Healthy Recipe, Vegan Four-Bean Chili

It’s hard to believe a pot of chili could be so filling and flavorful without a speck of meat or any added fat. But this recipe, lightly adapted from one in Toriano Gordon’s “Vegan Mob,” proves it can be done! Just toss everything in the pot and crank up the burner while you assemble some bowls of your favorite toppings — vegan or non-vegan. Crack open a bag of chips, invite some friends over, and you’ve got a party! Serves 8-10.


  • 1 (15-ounce) can each of pinto, kidney, black and cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium summer squash, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus more, if needed)
  • ¼ cup chili powder (plus more, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper (or 1 teaspoon powdered, or diced chile in adobe sauce)

Optional: Cooked rice, diced tomato, diced green onions, shredded vegan cheese


  1. In a heavy stockpot, combine beans, vegetables, garlic, tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, 1 tbsp salt, chipotle. Stir to blend well.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steam rises from the pot and ingredients are heated through, about 10 minutes. Cover. Cook 30 minutes more.
  3. Remove the lid and taste for seasonings, adding more salt and chili powder if desired.
  4. Ladle in bowls. Add rice if desired and serve with tortilla chips and accompaniments of choice on the side.

Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Chicken Peperonata

Peperonata is a rustic southern Italian dish of stewed sweet peppers, tomatoes, lots of garlic, and other savory ingredients. In this recipe, adapted from Ashley Rodriguez’s “Rooted Kitchen,” the mixture is a simmering sauce for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. But it would be just as delicious paired with shrimp, fish, white beans, or tofu for a low-carb, gluten-free meal. Serves 4-6.


  1. 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  2. Kosher salt
  3. 1 recipe Peperonata (recipe follows)
  4. 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley, basil, or mint
  5. Polenta, pasta, rice, or crusty bread for serving (optional)


  1. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with about 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Scrape the Peperonata into a large skillet and submerge the chicken in the mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.
  3. With tongs, remove the chicken to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then slice the chicken into ½-inch-thick strips. Return the strips to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes longer to fully heat through.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve warm, over pasta or grain of choice if desired, garnished with chopped herbs.

Charred Peperonata

  1. 2 pounds sweet peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced lengthwise into ½-inch-wide strips (use multi-colored peppers or all red — all green can be too bitter)
  2. 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
  3. 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
  4. 10 garlic cloves, sliced
  5. ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  6. ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  7. 2 teaspoons honey
  8. 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
  9. ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  10. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  11. ½ cup fresh basil leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, chile flakes, oil, vinegar, honey, 2 teaspoons salt, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine. Spread in a 9-by-13-inch pan.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes; stir and roast 30 minutes longer. Stir in the basil and continue to roast another 30 minutes or longer, until the peppers are meltingly tender, charred in some places, and almost saucy — about 1 ½ hours total.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool, the pack in a jar or other airtight container with a lid. The Peperonata will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.

—  Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

Healthy Recipe, Mediterranean Breakfast Couscous

If you’re hankering for an energizing, delicious switch from your breakfast routine, Suzy Karadsheh has just the thing in “The Mediterranean Dish” — couscous! We normally think of the teeny grain-like pasta as a base for a savory stew or side dish for bold-flavored kebabs, but couscous can also stand in as a healthier alternative to sugary cereal, as this adaptation of her recipe demonstrates. Serves 4.


  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups Moroccan instant couscous
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar (or to taste)
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped, toasted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds)
  • ½ to 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, chopped apricots, sliced dates)
  • ½ cup sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
  • Whole milk, almond milk, or another nondairy alternative, warmed
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous, stir, immediately turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, allowing the couscous to absorb the water and double in size. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet, melt the ghee or butter over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and allow it to toast for 3 to 5 minutes, flattening with a spatula and stirring until the grains crisp up a bit and slightly deepen in color.
  3. Remove from the heat and place a scoop of toasted couscous in each cereal bowl. Sprinkle each with brown sugar, nuts, dried fruit, and coconut (if using).
  4. Pour some warm milk over and dig in. Add a sprinkling of salt if you like.

Healthy Recipe, Broiled Sea Bass 

Fresh fish doesn’t need a lot. Just a little TLC. This recipe, adapted from Eric Ripert’s “Seafood Simple,” calls for running the fillets under an oven broiler set on low (400 degrees), which also keeps it from falling apart upon flipping. The fish is seasoned only with salt and pepper, and then dressed with a vinaigrette in which lemon halves are charred before squeezing, giving it a deep, slightly smoky dimension. Serves 4. Ingredients

  • 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and halved
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives, plus more for garnish
  • Canola or other neutral oil for the skillet and for brushing
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sauteing
  • 1 bunch broccolini, thick stems removed, or broccoli or asparagus
  • Big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 sea bass fillets
  • Pepper


  • Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt, bring to a boil, and cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain, stir in chives, cover and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the skillet with a little neutral oil and place the lemon halves cut side down on the hot skillet. Cook until charred, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl, then strain out the seeds into another small bowl. Stir in the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt, to taste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified; set aside.
  • Place broccolini in a large skillet, cover with about 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, and cook until bright green, 1 or 2 minutes. Drain. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, or enough to cover the bottom. Add the blanched broccolini to the pan and cook until crisp-tender and tips of florets are slightly charred, for 2 or 3 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes and salt and set aside.
  • Set an oven rack 4 inches under the heat source and preheat the broiler to low. Set the fish fillets on a plate and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan (lined with foil for easy clean-up), and brush fillets lightly with neutral oil. Place under the broiler and broil for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Check for doneness by inserting a metal skewer in the thickest part of the fish for 5 seconds; it should be warm to the touch on your wrist when done.
  • Transfer the fish to a platter or individual plates, surround with potatoes and broccolini, and pour enough vinaigrette over all to cover (leftover dressing will keep covered in the refrigerator for at least a week). Serve immediately.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

Healthy Recipe, Sweet Pea Pesto Crostinis

Healthy Recipe, Charred Broccoli

“Scrumptious” isn’t a word you often hear to describe broccoli, but it applies to this recipe, lightly adapted from Michal Korkosz’s “Polish’d: Modern Vegetarian Cooking from Global Poland.” Charring the florets lends a smoky flavor enhanced by a drizzle of tangy soy-based dressing that gives a boost of umami, or “fifth flavor.” A dollop of lemony mayo provides a richness and creamy contrast. Poppy seeds add a flavor and crunch. Serves 4. — Susan Puckett


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (or other sweetener, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound broccoli (1 large or 2 medium heads)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Make the fifth flavor sauce: In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water.
  • Make the lemony mayo: In another small bowl, mix mayo and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt.
  • Prepare the broccoli: Cut off the stem, separate the florets, and cut each floret in half lengthwise.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the broccoli florets cut-side down and char them until dark spots appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully pour ½ cup water into the skillet and cook until the water evaporates, and the broccoli is cooked through but still retains some crunch.
  • Place the broccoli on serving plates and drizzle with the fifth flavor sauce. Add a dollop of the lemony mayo alongside. Sprinkle with the poppy seeds and season with pepper before serving.

Healthy Recipe, Skinny Chocolate Brownies

Here’s an idea for a healthier way to get your holiday chocolate fix. From Yummy Healthy Easy.
· 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 1/4 tsp. baking soda
· 1 cup packed brown sugar
· 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
· 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
· 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted
· 2 large eggs
· 2 Tbsp. olive oil
· 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×8 square pan with cooking spray then line with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Spray paper with cooking spray, too.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In another medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, applesauce, Greek yogurt, melted chocolate, eggs and oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.
  4. Spread batter in prepare pan. Sprinkle the top with the chopped chocolate pieces.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 30-35 minutes.

139 calories, 23g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 5g fat, 17g sugar

Healthy Recipe, Winter Crisp

Need something to do with cranberries and apples? Try this tart and tangy fruit dessert that’s just perfect on a cold winter night. 


For filling: 

½ C sugar or sugar substitute
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
1 tsp grated lemon peel 
¾ tsp lemon juice 
5 C apples, unpeeled, sliced 
1 C cranberries 

For topping: 

⅔ C rolled oats 
⅓ C brown sugar, packed 
¼ C whole-wheat flour 
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 Tbsp soft margarine, melted 


1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2. To prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and lemon peel. Mix well. Add the lemon juice, apples, and cranberries; stir to mix. Spoon into a 6-cup baking dish.
3. To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, whole-wheat flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted margarine; stir to mix.
4. Sprinkle the topping over the filling. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From the National Institutes of Health.

Healthy Recipe, Scattered Sushi

Few of us have the time or inclination to roll sushi at home. But here’s an easy way to enjoy those flavors and textures at home when fussy presentation isn’t a priority. In her new cookbook, “The Secret of Cooking: Recipes for an Easier Life in the Kitchen” (Norton, $40), Bee Wilson suggests cooking up a batch of the sticky short grain rice used for sushi and then serving it communal style, as is often done in Japanese households, with various tidbits scattered over the top. Serves 4.


  • 1 ½ cups short-grain (sushi) rice
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 7 ounces smoked trout, salmon, or other smoked fish
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons white or black sesame seeds
  • Pickled ginger and wasabi for serving


  1. Place rinsed rice in medium pot with 1¾ cups water over medium heat and simmer. Cover, reduce heat to lowest setting, cook 12 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest, covered, 10 minutes. 
  2. In small bowl, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar and salt dissolve. Transfer warm rice to large bowl and gradually drizzle vinegar mixture over rice, mixing until grains are all coated. 
  3. Cover bowl until ready to eat. (It’s best served warm or at room temperature, but if not eaten within 2 hours it should be refrigerated.)
  4. Place rice in wide serving bowl or on platter. Tear fish into bite-size pieces. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and slice in thin half-moons. Peel, seed, and slice avocado and squeeze lemon juice over slices.
  5. Scatter fish, avocado, cucumber evenly over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger and wasabi on side.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

Healthy Recipe, Golden Coconut Chicken

This saucy chicken stew, adapted from one in Sandra Gutierrez’s “Latinisimo: Home Recipes from the Twenty-One Countries of Latin America,” is loaded with protein and micronutrients. It’s also free of dairy, gluten, lactose, and soy. Best of all it’s easy to make, full of soothing flavors, and sure to warm you up on a chilly autumn evening. Serves 4 to 6. – Susan Puckett Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onions
  • 1 cup stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Hot, cooked rice for serving, optional


  1. Place thighs in medium bowl and sprinkle with bouillon powder, if using. Add vinegar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss to coat all chicken. Marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place a Dutch oven or wide, deep pan with lid over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. When shimmering, add onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, stirring for 6 or 7 minutes or until vegetables are soft and no longer juicy; remove to bowl and set aside.
  3. Add remaining tbsp oil to pan, along with chicken, turning the pieces until golden on all sides. Add coconut milk and reserved vegetables. Stir, making sure to scrape up browned bits at bottom of pan.
  4. Bring to full simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Allow mixture to simmer slowly until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced with fork.
  5. Uncover, raise heat to medium, and bring liquid to boil. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls, over rice if desired, sprinkle with cilantro.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at