Southwestern Lentil Chili

I think every foodie has a penchant for something naughty- some low-rent processed salt or sugar bomb that in a weak moment you might put in your grocery cart and then squirrel away under under a big head of romaine lettuce. For me, this guilty pleasure is Hormel Chili.

Oh gelatinous canned meat ambrosia! When I was a kid I’d have Hormel Chili slathered over Japanese white rice with onions, cheddar cheese, and saltine crackers crunched on top.

Stop judging me. It’s heaven, you don’t even know.

Then, in 1994 Hormel chili and I were separated by good sense when the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act went into effect and my mom, aghast, went through our canned goods. There were many casualties in my childhood staples that fateful day (I miss you, too, Sapporo Ichiban!), but none stung my parents and I more than Hormel Chili. We switched to Hormel’s 97% Fat Free Turkey Chili. My father and I whined about it for five years.

Nowadays I scratch my chili itch by making Southwestern Lentil Chili (I know. More lentils. It’s like I want you to have gas). This stew is so darn packed with veggies and protein, and so darn filling! And it’s thick- you can stick a spoon straight up in it. This makes a big pot and then I portion it out and freeze it when I need a quick lunch or dinner. I used turkey sausage, but you could use any kind of seasoned ground meat.

Makes 10 Huge Hearty Servings- Serving Size: 2 Cup!

  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4 Medium Carrots- Diced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 2 Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Pasilla Chiles, Roasted, skinned, and diced or a 12 Oz Can of Ortega Chiles
  • 1 Lb Lentils, picked-over and rinsed
  • 1 TBsp Olive Oil
  • 60 Oz. Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Lb Hot Turkey Sausage, cooked through
  • 15 Oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 3 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Cilantro for garnish.

1.) Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes, then add celery and carrots. Saute for another 2-5 minutes longer.

2.) Add the potatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, lentils, chicken or vegetable broth, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.

3.) Add the seasoning: Chili Powder, Cumin, Bay leaf, salt, and pepper and let simmer gently uncovered until lentils are cooked through- about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring occasionally to keep lentils from burning on the bottom.

4.) Add the cooked turkey sausage (or any cooked meat) to the cooked chili, stir to incorpoate. Now’s the time to turn up the heat if you want to. Add cayenne pepper a little at a time until you have the kick you want, or just garnish with your hot sauce and some cilantro. Done!

For a big serving of 2 Cups:

Calories: 275  – Fat : 3 grams –  Carbs: 48 grams – Fiber:19 grams – Protein: 30 grams

Summer Sauteed Corn

Fresh Farmer's Market Corn with Herbs. Golden Goodness!

I crave having some kind of starch with dinner. As I’m lightening up my favorite recipes, a big challenge is finding a starch that isn’t calorie-laden, or riddled with butter, oil, and cheese. In the summer time I reach for corn. Corn is delicious in the summertime; sweet and juicy, and so filling! It’s a guilt-free grain and packed with fiber (It even has protein!).

For a quick side dish I saute fresh corn with fresh herbs. I like to save myself the messy step of boiling whole ears by just cutting the kernels off the cob while fresh. Apple cider vinegar adds a nice little zing and compliments the sweetness of summer corn.

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 C  minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional)

1.) Cut the kernels off the cob using a very sharp knife. I like holding the cob upright in a bowl, since the kernels like to roll off onto the floor. Heat a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Add olive oil and onion and saute until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.

2.) Add water, apple cider vinegar, corn, salt, and pepper. Stir corn occasionally to keep kernels from browning. Keep over medium low heat just until the kernels cook through and the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 minutes.

3.) Take corn off heat, add fresh herbs. If you would like butter (and who wouldn’t?!) you can add that here as well, but honestly you won’t miss it if you don’t.

Serves 4

Calories: 75  – Fat : 3 grams –  Carbs: 30 – Fiber: 2.5 grams – Protein: 2.5 grams

(Nutritional info without Butter)

Bison. It’s a Lean Meat.

Delicious lean Bison NY Strip Steaks, With Parsely for a Prettier Picture

I am not a vegetarian. Aside from a brief one month stint I spent as a vegan (on a dare, of course), I have no intention of giving up meat. And even though I’m trying to shed the pounds, red meat is not a luxury that I’m going to give up any time soon.

Enter expensive Bison, the other red meat.

Lordy, this leaner meat is so tasty, the best thing I can do is to stay out of its way. Bison/Buffalo tastes very similar to beef, but pound for pound it has less fat than chicken. I used strip steaks instead of rib eyes to keep the fat content even lower. These are great on the grill, but I ran out of propane so I threw them on the pan. As this is a leaner cut of meat, I sweat these steaks so that every little bit is seasoned. This works for beef as well.  Continue reading