Rate this post

Hi there,

Amidst our group of food reviewers, my friend Jo Tracey ( shares the most similar opinions with me about cooking and cuisine. Although I must confess, I’m not a big fan of black beans and would never consider making Black Bean Chili. However, Jo’s review of this recipe is so compelling that it may just change my mind. Read on to discover her take on this delectable dish.

When it was announced Oh She Glows For Dinner would be the May choice for cookbook club I have to admit to a little cringe. A plant-based book… and what’s with that title? 

The thing is, even though I frequently order meat-free options when out and am trying to have more meat-free meals in our house, I’m not vegan and can’t imagine being so. Quite frankly, I don’t have the attention span for that sort of commitment (although admire those of you that do). And I love bacon…and cheese…and butter…way too much. 

So even though I’d heard amazing things about this cookbook, and my friend Donna (whose taste in books I respect) loves it, I was convinced that I would not. With a let’s-get-this-over-with attitude I borrowed a copy from my local library and (reluctantly) sat down to read it.

It wasn’t long before I was reaching for post-it notes to mark recipes I rather liked (while I turn the corners of my own books, this was a library copy and I’m not a complete heathen…) and before I knew it my copy was full of little pink stickers.

After I’d renewed it the maximum number of times (twice – if there are no outstanding reservations), I took it back to the library only to borrow it again. Finally, I decided I might as well buy a copy for myself, so I did – from iBooks. Then I bought another copy – to give to my daughter who has a vegetarian housemate and, as a result, is eating more plant-based meals. It’s fair to say I’m a convert.

The thing is, I was wrong. Not about the title – which I still detest – and some of the overly cutesy recipe names and puns (which set my teeth on edge), but about everything else. 

Of the three books we’ve reviewed so far in this little cookbook club, this one was the most stylishly produced and beautifully photographed. Far from being joyless and spartan (as most vegan cookbooks I’ve met have been), it’s exactly the opposite with an almost tangible generosity and lightness of spirit in every recipe on every page that left me with a When Harry Met Sally sort of impression: I want what she’s having. It’s also not just for vegans.

Saucy Little Black Bean Skillet

So far I’ve made the lentil soup; Romesco roasted potatoes and green beans (which I served with a juicy pork chop); the Balsamic roasted root vegetable medley (which I served with roast lamb); and the rustic roasted carrot and dill hummus. I’ve also bookmarked the crispy brussels sprouts in garlic oil for when they come back into season (which I’ll probably also serve beside roast meat) and the peanut butter veggie noodle bowls (I’m sorry, I can’t refer to them by her title – Dreamy Peanut Butter Crunch Veggie Noodle Bowls- the dreamy bit is a cutesy step too far for me). 

The recipe I’m choosing to feature, though, is this black-bean chilli. Perfect for mid-week dinners it’s on the table in less than 30 minutes – including clean-up – and uses ingredients that are always in our pantry. The recipe below is how it’s in the book, but I also added a teaspoon of dried oregano, didn’t de-seed my chilli, and went for 3 heaped teaspoons of the Tex Mex spice (we like it spicy). I also found I needed to add a splash of water as it wasn’t saucy enough for us.

What you need… (serves 2)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large jalapeno chilli, deseeded and diced 
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 ½ – 3 tsp Tex-Mex spice blend*
  • 2 ½ tbsp tomato paste
  • 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped**

What you do with it

In a large wok or frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and chilli along with a pinch of salt and saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened.

Stir in the diced tomato and spice blend, increase the heat a tad and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the tomato is softened. Stir occasionally and reduce the heat if you need to in order to stop it sticking.

Stir in the tomato paste and black beans and cook for a few more minutes until heated through.

Finally, stir in the coriander and serve.

While the recipe recommends dolloping some of Liddon’s cashew sour cream on top, we went with real sour cream and some avo.

*For the Tex-Mex spice – combine 1 tbsp chilli powder, 1 ½ tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ¾ tsp fine salt, ¼ tsp ground coriander into a jar.

** the eagle-eyed among you will notice there’s no coriander on my bowl – this isn’t because I’ve suddenly turned into someone who dislikes coriander but rather that the coriander I thought I had in the fridge turned out to be continental (flat-leaf) parsley that was now more than a tad manky. There’s also no avocado in the in the pic because I didn’t remember to put it on until after I’d taken the photo. #keepingitreal

Does this book belong on your bookshelf?

  • You love a beautifully styled and photographed cookbook
  • You want to bring more plant-based meals to your family meals
  • You’re vegan or vegan-curious
  • You’re after some interesting vegetable sides or nibbles 
  • You have food allergies and intolerances and need some delicious recipes

Don’t buy this book if:

  • cheese means cheese and a substitution with cashews will never come even remotely close
  • You roll your eyes at overly peppy puns and titles with the words “dreamy” or “glow” in them
  • You want your vegan cookbooks to look (and taste) spartan and self-righteous

Joanne Tracey is an Australian author of contemporary women’s fiction and cozy culinary mysteries inspired by her travels, a love of baking and happy endings. 

Based on the Sunshine Coast in South-East Queensland, Jo is an unapologetic daydreamer, eternal optimist, and confirmed morning person. 

When she isn’t writing or day-jobbing, Jo loves baking, reading, long walks along the beach and posting way too many photos of sunrises on Instagram. 

Jo’s life goals (apart from being a world-famous author) are to be an extra on Midsomer Murders and to cook her way through Nigella’s books. 

You’ll find her foodie blog at Brookford Kitchen Diaries (BKD).

My website:

Facebook: joannetraceyauthor

Twitter: @jotracey_

Thank you, Jo, for sharing your expertise and humor with us. You make the world of cuisine a more interesting and enjoyable place. Your writing style is truly unique and engaging, and I always look forward to reading your reviews and posts.


  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen – I'm a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, no particular order on any given day. I've been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, and magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column "Memorable Meals," which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, chocolate, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read. Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. I cook from scratch, and try not to use anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce! After many years of daily serving up local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always. My family and friends are my practice subjects. With a family that includes nut, peanut, tree fruit, and vegetable allergies, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, vegetarians, vegans, heart conscious, and a couple of picky eaters, there has to be a few quick tricks in the book to keep everyone fed and happy! Personally, I do not eat red meat or most full-fat dairy (usually) for health reasons, making the occasional exception at Thanksgiving and Christmas or our anniversary if the duck is locally raised. I do eat fish and seafood, so I try to come up with alternatives and substitutions when available. I serve local organic eggs and cheeses to my family who can tolerate dairy (My husband recently had a heart attack, and I need to watch my own cholesterol so I am careful, but have been known to let a little piece of really good cheese accidentally fall on my plate!). I believe strongly that eating in a way that is good for our planet is also good for our bodies, and I try to educated myself about our food sources! I cook by the seasons and draw on inspiration from the strong and talented women in my family who came before me, as well as the youth in the family who look at the world with fresh eyes. Food links us all, whether sharing a meal, cooking it together, or writing about it for others to enjoy. I love taking an old recipe and giving it a modern spin, especially if I can make it a littler healthier and use foods that are kinder to the Earth and to our bodies. I believe strongly in sustainable, delicious eating of whole foods, and the wonderful flavors we have at our fingertips! And finally, I love conversing with all the talented cooks and chefs out there who dot the globe! It's a wonderful, world full of culinary pen pals, and I cherish them all! XXXOOO Dorothy
    Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen says:

    Nice review! This dish looks good, with the sour cream!

  2. Nancy – Arizona – Two Trails become One Road in Arizona. Read All About the Adventures of this Arizonian.
    Nancy says:

    Great commentary! And I do enjoy black beans so I may give it a go.

  3. Retirement Reflections – Vancouver Island, BC – Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.
    Retirement Reflections says:

    This is an incredible review, Jo. Not because I also own and like this cookbook but because your writing always leaves me wanting to read more. I’ve made this chilli before (and liked it) but your version sounds even better!

  4. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    I love this post as it had me laughing out loud. The recipe sounds great and since I like black beans, I’m sure to try it. Thanks, Jo.

  5. V.M.Sang – UK – I was born and educated in the north west of England. I trained as a teacher in Manchester and taught in Salford, Lancashire, Hampshire and Croydon. I write fantasy novels currently. I also make cards, knit, crochet, tat, do cross stitch and paint. I enjoy walking on the Downs, cycling and kayaking. I do not enjoy housework, but like cooking.
    V.M.Sang says:

    I’m not a vegetarian, either, but I do enjoy a good veggie meal from time to time. I’m with you on the title, but this recipe sound extremely good. I do a good bean curry, and this will make a change from that.

  6. Awakening Wonders – Everyday life is filled with wondrous things and embraceable moments, but only if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened. I invite you to join me as I share passionate life adventures and ramblings that awaken my spirit. I look forward to awakening your senses to the simple, joyous wonders that are all around us. I feel that we are destined to become soulful adventurers!
    Awakening Wonders says:

    This is another great review of an interesting cookbook! Cheers to vegetables!

  7. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    Jenna says:

    I enjoyed her commentary so much, I would love to read her books!

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.Cancel reply