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Add “Secret” Vegetables to Chili!

Carissa's "Secretly Healthy" Chili- Pretty/Hungry Blog


We’ve made it through twelve days of super clean eating.  If you’ve joined me for the challenge, how are you doing??  Do you get irritable without ice cream in the evenings like I do?  If so… take heart!  Your body is thanking you for the extra special treatment.  And you will truly feel like you deserve to let loose a little when Thanksgiving and Christmas arrive, rather than piling indulgence on top of indulgence.

(*I should point out:  I am not at all advocating that when the holidays finally do arrive you use it as an excuse to pull a chair up to the buffet table at Golden Corral and park it there for 30 straight days.  I absolutely advocate continued moderation even through the holiday season.  I just want to reiterate that I have embarked upon this personal challenge so that I will feel better when the holidays begin.  It’s nice to have a little “wiggle room” in the ol’ trousers, ya feel me?)

So let’s talk about tonight’s tip.  It’s a good thing my husband is around to watch out for you guys and remind me to blog… otherwise I’d be letting valuable healthy tips just pass you by!  It’s weird… I never realized just how MANY things I do each day to add nutritional value to our meals and snacks.  Some of them have literally become so second-nature, it escapes me that others might really benefit from knowing about them.

Take my chili for instance…


Tonight I made a simple pot of chili and it was everything chili should be: filling, scrumptious, and heart-warming.

But when I make chili, I like to bulk it up with a surprising addition…



Did you know that diced squash and zucchini, simmered low and slow in a pot of chili, virtually disappear?  They soften and take on the yummy flavor of the sauce and texture of the meat.  I’m tellin’ ya, no one would even know they’re in there!  (Especially if you peel them and process them in a food-processor, which I sometimes do if I’m trying to make them extra inconspicuous.)

By adding squash and zucchini to chili, you add texture and bulk to the dish without adding fat and calories!  You can even take your normal recipe and cut out some of the meat, replacing it with these veggies, if you’re trying to save money or eat less meat.

It really is astounding!  I dare you to try it.


Here’s my healthy chili recipe.  It may not stand up to the harshest foodie critics, since I do use a packet of chili seasoning mix in it.  But feel free to use organic, low-sodium seasoning from Whole Foods if your conscience demands it.


Carissa’s Healthier Chili  (serves 4)


-1 lb super lean ground beef

-1 T. olive oil

-1 medium zucchini and 1 medium yellow squash (or two of either) peeled and finely diced (Or better yet, pulsed in a food processor!)

-1/2 yellow onion

-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

-1/2 bottle beer

-1 can petite diced tomatoes

-1 small can tomato sauce

-1 can “chili hot” beans, with liquid

-1 can black beans, drained

-3/4 C. water

-1 packet chili seasoning mix


Brown the ground beef in a dutch oven or soup pot at high temperature.  Turn off heat.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a small bowl and leave any fat in the pot.  Add 1 T. olive oil.  Return pot to high heat and add onions, squash, zucchini, & garlic, stirring and cooking til slightly softened.  Pour in 1/2 bottle of beer to deglaze the pan, scraping up any flavorful bits from the bottom.  Add back meat with its juices.  Then add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, water, and seasoning mix.  Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer (stirring ocassionally) until chili has reached the desired consistency (about 30 minutes to an hour.)  Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed before serving.


Serve alongside a healthy plate of carrot sticks, pickles, and cottage cheese.

OR serve the “sinful” way, over a mound of Fritos.

Either way, enjoy!


Carissa's "Secretly Healthy" Chili- Pretty/Hungry Blog


We scarfed down huge bowls of this tonight and felt nothing but proud of our healthy choice.  Do something good for yourself and your family and make it this week!  It’ll warm you up and slim you down :)




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13 Responses so far.

  1. Sofia says:

    Hi Carissa! Thanks for your comment on my blog :) Glad to find yours. I like your sneaky veggie tactics. I’ve never actually tried zucchini in chilli, I usually do bell peppers at the very end. It’s not really sneaky, but I find that it’s one veg that isn’t usually found in chilli that adds a lot to it from a taste and nutrition perspective. Will try zucchini too next time.

  2. […] say my biggest trick is to add “secret vegetables” to everything!  Recipes like my chili, and this Sausage, Potato, & Kale soup stay low-cal while remaining very filling because so […]

  3. […] Adding “Secret Vegetables” to Chili […]

  4. […] 7) I attempt to include veggies in every meal.  And I cook at home so that I know what’s going into our meals.  (Restaurants are NOT stingy with the butter and salt, in case you didn’t know that.)  But the good news is, you can hide vegetables in so many things! […]

  5. […] -“Secretly Healthy” Chili […]

  6. […] say my biggest trick is to add “secret vegetables” to everything!  Recipes like my chili, and this Sausage, Potato, & Kale soup stay low-cal while remaining very filling because so […]

  7. […] Adding “Secret Vegetables” to Chili […]

  8. […] the mood we’re in.  I usually always have the ingredients on hand to make a pasta dish, or chili, or Quinoa Chili, or Wild Rice & Kale Casserole, or some sort of chicken vegetable […]

  9. […] are.  That’s why I love it!  In today’s recipe, I used it in place of the meat in my classic healthy chili recipe.  For the same price I would’ve paid for 1 lb of ground beef at my local Kroger, I got a bag […]

  10. […] every meal you eat, and work your way up.  Serving up a pot of chili on a cold Winter evening?  Throw in a few diced up zucchini along with the onions and garlic!  (Or sub half the meat for quinoa!)  Try a green smoothie at […]

  11. Tom says:

    Sweet potatoes are good in there too.

  12. […] Adding “Secret Vegetables” to Chili […]