Fast food gives you a convenient option for meals, but many of the menu options at a fast food restaurant don't fit into an eating plan that restricts calories or carbohydrates. A small serving of Wendy's chili contains 17 g of protein and 6 g of fiber in each yellow cup. The restaurant's chili is also notable for what it lacks: a hefty dose of fat. Each small serving contains only 6 g of fat.
Chili Base and Chili Seasoning
The mixture of tomatoes, salt and citric acid that comprises the base of Wendy's chili also contributes fiber and vitamin C to this product. If you examine a serving of Wendy's chili, you'll notice pieces of ripe red tomatoes among the beans and beef. Tomatoes provide much of the color and flavor of the finished dish, but its distinctive flavor profile relies on its seasoning mix. Without the proprietary combination of seasonings -- a blend containing sugar, salt, garlic powder, chili peppers, yeast extract and other spices -- Wendy's chili would lack its characteristic flavor.
Wendy's primary menu items are their hamburgers, so it's no surprise that the chain's chili also contains ground beef. To keep orders moving quickly, workers typically cook a steady supply of patties rather than making patties to order. This process ensures that every customer receives a fresh patty quickly. Any extra cooked patties, plus enough freshly cooked patties to make up the proper proportion of beef to chili, are broken up and used in the chili.
The vegetable mix that Wendy's uses in their chili contains diced onion, celery and green pepper pieces. Along with the tomatoes and beans, this vegetable mix contributes fiber to the dish. Its main contribution, though, is flavor; two of these three vegetables -- onion and celery -- also go into a classic French mirepoix, while any Cajun or Creole chef would recognize Wendy's vegetable blend as the "holy trinity" of vegetables upon which southern Louisiana cooking builds.
Wendy's chili contains two types of beans, both of which the company pre-cooks before the beans combine in the chili. According to the restaurant's official site, the chili's beans include red kidney beans and smaller, paler chili beans. Both types of beans cook in water, salt and seasonings before they cook again in the chili. Beans are an excellent source of protein and a good source of fiber. While they do contain carbohydrates -- each small serving of Wendy's chili has 21 g of carbs -- five of those grams come in the form of healthful fiber.
The list of ingredients on Wendy's nutrition information page also list less familiar ingredients. Manufacturers add calcium chloride, malic acid, silicon dioxide and disodium EDTA to powdered spice blends or pre-packaged vegetable mix to facilitate pouring, stop clumping, preserve freshness and maintain vegetable texture. A serving of Wendy's chili contains tiny amounts of these ingredients, as these concentrated substances require only a small amount to condition or preserve food.