A Round Of Applause For Chicken Chili

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - May 20, 2009
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George Gaudiello, a long-time resident of Hawaii Kai, wears many different hats.

By day, he is the electrical project manager of the Arizona Visitors Center replacement project. In his spare time, he is an executive producer of the award-winning film Skills Like This, which will open May 29 at Kahala Theatre.

George’s lifelong friend and frequent Hawaii visitor Donna Dewey produced the feature film, which received the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2007 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, and was honored as a “Best of the Fest” film at the 2007 Edinburgh International Film Festival.


Donna is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker who has been writing, producing and directing documentaries, commercials, industrials and theatrical films for more than 20 years. Her documentary A Story of Healing, filmed in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short; her numerous documentaries and series, including Family Portraits, an award-winning series on children’s cancer, have been broadcast and distributed by PBS.

Brian Phelan, one of the film’s lead actors and a producer, comes from a filmmaking family, and in addition to his role in Skills Like This, he appeared in the TV movie SEMPER FI and has had parts in several television series, including NYPD Blue, Las Vegas, Friday Night Lights and Samantha Who. To see more about this film, visit the web-site www.skillslikethis.com.

This column is dedicated to George, Donna and Brian.

The term “bean” is used to refer to both the pod and the edible seeds. Beans were cultivated more than 7,000 years ago by Indian tribes in Mexico and Peru, and there are more than 100 varieties of beans differing in size, shape and nutritional value.

The red kidney bean is dark red and has a delicate flavor and texture. It readily absorbs flavors and is used in simmered dishes such as chili, as it keeps its texture and shape well. Kidney beans are a good source of protein and fiber and contain potassium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, niacin and vitamin B6.


* 1 tablespoon olive oil

* 1 medium onion, chopped

* 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

* 2 minced cloves garlic

* 1 pound ground chicken breast

* 1 can kidney beans, rinsed well

* 1 cup frozen petite corn kernels

* 2 small chili peppers, diced (may omit for mild chili)

* 1 teaspoon cumin powder

* 2 8-ounce cans low-sodium tomato sauce (or no salt added)

* 3 cups cooked brown or white rice

* low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese, to taste (optional)

In a large saucepan, spread olive oil in bottom of pan and heat until warm. Sauté the onion, mushrooms and garlic until soft. Add ground chicken; break it up into small pieces and cook until chicken is cooked through. Add beans, corn, chili, cumin and tomato sauce. Heat on medium heat until hot, stirring a few times.

Serve over rice and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Makes six servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 280
Fat: 6 grams
Cholesterol: 50 milligrams
Sodium: Depends on sauce used, added cheese and beans used.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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