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To make low-fat chili, prepare a meatless version to cut the fat considerably. For versions of chili with meat, either ground turkey or extra lean ground beef may be used. A great tip is to use fresh sauteed mushrooms in addition to the kidney beans to add bulk without a lot of fat. Fats used in preparation as well as at serving time should also be reduced in the low-fat chili.
Rather than full-fat sour cream and grated cheese for the topping on a bowl of the chili, low-fat versions of these items may be used. A dollop of either non-fat plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream with a little grated low-fat cheese placed on top of the prepared chili can really enhance the taste without a lot of extra fat or calories. Making this switch from full-fat sour cream and cheese as well as limiting the amount of cheese used can make a difference of a few hundred calories.
Another way to cut the fat content in chili is to limit the amount of oil used to saute the sliced or quartered mushrooms, chopped onions and minced garlic. Not only can using an ample amount of mushrooms reduce the need for a large amount of meat needed in a low-fat chili, but adding an assortment of other vegetables can also help add a bulky texture to the dish to make it seem more substantial and "meaty" in texture. Celery and zucchini can be excellent additions to a low-fat meat or vegetarian chili.
Once all of the ingredients and seasonings such as chili powder have simmered for about 40 minutes, it's a good idea to taste the mixture to check the taste. The seasonings can then be adjusted before letting the low-fat chili simmer longer. It's really important not to add too much chili powder at first because once the spice is added, it can't be removed if the chili tastes too spicy. Rather, more chili powder can be added after the first simmering is complete. The chili can even be prepared and simmered the night before, then refrigerated until mealtime.
When the cooked chili is removed from the refrigerator, a great fat-cutting tip is to skim off the layer of fat from the top surface. The low-fat chili should then be reheated slowly for the best flavor and texture. If the heat is too high, the beans and vegetables may become overcooked and mushy.
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