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Plant-based chilli recipe

Plant-based recipes are great for supporting microbiome health, but ultra-processed meat substitutes are not. Here's an original recipe that takes a typical meat-eaters dish and gives it a microbiome-boosting uplift.

I’m not a fan of the ultra-processed plant-based meat substitutes now available. All the microbiome-boosting prebiotic goodness that comes with plant protein has been processed out, for a start. What can you use instead?

If you’re looking to go plant-based or reduce meat consumption, but want the protein and umami flavours, you won’t be disappointed by this tempeh chilli. Originating in Indonesia, tempeh is made of fermented soybeans. We benefit from increased available nutrients thanks to the fermentation process, as well as umami and prebiotics. This original recipe must be a fusion foods crime as it's inspired by a classic Tex-Mex dish.

🧅 Finely chop a large onion or two, start gently frying in a pan. (I use extra virgin olive oil.)


🌶️ chilli powder/flakes, paprika and cinnamon (1tsp of each — less chilli powder if you like it mild)

🧄 finely chopped garlic

❤️1 red pepper, diced

🥘 Crumble a block of tempeh into the pan.

Add more olive oil and fry together, stirring frequently, until tempeh and onions are golden.

🤎Quickly stir through some tamari or soy sauce and allow it to be absorbed by the tempeh.


🥕 carrots, diced

🍅 tinned or fresh tomatoes, chopped finely

Stir in:

🥫 1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)

🫘 1 can red kidney beans (I used mixed beans)

🧠 a large handful of crushed/chopped walnuts (soaked for a few hours is best)

🪴 a large pinch of dried (or fresh) marjoram (or mixed herbs)

🍫 2-4 squares of dark chocolate

Stir gently and simmer for 15-20mins (cover and add water as needed).

Enjoy with rice or jacket potatoes, warm tortillas or corn chips, sour cream and guacamole!

A classic vegetarian chilli simply omits the tempeh and walnuts but this makes a more substantial meal, if that’s what you’re looking for.

This recipe is great for your gut microbiome as it contains a diversity of plant foods, tomatoes and carrots (both high-pectin foods), pulses, walnuts, herbs and cocoa polyphenols, all of which nourish your beneficial, anti-inflammatory gut bacteria.

A video showing each step can be found on my Instagram profile, where I share original microbiome-nurturing recipes as well as tips and reviews of the latest microbiome research.

Viola Sampson BSc MCMA is a registered Microbiome Analyst, Founder and Director of the Microbiome Group practice. You can book appointments with her team of Associates here. (Viola's availability is by waiting list only – currently at least 18 months' wait).

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