Turkey and Pumpkin Chili (and a bad case of Jalapeño Hands)

The fall brings a bounty of wonderful things every year – crisp air, Halloween, awesome seasonal produce, and an extra hour of sleep à la daylight savings.  Aside from butternut squash, pumpkin is another one of those pleasures the fall season presents.  [Disclaimer: a slew of treats highlighting delicious pumpkin is looming, so stay tuned for updates!]  First and foremost, I thought I’d throw in something I made featuring pumpkin that isn’t a dessert!

I found this great recipe for Turkey and Pumpkin Chili on the Whole Foods recipe website a couple of years ago.  Any excuse to sneak healthy and delicious things (i.e., quinoa, veggies, pumpkin, etc.) into my food is always welcome, but I was really impressed with the nuttiness that the pumpkin adds to an otherwise pretty standard chili.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Side story – I diced a jalapeño to throw in some guacamole over the summer.  I’m not sure what kind of radioactive jalapeño I brought home from the market that day, but that little green pepper set my skin ablaze.   The burning sensation started in my fingertips, spread into my cuticles, up my fingers, and all over my hands.  Any part of me that I touched felt like it caught fire.  I washed my hands a dozen times and even took a shower to try to make it stop.  It even spread into my nostrils and eyes after I washed my face, and stayed there.  My boyfriend at the time did a quick Google search for “jalapeño hands” and found out my dilemma wasn’t as uncommon as we had thought.  The intense burning lasted about 4-5 hours (all from just one jalapeño) til it finally subsided on its own, but it was unbelievably uncomfortable.

Anyway, the point of that little digression is that when I cut up the jalapeño for this chili, you can be damned sure I wore gloves.  I recommend wearing gloves to anyone who might make this yummy chili too!

Here is the recipe:


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned.
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, 1 cup water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more.
  4. Ladle chili into bowls and enjoy!

Turkey and Quinoa Meatballs

Mixing it up, and adding a post about the dinner I made with my brother’s help the other night.  My dad is diabetic and can’t have carbs at night, so he tends to lean towards meat and vegetables for dinner.  However, my brother has inherited ghastly high cholesterol, so he has to stay away from most meat and stick with vegetables and carbs all meals of the day.  Neither of them are fish fans, so I decided to make one of my favorite lean dishes – turkey-and-quinoa meatballs with whole wheat pasta and chunky vegetable sauce.  My dad could stick with the meatballs and chunky veggie sauce, and my brother could have a lean meatball or two, and then veggie-and-carb load.

I found the recipe for the meatballs a couple of years ago on WholeFoods.com, and loved that the moisture that the extra vegetables and quinoa provided along with the healthnut “brownie” points.  The recipe calls for beef, but the meatballs have tasted like meatloaf instead of meatballs the times I’ve made this with beef so I usually use turkey instead.

Turkey and Quinoa Meatballs with Chunky Vegetables and Whole Wheat Pasta

The meatballs have diced onions, garlic, quinoa, grated carrot and zucchini, and traditional herbs and spices.  If you plan on making the meatballs at home, it’s definitely not a weeknight type of meal because of all the time that goes into prep in mincing/grating vegetables.  Alone, the meal altogether takes me 2-3 hours to make.

The sauce is composed of just a bunch of chopped vegetables cooked til tender in some EVOO, mixed and heated together with some Prego, and then throw over some whole wheat pasta.  Easy!