Vegetarian Chili

There is nothing like a hot bowl of Chili on a cold day… it is my perfect comfort food. This version is easy to prepare and only takes about 30 minutes. It has black beans and barley so it is loaded with fiber.


Barley is a great source of dietary fiber and actually contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.  A source of fiber and beta-glucans (a type of soluble fiber), barley has been shown to lower cholesterol and slow glucose absorption. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the effects of consuming whole-grain foods containing 0, 3 or 6 grams per day of beta-glucans from barley; the highest beta-glucan intake resulted in the greatest reduction in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.  Barley contains several vitamins and minerals including niacin (Vitamin B3), thiamine ( Vitamin B1), selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.

This recipe calls for quick cooking barley.  The difference between quick cooking and regular barley is it is “pregelatinized”- which means the granules of barley are allowed to swell to their maximum extent then dried, thus reducing their cooking time. If you can’t find quick cooking you can easily substitute regular barely just cook it separately then add into the chili.  Here’s are pictures of the two different types so you can see the difference. Nutritionally, they are the same. 🙂

Quick Cooking Barley


Regular Pearl Barley

Black Beans

Black beans have a high fiber content, and they are a great source of protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, and potassium. Black beans contain at least eight different flavonoids, which are antioxidants.  Anthocyanins in black beans act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, helping to prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease.  Black beans also contain small amounts of omega-3- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) fats.

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili


    • 2 teaspoons olive  oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 of (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
    • 2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
    • 6 lime wedges
    • Tortilla chips
    • Avocado Salsa


    1. Heat the oil in a large pot  over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add chili powder and next 3 ingredients (chili powder through green chiles); cook 1 minute. Stir in barley and next 4 ingredients (barley through broth); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro.
    2. Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, tortilla chips, and Avocado Salsa.

Note: Store chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa


    • 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled avocado
    • 1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


    1. Combine all ingredients; toss mixture gently. Serve salsa immediately.


I didn’t have any sour cream on hand so I skipped that ingredient.  Also, my kids do not like spicy foods so I only used half the green chiles.  The Avocado salsa is a great fresh addition to this chili.  I think it helps tame the heat.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 🙂


8 thoughts on “Vegetarian Chili

  1. Pingback: Chicken and Asparagus with Barley | Clean & Green Nutrition

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