Mar 23

Lighten Up, Y’all & Crockpot 3-Bean Turkey Chili

This week’s [optional] theme for the Fit Dish link up (hosted by Jill Conyers @ JillConyers.com, &Β JessicaΒ Joy @ TheFitSwitch.org) is right up my alley!

Fit Dish Cookbook: Share Your Favorite Healthy Recipe!

I loosely adapted this 3-Bean Turkey Chili from the “Quick & Easy Turkey Chili” recipe in Lighten Up, Y’all (review below)! The variations were because my friend and I are valiantly attempting to use up a ton of the food in our respective pantries before we have to move again. (Such is the life of the nomadic medical student. ._.)

Her recipe is for stovetop chili but I arbitrarily converted it into a crockpot recipe because ain’t nobody got time to stand by the stove to watch it. I have an exam to study for! :O This took all of 5 minutes in terms of prep time. <3

Crockpot 3-Bean Turkey Chili



  • 1 14 oz. can black beans
  • 1 14 oz. can cannelini beans
  • 1 14 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 14 oz. bag 3 pepper + onion blend
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Add all ingredients into a crock pot and give it a couple stirs.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours!


As for my review…

Lighten Up, Y’all


I don’t know about you, but WV + KY both don’t look too “south” to me. (They look at-least-central to me, but what do I know? ._.Β  Despite my 98% in high school U.S. history way back in the day, my geography has never been wonderful.)

Before moving from California to what is apparently considered to be “the South,” my knowledge of what Southern food consisted of stemmed from what I’d seen of Paula Deen’s cooking show on The Food Network whilst doing cardio.

I’ll be honest–I was usually pretty appalled (especially by the amounts of mayo), so I never attempted to make any of it. Since moving out here, however…you gotta know this–nothing says comfort food to warm your soul like Southern fare. :O

Virginia Willis revamps and healthifies a whole lot of different classic southern recipes, and I’m not gonna lie…they look delicious (even the ones with pork or seafood-other-than-fish, which I can’t even eat)! She starts with a little background on herself and her philosophies.

…at the end of the day I’m still a classically trained chef who loves to eat, so if a healthy variation doesn’t taste as good or authentic as the original, well, it didn’t make the cut. Lighten Up, Y’all is not a diet; it’s a way of life.”

Genre: Cookbook
Pages: 224

The beginning also has a section with 10 tips on lightening things up, and she does a breakdown of different healthy cooking oils/fats. There are different tips here and there on grilling, food prep, spatchcocking, preparing dried beans…etc.

Lighten Up, Y’All has 10 chapters of recipes, accompanied by a serving size, a short introduction, calorie content + macro breakdown (along with fiber content)! I’m highlighting a few from each section for your perusal!

    • Starters and Nibblers: Want to make a Sinless Seven-Layer Dip or a Hot Mess Spinach & Feta Dip? What about Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Bites with Jalapeno Dipping Sauce or a Baked Onion Blossom? This is your section. <3
    • Salads and Slaws: Curried Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Orange? Sassy Slaw? (I love that name. πŸ˜› ) Grilled Potato Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette? I can’t eat shrimp or bacon, but the latter tends to be a crowd favorite for most carnivores, so I’m including it so you’ll know it’s there. Personally, I want to try making the Quinoa Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing (whilst subbing the bacon with turkey bacon)!
    • From The Garden: This section’s for the vegetarians! The Creamed Corn-Stuffed Tomatoes sound amazing, as does the Green Beans with New Potatoes and Candied Garlic & Brussels Sprouts with Raisins and Pecans.


    • Grains, Grits and Other Starchy Goodness: I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try the New Soul Creole Dirty Rice because I’m not a fan of chicken livers, but you can sub with chicken sausage, and suddenly it sounds amazing! The Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits and Sweet Potato Gratin with Herb Crumble sound awesome.
    • Seafood and Shellfish: Pan-Seared Fish Steaks with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil, Citrus-Grilled Shrimp with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce, Gulf Coast Seafood Stew?!


    • Poultry: The Oven-Fried Chicken-on-a-Stick with Vidalia-Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce sounds awesome, and I can’t til peach season to make the Basil-Peach Chicken Breasts or the Sweet Tea-Brined Turkey Tenderloin with Chile-Peach Glaze! Do not get me started on the Slow-Cooked Barbecue Pulled Chicken. (I adore pulled chicken. <3)
    • Pork, Beef and Lamb: If I could eat pork, the Cider-Braised Pork Loin with Apple-Thyme Jus wound sound pretty tasty. There’s also a recipe for Cocoa-Crusted Top Sirloin with Mushrooms, and Coffee-Braised Pot Roast!
    • Soups and Stews: The Garlic Chicken and Greens with Cornmeal-Herb Dumplings recipe is a healthy take on Chicken & Dumpling Soup, and the Peach & Tomato Gazpacho with Cucumber-Herb Yogurt would be perfect for summer!


  • Biscuits, Bread, and Baked Goods: Buttermilk Biscuits with Turkey Sausage Gravy, and what cookbook on Southern food would be complete with cornbread? (The Vegetable Cornbread looks awesome. :] ) For breakfast-lovers, there’s Multi-Grain Pecan Waffles!
  • Sweet Indulgences: Got a sweet tooth? You will adore this section. Citrus Pudding Cakes, a recipe for a Yogurt Piecrust, Chasing the Carrot Cake, Claire’s Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies…nomnomnom. :]


Virginia Willis really does take the title of her book to heart! These recipes truly have been lightened up with wholesome ingredients, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying out more of em’!

Note: I can’t eat pork or seafood other than fish, but each section still contained a lot of recipes I could still partake in (and I’m a big fan of substituting when necessary anyway). I would not recommend this book to vegans, super-strict clean eaters, or anyone with major dietary restrictions (e.g. dairy-free, gluten-free), because you will not get as much bang for your buck!

Dish The Fit

Click the image to read my other Dish The Fit posts! :]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/review-lighten-up-yall-crockpot-3-bean-turkey-chili/


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  1. Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating

    HA! I hear ya…don’t worry though, not all true Southern recipes are packed full of butter and mayo. I actually hate mayo so…yeah. And I’m a Southern woman, through and through. And a healthy eater, overall, if I do say so myself! If you ever visit me in Austin sometime, I MUST make a Southern meal for you. My mom’s favorite cornbread, my *healthier* honey whiskey oven fried chicken….Yes ma’am!

    That was the most amount of Southern I think I’ve ever packed into one comment so I guess I’ll leave it at that. And this chili seems stellar!
    Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating recently posted…Gone, but not ForgottenMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m glad to hear that! :D! I don’t like mayo either–I usually sub in Greek yogurt whenever I can! :]

      I would so very much love to visit you in Austin! Once I have my future planned (aka I find out where the hecks I end up for residency; fingers crossed that I do in fact get a spot somewhere awesome) and have existing vacation days once more, I’m totally gonna plan a trip! That fried chicken sounds all sorts of amazing! <3

  2. Mary Beth Jackson

    your chili looks perfect! I love stuff that you can eat for a few days and gets better tasting as you go! Pretty cookbook! I will admit sometimes you have to watch those old school southerners- they can even make a bowl of green beans unhealthy with the amount of pork fat and butter they put in them!!!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Lakeside Dinner Trio on Monday night.My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! I love pretty food pictures, and I feel like I’m forever healthifying recipes, so it’s awesome to find a book that does it for me, since I’ve never actually tried making Southern food! :O

  3. Erin@BeetsPerMinute

    I LOVE chili! This recipe sounds great and I totally should check out that cookbook because I definitely love Southern food, but avoid it most of the time because I’m, well scared of the nutrition (paula dean says reserve that bacon fat for later)! Thanks for sharing this! πŸ™‚
    Erin@BeetsPerMinute recently posted…Coodles and Dilly β€œMac” and Goat CheeseMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Me too! I can’t believe I discovered the existence of chili so late in life. Where was I living!? If you’re a fan of Southern food but not so much of the nutrition (or possible lack thereof), I think you’d really like this book! :]

  4. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    I love how we insist on lightening up recipes and dishes that were never meant to be lightened up–you know what I mean–Southerners were farmers, they were poor, so they made do, you know? But the flavors are just so ingrained in us, that we must find a way to make them work for our current diet! I totally respect the ingenuity. And my tastebuds are thankful for the carrot cake D
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Intention, Outcome, Irony, Reactions – When Things Go AwryMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I know, I know! That’s definitely a valid point, but without lightened-up versions, I don’t think I’d ever end up trying the food, so it’s a trade-off of sorts! πŸ˜›

  5. Amber

    I am LOLing at your “aint nobody got time for that” reference, love that meme and video clip, but more importantly I agree with you! I want tasty food with minimal effort, because nobody got time for cooking all day, unless of course it’s your job!

    AND I am appreciative of your sidetone about the book and it may not be best for those with severe dietary restrictions…I have Celiac, as well as severe IBS, so I am limited with what I can have and a lot of recipe books I “waste” pages cause I cannot have majority of the items listed, and there’s only so many substitutions a girl can make!

    Happy Tuesday!
    Amber recently posted…About Time AmbassadorMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      It only took me uh, over a year to respond to this comment (I guess it never went through!?). My apologies! :[! I’m totally with you though–I love cooking, but tasty + healthy food with minimal effort is definitely the best!

      Ah, I feel ya! I don’t have toooo many dietary restrictions, but agreed on the loads and loads of substitutions–there comes a point where it gets a little too intense!

  6. Annmarie

    That chili looks really good!!! I could use a bowl right now given the fact that is is only 9 degrees out…WHY? Idk…I thought it was Spring!
    Annmarie recently posted…Avocadough: Guilt Free Tasty Treats {+ Giveaway}My Profile

    1. Farrah

      I think several states missed the memo that it’s supposed to be warm, sunny, and wonderful. I hope NY gets with the program soon! <3

  7. Holly

    This looks so easy and looks delicious! I’m saving this!

    1. Farrah

      If you’re super adept at opening cans and dumping out the contents, the prep time can be even less than 5 minutes! ;P

  8. AJ @ NutriFitMama

    Haha WV & KY don’t seem too southern to me either, but I guess since I am south in TN those feel “north” HA. I actually enjoy lighter versions of southern “classics.” There are so many great southern foods that are just WAY too unhealthy, but the lighter versions still taste so good!
    AJ @ NutriFitMama recently posted…How to Avoid Overeating With MealEnders + GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m glad I’m not the only one! Everyone I’ve met in both states refers to it as the south though, so I suppose I will just go with it. (I guess Kentucky does have the whole fried chicken thing down, so why not!! πŸ˜› )

  9. Holly E

    I love crockpot recipes! This looks like it has ton of flavor.

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Holly! It definitely does! :]!

  10. Kate @KateMovingForward

    My husband (true Southern boy raised in Alabama and Texas) would love this cookbook! I’ve been surprised by many of the foods that I consider “classic” recipes he isnt’ familiar with and ones that he wants I’m like “what’s that?” Regional food differences are so crazy and cool! I’m going to look for this cookbook next!
    Kate @KateMovingForward recently posted…Coconut Lime Oatmeal CookiesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I love trying different regional foods! It’s kinda awesome how many variations there are, and the twists that people put on the “same” recipes. :]! Hope you like this cookbook if you check it out! I’m excited especially for the more summery recipes! *-*

  11. Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    That chili looks delicious and easy, my perfect combination.
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains Pasta & A GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! πŸ˜€ Easy + tasty recipes make my life a lot more wonderful! πŸ˜›

  12. Krystal

    I love turkey bean chili! I don’t make it as often because it makes such a huge batch and I am feeding only one person lol. This recipe sounds yummy and I love that it’s so simple, the hard work is the actual prep. I will be keeping this in mind next time I am craving turkey bean chili.
    Krystal recently posted…Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Goat Cheese pizza.My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, I feel ya! I really need to get into making more freezer-friendly recipes so if I get sick of eating something throughout the week, I can switch it up! :O

  13. Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    This book looks great, as does your recipe! It’s so important to show people that they can make their favorite dishes healthier!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…MyProtein ReviewMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! That’s what I’ve been trying to convince my patients! πŸ˜› I have about a 50% success rate thus far, but I’ll take it!

  14. Elle

    Mmmm. I love cookbooks with drool-worthy pictures. Your chili sounds easy and tasty! Yes, love my crock pot.
    Elle recently posted…High Protein WafflesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! πŸ˜€ Crockpot recipes are awesome! <3

  15. Sam @ PancakeWarriors

    Love those pics! And OMG Paul Dean while you were doing cardio – we could not be more alike!! Love it πŸ™‚ I love your review of this cookbook and I agree, it’s really hard to eat traditional southern food and practice clean eating but not impossible! Her pics look great – love the new twist on southern!!
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors recently posted…Blueberry Banana Bread (Single Serve)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      hahaha, hooray! I knew I couldn’t be the only one who watched Food Network while doing cardio! :D!

  16. Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin

    I’m about as Southern as they get coming from Miss’sippi I was born and raised on good ol’ country cooking and I do love a good Sunday dinner spread, but I try to limit those kinds of “stick to ya ribs” meals for special occasions. I loved the review on the cookbook the recipes do look wonderful and I would imagine without too much substitutions you could make a lot of them more on the healthier side. πŸ™‚
    Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin recently posted…Bring It To The Bay Half Marathon 15 RecapMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      haha, very much agreed! πŸ˜€ I have a tendency to substitute a bunch of things with recipes because I usually don’t have every single thing it calls for/am in the process of eating all the stuff in my kitchen! πŸ˜›

  17. abby - www.littlecityadventures.com

    Looks yummy!

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Abby! :]

  18. Ivanna

    I think this is the first cook book review I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing it actually all looks pretty good.
    Ivanna recently posted…TRAIN ME! TUESDAY’S #1 (LEGS)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! πŸ˜€ They’re my favorite reviews to do when it comes to books, probably because I love food so much, haha. πŸ˜›

  19. Elizabeth @ Enjoy Every Bite

    I love meals like this! So simple, healthy, and filling!
    Elizabeth @ Enjoy Every Bite recently posted…Southwest Baked Sweet PotatoesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! πŸ˜€ It makes me happy when there’s barely any prep involved!

  20. Leslie

    I love chili! yum! Pork gives me a horrible migraine so I love to make it with turkey. Yum! Thanks for sharing. I’m drooling a little, I’m so hungry!
    Leslie recently posted…What Do I Do?My Profile

    1. Farrah

      I can’t eat pork, so I tend to default to chicken, turkey or beef! πŸ˜€ I hope you got to eat!!

  21. Bri @ Simple Delights

    I love any and all types of chili so will be trying this for sure. I made a Colorado Buffalo chili Sunday night. It was so good!!! Seriously, I think I might have a new obsession with chili. Hahah! But, perhaps it is expected since I am from Texas. πŸ™‚
    Bri @ Simple Delights recently posted…My Favorite Crockpot RecipeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’ve never heard of Colorado Buffalo chili, but it sounds amazing! :O! What did you put in it? + I totally understand the chili obsession! :]

  22. Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    This cookbook looks awesome. I love southern food!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…What Happens in Vegas….and my favorite race signs!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      You’d love this book then! The recipes are a lot healthier than the “normal” recipes! :]

  23. Viane

    That cookbook looks awesome – especially that gazpacho
    Viane recently posted…Whole Foods Beauty Haul & Collagen BenefitsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! I can’t wait til the weather warms up/peaches are in season again–I need to try out that recipe! <3

  24. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    What a fun and beautiful cookbook!
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Dear Slow RunnersMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yes indeed! :D!

  25. Elena

    The chili looks scrumptious! I definitely need to add it to my meal plan roatuonn
    Elena recently posted…Everyday Wellness Secrets: Get Healthy with Better SleepMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Elena! I hope you like it if you do end up trying it out! πŸ˜€

  26. Jessica Joy @The Fit Switch

    5 minute, healthy dinner?! You never cease to impress me. This book looks great, and you did a great job reviewing it. I love the idea of a sinless seven layer dip. WOOHOO. I just noticed to reviewed Melissa D’Arabian’s book. I am off to check that out. Thanks Farrah, and good luck with the pantry clearing, usually I think it’s fun. : )
    Jessica Joy @The Fit Switch recently posted…Lazy Girl’s BibimbapMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thank you! <3 I love super-short prep time! πŸ˜€ Supermarket Healthy was definitely one of my favorite books I've reviewed thus far! There are so many delicious-lookin' recipes in it! <3

      We're trying valiantly, but I think we might be a little too ambitious! 😑

  27. Artney @ My Pretty Brown Blog

    Your soup looks so good! I love a good slow-cooker recipe! I really need to check out that cook-book. Yes, to southern style recipes!
    Artney @ My Pretty Brown Blog recently posted…Baked Parsnip ChipsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! πŸ˜€ I like this book a lot! I normally shy away from southern-style recipes/food because it’s usually so unhealthy, but this does a good job of lightening up a lot of classic recipes (as the name might imply, har har)! :]

  28. Patty @ Reach Your Peak

    I haven’t used my crockpot in forever…but I really need to because I workout in the evenings, so I don’t get home until 7 and then have to cook…which is how some nights I end up at chipotle lol.
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…Quick Hamstring and Glute WorkoutMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I love Chipotle! I don’t have one near me, or I’d probably go more often (so it’s probably a good thing that it’s nowhere close by). Crockpots are awesome for prepping a hot meal if you have a busy schedule! :]

  29. Kristy @RunawayBridalPlanner

    Oh this looks amazing! I love slow cooker/crockpot meals, I mean they are usually so easy and all that day long cooking just makes the flavors explode!!
    Kristy @RunawayBridalPlanner recently posted…Going to the Sun, Glacier National ParkMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! I love that I don’t have to sit there and watch it either! <3 Tis a busy person's kitchen dream!

  30. Kathryn @ Dancing to Running

    I’m a huge fan of crock pot meals. They’re perfect on super busy days, and are a great way to ensure that you still have a healthy, homecooked meal to eat for dinner.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…My Spring β€œTraining” PlanMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      For sure! It’s so nice to come home to an already-prepared hot + home-cooked meal! πŸ˜€

  31. Jess @hellotofit

    Somehow I started following Virginia Willis on Twitter, but I can’t remember how I stumbled upon her page. Great review, and that three-bean chili sounds delish!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Link Love #10 and a mini road tripMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      What a happy accident though! πŸ˜€ I just went and followed her! :D!

  32. Ariana

    That chilli is right up my alley! I love stuff you can throw in a crockpot and forget about. I might have to make that tomorrow now… πŸ™‚ Thanks for the idea!

    Also, that cookbook sounds really good! I don’t know much about southern food either…What I have in mind is totally different than what you described from the cookbook!
    Ariana recently posted…How to Create a Workout ScheduleMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Same here! It makes life so much easier when I’m short on time!

      The recipes in it look super good! I’m in the same boat as you–I thought southern food was…chili, cornbread, lots of bacon, etc. 😑 I’m really looking forward to the summery recipes–they look extra good! (I may or may not be influenced by the fact that it’ll be nice and warm then too. <3 )

      1. Ariana

        Haha YES! And shrimp and grits! And po’boys! I don’t really know what makes a po’boy different from any other sandwich, but they look delicious πŸ˜€
        Ariana recently posted…How to Create a Workout ScheduleMy Profile

        1. Farrah

          I’ve never actually tried either. :[ I can’t eat shrimp, but I’ll have to see if I can locate a po’boy that I can actually have! :O! They do look super good!

  33. Camesha

    I wanna try this. Looks really yummy! I’m a fan of anything I can just throw in the crock pot!
    Camesha recently posted…The Thing About Purpose…My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! Crockpot recipes make mealprepping + life in general so much easier! πŸ˜€

  34. jill conyers

    Farrah I love chili! I’ll sub the turkey for veggies πŸ™‚ It may no longer be chili weather but that doesn’t mean I won’t be making it.

    Thanks for sharing with the fitfam!
    jill conyers recently posted…Quick and Easy Spring Veggie BowlMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Anytime! πŸ˜€

      It’s still deceivingly cold here, so I’m all for the hot comfort food recipes. *-* Can’t wait til it warms up forreal though! <3

  35. Toni @runninglovingliving

    I love chili! I love it all year long and making it in my crockpot is so much easier!
    Toni @runninglovingliving recently posted…Love With Food Snack Box ReviewMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      haha, same here! I know it’s (technically) warming up, but I can see myself eating this even in the summer! <3 Crockpots are wonderful!

  36. Rachel

    Yummy! I do love chili… espically on a cold and dreary winter (er, spring??) day!! This looks yummy! thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚
    Rachel recently posted…Balancing Motherhood and RunningMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I think some parts of the country still haven’t gotten the memo yet that it’s supposed to be spring. :'( Hopefully soon though! *-*

  37. Shashi at RunninSrilankan

    I love turkey-bean chili! I gave up meat for Lent – and I am especially craving it now after looking at your bowl!

    I have been so curious about Lighten up y’all after hearing Virginia Willis talk about it at TechMunch last year – sounds like it is better than she said it would be!

    1. Farrah

      Aww, darn! Well, hopefully after Lent, you can have some again! :D!

      That’s so awesome that you got to hear her talk! She seems really down-to-earth and refreshingly honest! :]

  38. mika

    Delicious and healthy.

    Just visiting coming from Jill Conyers Fit Dish Link Up.
    mika recently posted…Cardio vs. Weightlifting: How To Use Both To Reach Your Summer Body GoalMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks, Mika! :]

  39. Sandra Laflamme

    Absolutely yummy looking chili. I love chili for cold and damp days. Love all of the beans in your recipe.

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! We had many cans of beans we wanted to use up to clear out our kitchens, so it worked out rather nicely! :D!

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