Spicy 3 Bean Chili Recipe

*updated 1/6/14

Who doesn’t like chili? This recipe gives you all the flavor and warmth of this classic comfort food without the high animal fat and cholesterol! It’s easy to make (no expert cooking skills required) and can be even easier and much less time consuming if you throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker, which I cover instructions for at the end of the post. Each time I make it there are plenty of leftovers. Since it reheats well and contains all the balance you need in one meal for satiety and nutrient density, it can be a great recipe to add to meal prep day, and even one to freeze for later.

3 bean sweet potato chili

My favorite way to eat chili is to put a serving over a bed of mixed lettuces and top with homemade guacamole. You can also get creative and make chili nachos or adding to a wrap. Tim likes using leftovers to make chili omelets!

What’s your favorite way to eat chili?

Slow Cooker Instructions

Add all ingredients listed to slow cooker, except for spinach, with the addition of 1 cup of water, and set it on “low” for 6-7 hours. When it is done, then add your spinach, stir, and serve.

Spicy 3 Bean Chili

(Gluten-free, Vegan)

vegan bean chili


  • 1 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1 each: jalapeno & chili pepper, minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium- large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 C each: black, kidney & pinto beans prepped from dry or 15 ounce can of each black, kidney and pinto beans, drained & rinsed (choose BPA-free brand)*
  • 1-2 Lg or 2-3 Med sweet potatoes or potatoes of choice, diced into very small pieces
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (or regular plus a 2 ounce container of green chiles)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 Cup cooked, chopped spinach (from fresh or frozen)

*Purchasing tip: If I am purchasing canned, I buy beans at Trader Joe’s because they do not contain BPA. A risk of using canned foods is that the cans are lined with the carcinogenic chemical BPA. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, click here for brands that are BPA free.


  • Wash the peppers and prep all of your ingredients as listed above. The potatoes should be diced very small so that they cook more quickly.
  • Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the canola oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the garlic and hot peppers and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown).
  • Add the onions, stir and cover for 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the potatoes, stir and cover for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If potatoes begin to stick, add small amounts of water as needed and reduce heat.
  • Next add the beans and tomatoes and stir. Add all of the seasoning and stir well. Cover and let simmer about 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and corn, stir and turn off the heat immediately. Cover about 2-3 minutes.


Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Potatoes are packed with potassium which is very important for fluid balance in the body. Fluid balance is essential for all of your body’s functions and how energized you feel. And guess what? You would have to eat 9 bananas to get enough potassium in one day, so start looking to more fruits & veggies for this nutrient. Potatoes also provide you with iron and magnesium among other minerals and are a good source of Vitamin C and B vitamins, especially B6. Over 60 phytochemicals have been found in potato flesh & skin including phenolics, flavonoids, polyamines, and carotenoids, which provide antioxidant and cardiovascular enhancing properties (1).

Beans are a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. Black beans and kidney beans also provide calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. But people forget that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Spinach provides lots of Vitamin C as well as calcium, thiamin, iron, B6, zinc, copper, riboflavin & magnesium. Phytochemicals provided include isothiocyanates, sulforophane & indoles.

Yes, corn, actually does have some health benefts – when you eat real the whole kernel anyway. Yellow corn contains fiber, folate, potassium, and antioxidant carotenoids which are great for your eyes and immune system.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Jalapeno pepper, chili peppers and cayenne & chili powder all contain capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and a lower content of saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.

Cumin aids in digestion and helps your immune system. It has been found to aid allergies and asthma in some studies.

Ginger is great for digestion and calming your GI track and may help the liver’s detoxifying processes.