Baked Vegetable Fries with BBQ Chili, No Drive-Thru Necessary

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Trade greasy chili cheese fries from your favorite fast-food drive-thru for these crisp vegetable fries, topped with hearty beef chili.

Since I’m a dietitian, I guess you could say that I know a thing or two about healthy eating. I also know all too well that it’s not humanly possible to eat perfectly 100 percent of the time. After all, food is meant to be celebrated, and I refuse to turn down my mother-in-law’s perfectly fried homemade dumplings at Christmastime or a scoop of creamy cinnamon ice cream during the brutal Texas summer.

Having said that, I do keep balance and moderation at the forefront of my mind. Saying “yes” every time I pass by an ice cream shop will only foster a poor habit. I’ve definitely been there.

During the winter months, it’s not ice cream I crave. Instead, it’s the stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods like thick and hearty chili that garner my attention. Poured over crispy fries? Even better!

While I do find myself at a fast-food drive-thru (famous for its chili cheese fries) every once in a while, what I enjoy even more is making a huge batch to enjoy several times a week. After all, leftovers are my saving grace during busy weeks. Of course, the fact that I can control the quality and quantity of the ingredients I use is quite appealing as well! I know that my body thanks me, as grease doesn’t sit well in anyone’s body.

You can wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket and melt away the stress of the day with a warm bowl of this bold-flavored chili or smother it all over baked root vegetables. Either way, you are in for a heartwarming indulgence that you can feel good about eating!

Baked Vegetable Fries

The amount of ingredients will vary depending on the size of the crowd you’re feeding.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut up your favorite root vegetables into similar-sized pieces (I used rainbow carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes). In a bowl, drizzle the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.

Place on a baking sheet in a single layer (don’t overcrowd!) and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Top fries with some BBQ chili and cheddar cheese. Return to oven and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

BBQ Beef Chili

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onions, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 pound lean ground beef (at least 90% lean)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce, no salt added

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons BBQ sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a stockpot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat, add the oil, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until onion gets tender and aromatic.

Add the tomato paste and stir well. Add ground beef and break it apart. Stir frequently while cooking.

Add the chili powder and cumin. Stir until evenly distributed. Stir in the tomato sauce and broth.

Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in BBQ sauce. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 314; Fat 14 g (Saturated 5 g); Sodium 490 mg; Carbohydrate 19 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 11 g; Protein 27 g

Inspired to make your comfort food favorites? Up the ante and try these fun recipes:

Best Breakfast Casseroles to Better Your Morning

7 Super-Stuffed Garbage Breads

10 Ways to Dress Up a Wheel of Brie

5 Savory Takes on Classic Morning Buns

Min Kwon, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivities. She has a passion for translating the science of nutrition into real-life, applicable advice and tips. In her healthy food blog, The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman, she focuses on sharing simple yet healthy recipes made from wholesome, REAL foods.