South of the Border Without Ever Leaving Your Home

South of the Border Without Ever Leaving Your Home

South of the Border Without Ever Leaving Your Home

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

I really love to eat Mexican food. But I am careful about eating at Mexican restaurants. With the "bottomless" baskets of chips and large food portions that are often provided, it''s easy to leave feeling stuffed. Cooking Mexican at home means you can control your portions, use lower-fat, lower-calorie ingredients, and you can also bake your own tortillas chips and dip them in salsa.


Nutritional Information : 176 calories per enchilada/2 per serving, 16 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 619 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber, 157 mg calcium.

Makes : 12 enchiladas

Serves : 6

  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) of finely shredded, reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (29-ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine chicken, 3/4 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup chives, garlic, cumin and pepper. Set aside.

Spread ½ cup enchilada sauce in a 13" X 9" X 2" baking pan. Put the remaining sauce in a large skillet. Heat the sauce until warm. To soften each tortilla, completely submerge it in the sauce. Shake off the excess and transfer to a plate. Spoon about 1/4 cup of chicken filling down the center of the tortilla and roll up to enclose. Place the seam down in the prepared baking pan. Pour remain sauce over the filled tortillas. Top with 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese and remaining chives. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Shopping List

  • Chicken
  • Reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Corn tortillas
  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Nutritional Information : 330 calories, 12 g protein, 61 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 610 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 113 mg calcium.

Preparation time : 20 minutes

Cook time : 30 minutes

Serves : 8

Vegetable Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 16-ounce jar mild Picante sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 10-ounce bag of frozen corn
  • 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Cornmeal Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat egg substitute
  • 1 1/4 cup flour

Vegetable filling : In a skillet, sauté the onion in oil. Add remaining ingredients (of the vegetable filling) and simmer while making cornmeal crust.

Cornmeal crust : In a saucepan heat milk until hot, but not boiling. Turn off the heat but leave the saucepan on the burner. Add cornmeal slowly, stirring continuously, to avoid clumping. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Mix in remaining ingredients, adding the flour slowly. You should have a muffin batter consistency. Place vegetable mixture on the bottom of a 13" X 9" baking dish or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Top with cornmeal mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cornbread turns golden brown on the edges.

Shopping List

  • Olive oil (or canola oil)
  • Onion
  • Picante Sauce
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Frozen corn
  • Pinto beans
  • Cumin
  • Skim milk
  • Cornmeal
  • Baking Powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Non-fat egg substitute
  • Flour


These burritos are baked, but can be made on top of the stove by placing the filling into a warm tortilla; wrap and serve. Two of these make a hearty supper.

Nutritional Information : 420 calories, 18 g protein, 71 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 830 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 276 mg calcium.

Preparation time : 15 minute

Cook time : 20 minutes

Makes : 12 burritos

Serves: 6

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups green peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups salsa (see recipe below) or mild Picante sauce, divided
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped, divided
  • 1 cup shredded, non-fat or reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
  • 12 flour tortillas

In a skillet, sauté the onion and green pepper in the oil. Add pinto beans, corn and 1 cup salsa. Cook for a few minutes, and then remove from the heat. Add half of the tomatoes and half of the cheese to the bean mixture and stir well.

Spoon 1/2 cup of the bean mixture onto each tortilla. Roll up and place (seam down) in a nonstick baking dish. Cover with the remaining salsa; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven. Top with the remainder of the fresh tomatoes on the plate. Serve immediately.

Shopping List

  • Onion
  • Green peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Pinto beans
  • Frozen corn
  • Salsa or Picante sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Non-fat or reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • Flour tortillas

*From Vegetarian Homestyle Cooking by Jeanne Tiberio, M.S., R.D. ISBN 1-891011-00-6.


This is a simple, fresh salsa with a mild flavor. Chili peppers can be added if you wish. Diced sweet pepper or parsley could also be added.

Nutritional Information : 30 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 140 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 8 mg calcium

Preparation time : 25 minutes. Makes : 4 servings

  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves **
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients and chill before serving.

**Prepare garlic as follows: wrap in foil and place in oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Finely dice garlic and add to salsa.

Shopping List

  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Lime juice
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt

To make homemade tortilla chips : Place two or three corn tortillas on a cookie sheet and spray with cookie spray. (You can also use whole-wheat tortillas for a bigger nutritional bang). Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until crispy. Cut tortillas into six triangles.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is the publisher and nutrition editor of KHF and a runner, cyclist and hiker.