Cold blustery days in the Midwest yield great opportunities to enjoy comfort food. Many variations of turkey chili have become the common “healthy” replacement for the traditional ground beef chili. Chilis, soups and stews are a great way to keep warm and get a host of vital nutrients from your food.
If you are not a big fan of ground turkey or want to try a new protein, my suggestion is lean ground bison. There is minimal taste a difference between bison and grass fed ground beef and will save yourself many fat calories and gain important Omega fatty acids.
Personally I am not a fan of conventional factory raised ground beef. This is due to the way ground beef is processed. Rather than follow natural biological dietary patterns of cows, many cattle ranchers feed their cows a grain diet that includes corn. While this does produce a more fatty, marbled cut of beef it also causes the cow’s digestive system to create increased E. coli bacteria.
This natural reaction is done to in an effort to breakdown the corn hulls. One problem that arises is this increase in E. coli bacteria can be transferred to the meat during the slaughter process. Rather than feed the cows what they biologically digest naturally they have devised a system to treat the beef with ammonia (pink slime) to help reduce the incidents of E. coli contamination. In my opinion this is counter intuitive.
Very few people I know choose to eat Bison over beef. What ever the reason may be; it could be due to the lack of marketing exposure, the increased cost or some altered perception held about Bison meat. Whatever the reason, Bison does not get enough love. Below is a comparison of nutritional data from a variety of high protein food sources.
Why should you choose bison? Not only is Bison lower in fat than all the meats listed above, but it also contains vital Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Almost all of the Bison sold today is naturally grass feed and pasture raised, free of hormones and antibiotics. Big box corporations have yet to manipulate this food system for the sole intention of maximizing profits. Even though Bison is a lean meat source, it still contains substantially amounts of cholesterol, but it is still below the other high yield proteins listed. When eaten in moderation, as with all things, it can contribute to a well-rounded healthy diet. Below is a recipe for bison chili. Flax seeds and whole-wheat pasta were added to the recipe. To make this recipe gluten free substitute gluten free pasta, or omit the pasta altogether.
Flaxseeds are an extremely nutritional food source. For example, 3 Tbsp of flax seeds have as much omega 3 as 1 pound of fish, and contains 10 grams of protein and accounts for almost half your daily requirements for fiber. Flax seeds also have 70 to 800 times more lignans that any other food source. Lignans are vital to fighting cancer, inflammation, heart disease and hot flashes. The omega 3’s present in the flax seeds also contribute to that full feeling. Omega 3’s are a great brain food. You will not notice the flax seeds in the chili and they are practically tasteless. Below is my Bison/Flax seed chili. Enjoy full flavor with nutrient density!
Bison Chili with Flax seeds
1 cup dried red chili beans, soaked over night
1# ground bison
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
4 cloves, garlic, minced
7 cups crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp chili Powder
2 Tbsp Flax Seed
3 Tbsp Chipotle
4 oz. Borough market cheddar cheese
8 oz. Whole-wheat pasta
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp cilantro, chiffonade
Salt and Pepper TT
- Soak the dried red chili beans in water over night, make sure there is double the volume of water to beans can expand
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chili beans and cook until tender, chill and reserve.
- In a separate stock pot add 1 tbsp oil, heat. Then add the ground bison meat and sauté, season with a little salt/pepper while cooking
- Once the bison is cooked thoroughly, strain the excess oil and reserve
- Now add the garlic and 1 ½ small yellow onions to the stock pot and sweat
- Add the cooked bison, chili powder and sweat
- Add the chipotle, crushed tomatoes and beans
- Simmer for 45 minutes, add flax seeds at the last minute
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- While the chili is simmering start a stock pot of lightly salted water for pasta
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Cooking times vary depending on noodle.
- Toss remaining onion and cilantro together serve at room temperature
- Crumble the cheddar cheese
- Serve with pasta noodles if desired.
- Add any garnishes you desire in the quantities you desire.
Any other garnishes you enjoy with chili can be added at this time. Eating well never tasted so good!