Vegetable Chipotle Chili with Quinoa

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
Published May 3, 2022

This easy vegetable chili recipe served with quinoa is great for dinner, but also makes for a filling lunch. Adding cacao powder to this dish can even make it extra rich and creamy. This recipe lends itself to include any hearty veggies you may have in your fridge or pantry.

Our Hearty and Highly Nutritious Vegetable Chipotle Chili

The smoky, complex flavor of this simple vegetarian chili comes from basic pantry ingredients, vegetables, and spices! It is gluten free and easily made vegan.

This chili makes great leftovers that keep well in the refrigerator. Reheat your chili in a bowl and it’s good to go. You can also serve this chili as a protein-rich topping on nachos, baked potatoes, or oven-baked fries.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is an ancient South American grain that was largely ignored for centuries. Interestingly, it was only recently noticed by the rest of the world and hailed as a “superfood” due to its high nutritional content. It is now considered a specialty food by foodies and the health conscious.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is the seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant. Botanically speaking, it’s not a grain. However, it’s often called a “pseudo grain” because it’s similar in nutrients and eaten the same way as cereal grains.

Why is Quinoa a great side dish option?

Quinoa is also popular because it’s a gluten-free grain. This means people with celiac disease, wheat allergies or those who avoid gluten can consume it. Unlike gluten-free products made with refined ingredients, quinoa is a good source of nutrients that gluten-free diets often lack.

This grain is also popular because it’s very nutritious. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and contains more protein, fiber, and healthy fats than other grains. Quinoa is also one of the few plant proteins that is a complete protein. This means it contains all of the essential amino acids you need.

It is a great source of fiber, iron, protein, and magnesium. With all of those nutrients in this little grain, it can provide a lot of health benefits for your diabetes, heart health, or for brain health. One cup of quinoa contains plenty of fiber (5 grams) and protein (8 grams) in exchange for just 39 grams of carbohydrates.

With all of those nutrients packed into this little grain, it can provide a lot of health benefits for your diabetes, heart health, or for brain health. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels!

Buying Tips

There are over 3,000 varieties of quinoa. However, the most widely grown types are red, black and white. There is also a tricolor variety, which is a mixture of all three. All three of these quinoa types cook and taste differently. While white quinoa has a fluffy post-cook texture, red and black quinoa are known to keep more of their shape and color after cooking. Red quinoa also has a heartier taste and chewier texture than the muted, bitter taste of white quinoa, while black quinoa tastes somewhat crunchy and slightly sweeter than either red or white.

Quinoa can also be rolled into flakes or ground into flour, which can then be used for cooking and baking. White quinoa is the most commonly consumed variety, and is what you’ll usually find at the store.

Buy pre-rinsed to make your life easier.

Raw quinoa grains are coated with saponin, a compound that acts as a natural pest repellent. Eating saponin won't hurt you—but it tastes really bitter, so it might make you want to toss your perfectly fluffy bowl of quinoa in the trash. Sure, you could just rinse the saponin off your quinoa by running it under cold water before cooking. But most strainers aren't actually fine enough to keep the grains from getting everywhere, so that can be a hassle. Do yourself a favor and buy quinoa that's already pre-rinsed. It's easy to find and usually isn't any more expensive.

Vegetable Chipotle Chili with Quinoa

Beverly Verwey
This easy vegetable chili recipe served with quinoa is great for dinner, but also makes for a filling lunch. Adding cacao powder to this dish can even make it extra rich and creamy. This recipe lends itself to include any hearty veggies you may have in your fridge or pantry.
Servings 2
Calories 475 kcal


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 - 3 medium oyster mushrooms chopped
  • 2 tbsp water or vegetable broth used for sautéing vegetables
  • 1 small to medium bytternut squash peeled and chopped
  • 19 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 medium zucchini chopped
  • 1 cup favorite fresh greens (spinach, arugula, mixed greens, etc.)


  • Cook quinoa in 1 1/2 cups of water or broth. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic, and mushrooms in 2 tbsp broth until onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add butternut squash, carrot, beans, tomatoes, chipotle powder, cacao powder, pepper and bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes until squash and carrots are soft. Adjust the spices to your taste.
  • Add the zucchini and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve chili over the quinoa and serve with fresh greens such as spinach.


Calories: 475kcalCarbohydrates: 72.5gProtein: 22.5gFat: 5.6gSodium: 100.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes.

He is the co-founder of Mastering Diabetes and Amla Green, and is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002. He co-created the Mastering Diabetes Method to reverse insulin resistance in all forms of diabetes, and has helped more than 10,000 people improve their metabolic health using low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition, intermittent fasting, and exercise.

Cyrus earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, then earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. He is the co-author of many peer-reviewed scientific publications.

He is the co-host of the annual Mastering Diabetes Online Summit, a featured speaker at the Plant-Based Nutrition and Healthcare Conference (PBNHC), the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference (ACLM), Plant Stock, the Torrance Memorial Medical Center, and has been featured on The Doctors, NPR, KQED, Forks Over Knives, Healthline, Fast Company, Diet Fiction, and the wildly popular podcasts the Rich Roll Podcast, Plant Proof, MindBodyGreen, and Nutrition Rounds.

Scientific Publications:

Sarver, Jordan, Cyrus Khambatta, Robby Barbaro, Bhakti Chavan, and David Drozek. “Retrospective Evaluation of an Online Diabetes Health Coaching Program: A Pilot Study.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, October 15, 2019, 1559827619879106. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619879106

Shrivastav, Maneesh, William Gibson, Rajendra Shrivastav, Katie Elzea, Cyrus Khambatta, Rohan Sonawane, Joseph A. Sierra, and Robert Vigersky. “Type 2 Diabetes Management in Primary Care: The Role of Retrospective, Professional Continuous Glucose Monitoring.” Diabetes Spectrum: A Publication of the American Diabetes Association 31, no. 3 (August 2018): 279–87. https://doi.org/10.2337/ds17-0024

Thompson, Airlia C. S., Matthew D. Bruss, John C. Price, Cyrus F. Khambatta, William E. Holmes, Marc Colangelo, Marcy Dalidd, et al. “Reduced in Vivo Hepatic Proteome Replacement Rates but Not Cell Proliferation Rates Predict Maximum Lifespan Extension in Mice.” Aging Cell 15, no. 1 (February 2016): 118–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12414

Roohk, Donald J., Smita Mascharak, Cyrus Khambatta, Ho Leung, Marc Hellerstein, and Charles Harris. “Dexamethasone-Mediated Changes in Adipose Triacylglycerol Metabolism Are Exaggerated, Not Diminished, in the Absence of a Functional GR Dimerization Domain.” Endocrinology 154, no. 4 (April 2013): 1528–39. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2011-1047

Price, John C., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Kelvin W. Li, Matthew D. Bruss, Mahalakshmi Shankaran, Marcy Dalidd, Nicholas A. Floreani, et al. “The Effect of Long Term Calorie Restriction on in Vivo Hepatic Proteostatis: A Novel Combination of Dynamic and Quantitative Proteomics.” Molecular & Cellular Proteomics: MCP 11, no. 12 (December 2012): 1801–14.

Bruss, Matthew D., Airlia C. S. Thompson, Ishita Aggarwal, Cyrus F. Khambatta, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “The Effects of Physiological Adaptations to Calorie Restriction on Global Cell Proliferation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 300, no. 4 (April 2011): E735-745. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00661.2010

Bruss, Matthew D., Cyrus F. Khambatta, Maxwell A. Ruby, Ishita Aggarwal, and Marc K. Hellerstein. “Calorie Restriction Increases Fatty Acid Synthesis and Whole Body Fat Oxidation Rates.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism 298, no. 1 (January 2010): E108-116.