According to some private surveys, a quarter of people around the globe enjoy chicken enchiladas. While some would prefer to have enchiladas as starters, others would love to have it as a whole meal.
This article will provide a detailed insight into this attractive dish, explaining whether it’s healthy or not.
Are Chicken Enchiladas Healthy Or Unhealthy?
In reality, many people would claim that chicken enchiladas are beneficial for your health. Meanwhile, others may defend the opposite. After all, your desired method of cooking plays a key role in determining whether they’re healthy or not.
What Makes Them Healthy?
Most people would consider Mexican food unhealthy.
It’s up to your decision: You can make or order the creamiest dish, but you could also make some simple swaps to have a more healthy meal with beneficial nutrients.
Consider using those ingredients below to make them healthy:
- Whole wheat flour tortillas or just regular wheat
- Shredded chicken (just the lean part, so they don’t have much fat)
- For vegetables, use corn, black beans, yellow onion, garlic, and cilantro.
- You can’t have this dish if you don’t have cheese. But to ensure a healthy meal, you should use cheese with low-fat content.
- For spices: use chili powder, cumin, ginger, and salt.
- Scallions, cilantro, and jalapeños all make a good topping for healthier choices.
You can find out more about this topic from this Eating Bird Food article.
What Makes Them Unhealthy?
The two main ingredients that make this traditional dish less healthy are cheese and sour cream. But why do so many people think like that?
People think cheese is bad for health because:
- High-fat content: Cheese, especially processed American cheese, has a lot of trans fats. These fats are not healthy. Consuming trans fat could increase the chance of having blood vessels and cancer.
- High salt content: Cheese cannot be cheese without salt, but a considerable amount of sodium in salt can be harmful to your heart. Some cheeses are low in sodium, but they are hard to find.
- Too many calories: Cheese has lots of calories that are difficult to digest even when you exercise. Some study claims to use all the calories from cheese, and you would have to exercise double the amount of time. Calories from fat also make cheese become more heavy food to humans.
How about the sour cream?
Sour cream is a versatile ingredient that goes well with a wide range of meals. It’s created from lactic acid bacteria-containing cream (which gives it its flavor)
90% of sour cream is fat, with approximately 60% of the fat coming from saturated fat. With so much saturated fat, consuming sour cream every day could make you have short-term effects like:
In the long-term, you may have some side effects:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
As a result, traditional chicken enchiladas are considered unhealthy food just by two main ingredients.
Who Shouldn’t Eat Chicken Enchiladas?
People who have the following diseases or symptoms should keep themselves from eating this delicious food:
- Obesity people: Definitely! Even with a more healthy version, it still has too many calories for the one who wants to lose weight.
- People who have high blood pressure symptoms: This dish might have a huge amount of fats and salt, leading to more severe symptoms like headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath.
- Who has kidney stones: All kinds of salt will have sodium, and extra sodium can increase your chances of developing another stone or make the current stone bigger.
- People with cardiovascular diseases: chicken enchiladas are high in cholesterol, lots of salt, which puts more stress on their heart.
Without such problems, you can enjoy chicken enchiladas without worrying about the negative impact. That said, don’t eat it too much and too often, then you should be able to keep yourself in good shape.
How Many Calories Is Chicken Enchilada?
We have many different varieties of chicken enchiladas, from the traditional dishes with all heavy ingredients to a more healthy version of it. The total calories of one standard chicken enchilada are about 287 calories. Including:
- 130 calories from corn tortillas
- 86 calories from Chicken Breast (cooked, no skin and bones)
- 26 calories from cheese
- 17 calories from non-fat sour cream
- 11 calories from enchilada sauce
- Six calories from a green spinach
- Four calories from raw Onions
- Four calories from Tomatoes
- Two calories from Ortega green chiles canned
What Do They Taste Like?
Due to the various ingredients of chicken enchiladas, you may taste complex flavors when consuming them.
For example, you will feel the creamy, milky taste of cheese and sour cream, the sweetness of corn, tomatoes, and cooked onions. Then, chicken brings you a meaty feeling with a little sweetness from enchilada sauce and spinach.
But you don’t feel fed up because the sourness from sour cream, tomatoes, and even enchilada sauce can neutralize the greasy feeling from cheese.
Lastly, when everything is less intense, the spicy aroma from herbs takes place. Those attractive tastes definitely make you want another bite!
What Are The Best Side Dishes?
A perfect meal never ends with only one dish.
So what are the perfect side dishes to enjoy with chicken enchiladas?
Tradition Mexican coleslaw
Mexican coleslaw usually contains apple cider vinegar and cilantro. These little changes lead to a more acidic and refreshing flavor, which greatly contrasts the rich and heavy taste of chicken enchilada.
Mexican slaw also requires more ingredients. It’s not just associated with the taste of shredded cabbage and carrots but also avocado, jalapeno, black beans, corn, red onions, and cumin.
The following video will describe how to make traditional Mexican coleslaw in two ways:
Chips and Salsa
What I like most about this side dish is that you usually have salsa on hand for your enchiladas. Hence, all you have to do now is select and mix them with your favorite chips.
Make a dish of melted cheese while you’re at it to add even more flavor!
When ordering chicken enchiladas, you can’t skip the guacamole! These two make an iconic pair that will guarantee a mind-blowing experience.
The thick and creamy avocado dip complements the taste of this cheesy meal. Serve them alongside a bowl of tortilla chips for an incredibly tempting side dish.
Mexican style corn pudding
Chicken enchiladas are savory, so what is a better way to balance them off with something sweet? A warm cup of Mexican corn pudding will do the trick in no time.
Milk, cheese, egg, and, of course, corn go into this creamy treat. These ingredients come together to create an unforgettable meal!
Jicama with mango slaw
In case you haven’t known, Jicama is a Mexican yam that tastes like the combination of a potato and a pear. Mix crunchy jicama with sweet mangoes, then season with honey and lime juice for a delicious slaw.
You can also add some chopped jalapenos or chili powder on top to give it a little extra heat.
Chicken enchiladas, like any other Mexican dish, can be more joyful from the addition of rice. You can always go simple with a bowl of white rice, while others may prefer adding some spice to it.
For example, green bell peppers, cumin, and cilantro will bring more taste to your plain white rice. You can even use black beans, making it more filling.
What about the huge amount of calories in rice? Use quinoa as a substitute for rice, which will contribute to a healthier option. Just add some corn, zucchini, and black beans, along with some Fajita seasoning, and enjoy!
Mexican sweet potato salad
This dish has corn, topped with a rich cilantro dressing and a hearty black bean salsa, in addition to the delicious sweet potatoes. These ingredients come together to create a dish that goes great with your main dish.
Chicken enchiladas are juicy, cheesy, and full of flavor, which definitely explains why more people in this world love them. If you are an average person with good health, don’t hesitate to try this Mexican-style meal out without worrying much.
Anyway, know your limit, because eating them regularly won’t be very beneficial to your health and physical condition.
Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.