Saturday, March 13, 2010

All in One Bowl: Enjoy the Nutritional Power Food Punch of Chili

Chili once had the unfortunate reputation of being a greasy, fat-ladened dish that no health-aware individual would ever be caught consuming.

Thank goodness times have changed!

This hearty comfort food has become a classic in homes all across America ... and who can blame us! It's easy to make ahead of time, reheats well, and requires little effort to prepare. It provides maximum taste at a minimum budget so it's perfect for a cozy winter night dinner or a large party crowd. But the best part of chili is that underneath all that fun, and great taste, lies a bowl of true nutrition.

This crowd-pleasing stew is a fiber super-star!

Check out any nutrition label and you'll find legumes at the head of the class. Just one cup of cooked kidney beans provides 45.3% of the recommended daily intake for fiber. They are also low in fat and provide a storehouse of vitamins and minerals, not to mention being packed with protein.

The base of any chili recipe includes one of our most popular and versatile foods: the tomato. This brightly colored fruit contains high amounts of lycopene, a carotenoid responsible for red pigment in any fruit, also known to be a powerful antioxidant that decreases the risks of many forms of cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is four times more bioavailable in organic, cooked tomatoes than in raw.

Despite its ability to make us cry and perhaps tinge the breath with unfriendly potency, the onion will most definitely lend an excellent taste to your chili. Fortunately, it is also associated with providing a number of healthy benefits to its users. In fact, onions are said to have therapeutic, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties, along with plenty of chromium which supports healthy blood sugar levels and benefits cardiovascular health. This phytonutrient scientifically known as Allium cepa has also been guilty of supporting our gastrointestinal health, protecting against many cancers, and boosting bone health. It's no wonder this highly regarded vegetable is a part of the cuisine in nearly every culture of the world.

Chili powder begins with a tasty blend of spices including that famous, and sometimes feared, chili pepper. Ah, that pungent plant spices up your chili powder with a substance called capsaicin - which is the pepper's fiery active ingredient that fights inflammation, is a natural pain reliever, contains cardiovascular benefits, can clear congestion, is great for your blood, and boosts immunity. So with caution, load up your chili with lots of spice and warn your taste buds!

There are just as many variations of chili as people in the world ... so experiment, and create your own version adding extra fresh veggies, garlic, different spices, some grass-fed beef. I have been known to even add chocolate!

You never know, you may just be ready for the next chili cook-off!
Enjoy and Have Fun!

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