This spin on traditional chilli con carne is easy to make, and perfect to share with friends. Chocolate chilli doesn’t sound like an obvious healthy option, but tweak a few ingredients and it’s easy to justfiy its place at the table; eating healthier doesn’t need to mean eating endless plates of salads and bowls of soup. In winter especially, I personally crave nourishing food, especially for my evening meal: food that is simple to make, wholesome and warming.
Our chocolate chilli can be made in a slow cooker or on a low temperature in the oven. It’s budget-friendly and great for making in bulk and freezing for those evenings when I’m too lazy to cook.
This chilli is packed with healthy ingredients, including spices, antimicrobial onion and garlic, lycopene-rich tomatoes, fibre-full kidney beans, pasture-fed beef and chocolate. Serve it with gut-soothing brown basmati rice and liberal scatterings of chlorophyll-rich, liver-supportive coriander leaves and you can’t go wrong.
The beef: I use a good quality minced beef. We don’t eat red meat every day so when we do I like get the best I can find. I’m lucky enough to have a local farm near me that supplies organic, pasture-fed beef but if you don’t have the benefit of this, there are a number of suppliers that sell online. Organic minced beef won’t break the bank – and is often cheaper than many more obvious ‘healthy’ foods such as salmon.
One benefit of using pasture-fed beef is that it is higher in essential Omega 3 fats – those that we normally associate with oily fish. So eating 100% pasture-fed meat is an easy alternate source of Omega 3s, and lessens the pressure to work out whether you’ve had your portions of sardines, salmon or mackerel this week.
Omega 3 fats are important as they can help the body to counter inflammation. In our high sugar, overweight society, our inflammatory pathways are constantly being triggered, so any food that gives us a little more anti-inflammatory protection sounds good to me.
The chocolate: the addition of chocolate in the form of cocoa powder thickens the chilli, tastes fantastic and adds health benefits in the form of antioxidant flavonoids. These beneficial flavonoids deteriorate with high heat, so to retain as many as possible, slow cooking at a low temperature is really important. You could also use grated dark chocolate – in which case skip the molasses sugar, which is used as a sweetener.
Slow cooking is a fantastic way of cooking meat. Low temperature cooking significantly reduces chemical changes to the meat that happen at higher temperatures. These changes are associated with increased cancer risk. Slow cooking allows me to buy good quality, but cheaper cuts of meat: if you can’t find minced beef, buy a cheaper stewing steak and either mince it yourself or make a chunky chilli. The long cooking time will ensure the meat is really tender either way.
If you like your chilli hot, add more chilli flakes, paprika and cayenne. These fiery spices help to lower blood sugar levels after a meal and are a great source of capsaicin –yet another anti-inflammatory.
We hope you enjoy this blog post, let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on social media – we’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive a monthly update of our recipes, nutrition tips and expert advice.