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Healthy & Delicious: Pumpkin Turkey Chili

"The pumpkin bulks up the mixture and adds a sweet, earthy undertone fairly uncommon to healthier chilis."

A few years ago, I made the conscious decision to drop a few pounds and start eating better. Hands down, the hardest part was finding delicious meals that didn't leave me starving afterward. Like many dieters, I subsided on salads and feather-light bird food for quite awhile, assuming it was the only way I would whittle inches off my tuchus. It got really boring, really quickly, and almost turned me off to healthy eating in general.

Then, I started cooking chili.

Substantial and versatile, chili is a wonderfood. Lighter versions tend to use very little oil and are usually loaded with beans and vegetables, which means the final nutritional tallies are low in fat, high in fiber, and packed in vitamins and minerals. Basic recipes take less than an hour to make, and will feed the Duggar family, plus Kate, plus eight. (Note: not Jon.) Finally, there's an endless supply of lighter chilis online. So, if you don't like one, keep looking, because there exists a version tailor made to your taste buds. Are they all authentic Texan concoctions? Not necessarily. (See: beans, no beef.) But that's not what we're going for here.

Personally, chili was a gateway drug. Once I was confident that filling meals wouldn't halt my progress, I began consistently eating other, more satisfying foods. It made the pound-droppage process much easier to take, and many dishes remain go-to meals even now.

I only discovered Pumpkin Turkey Chili recently, but I likes it lots.

The pumpkin bulks up the mixture and adds a sweet, earthy undertone fairly uncommon in healthier chilis. Based on All Recipes reviewer suggestions, I also added green chiles, red kidney beans, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a handful of cilantro at the end. (Changes reflected below.) Though not included here, a dash of cinnamon or a few teaspoons of cocoa powder wouldn't be out of place either.

So, next time you're faced with another friggin' salad, reach for a steaming bowl of homemade chili, instead. It'll taste better, and remind you that healthy eating doesn't mean deprivation.

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