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Chili for a Chilly Night

January 17, 2011


By Brianne Harrison Moore

Chili is, to me, a great fridge raid-style dinner. If you’ve got some meat, tomatoes, and basic spices, you can make a good chili, no problem, and easily adapt it to your tastes. You can use store-bought chili powder instead of the mix, but I find making your own spice mix adds depth of flavor, and it’s pretty simple. In our house, I’ll whip up a batch of chili after I get home from the gym, and while it’s simmering I’ll bake some cornbread or corn muffins for soaking up any extra chili sauce.

Wintertime Chili

Spice Mix

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp chili powder



1 lbs ground lean beef, turkey, or chicken

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, diced

1 28-oz can diced or whole peeled tomatoes with juice

chicken, beef, or vegetable stock

2-3 jalapeno peppers (optional)

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 14.5-oz can black beans, rinsed

1 14.5-oz can kidney beans, rinsed

Toppings of choice (chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, plain yogurt)


In a skillet over medium heat, brown the meat, using a little olive or vegetable oil if necessary. Remove the meat and reserve.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat just enough olive or vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the spice mix, jalapenos*, and garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, until the spices become fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the meat and the tomatoes and juice (crush whole tomatoes before putting them in) and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. If the chili seems dry, add a little stock.

Add the corn, then simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 15-20 minutes. Add the kidney and black beans and simmer a further 10 minutes. Taste the chili and adjust seasonings and spicing as needed.

Serve with a green salad or some sautéed bitter greens, like kale or broccoli rabe.


* If you prefer a mild chili or if you use a very spicy chili powder, leave the jalapenos out


Healthy Roundup

Cinnamon and chili peppers are two of the most potent disease-fighting spices out there. Cinnamon is anti-microbial and can stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and yeast. It’s also been credited with anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties and with boosting brain function. It can also help control blood sugar in people with diabetes, and it’s a powerful antioxidant. Chili peppers, such as jalapenos, contain capsaicin, which is anti-inflammatory and helps with pain relief. Chili peppers have also been found to boost immunity, clear congestion, reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and even prevent certain cancers. Cocoa powder also contains antioxidants and has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.

Beans are good providers of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and alpha-linolenic acid, as well as fiber. They can help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Lean beef is an excellent source of protein and a very good source of vitamins B12 and B6, which help convert the potentially dangerous chemical homocysteine into benign molecules in the body. Foods rich in vitamin B12 are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. To really get the most out of your beef, try to find grass-fed organic.

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