Turkey Chili

I have to start this post by admitting something that will make you laugh at me: the first time I had chili was in college.  When I was younger I didn’t think I would like it so I just never tried it.  And the day I did, I fell in love.

Chili is great, but I bet you never thought of it as particularly healthy, did you?  Well, if you made it yourself, it could be.  And Cook This, Not That! tells you exactly how to do it.  I’ve given you the link to the book because if you’re going to buy a cookbook, it should be this one.  It is chock full of information – not just recipes, but actual facts about the foods we eat and what’s good or bad about them.  You will learn all about what kind of fats are the healthiest, which ingredients and condiments to buy from the grocery store, what you should look for in nutrition facts and ingredients labels, creative alternatives to the basic sandwich – oh yeah, and more than 350 amazing recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert – and it’s all HEALTHY!  By “healthy,” I don’t mean that you substitute tofu for meat or applesauce for butter.  I mean you make food the way it was meant to be made, without the extras and additives that restaurants and frozen dinners put in.

I make turkey chili about once a month, mostly during months that have an “r” in them (what’s life without whimsy?).  You can find the recipe, along with many others from the book, at the Cook This site on Men’s Health.

Okay, so chili doesn’t photograph well.  But here are the reasons why this chili recipe is way better than yours other chili recipes:

1) Turkey – besides being lower in fat, ground turkey has a much more appealing texture in chili. I made this recipe once with ground hamburger (we’re talking free-range, locally butchered cows) instead of turkey and it was a little too chewy.  The turkey almost melts in your mouth.

2) Chocolate – unless you’ve tried it, you don’t know how good it is.  I use cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate but it’s basically the same thing.  A little unsweetened chocolate adds layers of depth and richness to this recipe.

3) Salt – when you make food yourself, you get to decide when to put the ingredients in as well as how much of them to use.  Here’s a secret: always save salt for last.  You’ll put less in, which means you’ve reduced the sodium in the meal without even trying.  This time I just didn’t put any salt or pepper in the pot at all, because the first thing my husband does with his chili is add salt and pepper.  Admit it: your husband does it too, before he’s even tasted the food (or maybe it’s you or your kids who do it, but somebody in your family does, I promise).

4) Beans – this recipe uses white beans and pinto beans.  Now, I don’t know much about the differences between various types of beans, but I know that at Walmart, I can get pinto beans and white beans with reduced sodium – meaning the sauce they pack them in isn’t saturated with salt.  Make sure you rinse your beans very thoroughly before you add them to the pot – let’s just say it will dramatically reduce the typical bodily reaction to beans.

5) No weird additives. As always, making food yourself eliminates the presence of the ingredients whose names you can’t pronounce or that are just plain unnecessary.  Check out the stuff that’s in Hormel canned chili: Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn, and Wheat Protein, Modified Cornstarch, Autolyzed Yeast, Monosodium Glutamate– I made that last one bold in case you didn’t catch it.  MSG is a common additive in canned foods; its basic function is to turn off the “I’m full” switch in your body so that you think you’re still hungry and keep eating.

This recipe also calls for beer, which I can’t personally vouch for – we don’t like the taste so I’ve never added it to the recipe.  If you like beer or if you ever cook with it, though, try it.

Finally, the nutrition facts (I’ll try to give nutrition information for all recipes, if I have it):

330 Calories

6 g total fat

1 g saturated fat

490 mg sodium

You can’t beat that.