Macro-friendly recipes the whole family will love!

Lighter Gaines Family Chili

Lighter Gaines Family Chili

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this chili or not. It is somewhat similar to my turkey and zucchini chili that I already have on the blog, and I didn’t know how many chilis was too many. But, you guys voted, and a VERY overwhelming majority wanted to see it. So here it is, a Lighter Gaines Family Chili.

The Original

The original recipe comes from Magnolia Table, which is a cookbook written by Joanna Gaines. Like most of America, I just loved watching her and her husband on HGTV’s Fixer Upper. In fact, when it came time to name our daughter, I decided on Joanna. I had liked the name before but was sold by watching her sweet spirit on tv.

So when my sister-in-law sent me a copy of her cookbook, I was thrilled. In it is lots of homey and yummy recipes. Although they aren’t all the most macro-friendly, I’m sure they are delicious, and the cookbook is just as beautiful as you’d expect from her.

You might be surprised to hear for all the beautiful photography in this book, there isn’t a picture of this recipe in it. In fact, this recipe is pretty easy to miss. Even though it didn’t have a picture, what drew me to this recipe was the simplicity of its ingredients. Just some ground beef, onion, cans of Rotel, ranch-style beans, salt, and pepper are the main ingredients for this dish. She also adds on there Fritos and sharp cheddar cheese, which are delicious for topping it!

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Making it Macro-Friendly

To make this dish more macro-friendly, I had to make a few swaps.

  1. Ground Turkey. Although not necessarily more macro-friendly on its own, I used a 93/7 ground turkey versus the 80/20 beef called for in the recipe. Using a ground turkey with less fat content helps cut down on the calories and fat grams. However, if your family isn’t a ground turkey fan, you could easily substitute 93/7 ground beef. You can also use even a leaner cut of ground beef or turkey to save even more macros if you wish!
  2. Veggies. The original recipe just calls for some diced onion in it. To add some more volume and micro-nutrients to the soup, I decided to add in a bag of rice cauliflower and some finely chopped zucchini. If your family is particular about veggies, you can opt to leave them out, but keep in mind you won’t get to enjoy as big of a bowl.
  3. Less Beans. Since I decided to add some more veggies to the dish, I decided to keep out some of the beans. Although beans are a great source of fiber, they can be pretty heavy in the carbohydrate department. To help scale back on that, I decided to lessen the number of beans this recipe uses. However, there are still plenty of beans in there to enjoy.

To Prepare

Preparing this dish couldn’t be any simpler! You begin by browning the ground turkey, the onion, and the veggies together. Continue cooking them until the veggies are tender and the ground turkey is cooked through. Then you season it with salt and pepper and add in the cans of chili beans and Rotel.

All that’s left to do now is let the chili simmer to develop flavors. Just like with anything, the longer the chili has to simmer and hang-out, the better the flavors will be! I personally like to prepare mine in the morning and then warm it up around dinnertime. Also, this helps make dinner less busy!

To Serve

For serving this dish, I like to have everyone add their own Fritos, cheddar cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and green onions. Feel free to add whatever you’d like to your chili. I personally like to eat mine with lavash chips instead of traditional Fritos. To help add more volume to the meal, I also like to eat it with a big green salad on the side.

The Macros

For 1/9 of the recipe, or approximately 385 g, the macronutrients are rounded to 8F/35C/26P or 316 calories. To see how I calculated the serving size, see the notes below.


Lighter Gaines Family Chili

A more macro-friendly of the Gaines Family Chili found in the Magnolia cookbook.


  • ~1.5 lbs ground turkey, 93/7 (mine was 765 g)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (mine was 255 g)
  • 12 ounces riced cauliflower (mine was 347 g)
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced (mine was 319 g)
  • 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 cans of Rotel (mild, if desired)
  • 3 15 ounces cans of Chili Pinto Beans, or Ranch Beans


  • In a large pot, brown over medium heat the ground turkey, onion, rice cauliflower, and zucchini until the vegetables are tender and the turkey is cooked through. Crumble the turkey as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add in the two cans of Rotel and the three cans of chili beans. Give everything a good stir and allow to come to a boil on the stove. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until ready to serve. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • To serve, scoop into bowls and top with cheddar cheese, Fritos, sour cream, green onions, hot sauce, or whatever else you and your family enjoy!


Macros for this dish are rounded to 8F/35C/26P and 316 calories for 1/9 of the soup. My total soup weighed 3468. I divded this number to find my serving size, and it was rounded to 385 g. For the best accuracy, I recommend weighing your own. 
To find this recipe on MyFitnessPal, search for "How We Macro Lighter Gaines Family Chili."