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I have a love hate relationship with this naturally gluten free Mild Chilli Con Carne – odd thing to start a recipe post with. I’ll explain briefly as I know you’re only here for the recipe (am I right?)
Those who have followed me for some time will know my two teens are autistic as well as Bethany having Type 1 Diabetes and Coeliac Disease. This makes dinner times challenging. Lewis will not eat chilli if it deviates from the original recipe or if it’s been frozen (so no batch cooking seconds for him). Meanwhile, Bethany can spot a speck of vegetable at 50 paces and will sit there picking out every single questionable lump in her food (sigh).
So I had to come up with a way of having a chilli that was nutritional, identical to the last and lump free. Just to add Bethany does eat veg (I saw you judging me just then), she just prefers to eat it in it’s original form and not disguised as something else.
Skip to the good bit
- How to hide vegetables in family dinners?
- Important: making this for the first time
- Ice cube veggies
- Frozen veggie sheets
- How to make frozen vegetable cubes or sheets?
- What vegetables can I use to make frozen vegetable ice cubes?
- What other dinners can I add vegetable ice cubes to?
- What chilli powder/flavouring should I add to this chilli?
- What stock cubes are gluten free?
- Other gluten free mid week meal inspiration
- Gluten Free Mild Chilli Con Carne Recipe
How to hide vegetables in family dinners?
So, I had the challenge long ago of how to hide vegetables in family dinners. I’m not just talking about leafy greens here. Bethany won’t even entertain an onion popping up on her plate. A while back I trialled a fruit and vegetable cube ingredient by Lickalix (they make natural lollies). The cubes are not longer in production and frankly were very expensive but I understood why people would be interested in them as a time saving ingredient.
These days, money is tight and we need to be frugal with our pennies. Eating healthy family meals and getting the best nutrition can be a challenge.
The baby-cubes, as they were called, reminded me of the days I was weaning my two kids. I made all their meals in the form of ice cubes and simply added 3-4 cubes to a baby food pot to defrost – great for eating out and on the go.
So why not do this now too?
Important: making this for the first time
The recipe in this post assumes you have made the vegetable ice cubes or sheets in advance. To make this for the first time there is no need to freeze your cubes first, that would be daft! For the first time of making this mild chilli con carne you simply need to make your hidden vegetable ice cube mixture and add your chosen amount of fresh blended veggies to the chilli. I would recommend 4-6 heaped table spoons but you know your little detectives better than me.
Then, once your chilli is on the stove and cooking, you can spoon the blended vegetables into your ice cube trays or silicone freezer bags and freeze for another time.
Ice cube veggies
There are two methods I adopt to mastering hidden vegetables. The first is to make vegetable ice cubes. Very simply, you blend up a batch of veggies and spoon them into silicone ice cube trays and freeze. Yes, it’s that simple.
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Frozen veggie sheets
The alternative to ice cube vegetables is better in terms of space saving in the freezer but equally as effective. By blending your chosen vegetables and adding them to silicone freezer bags you are saving heaps of space in the freezer, these can be stood up (you’ll need to freeze them flat first) and I use these bags for all manner of foods. I also add beef mince to them too as this makes the mince sheets easier to store in the freezer and much quicker to defrost when you next need them – top tips or what?
How to make frozen vegetable cubes or sheets?
This is actually quite fun and rather rewarding too. Have you got any vegetables that are at the bottom of your fridge draw and they look like they’ll be going over soon? Add those. Do you have a glut of homegrown courgettes, leafy greens and tomato’s? Add them.
Basically there are no hard and fast rules about what you can add to your vegetable cubes but’s its great to add a combination to ensure your cubes pack a nutritional punch.
To get the vegetables ready to add to the ice cube trays or silicone freezer bags you simple add the prepared veg to a blender/liquidiser. I have used my smaller Braun Smoothie Maker for smaller batches.
To get the vegetables going you will need to add a liquid, otherwise your vegetables won’t blend – we’re NOT using cooked vegetables here, this method uses fresh raw vegetables for optimum nutritional retention.
Liquids could be a splash of water (enough to get the veggies blending) or, and this is my preferred option, passata. It really does depend on what you have to hand. You could save some water from boiling/steaming vegetables one evening and refrigerate this until ready to add to your blended veggies.
What vegetables can I use to make frozen vegetable ice cubes?
I’ve already alluded to the fact that there are no hard and fast rules about this. In the images above you can see, on the occasion I made a new batch, I decided to use some old frozen veg I’d bought from the supermarket with the intention of adding them to risottos or curries. I had forgotten about them as they got buried so decided to use them up. (personally I can’t have this batch of hidden veggies as I added peas, and I can’t tolerate peas, so do don’t what I did and add something you can tolerate!)
Other vegetables I have used in my frozen vegetable cubes/sheets are;
- Butternut Squash
- Spring Greens
- Onion (red and white)
- Spring Onions (whole)
- Beetroot (go easy, it discolours food)
- Brussel Sprouts (might want to go easy on this if you have veggie detectives)
- Cauliflower (same rule above applies)
- Cabbages (all varieties but leafy green ones are better as opposed to white)
What other dinners can I add vegetable ice cubes to?
The possibilities are endless. You can add frozen vegetable cubes to all manner of dinnertime meals. I have added these to spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, soups, casseroles, stews, curries. You will be able to hide vegetables in practically every meal.
What chilli powder/flavouring should I add to this chilli?
Chilli strength is down to personal preference. I have gradually made my chilli con carne stronger as the kids have grown. Ironically as toddlers they both loved spicy foods. I have three chilli ingredients I add depending on who is going to eat the chilli.
- mild chilli powder
- chilli flakes and seeds
- chilli puree
I tend to use all three in chilli con carne that the adults eat but for a family friendly mild chilli con carne I use the mild chilli powder and a pinch of chilli flakes.
DID YOU KNOW? the longer you cook with fresh chilli or chilli flakes the more intense the flavour gets? Worth noting if you plan to cook in the slow cooker or in a casserole dish for hours in the oven.
What stock cubes are gluten free?
I always use Knorr Rich Beef Stock pots in this chilli con carne but there are other versions of stock by Knorr that are also gluten free. I find the stock pots are often on multi-buy special offer so only buy them when this is the case.
NOTE: gravy pots are NOT gluten free.
Other stock pots are OXO who now have gluten free stock pots (not cubes, these are not currently gluten free). Kallo do gluten free stock cubes and granules and Marigold make gluten free and vegan Bouillon.
Other gluten free mid week meal inspiration
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Gluten Free Mild Chilli Con Carne Recipe
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Family Friendly Mild Gluten Free Chilli Con Carne
- large saucepan with lid
- 500 g mince
- 1 Knorr beef stock pot
- 1 tin kidney beans (240g) rinsed in a sieve under a tap.
- 500 g passata
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 cloves garlic (powder, puree or clove) chopped and crushed to puree.
- 2 tbsp mild chilli powder
- 6 cubes frozen vegetables [see notes to make ahead]
- Brown the mince in a large saucepan, the browner the mince, the more intense the flavour.
- Add the stock pot (no need to dissolve in water) if using a gluten free stock cube simply crumble into the browned mince. Mix well to combine.
- Add the crushed garlic, tomato puree and mild chilli powder and mix to combine. heat for a couple of minutes to cook out the tomato puree.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the passata and the kidney beans and stir well. Adding to a high heat will end up with you wearing tomato juices!
- Finally add your chosen amount of frozen vegetable cubes (or broken pieces of veggie sheet). Stir through until the cubes have melted and fully incorporated into the chilli.
- Turn heat down and simmer with the lid on for up to an hour to allow the beans to soften.Keep checking back on the chilli to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
- To serve make your usual amount of rice for you family and maybe even add a piece of gluten free garlic bread for good measure.
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