With fall in full swing I’m craving all the hearty Dutch oven comfort foods. Another thing that comes along with fall? Gatherings.. and lots of them. This easy lean chili mac can most definitely please a crowd! Even a tough one like my little boys.
If you haven’t had chili mac.. either had I. Ha. It sounds like a meal that would leave you feeling sleepy and regretful! But this recipe is just as light and balanced as all of my recipes. It’s loaded with veggies, spices, ground turkey, and of course.. pasta! I use Greek cream cheese plus a little grated cheddar to add some cheesy goodness, and it’s simply divine. However, I know that Greek cream cheese can be hard to find. It’s just got a little less fat and a little more protein and still tastes amazing. But don’t stress if you can’t find it! Substitute with just ½ cups of “⅓ less fat cream cheese” and your macros (if you care) for one serving will essentially just be +1 fat, – 1 protein. No big deal!
How to Make Lean Chili Mac
- White onions, diced –I use the frozen diced for ease!
- Zucchini, finely chopped
- Red bell pepper, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 93/7 lean ground turkey
- Chili powder (depending on heat preference)
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Onion powder
- Garlic, minced or frozen Dorot cubes
- Tomato paste
- Liquid smoke
- Tomato sauce- or jarred marinara
- Mild diced green chilis, undrained
- Mild green enchilada sauce
- Rotel, undrained (or canned diced tomatoes)
- Chicken stock or broth
- Cavatappi or other short pasta
- Greek cream cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese)
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- Grated cheddar cheese
You’ll start by heat your large Dutch oven (or any heavy-bottom pot you have!) over high heat. Spray with a spritz of avocado oil and let it get nice and hot. Add in the onion, zucchini, bell pepper and salt, and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Just enough time to get everything tender and fragrant.
When the veggies are ready, scoot them to the side if possible and let the surface of your pot get nice and hot for a minute before adding your ground turkey. Sprinkle the top of the meat with your dry seasonings (chili powder, cumin, oregano, and onion powder), and break it up until cooked through, stirring often and eventually mixing in the veggies.
When the meat is cooked you can add your garlic cubes, tomato paste, and liquid smoke. Make sure to stir everything well and leave it for about a minute. Then pour in your tomato sauce, green chilis, enchilada sauce, rotel, and chicken broth. Let it get nice and hot for a minute and then turn it down to medium before adding your pound of pasta. Simmer until your pasta is al dente (about as long as your pasta instructs you) — test for doneness and don’t overcook it! We don’t want mush.
Stir in the Greek cream cheese, and Greek yogurt. Top it off with the grated cheddar and cover to let the cheese melt. It will continue to thicken up as it sits. Serve with a simple side salad or some crusty bread and you’re ready to enjoy!
I wanted the veggies to really blend into the meat this time for my boys, so I used my salsa maker to essentially “rice” the zucchini and bell peppers! This is a great trick for any picky eaters if you want to “sneak” in more veggies.
Also, I’m using Fulton Farms organic ground turkey in my calculations which is labeled at 4.5 fat/4 oz if you want to use a different ground meat option that’s close!
Looking to add a few more hearty yet macro friendly soups and chilis to your cold weather recipe bank? I’ve got you. Here are a few more of my most satisfying favorites,
I’ve got a whole cookbook full of healthy twists on single dish comfort foods… because I REALLY love my single dish comfort foods. So if it’s approved by me, you know it’s good! If you do make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram! (@lillieeatsandtells) I love seeing your creations!
Easy Lean Chili Mac
- 3 cups white onion diced (340 g– I love to use the 12 oz bag of frozen diced onion!)
- 2 cups zucchini finely chopped (490 g)*
- 2 cups red bell pepper finely chopped (400 g)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ lb 93/7 lean ground turkey** 700 g
- 2- 3 Tbsp chili powder depending on heat preference
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 7 cloves garlic minced or frozen Dorot cubes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste 30 g
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke 15 g- optional
- 1 15- oz can tomato sauce 425 g – or jarred marinara
- 1 7- oz can of mild diced green chilis undrained (198 g)
- 1 10- oz can mild green enchilada sauce 283 g
- 1 10- oz cans of rotel undrained (or canned diced tomatoes) (283g)
- 3 ½ cups chicken stock 720 g
- 1 lb cavatappi or other short pasta 453 g
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp Greek cream cheese 110 g***
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt 120 g
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese 56 g
- Heat a large dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over high heat. Spray with a spritz of avocado oil and let it get hot. Add onion, zucchini, bell pepper and salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes until tender and fragrant.
- Scoot your veggies to the side if possible and let the surface of your pot get nice and hot for a minute before adding your ground turkey. Sprinkle the top of the meat with your dry seasonings (chili powder, cumin, oregano, and onion powder), and break it up until cooked through, stirring often and eventually mixing in the veggies.
- Add garlic cubes, tomato paste, and liquid smoke and cook for a minute, stirring well. Then pour in your tomato sauce, green chilis, enchilada sauce, rotel, and chicken broth. Let it get nice and hot for a minute and then turn it down to medium and add your pound of pasta. Let it simmer until your pasta is al dente (about as long as your pasta instructs you), stirring often. Check for doneness, but don’t let it get too soft, since it’ll just get softer over time. Turn off the heat.
- Stir in Greek cream cheese, and Greek yogurt. Top with grated cheddar and cover to let the cheese melt. It will continue to thicken up as it sits. Enjoy with a simple side salad!