Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili

This is very liberally adapted from The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. The main problem is fitting all the ingredients in the pot! I actually chopped more than could fit. The version below is my best guess as to what actually did fit.

This version was spicy enough to taste like chili, but not spicy enough to scare Nora off. She loved it, probably because everything cooked up nice and soft.

  • 3 cups dried kidney beans
  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 4-10 cloves garlic
  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp sea salt

If you care about Weston A. Price recommendations, bring some water to a boil. And the beans, kombu, and water to the Instant Pot, and soak for 18-24 hours. I discovered that the Instant Pot keeps the boiling water hot for a good long time, which is ideal for phytase activity. To be honest, I’m not fully convinced that soaking grains and legumes really matters nutritionally, but I find the beans very digestible with this method so I’ll continue to do it when I have time.

Dice the onions, carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Seed and mince the jalapeno. Mince the garlic.

Rinse the beans thoroughly until the water runs clear. Add the remaining ingredients, including the kombu (no need to stir). Add water just past the level of the beans. Hit the “Beans/Chili” button (high pressure, 30 minutes) and walk away.

When the chili is done cooking, use a wooden spoon to break up the kombu and then serve.


Brown Rice

Brown rice confuses me. On the one hand, may sources say to do what I did with the millet, which is a 7-hour soak in warm water with 2 tbsp of something acidic.

On the other hand, the best method is supposed to be the one where you reserve a portion of the soaking liquid each time, and use it for soaking the next time. After several iterations, the phytates are nearly gone.

The original source is here. The comments section had very useful information.

The blog source quoting it is here.

Here is a slightly different method that involves using a quart of reserved water, and whey. It sounds like a hassle, but the author describes the difference in taste in the brown rice, which to me is one reason to make it worth trying.

According to the comments section of the first link, whey doesn’t contain any phytase, so it’s not directly responsible for breaking down the phytates. But the acidic medium does help.

Finally, here is info on germinating and sprouting brown rice.

Sprouted Almonds!

I was surprised – I soaked some Trader Joe’s raw almonds the same way I soaked the walnuts, an entire (4 cup) bag with plenty of water and with a tablespoon of salt. I was very surprised that perhaps 7 or 8 hours later, the almonds had actually started sprouting. (Recipes for sprouting call for a pinch of salt, not a tablespoon!)

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Oats, Revisited

Various sources say that soaking alone is not enough to reduce phytates in oatmeal. The Nourishing Home recommends adding some other grains with higher phytase content.

The one exception to the above soaking rule is oats. Oats contain a large amount of hard-to-digest phytates and other anti-nutrients. Unfortunately oats are so low in phytase (the enzyme that helps to break down phytates), that soaking them in warm water mixed with an acid medium is not enough to adequately break down the large amount of anti-nutrients that naturally occur.

However, with the help of some additional phytase added to the soak (in the form of rolled rye flakes, or if you’re GF use ground buckwheat groats – both are high in phytase) – along with a full 24-hour soak time – a fairly decent amount of the anti-nutrients can be removed, making the oats more digestible and nutritionally sound.

Here is her recipe for oatmeal:

Phytase in Grains, Legumes, and Nuts

I downplayed the Cure Tooth Decay website earlier because it contains anti-vaxxer commentary, but this article on phytase looks good because it provides references. I plan on investigating these references later. This is important in part because I’m getting the impression that simply soaking oatmeal as I’ve been doing is a waste of time as far as phytase is concerned.

At a glance, I can tell that the section on oatmeal is more-or-less lifted straight from the WAPF website.

Soaking Legumes

These recommendations are from the WAPF site:

How does all this science translate into perfect beans? Soak legumes in plenty of water that has been brought to a simmer and poured over the beans; add about 1/4 cup of something acidic (lemon juice, vingear or whey) to black beans, lentils and fava beans but soak other types of beans (white beans, brown beans and dried peas) in plain water–preferably soft water or water with a pinch of baking soda added. You don’t need to worry about having the optimal pH if your diet contains animal foods and if the soaking is followed by a long slow cooking. Use the table below to determine approximate soaking times. For beans that require a long soaking time, you may wish to drain, rinse and add more water at least once during the process.

After soaking, drain the beans and rinse well, then add to a pot with more water and bring to a simmer. If digestibility is a problem for you, kombu added to the pot should take care of any pesky oligosaccharides still lurking. Cook those beans gently until completely tender.

Neutralizing Phytic Acid

Legume variety Optimal water pH Soaking time Best Soaking Medium
Black beans 5.5 18-24 hours Water with lemon juice, vinegar or whey added
Lentils 5.0 10 hours Water with lemon juice, vinegar or whey added
Fava beans 4.0 10 hours Water with lemon juice, vinegar or whey added
Dried and split peas 7.0 to 7.5 10 hours Plain soft water with pinch of baking soda
Brown, white & kidney beans 7.0 18-24 hours Plain soft water

Preparing Grains

This is a little confusing. Some sites recommend yogurt, some say kefir is ok too, some recommend whey, and I think some recommend just water or acid. I plan on starting with the millet, but still haven’t finished researching options.

A good overview from Nourished Kitchen:

First hit that came up on Google:

“You can lacto ferment whole grains before cooking them by soaking them in tepid water with a couple of teaspoons of whey (from strained yogurt) or kefir. keep for 24 hours at room temperature, strain and then cook in the usual way. This can also be done with lemon juice or vinegar in place of the whey. Porridge is also best made this way with whey/kefir, as it has the highest phytate content of all grains.

Recipes containing grain flour, bean flour or nut meal can also be soaked in this way. Simply add the liquid ingredients to the flours, including a teaspoon of lemon juice, two of whey, or some actual yogurt in the recipe. Leave for 24 hours at room temperature and add the rest of the ingredients. You’ll find that breads are fluffier and more toothsome, and raising agents work better this way.”

A page on teff:

“Teff only requires 36 hours or less to sprout – the shortest time of any grain.”