Confetti Vegetable Chili, and cooking with kids

Every now and then my seven year old brings a recipe home from school, something they learned to make during class that day.   I love that he and his classmates get a chance to cook during school, and the recipes are printed with very kid-friendly instructions, and notes about which nutrients each ingredient provides!   Last Friday, I was delighted — a totally vegan, delicious-sounding chili recipe.  Not only that, but he told me it was delicious.

So I made sure to buy all the right ingredients and tonight we all set to work!  The kids had such a great time making this chili, and were so proud of themselves because they got to use a sharp knife to cut vegetables.  I asked them if there were any vegetables they would like to add to the chili, and they decided that some chopped carrot would be nice, so they even got to add their own touch to the recipe.  My 5 year old peeled the carrot all by himself and put all his muscle into opening the cans of beans.  My 7 year old diced a green pepper with care and precision, and measured all the spices himself.

We prepped all the veggies, spices, and beans and placed them in little bowls near the stove, so that when it was time to actually cook, it was all ready to go, just like in a cooking show.  I think their favorite part was dumping each bowlful into the pot and mixing all those beautiful colors together.  When we first put the green and red bell peppers in with the onions, my 5 year old squeeled, “it looks like Christmas!”

The finished product was incredibly colorful and delicious, so I’m calling this “confetti” vegetable chili.  The best part?  Both kids gobbled it up with relish, and took second helpings. Since they had prepared it, there was no need for the usual scrutiny and examination of each tiny little bit.

Here’s the recipe for you, but as my 7 year old reminded me, you can add or substitute any vegetables that you like:


  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can corn, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups frozen)
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I actually diced up some fresh tomatoes since I had them on hand, and added 1 cup water)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and carrot and cook until onion is translucent.  Add red and green bell peppers and saute until tender.  Add all seasonings except cilantro and stir until all vegetables are coated with the spices.  Add beans, corn, and tomatoes with juice (or fresh tomatoes and water).   Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.  Serve, sprinkling fresh cilantro on top of each bowl.

Serving suggestion:  We ate this with a side of baked corn chips, guacamole, and salsa.  To make the guacamole, simply mash up 2 avocados, add some salt and lime juice, and then stir in a couple of spoonfuls of salsa.  I particularly liked eating this chili with some guacamole spooned right on top of it.  Deeee-lish.

10 comments Add yours
  1. It makes you smile, doesn’t it? I loook after a couple of (used-to-be-fussy-eater) kids every other week and since I’ve been getting them involved in cooking dinner they absolutely LOVE everything they’ve cooked! And this includes greens, salads, even capers and feta! It makes me smile ear to ear. Thanks for doing the right thing for your kids. 🙂

    1. Definitely! I often bake with my kids, but of course kids are going to like cookies or muffins. This was a great experience, making something wholesome and healthy with them. My 5 year old even heaped a whole bunch of cilantro on top of his portion, and didn’t seem to notice that he was eating “leaves.” 😉

  2. Cute! I was selfishly (although also for the benefit of the kids I look after) wondering if you’d be happy to email me a copy of the recipe page from school – with the notes, etc… Thanks so much in advance and once again, great post!

  3. Those pictures of your boys helping you cook are adorable! My 12 year old loves to help out in the kitchen (the cooking part–not the cleaning part)! One of the many things he has said he wants to be is a chef. I think it’s also really important to teach boys how to cook–so hopefully they don’t eat ramen, pizza and fast food until they get married! That chili looks delicious–all my favorite ingredients!

    1. I agree! I want my boys to be able to cook healthy food for themselves when they go out on their own, and if and when they get married, they can continue to help out in the kitchen. When our 3rd baby was born, I loved that my husband cracked open one of my vegan cookbooks and made a dish that I’ve never even made before!

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