I can't cook, but I sure can Nuke!

Dennison’s 99% Fat Free Beef Chili with Beans $2 to $3

Dennison’s 99% Fat Free Beef Chili with Beans

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  • Taste
  • Nutrition
  • Honesty in Advertising
  • Green Packaging
  • Value

Sublime. Outstanding. Fabulous. And good for me too? Get outta town!

Warning: Chili, like Clam Chowder, has a nasty habit of exploding in the microwave. It’s imperative that you cover the container you cook it in. If you don’t have a lid, just use a paper plate.
Dennison’s makes outstanding chili. I’ve been eating it for some 30 years, so I should know. But the real miracle is that their healthiest products are also their tastiest. Now before you get your hopes up, let me list the (only) 2 negatives. First, they definitely do not know how to make spicy chili (easily solved by adding some cayenne pepper). And second, you’re buying beef, not steak, chili (more a matter of taste, really).

A couple of other minor points are that it can sometimes be expensive (wait for when it’s on sale for $1 and buy a ton), and I’ve found the canning process to be somewhat inconsistent over the years. What I mean is that sometimes it’s really watery, sometimes there is less meat, and sometimes the can isn’t as full as other times. But it always, always tastes great, so I really couldn’t care less.

The really great thing about Dennison’s is that they know not to monkey with a great product! So many other companies feel they need to constantly tweak products or save a nickle by using cheaper ingredients. But as far as I can tell, Dennison’s hasn’t changed their recipes in 30 years. Oh sure, they’ve introduced new versions of their chili, but they stick to the recipe once they do. I stand up and applaud a company that doesn’t give into the tendency to always “improve” products (remember “New Coke“?).

So what makes this such a great chili? Well first you have to accept that this is canned chili, not something from a chili cook-off. It has ground beef, whole beans, and sauce – and that’s all. No chopped onions, chunks of steak, mountains of cheese, or sliced habaneros. But therein lies it’s magic – from those simple ingredients, a taste sensation is born. You can always add onions, cheese, or peppers. My personal favorite is to add crushed tortilla chips – it adds a lot of calories, but it’s nirvana in a bowl. Oh, and of course my ever-present cayenne pepper.

What is truly startling is that this stuff is actually good for you – really good. Very low in fat, high in protein, very high in fiber (at least for the American diet), and it even has some vitamins. It’s a tad high in calories and salt, but compared to other chili, it’s not even close.

This is a no-brainer Editor’s Choice. And if you find it on sale, fill your basket!

Calories per can: 349 (Caloric Density 0.82)

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