Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
Cheesy, creamy chicken wrapped in sweet heirloom corn tortillas dancing in a beautiful tangy tomatillo green sauce = pure perfection! This simple gluten free recipe is so quick and easy it’s a must have with my busy family schedule and is perfect for Cinco de Mayo or any fiesta you have planned. The secret to these epic enchiladas is using a blend of two or more cheeses (my favorites are Pepper Jack, Chipotle Colby and Ghost pepper Jack) and my simple roasted chicken recipe for this, but feel free prep your chicken breast any way you like!
Why I shred my Cheese instead of buying bagged
When ever I need shredded cheese for a recipe, I always shred my own from a block, why? Well, because pre-shredded bagged cheeses are treated with chemicals and additives to keep the cheese from clumping and spoiling. Think about it, when you buy a block of cheese, open the wrapping, cut a few pieces and then re-wrap it and set it in the fridge, within a few days you start to get mold.
Shredded cheese is treated with natamycin, an antifungal drug that prevents yeast and mold growth. Additionally, additives such as cellulose (derived from wood pulp) or other starches are used to prevent caking and clumping. So now your simple cheese went from just being cheese to a highly processed, chemical laden food.
Next time you have a recipe that calls for shredded cheese, take the 2-minutes to shred it fresh from a block and you will see how much tastier your dish is and reap the benefits of less chemicals and toxins in your food!
Why Heirloom Corn vs. Conventional (Hybrid) Corn
Corn, it’s everywhere, it’s added to processed foods such as soups to yogurts, and is refined into high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is present in almost every single processed food item on your grocers shelves. Did you know that a majority of the corn products you are consuming are derived from either hybridized or genetically modified (GM) corn, and many of these are grown conventionally treated with toxic chemicals like glyphosate (RoundUp.)
Across the globe, over 80% of all the GMO crops that are cultivated have been modified against herbicides such as RoundUp. This means that the crops have had their DNA altered so that they are resistant against chemicals like RoundUp allowing for these toxic chemicals to be sprayed on the crops, killing other plants and pests without harming the crop itself. The problem with chemicals like glyphosate is that they are now part of the food you eat, and have given rise to “superbugs” and “superweeds” that have become resistant to it and can now only be killed with chemicals that are even more toxic like 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D, an ingredient in Agent Orange) shown to correlate with thyroid disorders, hormonal disorders, decreased fertility, birth defects, and cancer .
In recent studies, there have been indications of the negative impact GMO foods are having when consumed. These foods are showing that they may have toxicity on organs, organ systems, and immune health . Consuming foods that have been genetically modified exposes you to a slurry of toxic chemicals, like glyphosate, that has been shown to be carcinogenic .
Common GMO Foods
The most common GM foods you find in America consist of, but are not limited to canola, corn, soy, and sugar beet (white sugar). These foods are found in almost every single processed food found on your grocers shelves and freezer section. Not only are these foods highly inflammatory and should be avoided, but they have been so heavily refined that they lack nutrients as well.
What are Heirloom Foods?
Heirloom foods are foods that have been cultivated from seeds that have not been genetically modified including tomatoes, apples, corn, carrots, lettuces, beans, and more. Not only do these foods taste so much better, but they are more nutritious for you! Heirloom foods are more nutritious than GMO/hybridized versions, nutrient data shows that hybridized broccoli has about 1/3rd of the amount of calcium compared to heirloom broccoli from the 1950s .
These are just a few reasons why I source heirloom foods whenever I can.
Why Chicken is So Good For You!
We all know that chicken is a tasty and fantastic source of protein, but do you know why it is so good for you? Chicken, along with many other sources of animal protein, such as beef, eggs and fish, are a complete source of protein. This means that all nine essential amino acids are present and available to you when you eat these foods. When it comes to nutrients, anything labeled as “essential” means that your body cannot make or synthesize this nutrient, so it must be provided to your body by the foods you eat.
As mentioned above, there are nine essential amino acids that we must eat everyday to provide our bodies energy as well as the building blocks necessary in everyday functions such as growth and repair, immune support, and in the synthesis of our hormones and neurotransmitters.
The nine essential amino acids and their roles are :
- Histidine: necessary for the production of histamine and also plays a role in nervous system health
- Valine: necessary in energy production as well as muscle growth and repair
- Phenylalanine: building block for neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline), and in the production of other amino acids.
- Leucine: necessary in stimulating wound healing, muscle repair, and blood sugar regulation.
- Isoleucine: necessary in immune function and energy regulation.
- Tryptophan: necessary building block for serotonin.
- Methionine: necessary in detoxification, metabolism, and in your body’s ability to absorb selenium (supports thyroid health) and zinc (necessary in production of HCl in your stomach).
- Threonine: necessary in skin and connective tissue health.
- Lysine: necessary in hormone production and your body’s ability to absorb calcium (bone, heart, muscle and nerve health.)
So grab some free-range chicken and let’s get cooking!
Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
1-1.5 lbs. Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
3 cups Green Enchilada Sauce
6-8 Heirloom Corn Tortillas
1 lb. Shredded Cheese, divided*
2 oz Whole Milk Unsweetened Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Chipotle Powder or Ground Hatch Pepper (opt)
1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
* I love to buy blocks of various cheeses and shred them myself
What Cheeses to use in Enchiladas:
- Monterey Jack
- Queso Blanco
- Pepper Jack
- Colby Jack
- Habanero Jack
- Chipotle Colby
How to Make Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Shred the chicken and the cheese and set aside into separate bowls.
3. In a large bowl add the sour cream, greek yogurt, 1/2 of the cheese and the spices mixing well.
4. Add the shredded chicken and mix well to combine ensuring all the chicken is mixed into the sauce.
5. Pour 2 cups of the salsa verde into a large bowl or use it straight from the pot if you just made it (let it cool a bit beforehand.)
6. To the baking dish, add about 3/4-1 cup of the salsa verde to coat the bottom of the dish edge to edge.
7. Dip a corn tortilla into the salsa verde in the bowl or pot, lightly coating each side.
8. Add some of the chicken and cheese mixture to the middle of the tortilla and roll it up placing it seam side down into the baking dish.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until all the chicken mixture is used up.
10. Ladle the remaining green salsa over the enchiladas and then sprinkle the remaining cheese over.
11. Cover with parchment or foil and bake for 30-minutes covered.
12. Remove the foil or parchment and bake another 5-10 minutes to lightly brown the cheese.
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Q: Can I use a rotisserie chicken for this?
A: Absolutely! I would stick with only using the white meat since the texture and taste are better suited for this recipe.
Q: Why did my enchiladas come out mushy?
A: There may have been too much sauce added before baking. Use just enough sauce to coat them without drowning them.
Q: Help! My corn tortillas keep breaking when I try to roll them!
A: Try heating them up for a few seconds on a hot pan or in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel. Warm corn tortillas are more pliable than cold ones.
Q: Should I fry the tortillas before using them?
A: That is up to you, you don’t need to fry them as that is typically a method used to heat the tortilla before rolling to ensure it doesn’t break.
Q: Can I make this ahead of time?
A: Oh yes! I do all the time! Prep the dish, cover and keep in the fridge until ready to bake. Increase baking time to 45-60 minutes to make sure the enchiladas warm all the way through!
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I am a holistic nutritionist with an auto-immune disorder, a love of cooking, and a passion for holistic health.
Sharing what I make and eat with all of you…in hopes that you find inspiration here to fuel your body and feel your best with nutrient dense whole foods and clean eating.