Recipe: Chili Mac

Eric January 14, 2011

Being born n’ raised in Texas, I probably enjoy a good bowl of chili more than the average person. And winter is a time when this recipe gets a lot of play in my kitchen. Chili is one of those dishes where every cook puts their own spin on the ingredients and flavors. That freedom to “interpret” chili includes coming up with versions that amp up the nutritional value without sacrificing flavor.

This particular recipe uses quite a few of my staple ingredients, including lean ground turkey (ground beef is also an option), onions, and garlic. Beans and other veggies provide additional fiber, protein, and other nutrients as well as enhancing the chili’s flavor, texture, and color. The “mac” part of this chili comes from the whole wheat pasta (I use rotini, but elbow macaroni is also a good option), which makes this dish an all-in-one, filling meal. Certainly, if you are watching your carbs, you can eliminate the pasta altogether. (The corn is also an ingredient you can ditch if you’re watching your carbs. More beans, onion, bell pepper, or ground meat can be substituted in.)

Hit the break for the full recipe!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 1 box (~14 oz) whole wheat pasta (rotini or elbow macaroni suggested)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (~93% lean)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 4-5 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 C beef broth
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes in juice
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) red kidney beans, drained
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Prepare the pasta according to instructions. (Try to time the pasta to be done when the chili is ready or shortly after.)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the ground turkey, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. (Be careful with the salt, as the beef broth and tomatoes may have additional salt added already.) Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beef broth and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the beef broth reduces by about half. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and stir the chili to incorporate. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and corn and continue cooking until the dish is heated through. Remove the pot from heat.

Combine the chili with the pasta and stir until the chili is distributed throughout the pasta. Garnish each bowl, if desired, with shredded cheese, lowfat/fat free sour cream, chopping scallions, and/or cilantro.

Nutritional data per serving (w/ pasta): 365 Calories, 9g total fat, 2g sat fat, 54g total carbs, 10g fiber, 22.5g protein

Nutritional data per serving (chili only): 213 Calories, 7.5g total fat, 2g sat fat, 20g total carbs, 5g fiber, 16.5g protein

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