Who doesn’t love Mexican food…all that gooey cheese and luscious sauce?!  Well, here is a healthy alternative to the standard calorie-laden enchilada dish.  It is packed with vegetables like onions, zucchini, squash, and carrots along with tender shredded chicken and oh, yes…CHEESE!

chicken enchiladas

The base of this recipe came from a book I read several years ago (Chef Ellen aka Ellen Postolowski) and it has evolved from there.  You can find the original recipe in her book “It’s Just Personal…A Personal Chef’s Essential Guide to Shopping, Cooking, and Eating Smarter”.  My version varies in how I cut and cook my vegetables (I also added squash) and I don’t use low-fat cheese as she suggested (it just doesn’t taste the same) but it still embraces the quality of the original recipe.

One of the main reasons I love this recipe is the vegetables it includes.  If you are someone that is trying to sneak in a vegetable or two for your children or if you are like my daughter, Ashleigh, whose boyfriend won’t eat vegetables…this recipe is for you!  They will never know!

This recipe makes 8 large Enchiladas or 16 small but it freezes so well, that I usually make it in two square casserole dishes and freeze one of them:  an easy dinner another day! (Note:  You may notice I have a lot of vegetables and chicken in my pictures.  I doubled the recipe so I could make some for my personal chef family, my children and in-laws..I do love giving food as an “I Love You” gesture.)

“Healthy” Chicken Enchiladas

(Calorie count: 1 large =310, 1 small = 230)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shaved zucchini, then roughly chopped (Use a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 cup shaved squash, then roughly chopped
  • 2-3 cups of shredded cooked chicken (You could even use turkey!)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix (I prefer low sodium)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 10 oz can of Rotel
  • 2-3 tbsp of hot sauce (I prefer Crystal Hot Sauce…not a lot of heat but quite a bit of flavor)
  • 8 large or 16 small whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups of Mexican Blend Cheese (Use more if you want)
  • 15 oz can prepared enchilada sauce
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional, use a garnish)
  • salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste

Directions:

For the shredded chicken, you can easily use a rotisserie chicken but I prefer to make my own.  I take a couple of chicken breasts and cover them with chicken broth.  Bring them to a boil; cover; simmer on low for one hour.  Cool; shred; season well with salt, pepper, and onion powder.  (Note:  Do not forget the seasoning part or you will have bland chicken).

Shredded Chicken
Shredded Chicken

Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Add onions and saute on low for about 15-2o minutes or until tender.  Add carrots and garlic and saute an additional 10-15 minutes.

image

Add Zucchini and Squash and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Zucchini and Squash Ribbons
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons, Chopped
Zucchini and Squash Ribbons, Chopped

image

Next, add the chicken, Rotel, and cumin. Stir it all together and keep on low for 10-15 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Chicken Mixture, Sauteing
Chicken Mixture, Sauteing

Spray the bottom of an ovenproof dish with cooking spray.  Pour just enough enchilada sauce in the dish to lightly coat the bottom (about 1/4 cup).  If using large tortillas, place 2 tbsp of filling in the middle of the tortilla (only use 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp for the small tortillas). Top the mixture with some shredded cheese and roll up the tortilla.

Fill Tortilla
Fill Tortilla
Roll up tortillas
Roll up tortillas

Place the enchilada fold side down in the prepared dish.  Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.

Use remaining enchilada sauce and cheese to cover enchiladas
Use remaining enchilada sauce and cheese to cover enchiladas

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
Healthy Chicken Enchiladas

If desired, top with guacamole and sour cream but this will drive up the calorie count (hubby doesn’t care about that..ha, ha).

Jeff's version on top/my healthier version on bottom :-)
Jeff’s version on top/my healthier version on bottom 🙂

(Note:  If making ahead, prepare as directed but don’t bake.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Bring to room temperature before baking.  Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 10 or until heated through.)

Bottom Line:  For very few calories per enchilada, this is amazingLy delicious!  Full of yummy veggies and savory chicken, it will be a go-to family favorite for you just like it is for us!  Enjoy and let me know how it turns out in your kitchen!

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