Chili is more than a satisfying comfort food that will warm you up on a cold, early spring day; it can be a hearty and healthy meal that delivers a bowl full of nutrition without a lot of calories, too. The secret to a healthy chili? Don’t be shy with the vegetables, and skip traditional toppings like cheese and sour cream. Here are 10 easy healthy chili recipes that come in under 200 calories per serving.
In homes and chili cookoffs across America, the definition of “chili” has different meanings. In Texas and Kansas City, beans are off limits, and a bowl of chili has nothing but meat and chili peppers. Beans are inexpensive, full of protein and fiber, and the perfect base for a healthy low-calorie chili, so don’t be surprised to see them included in an easy, healthy recipe.
A basic chili recipe includes bell peppers, onions, garlic, beans, and tomatoes. You can add meat like ground bison, beef, pork, or chicken, and you could even make a vegetarian version with tofu or quinoa. Additional vegetables, like corn, kale, chard, squash, pumpkin, and even sweet potatoes will add another layer of flavor, texture, and beneficial nutrients, without adding too many calories. Chili peppers, herbs, and spices will help create a custom flavor and let you increase the heat. Try jalapenos, poblanos, and cayenne pepper to spice things up. A variety of beans can add different textures and flavors to your chili.
Explore your own fridge and pantry to come up with your own exciting chili recipe, or get inspired by one of these:
1. Lentil Chili
Looking for a good use for lentils? This lentil chili recipe makes them the star of a vegan chili that is brightened with cilantro and is only 130 calories per serving.
2. Green Chicken Chili
Green Chicken Chili, and at only 112 calories per serving you may just want to come back for seconds. Skip the recommended garnishes of cheese and tortilla chips, and garnish with fresh cilantro instead.
3. Three Bean Chili
Carrots, mushrooms, bulgar wheat and three types of beans make this three bean chili a hearty and nutritious recipe that is only 17o calories per serving.
4. Mediterranean Vegetable Chili
Spinach adds a punch of color and is a good source of folate and iron. This leafy green is an unexpected twist in a Mediterranean vegetable chili recipe that is 190 calories per serving.
5. Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
This white chicken chili recipe doesn’t skimp on the heat, jalapenos will spice things up nicely. Put it in the slow cooker in the morning and you will have a delicious dinner waiting when you get home, at 174 calories per serving.
6. Two Bean Sweet Potato Chili
The addition of sweet potatoes give this Two Bean Sweet Potato Chili a wonderful texture and touch of sweetness that complements the smoky flavor of cumin. A single serving is 207 calories.
7. Turkey and Pumpkin Chili
This is one Unique Healthy Chili recipe, and the addition of ground turkey and pumpkin adds more vitamins and fiber while still keeping the calories at 211 per serving.
8. Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
If butternut squash is not available, look for it in the frozen foods section of your market to make this Beef and Butternut Squash chili. The squash adds beta carotene, an antioxidant important for vision health, and each serving is 234 calories.
9. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili
For a vegan version of a butternut squash chili, try this one without the beef and starring black beans. At 13.5 grams of protein and 202 calories per serving, you won’t miss the meat.
10. Vegan Chili
This vegan chili adds lentils to beans and brings you more than half your day’s worth of fiber, which can lower cholesterol and help with weight loss. This hearty I Can’t Believe it’s Vegan chili is perfect for meatless Mondays or anyone looking to lose weight with a plant-based vegan diet.
You will notice that most chili recipes will call for plenty of peppers. Bell peppers are full of beneficial vitamin C, an antioxidant which can help fight free radical damage, that is needed for skin and joint health, as well as antioxidant carotenoids responsible for vision health. Spicier chili peppers contain capsaicin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory properties. Get out the peppers and try one of these easy, healthy, and low calorie chili recipes for dinner tonight.