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Healthy Dish

Healthy Mexican at Home

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with lighter enchiladas (we promise: they're just as good as the full-fat version!)

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Mexican food is a relatively new discovery for me. After all, it isn’t a big part of daily life in New York City-where I spent most of my life. But moving to Southern California really opened my eyes to how great this stuff can be.

Enchiladas are classic Mexican-American comfort food. The problem is that they’re packed with calories, without a lot going for them in the nutrition department. But with just a few tweaks to the classic recipe, they’re no longer a guilty pleasure.

We start with flavorful, whole-grain corn tortillas and then boost the nutrition even further with spinach (for iron, vitamin C, and zeaxanthin and lutein-the superstars of eye nutrition) and onions (a great source of the anti-inflammatory flavonoid quercetin). And our version uses lean white chicken meat, and more beans for extra protein and a good dose of fiber.

Use a lighter hand on the cheese and you’ll still get all the tangy, rich flavor you love with a serious reduction in calories and a big boost in the nutritional benefits!

-Dr. Jonny

Cinco De Mayo Enchiladas

Serves 4

Olive oil cooking spray
1½ Tbs. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. palm or regular sugar
1½ cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 cup cooked black beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned)
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach, optional
4 8-inch soft, organic corn tortillas (preferably sprouted, or use whole-grain wraps)
1½ cups shredded jack or sharp cheddar cheese, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 7- x 11-inch Pyrex (or other tempered glass) baking dish lightly with olive oil, and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook about 4 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and palm sugar, and mix gently until well combined. Increase heat to bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 10 minutes. Pour sauce into deep bowl, and purée mixture to desired consistency using an immersion blender. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  3. In medium bowl, gently mix chicken, beans, spinach, if using, and 1 cup sauce to combine.
  4. Pour a little of the remaining sauce into bottom of prepared baking dish, and spread evenly to form a thin layer. Evenly divide chicken and bean mixture among the middle of 4 wraps, and top each with sprinkling of cheese. Fold far edge of the wrap toward you, up and over the filling. Tuck in the two sides and fold the final edge away from you to close wrap. Lay wraps seam-side-down on sauce in prepared baking pan, nestling wraps together. Pour the remaining sauce and cheese evenly over enchiladas, and bake 30 minutes. Serve hot.

per serving: 480 cal; 34g pro; 21g total fat (9g sat fat); 37g carb; 80mg chol; 900mg sod; 10g fiber; 8g sugars

Notes … From Chef Jeannette

In the flavor department, there’s just no equal to homemade enchilada sauce. In just a few minutes, you can create the unforgettable Mexican taste of a long-simmered sauce. But if you’re in a hurry, you can turn this recipe into a super-quick meal by using a high-quality prepared enchilada sauce instead of making your own from scratch. In that case, omit ingredients from olive oil through palm sugar, and replace with prepared. It will be our secret!