Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Natural Progression, and Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I was thinking this morning about how my meals and eating habits have changed over my lifetime., and especially over the last year. It seems that the quality of my food intake deteriorated for a long time before I hit 278 pounds. But with a conscious effort, I have made progress to the point that I am generally getting the best nutrition of my life.

I think I was pondering this because of the lingering contemplation of the question, "do we have to eat vegetables and nothing yummy for the rest of our lives?" While it's true that we have to give up a LOT of our old favorites, we absolutely can eat filling, delicious meals if we adjust our thinking. I am determined to post what I am eating more often so that people can read this and think, "hey, that sounds great! I could do that!" Losing weight does not have to mean suffering.

When I was a little kid, my Mom used to give me chocolate ice cream for breakfast. Not every day. Some days I got pizza. I do remember eating cinnamon toast and occasionally cream of wheat with a big lump of "maple candy" in the center. When I was older, my Dad would make those eggs you crack inside a piece of bread and fry in butter on the stove. Yummy. But yeah, I started early and it is a miracle I was not a fat child.

Lyn, age 2, having chocolate ice cream for breakfast:

By the time I hit middle school I was skipping breakfast entirely. As a matter of fact, I hardly ever ate breakfast until I was married. Then I started cooking normal breakfasts. But somewhere along the line, when I was divorced, I stopped taking care of myself. We were poor, and my little kids were going to free preschool and kindergarten and they got free breakfasts. I was left alone eating donuts from the food bank every morning.

A year ago, I would wake up and have 3 or 4, maybe even 5 pieces of cold pizza for breakfast. With a Coke. And of course I had to have something sweet after the pizza, so a slice of cake or a couple danishes fit the bill.

When I started trying to lose weight, I was having things like whole wheat waffles, fruit smoothies, or a bowl of raisin bran or frosted mini-wheats. I always had a large cup of coffee with flavored creamer in it too.

Small, healthy changes over time yield big results. I started by cutting out the coffee and having tea instead. Tea has some great health benefits and I don't feel as "addicted" to tea as I did coffee. Also I use very little sugar, and skim milk in my tea each morning. So now, instead of a mug of coffee every morning, my fluid intake is: upon rising - large (16oz) glass of water; then while I check my email - a small (8oz) cup of tea; then with breakfast - a large (16oz) glass of unsweetened iced green tea with 2oz Pomegranate juice added. (I used to put sugar in my iced tea, but eventually I made this healthier change).

Six months ago my breakfast would often be: one wheat waffle with 2T Jif peanut butter and 1T Welch's Grape Jam on it.
About four months ago I switched to a flax or Kashi White Tea/Oat waffle instead. I cut the peanut butter to 1T and the jam to 1/2 T.
Three months ago I switched from Jam to fresh blueberries. Instead of 1/2 T sugary jam, I use about 1/3 c fresh blueberries on top of my waffle.
Two months ago I switched from Jif to a natural peanut butter. No sugar, no hydrogenated fats. Just smashed nuts. I also bought natural almond butter and use that sometimes. Much healthier than Jif.
Now I use organic blueberries whenever I can, and I added some strawberries on the side if I have them.
See how painless that was? I started out with a waffle with lots of PB&J on it, which, by the way, did allow me to lose weight and was far better than what I HAD been eating... and now I have a healthy flax waffle with natural almond butter and fresh organic blueberries, with a few fresh strawberries on the side. Very tasty, very healthy.

Tonight we are having chicken enchiladas for dinner. Now, you have to understand, I have ALWAYS been a sucker for rich, buttery, creamy, extra-cheesy sauces. None of this red sauce stuff for me. I had this recipe... and it was fantastic. Loads of fat and salt. No vegetables whatsoever. And I would eat half the pan. It helped make me huge.

I messed with my old recipe until I made it healthy enough for me to enjoy while losing weight. Hey, my kids don't need all that extra fat, either, so this is good for everyone. Now I can have my creamy, cheesy enchiladas once in awhile and not gain weight from it. A great comfort food.

Lyn's Cheesy Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

One package of 10 flour tortillas. You can use wheat ones or low carb or whatever, but truly these taste the best with white tortillas. My kids HATE wheat tortillas. I like to use Mission "Carb Balance" Soft Taco Size tortillas. They look and taste like white, and have the soft fluffy texture, but they have 110 calories, 2.5 g fat, 11 GRAMS OF FIBER!!, and 5 grams of protein per tortilla. NO sugar. Love these things.
2 c. cooked chicken breast (cubed or shredded... I like shredding mine)

8 oz low fat Colby jack cheese, shredded (about 2 c. shredded). I like Kraft 2% shredded Mexican blend in a bag. Easy and a nice flavor.

1 1/2 - 2 c. mixed cooked vegetables. I like small cauliflower florets, julienned carrots, small broccoli pieces, mushrooms, onions. I cut them small.

Sauce: mix 1 can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup, 1 can Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 c low fat or fat free sour cream, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 (4oz) can of diced mild green chiles (drained), 1/2 can of skim milk, black pepper to taste. Mix it all in a bowl with a whisk. You *may* want to add salt if you are used to salty stuff... but eventually you want to leave out extra salt, right?

Take 1/4 of the sauce and mix it gently with the chicken, vegetables, and 1/3 of the cheese in a bowl. This is your filling.

Spray a 9 by 13 pan with cooking spray. Take a half cup or so of the sauce and coat the bottom of the pan.

Now you take each tortilla, put filling in it, and roll it up. Put the rolled enchiladas into the pan, seam side down. When they are all in the pan, pour the rest of the sauce over them. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cover with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and sort of tent it up just a bit so it is not touching the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake 10 more minutes. Enjoy with a salad.

*Sometimes I like to use fresh garlic in the sauce. Sometimes I add some black olives, or have shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes on top after it is cooked. Green onions are good with this too. Yes I know canned soups are not *ideal* but that's okay, for me, once in awhile. If your kids don't like vegetables, you can make half the pan with veggies and half with just chicken. Enjoy!
**Edited to add nutrition info. I know this sounds very yummy. And it is! I calculated the calories using the brands mentioned. This makes ten nice big enchiladas. One-tenth of the recipe has about 280 calories. If you use the tortillas I mentioned it also has about 14-15 grams of fiber per enchilada, and lots of protein as well. I personally save about 500 calories a day for dinner. Plenty of room for 1 or even 1 1/2 enchiladas and a salad with nonfat vinaigrette. So yes, IF you do not eat the whole pan, you can lose weight eating this. If you are concerned about the fat content or want them to be even lower in calories, you could try using nonfat sour cream or greek yogurt. You could increase the vegetables. You can cut out part of the cheese (but I, personally, WANT to enjoy the cheese so I just make sure to never eat more than 2 enchiladas for dinner!) Freeze the leftovers in portions so you are not tempted :)


Katschi said...

LOL It kind of looks like you're saying, "Hey, I love ice cream but are you SURE this is a good idea?"

You were a cutie patootie, shnoopsie poopsie. That's for damn sure! (I've been talking to cats for too long)

That recipe sounds decadent! You lose weight with this? I love cheesy anything.

Donna B said...

That recipe sounds heavenly! Printed it out and plan to make them this week. Thanks!
I understand completely about making changes, no matter how small with our eating. I use to drink a liter of diet soda a day and coffee with sugar and cream. Coffee is one cup a day and black, and I haven't had a soda in years!
Keep up the good work!

new*me said...

I make something very similar that I have adapted as well. I use 2 cans of ff cream of chick and sometimes use the green enchilada sauce instead of the chilis and I tear up my tortillas and layer it. I haven't tried putting veggies in! I will give it a try. It is one of my family's favorites.

Heather said...

I just spent the last hour discovering your blog. I love it! You and I have the same mind-set for the most part, but you are so much further along than me. I can't wait to catch up to you. Thanks for being the most inspiration I've had in months!

Heather said...

those small changes definitely make a BIG difference! I find that if you jump into big changes, its harder to handle and the ydefinitely are less long lasting.

kris said...

I stumbled upon your blog while on an assignment.

Being overweight most of my life myself. I'm glad to say that I've finally reach the weight i'm comfortable with so you can do it . Best of luck :)

Fat chick said...

I often think about the "bad habits" I have and where they started... It started long ago for me too and a lot of things that I just am now really realizing... I am hoping that I am much better for my son...

ryry the adventurous said...

OMG LOOK at that awesome blonde hair. You were an adorable baby!

Yeah I am totally going to make that recipe tonight, I think it will hit the spot, most certainly.

Big Girl said...

Those are great changes in your diet.

Looking forward to trying the Enchiladas!

Sheri said...

Thanks for your post. It inspired what I've just finished writing on my blog...way too much to put here. Funny how there words of another cause us to realize things sometimes

Dinah Soar said...

Great post Lynn...I like reading about your food choices...we've had a similar progression in food choices...and I love what you said, I believe it too...that we can eat foods we love and lose weight...I never "get" why people think if they're on a diet they can't have pizza or the like.