The weather is becoming cooler. It’s time to think of our favorite dishes that are warm and filling. One favorite for many families is chili: a quick, one-pot dish that is perfect for a weeknight or a weekend game day. Here are a few tips to turn your chili into a nutrient-packed, healthy dish that will satisfy everyone:
- Start with a lean protein. Use lean ground beef or turkey. After cooking drain any remaining fat left in the pan before adding other ingredients. If using cut-up chicken or beef, trim any visible fat before cooking. You can even cut down on the amount of meat and add extra beans or go meatless! Beans are high in protein and there are so many varieties! Try experimenting with black or kidney beans.
- Double up on veggies. Chopped-up carrots, green pepper, and celery can be sauteed with onion. Or try something different such as a sweet potato or butternut squash, cut in ½ inch pieces. You will be adding extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber along with extra flavor. Yum!
- Team up with a nutritious side. A crisp green salad and a slice of warm cornbread or a crusty whole wheat roll pair nicely with a hot bowl of chili. Other options could be serving your chili over a baked potato, brown rice, or spaghetti squash. A cold glass of milk completes the meal.
- Top it! Cheese and sour cream can add a lot of extra fat and calories. To keep this dish healthy and still satisfying, switch to healthier toppings such as a few avocado slices or plain Greek yogurt. If you don’t like the idea of chili without cheese, keep in mind the serving size on the package or switch to reduced-fat or part-skim cheese such as mozzarella.
- Store it safely. The safest way to store leftover chili is to put it in shallow containers and put it in the refrigerator within 2 hours. A large container of chili can take a long time to cool completely, allowing it to be in the Danger Zone (40 °F and 140 °F) In this range it is possible for harmful bacteria to grow and multiply. Safely reheat leftovers to 165° F.
With just a handful of ingredients, chili can be a quick and comforting dish for your family. By making a few small changes, it can also be a healthy meal that will satisfy your whole family on a cool fall night.
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