Healthy Tip: Veg-ify Your Chili

2 Feb

Veg-ify Your ChiliWhen cooking for kids (or adults) I’m all for sneaking in a little extra nutrition here and there, but I’m not one of those “hide the vegetables,” spinach-in-the-brownies kind of people. (Not that I’m judging those who are–whatever works, folks!) Instead I prefer the “hiding in plain sight” approach, which (I believe) teaches my kids to recognize and like the veggies they eat. Here’s an easy way to add extra vegetables–and therefore more nutrients and fiber–to any chili recipe.

In any “classic” ground beef and bean chili, cut the beef amount in half, and replace it with shredded carrot and diced zucchini. Use the ratio of two medium carrots and 1 zucchini for every half-pound of beef you replace. (Therefore if a recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef, you should use 1/2 pound and add 2 carrots and 1 zucchini.) Add the veggies when you add the beans, and simmer until they are tender. So easy, so much healthier, so not noticeable!

Note: When I add zucchini to recipes, I almost always leave out the pithy seeds and membranes that run down its center. That part of the vegetable just doesn’t have the best texture or flavor in my opinion. To do the same, just slice about 1/2 inch of each side of a trimmed zucchini. You’re left with four skin-on pieces that can be diced as photographed above, and the seedy core, which can be discarded or added to vegetable stock or a pureed vegetable soup.

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