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Friday, May 18, 2012

Healthy (-er) Enchilada Recipe

This one has corn, tomatoes, veggie chicken, GREEN sauce, and is topped with cilantro
My mother used to make huge trays of cheese enchiladas - half with meat, half without - and I loved them. To this day, enchiladas are one of my absolute favorite dishes to dig into. But until earlier this year, I wouldn't make them at home, primarily because I couldn't figure out how to roll the corn tortillas without them cracking. Thanks to Slick's hubby, I now know that you have to heat them on a griddle first. Then I started thinking about it and while those cheese enchiladas are totally tasty, they are not quite as healthy as I would like. For a family with six kids, they're inexpensive, easy and tasty enough that they'll be eaten without fuss. But here are the requirements I was trying to meet with this meal (in no particular order):

  • gluten free
  • dairy free
  • low calorie
  • low fat
  • tasty enough to satisfy five children of varying ages and tastes
  • easy to make
  • inexpensive
  • vegetarian
  • freeze well for future meals
  • versatile enough to use whatever is in my kitchen right. now.

So I came up with vegan enchiladas - made with red sauce they are also gluten free, made with green sauce they are vegan but not gluten free (go figure!) How "healthy" these stay will, of course, depend on which combinations of the following that you use.

Can't Do Without It Ingredients:

Package of corn tortillas (white or yellow, your choice)
1 or 2 cans Enchilada Sauce (green or red, spicy or mild, your choice)
1 - 2 Tbsp. Cumin or to taste
1 small Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced

Possible Fillers:

Veggie chicken strips
1 or 2 cans black or red beans
1/2 c. Frozen corn
1 or 2 Fresh Tomatoes, chopped
Can diced Chili Peppers
1 Lb. package Firm Tofu, diced into small cubes
Avocado, diced
Shredded cheese
Veggie beef crumbles

Possible Toppers:

Sour Cream
Shredded cheese


  1. Prepare your enchilada pan by pouring a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom, or lightly oil the pan. Reserve another 1/4 c. enchilada sauce for the top of the enchiladas so they don't dry out when baking.
  2. In a large, deep skillet (or even a wok!), saute the onion and garlic until translucent. If using a meat substitute, add this to the pan and heat through. Add in any other frozen or canned ingredients and warm them through. Do not add fresh veggie type ingredients (tomatoes, avocado, cilantro) at this stage. Add in the remaining enchilada sauce and cumin. Mix through and remove from heat. 
  3. Add in any fresh veggies being used. 
  4. In a flat skillet, heat the first corn tortilla in a scant bit of oil. This should only take a few seconds on each side. When pliable, fill the enchilada with a heaping Tbsp of filling down the middle of the tortilla and roll it up as tightly as you can. Place it in the pan - it will want to unroll, but you can pack it back in as you continue forward with the rest of the enchiladas. Repeat this process until your pan is filled. Use the sauce that has been set aside to top the enchiladas in your pan. This is important or they will dry out when baking. If you're using cheese on top, put this on after your enchilada sauce.
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve this lovely dish with rice and refried or black beans, top it with cilantro (as in the picture) or sour cream, etc. These freeze well although we never have leftovers in our house!


  1. I shall try them ... but I do want to say, there is NOTHING WRONG with consuming gluten if you do not have medical issues. Gluten is not the enemy unless you have an allergy to it! It's sort of turned into a fad, going gluten free!

  2. Enchiladas are one of my favorite dishes to make at home. I always dip the corn tortillas in water... it makes them pliable very quickly.

    I do agree with Spinster Beth... gluten is not the enemy unless you are allergic. All things in moderation. :-)

    1. No, there is nothing wrong with gluten. In fact, when I make home made bread I *add* gluten as an ingredient, but in the case above, I was cooking for a guest who follows a gluten-free diet (they're working on finding causative factors by an elimination diet) so I was looking for something that would cover that base *and* her lactose intolerance as well. But either way they tasted good!