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Easy, Healthy, #1 Texas Chili Recipe

Updated on October 7, 2012
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Hearty and healthy #1 Texas Chili.
Hearty and healthy #1 Texas Chili. | Source

Low in fat but high in lean protein and loaded with vegetables.

Texas cuisine isn't exactly known for its healthful recipes. I must admit I am guilty of loving gooey, cheesy enchiladas and artery-clogging chicken-fried steak, among other delicious-but-unhealthy Texas favorites. However, when it comes to chili, the recipe that I've developed over the years is delicious yet healthy. It calls for one pound of lean ground beef, and all additional ingredients are beans, vegetables and spices.

What's more, you can whip this chili up in a flash. Thanks to the addition of Ranch Style Beans, which give it a certain spicy zing, you don't have to simmer the chili all day to get excellent flavor. The onion and bell pepper need to be chopped and sauteed with the ground beef, but other than that, the recipe consists of dumping cans into a pot. Simply stir all the ingredients together and enjoy. There's no need to drain the tomatoes or boil the beans - simply empty the cans into your soup pot.

I'm not part of the chili cook-off circuit and have never entered this recipe in a contest, although I've been told I should. The reason I call it #1 chili (even though it has never won any awards or contests) is because the recipe calls for one of everything. It makes the recipe really easy to remember, whether you're shopping for ingredients or making it by heart. It also makes the name easy to remember, in case you need to find this recipe again on the web -- just google Easy #1 Chili.

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1 pound of lean ground beef, preferably 93/7 or leaner.
1 large yellow onion, diced fairly small
1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced fairly small
1 can of Ranch Style brand beans
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1 can of Rotel brand tomatoes and green chiles
1 small can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste


In a Dutch oven, stock pot or large sauce pot, combine the ground beef, onion and bell pepper. Saute on medium heat, using a spatula or spoon to break the beef into small chunks as it cooks. Saute until the beef is slightly browned and the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally for even cooking. Because the meat is so lean, there is no need to drain any fat, which I love because I think that by draining fat you also drain out the juice from the onions and peppers, which is basically pouring out much of the flavor!

Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until steaming and heated through. Serve immediately, or simmer on the stove awhile if you like.

Serving SUggestions and Cooking Notes

There are numerous ways to serve chili. I prefer it garnished with some shredded, melted cheddar cheese and sliced green onions. I like steamed corn tortillas on the side, or the chili ladled over tamales. My husband likes it garnished with melted cheddar cheese, jalapeno slices and fiery hot salsa or Tobasco, and served with saltine crackers or hot cornbread. You can also serve it over hot rice or ladle it over enchiladas, corn tortilla chips or scrambled eggs. Sometimes, if I have leftover chili but not much energy for cooking dinner, I pop a few baking potatoes in the oven and serve the bakers smothered with hot chili, sour cream, melted cheddar cheese and sliced green onions.

Tortilla chips basically ruin the low-fat aspect of this dish, but I love to eat my chili with Julio's tortilla chips and my recipe for the Best Queso Dip Ever or Homemade Guacamole.

Ranch Style Beans and Rotel tomatoes can be found in any grocery store here in Texas. I've never lived in any other state, so I'm not sure about their availability elsewhere. If you cannot find Ranch Style Beans, a good substitute would be a can of "chili-fixin' beans" -- the type that come in a spicy flavored sauce. I have also seen similar beans named "cowboy beans" or "ranch beans." The key is the spicy, flavored sauce.

As for Rotel tomatoes, if you can't find this brand, look for some other canned tomatoes with jalapenos or chile peppers, or substitute a can of diced tomatoes plus a one of those little cans of diced green chiles. If possible, avoid the Italian-themed tomatoes with garlic or Parmesan.

Slow Cooker Instructions

To make this chili in a slow cooker or Crockpot, simply saute the meat, onion and bell pepper in a frying pan until the meat is lightly browned and the veggies are tender. Place the meat mixture in your slow cooker along with all the other ingredients and stir to mix well. Set the slow cooker on low, cover, and leave it alone for 4 to 8 hours.

Did you make this chili? If so, please rate it!

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