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A robust chili is an excellent candidate for a vegetarian entrée because the beans provide both protein and fiber, while the spice blend contributes a complex flavor. I serve this hearty chili in an edible bowl of roasted squash. Not only does this make an attractive presentation, the squash tastes great with the chili and packs even more nutrient-rich produce into your dinner. If you are pressed for time, omit the squash; the chili makes a satisfying meal all on its own and leftovers taste even better the next day.  

4 medium Acorn or Carnival squash 
2 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup water
2 (15-oz) cans black beans (or one 15-oz can black beans and one 15-oz can red kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes 
1 (4-oz) can chopped mild green chiles
2 tsp minced seeded chipotle chile peppers
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly (see Ingredient Note)
1 cup frozen corn niblets, rinsed under cold water to thaw
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut squash in half along the equator. Scoop out seeds. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each squash half, so that it sits firmly. Place squash halves, hollowed-out side down, on prepared baking sheet. Bake until squash flesh is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40 to 55 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make chili: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, water, beans, tomatoes, green chiles, chipotle chiles and quinoa; bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until quinoa is tender and chili has thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in corn, cilantro and salt. Heat through.

3. To serve: Spoon chili into each roasted squash half. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with lime wedges.  

Yield: 8 servings (One serving is 1 cup chili and one squash half).

Per serving: 340 calories, 15 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, g 11 fiber, g 10 total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 572 mg sodium.

Ingredient Note: Quinoa (pronounced keen wah) hails from the Andean region of South America. This whole grain is valued for its high protein content, dietary fiber and phosphorus. It also offers magnesium and iron. Quinoa has a delicate flavor and cooks quickly, in just 12 to 15 minutes. Use this versatile grain as you would rice, as a side dish, in a salad, or soup. In their natural state, the tiny grains have with a bitter coating called saponin. This is generally removed during processing, but it is still a good idea to rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove any residue. Look for quinoa in natural foods sections of large supermarkets and in natural foods markets. 
Recipe by Patsy Jamieson