May > Healthy Recipes of the Month

Healthy Recipe of the Month

Recipe Makeover: Mexican Casserole

The classic one-dish combination of ground beef, refried beans, fried tortillas, and lots of melty cheese is a crowd-pleaser, no question. But a single serving of most versions of Mexican Casserole can add up to nearly an entire day's worth of both saturated fat and sodium.

The best way to lighten this monster was to create a base of familiar flavors, starting with a homemade salsa and traditional corn tortillas. We then swapped in lean chicken breast and nutrient-rich veggies for the ground beef and frijoles. The finishing touch is an unconventional but interesting blend of creamy Monterey Jack and sharp feta cheese; the latter adds a welcome tang. This casserole has less than one-third of the original's calories, saturated fat, and sodium. And you'll be able to get off the couch afterward unassisted.

1,084 calories per serving
28 grams saturated fat
2,075 milligrams sodium
Greasy, processed ground beef
Beans: Fried and fried again
A pound of cheese

331 calories per serving
6.1 grams saturated fat
535 milligrams sodium
Skinless, boneless chicken breast
Veggies: lightly seasoned and sautéed
A hearty sprinkle of Jack cheese and feta





  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. To prepare salsa, combine first 4 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 20 minutes or until charred, stirring once. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Place tomato mixture in a food processor; add cilantro, lime juice, and pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°.
  4. To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 cup onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients (through green chiles); sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.
  5. Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with 3/4 cup salsa. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of each cheese. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas and ending with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

Source: Cooking Light, JANUARY 2011

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