Texas Veggie Chili: A Skin Saving Supper
Why is Texas Four-Veggie Chili a great skin-saving supper?
Pretty much every ingredient in this vegetarian chili has a role to play in helping our skin. The beans provide a strong dose of fiber, protein, and other nutrients. The tomato sauce is a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant which helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation. The onions contain quercetin, another powerful antioxidant, and even the spices serve as a concentrated source of antioxidants.
This particular version of chili contains 2 types of beans. Beans of all types contain multiple skin-saving nutrients, which means I'm always on the lookout for ways to add them to our diet. Why do I consider beans a great skin-saving food?
To start with, they're a great source of dietary fiber.
We all need carbohydrates in our diet, because they're an important source of energy. But when carbs are digested too quickly, they can cause elevations in blood sugar, known as sugar spikes. Those sugar spikes can lead to collagen damage, which ultimately leads to wrinkling and sagging of the skin.
One of the best ways to limit sugar spikes is to combine carbs with either fiber, protein, or fat. In this recipe, you've added all three. The black beans and kidney beans are a great source of both protein and fiber, while the olive oil adds a touch of healthy fat.
That all adds up to a recipe that meets my guidelines for a great skin-saving food.
1. Eat power. The beans provide a great dose of antioxidants, protein, and fiber, and the addition of onions, tomato sauce, spices, and raisins add additional antioxidants.
2. Stop sugar spikes. The main ingredients in this vegetarian chili are kidney beans, black beans, and bulgur. Bulgur is a whole grain, and the fiber in bulgur helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. The protein and fiber in the beans act to do the same.
3. Avoid skin sabotage. There's no added sugar or deep-frying in this recipe.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp each: Dried basil/ Dried oregano/Garlic powder
1 tsp each: Salt/ Cumin
1/2 tsp: chili powder
1 bay leaf
Main Chili Ingredients
1/2 cup bulgur (quick-cooking)
1 can (16 oz) red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can (15 oz) black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 cup water
1. Heat oil in saucepan on medium-high heat, then add onions and sauté until golden
2. Add raisins and stir
3. Add tomato sauce, vinegar, and flavorings. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
4. Add main ingredients and lower heat to low. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Why use bulgur? It cooks right in the chili, so there are no extra steps or dishes.
Quick-Cooking, Whole Grain Bulgur
We purchase bulgur at our local grocery store. (It's sold in small bags). Bulgur is a whole grain, and is essentially a type of pre-cooked wheat. Only the outermost layer of the wheat kernels are removed, which leaves the nutrients in the wheat intact. These kernels are then partially cooked, dried, and broken into pieces. This means that while bulgur is still a whole grain, it cooks fairly quickly (some stores use the term "10-minute bulgur.")
When you're cooking with beans, feel free to use canned beans. Just rinse well before using to reduce added sodium. It's also very easy to cook most dried beans, including black beans, in the slow cooker--just add dried beans and the right amount of water, and cook for the right amount of time. (Just note that kidney beans require special slow cooker instructions!) When done, you can freeze the extra and pull them out for recipes like this one.
Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.