Paleo Chilli con Carne (primal, keto)

If you follow me on Instagram, maybe even Twitter, or if you know me in real life, you’ll know that Pat and I had our annual island camping summer holiday last week. In past years, we’ve traveled to Islay (pronounced Isla), Tiree (Ty-ree), and all of the Outer Hebrides (Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Harris and Lewis); this year, we went to the Isle of Mull, just off the west coast of Scotland, only a 45 minute ferry ride from Oban.

We left the weekend my work had finished, which meant for a stressful last week of school, where as usual, I tried to do too much with too little time. As you know, I’ve been following a primal way of eating for a few months now, and my biggest concern, echoed by my sister-in-law Kate, who will soon be embarking on her own primal journey, was:

What will we eat?

How were we going to eat like cavemen without the modern comforts of a fridge and plenty of primal template foods available? Talk about #firstworldproblems! I now realise the irony in that statement, and my mind, full of stress and cortisol at the time, clearly hadn’t thought things through. Cavemen lived in the wilderness and cooked with few utensils and using an open fire, I had a gas burning campstove. They hunted and gathered their food, I was taking my own. I could do primal cooking, camping style. In teaching, there is an acronym that is used over and over again… at least when I was teaching in Edmonton: KISS -> Keep It Simple, Stupid. This is also the basis for the primal template: straightforward foods, good combinations, responsibly sourced. Unfortunately, many people, including myself, overcomplicate things because the food must taste amazing, so we can therefore post it on social media. When you’re camping, you don’t have that luxury. I decided that, for our first few dinners, I would make something at home to take with us, keep in our cooler / cool box, and heat up at night. Something that falls into the paleo AND keto categories, and is definitely low-carb, high-fat. Something that uses grass-fed beef, reared in the hills of Perthshire, and purchased from the award winning Bel’s Butchers in Montrose.

*Side note: why such an emphasis on grass-fed beef as opposed to grain-fed? There are distinct differences in the nutrients found in grass-fed beef, which totally outweigh the nutritional benefits of grain-fed beef – read about all of that here.

Primal Chilli Con Carne

*serves 8

500g grass-fed beef

4 rashers of smoked bacon

2 tbsp Kerrygold butter – from grass-fed cows OR your cooking fat of choice if strict paleo

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, diced

1 green pepper, chopped

150g mushrooms, chopped

1 chili pepper, deseeded and diced

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée (aka tomato paste)

25g dark chocolate (about 3 squares) – 85% cocoa or more

1. Heat your cast iron (or like) pot on the stove at medium. With a food processor, blitz your bacon until it’s minced. Set aside.


2. Melt your cooking fat in your pan and toss in the garlic, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until they soften slightly, then add the diced chili pepper.

3. Add your beef and minced bacon to the pot, breaking it up and stirring it around. If you don’t break it up enough, you may get little bacon meatballs!


  4. Add all the spices to the mix (including the cinnamon stick), as well as the tin of tomatoes and tomato purée. Mix together and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates.

5. Once simmered, add the dark chocolate, and stir until combined.Remove the cinnamon stick and serve.

*This recipe is paleo, keto, gluten-free, low GI and dairy-free if you use a different fat than butter

Nutritional info for keto people: 235 kcal per serving, 15.3g fat, 6.3g carbs (1.2g fiber), 17.1g protein

*to up your fat and protein content, I would suggest serving it with cheese and/or sour cream (making it not dairy-free), avocado, bacon bits and/or a fried egg

For camping, I froze the chilli in a tub the night before we left, and used it as an extra ice-pack in our cooler / cool box to chill our food during our travel day. From leaving our house in Aberdeenshire, driving three hours to Oban on the west coast, sailing 45 minutes to Craignure in Mull, then driving another 1.25 hours to Fionnphort, and setting up camp, the chilli had thawed and was ready to heat up on our little one-burner campstove.


Served with the best fat additive – avocado!

I will be posting another recipe and more about our trip this week. In the meantime, here’s a few teaser photos:


The view from our CAMPsite!!!!


The Iona Abbey, on the island of Iona, which is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Europe


Pat being his yogi self

   More tomorrow!

What’s your favourite camping food?

Are you going on a summer holiday?

What’s your favourite chilli topping?


10 thoughts on “Paleo Chilli con Carne (primal, keto)

    • Thanks Abby! I was going to write a post today about our trip, but life today was so much better 🙂

      S’mores are awesome! I’ve made them with chocolate covered digestive cookies in the past, kills 2 birds with 1 stone 😉

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