Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Chilaquiles Casserole

on June 22, 2012

I have written about Chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lays) before as it is one of my favorite Mexican foods so I was excited to see this recipe on WebMD and made it last night.  Couple things- it is really tasty and you will never miss the meat.  But- it is not really Chilaquiles, I would say it is more like a Mexican lasagna.  No matter what you call it, call it both delicious and healthy!  I changed the recipe somewhat and used Nu Val scores to make this even more nutritious.  For those who don’t know- Nu Val is a scoring system in which products are labeled from 1 (least nutritious) to 100 (most nutritious).  There are a couple of items in this recipe that could either be really bad or really good and you wouldn’t know unless you studied the labels – or- just use Nu Val and take out the guesswork! The Nu Val scores are in parentheses behind the item, see below for more in-depth info.

Chilaquiles Casserole

Servings: 10

Total Time: 45

Prep Time: 20

Recipe Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil (24)

1 medium onion, diced (93)

1 medium zucchini, grated (99)

1 19-ounce can low-sodium black beans, rinsed (91)

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (42)

1 1/2 cups corn, frozen or fresh (91)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

12 corn tortillas, quartered (91)

1 19-ounce can mild red or green enchilada sauce (25)

1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese ( I used a Mexican blend,  same Nu Val score and cheaper!) (24)

I also added chopped garlic and chopped cilantro with the vegetables and hit it with some chili powder as well.

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.
  3. Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the pan. Top with half the vegetable mixture, half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more

This is a quick and easy recipe and it makes a lot so the two of us will be eating this for a few days.  It actually tastes better as leftovers!

The only part of the nutritional info I feel comfortable about using is calories, which are approx. 240 in a serving.  I made some changes to to the original recipe that would change the info given on WebMD, my version will have less sodium, fat, and more fiber.  Overall, this is a darn healthy meal.

Let’s look at some choices you can make to eat healthier.

Black Beans are always a good choice.  High in fiber, low in calories.  But, once they are canned they can be quite high in sodium.  Let’s compare:

Regular canned black beans have a decent score of 55 but contain 400 mg of sodium.  Switching to no salt added raises the score to an awesome 91 and only 10 mg of sodium.  Look for reduced or no salt in everything you buy.  Your heart will thank you.

Tortillas were a real eye opener.  I prefer flour tortillas but corn tortillas score consistently higher.  I was so excited to find white corn tortillas with a score of 91!!!  The flour tortillas next to them on the shelf score a 2, which means a Snickers bar has more nutrition! This category has some extreme highs and extreme lows so shop smart. Also, the white corn tortillas are very similar to flour.  You really won’t notice a difference.

Wow- that is a HUGE difference in nutritional value!!

I had a big dilemma with the enchilada sauce because I prefer red and it seemed like it would work better with this recipe.  Nu Val was telling me that green was the wise choice but I went against it and bought red anyway.  The biggest difference I could see was that red has 1 g of saturated fat which would drive the score down.  It also has about 40 more calories per serving.

The scores are on the shelf tag. 50 for green, 25 for red. This is the only area that I did not go up in score.

This recipe called for diced tomatoes.  Do you know how many varieties of diced tomatoes are available?  A LOT!  I chose the kind with green chiles just to give a little more heat but you can use whatever you like.  Scores are pretty much the same except for low sodium which scores an 81.  You could also use plain tomato sauce (go for the low-sodium).

One of many varieties of canned tomatoes, choose what you like but low-sodium is best.

I also had some non-fat Greek yogurt on hand so I dolloped a bit on top.  I don’t like Greek yogurt by itself, but I like it as sour cream.  And, with a Nu Val core of 93, it is much healthier than sour cream (23).

If you don’t have Nu Val available where you shop and want to make better choices, compare the labels.  I compare saturated/trans fat, sodium and sugar and choose the lowest.  Look at fiber and choose the highest.  That’s really simplified but it will get you on the right track.

Enjoy the Chilaquiles!

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