The first, only and last time I ever had chili cheese fries was in college. I went to Wake Forest University in North Carolina and in that area, there was something called Cook Out, a drive-through, fast food spot.
Cook Out introduced me to a lot of foods – hush puppies, greasy burgers, the creamiest of ice cream shakes, and of course, chili cheese fries.
Of course, we’d never get Cook Out in the middle of the day, it was only late night, like 1am or 2am (the best time to eat carbs, right?!) after a night of college-era partying.
My roommate at the time, Cassie, decided she wanted to go to Cook Out and that we’d get chili cheese fries instead of the usual shakes with side of hush puppies.
As our designated driver pulled up to the order window to pick up the fries, she grabbed them and they went EVERYWHERE. So much sticky cheese all over the car.
I just remember thinking, in that moment, 20 or so pounds overweight, that I needed to get it together. Of course, it took years of yo-yo and fad dieting to truly find my healthy way, but I have that memory in my head forever – what were we doing ordering chili cheese fries at 2am?
But alas, that was college and those memories with my friend were some of the most hilariously memorable and thus, #noregrets.
Fast-forward 9 years later and here I am, not drunk (ha!), and making a healthier, spiralized version of chili cheese fries!
This chili is a super quick chili that can be enjoyed on its own (without the sweet potato noodles or cheese) – so technically there are two recipes in one, here!
While the sweet potato noodles don’t offer that same enjoyment of picking up a fry with chili and cheese on it and popping it into your mouth, they still satisfy that carb craving and allow you to enjoy the same flavors, in a more civilized way.
Please tell me you all similarly embarrassing, gluttonous college stories?
Nutritional Information & Recipe
Lighter Spiralized Chili Cheese Fries
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound organic lean ground turkey
- salt and pepper
- 1 small jalapeno seeded, minced
- 1/2 small red onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 cup diced carrot about 2 small carrots
- 1/4 cup diced celery about 1 celery stalk
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1-1.5 tablespoons chili powder depending on how spicy you like it
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium
- 1 14.5oz can red kidney beans (or black beans), drained and rinsed
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup diced scallions to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Prepare the chili: heat the oil in a large pot. Once oil is shimmering, add the turkey meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up into bits as it cooks. Once meat is cooked through and crumbled, add the jalapeno, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin and stir well. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper and raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until thickened, adding the beans halfway through. Once thickened and done, taste and adjust with more salt if needed.
- While chili cooks, spiralize your sweet potatoes with Blade C and lay them out on the baking sheets. Spritz with olive oil cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until wilted and al dente. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
- Once chili and sweet potato noodles are both done, pour the chili over the sweet potato noodles (on the baking sheets) and sprinkle with the cheese. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Uncover and top with scallions. Serve immediately.
- Note: If you wanted to meal prep this and enjoy it in smaller portions, you can place a serving size of sweet potato noodles in a small skillet (or on another baking sheet), top with a serving size of the chili, sprinkle with cheese, and cover to melt (or bake, if using the oven method.) Garnish with scallions.