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Good ‘n healthy Chili Mac

chili mac

This recipe was created by Dr. Joseph McPhee, a bariatric surgeon at our Healthy Weight Management Center.

I’d like to share one of my “comfort food” recipes. While I limit the amount of pasta I eat, I do treat myself now and then with this satisfying homemade Chili Mac. It’s simple to make, and tastes great for the whole family to enjoy.

Most store bought pastas are made from very refined white flour in which the outer layer of the wheat grain is stripped off during processing and the fiber is removed. As I explained in past blogs, fiber is key to feeling full and satisfied. Processing also gives white flour-based carbohydrates a high glycemic index since they are easily digested and move quickly into the bloodstream. This in turn raises your blood sugar, causing insulin production and early return of your appetite.

I do not tell patients to stop eating all pastas and breads but rather to limit them, and always pair them with a good protein source. Choosing a wheat or whole grain pasta will provide fiber with its added benefits. Nutritionally, you get 29 grams of carbohydrates from the pasta, including 5 grams of fiber, and about 27 grams of protein from the cheese and turkey; which is not a bad protein-to-carbohydrate ratio for a pasta dish. A 1.5 cup serving size is a little over 300 calories.

As with many of my recipes, I start with basic ingredients that you can alter to suit your specific tastes. I love spicy food, so I added some habanera chili sauce when I made it. You could add extra veggies or try different types of cheeses.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 1-12 ounce bottle roasted peppers, chopped (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (93%)
  • 1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup wheat or whole grain elbow pasta
  • ¾ cup reduced fat Mexican cheese mix
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat a 2-3 quart saucepan to medium high heat and add the olive oil, onions, roasted pepper and garlic. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the vegetables and place in a food processor. Hit pulse 5-6 times to blend but not purée. Set aside.
  3. In same saucepan, sauté the turkey until browned. Drain turkey.
  4. Return turkey to saucepan and add the blended vegetables, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin and chili powders. Stir well.
  5. Add the chicken broth and pasta. Cover and simmer over low to medium heat until pasta is semi soft, or al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes. Add the cheese, salt and pepper. Mix again and taste. Add more spices or salt and pepper to suite your taste.

Makes 5 servings.

Nutritional Information
Per 1 ½ cup serving: 318 calories; 10.8g total fat (4.3g saturated fat, 0.3g polyunsaturated fat, 0.7g monounsaturated fat); 834.8mg sodium; 73mg cholesterol; 29.4g carbohydrate; 4.9g fiber; 4.4g sugars; 26.7g protein; 291.3mg potassium.

author name

Joseph R. McPhee, MD

Joseph R. McPhee, MD, is a physician specializing in bariatric surgery with Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery.

Education: A graduate of New York University and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. McPhee completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School and his residency at North Shore University Hospital.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.