Pumpkin, Butternut Squash & Chocolate Turkey Chili

This month for my blogging community with The Recipe Redux we were asked to share our first recipe we ever made.

To be honest, I could not remember the first recipe I made.

I guess I’ve been cooking and baking for so long now that it’s hard to think back to the beginning. Especially when, for the longest time, I was not inclined to cook at all! I would even convince my brother to make me a PB&J sandwich simply because I thought his tasted better.

Was it something I made with my Mom? Maybe. Or with my Nana? Probably not, I was still in the no-cook phase of my life. Or maybe it wasn’t until I met Andrew?


Then it hit me! I was in college! Junior year, in my “Woods” apartment, where we had a kitchen and I was not relying so much on my meal plan dollars.  And it was chili! Of course, I love chili. All the warm fall flavors that’s easy enough for a novice college cook to whip up something cheap and use it for multiple meals.

My starting chili recipe came from my parents, one that they had always made at home which -I think- was, in part, influenced by our church’s annual Chili Soup Supper.


It starts with ground beef, lots of beans, tomatoes, vegetable juice and spices, probably from the ready-made packet. All the canned beans and seasoning packet can really spike up the sodium content. Even if you do not have high blood pressure, kidney disease, fluid retention, there is still no need to have too much sodium.  Only high endurance, young athletes, or professional athletes who sweat profusely especially in the summer months really need that much sodium.

So to twist it I immediately chose no salt added beans (which can be hard to find so you have to look) and extra lean ground beef or ground turkey breast. If you’re vegan or vegetarian you can omit the meat all together and just stick with the beans and veggies.

But as the years have progressed my love of chili has evolved. Last year on my blog I started adding cocoa powder to give it a deeper richness and warmth. I’m telling you, it takes it to a whole new level without compromising the original love of the dish!


And this year, I’ve gone even further, if you can imagine…. I started adding another love of mine- pumpkin! And, not just that, but another fall vegetable- butternut squash!

Oh my gosh, y’all! You’ve gotta try this, it’s an all encompassing fall meal! Veggies, beans {proteins + fiber} with spice, warmth, and the flavors of fall all stewed into one delicious pot.

Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Chocolate Chili

Serves: 8-10


1 tablespoon oil (olive oil or coconut oil)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey breast {or extra lean ground beef (93-7%)}

1 can no salt added black beans, drained & rinsed

32 ounces (4 cups) tomato juice

2-4 cups water, depending on thickness desired

1 can no salt added chili beans,

1 can no salt added kidney beans, drained & rinsed

1 cup butternut squash, diced

1 10 ounce can tomatoes with lime juice & cilantro

1/4 cup pumpkin puree {or more depending on preference}

1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder


In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium- low heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute quickly until they soften and golden. Add the ground meat {if not choosing to make this vegetarian or vegan} and saute until fully cooked {about 5-10 minutes}.

Add the tomato juice, water, beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, and pumpkin puree. Stir well to combine. Cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Add the cocoa powder and spices. Cover and allow to continue to lightly simmer for another 25 minutes until everything has had a chance to merry and warm through.


*Note: you can add more pumpkin depending on how pronounced you like the flavor. I used 1/4 cup because I had some remaining from a different usage, but a whole can would really boost the flavor!

Let’s not forget the best part- the fixin’s!

avocado or guacamole –  plain Greek yogurt – fresh lime juice – cilantro – green onions – reduced fat cheese – Beanitos – baked corn tortillas

This recipe is great because it’s traditional with a twist and so flavorful! It can be made vegan – vegetarian – gluten free  – but it’s always nutritious and delicious!


Happy Fall y’all!



For other recipe redux recipes from this month’s challenge click the link below to get more ideas!





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