it some flavour, but be careful not to add salt as the quinoa will absorb it all and there will be salt in the sauce via the bouillon powder, tomato paste and tamari.

Slightly undercook the quinoa so it still has a little bite, at about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on the liquid. Remove it from the heat. Don’t stir it about, it needs to keep its shape and not break up or be soft and mushy. It will soak up some of the sauce when it’s added.

To serve:

Add a few large spoons of quinoa to the chilli sauce, folding it into the sauce but not stirring. Leave about half of the quinoa for  the third evening.

Ladle the sauce into a warm bowl, with plenty of liquid, you want the remainder of the sauce to be thick for next evening.

I sprinkled on some nutritional yeast before eating, but that’s optional. You can have tortillas or crisp homemade bread to accompany the chilli.

When the leftover chilli and quinoa are cool, place in separate containers in the fridge for the next 2 meals.

Day Two

Next evening, the chilli sauce will have been absorbed by the quinoa and will be thick enough to have in tacos with green salad and I added some chilled cashew cheese sauce but you could have plain yogurt (See Easy-Peasy Cheesy Cashew Sauce or Dip).

I made three, but it would easily have made four and was so filling. Two was enough. Be sure to eat this with someone who loves you for who you are because it is the messiest thing to eat!

Day Three

Not the prettiest or most photogenic meal, but everything needed using up. It was tasty and filling and you can’t ask for much more in a meal! It also only took about 15 minutes. 

The corn, broccoli and broad beans were lightly steamed while the chestnut mushrooms were stir-fried with crushed garlic and tamari. They were then set aside in the frying pan while the quinoa was warmed through with some chopped spring onion, keeping it on the move so it doesn’t stick to the pan.


So what’s the verdict? Do you think I’ve made up for my vegan/vegetarian mis-step?



Copyright: Chris McGowan

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