Healthy Meal #5: Turkey Chili with a Surprise
Day 5 is here! One more day of healthy cooking posts, and then I’m dialing the nearest Chinese restaurant faster than you can say, “Bob’s your uncle.” And I’m betting you can say that pretty darn fast. Do people really cook like this every day? I’m just now realizing how much I rely on “Sandwich Nights”, “Leftover Buffets”, and, well, Potbelly’s. It’s been a real eye-opener.
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So, d’you know what I get a real kick out of? Vegetable stealth. I know what you’re thinking; my life is just “filled to the brim with intrigue.” But listen up, I’m talking about mashing roasted cauliflower florets so that they virtually become invisible when mixed into loaded potatoes, camouflaging micro mini mushrooms bits in thick beef gravy, and with this turkey chili, cryptically adding in a whole bunch of good without hearing a whole bunch of bad from my kids.
Yep, there’s some riveting, spy movie culinary action going on in this household, I’ll tell you!
So here’s the secret ingredient that I blend in the chili pot. . .
A whole can of pumpkin purée. No one is the wiser, yet the health benefits from pumpkin are fantastic, plus it adds a nice richness and depth of flavor to the chili.
Typically I attribute recipes on this site to a person or website. This recipe is different, though. In a way. It’s roughly based on a Weight Watchers Turkey Chili recipe from years ago, but I’ve modified it so much that it’s hard to recognize it as its original self.
It’s sort of the Michael Jackson of chili recipes.
While it might have a lot of ingredients, there’s nothing difficult about making it. I think of recipes like this as “Dump, dump, stir” meals, because that’s pretty much what you’re doing. The hardest part is opening all of the dang cans!
It was also really interesting to count and measure and calculate something that I usually just wing as I go. If I feel I’m in need of more liquid, I’ll open the fridge and grab what I have on hand whether it’s an open box of vegetable stock, a cup of tomato juice, or a bottle of beer. If more veggies are called for, I might add red, orange, yellow or jalapeño peppers, chipotles in adobo, or fresh tomatillos from the garden.
I suppose my point is that this recipe is supremely modifiable. Use it as a guide, but create it in a manner that suits you and your peeps, and as long as you’re adding varied veggies or low fat liquids and not a block of cheddar or a side of beef, it should still remain fairly low in calories and fat and high in beneficial nutrients.
If your kids are into pasta, go ahead and add in some cooked macaroni and call it Chili Mac. If it’ll make them eat it, you’ve won.
As I was preparing this dish yesterday, a friend stopped in and gave it a taste. Then Spencer gave it a taste – a whole bowl full of taste which then became his supper, and Spencer’s friend followed suit. It’s not their fault. It’s the aroma’s fault. The aroma that consumes your whole home when the chili is simmering away in a magnetic, drool-production sort of way.
Give it a try, you’ll see!
- 2 T olive oil
- Large onion – chopped
- Large green pepper – chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic – minced
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 packet Spicy Ranch dressing mix
- 1T chili powder
- 1T cumin
- 1.25 lbs. ground turkey
- 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, cut into 8 or so pieces each
- 2, 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
- 1 cup of store-bought salsa
- 3, 15.5 oz. cans of white or red kidney beans (or use black, pinto, or whatever floats your boat)
- 4 oz. can mild, diced green chilies
- 15 oz. can pumpkin purée
- 3 – 4 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Sour cream, shredded cheddar, and green onions as optional toppings
Goodness! What a cheery-looking group of ingredients! It looks like a food circus on my counter.
Heat oil in a large pot. (Ground turkey is so lean, that a little oil is necessary.)
Sauté onions and peppers on medium heat until soft, and then add in garlic for a minute stirring constantly.
Add in the ground turkey, and cook until the meat is white and cooked through.
Add a touch more oil if it’s looking too dry.
Stir in spices: taco seasoning, Ranch packet, chili powder, and cumin.
Add in the whole tomatoes you’ve cut up plus the juice from the can, the tomato sauce, and the salsa.
Rinse beans well in a colander and add to the pot. (You want to remove all of the excess sodium.)
Add diced chilies, pumpkin, broth, and cilantro and stir.
Now, give it a taste.
Do you like the flavor and consistency?
If not, doctor it up a bit with more salt, more heat, more stock or tomato sauce to thin it out or cut down the heat, etc.
You can squeeze in a touch of lime juice, Sriracha, or add a bottle of beer. All are tasty additions.
You can even sneak in a cup of frozen corn, or some chopped mushrooms. (Oh, the excitement of it all.)
Let the chili simmer on low heat for at least an hour to blend the flavors together.
Ladle it into big bowls and serve it with a little shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, some sliced green onion, and giant Southwestern-style cowboy hats for everyone at the table. Then request that they address you as “Ma’am” while tipping their hat.
Hey, you’ve gotta spice things up from time to time.
Here’s another hardy soup option you might like as well: SOUP ROCKS!
Stay tuned to this same Bat Channel to see what healthy meal is up for tomorrow!