Healthy Hearty Chili

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chili
When the temperature drops to freezing cold temperatures here in Calgary, I go in to automatic hibernation mode. Give me a cup of hot tea, a good stack of DVDs and some comfort dishes and I’m all set for the weekend…and possibly the week! There really is no substitution for those warm-you-from-the-inside-out sorts of dishes to keep you going during those winter months, things like beef stew, chicken pot pie and tuna casserole, but if you ask me, nothing is heartier than a good bowl – make that pot, of homemade chili. Chock full of veggies and beans, a good thick chunky chili is just what the doctor ordered for those chilly winter days. The great thing about chili is it can also be used for so many different preparations, you could enjoy it alone or along side some tortilla chips, add it on top of fries for some chili cheese fries or even in lasagna for that ultimate tummy warming recipe.

Of course most of the time these comfort foods tend not to only warm the stomach but also add to the inch of all our waistlines, what could be better than to make it hearty but heart healthy as well. Loading up the chili with crunchy vegetables increases the amount of vitamins of the recipe and since chili is normally made with lots of beans, you’re getting a good amount of protein not to mention fiber. If you stick with lean or extra lean ground beef this will even lower the amount of saturated and total fats in the chili, this is definitely noticeable when you don’t have to scoop up all that extra fat lying on top of your chili (eww)!

The recipe that I chose to use was adapted from the Food Network show, Eat, Shrink and Be Merry. I followed it pretty closely since they’re already lowered the amount of fat and upped the vegetable content, but I decided to take it one step further and removed the Italian sausage that was originally there and replaced it with mushrooms. I know not quite the same, but this takes the fat content down further and pumps in more vitamins from the mushrooms. In the end, the chili was just as hearty and I didn’t even notice the missing sausage. I’ve made a few more adaptations which you’ll find in my notes along side each of the ingredients. Enjoy!

Chili
Adapted from the Eat, Shrink and Be Merry – Full of Beans Chili Recipe

Ingredients:1 lb lean ground beef or extra lean ground beef
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne (optional, for those that like their chili a bit spicier)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth (may need a bit more dependent on how thick you like your chili, original recipe calls for beef broth, but I liked the addition of more vitamins from the vegetable broth, feel free to use either)
1 can red kidney beans (or any other type of beans you prefer, you can up this to 2 cans if you really enjoy beans in your recipe, I enjoy my chili with more beef so only stuck to one can of beans)
1 can sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp liquid honey
Grated light cheese (optional, for garnish only)

Preparation:In a large pot, cook onions and garlic until the onions are clear, add in beef and keep cooking until the beef is no longer pink.

Mix in the celery and green peppers and let everything simmer until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add in all the spices (chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, cayenne and black pepper) and stir until it coats all the ingredients in the pot well.

Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock, cover with lid and allow everything to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for roughly 10 minutes or until you’re happy with the consistency of the chili.

In the meantime, drain and rinse the beans and mushrooms, when ready, add them to the chili. Let everything simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

When ready to serve, add in lime juice and honey. Scoop out into bowl and top with cilantro and cheese. Mmmm!

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