Best Healthy Chili Recipe

Best part about chili: you can literally throw anything into the pot and you don’t have to measure a thing! Similar to what I do with most of my meals, I get on Google and just start searching for recipe ideas based on what I want to make. At some point, I come across a website that has an appealing recipe. And per usual, I modify it somewhat because I am THE WORST at measuring things. I just don’t do it most of the time. And that is why my healthy bakes are not the best, lol. Dave will tell you, before he tries ANYTHING I bake he asks one of two questions. 1) How much protein powder did you add to this? or 2) Ok, what did you change from the original recipe? I get it; baking isn’t my strong suite. And it’s because I don’t like to measure exact amounts and I like to adjust on the fly based on my mood. BUT last night I legit did an awesome on-the-fly change to a basic cornbread recipe, and I’m telling you…it was fabulous. So, I am sharing my chili and cornbread recipe from dinner. Below I have listed the original recipe (for both chili and cornbread) and then added in my adjustments.

My advice to anyone reading this who thinks they cannot bake this: YES YOU CAN! Just start with a basic recipe. Make it and decide what you like and dislike about it. Then start making minor adjustments by using different protein sources, spices, and veggies and at some point you’ll end up with your own personalized recipe that you can pass to family and friends. It just takes a willingness to try new things and learn what your taste buds like!

Basic Chili Recipe: I’ll let you know what I changed. Also, if you do not have an insta pot, can I just say that you are missing out on life! lol. This will save you SOOOOO much time in the kitchen. Invest in one! But you can always do this in a pan and add to a slow cooker. You’ll just lose literally a lot of time. This chili takes 18 minutes to cook after a few minutes on the sauté option prior.

  1. You do NOT need to use bacon. This will be fine without all of that added fat and processed meat. Sometimes (like last night) I occasionally throw in 2 pieces, but 8 pieces is extreme. But hey, if you like bacon, go for it. Without the bacon you will still get a great flavor and this chili will be VERY low fat.
  2. I always spray insta pot, add some olive oil and sauté minced garlic and onion (yes use 1 red onion).
  3. I ALWAYS add AT LEAST 1 Jalepeno! Highly recommend because it will give it a slight kick. Last night…I added two. #YOLO
  4. I always use 2 whole peppers of differing colors (usually red and orange).
  5. Veggies I ALWAYS additionally use: celery stalks & chopped carrots (no I don’t measure these). If I have dried mushrooms, I will add. If not, you can add regular crimini mushrooms OR Trader Joes has an Umami spice that will do the trick. Add a tbsp of that! Other veggies I’ve added in the past: chopped kale & zucchini.
  6. I use 1 can triblend beans or cannelloni beans and 1/2-1 can black beans. I use 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato paste.
  7. I ALWAS use at least 2lbs of meat. I throw one package of lean beef (usually 93%) and lean turkey (99%). Just turkey would be fine. You literally cannot taste the difference between beef and turkey in this.
  8. Spices I ALWAYS use: all of the spices listed in this recipe (and no, I do not measure. I probably use more like a tbsp of each rather than a tsp that is listed in the recipe), thyme, 2 bay leaves, onion powder, that umami salt.
  9. Highly recommend using bone broth over chicken/beef stalk. Don’t believe me? Go look at the ingredient list on any broth package at the store. There are added ingredients in everything. Bone broth literally contains bone broth and it has more protein. When I did the whole 30 diet I found that I literally could not use any broth other than bone broth because of the added ingredients…so, just something to think about. I do not measure how much broth I add, but it’s prob somewhere between 2-4 cups.
  10. Toppings I always sprinkle over the chili: chopped avocado, cheese (I forgot to add before devouring this bowl), chopped cilantro, lime zest. Enjoy.

Jalepeno Lime Infused Cornbread

  1. Buy a cornbread mix
  2. The directions stated to add mix, 1 egg, 1/3c milk and 2/3c butter together. Here are the things I changed: 1/3c milk = 1/3c vanilla cashew milk (hey, its all I had), 2/3c butter = 1/3c butter + 1/3c applesauce
  3. Zest from lime and 1.5 chopped jalepenos were added to this mix
  4. Baked whatever time package instructions provided. BOOM!
  5. Note, I cannot guarantee that this will work for every cornbread mix. Maybe I just happened to pick one that worked this time. All I’m saying is don’t hesitate to mix things up AND lime and jalepeno just go so well together, so you should pair that taste combo together more often!

This is a fairly healthy recipe. It will be hearty, but won’t leave you feeling stuffed and sluggish from a lot of fat. It is relatively very low in fat and carbs AND it has good lean protein sources and A TON of veggies. This makes ~10-12 servings (and Dave and I eat big servings), so you will have leftovers, which is always a win.

Enjoy everyone!

Chelsea Ulmer

Chelsea Ulmer

CrossFit IPA Owner & Trainer, ER Trauma Nurse
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