(Slightly Less) Homemade Enchiladas

Preface: I hope my last post didn’t freak you out and lead you to believe that I am some wack-o, hippie, earth-child who makes her own deodorant and doesn’t shave.  Not that’s there’s anything wrong with those people!  I wish I could be more like them in some (SOME.) aspects but I’m really just an average 20-something female.  As much as I wish I could make everything from scratch and buy only local, organic produce to handcraft every meal, I am also realistic.  With work, school, working out, and social life, I have made other priorities.  To contrast my last post, I’m posting the meal and recipe that I made later this week.  It is still healthy and light but with some pre-made, canned items.  This is for those of you who “can’t” cook or “don’t have time” to make “fancy” meals.

So with the Polar Vortex officially moved out and a nearly 50-degree temperature swing, school is back in full effect.  This also means that the bookstore I work at on campus has been slammed.  Lines out the door, running out of books slammed.  I’m exhausted.  So after classes and work and of course my 6:30am gym routine Thursday, I was hungry and lazy.  I needed some serious comfort food to keep me going.  Mexican.  When I think warm, comforting, hearty, and delicious I almost always think Mexican.  Something about cumin and spicy chili powder makes my soul smile.  Also, Mexican means avocados, my most favorite food on this entire planet.  Be prepared for a rant about that at some point.  Anyways, I decided on enchiladas because they’re easy and we had all of the ingredients.  Now about those ingredients…

I do use canned beans and pre-made enchilada sauce for this recipe.  Soaking beans was not going to be quick and canned beans could do worse in terms of ingredients.  Just be sure to rinse them extremely well as the liquid they are canned in is what contains the majority of the gas-causing chemicals (aka less farts! hehe).  When I make enchilada’s, I sometimes use a canned red sauce from a brand like Preferida or Old El Paso.  However, I have not been satisfied with them as they are LOADED with calories and sodium.  Why should my tomato sauce have as many calories as the enchiladas themselves??  Not fair.  So while at Meijer this weekend, I picked up two bags of Frontera’s* sauce packets.  They contain over a third less calories and had about ten ingredients, all of which I was familiar with.  No crazy-sounding preservatives or laundry list of chemicals. Score!!  It was time to see if their flavor lived up to the nutrition label.  The final pre-made ingredient I used is low-carb “tortilla” wraps.  Tumaro’s* brand is by far the best in this category and tastes just like a regular flour tortilla!  They are 60 calories, thinner and slightly smaller, and the multigrain ones contain a reasonable amount of fiber to keep you full.  I’m a fan.  We literally haven’t had regular tortillas in our house since we discovered these.  While I know I talked about not using “Diet” or specialized products, these are still very whole and not over-processed.  A great substitute for the full-calorie, real-deal thing.
A glance at a few of my "pre-made" ingredients!

A glance at a few of my “pre-made” ingredients!

The process for making enchiladas is simple.  Fill, roll, smother with sauce, and bake!  I’m going out on a limb by even calling this a recipe because it doesn’t feel like cooking!  I topped mine with some green onions, cilantro, tomato, avocado, and a lime wedge but you could also use sour cream, 0% plain greek yogurt, fresh jalepeños, or whatever you like!

*Note: I am not endorsed or sponsored by these products or companies.  I just like them! :)
Look at all that green goodness!

Look at all that green goodness!

(Almost) Homemade Enchiladas
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Easy, quick and (almost) homemade enchiladas!
Ingredients
  • 1 15oz. can refried beans (or homemade)
  • 1 15oz can reduced sodium black beans (or dry soaked)
  • 1 cup 2% shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 packages ready-made enchilada sauce
  • 8 low-carb multigrain wraps
  • Any toppings you desire!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Lay all 8 wraps out flat and evenly divide the beans and half the cheese amongst them.
  3. Pour one packet of sauce into a casserole dish (9x9 worked for me) and shake around to cover the entire surface.
  4. Roll up one enchilada, roll it in the sauce, and repeat until they are all lined up in the pan.
  5. Pour the second packet of sauce over the top and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the whole dish.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, pulling the foil off near the end to make sure the cheese melts.
  7. Top with avocado, green onions, cilantro, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, salsa, or whatever you desire! Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 enchilada Calories: 213 Fat: 5g Saturated fat: 1.8g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 32.8g Sugar: 3g Fiber: 12.6g Protein: 15g Cholesterol: 10mg

Homemade Veggie Stock

*This post was originally posted 1-10-14 and has been transferred from my old blog to this new one!*

This has been a weird week.  I was all freaked out for the start of the semester on Sunday and did a serious amount of anxious problem-avoiding.  AKA I chopped veggies, washed grapes, measured, bagged, cleaned, messed, cleaned, messed, cleaned…  Instead of organizing my things for the semester.  Lucky for me, classes were cancelled Monday AND Tuesday.  Literally, this never happens at Ohio State.  Thank youuuu Polar Vortex.  So, needless to say, this busybody had a lot of time on her hands.  Of course I decided to cook.  Nothing makes me more relaxed and happy than cooking.  Except the eating that follows the cooking.  So I ventured out and did a little homemade experimenting…

I have been collecting all of my vegetable scraps from my daily chopping, peeling, and cleaning and tossing them into a huge freezer bag for a few weeks.  It is seriously just as easy as throwing them away but way less wasteful!  Well, after my panic-induced frenzy on Sunday, it was bursting at the seams and begging to be used up.  So I dumped all the potato skins, carrot peels, celery leaves, spinach stems, wilted herbs, onion skins, garlic bits, asparagus stalks, and eggplant scraps into a pot and started making some homemade vegetable stock!  I had about 10 cups of scraps total (That’s a lot.  You can do this with significantly less.) so I used our mega-sized (12-quarts? I’m not sure…) pot and got it heated over medium.  While I was tempted to just dump on the water, close the lid, and let the magic happen, I decided to “sweat” the veggies for a bit.  I sprinkled them with some sea salt and fresh pepper and just let them thaw and cook out a little. This released a lot of the flavors from them, especially the onions and celery.  Once I could really smell some of the veggies starting to release their flavors, I dumped in the water, a bay leaf and some whole peppercorns.  It took about 20 cups of water to cover all the veggies enough that I could stir them up a bit while they cooked.  It took a long time for this to come to even a small boil.  I stared at this big-ass pot for at least 20 minutes- probably why it didn’t want to boil!- before I started seeing consistent bubbles.  Once that happened I popped on the lid and let it simmer for the length of an episode of Law and Order, about an hour.  Then I used a slotted spoon to pull out the big pieces and put them in the blender (you’ll see why in a bit).  After that, I poured the liquid through a colander lined with cheesecloth into a bowl and TA-DA!  Rich, homemade, chemical-free vegetable broth!  To store it, I divided the liquid into 1-quart freezer bags and set them between cookie trays on the porch to freeze.  Mr. Polar Vortex froze them in no time and the cookie sheets gave them flat bottoms and tops so they stack easily in my freezer!
In case you were wondering what I did with the soggy veggies and the blender…. They got wizzed on high for a few minutes with a good bit more salt to make veggie stock concentrate “packets”.  Ever bought those “Knorr homestyle stock” cups that you drop in the water and voila, there’s stock?  Ever wondered what on earth it was?  Yeah, me too.  Well no more wondering over here, I have my own!  I froze them in a mini muffin tin lined with sheets of Press-n-Seal freezer paper and they’re individually sectioned off and ready to use!
WARNING: It looks like poop.  Like greenish nasty baby poop.  It tastes a lot better.

This is a tough recipe to write because I literally had just a mess of scraps from a huge variety of vegetables but this is what I would recommend as a guideline.  Play around with the spices as you desire and use as much or little salt as you want- the great part is that you get to control your own sodium levels!  And any vegetables will do!  You’ll get a different color and slightly different flavor every time but that’s the fun of experimenting!

Happy Homemade!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Veggie Stock
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
An easy vegetable stock using just the scraps you'd throw away anyways!
Ingredients
  • 5 cups mixed chopped vegetables or scraps
  • 10 cups filtered water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbs whole peppercorns
  • 1-3 Tbs salt (Pink Himalayan was my choice)
  • 1-2 tsp other seasonings of choice
Instructions
  1. Add all the veggies to a large stock pot over medium and allow to "sweat" but not quite cook, for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients and stir.
  3. Cover pot and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adding seasonings and salt to taste.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Drain liquid into a bowl through a colander lined with a cheesecloth or clean dish rag.
  5. Package broth in freezer bags, cans, or jars and store up to 3 months in the freezer, one week in the fridge.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup

 

Food For Fuel

*This post was originally published 10-11-13.  It has been transferred from my original site to my new and improved one!*

Since I plan on focusing on food, recipes, and eating healthy on this blog, I figure I should fill you in on my philosophy on food and eating.  Now, I could ramble on for days about the tragedy of the the way Americans eat and how our culture breeds heart-clogged nutritional ignorance….. But I won’t. You’re welcome.  Instead, I’ll use myself as an example for how (and how NOT) to fuel and nourish your body for optimal health and happiness.

Looking at me over a year ago, you would have found a busy, busy working girl in a face-paced, gigantic corporate company.  I worked crazy hours, was always “swamped”, and never ever got enough sleep.  I also thought I was doing OK in the nutrition department.  I’ve always been thin but I was especially skinny after magically shedding the few beer pounds I gained in my two year stint in college.  This success, I thought, was due to the wonderful, up-and-coming market of “diet” foods.  A typical day of food consisted of a Diet Coke and Special K in the morning, another Diet Coke and a Weight Watcher’s “Smart Ones” frozen meal for lunch, and whatever struck my fancy in the mall food court- usually Sbarro’s cheese strombolli, with a large Diet Coke.  And if I needed a snack it was almost always a Fiber One bar.  90 calories can’t be bad for you right?  And there were sometimes veggies in those frozen meals…..  Oh how very wrong I was.  Anyone who knew me during that time period could tell you that I was always always ALWAYS sick.  Seriously all the time.  In fact, a girl that had been working for me for a few months said “You’ve been sick since I started working here.”  Man, what a problem.  And I thought for sure it was because I was face-to-face with a large amount of people or selling/ touching bras and panties all day (I worked at a lingerie store.. Not just a creep).  In part, it probably was.  But the real problem was that I was not fueling my body, I was simply filling it.  I wasn’t eating and sleeping right.  Working out? Who has time for that when you’re working all day?!  I was truly running myself into the ground.

Myt turn around point was making the decision that it was time to start treating myself right.  I quit the stressful job, did some serious long-term thinking, and started making the move towards being good to myself.  I moved back in with my parents and was inspired by the fully-stocked fridge and larger, more effective kitchen.  After being in college and living in dorms and apartments, I hadn’t had the luxury of a “real” kitchen in quite a while.  I also surrounded myself with positive people (namely, my parents) who encouraged me and cared about my well-being.  And then I got cooking.  Really cooking.  No more Stouffer’s mac and cheese family sized pans all week.  I started packing a lunch with homemade sandwiches or salads, veggies and hummus, and cottage cheese.  The effect was almost immediate.  I still worked and was relatively busy, so where did all of this energy come from?  It certainly wasn’t from the Diet Coke that I had cut down to one can a day.  And what happened to that constant, miserable, disgusting runny nose?  GONE! It has been nearly 18 months since I’ve been sick.  I’ve had a few headaches and sniffles don’t get me wrong, but the last time I had a fever (a previously frequent occurrence)…?  Gosh, I don’t even know.  I feel fantastic. While there were a lot of changes in my life, but by far the most impactful one was the change in my self-attitude and desire to make myself happy.  I think I have pretty much accomplished this through my diet, activity levels, and stress-management.  SO.  Blah blah blah… What’s my point?  Here are my key thoughts on food and diet.  This is not an all-encompassing list but a few of the basics I try to apply to my everyday life.

1.  EAT. A lot.  I used to think that the only way to maintain my already thin physique was to starve and deprive myself.  No wonder I was so miserable… (haha)  I know better now.   I eat every couple of hours. Or more!  But I always eat small, healthy, yummy snacks.  In fact, my friends at school and work love to tease me for my humongous backpack filled with snacks.  Apples, mandarin oranges, pre-measured out baggies of pretzels or nuts, carrot sticks, low-fat cottage cheese, protein bars…. Lots and lots of snacks.

2.  If you aren’t sure what’s in it, or how to pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.  Disregard this for the word quinoa.  No one knows how to pronounce it but I promise it’s healthy :).  Anyways… Pre-packaged food with crazy lists of ingredients are every bit as bad for you as high-calorie, fatty foods.  Your body can’t process these foreign chemicals and instead stores them in fat cells.  Meaning you A. have more fat, and B. feel like crap when you burn fat because the chemicals are released.  So pick foods that are whole (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins) and skip things that say “Diet” or boast shockingly low calorie counts- they’re just fillers and will make you hungrier later.

3.  Plan ahead!  I cannot stress enough how important it is to put just a little thought into what you’re going to eat tomorrow or the rest of the week.  We’re all busy, I get it.  But a few hours on Sunday is all it takes to wash and chop your veggies, boil some rice and eggs, and steam/ grill your proteins.  You’re going to have to do this anyways, so why not do it ahead of time instead of when you’re running late for work or tired after a long day?  Plus, when you have a healthy snack or meal ready to go, you’re less likely to stop at the vending machine and grab something less nutritious and satisfying.  It. Is. Worth. It.  Seriously, it is.  You may just have to take my word for it.

4.  Learn to cook.  At least a little…  We’re not all cut out to be professional chefs but knowing what basic flavors pair well together or how to get a good sear on a piece of meat can make all the difference.  If you can make something delicious at home, why would you go out to a restaurant or your grocer’s freezer section and eat an unknown amount of ingredients for a much larger amount of money?  You’ll find that you just won’t.  Plus then you can post foodie pics on Instagram and soak in the “Ooohh”s and “Aahhh”s of your peers. :) What?? Me…? No way.

5.  Don’t listen to me.  Ok, I want you to listen to me a little.  Or at least keep reading my blog… And tell all your friends about it, etc….  But the only one who can tell you if you’re eating the right things is YOU.  Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel just full.  Eat what makes you feel good all day and not for one minute.  You’ll know it when you feel it.  Listen to YOUR body.

So that’s my schpeal on food.  Now that you’ve been fully lectured I’d say it’s about time for some fun recipes and yummy foods.  Yeah?  Ok. Next post is all about the yummies I promise!