Who doesn’t love warming up after a cold winter day with a bowl of hot chili? With a seemingly endless list of potential ingredients—beans, meats, veggies, spices and even surprise additions such as chocolate or coffee—there’s something for everyone.
A perk we shouldn’t overlook: Even though chili is beloved mostly as a comfort food, the mainstay ingredients of many scrumptious chili recipes (such as beans, tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic) are packed with cancer-fighting properties. The recipes below are hearty enough to stand on their own…or you can round them out with a green salad packed with colorful veggies.
LIME AND CHICKEN CHILI WITH AVOCADO
This Mexican-inspired chili gets a tart kick from limes, an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C and anticancer phytochemicals such as limonoids and flavonoids. Tomatoes, beans and yellow corn add more cancer-protective fiber and phytonutrients. Garlic is rich in anticancer substances like quercetin and allixin.
- 2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large chopped yellow onion
- 3 stalks of thinly sliced celery
- 1 seeded, diced jalapeño pepper
- 5 minced garlic cloves
- 1 pound of whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 1 14.5-ounce can of no-salt diced tomatoes
- 1 16-ounce can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 4 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin
- 2 whole limes
- ½ bunch of rinsed, chopped cilantro
- 1 medium avocado (cubed)
Directions: In a soup pot, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, celery, jalapeño pepper and garlic cloves until tender—about six minutes. Then add the whole chicken breasts, corn, tomatoes, cannellini beans, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, oregano and cumin to the pot. Stir the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 55 minutes. Transfer the chicken breasts to a large platter, shred them with two forks and return the chicken meat to the pot. Before serving, stir in the juice from one of the limes and the cilantro. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish each serving with cubed avocado and a wedge from the remaining lime. Makes six savory servings.
SWEET POTATO CHILI WITH PEANUTS
This bean-free chili is a good option for people who find that beans make them gassy. Sweet potatoes are a true superfood, brimming with plant pigments that have been shown in lab studies to help prevent abnormal cell growth and the formation of cancer-promoting free radicals. Peanuts add a hearty flavor while providing some protein and fiber.
- ½ medium chopped yellow onion
- 1 thinly sliced, peeled carrot
- ½ seeded, chopped green bell pepper
- ½ seeded, chopped red bell pepper
- 1 Tablespoon of canola oil
- 1-2 minced garlic cloves
- 2 pounds of sweet potatoes (peeled or unpeeled and cut into bite-size chunks—about 2 cups)
- ¾ cup of unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1 14.5-ounce can of no-salt crushed tomatoes
- ½ 6-ounce can of tomato paste
- 1 4-ounce can of diced mild green chili peppers
- 2-3 Tablespoons of chili powder
- ½ Tablespoon of cumin
- ½ Tablespoon of sugar
Optional: For extra flavor and an antioxidant boost, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or one-half cup of strong brewed coffee.
Directions: In a large, heavy pot, sauté the onion, carrot, and green and red bell peppers in canola oil over medium heat until the onion is golden—about eight minutes. Add the garlic cloves and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Stir in the chunked sweet potatoes, peanuts, crushed tomatoes (and juice), tomato paste and green chili peppers (with liquid). Next, add the chili powder, cumin and sugar. Add water as needed. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes five mouthwatering servings.