Every fall, when the temperature starts to drop I get full fledge into soup, stew and chili mode. I grew up with a dad who could eat a hot steaming bowl of soup just about any time of the year, so just the slightest chill makes it suitable for me to pull out the stock pots.

Last year when I started the Autoimmune Protocol, I realized that my obsession with tomatoes and peppers may not be such a good thing. I, very patiently, maintained my AIP diet and then tried and tried to reintroduce tomatoes and peppers, unsuccessfully. This made chili a thing of the past for me, something I was very sad to see go.

Many people don’t realize what nightshades are and exactly how they can effect people, especially those who suffer from autoimmune conditions. I have been scrutinized for being “too picky” about what I eat at times, especially when really eliminating nightshades can make being a dinner guest difficult. The Paleo Mom has a fantastic write up on her blog here about nightshades, what they are and what they do. For me the most problematic nightshades, things I had to really get used to not having on a daily or weekly basis were tomatoes, peppers, paprika (previously my favorite spice), hot peppers, bell peppers and white potatoes. All of those food items and their spice counterparts, cause a severe reaction. Generally the first symptom is a trigger of the migraines, moving on to bursts of eczema and hives, reflux and intense joint pain. It isn’t good, but knowing that nightshades hurt me makes it easier to cut the chord, so to speak.

As we move into the New Year, its also approaching time for our churches annual Chili Cook-Off. I know your thinking… a

Pumpkin and carrot puree

church cook off, big deal. Let me tell you… these folks are competitive with their chili. You walk into the room and the tables wind around more than half of the space, crock pot after crock pot of steamy, spicy goodness. Pots filled with anything from beef, venison to bison meat, even vegetarian. Some chili with beans, some without, and many extra condiments placed around the pots to compliment the delicious sampling. If you never competed in a chili cook off in a church, especially our church, you just don’t know. The wonderful folks at my church prep for weeks, hone ingredients and make careful choices. It is a far cry from your after-service potluck. Its also a place that I have felt pretty good eating because the chili tend to gluten-free, dairy-free (unless you add cheese) and pretty straight forward on ingredients. Last year my classic family chili recipe, a take on a Cincinnati style chili, took the top prize amongst 35 or more competitors. But that was before the elimination of nightshades.

Thus far, I had not attempted to eat nor make chili since The Big Elimination (its like a climate change in our home). But I made my AIP Pumpkin Nachos earlier in the week for the kiddo’s special family game night dinner. I had added a little too much liquid… which made it look a little like chili… which got my brain thinking. Because I feel like a good chili NEEDS to cook low and slow to really develop flavors I decided that during the weekend I would give it a shot.

The resulting AIP Beef Chili was delicious! My family had no idea that there were NOT any tomatoes or peppers in it and I seriously had

AIP Chili

AIP Friendly Beef Chili with sweet potato fries

to guard the pot with a wooden spoon to keep those little savages at bay. The base of the chili is pumpkin and carrot with a few extras to give it a slight tomato-y zing. I use cumin for the spice blend for this chili- and cumin as The Paleo Mom details here is a seed which can be a inflammatory and eliminated for AIP. I have included it in the recipe because its NOT a nightshade and I do not react to this particular spice. But, that being said, if you are early AIP, you can remove the cumin and substitute that with 1 teaspoon toasted ground caraway (toast the seeds then ground them for a smokier flavor) and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The flavor is not going to be exactly the same, but no fear of reactions if your early in your AIP journey.

I can easily see making a double recipe of this chili and keeping some squirreled away in the freeze for a quick meal- or more likely in my family, consumed in one night. Now I feel confident that I can walk into that room at church with my crock of steamy chili… the only one I will be able to eat now and probably still be a competitor even without the tomatoes and peppers. In the very worst case, I know I have won over my family, and that is still winning in my book.