High protein and fibre chilli con carne

Deliciously Healthy Chilli con Carne

By Rebecca Walton, wlr team

A great winter warmer, and a good half way house if you're trying to reduce your meat consumption. Made 'half and half' with lean mince and lentils, it's as hearty and filling as you'd like it to be... and really packs a punch with both protein and fibre.

I personally use black beans instead of kidney beans as I'm not a fan of the larger bean varieties, and I find the black beans cook down better for this dish (with the added bonus of being more palatable for my tastes).

The addition of cocoa powder makes this pot full of yumminess truly worthy of the foodie adjective 'unctuous'!

  • Recipe makes: 8 servings
  • Prep time:
    15 mins
  • Cook time: 1 hr
  • Calories: 238
    per serving


  • 1 Red Onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil, Extra Virgin
  • 1½ tsp Paprika
  • 1½ tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • ½ tsp Chilli Flakes, Dried
  • 500g Beef Steak Mince, Extra Lean
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube
  • 250g Green Lentils, Cooked (pouch or canned)
  • 4 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Can/Carton Black Beans
  • 500g Tomato Passata
  • 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Oregano, Dried
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper


Really versatile, this chilli is great served with rice, over a crispy jacket spud, or with tacos (soft or hard). Swirl a tbsp of sour cream through each portion before serving for a cheffy twist.

Once cooked, the flavour of this dish deepens even more if eaten the next day. And it's a great batch cook - portion it up and put the leftovers in the freezer for a super quick weeknight dinner whenever you want something homecooked and hearty with a bit of heat!

  1. Put a large heavy bottomed pan on a low heat. Peel and finely chop the onion, peel and crush the garlic, finely slice the celery, peel and small dice the peppers.
    Making Chilli - Ingredients
  2. Heat the oil in the pan and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add in all the spices and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook out for a minute or two while stirring.
    Making Chilli - Saute onions and spices to layer flavour
  3. Add the mince to the pan, and if using shop bought mince (lets face it... who doesn't), take the time as the mince is browning to break it up properly... you'll thank me for it later.
    Making Chilli - Add mince and break up
  4. As the mince is browning crumble in the beef stock cube. You'll need to let this cook for 5 minutes or so (remember that layering...), stirring occasionally to really get the spices combined and coating everything.
  5. Once the mince is browned, add the lentils and stir to coat. Saute for another 2-3 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the pan and add the tomato puree (this is to 'cook out' the puree, which can go a bit bitter if not cooked through as part of the process). As you hear it start to sizzle, slowly stir it first in the centre, then starting to incorporate some of the mixture around it until you're stirring the whole mixture in.
    Making Chilli - Make a well for the tomato puree
  7. Add the beans (which can be a can or a carton) including the juices, the Worcestershire sauce, and the passata. I use passata because my son used to have an issue with chunks of tinned tomatoes - but either works well.
    Making Chilli - add the beans
  8. Add a good splash of cold water to the tomato container, give it a swirl and add to the pan. Sprinkle over 2 heaped teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and give it all a good stir.
    Making Chilli - add the cocoa
  9. Squeeze in the juice of a whole lime (or 1 tbsp lime juice), add a tsp dried oregano, stir and leave to simmer over a low heat for an hour or so... checking to stir regularly so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.
    Making Chilli - simmer
  10. The longer you can let this cook, the better, but check for seasoning and heat after half an hour of simmering and adjust to your liking.
    Making Chilli - Finished dish with rice and sour cream

You can adjust the heat and spices to taste. I tend to use smoked paprika, and would always use this in equal quantities to the cumin. The chilli flakes are not necessary but give it an extra kick which my household love. If you're unsure of heat levels, you can add ½ tsp chilli powder, then add more after it's all simmered for a while if you want to.

For an impressive family style meal for a group... serve with condiments/sides like guacamole, sour cream with chopped chives running through, shredded Mexican Cheese such as Manchego (substitute for a mature cheddar if it's what you have in the fridge), some warmed through tortilla chips, or a zingy side salad of small dice red onion and tomato with black pepper and lime juice running through... maybe even some Margaritas!

Some of the ingredients here may not be 100% authentic (I'm pretty sure Worcester is nowhere near Mexico!), but this dish is about layering the flavours up, and I've tweaked it over the years... I'm a firm believer most recipes should be tweaked through time to suit your own personal tastes and flair.

Nutrition information per serving
Calories (kcal)238
Carbohydrate (g)21.3
Fat (g)6.6
Protein (g)21.3
Fibre (g)8.1
Alcohol (g)0.0
Fruit & Veg2.7

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