I just finished the last bowl of the chili I made the other day. Let it be known I LO-O-O-O-OVE chili on chilly days. :-) When I went low-carb I made it much less often, because chili without beans is NOT the chili I grew up loving. It CAN be made with frozen green beans (frozen, because they're not already overcooked and they're cut a convenient length), but it doesn't look quite right and hangs off your spoon.... A lot of other vegetables are either too starchy or sugary, or don't fulfill the bulk requirement.
This happens a lot when converting favorite old foods to low-carb. How do you make clam chowder, or vichyssoise, or other dishes which traditionally carry a lot of potato- or rice-bulk, if you can't handle what your body does with all that starch? Hot soups and stews are winter comfort foods! It's just not SATISFYING to come in from the snow and chow down on broiled fish and buttered greens -- at least, not to me....
The paleo world is full of recipes using cauliflower or turnips in place of potatoes, and from a low-carb standpoint, they work all right. As a hypothyroid, I DON'T want to be eating these things every day, even though some of their deleterious qualities are reduced through cooking. Furthermore, the gas would keep me awake at night (mostly second-hand). Thank you, i'll save cauliflower for holiday mash and J's wonderful casserole, and turnips (which I find too strong in most recipes) as the topping for shepherd's pie. For years I sought in vain for potato-replacers, and I've settled on two that I really like.
Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchoke) will be no surprise to those who saw my harvest* photo. Their flavor is mild and artichokey. and their texture very potato-like. It's true that the first time I tried the stuff, I tasted some raw and had some flatulence issues, but the experience hasn't recurred, as I always cook it now.
Celery root is a favorite! So many soups and stews really "sing" when celery stalk is added -- celeriac has a double benefit because it adds celery flavor and potato texture. The big problem with IT is the expense and difficulty in finding it in groceries. Only a few places in St. Louis can be relied upon to carry it consistently: the chance of finding it in, say, Hutchinson, KS (hi, M!) is microscopic. (Hell, our "borrowed daughter" in San Diego couldn't find sunchoke -- we ended up sending some to start her garden with.) Next year, we plan to try cultivating celeriac ourselves.
So how did I solve the chili dilemma? Well, my sunchoke harvest included about a pint of large-pea-sized tubers. The first year, I would have left them in the ground for future growth, but now that the bed is well-established, I don't think that's necessary any longer. I washed them off, let them dry, and stored them in the basement fridge along with a bigger bag of respectable-sized chunks. After the onion was sautéed in red palm oil, the ground beef added and browned, the tomatoes and spices cooked down a bit, (about an hour before I was ready to serve) I poured in that pint of 'chokes and let them simmer till tender.
YES. The chili had the flavor and texture it was supposed to have. The skins of the 'chokes kept them from mooshing, just like bean-skins do.
Of course, if you're not growing your own, you won't end up with the pea-sized bits I had. However, cutting larger ones to size will work just fine, and if you don't reheat several times (like I do), they shouldn't overcook.
How about my "Gentle Readers" -- do you have favorite potato-replacers I haven't mentioned?
* dammit, I plant tomatoes and squash and rhubarb and not much happens. the only things that I can produce in decent quantity are jalapeños and sunchokes!