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Baby, it’s cold outside: Warm up with some healthy chili

January 13, 2017

Lindsay Sawyer Lim, R.D.N., L.D.N., M.B.A., M.P.H.
Clinical nutrition manager, NCH Nutrition and Food Services

Hands down, nothing is better than homemade chili when it’s chilly outside. It’s a great choice because:

  • It’s a one-pot meal (less dishes = less clean up)
  • Creativity is king when it comes to ingredients (use what you have in the house)
  • You’ll be set for dinner for multiple nights (a time saver and it’s always better the second day)
  • With the right ingredients, it’s downright healthy (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?)

Here are some tips to make your chili a healthy dish:

1. Add veggies. Almost any vegetable will work, and it’s an easy way to get your servings in. Check your fridge’s produce drawer and see what you can chop up and add. Some ideas are onion, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini.

2. Go bold with spices. Chili powder, cumin or cayenne are standard; however, you can also add chopped onion and garlic. Chili allows for lots of flavor without adding calories. If you don’t like spicy, go easy at first. You can always add more.

3. Use lean protein and lots of beans. If you are adding ground meat, use 90 percent lean. Lean chicken breast is also a great choice. There is so much flavor in chili that you won’t miss the extra fat. You also can skip the meat and only use beans. I love a combination of black, kidney and garbanzo beans. Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and, they’re inexpensive!

4. Be mindful of toppings. Stick with low-fat sour cream, plain yogurt, low-fat cheese, chopped cilantro or avocado.

See the recipe.