Denver | LoDo Low Down

In mid-June I was invited to speak at a digital marketing event in Denver.  This gave me the opportunity to combine a few of my favorite pasttimes:

English: Front exterior of Union Station in do...

  • Exploring a new city
  • Advancing my career
  • Getting the heck out of Phoenix in the Summer

As this was my first trip to Denver, and I didn’t have any friends or colleagues in the area, my approach to exploring the city was entirely unorganized.  What ended up happening was a 36-hour trip that resembled a less-debauched version of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover.

Since the hotel I was booked in was just down the block form the conference venue, there was no need to rent a car.  This meant that my travels were restricted to walking distance, mostly around the Union Station and LoDo* areas.  Here are some of the highlights.

*Lower Downtown

Ink Coffee on Cadence

After a 5am flight and a hour long coach ride from DIA to Union Station, I headed out on foot to see what I could find on the mile or so stroll to my hotel.  While much of the Union Station neighborhood is clearly in a rampant state of growth and on-going construction projects, I was able to find a path down Cadence that led me to Ink Coffee.

Inside, Ink Coffee looked like the kind of place you’d see in the brochure for a new residential development.  Very modern, slightly upscale but not off-putting for a potential neighborhood place. If I wasn’t looking forward to dropping my carry-on at the hotel, I could easily see myself sitting here for a while and reading through some kind of slightly-serious book while taking notes in a crisp new Moleskine.

As for the beverage service, I saw good reviews about their White Chai, so I got the Ginger Spice White Chai to take on my walk-about.  Not knowing how long it would be until I got breakfast, I didn’t want anything too serious, and this frothy, smooth drink had just enough tang to keep things interesting as I headed out.

Caution: The Earl @ Lucky Pie

Caution the Earl beer at Lucky Pie LoDo DenverCaution: The Earl paired with Duck Confit Poutine

That afternoon, I sent out a tweet about meeting up for beers or tea before my presentation, and got a great tip from some locals about an earl grey craft beer that might be found somewhere around town.  Taphunter to the rescue, I was lucky to discover that Caution: The Earl was on tap at nearby pizza “bar” Lucky Pie.

Caution: The Earl was thoroughly an experience worth searching out.  Described as an “English Mild” in the menu, this drink smells exactly like an expertly brewed cup of Earl Grey as you lift it to your mouth.  The best way I can describe the mouth feel is something like a Boddington’s pub ale, but less malty and more crisp.

If I was a more experienced craft beer drinker, I could probably talk about how the bergamot in the earl grey interacts with the brewing process and provides lift without distinctly floral notes, but really I’m just guessing.  Bottom line, if this is on sale somewhere near you, go out and try it.  You might be drinking your regrets, but Caution: The Earl won’t be one of them.

Euclid Hall Sausage

Bourdin Noir Sausage at Euclid Hall LoDo DenverHouse-Made Bourdin Noir Sausage with Kennebec Fries and Crazy Mountain Amber Ale

At most marketing conferences, the organizers provide a box lunch and everyone sits around massive tables, either making awkward small talk, or sitting far too close together and never once speaking.  Looking to avoid this conundrum, I headed out and made my way to Euclid Hall, just off campus from University of Colorado Denver. The lure here was a recommendation about house-made sausages that were can’t-miss (plus the ability to take off my lanyard and get some fresh mountain air).

As advertised, the sausage at Euclid Hall did not disappoint.  On any other day, I might have gone for two or three of their house-made sausages on offer, or the pad thai pig ears, duck confit poutine and brat burger.   As it was, I had a presentation yet to give, so I opted to just go for the Boudin Noir, mainly because the menu said “avec curry e aubergine” and I was intrigued.

The sausage comes with a tour of various mustards, ranging from sweet to spicy to coarse.  In the end, I ran out of sausage before I could firmly decide which mustard paired best with the Bourdin Noir, so a return trip is probably needed for research purposes.

Pigtrain Coffee Shop & ACME Burger & Brats

Pigtrain Coffee ACME Burgers Denver Union StationThe delicious wing of Union Station: ACME Burgers and Pigtrain Coffee

Even though the coach depot is underground and not inside Union Station, this 100 year-old building is not to be missed.  The station itself brought back memories of some of my favorite train stations in Europe, and I was sort of blown away that such a great, curated place existed and most of the Denver locals I talked to seemed to dismiss it’s appeal.

Just inside the front doors, Pigtrain Coffee has a stunning 270-degree coffee bar set-up.  While the staff seemed a little disorganized about their pour-over program, the product I ultimately received was well above commuter quality, and helped improve the hour long wait I had after I missed the first coach back to DIA.

Equally fulfilling was the classic-style burger I got from ACME Burger & Brats.  Similar to some of my favorite Phoenix burgers, ACME’s offering was low on frills, high on quality ingredients and well-seasoned.

Between the ambiance of the train station, the awesome burger and unexpectedly cool coffee bar, I would highly recommend checking out Denver Union Station if you’re in town.  Or if you live there.  Or if you just have several hours to kill between flights in Denver.

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Also in LoDo, I enjoyed my time at Backstage Coffee, Sam’s No 3, and Illegal Pete’s.  For more on those spots, check out our Instagram.  I’m sure I barely scratched the surface, and with all the construction going on, this neighborhood is going to be a great destination for future trips away from the desert.

 

Adopted Coffee | Community Worth Waking Up For

adopted coffee sign

One of the great joys of our lifestyle is sharing and creating food memories with our friends. While we may be hipster-adjacent in many regards, when we find a great new place to eat or an amazing coffee experience, it becomes a topic of discussion and recommendation among our friends and family for weeks to come.

Since I consider all of you to be our close, personal friends, I’ve got a place I need to tell you about before you miss out on some great coffee over the last few Spring days remaining.

You’ve got to check out Adopted Coffee in Midtown.

Normally found behind the bar at Royal Coffee, Jake and his family have created an amazingly welcoming place to kick off your Saturday mornings this Spring.  Opening their home to the public, typically from 7 – Noon, you can immediately feel the warmth and sense of belonging that is missing in so many coffee spots.

With a rotating selection of specialty roasters, regular features from Rise Biscuits and ClariTea, and all in support of a terrific cause, we’ve been enjoying a great dose of hospitality and zen for the last several weeks.

Last weekend we cruised around on our bikes, making the trip from our place to Adopted Coffee, then on to the Public Market and finally stopping at Welcome Diner. I always love riding through the Roosevelt and Willo neighborhoods, so having a great place to caffeinate/refuel mid-way is terrific.

Pro-Tip: Check out the iced teas, too. It’ll make you swear off Lipton forever.

We all know the hot days are coming.  Sleeping in is great, but don’t let the last few amazing mornings slip away from you.

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For quality shots of the coffee action, check out Adopted Coffee on instagram, or this great one from @BryanSchiele that intimidated me enough that I didn’t even try shooting the coffee.

Phoenix Burgers | Welcome Diner PB&B Burger

Welcome Diner PB&B Burger

Note: I scheduled today’s post for later than usual, because Welcome Diner doesn’t open until 5pm, and showing you a great local burger that you couldn’t buy for several hours seemed like a uniquely awful form of torture.

Admittedly, I was hesitant to try this sandwich for over a year.  We lived in The Roosevelt, and yet I resisted making the trip a few blocks over to try what had been lauded as one of the best burgers in town.  After all, there is no way that peanut butter, chunky peanut butter, belongs on a savory cheeseburger, right?

Wrong.  Boy was I wrong.

Read on to hear more about how this unassuming, neighborhood spot continues to produce flavor-forward dishes that will make you wish they were open right now.

The Meat

As the name indicates, Welcome Diner is probably as close to a classic, Streamline-era diner as one might find today.  Last time we were there, the staff described it as “a place to chill-out really hard”. Work that one over in your head for a bit.

Each time I’ve had the PB&B, the Niman Ranch beef patty is cooked to a perfect Medium. Well-seasoned and well-seared, it’s never overcooked and still manages to provide enough heat for the peanut butter proofing process I’ll describe below.

Maybe the better way to say it is that, while on the PB&B the eater is clearly focused on the unique toppings, the meat itself is good enough that Stephanie ordered their “classic” burger above any of their amazing chicken and biscuit offerings.  If you’ll turn down fried chicken and honey biscuits for an unadorned burger, you know that meat is top-notch.

The Bun

If anything in this sandwich can be called “standard fare”, it’s the bun.  Given the juiciness of the burger and toppings, this plain, toasted bun does a remarkable job keeping my shirt and hands presentable. Not too much “great, my mouth is full of bread” action, just enough to encase the savory, salty burger and convince you that you probably don’t need to put it down…ever.

The Toppings

[Warning: Topless Burger Pic below]

With a name like “PB&B Burger”, you know that the toppings is where this burger really stands out.  Crisp, thick bacon from The Meat Shop (hooray for ethically raised pork!) brings a bit of texture to the saucy/gooey proceedings.  Cheddar cheese; almost never go wrong there.

And then of course, comes the guest of honor: crunchy peanut butter. You’d think* that peanut butter would make each bite unbearably thick, sticking to the roof of your mouth and slowing down the noms.  The truth, however, is that the peanut butter melts over the cheeseburger becoming the perfect, slightly sweet/mostly umami quasi-aioli you could imagine.  Rather than slowing your chompers down, it turns into a beautiful sauce that keeps you from wanting to set the burger down between bites.

Manners be damned, the PB&B Burger is a lesson in fun, flavor, and hard-core chilling-out.

Woohoo! Spring Break 2015!

* Unless you’re a scientist or someone else familiar with the characteristics of viscous plasmas under heat.

Tea | I’m Steeply Into It

tea from Good Coffee in PortlandFragrant Leaf green tea brewing in a Kinto one-touch teapot at Good Coffee in Portland

If you take a look at the Rogue Pepper Instagram feed, you will probably notice that I spend a lot of time at coffee shops. Doing homework, eating brunch, hanging out to write, or having less-formal meetings; the coffee shop is a terrific “third place” for me and so many others.

The thing is, I can only drink so much coffee in a day.

(It’s an unpopular opinion, I know.  Try not to hold it against the other great articles on this blog, eh?)

There are plenty of times when I want a hot beverage, but don’t want the supreme rush that comes with a quality coffee drink. Likewise, between work, school, commuting and side projects, quality coffee drinks aren’t always accessible. In my office, for example, we have a Keurig machine and a cafeteria that sells several varieties of powder-based, sugary instant coffees. With the closure of two nearby cafes last year, and the limited hours at Rollover Coffee & Donuts, usually the only brew within a mile radius is that small, Seattle-based chain called Starbucks.

So rather than lament the dearth of choices, I decided a while back to take things into my own hands and start exploring that ancient beverage so many of us have turned our back on.

That Lipton Stuff?

When I was a child, our mother would make iced tea, and none of us would drink it. I blame this on two factors:

  1. It was a bunch of bags of supermarket tea that was probably more sticks and bark than anything else.
  2. In a pitcher/jug, the tea could easily be mistaken for grape Kool-Aid, which resulted in a shocking reaction from a young version of me that thought he was about to drink some delicious purple concoction straight from the jug.

Either way, as I entered adulthood, my only experience with tea were those ill-fated gulps that were probably karmic retribution for bad manners. So when I decided a while back to start taking tea as a serious alternative to other caffeinated beverages, it was without much foundation.

What I Like about Tea

As we have friends who are seriously into artisanal coffee or craft beers, I wish I could say that I had a particular expertise in tea preparation, brewing, regions, etc.  At this point, though, I am best classed as a “passionate amateur”, if anything.  That’s not to say, however, that I cannot at least share some of my favorite aspects from the exploration so far.

Ritual Behaviors – All forms of tea have at least some of the same procedural/habitual aspects of quality coffee preparation.  If you want the best possible drink, you need to be mindful of getting the right amount of water to tea and steeping for the appropriate amount of time and not much longer.  If one were really serious about quality, I’m told there are elements to consider surrounding the vessel for brewing/serving, and even the method of heating your water.

Tree-mendious varie-tea* – Green, white, oolong, pu-erh, herbal, the range of flavors, intensities and kick provided by a cup of hot tea are so variable, I’m not certain there is much need to drink the same cup of tea twice in a lifetime.   This part may be intimidating to some, I didn’t know where to start when I first dove in, and I’m sure I drank some poor quality teas, or badly mangled some good leaves with amateur mistakes. Luckily you’re the only one who has to know, and trying again isn’t that costly.

Social experience – I’m sure when you started reading this post, one of the images that came to mind was either a butler pouring tea into little white cups, or a stereotypical grandmother doing the same.  What’s clear is that we have a deep association between tea and conversation. Sitting around, enjoying a hot beverage and good company is one of the best, most rewarding experiences we can share with our friends and family, and one that tea supports very well.  Around the office, too, tea is a lot more tradable than coffee, and has encouraged a few conversations among folks who don’t normally work together or collaborate. Bonus, none of us have to lament Keurig-quality instant “coffee” drink.

Calming/Meditative/Soothing – We all live busy lives, I’m sure mine is no busier that most reader’s, and it’s tough for us to really set aside the time we should be taking to either enjoy the day or at least catch a breath between our other demands. With a cup of tea in my hands, though, each sip gives me a moment’s respite.  I can use it to appear thoughtful as I consider the next thing to say at work (pretty much the behavior that Twix turned into their ad campaign), or to just silently shut the world out for a few seconds.  With a disposable coffee cup in your hand, the expectation is “go, go, go”, but nobody looks at you weird when you take your time after sipping tea from a mug. Hooray for unspoken expectations!

kettle

So What Have I Been Drinking

Work – Lately I’ve been making a double-matcha green tea from Republic of Tea at work, and mixing it up with a coconut and green tea from Harney & Sons.  The double-matcha makes a great, frothy first cup of the day, and while the second steeping can’t compare because of the absence of the free-floating matcha dust, it does a fine job of providing energy and clarity of mind through some longer meetings.

Out & About – If I skip my morning almond milk latte at Royal Coffee, I’ll have them make me a cup of jasmine green tea, which I can credit with helping me conquer my statistics test prep last semester.  I’ve also been switching to a hibiscus green tea after a certain hour when studying at Lux.

Home – By the time I get home, it’s usually later so I’ll go lighter on the caffiene, opting for a “gingerly jasmine” from Tazo.  With green tea, jasmine, ginger and rose, this tea hits several levels of flavor, with just a little bit a sweetness.  One of these days I’m sure I’ll be raving about someone recreating the mint tea they had in Morocco.

I know these are all on the “big brands” sort of tea producers, but I assure you that the trend won’t continue.  We’ve been picking up some great teas on our travels, I just haven’t had them enough to give a quality review of each one.

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* I’m rather confident this particular pun will get cut by the editor, but can’t blame me from trying.

The Scavenge | Eggs (almost) Florentine

eggs almost florentine

This week has been a bit of a change for our household. With the new semester starting, my school-work-home schedule is adjusting, and so our cooking habits are still in flux. That’s to say nothing for our meal planning and me figuring out how to still eat healthy while traveling across town.

Today I ended up with a few minutes to spare before I needed to be out the door, and I wanted to make something that would keep me full until lunch. I decided to cook up some eggs and prosciutto as quickly as I could, and then see what I could dress it up with from the fridge. The keys here were things that could cook nearly instantly and didn’t require any chopping or other prep.

Here’s what I came up with:

Eggs Over-Medium with Spinach

2 eggs
2 slices of prosciutto
2 oz. of mushrooms (chopped)
1 pinch fresh cilantro
1 handful spinach
olive oil
seasoning to taste

I tore up the prosciutto into pieces and sautéed it with the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. As soon as the mushrooms looked like they were softening up, I cracked the eggs directly over the other ingredients.  By a flavor miracle, neither yolk broke, so we were in business for a proper over-medium egg. A minute or two later the eggs were stabilized enough to flip, so added the cilantro and spinach, and hit it all with a dash of Flavor God lemon garlic spice mix.   One minute later, the whites were finished and I was on my way to enjoying a tasty, salty, golden-yolked breakfast that was jam-packed with protein and healthy fats, with some leafy greens to boot.

I don’t really know what all is required to be able to call something “florentine” other than including spinach, so I’ve added an “almost” in there as a precaution.

(Sorry for the dodgy image quality. Had to work with what I could get at 5:50am.)

Whole30 | Coworkers Are Too Kind

coworker with donutsThanks for coming in today. Here’s your donut. (Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

As we mentioned late last week, both of us have undertaken Whole 30 for the month of January.

Don’t worry, this won’t be a post advocating others to try it.  A week in, and I’m still on the fence myself.

So far, though, my biggest gripe hasn’t been changing the way we shop or cook, since we had been primarily going by the guidelines of clean eating and cooking whole foods anyways.

No, my biggest problem has been temptation in the form of overly-giving colleagues.

Business Lunch

I had already anticipated that lunch time would be the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. Though I’ve never read Keith Ferrazzi’s book, I have followed the prescription to “never eat alone” with greater than 90% success for years. Usually it’s just time spent socializing with folks from the office, but as a manager, it can be pretty invaluable to break down the walls and make myself more approachable whenever possible.

Knowing that I would be either bringing my own lunch most of the time, or riding my bike to Chipotle, I figured that this would just be a trade-off for the reported health benefits of Whole 30. What I didn’t count on was my coworkers, and even my boss, repeatedly inviting me after I’d politely declined, or otherwise made excuse for myself.

Boss: “You in on lunch today?”

Me: “Can’t, I’m doing this Whole 30 thing, so I’ve brought my own lunch.”

Five minutes later…

Boss + Direct Reports: “You sure you’re not in on lunch?”

Me: “Yeah, thanks though”

Boss: “You can pick where we go”

Me: “Really, I’m alright.  I’ll catch up with you later.”

Boss + Direct Reports: *awkward “who is this guy” glares*

All the Baked Goods!

Lunch is tough because it’s turning down a social opportunity and making myself an island. (A healthy, well-fed island)  The real kicker, though, is all the snacks that keep appearing at work.

Yesterday when I arrived, we had a selection of banana and pumpkin breads arranged at the entrance to our work area.

Today, there were yesterday’s snacks left, plus an entire box of holiday cookies.

Then later in the day someone from a neighboring work group showed up with birthday cake.

The holidays are over and everyone still wants to share their sweets.  How very neighborly of them! And how very tough to resist. Especially when I forget to pack enough Whole 30 approved snacks to make it through the day.

All that delicious, nutritionally-hollow, endorphin-rushing sweetness, sitting just a few feet away on an empty desk. Nobody will know if I just happen to touch one.  And then I’d have to eat it.  It’s just rude to not accept baked goods, right?

No. I’m staying strong. How would I expect to conquer the effects of previous poor eating habits if I can’t ignore a few cookies and cakes and, holy crap who put an entire gingerbread house over here?

Time to have some tea and take a walk. Hopefully by the time I get back, I’m either super busy or all the snack will have fallen on the floor.

 

Phoenix Burger | Hula’s Modern Tiki Hula Burger

Hula Burger with CheddarHula Burger with Cheddar

This hasn’t been an easy post for me to write.  Not because I am at all conflicted in my opinions about the Hula Burger, but because I tried to be sure I was talking about the sandwich itself, and not my estimation of how good this burger is compared to all the rest I’ve eaten. Admittedly, I have a bit of a bias to overcome as the Hula Burger is one of the few that has remained at the top of my list for years (alongside the Delux Burger), and I’m extra proud to have such a good sandwich available to us in Midtown Phoenix.

You may remember the picture for this post from my pre-season rankings (where the Hula Burger ranked second overall). That should say that I consider this to be an iconic Phoenix sandwich, and certainly worth a try when you’re hungry for something different.

The Meat

The beef in a Hula Burger is illogically good.  I say this because the burger itself often seems to be barely holding together, probably from an over-abundance of flavor packed in the patty and layered over by the grilled onions and hula sauce. With the ideal level of juiciness apparent from the first bite, this is absolutely a sandwich you don’t eat on a white shirt day. The beef is uniquely seasoned for the overall flavor profile of the Hula Burger, and I’m still baffled how they’re able to get a healthy amount of char without losing any natural juices; I’m going to presume some sort of voodoo/island magic is involved.

The Bun

Which leads us to the ciabatta bun. I’m not usually into oversized, super textured breads for sandwiches, but in this case, it just might be the ideal packaging that saves the day, and elevates the Hula Burger to such an enjoyable experience.  Between the incredibly juicy beef and the toppings, there’s a lot of flavor love that needs to be captured, which means it’s finally a perfect use of the nooks and crannies in a ciabatta bun. The chewy bite of a ciabatta bread is also an important part here, because of how fragile the beef patty is; it provides the satisfying full-mouth feeling to partner with the impactful flavors of the meat and toppings.

The Toppings

The grilled maui onions and “hula sauce” definitely play their part in elevating this from a well-made burger to a Top 3 contender. When you’ve got an exceptional meat element going on, the last thing you want to do is ruin it with overbearing toppings, and that could be easy to do with a substantial sauce and onions combo, but the Hula Burger dodges that bullet like it’s the Neo of my mouth matrix. I have a tough time describing the exact contribution of the grilled maui onions, but I know the time I ordered one without it, I was mad at myself for putting things off balance.

Also, c’mon, just take a look at that cheese melt in the picture up top. That’s a burger that was treated well, brought to me at just the right time to enjoy a peak performance. Kudos* Hula.

All in all, it may not be fair to compare the Hula Burger to other well-made burgers around town, because Hula isn’t at all going for the fast-casual burger stand vibe.  Theirs is clearly a sandwich with purpose and strength of flavor that requires you to be seated and dedicate some time to it. There’s no wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am with this beauty. We will have to see how that impacts the rankings at the end of burger season, but for now, I give the Hula Burger my whole-hearted endorsement.

* I wanted to say “cowabunga” but it felt too awkward in a sentence.

Thanksgiving | Butterball Hotline? Pffft!

This was our second year hosting Thanksgiving at our house, but other than the dishes that we might make regularly throughout the year (green beans, yay!), I can’t proclaim to remember how anything is made from year to year.

Turkey cooking time?
No Clue

Ham glaze?
Hmmm?

Roast potato?
Nope.

To be honest, previous generations must have had a huge margin of error, because I can’t imagine not having Google (or having to resort to the Butterball Hotline for cooking tips).

Here’s some examples of things I had to look up today, just in case any of it is useful to you in the future.

How long to roast a turkey

Searching for this term gets you one of the fancy new Answer Boxes, where it takes the information from one of the result pages without even requiring you to click.  The answer given, though, isn’t entirely precise. According to Butterball.com, a 10-18lb turkey should be cooked for 3 – 3.5 hours at 325F. The package our turkey came in gave a narrower range per weight.

We ended up roasting our 14lb for exactly 3 hours, with the first hour spent breast-side down. We then let it rest, unintentionally, for over an hour before carving.  The result was an evenly roasted, juicy and flavorful bird.  Hooray!

Duck fat potato?

Last year I had been working on a root veg with honey dish, that always came out with inconsistent results. I think I was getting pretty close, but honestly it wasn’t a hit a Thanksgiving 2013, so I wasn’t at all dismayed when Anie decided to do duck fat roasted potato as a throw-back to English Sunday Roast.

I nearly made a mistake with this one, as the first result provided came from Epicurious (normally a good source), but was actually for Pomme de Terre Sarladaise, which conjures up images of a more rustic, slightly crunchy version of scalloped potato. Luckily Anie grabbed this one by the horns and followed a recipe that resulted in phenomenally tasty, slightly smashed potato.

In the end, we had a terrific meal that was slightly scaled-back compared to last year, but met all the traditional requirements of too-much food and going back for seconds when I probably should have passed. We hope you and yours had a happy Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potato Slider Buns

sliders on sweet potato buns with bacon, mushrooms, & avocado. #whole30 #day28

A photo posted by Rogue Pepper (@roguepepper) on

A couple weeks ago, Anie gave me a mission, to try to recreate Amazon Ashley’s Sweet Potato Buns. Armed with a brief recipe and an instagram example, I got to work.

Admittedly, it took me until the third try to pull off ones that really worked. On the plus side, however, the first two attempts resulted in some tasty chips and a handy breakfast taco shell.

This time, though, I really pulled it off.  No mandolin, just free-hand slicing skills you haven’t seen this side of Fruit Ninja.  Tossed in avocado oil, lightly seasoned and baked at 425 for ~22 minutes, these buns were just the right size to provide stability while thin enough to not distract from the sliders.

Not too shabby for something that’s Whole 30 compliant.

 

Weeknight Chili

chili in progress

Almost two years ago, when we started on our road towards healthier living in earnest , Anie turned me onto the Hungry for Change book/documentary combo.  Beyond the somewhat-scary-eye-opening information contained in there, the resources on suggested foods and practical recipes are something we’ve referred to countless times. Of those, one of my favorites is their “chili” recipe.

What follows here is my personal adaptation, based on the ideas and criteria from the book and documentary, but changed slightly for our personal taste, and in this case, to meet the slightly-more-strict requirements for Whole 30. With our busy schedules, meals like this one have been a real life-saver, so I figured sharing it here could be useful to some of you guys as well.

Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil
  • Onion (i’itoi & sweet onions from our Chow Share)
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Potato
  • Ground Beef (Grass-fed from Double Check Ranch)
  • Bell Pepper
  • Chili Pepper (Chow Share again)
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Cumin, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, etc

Usually I use roma tomatoes instead of crushed because fresh seems better and the recipe doesn’t require a full can of crushed, so then I’m left with half a can of produce. This time, however, we had a bunch in the freezer, and I can say the difference was noticeable.  This was also my first time using veggie broth instead of red wine, in an effort to support Anie’s Whole 30 commitment.  I would have gone with a Miso broth, but couldn’t find any that didn’t have added sugars.  Lastly, because the crushed tomatoes and broth were adding a lighter body to the dish, I left out the tomato paste that is usually included.

Directions

Admittedly, this dish can be an exercise in “holy shit I haven’t finished prepping yet and it’s time for the next step!!!“. With that in mind, feel free to be hyper-organized in your approach, it’ll pay off.

Start with the coconut oil, onion, garlic and sweet potato.  The crucial part here is to get the sweet potato chucks softened up so that they can add body to the chili and take on the flavors of the other ingredients later on. Once you’ve accomplished that, remove everything from the pan and brown the ground beef in the pre-seasoned pan you’ve just created. When the beef is no longer pink, but not yet all the way cooked, add back in the previous ingredients, as well as the peppers and mushrooms. At this point it should look like the picture at the top of this post, with the plethora of colors serving as a clear reminder of how healthy your masterpiece really is.  When everything is up to temp, add in the tomatoes, and paste/fluids.  Of course, season along the way and add heat to taste.

The Result

Here’s a quick and dirty snapshot of the finished product.  Since it takes roughly an hour to develop the flavors, I’m always too hungry to take quality pictures before I start enjoying the meal.  This time in particular, the Double Check Ranch beef was so flavorful that it was all I could do to not pick it all out of the pan under the guise of “taste testing”, so I actually had to take a picture of Anie’s share due to immediate devourment of my own.

When it’s all said and done, you’ve got a great tasting, Whole 30 compliant dish that holds up well as left-overs, too.

hungry for change whole 30 chili

If you try out this dish, or have a similar one with an interesting variant, let us know in the comments below.  Reach us on Twitter @RoguePepper or tag us on Instagram; we’d love to see your version.