3 Healthy Recipes Using 1lb of Ground Beef

Updated on March 6, 2020
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Kymberly loves to cook, bake, and preserve. She'd love more time to experiment in the kitchen and come up with delicious (healthy) recipes!

Raw ground beef
Raw ground beef | Source

Ground beef is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. However, many traditional recipes are high in fat and cholesterol, but low in many other vitamins. Simply combining it with cheese and refined carbohydrates, such as in spaghetti bolognaise, does not provide the range of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

Spices in Different Cuisines

black pepper
black pepper
white pepper
dried garlic
cayenne pepper
chili pepper
chili pepper
ground coriander
bay leaves
ground coriander
dried garlic
dried onions

A healthier alternative, without needing leafy side-salads, is to incorporate a variety of vegetables in the minced beef dish. It is easy to disguise the 'healthy' additions, and avoid fights with the picky eaters at your table.

Having a herb and spice cupboard, or growing your own herbs allows you to make easy variations, and spice to match your diners' tastes.

Don't worry if you don't have or don't like all of the herbs and spices in these recipes—use what you have and tweak the quantities to achieve a taste you like.

By stretching out expensive minced meat with vegetables, home grown fresh herbs and legumes, you can also reduce the cost per portion.

My favorite, healthy recipes that use ground beef are all on this page:

Abbreviations and Conversions

  • Tbsp = tablespoon = 15 ml
  • tsp = teaspoon = 5 ml
  • in = inch = 1.2 cm

Mexican chili on rice, with corn, kidney and white beans, capsicum, carrot and cucumber.
Mexican chili on rice, with corn, kidney and white beans, capsicum, carrot and cucumber. | Source

Mexican Chili With the Lot

I make this chili when I have vegetables that need to be used (before they go off), or if I have a forgotten can of veggies in the cupboard. It is different every time, and freezes wonderfully. Thanks to the huge range of spices and herbs used, I can feel like an alchemist.

Pro Tip

Cocoa adds a rich and surprisingly non-chocolate taste to the chili.

  • Serves: 4 (or more)
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 60 minutes

4.8 stars from 4 ratings of Rich Mexican style chili with the lot


  • 1 lb / 320g of ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ in / 1cm ginger, grated finely
  • 1 large carrot, grated finely
  • ½ medium daikon (white radish), grated finely
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (capsicum)
  • 1 can of tomato puree (28oz / 800ml)
  • 1 small can of corn kernels, rinsed and drained (14oz / 400ml)
  • 1 small can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (14 oz / 400ml)
  • 1 small can of white butter beans, rinsed and drained (14 oz / 400ml)
  • 2 Tbsp / 30ml lime juice


  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 2 tsp majoram
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cilantro (coriander leaves)


  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sweet or smokey paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground chili pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa

Cooking the chili, before the tomato puree was added.
Cooking the chili, before the tomato puree was added. | Source

Cooking the Chili

  1. Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a little vegetable oil in a deep saucepan, until soft.
  2. Add the ground beef, and separate the meat vigorously using two wooden spatulas or spoons. Cook over a medium-high heat until the moisture has evaporated and the meat begins to brown.
  3. Add all of the spices, mix to cover the meat evenly. Cook for 3 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.
  4. Add the chopped and grated vegetables, the canned vegetables, beans and tomato puree.
  5. Add the herbs, and simmer for 15 minutes before tasting. Add more of your favorite spices and herbs if necessary.

    Tip: You can also add sauces - tomato sauce for a rich tomato flavor, barbecue sauce for a smokey flavor, leftover salsa dip, or sesame oil. Play with the flavoring—have fun!
  6. Simmer for another 20—30 minutes, longer if you want a thicker, richer chili. I usually let it simmer for 1—1.5 hours.
  7. Serve with steamed basmati or long grain brown rice and add a side salad for a nutritious, well-rounded meal.

    Serving options: Cook longer so the chili is drier. Wrap in wheat tortillas with cheese and lettuce. Or wrap in corn tortillas, cover in cheese and salsa and bake like enchiladas. Serve with roasted potatoes, or use to stuff small pumpkins or squash and bake.

A healthy bolognaise with 'snail' pasta.
A healthy bolognaise with 'snail' pasta. | Source

A Healthy Pasta Sauce

The key to this pasta sauce is in the long cooking time. By finely grating vegetables, such as with a Microplane fine grater, you can make sauces thicker and richer.

If you prefer to avoid tomato skins, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds, and then peel under cool running water. I like including the skins of tomatoes and capsicums - they add nutrients and fiber.

This sauce freezes perfectly - great for when you don't have the time or energy to cook an elaborate meal.

  • Serves: 4 (or more)
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 60 minutes

Pasta Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 lb / 320g of ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced finely
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large carrot, grated finely
  • ½ zucchini, grated finely
  • 6-10 medium button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (capsicum)
  • ½ cup / 100 ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 can of tomato puree or passata (28 oz / 800 ml)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste or rich tomato sauce

  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

Cooking With Fresh Herbs

A good rule of thumb:

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs for every teaspoon of dried herbs.

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp majoram
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp thyme

Cooking the pasta sauce

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil in a deep saucepan, until soft.
  2. Add the ground beef, and cook on a medium-high heat until the moisture has evaporated.

    Tip: Use two wooden paddles or spoons and break the ground beef apart, vigorously. You want the meat to end up evenly mixed with the onion and garlic, to be loose and not wet.
  3. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir to distribute through the meat.
  4. Stir in the wine, if you are using it, and wait for 5 minutes until it has mostly evaporated.
  5. Add all of the vegetables, and heat for 5 minutes. Then add the tomato puree or passata, as well as the tomato paste or sauce.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 10 minutes before tasting to see if you want to add any further spices or flavors.
  7. Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if you want the sauce to have more liquid, or cook longer if you want a thicker sauce.
  8. Serve with your favorite pasta, grated parmesan cheese (or any other cheese), extra parsley and ground pepper.

    Tip: This works equally well with baked potatoes, or as a meaty soup with fresh crusty bread. Of course, you can always add a side-salad for an even healthier meal.

Pasta Sauce Variations

  • Vegetables: pumpkin, cabbage, parsnips, and other root vegetables can be finely grated. Add olives or other antipasto for a flavor kick.
  • Spices: ground coriander, ginger, chili pepper, smoked paprika, cumin plus many other herbs and spices can add variety and fun.
  • Sauces: add Worcestershire sauce (Worcester sauce), hot pepper or chili sauce, or a touch of sesame oil for a different flavor.

With all herbs, spices and sauces, you can start with less, and add more later if you want a stronger flavor.

Thai style ground beef as an entrée, with chopped macadamias and chili sauce.
Thai style ground beef as an entrée, with chopped macadamias and chili sauce. | Source

Thai-Style Ground Beef

A healthy and light option for summer, based on the Thai Laab salad, this ground beef dish can be spiced to suit different tastes. To add extra heat, serve with a good garlic/chili sauce, sweet chili sauce, or fresh sliced hot red chillies.

This is best made with fresh herbs. Extend the cooking time if using dried herbs, allowing their flavors to develop.

Fresh herbs count as salad greens and are packed with vitamins! The meat and vegetable mixture freezes well, but don't freeze the lettuce! After defrosting, heat the mixture in a hot frying pan or wok with a little oil.

  • Serves: 4 as a main with rice, or 8 as an entrée without rice
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes (including the Thai curry sauce)
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

Homemade Thai Curry Sauce

  • 2 cm fresh ginger or galangal, grated finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • finely grated rind of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ red chili pepper, finely chopped OR ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp finely chopped fresh lemongrass
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp shrimp paste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 Tbsp coconut milk

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a mortar and pestle, and grind to a smooth paste.

Stir in the shrimp paste thoroughly, then add the fish sauce, lime juice and coconut milk.


  • 1 lb / 320g ground beef
  • 1 leek or 1 medium red onion, diced finely
  • 1 carrot, grated finely
  • 3 large napa cabbage leaves, chopped very finely (also known as Chinese cabbage)
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped (capsicum)
  • homemade Thai curry sauce ( OR
    1-2 Tbsp of pre-packaged red curry paste plus 3 Tbsp coconut milk)
  • additional 1 cm fresh ginger, grated finely
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves

Serving additions

  • steamed jasmine rice
  • fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • fresh mint sprigs
  • chopped green spring onions (scallions)
  • chopped fresh chilis (green or red)
  • cos or iceberg lettuce, roughly shredded
  • chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts, cashew or macadamia nuts
  • additional lime juice
  • garlic/chili sauce or sweet chili sauce

Cooking the Meat and Vegetables

  1. Sauté the leek or onion and ginger in a little vegetable oil, in a wok or deep frying pan, until soft.
  2. Add the minced beef, and separate the meat vigorously using two wooden spatulas or spoons. Cook over a medium-high heat until the moisture has evaporated and the meat begins to brown.
  3. Add the carrot, cabbage leaves, and red bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the moisture has evaporated.
  4. Stir in the curry sauce and cook for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust spices if necessary.
  5. Remove from heat, then stir in the fresh herbs.
  6. Serve warm over rice. Let each diner add toppings as they please.

    Tip: You can serve the meat mixture in small iceberg lettuce 'bowls' as an entrée.

Variations on a Thai Theme

Use the meat and vegetable mixture and stuff capsicums or tomatoes, then bake in a low-medium oven (320°F or 160°C).

Cook the meat and vegetable mixture longer or add some rice flour until a little drier. Roll in lettuce leaves or make rice paper rolls.

Other spices to play with for different flavors include: tamarind, anise and tumeric.

The Best of the Best

Which is your favorite dish from these three recipes?

See results


  • Other meats—Instead of ground beef, you can use ground pork, chicken or turkey.
  • Vegetarian—Add or increase mushrooms, or add eggplant in each of these recipes to make them vegetarian. Substitute soy sauce for fish sauce, and yellow bean sauce for shrimp sauce in the Thai beef recipe.


What is your favorite healthy recipe?

Let us know in the comments below!


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    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      8 years ago from Germany

      CleverCat - I threw together the Thai recipe to use up leftovers, and deplete my spice cupboard and it was a hit with tasters here!

    • theclevercat profile image

      Rachel Vega 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great looking recipes and I love the variation details, especially the Thai ones. Thank you for putting it all together. Mmm!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      8 years ago from Germany

      Hi Düsseldorf! Cottage pie and auflauf, loaded with veggies sound great, and should freeze well! Thanks Ghaelach!

      Doc - 'should work' is a good motto for adding vegetables. I'm not comfortable yet with such veggies as kohl rabi, okra, fennel, swedes ... - never had them growing up. However, fennel root is a must in fish soup, at least for me!

      Alissa - Cocoa adds a lovely warm, smooth taste. I never cook chili without it now! Thanks!

      Teresa - I wonder why we often need to hide veggies from the boys? Meatloaf is another good recipe for ground beef (and veggies). Enjoy the pasta!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I use ground beef a fair bit for cooking. I have been 'hiding' vegetables in my meatloaf for years to get more vegetables into my three boys! Pasta is one of our favorites and we will certainly try out your ideas!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 

      8 years ago from Normandy, TN

      These recipes look delicious! I would have never thought about adding cocoa to chili. I am going to have to try out some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    • Doc Sonic profile image

      Glen Nunes 

      8 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

      I love recipes like sauces and soup/chili because, as you say, you can use whatever you have around and come up with something a little bit different every time. Sometimes I have a weird mix of things available that I don't think of as going together, but I take a chance and come up with something unexpectedly good.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Leipzig.

      Well I've got to say after all these years a wonderful "Cottage Pie" is still my favourite. Although down here in Düsseldorf my wife makes a wonderful "Auflauf" With ground beef and a veg, ie. Cauliflower florets or Broccoli.

      Take care, from a cold Düsseldorf.

      LOL Ghaelach


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