Chili is a staple meal in my household. It’s so easy to make, reheats well, and you can add endless amounts of toppings each time you eat it to change things up. Plus, on a cold winter night, it's hard to beat this meal.
As a Dietitian, I'm always finding ways to make things just a little bit healthier, without compromising the taste or flavor. I decided to experiment with my normal chili recipe (OK..maybe I went a little bit crazy) to see how "healthy" I could truly make this recipe.
is chili healthy?
Depending on how chili is made and ingredients used, chili can either be very healthy or it can be very unhealthy. Obviously loading a bowl of chili with sour cream, cheese, bacon, etc.. is going to add a lot of extra fat and calories to the bowl.
As part of my mission to pack in some extra nutrition to this chili recipe without compromising the flavor, I made a couple modifications:
- GROUND TURKEY:
I swapped out the normal 80/20 ground beef with some extra lean ground turkey. I used 99% fat free turkey, however the 93%/7% fat free turkey works just as well! The percentage simply means that it is made from meat that's 93% lean cut, and 7% fat. The spices of the chili cover the flavor of the ground turkey that you can't even tell it's not made with beef.
This recipe can also be made with beef is using a 93% fat free lean ground beef.
- VEGGIES WERE ADDED:
Before you turn up your nose, let me explain! I used Zucchini which takes on the flavor of anything it's mixed with, so it is very difficult to tell it's in the chili. The zucchini is also pureed to a very fine texture.
Canned pumpkin was added and it actually creates a creamier texture to the chili, and it does not add any extra flavor.
tips on how to make your chili healthier
Healthy chili can still taste good! Try a couple of these substitutions for your normal ingredients.
- Use an extra lean meat, such as 98% extra lean ground turkey or ground beef. Shredded chicken breast is also an option.
- Instead of adding sour cream on top, try using a plain, non-fat greek yogurt for a creamy, lighter version
- Beware of the high sodium content of beans. Look for the beans labeled “no added salt”, or use dried beans.
- Add vegetables! Pulse them into fine pieces in a food processor and add to chili. You won’t even know they are there!
- Limit cheese on top to ¼ cup and stick to a lower fat cheese, such as mozzarella.
- If looking for a creamy topping, try an avocado, which is a great source of a healthy fat.
Healthy Turkey Chili
- 1 tsp olive oil extra virgin
- 16 oz ground turkey extra lean (93% fat free)
- ½ medium zucchini
- 8 oz pureed pumpkin (about ½ of a normal sized can)
- 1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
- 1 can (15 oz) light red kidney beans
- 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chilis
- 2 tbsp hot chili powder
- 1 package taco seasoning
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp brown sugar
- Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add ground turkey, saute until no pink is showing (turkey should be 165F)
- Remove ground turkey from heat and set aside.
- Cut zucchini into small pieces (about 1″ in diameter), place in food processor.
- Pulse until finely ground. Add to large pot.
- Drain beans, add to pot. Add pumpkin to the pot.
- Add in tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chilis, hot chili powder, taco seasoning, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and brown sugar. Mix well.
- Add ground turkey.
- Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Serve with cheese, chips, crackers or other desired toppings.