As many of you know, about a year ago, I moved to Chicago. Those who know me the most know that I am huge sports fan. Just about any sport will be able to capture my attention. Depending on how long that attention last is the question. Whether it’s for a season, game, or a lifetime, it depends on the appeal of the game to me.
Hockey is something new for me. I just recently started watching and following the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL team here. I’ve got great timing because earlier this week, they just won the Stanley Cup, which is the national championship for those of you unfamiliar. Think Superbowl for NFL or the Heat winning the NBA finals.
I explain this in detail because hockey isn’t as widely watched in certain parts of the country. My situation is case and point. Nebraska and Kansas are my main reference points.
Anyway, the hockey playoffs have been going on for a few weeks now with games like 3 times a week. The parade is downtown today and will be passing my building! 2-3 million people are expected to come watch! I definitely plan on sticking with following hockey next season!
So, I’ve been super busy lately. Last Sunday, after a weekend in the burbs, I wanted to make something quick. Also with all the bar food I’ve been consuming during these games, I wanted something healthy too. These two characteristics are often together in descriptions of recipes, but many times they result in something not that exciting. Then my boyfriend, Mike, told me of a healthy and quick version of Chili Mac.
Recipe adapted from Mike’s mind
½ box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 lb of ground turkey
16 oz no salt added tomato sauce, canned
16 oz mild or hot chili beans, canned
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Since we both wanted to go the healthy route for this meal, we decided to calculate the nutritional information for this meal. We did the best we could as far as calculations and serving sizing. The amount above makes a solid 3 cereal bowl servings. So we figured out that the nutritional details for a serving would be 4 g fat, 510 calories, and 34.5 g protein. A normal chili mac is like 17 grams of fat. Most of the calories come from the pasta.
We added in the protein calculation here because it’s important when trying to eat healthier. Technically, our body needs daily protein intake because it doesn’t actually create it. Protein helps keep you fuller for longer. Plus if you eat it post-workout or even after an injury, it helps repair muscles. Also, it serves as an energy source. Our body actually burns more fat while digesting protein than other elements. I like to think of it as the celery theory here. Burns more calories to chew it well enough than it actually contains.
Until recently, my view of those who focus on protein intake were the Jersey Shore tanned meatheads. But now, I’ve realized that there are more every day, normal person reasons to pay attention to it.
The recipe itself is really easy. While the noodles are boiling, cook the ground turkey till brown in a deep pot. Once the turkey is done, drain the grease out as much as you can. Add in the entire contents of the chili beans, including the sauce.
At this point, the noodles should be done or about done. Drain then add them into the pot over medium heat. Finally, add in the canned tomato sauce. And stir till warm!
Now for the optional items: I added in black pepper and some chipotle chili powder to have a bit of spice. You could really put whatever you have in your cabinet to it. Have fun with it. Or not. The sauce of chili beans provides a good flavor for the sauce alone. Also, cheese always makes everything better. I didn’t have any in my apartment so our version turned out even healthier this way and honestly, it was great without it! But, you can always have it on the side to sprinkle over the chili mac in the bowl allowing it to melt in a little.
As our side we made cornbread muffins. To support the quick and easy factor of this meal, we bought a thing of cornbread mix and baked it in the over while the chili mac was made. It times out perfectly. Though cornbread doesn’t necessarily help the nutritional value of this meal, it’s a good addition!