When I think of football season I can’t help but think of my family’s chili recipe. The two just seem to go hand in hand. So naturally, if I’m hosting a party for the big game, this chili recipe is for sure going to be on the menu.

This recipe has been passed down in my family for years, and it’s SO simple but oh-so-good. The original recipe called for brown sugar. However, after my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I tried to cut back on (or completely eliminate, if possible) added sugar in some of our staple recipes. (Not because he can’t have sugar, of course, but cutting back can make blood sugar management a little easier for us.) So one time I decided to completely leave the brown sugar out, and I didn’t miss it at all. I’ve been making it without ever since.

What you’re left with is a chili that is chock-full of nutrients. It’s a pretty great balance of carbs, fat, fiber, and protein, so it can help stabilize blood sugar if you’re indulging in some more carb-heavy party snacks later on. And while I don’t mind my food a little spicy, this particular recipe is very mild, making it super kid-friendly.

The tomatoes are the “secret weapon.” I’ve tried using regular tomatoes, but nothing makes the flavor quite like the canned chili-style tomatoes called for. They contain all of the seasonings for you already, so you don’t need to add anything additional.

What’s nice about this recipe is that you can make it on the stove top or in the slow cooker. I like the chili by itself, but another great option is to serve it over hot dogs or mix in some cheese and use it as a dip for chips. It’s a very simple and versatile recipe!

Nutritional Information

Serves: 13

Serving Size: 1 cup

  • Calories: 173
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Total Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 23g


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 16-ounce can light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can pork and beans
  • 3 14.5-ounce cans diced chili tomatoes
  • Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, and/or crumbled bacon for topping (optional; not included in nutritional information)

How To Make It

  1. In a large pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat. Drain off excess grease.
  2. Add beans and tomatoes to the ground beef and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until reduced to desired thickness. (To make in a slow cooker instead, after cooking the ground beef, add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.)
  3. Ladle chili into individual bowls and top with optional toppings.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.