On a cold, blustery day, there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of chili. Of course, this recipe can be made with beef instead of turkey, or with no meat at all – it’s a recipe you can make your very own.



I always say, every recipe has a story.


First the recipe — for the story, scroll down the page.

Prep time:  30 min.   Total Time: 2 – 3 hrs.



  • 1 lb. ground sirloin or ground turkey — as low fat as you can find
  • 2 cans chili beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • cumin to taste
  • chili powder to taste
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot, flour, or corn starch as a thickening agent
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Brown the meat in a skillet that has been sprayed with a no calorie spray.
  2. Rinse and drain the beans. Set aside
  3. Drain the meat on paper towels to remove all possible grease.
  4. Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and place into a stock pot.
  5. Add water, ketchup, and tomato sauce. Stir until blended.
  6. In a measuring cup, dissolve thickening agent in 2 – 3 tablespoons water. Add to mixture.
  7. Add tomato paste. Stir until paste is dissolved.
  8. Add seasonings to taste.
  9. Wilt onion in microwave, or sauté on stove top.
  10. Add wilted onions and meat to stockpot.
  11. Adjust seasonings.
  12. Let simmer until you are ready to eat, usually one or two hours. If the liquid is too thin, add more of your preferred thickening agent.

How hot do you like your chili?

We like mild chili at our house, but this recipe can easily be made medium or hot.  Bo does prefer it  a little hotter than I do, so he often sprinkles a few drops of Texas Pete or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce into his own bowl of chili. With only a few minor adjustments, you can make this recipe your very own.


The Story

Whenever we make chili, it is truly a joint effort. Okay, the truth is, we both have to have a hand in it, figuratively speaking, of course. This recipe for thick, hearty chili is one that we have tweaked and fine-tuned repeatedly over the years. We have made so many changes and additions, we have lost count. What we do know is that it has become very popular among family and friends. Most recently I exchanged the sugar for stevia. You may or may not want to do that. We use arrowroot mixed as thickening agent, instead of flour, because it doesn’t seem to form lumps as much as flour does.

Until the last few years, we almost always made it with ground sirloin, but for a few years now we’ve been reducing the amount of red meat we consume. So we began making it with ground turkey. You really have to watch the labels though, because some ground turkey has as much or more fat (by calories) than ground beef. Check below to see how to figure the amount of fat by calories in any food.

Previously, we used the dark red kidney beans. Rinsing them in a colander removes a lot of the added sodium commonly found in canned products. I believe it also removes some of that “preservative taste”. We found the store brand to be every bit as good as the brand-name products, so we usually purchase the store brand.

Recently, when talking with a friend, I learned she uses dried chili beans, so we decided to try that. You will need to cook them before putting them into the chili mixture. The first time I used them, I cooked far too many, so I put the extra ones into two freezer bags for using the next time we wanted to make chili. We’ve already made chili again, and it was a time-saver not having to cook the beans next time.


How to Calculate Fat Calories in Your Food


Even the Leanest Beef is Still About 50% Fat by Calories


When the label on a package of ground meat or poultry states that the contents are 96% fat free, they are telling the truth, while simultaneously misleading you. The label refers to the number of ounces in the package; that is, 96% of the ounces do not contain fat — the remaining 4% of the weight is solid fat. Doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, right?  Think again.

One gram of fat contains 9 calories. If a hypothetical food label states there are 4 grams of fat per serving, all you need to do is multiply 4 (grams) by 9 (calories) to learn that there are 36 fat calories in each serving. This still doesn’t sound so bad until you remember that the total number of calories in this hypothetical serving is 50. Having 36 out of 50 calories (72%) from fat is not so good.

To find the percentage of fat calories per serving, simply divide the number of fat calories (36 in our hypothetical food) by the number of calories in a serving (50). This tells you that 72% of the calories are from fat. Try to keep all your calories at or below 33% (1/3) fat. Of course, you can splurge occasionally on a high-fat meal or a scrumptious dessert. Just do all in moderation.

Unfortunately, the FDA and USDA allow food manufacturers to round the number of fat calories, etc. Sometimes they round up, but usually they round down. For my hypothetical case above, the 36 fat calories would be rounded to 35.

Don’t be overly concerned with counting every little calorie. Just make healthy choices, live a healthy lifestyle, and you can afford to splurge on a fabulous meal or dessert now and then.