Chili: A healthy meal with endless varieties

Those looking for a healthier version of chili?

Everyone has a favorite chili recipe. Traditional Texas chili is filled with beef and a variety of peppers and spices — the hotter the better! Did you know that in the 1880s, a San Antonio, Texas, market set up stands to sell chili or “bowls o’red,” and the women who sold it were called “chili queens”? A bowl o’red cost 10 cents and included bread and a glass of water. These stands became a major tourist attraction, and San Antonio chili was featured at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Chili parlors soon became popular in the West, and by the end of the 1920s there was hardly a town without one.

Those looking for a healthier version of chili add beans and substitute turkey, chicken, even bison, for the beef. In fact, one story of the origin of chili says the first recipe used venison. For those who love the taste of chili but prefer not to eat meat, here’s a hearty, easy version that even meat lovers can enjoy.

Vegetarian Chili

3 cans (45 ounces) dark red kidney beans, canned and drained*
½ medium yellow onion, chopped (about 4 ounces)
1 stalk celery, chopped (about 4 ounces)
¼ cup corn oil
3 teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
1 can (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes, including liquid
3 tablespoons chili powder
3/8 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 small can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 cups boiling water

Rinse the beans. Process one-third of the beans in a food processor. Set all beans aside. Heat oil in a skillet. Sauté onions and celery until onions are transparent. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Mix the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, sugar, oregano, sautéed vegetables and all the beans in a large pot. Add boiling water to the pot. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and until temperature reaches 165°F.

Makes 14 8-ounce servings

Nutrition information per serving

185 calories, 5.3 g fat, 29 g carbohydrates, 8.7 g protein, 7.6 g fiber, 566 mg sodium

*Note: Most of the sodium content is from the canned tomatoes and kidney beans. To reduce the sodium content, use no salt added canned tomatoes (decrease of about 200 mg) and dried red kidney beans (these have almost no sodium, but you’ll need to soak them overnight and cook them before using).


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