Chilli choices to curb the calories

Kellie Collins

What better than a steaming bowl of chilli to warm you up on those frosty winter evenings? I love making a big pot and freezing it in batches so it’s handy for those times when I’m just too tired and too cold to think of anything but curling up by the fire.

My only problem is deciding what to have with my chilli – will I be good and have rice or a baked potato, or will I go all out and have sour cream, cheese and taco shells? This is where the problems begin…and the danger of adding hundreds of calories without even realising!

A small to medium portion of homemade chilli (with lean minced beef, tomatoes and kidney beans as the main ingredients) has about 300 calories and 8 grams of fat (3 Totals) - not a bad total for those of us trying to eat healthily.

Serve that with a medium sized baked potato, or a portion of brown rice and you won’t have to worry about taking in more than your allowance of calories and fat (less than 400 calories and only 14 grams of fat or 5 Totals in this serving) AND you’ll be packing in a generous amount of fibre too (over 6g – about 1/5 of your daily requirement).

But start piling on the sour cream, cheddar cheese and scoop it all up in a taco and you’re in big trouble. To begin with, a medium-sized corn taco shell will set you back about 170 calories and 10 grams of fat (3 Totals).

Add a dollop of sour cream and you’re piling on another 90 calories and 9 grams of fat (2 Totals). Then top it all off with a generous sprinkling of cheddar cheese and you’ve got an extra 100 calories and another 10 grams of fat (2 Totals).

So that little chilli feast amounts to a grand total of 600 calories and over 40 grams of fat (10 Totals) – not good, eh?

So, how can we make it better for all you chilli heads out there? How about ditching the taco shell and having a baked potato instead? - you’ll save about 40 calories and 10g of fat (1 Total).

Swap the sour cream for a teaspoon of half-fat crème fraiche and you’ll save another 70 calories and 7 grams of fat (1.5 Totals).

And finally, one tablespoon of grated low-fat cheddar instead of 2 spoonfuls of full fat cheese will reduce the calories by a further 30 and the fat by 7 grams (0.5 Total). So the new total is about 400 calories and 15 grams of fat (6 Totals). That’s a major improvement!

Now you can enjoy your chilli on those cold wintry evenings and with these little changes, you won’t be piling on extra calories or piling on those pounds!

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