Monday, February 14, 2011

Enchiladas Your Way!

One cold afternoon late last week, I made a slow-cooking pot roast. I love doing this because it provides me with lots of leftover roast to make other meals during the week. A favorite "leftover" were these delicious beef enchiladas made better with the substitution of healthier ingredients. First, the roast was top round, which is extremely lean to begin with but made melt-in-your-mouth tender by the slow-cooking process. Also, I used reduced-fat cheese in place of full-fat. Another addition was the V-8 juice to extend the store-bought enchilada sauce and increase the amount of vegetables. The final result was every bit as wonderful as my favorite Mexican restaurant, but with many fewer calories, carbs and fat.

If beef is not your thing, then chicken or a firm, white fish (such as cod or halibut) is easily substituted. You can use leftover chicken or braise boneless, skinless breasts in place of the beef. If you like fish tacos, then I guarantee you'll enjoy fish enchiladas just as much. Be certain to select a firm, white fish that will be "meaty" enough not get overlooked when mixed with the other ingredients. Finally, if you want a totally meatless version, omit the meat and add more beans and possibly some chopped spinach. Anyway you prepare these spicy enchiladas, I'm sure they'll become an often-requested, go-to recipe to feed your hungry family.

Enchiladas Your Way!
(Makes 8 enchiladas)

¼ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cup V-8 vegetable juice
¾ cup salsa (in strength of your choice)
½ pound left-over roast or blade steaks (chicken or fish can be substituted)
8 ounces enchilada sauce (1 cup)
8 corn tortillas
1½ cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar, divided
½ cup canned pinto or kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
Chopped cilantro (optional)

1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until soft and translucent. Add the vegetable juice and salsa; stir to combine.

2. If using blade steaks, cut the steaks into two strips and discard the center membrane that runs down the middle. Place into the saucepan and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours. If using leftover roast, simmer for 25-30 minutes until the meat shreds easily. (If using chicken, place ½ pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts into the mixture and simmer for 20-25 minutes. If using fish, place fillets into mixture and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until flaky.)

3. Remove meat to a plate and shred with two forks. (If using fish, break into bite-size chunks.) Strain the sauce through a sieve and catch the liquid in a bowl and reserve. Mix the reserved liquid with the enchilada sauce; stir to combine and set aside. Add the solids to the shredded meat and cool for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350-degrees. Once the meat mixture is cooled, add ½ cup of the shredded cheese and the drained beans; stir to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings and add more salt, pepper, hot sauce, chopped cilantro or chili powder to your liking.

4. Place several large spoonfuls of the smooth enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Spread sauce to edges. Follow the directions on the package to heat the tortillas and make them pliable. (Keep the warm tortillas covered with a damp cloth until you fill them so they don't dry out.) Place a large spoonful of filling down the center of one tortilla, fold ends over filling and place into the baking dish with seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas.*

5. Pour and spread the enchilada sauce over the top of the filled tortillas being certain to spread until any exposed tortilla is covered with sauce (this will prevent the tortilla from drying and cracking during the baking process). Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese and chopped cilantro over the top and cover tightly with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 4-5 minutes until cheese has browned slightly. Serve immediately.

*The beauty of this dish is that you can make only the number of servings you need, and then refrigerate the leftover filling, enchilada sauce, cheese and corn tortillas to make another meal later in the week.

Nutritional Information per 1 beef enchilada: 229 calories, 16.3 g carbohydrate, 9.2 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 559 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 16.9 g protein.

Nutritional Information per 1 chicken enchilada: 184 calories, 16 g carbohydrate, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 596 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 15 g protein.

Nutritional Information per 1 fish enchilada (made with cod): 206 calories, 16 g carbohydrate, 6 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 553 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 22 protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Healthier M&M Cookie

I'm sending a Valentine's Care Package to my daughter who is away at college. She's very conscious about healthy eating, so she'll really appreciate these! The carbs and calories have been seriously reduced by substituting almond flour for most of the white flour and cutting out most of the sugar. Typically, a cookie base such as this has over 1 cup of brown sugar, but I get a similar flavor by adding a mere 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of molasses. You will be amazed how the tiny bit of molasses adds a depth of flavor you couldn't achieve with Splenda alone. Also, the small addition of ground flaxseed meal boosts the fiber a bit and provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, just what a heart needs on Valentine's Day -- enjoy!

M&M Cookies
(Makes 30 cookies)

1 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon molasses
¾ cup Splenda, granular (not baking blend)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons zero-trans fat buttery spread (I used Smart Balance)
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup mini M & M chocolate candies (milk or dark)

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. If desired, line cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, flaxseed meal and salt. Use a fork to break up any lumps in the almond flour; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and buttery spread, brown sugar, molasses and Splenda together with a handheld or standing mixer until sugars are well combined with the butter. Add egg and vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon and stir until flour is well incorporated and a soft dough forms. Fold in the M&M chocolate candies.

5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (or level small cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake until set and beginning to brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes. Cookies will not brown much, so watch carefully and do not overbake. Remove immediately to wire rack and cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutritional Information per cookie: 73.1 calories, 6.3 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g total fat, 1.6 g saturated fat, 70 mg sodium, 0.6 g fiber, 1.4 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2011

How does this compare to a homemade Chocolate Chip cookie made from a traditional recipe? My recipe is much lower in calories, carbohydrates, fats and sodium. For comparison, the nutritional information for the same size cookie made from a traditional recipe is 160 calories, 21 g carbohydrates, 8 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 0.5 g fiber, 2 g protein.