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On Growing Up and Turkey Chili

A mild chili perfect for enjoying with kids, this recipe for Turkey Chili is particularly delightful on cold days.

There’s a picture of Will on my desk from his first year in preschool. He’s got this infectious smile, like he was laughing at the time. And he looks so dapper in his striped Oxford shirt. That’s the little boy who’s now a kindergartner. He’s five now, and learning to read and write. Where does the time go?

Today, he came home from school, excited about the book fair and sad that a little girl called him a name. He loves school, and is making friends. But I worry about name calling — could it progress? Will other kids do the same? Is this a precursor of bullying? I’m a mother, and I cannot help but worry.

As a mother, I don’t know how much I can do. Sure, I can speak to his teacher and ask questions. I can educate him on dealing with people who aren’t being so kind. I can demonstrate kindness and compassion, so that my kids learn to do as I do. But I can’t hold him forever, or shield him from hurt. The fact is that life is filled with good and bad things … and you need to deal with both.

Shawn and I can raise our children well, and keep their bellies well-fed too. And really, at the end of the day, does being called Potatohead really matter that much? No. Because he’s still a happy, unjaded, smart little boy. That’s what matters.

Tonight, I whipped up a batch of Turkey Chili, a perfect dish for chilly days — or when you need something warm and comforting in your belly. This is a particularly mild chili, perfect for little kids. Add more spice, if you like.

Yield: 8 servings

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

A mild chili perfect for enjoying with kids, this recipe for Turkey Chili is particularly delightful on cold days.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, , chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, , chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 45- oz can tomato puree
  • 1 14.5- oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6- oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper, , to taste
  • 2 cans kidney beans, , rinsed


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, jalapeno, garlic and zucchini. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey in a large skillet.
  3. Once the onions are soft, add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes and tomato paste to the Dutch oven. Stir in the chili powder, salt, pepper and ground turkey. Add the kidney beans and stir. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.
  4. Serve with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, avocado or sour cream (or all of the above).


Monday 18th of October 2010

Growing up is so bittersweet, isn't it? This post brought tears to my eyes because I jumped five years down the road to when Landon will undoubtedly go through a similar experience.

The chili looks great. I love a good bowl of turkey chili on a cold day.

The Teacher Cooks

Tuesday 12th of October 2010

I was wondering what happened when you tweeted about this yesterday. Elementary children are so hurtful to each other. With the help of teachers and parents most of them learn to be nice.

Cate O'Malley

Tuesday 12th of October 2010

Bullying and name calling is tough, both on the kids and the parents. Nick went through something last year, and we just have to hope that we give them enough tools to get through it, talk to all involved and support them along the way.

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