As I continue to struggle with my own personal decision to eat meat or not I am always on the warpath to create and be inspired by others meals using beans/legumes as the main source of protein.  I know, I have said before on my profile that I am a vegan but I really am not (it’s been corrected in the profile).  I have tried to be vegan but try as I do, my body still craves small amounts of dairy, fish (OK, I crave lots of fish), and occasionally meat.  I believe that humans are omnivores and that we have evolved to be able to pick and choose what we eat and are not as dictated by our hunter/gatherer beginnings.

In trolling my fellow food blogger’s sites I came across a great recipe on the eponymous site of Heidi Swanson ( for her Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili recipe.  I rummaged through my own cupboards and used what I had on hand and didn’t hold back adding a few of my own special touches.  I ended up with a hearty thick stick to your ribs stew like chili that will be my lunch and dinner for the week.  It was my lunch today and it was even better after it sat in the fridge overnight.  I topped a generous bowlful with a spoonful of sour cream and goat cheese and gave it a goo d stir before eating.  Over the week I may stir some spinach into it as I heat it on the stove to boost it even more nutritionally.

Lentil, Chickpea, and Barley Chili Stew

Serves: a crowd

2 tblsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 head garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp salt
3 tblsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 chipotle pepper (2 if you want it really spicy) or jalapeno pepper(s)
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes (fire roasted if you’d like)
10 c water
1 28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb bag of lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 c pearled barley
2 tblsp honey
2 tblsp hoisin sauce
1 oz. really dark chocolate
salt and pepper to taste

In your largest pot heat olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic and saute’ until they get golden brown but not burnt, about  10 minutes.  Add the salt while you are caramelizing the onions and garlic.  Add the chili powder, cumin, and chipotle/jalapeno pepper(s) and cook for a few minutes.  Pour in the tomatoes, water, lentils, barley, chickpeas, and stir well.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and let cook for about 40 minutes.  Add in the honey, hoisin, and dark chocolate.   Add some more water if the stew seems too thick (a cup at a time).  Adjust for salt and seasoning and add accordingly a 1/2 tsp at a time.