Enchilada Emergency

We nurse a favorite south-of-the-border recipe back to health.
Recipe by Jean Kressy

The reader: Jane Gausch, 50, nurse manager at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The recipe: Enchiladas de Pollo (Chicken Enchiladas)

The story: Jane can barely remember when she first tried this recipe from a Mexican cookbook, but she's certain that it was love at first bite. The rich, creamy dish was a hit in the Gausch household, but when the family started eating less fat, the enchiladas posed a problem. Jane tried to lighten the recipe on her own by substituting half-and-half for cream, but she needed more help and turned to us.

The dilemma: We're as crazy about enchiladas as Jane is, but there were red flags all over this recipe. Calling for whipping cream, sour cream, and a quarter cup of oil to fry the tortillas, not to mention heaping mounds of Monterey Jack cheese, the recipe needed more than a little fine-tuning to make it healthful.

The solution: We knew we'd have to cut back on the Monterey Jack, but less cheese means less taste. By substituting reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar for some of the milder Jack, we were able to get away with less cheese and still keep the flavor. Our next target was the whipping cream in the sauce. By replacing it with 2 percent milk, we cut 63 grams of fat and 529 calories from the recipe. Instead of frying the tortillas in oil, we softened them in simmering water--slashing an additional 27 grams of fat and 241 calories. The sour cream was a snap: Fat-free worked like a charm and further lowered the fat tally by 46 grams. In all, we reduced the fat in the total recipe by 185 grams and the calories by an impressive 1,586―without sacrificing creaminess or flavor.

The feedback: For a real taste test, Jane made both the original and lightened versions of the recipe and invited her family to judge the results. "It was amazing," Jane said. "No one could tell the difference between the two dishes. The low-fat version was every bit as flavorful and rich tasting."

Before | After

Serving size
2 enchiladas and 2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

Calories per serving
899 | 502

Fat
62.8g | 16.6g

Percent of total calories
63 | 30

To the Rescue. Do you have a favorite recipe that needs a healthy makeover? Maybe we can lighten it up. Send it to us, along with your reasons for wanting a healthier version and any interesting stories or traditions about the recipe. Include your name, address, and daytime phone number with the recipe, and send it to CL_Web@timeinc.com with "Lighten Up" in the subject line. We can't lighten every recipe we receive, but if we adapt yours, we'll send you a Cooking Light cookbook. We reserve the right to edit all recipes. All recipes submitted become the property of Cooking Light and may be republished and used for any purpose.