life isn't perfect, but this quinoa chili is

Use high protein quinoa instead of ground meat in this smoky vegan chili. Served topped with avocado, of course. 

The other morning, I stepped out of my office and passed a client waiting for an appointment with another dietitian. I politely smiled and said good morning. She very kindly responded with hello, then turned to another person in the waiting area and said this:

If only I were as thin as her, everything would be perfect.

Nope. You will still worry, get angry, feel inadequate, anxious, afraid and lonely. You will have periods of feeling hopeless. Other people will hurt you, and you'll likely hurt other people. You will compare your looks, clothes, skills, and sucess to others. You won't have enough money to do or have everything you want. You will stress over making the right decision, and regret decisions you've already made. Your job will leave you feeling overworked and underappreciated. Friends will let you down. Your husband will forget to do the dishes. Children will be a handful. Parents will, well, be parents. Cars will break down. Traffic jams will happen, especially if you live in the south and it's winter.

Oh, and airplane chairs will still be horribly uncomfortable.

I didn't actually say that outloud. All I could muster up was an awkward, nervous giggle. Ugh. I'm the worst at finding the right thing to say when I'm on the spot. In my defense, we ran out of coffee that morning, so my brain wasn't exactly functioning. But still...

Life is never perfect, no matter your weight. If you're expecting everything to fall in place once you reach some magic, ideal number on the scale, you'll be sorely dissapointed. And what if you never reach your supposedly ideal weight? Can you not live a rich, fulfilling, long and healthy life?

Losing weight can be - and usually is - life changing, there's no doubt about it. But what makes it life changing is the journey, not the destination.

It's life changing to experience the difference in how you feel when you feed your body clean, nourishing foods.

It's life changing to surprise yourself with how far you can run, how deep you can stretch and how much you can lift when you learn to push past the fear and find your inner strength.

It's life changing when you realize, 'woah, whats this? I actually do like Brussels sprouts!'

It's life changing when you figure out a way to deal with emotions that doesn't involve anyone named Ben or Jerry.

If you've set a weight goal, that's great, but don't forget the little (and big!) sucesses along the way.  This is where you'll learn self love. Focus on nourishing your body, and your weight will fall where it's meant to, maybe at that ideal number you had in mind, but maybe not. Find joy in the journey, because a perfect life isn't waiting for you at the other end.

So yeah, life is never perfect..but this quinoa chili is!

Sorry, I really couldn't think of a better transition. But I already warned you I can never think of the right thing to say.

Quinoa Chili

Serves 6

Feel free to use different vegetables depending on what's in season. I used summer squash because they were selling massive ones at our local market, but sweet potatoes or winter squash might be more winter appropriate. Mushrooms, zucchini, or even kale would be a great addition. Adapted from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook.


  • 2 dried chipotle chiles
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 cups chopped squash or zucchini (or other veg - see above)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced


  1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Add chilies and let soak until soft and pliable, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, remove and discard the seeds, and finely chop.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot on medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, chilies, and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper and cook another minute or so.
  3. Add squash, tomatoes, and stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add additional stock or water if it starts to look too thick. Add quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add beans and cook to heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Season with more salt if needed.
  4. Serve, garnished with green onion and avocado.