This healthier, vegetable packed beef chili is made with lean beef, two types of beans and four different vegetables for a hearty, nutrition-packed meal. Enjoy it as a flavor-filled dinner or reheat it for a healthy lunch.
Growing up, chili was a staple meal in my house. My mom would put all of the ingredients in the crockpot and let it slowly cook while we were at school. I can still remember the smell of the house on chili night.
Now that I’m a mom, I realize why chili was a regular on my mom’s meal rotation. It was something we all ate without complaining, and it was super simple to prepare. That’s a win-win for busy parents.
My mom’s recipe was a simple combination of beef, kidney beans, tomato sauce, beef broth, onions and a seasoning pack that slow-cooked in the crock pot. When I first left home and started cooking for myself, I made chili the exact same way my mom did. As I got into healthy cooking, I started to make modifications and put my own healthy spin on it. Now when I make chili, I use leaner beef, double the beans and a lot more vegetables. It’s just as easy and delicious, but a lot more nutritious.
How To Make A Healthier Vegetable-Packed Beef Chili
Before starting, I like to measure and prepare all of the ingredients so they are sitting on the counter. Then, when you are ready to start cooking, everything is set out and ready-to-go. It makes the cooking process so much easier.
Prepare And Measure The Ingredients
Chili is loaded with nutritious ingredients, but it is also quite high in sodium. I use a reduced sodium beef broth and take some extra steps to help keep it in check. I walk you through those below and share some other ways you can modify this recipe to reduce the sodium content even further.
For one, I use frozen corn in place of canned. Frozen vegetables have a significantly lower sodium content than the canned varieties, but they do take longer to cook. To speed the process, take the corn out of the freezer a few hours before you are ready to start so it can defrost. If you’re in a hurry or forgot to defrost it, you can also stream it in advance. Just put the frozen corn in a microwave safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water and cook it for ~5 minutes in the microwave. When it’s finished, set it aside, making sure to save any liquid left in the dish.
Next, prepare the canned beans. Beans are highly nutritious and significantly boost the plant-based protein and fiber content of chili. I use both kidney and cannellini beans in this recipe, but you can substitute any bean that you like. I use canned beans in this recipe, but if you are really watching your sodium intake, you could substitute dried beans. Just make sure to prepare them in advance so that they’re soft and ready-to-use when it’s time to make the chili.
Open both types of canned beans, dump them into a strainer then run them under cool water. Rinsing the beans doesn’t eliminate all of the sodium, but it does wash away some. Allow the beans to sit in the strainer so that all of the water is drained.
You’ll also want to chop the onion, dice all three peppers, slice the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise and measure and set aside the spices.
Cook The Chili
Once all of the ingredients are prepped and ready to go, it’s time to begin cooking. Start by heating the olive oil in a large sauté pan then add the chopped onions. Cook over medium heat for ~5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and begin to brown. Then, add the ground beef. Use a large wooden spoon to break the meat up in the pan as it cooks. I like my chili to have tiny pieces of meat throughout, so I use the spoon to separate it completely. If you prefer, you can keep the ground beef in larger chunks.
Once the beef is completely cooked, stir in the beef broth, canned tomatoes, beans, corn, cherry tomatoes and diced peppers. The sauce should appear thin but it will thicken as it simmers.
Once the ingredients are all combined, add the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir well and allow that to come to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and allow the chili to simmer between 45 minutes and 1 hour, stirring it occasionally.
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, croutons or tortilla strips and enjoy immediately. Put any leftovers in a sealed container and store in the refrigerator. This chili is just as delicious reheated and makes a great lunch throughout the week.
Calories And Nutrition Information For Vegetable-Packed Beef Chili
This recipe makes 8 total cups or 4 (2-cup) servings. One serving of vegetable-packed beef chili provides 410 calories, 67 grams of carbohydrate, 19 grams of fiber, 22 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 5 grams of cholesterol and 1,150 milligrams of sodium.
It also provides 20% of the daily value for potassium, 15% of the daily value for calcium and 35% of the daily value for iron.
Even with modifications, this chili is still a high sodium meal. If you are watching your sodium intake, there are some additional modifications you can make. As I mentioned above, You can use dried beans in place of canned and use fresh tomatoes in place of canned. You can also omit the added sodium altogether.
Vegetable Packed Beef Chili
- 3/4 cup ground beef, 93% lean
- 1 3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted or pre-cooked
- 1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans
- 1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans
- 2 cups beef broth, reduced sodium
- 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed petite tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups (~35) cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- In a medium sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat then add onions. Sauté for ~5 minutes or until they begin to soften, then add the ground beef. Cook over medium heat until browned.
- Add the beef broth, both beans, all three diced peppers, corn, canned tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and then stir to combined. Next, stir in the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, making sure that all ingredients are well combined.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer ~45 minutes- 1 hour, stirring occasionally
- Suggested Garnish And Sides – shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, croutons, tortilla strips or chips or a small side salad.
- Recipe Makes: 8 cups of chili
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Servings Per Recipes:
- Nutrition Facts (per serving): 410 calories, 67 g carbohydrates, 19 g fiber, 22 g protein, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 g cholesterol, 1150 mg sodium, 20% DV for potassium, 15% DV for calcium, 35% DV for iron.
- Meal Planning Servings: 4.5 CHO; 3 PRO; 1.5 FAT
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