By Sarah McColl
‘Chili cheese nachos’ and ‘plant-based diet’ aren’t words typically said in the same breath, but bestselling cookbook author of The Oh She Glows Cookbook and super-blogger, Angela Liddon, is a rare kind. Rather than look to blogs or trendy ingredients to inspire healthy food choices, Liddon’s wellspring of motivation comes from within.
“When I eat a healthy diet, I feel energetic, balanced, and happy,” she said. With an energetic toddler and a demanding business, high-quality fuel isn’t aspirational mumbo-jumbo, it’s essential and the inspiration for her second, bestselling-before-it-hit-the-shelves cookbook, Oh She Glows Every Day. Think: healthy, fast recipes designed with the realities of kids’ palettes and the weeknight dinner-crunch firmly in mind.
“My fast-paced lifestyle gives me added motivation to feel good—energy crashes are no joke!”
Nor are cravings. Even a lover of green protein smoothies has a hankering for nostalgic comfort food. Only now when Liddon craves fast-food style chili-cheese nachos, she makes a wholesome version with smoky lentil and kidney bean chili topped with a vegan cheese sauce of raw cashews, coconut oil and nutritional yeast.
“My goal is always to make my recipes as easy as possible while still knocking it out of the park in the flavor department,” she said.
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups/500 mL)
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon/15 mL)
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon (2 to 4 mL) fine sea salt, to taste, plus a pinch
- 1 medium/large jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced (about1 1/3 cups/325 mL)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chili powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) smoked paprika
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) tomato paste
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) cooked lentils
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) apple cider vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sriracha or other hot sauce
- 2 batches All-Purpose Cheese Sauce
- Pickled sliced jalapeños, drained, for garnish
- Corn tortilla chips, for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, stir, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
- Stir in the fresh jalapeño and 1 cup (250 mL) of the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika and stir to combine.
- Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices and stir. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Stir in the tomato paste, lentils, and kidney beans. With a potato masher, roughly mash one-third of the mixture—don’t try to mash it smooth, just until it’s slightly thickened.
- Add the vinegar, salt, black pepper, and sriracha. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or longer if desired, until thickened to your liking.
- Into individual bowls (or a 2 1/2- to 3-quart/2.5 to 3 L cast-iron pot or glass dish), ladle a layer of chili. Top with a layer of the cheese sauce. Keep layering until the chili is used up and you’ve added as muchcheesesauce as you prefer (I usually reserve 1/2 cup/125 mL of the sauce for another use). Top the dip with the remaining bell pepper, pickled jalapeño, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Serve immediately with corn tortilla chips. Let any leftovers cool completely (otherwise, the steam will create more water in the dip) before transferring to a container and refrigerating for up to 5 days. Reheat leftovers in a saucepan on the stovetop while stirring to combine with the cheese sauce. Cooled leftovers can be frozen in freezer-safe zip-top bags with the air pressed out or in freezer-safe containers filled to the top (to prevent freezer burn) for up to 1 month.