I’ve got an amazing chili recipe for you today, but first take a look at these startling facts…

When it comes to obesity in America, the statistics are downright scary:

  • ⅔ of American adults are overweight.
  • ⅓ of American adults are obese.
  • 1 in 5 deaths are linked to being overweight or obese
  • 80% of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.1, 2, 3

And here’s the strangest part:

75% of Americans think they eat a healthy diet.4

The math’s just not adding up.

And I believe it could be partially due to lectins, one of the biggest diet destroyers out there. What are lectins, exactly?

Well, the simple answer is: lectins are plant proteins, and they’re a plant’s first defense mechanism against getting eaten by animals.5 They can bind to every single cell in your body – which can damage your digestive system or lead to “Leaky Gut.” A high enough dosage of lectins, in fact, could even poison you. 6, 7

And the thing is… lectins are in lots of foods that are otherwise very healthy: beans, tomatoes, mangoes, watermelon, wheat, and more. So what should you do?

Well, I’m a big believer in cutting way down on lectin-heavy foods, like:

  • Starchy refined foods like rice and pasta
  • Beans, peas (even snap peas), and legumes
  • Squashes and melons
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Foods in the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants)
  • Grains and oils from grains (including corn)

But let’s be honest… you’re only human. You’re going to slip occasionally, or give in to tempting cravings.

So if you need to eat lectin-heavy foods, make sure they’re prepared correctly. That means soaking beans in multiple changes of water, fermenting foods, and cooking them completely.

And if you’ve got that one lectin-rich recipe you can’t resist, what should you do? Find a low-lectin substitute.

No Bean, No Tomato Chili

Dr. G’s Low-Lectin Chili: All the comforting flavor of chili, but none of the dangerous lectins!

That’s where this recipe came from. I LOVE chili – especially in the fall – but normally it’s packed with lectins, thanks to the tomatoes and beans.

So I came up with an alternative:

Dr. G’s Low-Lectin Chili

This chili is completely bean-free, but if you must have beans in your chili, I’ve got a trick: Add a cup of pine nuts to it! Their taste and texture will be almost identical to beans.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 2 pounds grass-fed beef, ground coarsely*
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 cup red wine (something you’d drink)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons sauce from canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste

*Make sure to use only grass-fed beef! Also, feel free to use ground game meat instead of beef, if it’s available. Elk, venison, and lamb are all great substitutions in this recipe.

Healthy Chili Recipe Ingredients

Here’s all the good stuff in my chili! Feel free to substitute your favorite game meat, or even ground tempeh!


1. Heat half the oil in a large pot and add the celery, onions and mushrooms along with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium high heat until tender, then add garlic.

2. Add the additional oil and the beef, along with the spices and sauce from the chipotles. Cook until meat is browned, stirring occasionally – browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan are GOOD! Add the stock and wine, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 1 hour, then taste and season with salt.

3. When seasoned correctly, add the chopped chocolate and stir until just melted – it may seem weird, but trust me…you’ll love it.

4. Serve chili with sour cream, grated goat’s milk cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.

Lectin-Free Chili

I suggest doubling the recipe and stashing your leftovers in the freezer.

Good news… this recipe makes a lot of leftovers – and it reheats beautifully for a lunch. It’s perfect with a side salad!

And in my professional opinion, THIS is healthy. It’s rich in vegetables and protein without being packed with lectins.

This is how we should be eating.

Now, I want to hear from you… what’s your favorite comfort food?

Tell me your answer in a comment below. I’d love to help come up with a lectin-free, healthy twist for you. I’ve got all kinds of tricks I know you’ll love!

Also, please share this recipe with your friends and family! Look for the social media “SHARE” buttons at the top and bottom of this page.

Give this chili a try – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Steven Gundry, MD
Steven Gundry, MD



1. Overweight and Obesity Statistics. National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2012. Available at: Accessed October 5, 2016.
2. Haiken M. 1 In 5 Deaths Linked To Being Overweight Or Obese: Does This Mean You?. Forbes. 2013. Available at: Accessed October 5, 2016.
3. Moore L, Thompson F. Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations — United States, 2013. Centers for Disease Control. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 5, 2016.
4. Aubrey A, Godoy M. 75 Percent of Americans Say They Eat Healthy — Despite Evidence To The Contrary. National Public Radio – The Salt. 2016. Available at: Accessed October 5, 2016.
5. Pusztai A, Bardocz S. Lectins: Biomedical Perspectives. London: Taylor & Francis; 1995.
6. Vasconcelos IOliveira J. Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon. 2004;44(4):385-403. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2004.05.005.
7. Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil P. Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE. 2007;2(8):e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687.