By Larry Levine –

One of the things I was told, with great emphasis, as I recovered from my quadruple coronary bypass surgery four years ago, was “no more Mexican restaurants”.

That one hurt. I love Mexican food. You can read about how this got started in Chapter Four of the memoir “Cooking for a Beautiful Woman”.  After three years of abstinence, I allowed myself an occasional treat, particularly when it comes to the mole at Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses in Sun Valley CA.

What I did instead was learn to make some of my favorite Mexican dishes at home, where I could control the salt and fat content. I developed recipes for various fajita dishes, chili verde, tacos, and black beans and rice with chicken that fit comfortably into my new diet and were packed with flavor.

A few weeks ago, I was seized of a craving for chili con carne. Commercial or restaurant versions of this were just too far outside of even my ever-stretching definitions of a healthy diet. So, I made up my own recipe and it turned out very good. I made it a second time with some adjustments and it was even better. Here is a recipe for low sodium, low fat, high flavor chili con carne. If the fat content of the ground beef worries you, just substitute some cut up chunks of chicken.

2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ lb. lean ground beef (9% fat content)
15 oz. can of no salt added pinto beans
7 oz. can of chopped green chilis
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
1 medium tomato – coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
½ cup coarsely chopped brown onion
4 tortillas

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the ground beef and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Keep breaking it apart and stirring it until almost all the pink is gone. Add the beans, including the liquid from the can. Stir well with the beef. Add the green chilis and stir well. Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano and stir well. Add the tomato and stir well. Cover and cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt to taste.
Heat the tortillas in a warm, dry frying pan and cover on a plate to keep them warm.

Serve the chili in a bowl topped with one-quarter of a cup of chopped onion. Serve the tortillas on the side.

This will give you a comfortable level of heat in the chili. If you want it hotter add more chili powder to taste.

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