Coffee and Cocoa Beanless Chili

Posted: January 31, 2013 in Meat Dish, Recipes, Soup
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today I have a beanless chili recipe for you. It has instant coffee (don’t freak out, it really is good). It has cocoa powder. It has bacon! It’s ALMOST paleo, but I couldn’t resist adding a little hot Italian sausage. And if you’re generally disappointed in the texture of beanless chilis (I can relate), it also has cubed chuck for a variety of texture. If you have any reason to eat beanless chili (diet, your spouse has threatened to divorce you if you dutch oven her one more time, a new variety in chili), give this one a shot. And make changes to it if you’d like. I’m sure it can be improved. But I wanted to document it so future Kelly, who forgets things, will always have this one shining moment in her kitchen documented.


I’ve been trying to lose a bit (OK a big bit – does that qualify as “a lot?”) of weight for my sister’s wedding, so I’ve been watching my calorie and carb intake. I’ve found the less carbs I eat, and adding a bit of fat has made me more satisfied on less calories. I know, low carb movement is so early 2000s, or whenever it was popular. But I’m trying to do a healthier version – meaning I’m not dumping a ton of processed meats, ranch dressing and low-carb processed alternatives in my body. While I’m not now and will never be paleo, that’s probably the closest I can describe to my inspiration. Paleo isn’t low-carb by nature, however. It encourages things like sweet potatoes, and fruits. And I am still eating fruit, just mostly things like berries (which are my favorite, anyway), in lieu of bananas and pineapple. I know some will say it’s less healthy or paleo’s a fad. But I’ve been loosely following paleo (probably 80%) for over a year now. Only problem is the other 20% has been a lot of junk. And the paleo part had a lot of sweet potatoes (hey, you make spicy sweet potato chunks and tell me you don’t love them!), bananas in protein shakes, and alochol. Unfortunately, too much alcohol also means the 80% paleo falls to about 50% on the weekends. Needless to say, it wasn’t working.

Now I’m eating less (calorie-wise), and eating mostly whole/far fewer processed foods. Althought the days, especially at work, are plagued with sugar cravings, there are actually nights I get home from work and am not even hungry for dinner. On those nights I’ll have a spoonful of coconut oil and a mug of bone broth (recipe to come soon!) and call it a night. Something’s working (says the girl who is generally hungry all the time). I’ve only been doing this a week and don’t see a significant weight loss. But the scale is also not creeping UP. So I’m going to keep on keeping on.

As an aside, I have self-diagnosed with leaky gut and insulin resistance. These two things can sometimes mean you have some food sensitivity or allergy you aren’t aware of. Commonly it ends up being gluten or starch. Or it could be you’re simply way over-eating sugar. All of these are possible. And one of the first steps to treating insulin resistance is to go on a carb-restrictive diet. I don’t know enough to explain properly here, but basically, someone with insulin resistance isn’t using their insulin correctly and they need to stop eating so much sugar and sugary stuff (carbs, essentially, since they turn into sugar). Once you cut out these foods, your body can work toward becoming insulin sensitive again (there’s some research to argue that once you’re screwed it’s for good, but most say low-carb is where you have to start). This lower-carb approach, along with avoiding foods that might be affecting you helps reduce systemic inflammation. And it’s this systemic inflammation and your body constantly trying to heal the issues of leaky gut that makes you hang onto weight.

Long story short – I think low-carb, paleo-ish eating is necessary for MY body RIGHT NOW. I’m not pushing it as a lifestyle for everyone.

For the past year and a half I’ve been a huge Robb Wolf fan. Even if you don’t intend to go paleo (I didn’t for a long stretch and am not sure I’ll ever be as hard-core as  he is), I think he’s insanely smart and explains medical stuff in terms most people can understand. He has a podcast (The Paleo Solution) I listen to frequently. It’s good to question standard food convention, and to move toward understand your body. I feel better now than I did two years ago. And hope the more I work on understanding my body, healing the mistakes I’ve made, and finding the best natural fix for me, the happier I can be for the duration. Hey, it’s hell getting old. But it can be far less painful!

Alright, end endorsement for Robb. He’s awesome, but we can agree to disagree!

Robb did a paleo chili challenge not long ago. So many recipes. As far as the eye can see. No, really. If you’re paleo, this is the chili recipe vault. And if you’re a beanless chili fan, this is great for you, too. And if you’re insistent on putting beans in chili, I’m not judging. I was that girl, and might still be once I get to a healthy weight. You can always add beans to any of these recipes (just don’t tell the authors of the recipes!)! At the bottom of the page you’ll see where readers voted on their favorites. I looked through several (not all) recipes, and realized there was an ingredient I’d never put in chili before – coffee. And coffee appeared consistently enough I knew I needed to try it. I’m not a coffee fan. Hell, I don’t even like the smell of coffee most days. But my last attempt at beanless chili was boring and mushy. I blame that somewhat on my fairly boring chili recipe. But mostly because I’m used to the consistency of beans. Without the beans it was like ground beef soup. And not like good ground beef soup. Like ground beef, tomatoes, and some chili trappings. Let down.

So I decided I was trying it. I also decided I was going to go all “paleo” and add bacon. Paleo people love bacon! It’s their credo. My other goal was to lose the mushy texture with a little cubed chuck. And I LOVE hot Italian sausage in my chili. I’m pretty sure Italian sausage isn’t paleo. But, still. Do it if you’re not a paleoer! I took most of my inspiration from “The Three Cs – Cocoa, Coffee Chili” recipe. And let me tell you what, when I added that coffee, it gave this unique flavor I’ve never had in my chili. SO. GOOD. In fact, I’m a huge, “It’s not chili without cheese or tortilla/corn chips.” This stuff? I don’t crave chips. And I tried some with a little cheese and it downgraded it. So weird. I like cheese on everything!

Without further ado, here’s my recipe!


8 ounces bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1-1 1/2 pounds chuck, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 pound hot Italian sausage (take out of casing and cook like ground pork)
5 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
2 cans tomatoes for chili
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs cocoa
2 Tbs instant coffee
3 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs smoked paprika
1/2-1 Tbs salt
1/2 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs smoked chipotle powder
1 tsp black pepper

Directions Brown bacon and onions for a few minutes (add oil if necessary for browning meat). Add ground beef, chuck, sausage and garlic to pan and brown until cooked through. Add tomatoes and all remaining spices and vinegar.

Simmer on low for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!

  1. Mere says:

    This recipe looks really good so I’m going to make it for dinner tonight. I have everything except the chuck roast so I am going to substitute beef cube steak.

    The one thing I found that really helped both me and my hubbs carb intake was to get rid of all the white stuff, such as processed sugar, flour, rice, pasta, etc. By adding in real butter, skim milk, real cheese and almost all full fat dairy products, it made a big difference in our weight losing goals. We don’t count calories but do watch what we eat stays low carb. There is a wonderful blogger named Erwan who I read all the time. The blog is The fat kid inside. I also like the blog Fluffy Chix Cook. The info from these two blogs is outstanding. You also might be interested in checking out George Stella’s line of cookbooks. He lost 267 pounds doing low carb and since he is a chef and his wife Rachel is a pastry chef, their cookbooks just rock.

    I’ll let you know how the chili turned out but I’m sure it will be delish.

    • Kelly says:

      I agree. I’m trying to limit most of my white foods (sugar, flour, most grains, pastas, etc.). I’ve done pretty well with that about 80% of the time. I still count calories, but I HATE it. When I don’t the weight seems to slowly creep on.

      • Mere says:

        Thanks Kelly, for the chili recipe. It turned out really tasty and we liked it. If you are on FB, check out the Diet Doctors FB page. He will tell you about counting calories. You might be better off keeping a food diary for a few months….recording what you eat and at what time. That really helped me to see patterns in my own eating…and believe me….I was a true sugar junkie.

        • Kelly says:

          Thanks for the advice. Despite hating it, I DO count calories and keep a food journal. And it sucks. It’s so monotonous! Haha. But I know that’s probably the fate of a lot of people, so I try not to complain too much!

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