Maple Tempeh-Bacon Chili Beans for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This Maple-Stuffed Sweet Potato is a one-stop shop comfort meal. Sweet maple and chili pepper accented kidney beans mingle with caramelized onions, perky black pepper, thin slices of tempeh bacon and a few crunchy raw jungle peanuts. You can serve the delicious chili bean mixture on its own or stuffed inside a sticky sweet, warm and steamy baked sweet potato. Another idea: I even added a scoop of cashew cheese to the potato before adding the filling (optional, but awesome too!)

This savory sweet, sassy-spiced vegan dish is infused with caramel-y grade B maple syrup, accented with warm spices. I really hope you give this easy, comforting and super satisfying recipe a whirl!..

Come sunset, we all ask ourselves one question -> What's for Dinner? After a brisk beach walk yesterday, I found myself at home staring into my cupboards, that very question spinning in my head. Two favorite, always inspiring ingredients caught my eye: maple syrup + sweet potatoes. To compliment and balance out those luscious carbs, I added some protein-rich foods to my recipe. Kidney beans and tempeh. Done and done. A sprinkle of peanuts. Some warming spices. Onion. Garlic. Apple cider vinegar to brighten things up. Soon my quickie kitchen session was done and these maple-stuffed potatoes were ready.

Maple Syrup Obsessed. I go through a lot of maple syrup. Seriously guys. I will snatch up a bottle of grade B maple syrup at the grocery store and my husband will shoot me that look, "Didn't we just buy that?" It is pretty much the only sweetener I use for everyday recipes like teas, lattes, hot cereal, smoothies, loads of savory dishes, salad dressings and more. I keep other assorted natural sweeteners on hand for baking projects. But my first true love sweetener is grade B maple syrup. I have it everyday. Lets evaluate a few ways I do that..

-> My morning lemon tea.
-> To sweeten oatmeal or breakfast risotto.
-> Smoothies or a Watermelon Frosty.
-> Maple with fresh fruit salads. Or for a papaya bowl, lime juice and maple + a dash of cayenne.
-> Pancakes, duh. Same for waffles.
-> Quick salad dressing. Tahini and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
-> It adds "sweet" to my fave savory proteins: temeh and tofu.
-> Hearty raw leafy greens like kale and more love this stuff. Maple-Mustard Chard anyone?
-> Sweets. Maple-Walnut Peanut Butter Cups.
-> Pitas. Oh yes. Smoky Maple Broccoli Tempeh Pita.
-> I always add a drizzle to baked sweet potatoes or squash or sweet potato soups.
-> Baked veggies like sugar snap pea salads, brussel sprouts and carrots.

Ok, clearly I could go on and on. But I will restrain myself. Are you obsessed with maple syrup like I am? What do you use it on?

The base chili bean filling is ridiculous. Sweet and sassy, loaded with healthy plant-based protein too.

Accents of maple syrup compliment the savory ingredients..

But this duo pairing is even better!..

Yup, this potato has me swooning.

Oh sweet potatoes. You get me every time.

Sweet Maple Tempeh Bacon Chili Beans
makes 3-4 stuffed sweet potatoes (or just serve bean mixture on its own too!)

maple chili beans:
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (1, 15oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 Tbsp pure grade B Maple Syrup (+ 1/2 tsp for the onion saute)
2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used roma tomatoes)
1/2 tsp fine black pepper
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp chili powder (add a pinch of cayenne for extra heat)
1/4 cup peanuts, whole (raw jungle peanuts used, but roasted will work too)

tempeh bacon:
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup tempeh cubes, small strips
1 Tbsp pure grade B Maple Syrup
pinch of fine black pepper
pinch of salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
optional: 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

3-4 medium sweet potatoes + 1 Tbsp pure grade B Maple Syrup side as a "drizzle over top" extra

optional: handful of chopped parsley or micro sprouts to garnish

* maple syrup info: I used pure, organic, grade B Canadian Maple Syrup, Shady Maple Farms brand - but just make sure your maple syrup is pure! The fake stuff will not work. And grade B has a dark amber color, more antioxidants than lighter varieties and a bolder maple flavor I prefer.


If serving your bean mixture inside sweet potatoes, you will want to wash your potatoes and bake until tender and sticky-sweet. Oven method is recommended over the microwave. Oven: bake medium potatoes at 400 degrees for 35-50 minutes.

1. Add 1 tsp oil to a medium sized soup pan. Add in the tempeh slices, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, salt and pepper, optional liquid smoke and 2 tsp apple cider vinegar. Saute about 1 minute on each side, or until edges brown. When done, remove tempeh bacon bits and set aside in a bowl.

2. In the same pan (no need to clean it) Add another tsp oil. When oil is hot, add the onions and a 1/2 tsp maple syrup and saute until edges become translucent.

3. Add these chili bean ingredients to the pan: kidney beans, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, tomatoes, vinegar, pepper, garlic, chili powder. Salt to taste. If you beans are pre-salted you will not need to add any salt. If they are not salted, a few pinches should do it. Toss well and saute on med-high until the liquid absorbs mostly. When bean mixture is warmed through and in a saucy mixture state, fold in the cooked tempeh bacon and peanuts. Turn off heat

4. You can serve your mixture as is or serve inside baked sweet potatoes. Bonus idea: try adding some soft cashew cheese (like this recipe) to the sweet potatoes before adding the bean filling!

Leftover Ideas: You can use the chili bean filling to stuff sweet potatoes as shown in post, or use to fill a burrito, wrap or sandwich pita - or scramble with some tofu for a vegan breakfast scramble! You could even saute the beans and potato for a hash-style dish.

Can I make these ahead of time? Yes, you can totally make these in advance if needed. I would keep the chili bean mixture stored in an oven safe container and simply place that in the oven to re-warm - them fill baked sweet potatoes right on the spot. You could pre-cook your potatoes too if needed. (Although serving this dish freshly made is my preference so the tempeh bacon stays a bit crisp. And the potato sticky-sweet and edges caramelized.

Nutrition estimate - This dish is rich in iron, protein, fiber, vitamins A, C and B6, potassium and more.

Not just for pancakes. And yes I am totally entering this recipe in this maple-lovers contest (Think Outside the Griddle) from the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup people. And I even learned a few cool facts from their website. Like the fact that Canadian Maple Syrup has been found to have 54 different antioxidant compounds. Five of which are unique to maple syrup. Yes, in case you didn't know, maple syrup is rich in free radical fighting antioxidants. Bonus to the amazing taste and golden dreamy color.


Side. Of. Life.

Beachy Life. Since moving across town to Santa Monica I have been blessed with actual time to take a few beach strolls during an average workday. I grew up in a beach town so there is nothing more calming and centering to my spirit that staring out at those endlessly crashing, deep aqua waves, gazing at that crisp wide horizon line. And I had forgotten how much wildlife actually lives at the beach! Seagulls are not the only birds to dance in the beach breezes and soak their feet in the foamy crashing waves. Pelicans, sandpipers and even a few wayward pigeons flock to the salty seashore. I even spotted dolphins one morning. I love watching the animals who call these California shores their home. Sunrise and sunset are my favorite times to visit the beach.

Maple syrup-y sunset Golden drizzle across the sky. Do I ever stop thinking of food? No.

Quickie update on Nellycat for those who have asked, she is still doing amazingly "fine." I think we will be doing another big checkup in a few weeks to evaluate her liver tumor and lung metastasis, but I am so so so so so happy that she is healthy-ish right now. I seriously think all the positive love and thoughts and prayers you guys sent her WORKED! That and the holistic meds my new vet prescribed. I'm still in shock though. Cancer is a funny thing, you cannot let your guard down for a minute I think.

Good morning sunrise. Pink glow, cotton candy clouds...

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