Robin's Healthy Take: Chili, Three Ways

When it's cold outside, nothing warms you up like a bowl of hot chili. Try Robin Miller's recipes for beef chili, turkey chili or vegetarian chili.
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Blogging about chili is risky business. People are so passionate about their chili recipes, full blown debates have been known to break out. Beef chili should be made with steak. No, ground beef. No wait, beef and pork. And there should definitely be beans.  No there shouldn’t. What about vegetarians? You get the point. Here are MY three favorite chili recipes, perfect for every member of the crowd and ideal for football viewing and cold winter nights. The first is my steak chili with smoky spices, fresh jalapeno and fire-roasted tomatoes. The spicy concoction is topped with crunchy tortilla chips, sour cream and chives. The turkey chili boasts smoky heat from chipotle chilies and smoked paprika and is topped with shredded cheddar cheese. The veggie version is one of my favorites – 4 different kinds of beans (white, black, pinto, soy), red bell pepper and zucchini simmered in a flavorful tomato broth. The broth is thickened with couscous (makes the chili more “meaty”), the soybeans add great texture, and the hit of cilantro at the end keeps flavors fresh and bold.  I swear, it’s the most addictive chili you’ve ever tasted.  Tell me which one you like best!

Beef Chili (pictured above)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound lean steak, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chile pepper (jalapeno or habanero), seeded and minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup baked tortilla chips or strips
4 tablespoons light sour cream
4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add steak and cook 3-5 minutes, until browned on all sides. If necessary, drain away any fat. Add onion, celery, garlic and chile pepper and cook 2-3 minutes, until vegetables soften. Add chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir to coat beef and vegetables. Cook 1 minute, until spices are fragrant. Add tomatoes, broth and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes (and up to one hour). Ladle chili into bowls and top with chips, sour cream and chives.

Serves 4
Turkey Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup diced scallions, green and white parts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
16-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add turkey and cook 5 minutes, until turkey is cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks.  If necessary, drain away any fat.  Add green pepper, scallions and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add chipotle chilies, chili powder, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and stir to coat.  Cook 1 minute, until spices are fragrant.  Add tomatoes, broth and beans and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes (and up to 1 hour).  Ladle chili into bowls and top with cheese.

Serves 4
Veggie Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 leeks, rinsed well and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
16-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
16-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
16-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen shelled soybeans (no thawing required)
8-ounce can tomato sauce
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/4 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in  large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add red pepper, zucchini, leeks and garlic and cook 3 minutes, until vegetables soften. Add chipotle powder, marjoram, coriander, salt, pepper and bay leaves and stir to coat. Cook 1 minute, until spices are fragrant. Add broth, white beans, black beans, pinto beans, soy beans, tomato sauce and green chilies and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes (and up to 1 hour). Add couscous, reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes, until couscous is tender. Remove bay leaves, ladle chili into bowls and top with cilantro.

Serves 4

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Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of "Robin Takes 5" and “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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