Kid-friendly Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop + Spiced Chocolate Mugs Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop + Spiced Chocolate Mugs

Family Meal Plan: Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop + Spiced Chocolate Mugs

Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop + Spiced Chocolate Mugs

by Erin Fletter
Photo by timolina/Adobe Stock
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
18 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop

There are so many types of chili out there! Every region in the United States seems to have its own version. Have you ever been to or entered a Chili Cook-off? It’s pretty amazing to see the variations people come up with (and fun to taste them, too!) Though chili is decidedly a dish of Texas origin, the cocoa in the chili gives it a nod to Mesoamerican culture and history. Cocoa history is so interesting. We included a lot of historical facts below, so be sure to choose a few to share with your kids! Most of us are familiar with chocolate in desserts, but not in savory dishes. When Chocolate Chili made its debut in Sticky Fingers classes a few years ago, it was a hit! So we’re bringing it back but with a bit of twist this time. The great thing about this recipe is that it really shows how flavors are layered from start to finish. You start with oil and some aromatics: green onions and garlic. Then you add peppers and carrots. Next, you make a spice blend with a bunch of chili seasonings—see how many you and your kids can identify by sight and smell. The spices cook with the veggies before adding the beans, tomatoes, and chocolate. This recipe is also the perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to the skill of "dicing." Of course, imperfection is encouraged, and some kids will love trying to chop up all their veggies to the same size, while others will have none of it! It’s all good!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 C sour cream **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3 cups milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 C veggie broth
  • 2 16-oz cans pinto or black beans, drained, or 1 can of each **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3/4 C bittersweet chocolate chips **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/4 tsp coriander or few sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley (your choice!)
  • 3 T sugar/agave/honey/stevia to taste
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional but fun!)

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend spices :

    to choose and mix together complementary spices in order to add complex flavor to a dish.

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large soup pot
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Small spoon (to mix spices)
  • Can opener
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Saucepan


Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop

  • Veggie Chili:
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 C veggie broth
  • 2 16-oz cans pinto or black beans, drained, or 1 can of each **(for LEGUME ALLERGY sub chopped cauliflower florets, zucchini, or mushrooms)**
  • 1/4 C bittersweet chocolate chips **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob chips and for DAIRY/NUT/SOY ALLERGY sub Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips)**
  • Sour cream dollop:
  • 1/2 C sour cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY omit or sub dairy-free/nut free sour cream—more info below)**
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander or few sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley (your choice!)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 lime, juiced

Spiced Chocolate Mugs

  • 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate chips **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob chips and for DAIRY/NUT/SOY ALLERGY sub Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips)**
  • 3 T sugar/agave/honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, or use 1 pinch each of cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom
  • 3 C whole milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or ground black pepper (optional but fun!)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop

  • Chocolate: Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in Chili.
  • Nut/Soy: Substitute Enjoy Life chocolate chips in Chili. 
  • Dairy: Substitute Enjoy Life chocolate chips in Chili. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free sour cream in Sour Cream Dollop, or omit sour cream and top chili with lime wedge and sprinkle of coriander.

Spiced Chocolate Mugs

  • Chocolate: Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips.
  • Nut/Soy: Substitute Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.
  • Dairy: Substitute Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk for whole milk.


Spectacular Spiced Veggie Chocolate Chili + Herb Sour Cream Dollop

chili: mince + dice + sauté

Mince 2 garlic cloves and 3 green onions (both white and green parts). Dice 1 green bell pepper and 1 large carrot. In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté garlic and green onions for 30 seconds. Then add diced bell pepper and carrot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

measure + blend + stir + add

Measure 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano and add to one bowl. Blend these spices by stirring with a spoon. Then add the spices to the sautéed veggies and stir to coat them.

add + stir + simmer + add

Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and 1 cup of veggie broth to the soup pot. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add more water if the chili gets too thick. Then add 2 cans of beans and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Let the chocolate melt. Serve with a dollop of Herb Sour Cream (next step)!

dollop: measure + squeeze + stir

Measure 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, and 1 pinch of salt in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from 1 lime into the bowl. Stir to mix it all together! Add a dollop on top of each bowl of Veggie Chocolate Chili. Muy delicioso!

Spiced Chocolate Mugs

measure + add + simmer + enjoy!

Measure and add to a saucepan 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3 cups of milk, 1 pinch of salt, and optional 1 pinch of cayenne pepper. Heat to a simmer and cook until chocolate melts. Taste! Add more milk or sugar to adjust sweetness. Let cool slightly, then pour into mugs and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Chocolate + Cocoa!

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Photo by New Africa/

Hi! I'm Chocolate!

"Hello! Let me introduce myself! I can be dark brown, light brown, or even white. I'm sometimes bitter, sometimes a little sweet, and often very sweet. I add flavor and excitement to many other foods! Have you guessed yet? I'm Chocolate! You may be familiar with me from candy bars or chocolate sundaes, but I can liven up many other foods, too, including chili, butter, and milk!"


  • The cacao (kahKOW) tree is native to equatorial South America and the rainforests of Mesoamerica. It was first used 5,300 years ago by indigenous people in South America. Mesoamericans who lived in the rainforests of Mexico and Central America domesticated the tree about 1,500 years later. They drank chocolate as a bitter beverage—far from the sweet treat most of us are familiar with today. 
  • The Mayan people of Central and South America used cocoa as currency and as medicine: it was very valuable, just like vanilla! In fact, it was so precious that they made counterfeit cocoa beans out of clay and avocado seeds!
  • The Aztec people are a nomadic tribe in Northern Mexico. When the Aztec empire began to expand, they demanded that the Mayan people pay tribute to them through gifts of cacao. 
  • The Aztec people ruled until Spaniards arrived and conquered the land and its people. The Spanish explorers took cacao beans back to Europe, where they experimented by adding cinnamon and sugar to sweeten it. For a long time, only aristocratic people enjoyed chocolate.
  • Princess Maria Theresa married Louis the 16th from France and gave him chocolate as a wedding present! Demand for chocolate soon grew very fast, and as a result, people were enslaved on plantations to grow cacao to meet the high demand.
  • In 1847, Joseph Fry invented the first chocolate bar. By 1907, Hershey was manufacturing millions of chocolate kisses each day.  
  • Cacao trees grow best in the rainforest underneath the branches of taller trees. However, they won't bear fruit until they are at least three to five years old. 
  • Most early Spanish sources refer to chocolate as "cacahuatl" (cah-cah-Hwat), which translates to "cacao water."
  • The word chocolate comes from a combination of a Mayan word for hot, "chocol," and an Aztec word for water, "atl."

How Chocolate is Made

  • All chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao tree. Cacao trees produce pods containing pulp-covered seeds. Before cacao is processed, it would be hard for most of us to recognize it as chocolate! This is because the pulp-covered seeds taste bitter and raw and look nothing like the chocolate products we see in stores.
  • The seeds go through a process called fermentation, and then they are dried and made into nibs before being turned into chocolate. 
  • A cacao pod contains about 30 to 50 almond-sized seeds—enough to make about seven milk chocolate candy bars! 
  • After roasting and grinding cocoa beans, chocolate liquor is left, which is about equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After the cocoa butter is mostly extracted, the result is dry cocoa solids. Cocoa powder is the powdered form. Natural cocoa is a light brown color and tastes bitter. 

  • Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten created the "Dutch process" method in the early 19th century to reduce the acidity in natural cocoa powder by treating the beans with alkaline salts. As a result, Dutch process cocoa is less bitter and has a dark brown color.

How to Enjoy Cocoa & Chocolate

  • You can add unsweetened cocoa to milk with sugar, honey, or stevia for a delicious and warming beverage. You can also add it to smoothies for a delicious chocolaty taste and an extra hit of magnesium and polyphenols. 
  • Chocolate comes in many forms: bars, kisses, chips, powder, shavings, puddings, syrups, and sauces.
  • Unconventional chocolate flavor pairings: cardamom, lavender, wasabi, chili, chipotle, sea salt, lime, matcha, curry, ginger, mint, figs, fennel, sesame, parmesan, and Earl Grey tea. Seriously, what doesn't go well with chocolate?! Can you think of any other fun and delicious pairings?


  • Dark chocolate helps protect your heart, blood, and brain! To get the full health benefits of chocolate, choose at least 85% cocoa content or higher. The higher percentage makes the chocolate more bitter, but those bitter compounds, called polyphenols, are antioxidants that provide several health benefits. Many people prefer very dark chocolate!
  • Polyphenols help prevent heart disease by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, keeping vessels flexible and allowing the blood in our body to flow easier (good circulation), and reducing inflammation. In addition, they help control blood sugar levels, lower cancer risk, and boost immunity. Polyphenols also promote good digestion.  
  • Cocoa is a great source of magnesium. We need magnesium for good health! For strong bones, healthy teeth, and as a building block for proteins within the body.
  • Cocoa can protect our teeth?! Cacao contains antibacterial elements that fight tooth decay. However, this is true with unsweetened cocoa only, as most mass-produced chocolate has a lot of sugar. We know what sugar does to our teeth—it causes decay! 
  • One study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain!

History of Chili!

Photo by Brent Hofacker/
  • Chili, like apple pie, is an American icon. And although you may think it's Mexican, it isn't. Chili, as we know it, is not served in Mexico except in areas that cater to tourists. Instead, chili was invented in Texas! Several stories make up chili's history. 
  • For example, one story is that chuck wagon cooks invented chili when traveling with cowboys on cattle drives in the Southwest. The story goes that, as they traveled in one direction, the cooks planted oregano, chiles, and onions among patches of mesquite to give them protection from extreme sun, foraging cattle, and other critters. Then, on their way back along the same trail, they would collect the spices, combine them with chopped beef and call it "Trail Stew" or "Trail Drive Chili." 
  • According to What's Cooking America, the first recorded batch of "Chili con Carne" (chili with meat) in the US was made in 1731 by women who had emigrated from the Spanish Canary Islands. Historians called the dish "spicy Spanish stew."
  • In the 1880s, a market in San Antonio, Texas began setting up chili stands from which chili, or Bowls o'Red as they called it, were sold by women known as "Chili Queens." 
  • In 1967, the first chili cook-off happened in Terlingua, Texas, a border town about 400 miles west of chili's alleged birthplace, San Antonio. The cook-off ended in a tie between a native Texan and a New Yorker. They still hold chili cook-offs there today!

Let's Learn About Mesoamerica!

Photo by WitR/
  • Avocado, tomato, and chocolate. Your kids are likely familiar with at least some of these food items. But do they know that they originally came from Mexico and are based on words from the Nahua people? Nahuatl words "ahuacatl," "tomatl," and "chocolatl" were eventually adapted and adopted into English.
  • The Nahua people were an ethnic group found in Mexico with deep cultural roots, and members of one Nahua group were the Aztecs.
  • The Olmec were the first major Mesoamerican people and culture. They settled on a river city that archaeologists refer to as San Lorenzo. Historians consider the Olmecs to be one of the greatest civilizations in history. They advanced as artists, architects, engineers, traders, and sculptors without the benefits of migration or influence from other civilizations. Today, much of their culture has been lost, and some of the few artifacts that remain are stone carvings, wooden artifacts, and ruined cities.
  • Civilizations that came after the Olmecs were influenced by them and borrowed ideas from them, including the Aztecs, Veracruz, Maya, and Toltec. 
  • Mesoamerican cultures had a 260-day calendar for rituals and a 365-day calendar for agriculture.
  • People across Mesoamerica played a ritual sport called "ballgame" (in English). Courts were situated in the sacred precinct of a city. Players passed solid rubber balls to each other (no hands allowed!), and the object was to hit them between markers.
  • The people relied heavily on corn, beans, and squash for food. They referred to them as the Three Sisters.
  • Mesoamericans spoke more than 125 different languages.
  • Mesoamericans used pictographic, ideographic, or picture writing. For example, for "I love apple," they would draw an eye, a heart, and an apple.

The Yolk's On You

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? 

A Candy Baa!

That's Berry Funny

A man grabbed a bowl and a spoon and ran outside. Then one of his friends who saw him came over and asked him why he had a bowl and a spoon outside.

The man answered, ”Because the weatherman said it's chili today!"

The Yolk's On You

What does an invisible man drink?

Evaporated milk!

That's Berry Funny

What did mama cow say to baby calf?

It’s pasture bedtime.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call stolen cocoa? 

Hot chocolate!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a cow that doesn’t give milk?

A milk dud!

That's Berry Funny

Where do you find chili beans? 

At the North Pole, of course!

The Yolk's On You

I named my dog Cinnamon!

He's a lot of bark!

Lettuce Joke Around

What kinds of beans can’t grow in a garden? 

Jelly Beans!

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