There's nothing more enticing than walking into the kitchen and taking in the heady scent of onion, garlic and chili powder from a big pot of chili bubbling on the stove. And if you're throwing a party, serving up steaming bowls of chili with all the fixings is a fun, casual way to serve a crowd. At your next gathering, serve chili family style-right from the pot-with lots of different toppings. Go for classics, such as cheese, sour cream and hot sauce. Add plenty of fresh options, too: scallions, jalapeños, onion, radishes, avocados and cilantro.
Worried that chili isn't good for you? Don't be. We've got four tricks to keep it healthy but still hearty:
1. Start with lean meat (or none at all).
2. Slip in at least 3 cups of fresh vegetables to boost fiber.
3. Add whole-grain bulgur to replace some of the meat and slash saturated fat while keeping portion size satisfying.
4. Watch the salt by choosing lower-sodium canned foods such as no-salt added tomatoes and beans and liquids such as reduced sodium broth.
Cowboy Beef & Bean Chili
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Makes: 6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active time: 40 minutes | Total: 1 1/2 hours
Anything but dainty, this healthy cowboy beef and bean chili recipe is hearty with the addition of mushrooms and beer. To keep the saturated fat low, we use one pound of ground beef and add whole-grain bulgur to boost the volume and fiber in this chili recipe. After all the ingredients are added to the pot, we like to slowly simmer our chili for close to an hour to develop the best flavor, but if you're in a hurry, reduce the liquid by half and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, diced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder (see Tip)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 15-ounce cans no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed
3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 12-ounce bottle lager-style beer
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are starting to soften, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add bulgur, Worcestershire sauce, ancho chile powder, regular chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Stir in kidney beans, then pour in broth and beer; bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and thickened and the bulgur is tender, about 50 minutes.
Per serving: 393 calories; 14 g fat ( 4 g sat , 8 g mono ); 49 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 15 g fiber; 593 mg sodium; 1044 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Zinc (37% daily value), Vitamin A (36% dv), Potassium (29% dv), (Iron 28% dv), Magnesium (21% dv)
Tip: Ancho chile powder, made from dried poblano peppers, has a mild, sweet spicy flavor. Look for it in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets. Other mildly spicy chili powder can be used in its place.
And don't forget to whip up a batch of our new recipe for Whole-Grain Cornbread. Anyway you stir it, it's time to get out your pot and cook up some chili!
What are your tricks for making healthier chili?
By Hilary Meyer
EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.
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