Home Nutrition Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili – The Real Food Dietitians

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili – The Real Food Dietitians

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This sweet and spicy Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili is a gameday winner and all-around crowd pleaser!

You heard that right, Slow-cooker Pumpkin Chili

Note this recipe has been updated to include Instant Pot directions. 

There are about as many opinions about how chili is supposed to be made as there are hairs on your head. Some like it hot, some not. Some like beans, some prefer to leave them out. I, personally, like my chili really thick and meaty. I like the flavors to be complex with a little heat but not so much that I can’t feel my tongue. I also like it to be convenient and I love having leftovers for the next day – which if there is anything we can all agree upon when it comes to chili it’s probably those last two things – convenience and leftovers.

This Slow-cooker Pumpkin Chili is all that and more. What makes it particularly amazing is that you get to hide extra vegetables in it. In addition to the usual tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic there’s pumpkin – a great source of vitamin A, fiber and some healthy carbohydrates. Anytime I can hide extra vegetables in a dish I’m #winning at this mom thing. 

My kids beg for this stuff because it’s only slightly spicy and the pumpkin makes it naturally sweet. It also packs well in a preheated thermos to send in their lunch boxes.

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili that's topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced green onions.

A Whole30 lifesaver

In the past, whenever I did a Whole30 I would make a double batch of this chili because I tended to get really hungry (like man-sized appetite hungry) in the first week or two and I found that nothing beats that hunger like a big bowl of meaty chili made with grass-fed ground beef and topped with creamy avocado. And it freezes beautifully so I would portion it out into pint-sized mason jars and freeze for future meals when I needed something Whole30-friendly and everyone else wanted homemade pizza.

A white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili that's topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced green onions and a spoon in the bowl ready to eat.

Weekday, gameday, whatever day

Three nearly indisputable things about slow-cookers and chili:

  1. Slow-cooker meals are perfect for weekdays because there are few things better than walking in the door after a long day at work to a hot meal waiting. Just add a salad and you’re set!
  2. Weekends are great for slow-cooking when you want to get out and play and have a meal to come home to. I’m famous for getting up super early on powder days to get something in the slow-cooker so we can ski all day without having to worry about making dinner. I’ll do whatever it takes to get in one more run.
  3. Chili and football are pretty much synonymous from what I hear (I am not a football fan whatsoever. Not even a little.) But I love a good tailgating party and chilly fall days and holding a bowl of warm and spicy chili up to my half-frozen face and taking a deep breath – inhaling the sweet smell of cinnamon, the spicy chili powder and the fresh lime and cilantro this Slow-cooker Pumpkin Chili has to offer.

Slow-cooker Pumpkin Chili is one of those foods that makes you want to just crawl into the bowl. Make you all warm and cozy on a blustery day!

Close up/side angle view of a white bowl filled with Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili that's topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced green onions. There is a spoon in the bowl so it's obviously time to eat!

Bonus: It’s Paleo, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Whole30-friendly and even better as leftovers so consider making a double batch and freezing some for a later meal.

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili

This hearty beanless chili is a crowd-pleaser and it just happens to also be Whole30-friendly! The pumpkin adds a touch of sweetness, fiber, and vitamin A and it’s a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet.

  • Author: The Real Food Dietitians
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 15 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Cuisine: Whole30, Paleo, Dairy-Free

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp cooking fat of choice (avocado oil, olive oil or ghee)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ pounds grass-fed ground beef or bison
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 14-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • ½1 cup chicken broth or water* (homemade or store-bought) 
  • 2 ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder (plus more to taste)
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Optional: ¼ ½ tsp of cayenne (for heat)

Suggested Toppings: Diced avocado, fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, lime wedges, hot sauce, sour cream and/or shredded cheese (omit dairy for Whole30)

Instructions

Slow Cooker Directions:

  1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and saute the onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until onions start to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Add the ground beef. Use a spatula or large spoon to break it up as it cooks. Cook until meat is nearly cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Transfer meat mixture to the slow cooker.
  5. Add remaining ingredients (diced tomatoes through black pepper) and stir. See note below about using more broth with this option. 
  6. Set heat to LOW and cook for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Instant Pot Directions: 

  1. Select ‘Saute’ on the Instant Pot. Add the oil and saute the onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until onions start to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Add the ground beef. Use a spatula or large spoon to break it up as it cooks. Cook until meat is nearly cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (diced tomatoes through black pepper) and stir.
  5. Stir, lock lid into place and set vent valve to ‘Sealing’ position.
  6. Select ‘Manual’ or ‘High Pressure’ setting and cook for 12 minutes. Allow for 10-15 minutes of natural pressure release before flipping the steam release valve to release the remaining steam.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Serve with additional toppings, as desired.

Notes

*Increase broth to 1 – 1½ cups if using the Instant Pot. If you like your chili thick, we suggest starting with 1 cup and adding more if you get an ‘overheat’ or ‘burn’ error on your Instant Pot during cooking. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th recipe
  • Calories: 328
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Sodium: 511mg
  • Fat: 14g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 26g

How do you like your chili? Spicy? With beans? From a can? (Kidding!) Tell us about in the comments below and get the conversation started

Pin now and make it later!


Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter

About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.





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