Cookbooks and Chili and Bears, OH MY!

Editors Note: This is a guest post by a friend, bacon lover, and part of the reason this website looks so sexy …  I was originally reluctant to post this due to Marla’s association with a certain football team, whose name will not be mentioned on this site. But I couldn’t resist. The recipe is just to damn good! Enough of my rambling. It’s now Marla’s show!

Paleo, Chili and Bears, OH MY!

Summer & Bears, my two favorite seasons! Today is the kickoff of the NFL season and to celebrate the arrival of another year of football I’ve decided to finally release my long-awaited cookbook into the wild. If you just want the answer to how those correlate, click here, otherwise keep reading. 🙂

Justin asked me to create a chili recipe for him and that’s what I’m here to share. I mean what could be better than sitting down to enjoy the game with a big bowl of Paleo chili? (Especially when it includes bacon!) 🙂

Depending on how deep you are into Paleo, when you think chili you may consider it a bit of a cheat. That’s because not all chili is created equal. Beans, crackers, cheese – all of these are ingredients you may find in a typical chili, but those are all no-no’s if you’re strict Paleo.

The thing about chili is everyone has their own way to make it. Whether it’s a certain seasoning here or a special ingredient there, really when it comes to chili, anything goes. Look in your refrigerator now and I bet you have the basics to put together a tasty chili.

For a good base to a Paleo chili recipe you’ll want to start with plenty of vegetables including your choice of peppers (you can choose your level of spiciness), a large amount of grass-fed ground beef or bison, some sugar-free bacon, a good chili powder for seasoning and a can or two of BPA-free chopped tomatoes (this is to save on time or use fresh chopped tomatoes if you prefer). All of these ingredients help to create the perfect Paleo chili.

The basic recipe I’ve created is meant for you to adjust and add ingredients as you see fit, to make the recipe your own. That’s typically how I approach making meals. I walk in to the kitchen, look at the ingredients I have available and create a unique dish. As with many things the best way to learn to cook is to jump right in and experiment with ingredients, seasonings and spices. My husband Jeff says that 99% of the time what comes out of my kitchen is delicious, so take it from him (and don’t ask about the other 1%) 😉

Jeff & I have been living Primal (an offshoot of Paleo) since 2009. Over the last 4 months we’ve gone strict Paleo so I could finally kick those last few pounds before my 30th birthday on August 20th. When I say strict Paleo that means I cut all sugar (fruit, honey, chocolate, etc.), dairy and even nightshades from my diet along with maintaining a daily HIIT warrior workout. The result from this little experiment over the last three months was that I lost an additional 10 pounds. If you add that to what I’ve lost since going Primal/Paleo I’ve lost a total of 60 pounds over the last four years. I contribute the majority of that weight loss to my diet.

I’ve been playing around in the kitchen creating Primal/Paleo meals for the last 3-4 years and shortly after we went Primal Jeff said I should make a Paleo cookbook. I thought it sounded like a fun idea but life was too busy at the time so it kept getting pushed off. Fast forward several years later and after “retiring” at 27 from my job as a high school Algebra teacher and finding a new focus for my life, I finally made the decision (and the time) to release my first cookbook.

Over the last year I’ve been collecting recipes, taking photos of my food, sharing them across social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram) and periodically updating my blog, in between managing projects for Spyr Media and shooting people in the face at six4eleven Photography. But I can’t properly express how excited I am to finally share my first Paleo cookbook with you. Pigksin Paleo: Paleo Gameday Recipes is available now in paperback on Amazon!

As I alluded to up top, Jeff & I are diehard Bears fans and we never miss a game. When deciding where to begin with my first cookbook, Paleo gameday recipes just made perfect sense. My hopes are that this cookbook will be the perfect game day companion for both Paleo enthusiasts and those new to the lifestyle.

You’ll find today’s recipe for Primetime Chili in Pigskin Paleo along with two other chili recipes. In total there’s 44 Paleo recipes including appetizers, salads, soups, chilis, entrees and desserts, all with the flexibility to serve anywhere from two to ten or more.

Well then, let’s get to the food!

Primetime Chili (with Bacon!)

Serves: 8-10, or you know 2 hungry people with plenty of leftovers


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped (Celery is one of the dirty dozen so organic is best, if you can swing it)
  • 10 strips of sugar-free bacon, divided
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced
  • 4 thai chili peppers, ends chopped off and sliced
  • 2lbs grass-fed ground beef or bison
  • 26oz chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi because it’s BPA free and the ingredients are what they’re supposed to be, tomatoes, nothing more & nothing less 🙂 )
  • 26oz strained tomatoes (Again, I use Pomi brand)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • shredded cheddar, optional (I use a block of Kerrygold White Cheddar and shred it myself)


  1. Let’s start with a little prep work. Chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery but keep about a 1/4 cup of onion off to the side to use for topping.
  2. Using kitchen sheers cut 6 strips of bacon into about 2 inch pieces.
  3. Using a large pot over medium heat add the bacon. (I used a 5qt pot) Give it a swirl with a wooden spoon and once the pieces start to get more solid and some bacon fat has coated the pan add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery pieces. Mix everything around a bit.
  4. While that’s working chop the remaining veggies (green pepper, serrano pepper and thai chili peppers) and as you finish chopping each one, add them to the pot. Mix everything around with the wooden spoon until combined well.
  5. After a couple of minutes move everything in the pot over to one side and throw in the meat. Mix it around in that half of the pot until the meat is mostly browned. Then combine everything together so you have a good mixture of meat and veggies.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and strained tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, oregano and cumin and give it one final swirl with the spoon, mix until combined well.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the chili simmer for 30-60 minutes (or longer). If you’re looking for a quick dish 30 minutes is plenty of time for the meal to be ready to eat. The longer you let it simmer, the spicier the chili will get but don’t let it simmer too long or you may need to add some water.
  9. While the chili is doing it’s thing, fry up the last 4 strips of bacon to use for a topping, and feel free to pop one of those bad boys in your mouth while you’re waiting. (Although then you may want to have more than 4 strips prepared.)
  10. Serve topped with some shredded cheddar (if you prefer), fresh avocado, chopped onion, green onion, a little cilantro and some bits of bacon.
  11. Enjoy! 🙂

For an additional Meat-and-Potatoes Crockpot Chili recipe that’s even spicier than this one, head on over to and subscribe. I’ll be posting that chili recipe September 9th to kick off the Bears first official game. Go Bears!

Just a few notes…

Almost every recipe I make includes garlic or onions or both so of course my base chili recipe includes both along with some type of pepper, make sure to decide if you want it mild or spicy and choose the pepper accordingly. Green pepper is good for the mild crowd and jalapeno and thai chili peppers are good for those of you that like it spicy.

I usually include celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, oregano, chili powder and a large quantity of protein. As I mentioned before you can add whatever you like to make the recipe your own and depending on the peppers used and the longer you let the chili simmer, the spicier it will get. I used a combination of serrano and thai chili peppers and after I let the chili simmer for 30 minutes it was not all that spicy however after you store the leftovers in the refrigerator overnight this chili will become substantially spicier.

One more note regarding bacon, it’s definitely not all created equal. You’ll want properly sourced bacon, and I’m not talking about the Oscar Meyer brand. Have you looked at the ingredients on the back of one of those packages lately? I buy my bacon from US Wellness Meats and only the sugar-free variety.

So get cooking and enjoy this recipe for the next big game, or even just for dinner with the family. For more Paleo recipes check out my book, Pigskin Paleo, available now and after you make your chili hit me up either in the comments below, on Twitter @MARLAsarris or at I’d love to see pics and hear a review of what you think of your creation. And those of you who are kind enough to pick up my book, I’d be extremely grateful if you’d leave an Amazon review. Every little bit helps. 🙂

If you have a favorite Paleo chili recipe, or a great ingredient you always use, share with the class below.

One more thing before I head out, Justin and I have made a little wager for this season, his beloved Redskins versus my Chicago Bears. We’re keeping track and comparing the stats for the two teams and at the end of the season the team with the best record wins. And the loser will have to eat…dun dun dun….BREAD! We’ll keep you updated throughout the season of our little wager but until then Go Bears!

What’s you one of your favorite dishes? How can you alter it to follow a Paleo style of eating?

Live Limitless,