December Recipe of the Month: Turkey Quinoa Chili

Welcome to round 2 of the Recipe of the Month experiment.   Be proud of me, dear readers, for I managed to split this recipe into 2 parts for equal enjoyment for both omnivores and herbivores (my boyfriend and myself).  I got the bright idea to just split the recipe in half (which made for a few interesting measurements), but alas, 2 meals were made, and 2 plates were full… and by plate, I mean bowl.

This adventure began at the grocery store to pick up a few of the missing necessities.  AMAZINGLY, I had all of the spices I needed, including the unsweetened cocoa powder (which does not make hot chocolate all on its own, as I learned in an unfortunate incident a number of years ago).  I took my possession of so many spices as a good sign.  I must be doing something right in the kitchen!

On my list was just zucchini, turkey, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (this would surely be a fun one), broth, and the crushed tomatoes.

I ran into a problem right away looking for the zucchini.  The only zucchini I could find was considerably smaller than what I am used to (thank you, awesome members, who bring in their home-grown zucchinis for us), and I also noted that the sign said, “zucchini squash”.  Is there a difference between zucchini and zucchini squash?  Feel free to point and laugh, because I had no idea zucchini was in the squash family, and this zucchini looked like a mutated mini-version of what I have previously cooked with.  I did an extra lap around the produce section just to be sure, and sure enough, zucchini squash was it.

My second issue arose  when I hit the broth aisle.  Why does the recipe call for 15oz cans of broth but the only cans I could find were 14.5?  I have always marveled at the recipes and their convenient use of measurements that the ingredient is sold in!  This was not the case in the broth aisle, but I figured that the .5 ounces of missing broth would not have too big of an effect on my finished product.

Scouring every aisle with anything “pickled” in it, I began my search for the chipotle peppers.  In Meijer, you just never know when something like that will pop out at you.  My gut told me, “ethnic food aisle”, but again, you can never be too careful.  Sure enough, there they were in the Mexican food section of the ethnic food aisle;  convenient location, considering the tomatoes I needed were right behind me… where the next bugaboo awaited.

I knew you could get diced tomatoes, I knew you could get tomato paste, but I had no idea that you could get them diced in different sizes, whole, peeled and whole, peeled and diced, and of course crushed, as this recipe calls for.   I found the can I was looking for 2 shelves up from the floor, “peeled and crushed”.  Good enough.

I took all of my ingredients and headed to my boyfriend’s kitchen to do my cooking.  I hesitate to admit that the reason I cooked over there was because we were both out of work in time to cook and be in front of the television for the start of “Jeopardy”.  He has a much bigger TV than I do, so when there is a lot of reading involved in whatever we are watching, his place is easier… but I digress.

Step one, once in the kitchen: Wine.  We are cooking here, people, and that is hard work!  To make it classy, I opened a Red.

Step two: Game plan.  I realized that sometimes I have the habit of just jumping right in without realizing what I need to have ready and when.  This leads me to Step three: Chop!  I like to chop all of my veggies beforehand so I am not stuck racing to get things chopped and in the pan in time, this also gets both of my favorite and least favorite tasks out-of-the-way first.  I LOVE the idea of chopping veggies!  They look so fresh and healthy, and people always look so cool on TV cutting them.  I, however, am AWFUL at chopping veggies, or knife use in general.  Let me tell ya what, Ninja chopping needs to be left to the properly trained.  Non-professionals lose fingers trying to cut stuff that way.  So I am extremely slow at chopping, and I pity whoever has to suffer eating a meal I make with fresh “minced” garlic in it, because they are forced to deal with big, less than “minced” chunks of it.  I just lose my patience.

Now the cooking can begin!  I get my quinoa going (such a great power protein! And a complete protein at that), and then get my veggies in the pot to saute with the sweetener.   I realize that I should have used Splenda, or a natural sweetener, but I used regular, granulated sugar.

After my veggies were sauted, I divided them into two pots; 1 for the regular recipe, 1 for the vegetarian option, adding the turkey in to cook in pot 1.

I was all set to dump out all of the peppers and start mincing when I realized that the recipe called for just one pepper, and not one can.  Boy, wouldn’t that have been a fun “oopsy”?! Mincing the one was hard enough as it was, seeds and all, not to mention the strange consistency of it!  Not to paint a gross picture, readers, but it sort of flopped out like a dead fish!  I was happy to get it cookin’ and off of the cutting board.  (The picture just looks like carnage!)

I learned a very important lesson while adding in my spices:  Always be familiar with your surroundings when cooking in a foreign kitchen!  I had an incomplete set of measuring spoons which made adding and splitting the spices exciting.  I will admit though, I always feel old-school, or half Italian when I just “eye-ball” my spices, as if I just made the recipe mine just a little bit (I am 0% Italian by the way, but 100% nerd).

The rest was easy, just adding the beans, broth and tomatoes (which really just looked like sassy tomato paste if you ask me), and it was all set for the final simmer.

What a delicious final product!  My guinea pig (we’ll call him Paul, because well, his name is Paul), was thrilled with the flavor, and as previously stated, he is a massive food snob.  It was a very bold taste with just enough kick to it, all of the spices working very well together.  Mine did not lack in the flavor department either.  The only note I would make to vegetarians is to either cut down on the amount of broth and crushed tomatoes, or add in more beans or quinoa to keep the density up.  If you enjoy things spicy, feel free to be liberal with your chili powder and maybe add another pepper.  If the opposite is true, be more conservative with the chili powder and only add in a half of a pepper.


I hope you enjoy this fun spin on chili!  And, no, that is not the same glass of wine I started with 😉

The full recipe can be found at

Our next adventure will be spinach and ricotta stuffed mushroom caps!

Have a very Happy New Year!


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