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As far as I’m concerned, Chicken Enchiladas in a creamy “Verde” sauce is the ultimate Tex-Mex comfort food.

But when I knew my family and I had to lose weight, I had to say adios to my old recipe. (Apparently, one does not get thin consuming a pound of cheese, sour cream, an entire chicken and oil soaked tortillas for dinner. Who knew?)

In this version, by substituting vegetables for most of the chicken, using fat free or low fat dairy, and short cutting the steps–even roasting the chicken with vegetables in the same oven, at the same time–it’s not only much skinnier, it’s much easier!


2 bone-in chicken breasts (skin on for cooking, but remove before chopping)

1  head cauliflower, chopped

1 T. ground Cumin

1 T. chili powder

2 t. salt

1 t. cayenne pepper

3 large red bell peppers

3 large poblano peppers

2 medium onions, sliced

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup fat free (or low-fat) cottage cheese

2 cups fat free (or low-fat) sour cream, divided (half in the filling, half for the sauce)

1/2 cup grated sharp 2% cheddar (plus 3 Tablespoons for top)

1 large (28 oz) can Green Enchilada Sauce

10-12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped green onions


Preheat oven to 425. Cover 3 baking sheets with foil and spray with canola oil.

Place the chicken on one sheet and cauliflower and onions on a second sheet and sprinkle both with all of the spices.

Place the whole red bell peppers and poblano peppers on a 3rd sheet and put all the trays in the oven.

Enchiladas, deconstructed

Roast the cauliflower for about 25 minutes and remove to cool.

Roast the chicken breasts 35 to 45 minutes, depending on size, and remove to cool.

Roast the peppers for up to an hour, rolling them around now and then so that they get a nice char and blistering of the skin on all sides.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, throw out the skin and chop the meat into small pieces about the same size as the cauliflower.

When the peppers are done, pull the foil that lined the baking sheet up around them and crease in order to make an ‘envelope.’ The steam will loosen the skins and make for easy peeling. After they’ve cooled, slip off the skins as best you can, remove the seeds and stems and cut into strips.

Toss the chicken, cauliflower, onions, peppers, corn, cilantro, jalapeno, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheddar and half of the (28 oz) can of enchilada sauce all together into a large baking dish.  Taste for seasonings here and add more heat (jalapeno) or salt if you like.

Wrap corn tortillas, 5 at a time, in damp paper towels and microwave 40 seconds to soften.

Using a spatula, create little valleys and tuck the corn tortillas into the filling.  What you’re doing is creating the illusion of tortillas that wrap all the way around the filling. But by doing it this way, you cut the number of tortillas, and calories, without sacrificing the taste or texture.

Mix the remaining cup of fat free sour cream with the remaining enchilada sauce (you can just put the sour cream in the half empty can and mix it there so you don’t have to dirty another bowl) and pour the sauce on top.  Sprinkle with 3 Tablespoons of shredded cheddar and the chopped cherry tomatoes.

Bake at 400 for 40-45 minutes until bubbly and brown along the edges.

Skinny Enchilada Suiza

Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve over shredded lettuce to add even more bulk and texture.

Add a little fresh non-fat sour cream or avocado on top if you like. Serve with 1/4 cup black beans or half an ear of corn.


It’s really easy to change this recipe according to what’s in season or what you have on hand. Try adding yellow squash to the filling. Either roast it along with the onions and cauliflower, or just slice into a bowl, cover it with a damp paper towel and microwave it until soft, about 5 minutes.

You could also add a few beans if you like. They’re a great addition, adding helpful protein-building amino acids, filling fiber and great taste and texture.

About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
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  1. Nancy Josue says:

    Love your sight! I really want to make enchiladas but would prefer not to use any peppers due to allergies in the family. Can I substitute other vegetables? Would it be possible to add eggplant? As for the tortillas, if they are already soft do I still heat them in the microwave?

    • Lisa McRee says:

      Hi Nancy.. I have to tell you, I have put every veg under the sun in that recipe and they all work. With lots of cauliflower in the farmers’ market lately, I’ve even left out the chicken! So, yes, use whatever you like..staying seasonal or even using good frozen veg if you live in a place where winter produce is iffy… As for tortillas, yes, if they’re soft enough already for you to manipulate them, save yourself a step! (I’m all about saving steps!!) xolisamc

  2. Denise says:

    Sorry, I meant to ask as well, you say “wrap corn tortillas, 5 at a time, in damp paper towels and microwave 40 seconds to soften.”

    I use the La Tortilla Factory corn tortillas, and they are pretty soft & pliable already. Is this step really necessary?
    Thanks again!

  3. Denise says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I’ve made this twice now, and to rave reviews.
    Question, though…you say “Using a spatula, create little valleys and tuck the corn tortillas into the filling. What you’re doing is creating the illusion of tortillas that wrap all the way around the filling.” I’m not sure what this means. The photo of the plated enchiladas appear to have the tortilla wrapped entirely around the filling. Also, the ingredients call for 10-12 corn tortillas, & the photo of the dish before baking, appears to have that many. I tried to create “little valleys” and even cut some tortillas in half in order to “tuck them” in beside each other. Doing this only used about 5 tortillas and was a huge MESS plating them.
    Can you shed some light please?

    • Lisa McRee says:

      Though the photo looks like the tortilla is wrapped around but it really isn’t. I’m guessing you may be using a dish that’s not as deep as mine? If I were using something more shallow, the tortillas would be too large. If you have a deeper dish (like one deep enough for lasagne) I think it will be easier and much less messy when plating…

  4. Luci says:

    I made this last night for dinner. Delish! I added in a half can of drained Rotel I had sitting in my fridge. Yum! Lots of prep work, but it was worth it.

    • Lisa McRee says:

      So glad you liked it! And that you know the secrets of Ro-Tel! You’re right, it is a bit of prep..which is why I often make double the amount of filling and freeze it until I want to make enchiladas again. Work once, eat twice!

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