Healthier Chili Recipes

In the cold weather, chili is always a treat. How do we enjoy this traditional southwestern staple without all the fat and calories? I have created three new recipes that pay homage to classic Texas chili, while adding some extras to ramp up the flavor and texture.

Forget about dredging the grease off the top. This trio of simple-to-make recipes will give you all of the flavor you want.

Follow these basic rules and you’re on your way to preparing healthier chili for the family. The first step is to use 93% lean ground beef, 98% fat-free ground turkey or chicken, or go all the way veggie.

Your favorite style of chili is probably whatever your mom served when you were a kid. Back in the day a lot of chili was made with cubed beef. If that’s your thing, go for a lean cut like sirloin or top round.

Add more vegetables. Add tons of onions, green bell peppers, jalapeños and tomatoes. You’ll have a more flavorful dish, and you’ll get the benefits of the added vitamins and minerals. Best of all, it ensures you’ll eat less of the meat.

When it comes time to season your meat and vegetables, avoid using those convenient little flavor packs—they are usually loaded with sodium that you could do without. Add chili powder, cumin, ground black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder. Use sea salt instead of table salt, it’s now readily available in all supermarkets.

Let’s talk about beans. Edward Southerland, my esteemed editor, and learned chili officianado, has cooked many an iron pot of Texas Red. I doubt that any have ever contained beans. I doubt that any have contained turkey, either.

There are only two sides of the issue: you either make chili with, or without beans. If you want beans in your chili, please do. Just think of it like being a Democrat in Grayson County. Beans add tons of healthy fiber. Chili beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans will add more flavor, color, and texture.

Top off your bowl of healthy chili with low-fat sour cream, 2 percent shredded cheddar, and green onions.

Take these recipes and experiment. Make them your own and create your own family classic chili.