Healthy Cincinnati Style Chili | Chocolate-Cinnamon Walnut Chili Nutrition Stripped
Eat Well Sep. 29. 2017

Chocolate-Cinnamon Walnut Chili

Sep. 29. 2017
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of NS and Creator of The Method

A delicious hearty meat-free chili made Cincinnati style with chocolate and cinnamon.

Surprise! For those of you who haven’t flipped through the pages of my cookbook, Nutrition Stripped Cookbook, then you’re in for a treat. This is one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook mainly from the nostalgia of growing up in the Midwest eating Cincinnati style chili — it’s delicious and I gave it a healthy NS makeover. It might sound like an odd ingredient combination for you if you didn’t grow up eating Cincinnati-style chili, but try this one out, it’s too good!

From the NS Cookbook…

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, I take my chili very seriously. Anytime I make this chili for my friends here in Nashville, they immediately say, “This is amazing, what’s in here?” The subtle rich dark chocolate and warming cinnamon take this chili to a whole new level of comfort. When I was growing up, my mother would let chili slowly cook all day long to where it was perfectly flavored and reduced to a thick consistency just in time for supper. Very purposeful, very special, and damn good.

If you try this recipe, I wanna hear about it, so let’s chat! Leave a comment it, rate it (this helps me improve future recipes), and don’t forget to tag a picture #nutritionstripped to show how you live and try these recipes on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with!

xx McKel


The Recipe




2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, to taste

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin, to taste

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes or 1, 15 ounce can

1, 15 ounces can tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup cooked brown lentils

1 cup cooked kidney beans (or about 1/2 a 15 ounce can rinsed)

1 cup cooked butter beans (or about 1/2 a 15 ounce can rinsed)

1 cup raw walnuts

3 ounces dark chocolate

2 cinnamon sticks

Garnishes: diced sweet onion, hot sauce, fresh cilantro, crushed walnuts


In a large soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos, ground cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes so the spices become fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock, lentils, kidney beans, butter beans, walnuts, chocolate, and cinnamon sticks. Taste test while simmering; take out the cinnamon sticks when the desired flavor is reached or leave in for the full cooking time (I prefer this).

Simmer over medium-low heat for 4 hours or more, until thickened. You may adjust the cook time depending on how thick you like your chili. If you prefer it on the thin side, add more stock.

Before serving, pick out the cinnamon sticks and adjust seasonings to your taste.

Serve the chili over gluten-free pasta for a true Cincinnati flare. Top with optional garnishes. Store in an airtight glass container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze for 2 to 3 weeks.

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