Quick and Easy Chili Mac Casserole

Chili Mac recipe with Amy’s Chili–so easy and so good! (recipe below)

Do you remember that old advertising campaign for Sarah Lee cakes?  The voiceover (a little ditty) went something like this: “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sarah Lee.”

Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about Amy’s products for the past year or so.  Amy’s is the leading frozen food brand in the US, offering everything from pizza to whole meals to desserts.  In addition, their products are all vegetarian or vegan, and made from real, whole, organic ingredients.

I kept reading about Amy’s Bistro burgers, or amazing vegan pizza, or their wide array of soups, or chili, or the Breakfast Burritos, on other blogger’s sites. And the commentary was always fervently enthusiastic.  Yet I’d never tried their products for myself.

It was nothing against Amy’s per se, of course.  It’s just that  having followed the ACD as long as I have, I am well accustomed to making all my food from scratch.  In fact, not merely “accustomed to,” but “required to” in most cases.  In the past, I’ve always found that prepared or convenience foods simply aren’t appropriate when you’re adhering to a whole foods, organic, unprocessed, gluten free, mold free, sugar free diet.

And then came Amy’s.

When I was given the opportunity to review some of their products last month, I leapt at it.  I had never taken a really close look at the stuff in the sueprmarket, but now I went about checking it out very carefully.  I was incredibly impressed with what I found.

[Amy’s lentil vegetable soup, puréed in a blender and gently heated, then topped with sautéed dandelion greens & garlic–a fabulous quick dinner!]

Amy’s is a family-run business in the true sense of the word: from the husband-wife team who created the company, to their daughter Amy (now in university and contributing in her own way) to the couple’s mothers, it seems anyone who shares the Amy’s bloodline is part of the business.  Furthermore, a quick check of their website makes it clear how passionately devoted these people are to their products.

One of the promises the company makes is that their products are “made from the kind of real food ingredients that people use in their own kitchens…no additives, no preservatives, no GMOs. If a child can’t pronounce it, you won’t find it on an Amy’s label.”  Sounded good to me!  They also use whole, natural ingredients, most of them organic; and most of their dishes can be considered “allergy-friendly” as well (they use no eggs in any of their products and have many vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy free and tree-nut free options as well, all helpfully indicated with symbols on the product pages).

While I would have loved to try more than I did, I was bound by the strictures of the ACD, which eliminated their pizzas, bowls and burritos (and many of the other options–which I could have tried–aren’t yet available in Canada).  Sadly, if the pizza was GF, it might have contained cheese.  If it was vegan, it might have contained mushrooms (an ACD no-no) or gluten.  Both the Teriyaki Bowl and Brown Rice Bowls–made from real, fresh, whole organic ingredients that sounded wonderful–contained tamari, a natural soy sauce with wheat.  And the burritos were wrapped in an organic wheat wrap.  Darned ACD!

Of course, I realize that my restrictions are far more rigid than those of 99.9% of the modern world, and even people with allergies can usually eat a more varied diet than I can.  Nevertheless, I was able to sample a variety of soups and chili, all of which I loved.  There is no sugar added to the Organic Spicy Black Bean Soup, either the Organic Lentil or Organic Lentil Vegetable soups, the Organci Butternut Squash Soup or Organic Split Pea Soups; and the Spicy Chili contains crumbled tofu (rather than soy isolate or faux meat made from soy) and beans for protein.

The chili was a soup-style mix (rather than a thickly sauced style), with a generous ratio of red kidney beans to broth.  The crumbled tofu is long-simmered in a perfectly spiced base so that it absorbs all the flavor and bears a close resemblance in texture and color to ground beef.  As the HH slurped up a bowl of the chili, he remarked, “This could be homemade.”  I concur.

It feels wonderful to have discovered a company that offers prepared foods for someone on an all-natural, gluten free, sugar free diet!

Now that Amy’s has provided me with a few options, I decided to create a recipe for my for my own convenience food–a Chili Mac that the HH and I both loved.  It’s a cozy marriage of macaroni and cheese with bean-based chili.  Simply combine the cheesy sauce with a can of Amy’s chili and some vegetable broth, pour over (uncooked) pasta; pop in the oven and walk away. While you go about your business, your raw casserole is transformed into a comforting, soothing, saucy, cheesy and (just a bit) spicy perfection.

This is an ideal dish for autumn, when you crave something that will warm your insides, satisfy your palate, and nourish you both physically and emotionally.  And for those of us with restricted diets, it’s just so darned fulfilling to be able to concoct something quick, easy, ready-made–and still healthy and delicious.

 

[Mum, I’m glad you like your T-shirt, but you’re kinda choking me, here. . . . ]

And now, let’s enjoy some wholesome, natural, organic, and ACD-friendly convenience food!

 

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