Warm Winter Chili

This week, Food Network Fall Fest is working with wonderful winter squash.

Winter squash may be anything from Acorn Squash to Butternut Squash…rinds of beautiful greens yellows and oranges; the flesh from most winter squash is generally orange in color and sweet in flavor.

Recently, my squash lady introduced me to this wondrous monstrosity…

Called a Hubbard Squash, this squash is consistently sweet and can be substituted for virtually any other squash, sweet potato, and today I am going to share with you how it can easily replace tomatoes in one of my favorite, traditionally tomato-rich dishes.

Because the Hubbard Squash gives you more bang for your buck, producing as much as 2-3 times as much flesh/meat as the average pumpkin of the same size, this squash has quickly become one of my favorites and is something I urge you to seek out and enjoy.

Since the Hubbard Squash has a very tough skin, I have found it is actually easier to bake whole, let it sit in the oven until the skin becomes brown and more malleable, meaning you don’t risk your best knives trying to break into this natural beauty.

Beware, though, because there is so much flesh underneath this tough skin, I have had larger squashes take as long as 3 hours to bake at 350f.

Even so, the smell of sweet squash permeating my home is something I can scarcely turn down.

Over the last year, I have shared a number of squash or recipes including: Pumpkin Custard, Creamy Pumpkin Fruit DipSugar-Free Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie in a Jar, and then there is my classic, Vegan Pumpkin Pie and Butternut Squash and Pear Soup…all of which can use Hubbard squash in place of the traditional squash found in these recipes.

One thing I noticed, every single squash recipe I have posted (even the soup) highlights the sweet/dessert like qualities of winter squash.

Well you know, squash is something that is a fantastic addition to savory dishes as well.

Isn’t it time I show you how? 😉

This Warm Winter Chili was inspired by a dear friend of mine who can no longer eat nightshades.  When I saw this recipe for Tomatoless “Tomato” Sauce from The Nourishing Gourmet,
my whole concept of what a tomato-free lifestyle would be dramatically changed.

Nightshade foods include: potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce. Alkaloids in these foods can impact nerve-muscle function and digestive function in animals and humans…but most importantly, in regard to the Rheumatoid Arthritis my friend battles, nightshades may also compromise joint function.

I knew squash was a great addition to chili…but to make a chili without any nightshade involved? Now that sounded like my type of challenge.

I won’t go into the number of awards I have won for my chili…let’s just say there are quite a few, and when it comes to making chili, I am typically confident in my ability to satisfy the crowd.

Even without tomatoes, hot peppers, paprika, cayenne or Tabasco…I found that by incorporating a few of my ‘tricks of the trade’ into this recipe, I was able to whip up a mild chili that made my family happy.  Cocoa powder and honey are staples of my award-winning recipes…just trust me when I say you need to leaves these ingredients in.

As it is with any chili, the longer you cook this, the better.

1-3 hours stovetop, 4-8 hours in the crockpot…this is the perfect, low allergen meal to come home to at the end of a cold winter day.

May this warm your belly as it has warmed ours.

Have a great day!


Warm Winter Chili (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nightshade-Free, Soy-Free, Paleo)


  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 lb Meat (stew beef, chili ground beef, chicken or turkey, ground venison all work well, the better the meat, the better the chili)
  • 2 Medium Beets, peeled and diced
  • 3 c Squash Puree (Pumpkin or Hubbard…I used Hubbard)
  • 4 c Broth (Beef or Chicken)
  • 2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Tbs Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tbs Dry Basil
  • 1 Tbs Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tsp Salt (more/less to taste)
  • 2 tsp Pepper (more/less to taste)
  • ½ tsp Ground Cloves


  1. In large stock pan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until lightly caramelized. Add meat, sear slightly then add diced beets. Allow to cook until meat is nearly done. Add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer on low-medium for 1-3 hours, or transfer cooked meat/beet mixture into crockpot, add remaining ingredients and set on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  2. Serves 4-6 people.

For more winter squash brilliance, please visit:


Bay Area Foodie: Delicata Squash Soup

The Sensitive Epicure: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Cooking Channel: Kabocha Squash Pasta

CIA Dropout: Stuffed Winter Squash

What’s Gaby Cooking: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thursday Night Dinner: Butternut Squash Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter

Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bisque With Sage Cream

FN Dish: Simply Roasted Winter Squash


  1. I am originally from Michigan and a local German themed restaurant there uses truckloads of Hubbards during the fall ! They’re so good! I’ve never seen one down in Oklahoma though!

    • Katie, I am sure if I can find them in West Texas, someone in Oklahoma must grow them. 😉 Maybe I’ll have to grab one and meet you half way. xoxo

  2. Wow, how awesome are you, Sunny! A multiple award winner for your chili recipes and now a nightshade-free one, too! This looks and sounds awesome, dear. I know many who don’t eat nightshades so I’ll pass this along immediately. 🙂


  3. Kelly Heavener says:

    Sounds delicious! I use pumpkin in my chili. It makes it more creamy. My husband who doesn’t eat ANY veggies, loves it. It is a way of sneaking good stuff in. I might have to try the beets.

  4. Wow! not often to I find a recipe labeled as “nighshade-free”. Thank you.
    Now to switch out the onions, garlic and honey and it’s also FODMAPs free. Onions/green onion tops; Garlic/garlic infused olive oil; Honey/sugar or Lyles Golden Syrup.

    • Susan, thank you for introducing me to something new! I had never heard of FODMAPs before tonight…unfortunately you would also have to eliminate the beets. While this may not affect the flavor too much, it certainly will eliminate the beautiful, tomato like color. Please let me know if you try this with your substitutions, I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. xoxo

  5. Just discovered your website today on Facebook (thru GF Easily) which featured your Shamrock Shake. Then I surfed on over to this delicious looking Chili which I’m super eager to try. Thanks so much for sharing these terrific recipes.


  6. Unfortunately, if you are using cocoa in this recipe, it is NOT totally alkaloid free, though it is nightshade free. Please check this link:


    Unfortunately for me, this alkaloid is one that affects me more than peppers. I stay away from coffee, as well, because caffeine is one of two such alkaloids in that.

    You might want to experiment with a bit of carob powder instead of the cocoa powder in this recipe, though carob doesn’t really taste like chocolate. It could, though, add just that bit of taste that would be missing if you left out the cocoa totally.

    • Linda, you are correct, carob is a great sub for cocoa. Please let me know if you try this and any adjustments you needed to achieve the flavor you’re hoping for. xoxo

      • I will do so! I have printed out the recipe, and intend to have my husband shop for the ingredients on Saturday. I do so miss chili, and this seems like a really good substitute, to me. I’m doing everything I can to try to reverse arthritis damage. I have been off nightshades (and other alkaloids) for about six months, now, and have seen a significant change.

        I wish so much that I didn’t have to avoid both coffee and cocoa, but I can tell the difference within 24 hours, if I give in (as I do every six weeks or so) and just have to have some.

        Peppers, for some reason, in small amounts (like jalapeno-flavored pickles, or a little paprika in a sauce, or something like that), don’t seem to affect me the same way, but I do avoid them, too. I have to stay completely away from potatoes and tomatoes.

        At any rate, I will let you know how the carob experiment goes, though you should probably try it yourself, to compare, since I can’t do that.

        • 🙂 I probably will. My children’s grandmother has severe RA, she can eat chocolate but carob might be a better solution for her as well. I’ll have to whip up some of the alternative and share it with her. Thank you for your suggestion. xo


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