March is National Peanut Month, and a good time to celebrate an American favorite.

Although peanuts are considered common today, ancient Peruvians valued them so highly they buried pots of peanuts with their mummified dead to nourish them during their long trip to the afterlife.

Peanuts are a big crop in the South, half of which go into peanut butter. Two southern peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.

Peanuts actually are not nuts at all but legumes, along with beans, peas and lentils. Like lentils, soybeans and other beans, peanuts are particularly rich sources of folate, a B vitamin thought to help reduce the risk for cancer. Peanuts also contain resveratrol, a phytochemical linked to lower risk for heart disease and cancers of the colon, prostate and breast. Peanuts are cholesterol free and low in saturated fat.

Once shelled, peanuts should be refrigerated in an airtight container and used within three months.

The following chili contains neither meat nor beans. It is a hearty, flavorful dish similar to a generations-old African stew that also contains sweet potatoes. Like other deep orange vegetables, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is linked to decreased risk of lung and oral cancers and may also play a role in slowing the progression of other cancers.

This chili celebrates not only the peanut, but general good health.

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Chili with Peanuts

Makes 10 servings.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 peeled carrots, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2-4 (more, or none, as desired) peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 cups peeled sweet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cans (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, with liquid
  • 4-6 Tbsp. chili powder, or according to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups cooked brown rice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and bell peppers, and sauté lightly about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Add sweet potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, tomato paste, chiles, chili powder, cumin and sugar.
  2. Reduce heat immediately and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are barely fork-tender. Halfway through cooking process, adjust seasonings, adding additional chili powder, cumin and sugar, if desired. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  3. Serve in bowls or, if desired, on plates, over cooked brown rice.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

369 calories,
15 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat),
52 g. carbohydrate,
11 g. protein,
8 g. dietary fiber,
409 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges: 3-3/4 Bread/Starch, 1-1/2 Medium-Fat Meat, 1 Fat