Diabetes Blogs

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Chili

Over the past few days Chicago has had a touch of fall weather. Fall in Chicago is always a bit of a tease; we get a few breezy days in between heat waves and then it’s suddenly 30 degrees and “fall” has come and gone.  Naturally, as soon as the weather blew in, I couldn’t help but think of chili. Chili is my go-to comfort food in the fall. There’s just something about the heat and the heartiness of a bowl of chili on a crisp fall day with a little football on in the background that could make any Chicagoan excited.

On this particular day, I was faced with my crockpot, some chicken breast, a can of diced tomatoes, some fresh pineapple in the fridge, and a jar of salsa verde. While the first batch was delicious, this second batch has much more depth to the flavors. I really wasn't sure how pineapple would fare here but it balances out the heat of the salsa verde really well. I am a firm believer in cooking with color, the more natural color in a recipe, the more nutrients. Between pineapple, tomatoes, and salsa verde - this one's bursting with nutrients!

Pineapple in chili? I know, sounds strange BUT— think about how well pineapple compliments the spice in a stir fry dish. Not only does pineapple lend great flavor to this dish, but it boasts plenty of health benefits as well. For several hundred years, pineapple has been used to treat inflammation and indigestion in Central and South American countries. Plus it's chocked  in vitamin C which, as a teacher, I can't seem to get enough of!

The ingredients in the salsa verde I made for this chili boast all sorts of health benefits. The jalepeno used here not only adds great flavor, but jalepenos are high in both Vitamins C and A. That means immune strengthening on top of GORGEOUS skin! Cilantro has powerful cleansing properties (hello, detox)—and tomatillos boast Vitamin C (again!), as well as anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties.

Jalepenos lend the spice to this recipe. In this particular recipe for salsa I used 2 jalepenos, but only the seeds from one entire jalapeno. This created a moderately spicy chili (or "medium" in salsa jar terminology). You can control some of the heat by using more or fewer seeds. If you want a crazy hot chili, use the seeds from both—or don't use any at all! It's up to you.

While there is nothing wrong with traditional chili, I try to limit my intake of red meat. Red meat is higher in cholesterol and saturated fats. White meat, specifically chicken and fish give you much more bang for your nutritonal buck. Using something like chicken breast in this recipe means it is lower in fat and calories, and high in protein. This is ideal for weight management.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Chili

Prep time: 30 minutes

Crockpot cook time: 7 hours

Salsa Verde Ingredients:

(If you want to use a 16-oz jar of salsa verde,* skip this section).

1 tbsp. olive oil

14 oz tomatillos (5-7 tomatillos) - These are ripe when they are firm and their "husks" pretty much slide right off, roughly chopped

2 jalepenos, seeded to your liking and roughly chopped

1/4 cup of sweet onion, very roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

juice of 2 limes

1 bunch of cilantro 

1. Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.

2. Add all the veggies to the pre-heated skillet, and stir every few minutes until the onions become translucent.

4. Take the pan off the heat and put the contents in a blender or food processor, add the cilantro and lime juice.

I put mine through a food processor until it reached my desired consistency. This part is really up to you — if you want a runnier chili, let it pulse longer. I wanted something a little chunkier, so I did not run it through my food processor for nearly as long.

Chili Ingredients:

2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast

1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes 

10 oz fresh pineapple

1 14.5 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained

4 oz frozen corn

Salsa verde (use all of the salsa from the recipe above, or the contents of one 16 oz. jar of salsa verde)

*Please note if not using the salsa verde recipe here, the carbohydrates and sodium in your final product may be slightly different.

...Here's the easy part:

1. Lay the chicken breasts down in the bottom of your crock pot.

2. Pour the salsa verde on top of the chicken breast.

3. Pour the diced tomatoes on top of that.

4. Pour in the pineapple.

5. Cook on low for 6 hours.

6. Remove chicken breast from the crock pot and shred it; it should fall apart at this point. I like to shred up the pineapple a bit too so that it isn't in big chunks in the chili.

7. Return the shredded chicken to the crock pot, add the beans and corn. Continue cooking for 1 more hour.

This recipe yields 10 servings; serving size is 1 cup.

Nutritional Facts Per 1 Serving: Calories: 197; Total Fat: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 52 mg; Sodium: 405 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 20 grams; Protein: 26 grams

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