|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||7%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||11%|
|Total Carbohydrate 26g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 7g||23%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 40mg||201%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Cooking in a crock pot is an easy way to prepare food with fantastic flavors while having your hands free to create other dishes or simply to get on with your day. Chilis are a classic slow-cooked meal, but most recipes are hearty, high in calories, and filled with fats from bacon, oils, or added dairy products used as toppings like cheese or cream. While those are delicious and filling, they can be problematic if you are keeping an eye on your caloric intake or simply want a hearty dish that won't weigh you down. Our recipe for chili makes around six 300-calorie bowls and can be cooked either on high or low, depending on your time frame and needs.
After just a few minutes of easy preparation, cover, and let simmer. Perfect for family and budget-friendly meals, this chili can be made with canned beans. You can also customize it and use either ground turkey or chicken for a different flavor profile, or skip the meat for a vegetarian alternative. Use low-sodium and unseasoned beans so you can adjust the seasoning to your palate.
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can Mexican-stylestewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, to taste
6 tablespoons chopped green onions, optional
Gather the ingredients.
In a nonstick skillet on medium heat, place the beef, garlic, onion, and bell pepper and brown until the beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat that cooks off of the ground beef and discard the extra drippings.
Place the beef mixture into a 4-quart (or larger) crock pot.
Add into the crock pot the kidney beans, red beans, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin. Gently stir together with a spoon until all of the ingredients are well combined. Set the slow cooker to cook on low for 5 hours, or 3 hours on high. Check the chili on occasion and give it a stir.
Once the cooking time has passed, taste for seasoning and add salt to taste, if needed. Carefully ladle the chili into several bowls. Top with green onions, if using.
Other Versions of Our Low-Cal Chili
Beef doesn't necessarily have to be what makes a hearty chili. Here are other options for you to choose from:
- Mushroom Chili: Mushrooms have a meaty quality and flavor, and are great substitutes for meat, as they add volume to stews and chilis but also a lot of flavor and nutrition. Brown 16 to 20 ounces of mixed mushrooms with the garlic, onions, and peppers as you'd brown the beef. Just add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan beforehand to avoid sticking. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as instructed but lower your cooking times to 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low.
- Vegan Chili: Skip the beef and add 1 can of drained garbanzo beans. Simply mix all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook as instructed. To this vegan chili, you could add 1 block of pressed cubed extra-firm tofu, 16 ounces of crumbled tempeh, or 16 ounces of seitan. Add any of these plant-based proteins to the crock pot 20 minutes before the cooking time is up.
- All-Veggie Chili: This dish is a great way to sneak in extra vegetables, and our recipe has room for other vegetables like carrots, kale, spinach, peas, or zucchini, although any other vegetable will complement the flavors without issues. For a heartier option, but still on the low-calorie side, add 1 cup of cubed sweet or white potatoes.
Do You Have to Brown Meat for Chili?
Browning the meat before putting it in the crock pot is beneficial to your chili recipes. Not only will it keep the meat from clumping together and keep that extra grease out of your chili, but it will also help provide more flavor to the meat.