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Hi there

In general, I’m not a very lucky person so imagine my surprise when I found out that I’d won a competition and that I was getting a signed Happy Kitchen book! I love cook books and own far too many. However, I was really excited to get hold of this particular recipe book as I love the concept of cooking with ingredients which can not only help uplift your mood, but give you energy and make you sleep better. I also use a lot of the ingredients featured in this book on a daily basis so using it should prove no hardship to both me or my wallet. But with a busy couple of weeks and a holiday in the Lakes to get through I decided that I would put off making my first recipe until last weekend. Having banned myself from the restaurant at work for spending too much money and for not sticking to the healthy (boring) soup each day I have been looking for some inspiration for what to take work. I was planning to make the chicken pie first, but the cacao chilli con carne caught my interest instead.

It’s years since I made a homemade chilli and I have to admit that it was a lazy attempt with a shop bought sauce, no doubt full of sugar, so I was looking forward to making this recipe as I had all the spices in. Regular readers will be shocked to learn that I actually used all the correct ingredients, well almost… spring onions as my husband had used the last onion and garlic puree instead of garlic cloves. I also left out the maple syrup as I’m not the biggest fan.

This recipe is incredibly simple to follow and is perfect to make up in advance for a workday lunch along with some wholemeal pasta. Don’t judge me, but I love chilli with pasta! Or if you fancy something more substantial it would be fab as a mid-week evening meal with a jacket/sweet potato and some salad. I have to say that I really enjoyed not only making this recipe, but eating it as well as it was pretty filling and had a lovely depth of flavour. I managed to get four good portions out of this serving so I took it to work twice last week and then I froze another two portions ready for this week.

I’m planning to make walnut and rocket pesto and sweet potato and courgette fritters this weekend so if it all goes to plan they’ll be on the blog next week.


  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 450g lean mince beef
  • 2tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 400g red kidney beans
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbsp maple syrup
  • 1tbsp cacao powder


  1. Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic until they have softened.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, mince, paprika, chilli flakes, cumin and cinnamon, and cook for five minutes.
  3. Add the red wine, pepper, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes, and simmer for 30 minutes on a medium heat with the lid on.
  4. Stir in the cacao powder and maple syrup, and if the mixture is too dense add a little water.
  5. Simmer gently for 30 minutes leaving the lid off to allow the sauce to thicken.

Suz x