6 Healthy Must-Try Chili Dishes For Fall

Nothing heats you up from the inside out on a crisp, cool day like a fiber- and protein-loaded bowl of chili. From the savory flavors to the kick of heat and spice, you can’t go wrong when creating this fall-to-winter staple. And the best part? You can use pretty much any variety of ingredients you want. Vegetarian, vegan, meat lover? This dish is anything but biased! Here are six combinations you have to try now:

Cowboy Chili
Giddy up, partner, because this is one bad boy of a recipe whose reputation is well earned. Think of it as your traditional chili recipe revamped, meaning it comes with a few extra dashes of spiciness. It calls for ground beef, but it’s best to stick to the lean kind — specifically 90 percent lean, 10 percent fat. Not only are you saving yourself some very obvious fat calories, but the leaner the meat, the higher your protein, iron and zinc intake. Essentially, what you’re left with is a heartier, healthier meal. (Word to those who can’t handle the spice: Have water handy while eating!)
Get the recipe: Chef in Training

Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili
Tis the season for good ‘ol butternut squash, a vegetable that tastes like candy but has a surprisingly high nutritional value. To amp up the flavor and cut away from sweetness overload, add some pungent and sharp-tasting red onions and some sweet but savory red bell peppers. After sauteing the vegetables for a bit, you get this excellent flavor base that combines beautifully with the spices you add—namely, chili powder, cumin, salt and cinnamon. Toss in some black beans for a fiber boost, and top it all off with some creamy avocado, crispy tortilla chips and fresh cilantro.
Get the recipe: Cookie and Kate

White Chicken Chili
For those with dairy, grain or gluten allergies — or those who go the Paleo route — this basic yet delicious take on the traditional chili recipe will become your winter soup go-to. Subbing lean, white-meat chicken for lean beef slashes calories while still giving a nice, Mexican flavor that tastes very similar to cheese and chicken fajitas (without the cheese!). The key ingredients are a creamy-tasting coconut milk and a dash of potato starch. Mixed together with spices like cumin and chili powder, you get a hearty flavor without the heavier ingredients that leave your sensitive stomach making noises throughout the night.
Get the recipe: Health Starts in the Kitchen

Jalapeno Popper Turkey Chili
Warning: This is not your mama’s chili recipe. This way spicier version brings a flavor blast you’re not familiar with — and by that, we mean it’s a definite must-try. Can’t handle a whole lot of fire in your food? You can dial down the spiciness by omitting the jalapeno seeds. Like it’s name suggests, this recipe calls for a dash of cream cheese that pairs with the jalapeno just like your favorite fried appetizer — but without the added saturated fat and with a boost of lean protein thanks to the turkey crumbles. Yum!
Get the recipe: Kitchen Meets Girl

Pork Chili Verde
When you think about swapping out lean beef for pork in a recipe that’s supposed to be relatively nutritious, you may be a bit confused. But in addition to adding a ton of flavor to any recipe it touches, pork can also pack a serious punch of protein, especially when using use rib meat. Just a single 3-ounce serving offers up around 25 grams of protein. And while its fat content is relatively higher than that of lean beef, chicken or turkey, it does not contain any of the trans-fatty acids that are linked to high cholesterol and heart problems. Win, win!
Get the recipe: Fav Family Recipes

Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili
If you’re a veggie lover or vegetarian, you’re no doubt a fan of the sweet and ever-so-flavorful yam (or sweet potato). Containing about 15 percent of your daily fiber intake and 12 percent of your daily potassium intake, you’re truly getting some serious nutritional bang for your buck when using this vegetable as your main ingredient. Plus, it’s also very filling, and when cooked reduces to a creamy texture that pairs perfectly with beans like lentil and kidney, as well as any other vegetable you choose to use, from carrots to spinach.
Get the recipe: Fannetastic Food

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.