Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

chili, beef, pinto bean, warm meals, soup, stew

January is one of my favorite months to make stews and chilis.  It’s the best way to heat up your body when you literally turn into a meat popsicle the minute you step outside.  Eat some chili to stop being chilly!  The word “chili” actually comes from “chile con carne”, which means “peppers with meat” in Spanish, which makes complete sense, so I’m going to stop myself from spewing out a bunch of ridiculous, stupid-American jokes about food vs. weather :)

In all actuality, I want to focus on warm soup/chili/stew recipes in January because you all are probably looking for some new ones to try while you’re trying to stay warm.  Here’s the first one!  I found it on the 2013 Cooking Light recipe box calendar that Jess got me for Christmas.  I love it!  I’m speaking about the calendar AND the chili.

Calendar = food porn.  Chili = delicioso.

I happened to have a bag of dry pinto beans laying around from an Aldi shopping trip from loooooong ago.  Seriously, I’ve had these beans for a YEAR.  They’re not my bean of choice, so naturally I didn’t think to use them. When I saw this recipe and realized I had every single ingredient in my kitchen (including the pinto beans!), I knew I had to make it!  So I did.  At 11pm on a Thursday night.  I soaked the beans for a day, then I stuck all the ingredients in the crockpot, put it on low and went to bed.  And at 3am, Jess woke me up because the delicious smells lured her out of sleep, lol.

I brought some in to work on Friday to share with my friend, Richard.  He is a spicy food fanatic like myself and he recently acquired this ridiculously spicy hot sauce.  The first time Richard tried it, his mouth was on fire, he felt like he was dying and laid on the floor curled up in a ball for about two hours.  He put a bit too much on his BBQ sandwich.  He also felt like a demi-god when he survived it.  So, of course, I wanted to try it!  What more perfect pairing is there than chili and hot sauce?  NONE!  (except maybe sea salted caramel and dark chocolate)  So we put about 1.5 tsp into a mere 1.5 cups of chili, stirred it up and ate it in the break room at work.  HOLY CRAP.  That sauce is HOT!  A sweet hot with a gentle, but voracious fire that makes the inside of your mouth sweat and then fires up your belly slowly from the top down.  But you know what?  It tasted great even when it was burning its way through my body and I now feel like a superhuman!  I WANT MORE.  I’m totally getting a bottle because it belongs in my kitchen.  And in this chili.

beef, pinto bean, bean, chili, soup, stew, dinner

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (10 with topping) *See tips on lightening it up even more at the bottom*


  • 1 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 18 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, 7 PP
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 12-oz bottle beer, 5 PP
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 cups fat-free beef broth (like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base), 1 PP
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained, 8 PP


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
  • 1 avocado, chopped, 9 PP
  • 6 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 6 tbsp light sour cream, 5 PP
  • 6 lime wedges

1. Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 tsp salt. Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

2. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeno; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Return beef to pan. Add broth, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1.5 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

4. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls and divide toppings evenly.


– Use half as much meat and this goes down to 6 PP per cup.
– Need some extra filler in now that you’ve take out some of the meat? Add a cup of diced zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped celery and your chili will be hearty and healthy and remain at 6 PP per cup.
– If you use half the oil and only 2.5 cups of onion (not adding in the celery and zucchini), it goes down to 5 PP per cup.
– Top with fat-free sour cream or leave out either the light sour cream or the avocado and you’ll only be adding 1 PP per bowl rather than two. (if you’re using the topping).

Fast Food: Poison Never Tasted So Good

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Remember all those wonderful commercials with glistening french fries, plump burgers, succulent chicken, perfectly carbonated beverages and cute smiley families all sitting around a hard plastic table experiencing apparent joy and elation?  Do you remember wanting to get into your car and drive wherever you need to in order to get a bite of that perfection?  I sure do.  Ever since I discovered what curly fries were and how scrumptious they were right after being pulled out of a vat of hot oil, I was hooked.  And the best part?  CHEAP.  It was cheap to get my fix.  It was cheap, it was available at every corner and everyone was advertising it, buying it and eating it, even though we all know the horrible by-product and preservatives that go into it all.

I ate one of my favorite fast food meals the other day.  It was the Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich (with a large curly fry) from Hardees.  I made sure to count the points, and I didn’t even use up all my points for that day, but the meal itself was 23 points.  I didn’t mind, though.  I’d been really good all week, I’d been feeling really healthy and as WW says, sometimes you just need to indulge a little.  I ate all of that glistening goodness, got adjusted at the chiropractor next door and then went back to work.  I was full, satisfied and ready to take on the rest of the day… until a migraine started to creep in.

I’ve been suffering from migraines ever since I was four years old.  The first time I got one was during my very first exciting trip to Paramount Kings Island.  One minute I was riding roller coasters and eating candy; the next minute I’m puking in a trash bag in the minivan on the way home.  Not fun.  I pretty much grew out of it, but I get the occasional one when I’m not eating right or when the weather is all sorts of erratic and since the weather here has securely fastened itself into winter, I knew it had to be from the food.

I haven’t had a single migraine since starting Weight Watchers (except for a small headache caused by the weather), so I knew what was happening.  The fast food did me in.  My body was literally rejecting the poison I’d just ingested!  I felt slightly nauseous and quite irritable for the next four hours at work and by the time I got into my car to drive home, I started crying.  I’d just felt so crappy for the whole afternoon and I was tired of having a headache!  Luckily, my girlfriend had brought me some extra strength Tylenol about 30 minutes before I left to help nip it in the bud, but it wasn’t fully nipped.

So there I was, crying for no good reason other than feeling like poop, and I remembered Morgan Spurlock’s film Super Size Me.  One of the things he and his girlfriend noted during his 30 day binge at McD’s was that he became depressed.  He was lethargic, didn’t feel well, his sex drive went down, and he was generally unhappy each day… until he had his McD’s fix.  Then he’d feel depressed and sick again shortly after!  That is how I felt.  I felt sick and depressed and vowed not to eat it again, even though my brain was already reminiscing about the hot, glistening fries and juicy chicken.

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It really IS poison.  Fast food is a poisonous drug because of all the preservatives, MSG (and it’s relatives), and less than savory meat by-product.  Not all of it is, but most of it.  Actually, since the film, McD’s has changed up their menu quite a bit and it’s one of my first choices if I was a “healthier” fast food meal.  But still, it’s poison.  It skillfully and stealthily infects us with chemicals that mutate us and give us cancer and other horrible diseases when consumed in large quantities.  There is all sorts of information out there about it.  I’ve seen and read enough of it to know I should NEVER eat fast food, but I still haven’t stopped completely.  It scares me to think about how I’m going to raise my children to eat healthy in a society that idolizes food that’s quick and cheap.  I had one big, unhealthy meal (even though that sandwich is one of their healthiest options) and I got a migraine and temporary depression!  How did our nation turn into such a careless, unhealthy one?

Some days I think I’d rather be Amish.  Maybe I wouldn’t have this problem then.  But I look silly with those hats on and I like wearing pants, so maybe not.  How about a healthy, fast-food-less intentional community?  That would be quite the experience!  Or maybe I just need to figure out how to keep living in this society without completely ruining my health because of momentary hunger and weakness.  Le sigh.

Can’t a girl catch a break here!?!?!