Good news. Fundamentally, chili is a very healthy meal. It's loaded with protein and fiber, and with a few good choices when it comes to ingredients, it can also be a source of hearty-healthy fats.
We got a few tips from Mayo Clinic Dietitian Ivonne Cottrell about how a conscious cook handles this favorite cold-weather comfort food. Here's the main thing to keep in mind: Rather than skip the things that make chili so delicious, just watch your serving size and try a few of these tricks.
Step 1: Get lean
Ask your butcher to grind a lean cut of pork or beef for your recipe. Or, try using ground bison or turkey.
Step 2: Watch the salt
If you're mindful of your sodium intake, be sure to use a low-sodium broth and buy canned tomato products with no added salt.
Step 3: Keep the beans (and more!)
Beans are a fantastic source of protein and fiber. Plus they're filling, so you'll be satisfied from a smaller bowl. Up the ante by adding other veggies like butternut squash, zucchini, or bell peppers. If your recipe calls for oil, be sure to use olive oil.
Step 4: Mind your sides
Instead of cornbread, serve chili with a crusty loaf of whole wheat bread. Whole wheat sourdough would be delicious!
Step 5: Top with care
Ditch the Fritos (we know, they're so good, but they're terrible for you), and choose toppings like chopped avocado and sliced red and green onion. Don't use too much sour cream or shredded cheese (about two tablespoons of each is enough) or swap in Greek yogurt. For crunch, add toasted pumpkin seeds or bake slices of pita bread in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes.
Step 6: Don't overload
It may sound silly, but using a smaller bowl or even a big mug will help keep control your portion size and keep you from overeating.