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White Bean Chicken Chili

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In case you haven’t noticed (and read from my frequent mentionings..), its that time of year.  The time of year when the one-pot wonder is at the heart of both the weeknight dinner and entertaining for friends.  When a light jacket or cardigan becomes a  necessary accessory for the cool evenings and nothing is more satisfying than something warm, something easy, and something delicious. Not to mention that something should be QUICK. There is only one common problem with these one pot dishes. Often, that bowl of whatever you’ve got serving up isn’t as healthy as you intended it to be in the first place.
Soups, stews, and casseroles are common staples among the one-pot wonders.  These dishes are notorious for the heavy hand, where exact measurements aren’t critical.  Chili is another one worth mentioning.  What better way to kick off a football game (or World Series game, starring the TEXAS Rangers!) than a bowl of steaming goodness.  Chili can be a range of anything you desire.  From vegetarian, to hearty beef, or creamy white chicken.  Which ever you choose, here are a few tips to keep your chili lean without losing out on any of the flavor that makes it chili.

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Try substituting one pound of 96% lean ground beef for the 70/30 or 80/20 ground beef that is commonly used.  You can also lean towards legumes, turkey or chicken as the main protein in your dish.  Just be sure to use the breast if using the bird.  The darker meats in the leg and thigh will have more saturated fats than the white meat of the breast. Easy right?  Yes, much easier on the waistline, too.  This simple change will save you (and your guests) almost 500 calories and 50 grams of fat, 22 of which are saturated.  Chili is also a perfect place to experiment with your sneakiness. Adding fall vegetables like butternut or acorn squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and/or carrots, adds flavor, vitamins, minerals and fiber, not to mention an all natural thickener for your chili.

Now that we’ve talked about what goes into the chili, lets talk about whats going on top of the chili.  Before you go for that handful of chips for scooping, you must remember that all of the hard work can be undone with the addition of some of these items. Some of the common chili mates include; cornbread, cheese, and sour cream. Stick with a small amout of these toppings, and go for the light versions- a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream here, a couple tablespoons of cheese there. In short, choose wisely when selecting a lean meat, stir in the vegetables, and keep the sides and additions on the lighter end.

White Bean Chicken Chili

2 (15-ounce) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low sodium, fat free chicken broth
2 cans fat free evaporated skim milk
2 teaspoon Tabasco, more or less to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste (black pepper may be used)
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies, drained
2 cups shredded boneless skinless chicken
The juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup fat free sour cream

4 ounces reduced fat Monterey Jack, shredded
Fresh tomato salsa

In a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot or dutch oven cook onion in 2 teaspoons canola oil over moderate heat until golden and softened. Melt 1 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons canola oil over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook into roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Gradually stir in broth and evaporated skim milk, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt, and white pepper. Add beans, chilies, chicken, and lime juice, cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring, 20 minutes. Stir sour cream into chili. Garnish chili with coriander and  Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with salsa, additional sour cream and cornbread**.

**Try something different: Broccoli Cornbread

Nutrition Information:
Serves 6 (1 cup chili with about 3 tablespoons cheese)
Calories: 320
Fat: 7 g
Carbohydrate: 33 g
Fiber: 5.3 g
Protein: 33 g

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