When my kids heard about the secret ingredient in this recipe, they were 100% on board. More on this later. The beauty of this easy kid friendly vegan chili recipe is that it isn’t ALL beans which, if you know me, has been a no-go for my family in the past. There is 1 lb. of tofu that is prepared in a way that gives it a texture like ground meat to mix it up a little.
I made this to eat the next day for lunch while I was preparing a different recipe for dinner. It keeps well in the refrigerator which makes it great for meal prep.
Ready for that secret ingredient? COCOA POWDER!
I couldn’t believe it either. But I went for it and would say the chili does NOT taste like chocolate but has a richness that you just can’t place your finger on.
The original recipe is by one of my favorite vegan blogs call Nora Cooks. I made some adjustments in the spices to make it less spicy and more kid friendly. I actually don’t think the recipe as written below is spicy at all but there is some chili powder so it may taste spicy for some. Sweet paprika is a good substitute for chili powder if you want to reduce it even further.
Click here for the original recipe which also links to recipes for vegan sour cream and vegan cornbread. I haven’t made these yet. On another day perhaps.
KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
A great way to get kids to eat new foods is to include them in the preparation of the food. They are more likely to try foods they helped to make. Depending on their age, consider having them do the following parts of this recipe.
- measure out the tofu ingredients
- crumble the tofu
- rinse the beans
- measure the chili ingredients
You might also want to top it with vegan cheese. I like Violife because of the flavor and its ability to melt, but there are certainly other brands that would work. Check out this comprehensive review by Minimalist Baker on different brands of vegan cheese here.
If you are hesitant to replace cheese because you don’t think your family will eat it, try a 50/50 mix of regular shredded cheese and your vegan cheese of choice.
Remember any move in a direction towards healthier eating habits is a positive one.
Kid Friendly Vegan Chili
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz each) I like the San Marzano variety of tomatoes
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz each)
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz each)
- 1½ tbsp chili powder
- 1½ tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 cup water omit if you like a thicker chili (as pictured)
- vegan cheddar cheese
- chopped cilantro
- vegan sour cream
- chopped tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together all the tofu crumble ingredients (except the tofu) until it makes a paste.
- Drain the tofu and crumble it into the mixture.
- Mix together until the tofu is coated with the seasonings.
- Place on a pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the tofu halfway through until the tofu is browned.
- If using an air fryer, place the ingredients in the air fryer basket and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cook until the tofu is browned.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add oil.
- When oil is hot, add the diced onion and stir until translucent.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add all the chili ingredients, saving the tofu until after the chili has finished cooking.
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the tofu crumbles.
- Serve immediately or store in refrigerator and eat within 4 days. You can also freeze this.
- Optional: Top with vegan shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, vegan sour cream and tomatoes.