There’s something about the rainy summer nights in Florida that always get me excited for Fall. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful dreariness of it, or just the simple fact that the sky turns a blueish-gray color that reminds me of a stormy Halloween setting, but whatever it may be, I look forward to the Fall months towards the end of every summer.
Unfortunately, we don’t have seasons in Florida. Okay, I lied. We have two. Hot, and hotter. (Not even exaggerating when I say that.) So when Fall creeps quietly around the corner, I always wish I was somewhere else, where I could see the colors of Fall actually taking place. The leaves, the air, the oranges and browns. I absolutely love Fall, and there is no better season.
However, when I think about it, I think of comfort food. Fall is the time when we’re only a few months away from the major holidays, and that alone is comforting. To be honest, I enjoy cooking the most from September through February when it’s just a tad bit cooler outside than normal so I could open the windows and let in the fresh air.
(Hot air, but whatever.)
One of my favorite Fall comfort foods is homemade chili. It’s a staple in my kitchen because I can cook a huge batch of it, and store it for meal prep for later on in the week. I usually make it on Sundays, which gives me plenty leftover for a few days.
Here’s the thing with chili: you can make it with plenty of calories, or you can make it healthy. Sure, there are recipes that include pork bacon, or even dark lager beer, and I’m sure they taste uh-MA-zing. BUT! I do run a healthy food blog, so you knew that a healthier version of chili was coming, right?
I knew you did.
On a serious note though…
Chili is also something you can cook on Sundays or Mondays that makes meal prepping a little easier. You can make a huge pot of this stuff and have enough to fill a week’s worth of tupperware containers. No joke.
I’ve been tweaking my own chili recipe for years. I can safely say that I have perfected what *I* think is the best version of a healthy chili. The good thing about this recipe is that it can be modified to fit certain diets (low carb, dairy-free) and can be made spicy or not spicy.
I always try and find the leanest ground beef that I can as well, preferably anything with 7% fat or less, and I’ve been lucky enough to find some as low as 4% fat. If you’re strict on your cals and carbs, I’d opt for the 4% lean beef if you can find it, and eliminate the beans altogether. For lactose or dairy-free, leave out the sour cream and the shredded cheese. (I usually leave them both out when I eat a bowl, but sometimes I’ll add a little for extra flavor.)
I also never put measurements in my recipes for salt and pepper. Everyone has different standards on how much sodium they want to take in, so I let you guys determine how much you want to add.
(Plus it helps make my life a little easier.)
For me, I try and keep my sodium intake fairly low. So when making this recipe, I always buy reduced-sodium kidney beans, or whatever beans I feel like throwing into the chili. For the tomatoes and beef broth, I always use ‘no salt added’ or ‘unsalted’. Regardless of that, there still manages to be a little sodium in them, and when making chili, the sodium can add up pretty quick, hence my reasoning for choosing reduced or no extra added salt.
This recipe also calls for bay leaves.
“Huh? Bay leaves?”
Yes bay leaves.
Bay leaves are used in mostly Mediterranean and Brazilian cuisine. They’re not only fragrant and bring out a nice flavor in soups and stews, but they’re known to help soothe body aches, ease arthritis pain, and when boiled in plain water, can smell a little like eucalyptus and menthol.
Normally, I almost *always* recommend fresh herbs and spices over anything, but with bay leaves, you want to use dried leaves over fresh. (This will probably be the only time you ever hear me saying this, btw.) Bay leaves are a staple when it comes to all soups, stews, and sauces that I make. Kind of almost like the secret ingredient that makes all of the other ingredients come together. Just don’t give that secret away.
I also prefer my chili spiiii-sayyy. So I add a few tsp of cayenne pepper to my chili. If I’m making it for family or friends, then I only add the cayenne pepper to my own bowl. Not everyone I know is a big fan of spicy chili. (Most of them thank me later anyway if you catch my drift. Let’s be honest, the beans are bad enough. Just sayin’.)
Anywho, I really hope y’all enjoy this version of skinny chili. It’s packed with protein, low in fat, high in fiber, and low in calories. That’s like a win win in the fitness world. At least, for the most part.
If anybody decides to tweak this recipe to their own liking, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to see what you all did to make it different as I’m always open to new and different ideas!