Chili with Mushrooms and Zucchini

We used to have a game when I was a kid: if you could have one last meal before you died, what would it be? My answer was always a bowl of homemade chili.

It’s still one of my favorite dinners on a day that’s either cold outside or needs cheering up inside. 


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground vegan meat or TVP
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 28 oz can or jar of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1 bunch collard greens or chard, chopped up fine
  • 2 15 oz cans red or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or about 3 cups cooked from dry beans
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice


Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until translucent.

Add garlic and mushrooms, cook for another 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, then mix in the chili powder as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Add the ground vegan meat and stir to mix well and start to cook, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced zucchini next.

Blend the can of crushed tomatoes in the blender for extra smoothness, then add to the pot as well as the beans. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (you can simmer longer if you have time for a richer flavor, up to 2 hours).

When it’s all nicely coming together and you’ve checked the taste (add more salt, some coconut sugar, or more chili powder if needed), mix in the greens, let them wilt, and serve with rice. This pot lasted us for two dinners, including going back for second helpings. ❤️


On days like that, I also remember that life is happening FOR me, not TO me. Thanks to Tony Robbins for that lovely quote.

Here a Taoist story that captures this spirit as well:

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. 

One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. 

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. 

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. 

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. 

“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. 

“Maybe,” replied the old man. 

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, andbroke his leg. 

The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. 

“Maybe,” answered the farmer. 

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.

The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. 

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

16 responses to “Chili with Mushrooms and Zucchini”

  1. […] pm – Dinner with nature or […]

  2. […] Camping chili burritos with plant-based ground meat instead of turkey […]

  3. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Hooray, it’s chili day! 🙂

  4. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from flacaforever: 🤩🤩

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      @flacaforever thank you Chef Maru! I love your healthy eating that feels like cheating! 😍😍

      1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

        Instagram comment from flacaforever: @maitricooks 😍😍😍 thank you!

  5. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from terrywadethompson: That would rock on a cold day. Chili or any kind of soup is our go to meal in winter.

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      @terrywadethompson That sounds amazing! A bowl of warm goodness on a cold day. 🤗

  6. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from uturn2wellness: This looks incredibly delicious😋🙌🏽 Love it🥰Thanks for sharing💖

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      @uturn2wellness Thank you Hortencia! I love your food and the photo with your beautiful grandmother! 😍😍

  7. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Facebook comment from Susan: Love chili

  8. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from mypinkbananas: I get hungry when I go through your profile!!! Keep going, girl 💞

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      @mypinkbananas Thank you Karina! I love your pink and yellow theme, very original! 😍

      1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

        Instagram comment from mypinkbananas: @maitricooks thank you so much 💛💖

  9. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from ryzeonline: omg I love chili. Especially on a cold day. It has this ‘warm-you-up’ vibe & energy. Mmmm. I also love Tony Robbins’ take on life. AND I love that taoist story too, always makes me smile. (P.S. I actually have had plant-based, gluten-free chili once before and it was delicious, very curious about your spin on it! Thanks for posting this!)

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      @ryzeonline Thanks J-Ryze! Plant-based food can definitely be super delicious! So glad you’re enjoying the stories too. 🙂

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