Lentil Chili

Darkness falls.  There’s loud knocking at your door.  You can hear voices and laughter outside.  You open the front door and are confronted by a witch, a skeleton, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a giant pumpkin.  They hold out bags and yell, “Trick or treat.”  You give them candy and they move on to the other houses on your street.  It’s Halloween!!  You go back to the kitchen to make dinner.  Lentil Chili is on your mind.

Meanwhile, at parties around town, adults dressed as vampires and superheroes dance and drink into the wee hours. Where did this bizarre holiday originate?

Halloween’s origins come from a Celtic festival for the dead called “Samhain”.  Celts believed that spirits from the underworld and ghosts could visit the world of the living on the night of October 31st.  These spirits could harm the living or take them back to the underworld.

To avoid this, people started dressing up as ghosts and spirits if they left their homes on October 31st – hoping to confuse the ghosts and spirits.  They would also leave treats by their front doors to appease the roaming spirits.

Some people carried hollowed-out turnips with a candle inside, representing a wandering spirit.  These were called “jack ‘o’ lanterns”.  There is an Irish legend about Jack, a man unwelcome in both heaven and hell, who was doomed to wander the earth eternally.

These days Halloween is a time for candy, costumes, school parties and the Charlie Brown cartoon special.  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was a well-loved movie in our house.

When I was growing up we hollowed out a pumpkin, put a candle inside it and set it on the front porch.  That was Halloween decorating.

When our kids were little we had a stuffed scarecrow sitting by the front door, spider webs hanging from the outside lights and scary music blaring from the potted plants.  Now the outside decorating is definitely scream-worthy – bat caves, coffins, animated witches – scary horror-house stuff.

Yesterday’s Halloween:  Scoring a pillowcase full of free candy and wolfing a lot of it down before breakfast, behind Mom’s back.

Today’s Halloween:  Living in a world that’s been turned into a Halloween theme park.  There’s still lots of candy though.

With all that’s changed about Halloween, there is one constant: Candy is both a treat and a torturer.  I try to buy things I don’t like.  Candy that won’t tempt me.  I buy treats that kids like though – and they are always sweet treats.  You don’t want to be the house that gave out toothbrushes.

To keep the frightful night delightful, make sure your little (and not so little) ghosts and goblins have a nourishing meal before heading out.

This Lentil Chili would be perfect.  It’s delicious and comes together quickly.  It’s also packed with powerful nutrition to ward off evil spirits.

In honor of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, I added pumpkin seeds to the garnish.

Make this Lentil Chili.  Happy Halloween.  BOO!

Lentil Chili

Author: The Lovin’ Forkful
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

Serves: 6

A super delicious chili full of lentils, tomatoes, kidney beans and fresh lime juice – loaded with nutrition.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, diced (½ inch)
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and sorted (see note on sorting lentils)
  • 1 28-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cans no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15-oz cans)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Green onion, shredded cheese & pumpkin seeds for garnish (I used Daiya cheddar shreds)


  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, red pepper, and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
  2. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper, and stir to coat the onions.
  3. Stir in the broth. Add the lentils, cover the pot, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 15 minutes, stirring often. The lentils should be almost tender enough to eat.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, salsa and kidney beans. Cover the pot, and turn the heat down to simmer. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the chili is too thick, add more broth or water – or a little extra salsa.
  5. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Ladle into warm bowls and top with chopped green onions, pumpkin seeds, and shredded cheddar cheese.


1 serving also contains:

Vitamin A – 2610 IU
Calcium -164 mg
Vitamin C – 39.6 mg
Iron – 5.1 mg

Sort through the lentils before cooking:

Don’t skip this step. Sometimes it’s not just lentils in the bag of lentils. This sorting only takes a few minutes and is well worth the time. Spread the lentils out on a sheet pan and give the pan a good shake from side to side. Pick out anything that is not a lentil. It might be a tiny stone or some small dried grains. There may be nothing to remove, but if there is something, you’ll be glad you took the time to check.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 Calories: 282 Fat: 3.9 g Carbohydrates: 47.1 g Sugar: 6.7 g Sodium: 390 mg Fiber: 11.5 g Protein: 15.5 g

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