Sneaky and Healthy Recipe #2 - Vegetable Chili

Chili is one of my favourite foods for several reasons - it's yummy, it's different with every bowl and every bite, it's filling, and if you do it right...it's extremely healthy. And did I mention cheap? This meal, much like my Whole Wheat Pasta w/ Chunky Garden Vegetable Sauce, can be made in huge portions and then dosed into individual servings.

As opposed to the chili that you can find in the canned bean aisle of your grocery store, this recipe for chili cuts down the calories, fat, salt and sugar while increasing your protein, vitamin, fiber, and mineral intake, and all for a much, much lower cost than filling your cart with cans of the greasy factory made stuff.

Here are the ingredients and cost analysis per 14 serving batch:

(Please don't be afraid...I made a double batch.)

1 lb 96/4 ground beef ($3.15) (ground turkey also works extremely well!)
2 tbsp garlic, minced ($.15)
1 medium onion, diced (.25)
1 medium green pepper, chopped ($.50)
1 medium red pepper, chopped ($.75)
1 medium yellow squash, chopped ($.50)
1 medium green zucchini, chopped ($.50)
1 14.5 oz can yellow corn, drained ($1.25)
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes ($1.00)
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted canned tomatoes ($.50)
2 14.5 oz cans dark red beans, drained and rinsed ($.57)
2 14.5 oz cans light red beans, drained and rinsed ($.57)
14.5 oz can black beans ($.57)
1 packet chili seasoning ($.64)
1 tbsp red chili flakes ($.05)
1 tbsp ground cumin ($.25)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ($.05)

Combine 1 tbsp minced garlic and half of your onion in a large pot on medium heat until they sweat. Add ground beef (or turkey) and raise heat to medium high heat until beef starts to brown. Add chili packet and mix until combined.

Add zucchini, squash and peppers, stir and cook until they sweat.

(Don't ask me why, but I love how a vegetable strata looks!)

Finally, add undrained tomatoes, drained beans and drained corn. If you are looking for a spicy chili, this is the best time to add any crushed chili flakes (try a teaspoon to start), cayenne pepper, red hot, or whatever you like to add to yours.

Stir everything together, allow it to come to a boil for 10 minutes, and then let simmer for at least a half hour. Make sure to stir frequently, as this is such a dense mixture that the bottom may be black by the time the top starts to get warm. The batch may seem really large, but after the vegetables cook, the volume will decrease by at least a quarter.

This entire batch cost $11.25, and made 14 one cup servings per batch. Each serving only cost $.80, has 240 calories, only 3 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber, as opposed to store bought chili, which is 260 calories, but 7 grams of fat, 17 grams of protein, and 7 grams of fiber - for $2.30 a can (compared to Hormel Chili).

(What do YOU think?)

Have a potluck coming up? Need an appetizer? Something to munch on while at the pool? Then stir in some low fat sour cream, a little cheddar cheese, and break out a bag of corn chips...it makes a GREAT dip!


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