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Chili is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food. More than simply delicious, healthy chili is an easy one-pot meal made with ingredients you already have on hand, and can easily be stretched to feed a crowd on Super Bowl Sunday.
Use these simple tricks to make chili healthy but still hearty and satisfying.
Chili Trick No. 1: Season boldly.
Using generous amounts of spice in your chili is a great way to add flavor without any added fat or calories. Classic chili spices include chili and cumin (and cayenne, for those who like it really hot). Have fun experimenting with different seasonings; cinnamon and allspice can add wonderful depth of flavor.
Chili Trick No. 2: Choose lean protein.
To make a classic beef chili that's still healthy, choose beef that is at least 90 percent lean, which fits into the USDA guidelines for lean meats. Or opt for lean and flavorful ground turkey breast instead.
Chili Trick No. 3: Use more beans.
Don't follow the Texans and eat meat-only chili -- use beans! Beans add fiber and stretch your dish healthfully and inexpensively. Plus, a bean-based vegetarian chili has considerably fewer calories and less saturated fat than chili made with meat.
Chili Trick No. 4: Add whole grains.
Make chili into a one-pot meal by adding "cooked" whole grains, such as wheat berries or bulgur. The whole grains add fiber, which keeps you fuller longer.
Chili Trick No. 5: Sneak in extra veggies.
Beyond the traditional tomato base, it's so easy to sneak extra vitamins into your chili through vegetables; shredded sweet potatoes, zucchini, peppers and carrots add nutritional value without overpowering the other flavors.
Chili Trick No. 6: Watch out for added sodium.
Chili is a quick and easy meal to put together with ingredients from the pantry. Be wary when shopping, though: Choose no-salt-added canned tomatoes and reduced-sodium broths to control salt levels in your chili. And be sure to rinse canned beans before using them to reduce sodium by about 33 percent.
Chili Trick No. 7: Brighten flavors with acidic ingredients.
Adding a splash of lime juice or cider vinegar to your chili at the end of cooking helps to brighten the dish and add another layer of complexity to the flavor.
Chili Trick No. 8: Use fresh toppings.
Add extra flavor to your chili with healthy toppings. Good choices include diced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded romaine or crumbled baked corn chips.
Ultimate Beef Chili Recipe
Offer garnishes, such as reduced-fat sour cream and grated Cheddar cheese (about 1 tablespoon each per person), chopped scallions and chopped fresh tomatoes. Serve with warmed corn tortillas and a green salad topped with orange slices.
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/4 hours
Yield: Makes 12 servings, 1 cup each
Ultimate Beef Chili Recipe Ingredients
1 pound beef round, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
12 ounces dark or light beer
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), snipped into small pieces
2 bay leaves
3 (19-ounce) cans dark kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
Ultimate Beef Chili Recipe Directions
Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with another 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.
Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onions and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Add garlic, jalapenos, cumin, chili powder, paprika and oregano. Stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
Add beer and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaves and reserved beef. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Add beans; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
To Make Ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
For a hot, smoky chili, add 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
Per serving: 250 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 28 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 18 g protein; 11 g fiber; 490 mg sodium; 582 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: 52 mg vitamin c (90 percent dv), 38 percent dv fiber, 35 percent dv vitamin a, 4 mg iron (20 percent dv).
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat
Beef Chili, Chili, American Comfort
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Ultimate Beef Chili Recipe - 8 Tricks for Awesome Chili
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