8 cooking tricks for awesome chili

By: Jessie Price  |  Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chili is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food. More than simply delicious, healthy chili is an easy one-pot meal made with ingredients you already have on hand, and can easily be stretched to feed a crowd on football Sundays or after a long day of raking or shoveling. Use these simple tricks to make chili healthy but still hearty and satisfying.
Recipes to Try:
10 Hearty Chili Recipes: Ultimate Beef Chili, White Chicken Chili & More
Crock Pot Black Bean Chili & More Slow-Cooker Recipes
Chili Cornbread Casserole & More Healthy Casserole Recipes
Chili Trick #1: Season Boldly
Using generous amounts of spice in your chili is a great way to add great flavor without any added fat or calories. Classic chili spices include chili and cumin (and cayenne for those who like it really hot). Have fun experimenting with different seasonings; cinnamon and allspice can add wonderful depth of flavor.
Related: 8 of the Healthiest Spices to Cook With
Chili Trick #2: Choose Lean Protein
To make a classic beef chili that’s still healthy, choose beef that is at least 90%-lean, which fits into the USDA guidelines for lean meats. Or opt for lean and flavorful ground turkey breast instead.
Chili Trick #3: Use More Beans
Don’t follow the Texans and eat meat-only chili—use beans! Beans add fiber and stretch your dish healthfully and inexpensively. Plus, a bean-based vegetarian chili has considerably fewer calories and less saturated fat than chili made with meat.
Chili Trick #4: Add Whole Grains
Make chili into a one-pot meal by adding "cooked" whole grains such as wheat berries or bulgur . The whole grains add fiber which keeps you fuller, longer.
Related: 6 Slimming Carbs You Should Be Eating
Chili Trick #5: Sneak In Extra Veggies
Beyond the traditional tomato base, it’s so easy to sneak extra vitamins into your chili through vegetables; shredded sweet potatoes, zucchini, peppers and carrots add nutritional value without overpowering the other flavors.
Chili Trick #6: Watch Out for Added Sodium
Chili is a quick and easy meal to put together with ingredients from the pantry. Be wary when shopping, though: choose no salt added canned tomatoes and reduced sodium broths to control salt levels in your chili. And be sure to rinse canned beans before using them to reduce sodium by about 33%.
Chili Trick #7: Brighten Flavors with Acidic Ingredients
Adding a splash of lime juice or cider vinegar to your chili at the end of cooking helps to brighten the dish and add another layer of complexity to the flavor.
Chili Trick #8: Use Fresh Toppings
Add extra flavor to your chili with healthy toppings. Good choices include diced red onion, chopped cilantro, shredded romaine or crumbled baked corn chips.