For athletes, chili is an underappreciated meal. An all-encompassing, well balanced dish, chili features animal flesh for protein and fat, beans (a natural protein-carb combo), veggies and spices to cover all our needs in one savory, satisfying bowl. Heather Downey, our resident expert on nutritionally dense, powerful, flavorful meals designed for those of us with goals to be healthier and stronger, riffs below.
Fewer dishes smell better to me than a pot of hearty, homemade chili simmering on the stove. Although I don’t mind traditional chili, I definitely have a preference for chili packed with as many healthy and colorful ingredients as possible. Below I will share a few favorite ingredients from my chili recipe, and their countless benefits.
Beans are a healthy, nutrient dense food. Besides being full of protein, fiber and complex carbs, they are also low in fat and cholesterol free. Beans are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Beans are also affordable and very satisfying as they leave you feeling full longer, due to the fact they are digested slowly (an added plus that helps stabilize blood sugar) Additionally, consuming beans can help maintain weight control, decrease the risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer, heart disease and support digestive health, just to name a few benefits.
Zucchini is a very underrated vegetable, in my opinion. Besides being extremely low in calories compared to other green vegetables, it’s high in phytonutrients, vitamin C, and other important vitamins and minerals such as manganese, which greatly benefits skin. Zucchini is also very easy to prepare, mild tasting and can easily take on the flavors of whatever spices are added. It’s pleasant green color is an added bonus in this dish.
Tomatoes are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients which may prevent many forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis among others. Tomatoes also contain Beta-Carotene, which helps protect skin against sun damage, as well as lycopene, a natural antioxidant that actually helps to slow the growth of cancerous cells. Lycopene may also help in the treatment of infertility. Tests have shown that consuming tomatoes regularly can increase male fertility and boost sperm count by 70%!
Yellow bell pepper
For this recipe I like using yellow bell peppers. Although peppers of all colors are extremely healthy, I prefer to use the yellow ones for the amazing color contrast they provide in addition to the reds, greens and neutrals in this dish. Did you know that one large yellow pepper supplies a whopping 341.3 mg’s of vitamin C? This is a lot, considering we only require between 75-90 mg’s per day! Bell peppers are high in fiber, antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals as well. Carotenoids found in orange bell peppers actually help fight cell damage resulting from exposure to environmental toxins such as pollution, and cigarette smoke.
As you can see from just a few of the ingredients in this dish, there are innumerable health benefits derived from eating a warm, wholesome bowl of chili. Not to mention the delightful aroma that will float through your home. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 cup zucchini, chopped
- One yellow bell pepper, chopped
- One sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 15 ounce cans of beans of choice, drained (I use black, kidney and garbanzo)
- 1/2 cup prepared salsa (I use fire roasted tomato salsa)
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (I use Wright’s Hickory)
Place a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. Add oil, bell pepper, zucchini and onion. Saute together for 2 minutes then add turkey. Add all spices. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until turkey is fully cooked. Add garlic, liquid smoke, tomatoes, beans, salsa. Mix thoroughly.
Cook on medium heat 20 minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer for up to 1-2 hours. Add additional sea salt, liquid smoke to taste.
Serve with healthy tortilla chips (I prefer flax seed veggie chips or blue corn chips)
Garnish with your choice of fresh ingredients: cilantro, cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, raw onion, sour cream, etc…
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn