My family and I have been on a health-kick the past few weeks. I’ve been replacing a lot of carbs like pasta and rice for steamed or roasted vegetables. We have been eating a lot more vegetable-laden salads, and cutting out items like juice, sugary cereal, and desserts.
But I’ve been avoiding cooking a family favorite, Tex-Mex–my girls would eat chips and homemade guac every day if I’d let them–because most of the foods we like are high in fat and calories.
A “normal” chicken and cheese enchilada recipe–one of our favorite dishes–contains around 650 calories per serving–326 calories from fat (that is 48% of your recommended daily allowance), 36.3 grams of total fat (55% of your RDA), 19 grams saturated fat (95% of your RDA!), and 1321 mg of sodium, (55% of your RDA)!
After seeing a recipe for lasagna where zucchini strips were substituted for the noodles I got the idea to reduce the calories and carbohydrates in the dish by replacing the corn tortillas in chicken enchiladas with a “tortilla” made from zucchini and yellow squash sliced lengthwise on my mandolin.
I also wanted to decrease the sodium content and one easy way to do this was by avoiding canned enchilada sauce. I found a couple of recipes online for a homemade enchilada sauce and decided to modify them slightly to fit what I was looking to achieve.
By using vegetables in place of the corn tortillas, cutting back on the amount of cheese, using lower fat cheese, decreasing the amount of meat inside the enchilada, replacing that with vegetables, and creating the sauce from scratch, I was able to cut over 500 calories per serving without sacrificing flavor. Obviously, zucchini and yellow squash do not taste like corn tortillas, but they give the dish a good consistency that mimics a tortilla. I also significantly lowered the fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium in the dish.
With all the meat and veggies necessary provided by The Produce Box, and a clear idea in my head of what I wanted to do, I set out to the grocery store to pick up the few extra ingredients needed to create the enchilada sauce.
While I was in the Hispanic food section at the grocery store I found a SOFRITO tomato cooking base on the shelf. SOFRITO contains nearly all of the ingredients I needed to make the enchilada sauce, is low in sodium, and costs less than purchasing everything to create a sauce from scratch. By adding two spices I already owned and some vegetable stock, I was able to create a great-tasting sauce that is low in sodium and calories.
As I was cooking the sauce on the stove, my girls all commented how good it smelled and asked how soon dinner would be ready.
I was really pleased with how the enchiladas turned out. The girls, harsh food critics that they are, were very surprised how much they liked the dish. And it was fairly easy to make. The hardest part was simply assembling the enchiladas, and that is only because it was time consuming. If you have five kids like me, or any kids/spouse you can put to work, have them help and it will be completed it in no time.
I hope you like my Chicken Enchilada Recipe Rehab as much as we do!
Recipe Rehab: Lower Carb Chicken Enchiladas
- 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 medium to large yellow squash, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 pound chicken breast tenders, partially cooked, roughly chopped into small chunks*
- 1 teaspoon McCormick salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 1/2 cups homemade enchilada sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 1/2 cup 4 Cheese Mexican Shredded Cheese, Reduced Fat
Low Sodium Enchilada Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cup no salt added vegetable stock
- 6 oz Goya SOFRITO tomato cooking base, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Penzeys Salsa & Pico seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Instructions for the enchiladas:
- Prepare the vegetables. On a cutting board, using a or cut thin slices of the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise. They should be thin enough to roll up easily, but should be able to hold the mixture together. I had my mandolin set at the 2nd thinnest setting.
- Thinly slice the tomato and avocado.
- Lightly brown chicken tenders in the avocado oil and season with McCormick salt-free garlic and herb seasoning. They do not have to be cooked through, because they will finish cooking in the oven. *You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken, if desired.
- Once lightly browned, remove from pan and roughly chop the chicken into small chunks (about 1/2 in or smaller).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Lay out three slices of zucchini, slightly overlapping. Then cover with 2-3 slices of squash.
- Add a couple of slices of avocado and tomato.
- Spoon in a small amount of chicken in the middle of the veggies.
- Roll up the enchilada and place into a greased 9X13 Pyrex or metal pan. (I lined the pan with some Uncle Ben's Ready Whole Grain Medley, Quinoa & Brown Rice and a can of rinsed low sodium black beans.)
- Repeat with remaining ingredients. (I had some chicken left over so I added it in between each enchilada.)
- Pour enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
- If desired, garnish with low fat sour cream and a little extra cheese.
Instructions for the enchilada sauce:
- Pour 1 1/2 cups of no salt added vegetable stock into a saucepan.
- Add 6 oz of the Goya SOFRITO sauce.
- Stir in spices and boil for a few minutes.
- If sauce doesn't start to thicken, add a tablespoon of cornstarch into a 1/4 cup of cold water, stir to dissolve, and then slowly pour into the sauce while stirring, until it is the desired thickness.
Serving Size:1/12 of a pan
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 5.5gSaturated Fat: 1.3gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 229mgCarbohydrates: 7.8gFiber: 2.2gSugar: 2gProtein: 9.8g
Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to see “healthified”? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!