New Year, New Foods
If your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier or to reduce your meat intake, then you’ll love this dish! The layers of poblano peppers and oozy, cheesy queso fresco are just the right combination for a chilly winter’s night.
Corn tortillas provide a gluten-free base for these “enchiladas.” The Aztecs ground maize by hand, which was quite a labor-intensive process. In that time corn was plentiful and other foods were scarce, so for many the tortilla would be the only food available for days. This is how and why it became regarded a sacred food. In fact, the Aztecs often painted religious designs on their tortillas. Today, the tortilla category is a $2 billion dollar industry and continues to grow. New product introductions to the market include grain-free, vegetable based, and flavored tortillas.
A traditional yellow corn tortilla is an unleavened flatbread that is gluten-free, about six inches in diameter, and has roughly 50 calories and 17 net grams of carbohydrates. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, one tortilla provides 8% phosphorous, 5% calcium, 4% magnesium, and 7% folate. It wasn’t until 2016 that the FDA approved the enrichment of the tortilla through the addition of folic acid. Folic acid (folate) is essential in preventing neural birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palates.
Poblano peppers are included in this recipe because they offer not only medicinal properties, but nutritional and antioxidants as well. Some of these benefits of peppers include the reduction of inflammation, enhanced vision, weight loss and digestive issues. On the Scoville scale, which measures the amount of heat produced from the pepper, the poblano pepper’s heat range is relatively low and falls within the 1000-3500 heat index.
Select a poblano pepper that is large and the darkest green, with a smooth, firm skin. When prepping the peppers, simply cut off the top, scoop out the inner membrane and seeds, rinse and chop.
Additionally, the Hispanic cheese used in this recipe provides 15% calcium, 4% vitamin A and 31% protein. Onions, cilantro, spices and a tangy tomato sauce finish off this recipe. Onions are high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and manganese, which is essential in managing enzyme functions and nutrient absorption. Cilantro offers a slightly citrus flavor and provides 32% of the RDA of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential in managing the clotting of blood, as well as bone and brain health. Tomato paste is one of the most nutrient dense foods available, with the tomato paste sauce offering an excellent source of copper, and vitamins A, C and E.
Vegetarian Enchiladas (serves 6-8)
18 corn tortillas
2 poblano peppers, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon liquid from jar of jalapenos
10 oz. Cacique® Queso Fresco (2 packages); crumbled
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup cream
1//4 cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Lightly oil 9 X 13 baking dish.
- Saute finely chopped peppers and onions; add spices to mixture and continue to heat until tender.
- In a flat skillet, heat on low 1 cup of the chicken broth.
- Dredge 6 of the tortillas, one at a time through warm chicken broth and place in the baking dish.
- Add 1/3 of the onion/pepper mixture.
- Add 1/4 of the cheese and sprinkle with cilantro.
- Repeat steps 5-7, ending with cheese.
- Cover and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese has thoroughly melted.
- On low heat, add tomato paste, 1 cup chicken broth, cream, and sour cream.
- When sauce has combined and is warm, add jalapeno liquid.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, or additional chili powder and cumin.
- Pour sauce over enchilada casserole and garnish with remaining cheese and cilantro.
- Look for either non-GMO tortillas or an organic brand to ensure quality ingredients.
- Cooked chicken, turkey, beef, or tofu may be added to the layers for a non-vegetarian option.
- Add sauteed mushrooms, zucchini, squash, roasted red, and/or green bell peppers to layers for additional nutrients.
- Top with sliced avocado or serve with black beans and guacamole.
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