The start of fall food prep!
Chili is a pretty popular dish in my house; when I make it I have to make a lot of it. We basically eat from a large batch for days; while Im prepping to cook such a large amount I always think, "we are going to be so sick of chili by the time this is gone." But we never are. In fact usually it's requested just a couple weeks later.
When there is an item that everyone likes I think of two things-
1. Is it healthy?
To meet my requirements there cannot be any added sugar (bonus for no sugar at all), artificial colors, flavorings or things I cannot pronounce. There cannot be any "unstable" or oxidized fats (see blog post on fats- search fats), or empty carbohydrates (carbs that don't have the nutrients to obtain the energy from them, also known as "carbage"). Major bonus points for the item/meal containing high quality protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
If the answer to question 1 is YES, then I move on to question 2 (see below).
If the answer to question 1 is NO, then I have to "reformulate" the menu item/meal to meet the above requirements.
2. Can I make it healthier? Usually yes. Can I make it healthier without anyone noticing or without altering the taste in a "bad" way? Mmmmm thats a different story.
This is the tricky part. Sometimes I think something taste good and my husband informs me that it may taste good to me, but probably not to the general population. My goal for this question is to make a healthy, nutrient dense, delicious dish even more nutrient dense...all while keeping its taste scores up!
I did it with the chili.
Let's just take a moment to review the "requirements" of question 1 in regards to my chili-
- No added sugar
- Only natural sugar from the tomatoes
- Nothing artificial
- No oxidized fats
- Rich in naturally occurring healthy fat
- No empty carbohydrates
- Nutrient dense carbs in full force
- High quality protein WITH vegetables all in ONE meal
Changes made to make it even better...
- Add butternut squash. Boom.
- More healthy carbs, phytonutrients and soluble fiber.
I made this knowing that we would eat it daily for a couple days, with the option to freeze some (always think about meal prep).
Hidden Butternut Chili
Prep time- 30-40 minutes
Cook time- Varies (~30 minutes, but some people let it simmer all day in a crock pot), its up to you. This time I cooked it and immediately removed from heat to cool for storage, it was just as delicious.
Serves- 5-7? (Im guessing because chili portions vary greatly)
1 large butternut squash
2-3 Tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
1 large garlic clove
2-3 bell peppers
~3lbs ground turkey (I used 85/15) or protein of your choice
3 cans diced tomatoes (yes I used canned tomatoes, I need convenience sometimes)
6oz can tomato sauce (splurge and get organic, it tastes better- trust me)
2 cans beans (I used 1 can kidney and 1 can black beans)
salt & pepper
~2 ounces chili powder
*you will also need a food processor of some sort
- Preheat oven to 375'F
- Slice butternut squash lengthwise and clean seeds out. Place flat side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes to until tender. While this is cooking you will continue making your chili!
- Slice and dice your leeks, onion and garlic clove. Add coconut oil to a large pan (what you plan on making your chili in) and heat over med-high heat until melted. Add leeks, onion and garlic, stir until cooked almost through.
4. Add the ground turkey along with some salt and pepper. Stir well and continue to cook on med-high heat until turkey is cooked.
5. When the turkey mixture is cooked through you are going to add the bell peppers, 2 cans of tomatoes (set the 3rd can aside), 2 cans of beans (drained) and chili pepper.
6. Check on squash. Get food processor set up.
7. Keep chili mixture over medium heat and stir once in a while.
8. Squash should be done, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Carefully (its still super hot) take out the insides and place into the food processor, add the last can of tomatoes and the can of tomato paste. Blend until smooth. Do not let your typically chili eaters see this step, it may detour them from trying the chili (they won't be able to tell that you added this gem).
9. Add squash mixture to chili mixture and stir well. Add additional salt, pepper, cayenne and/or chili powder to your taste.
DONE. You have a healthy, nutrient dense meal to serve your family and friends.
Or you have lunch for the week!
You could transfer this to a crockpot if you were serving over the course of several hours, or serve immediately. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Enjoy! Let me know what you think!