I LOVE Chiles Rellenos. However, let's face it, they are not very healthy. In fact, they can be downright UNhealthy. I came to realize that my favorite part of Chiles Rellenos is the poblano pepper; fresh, flavorful and with just a little bit of spice. I can never order them in a restaurant because they are not gluten free. I was going to try to make them at home, but then I decided that filling it with enough cheese to have a cardiac arrest right there, then breading it and deep frying, not only was still going to be unhealthy even if gluten free, but also the cheese and fried breading take something away from the flavor of the poblano pepper. So I took the breading off, instead stuffing it inside of the pepper with a
fraction of the cheese and adding lots of other delicious flavors. Result?
My NEW favorite Chiles Rellenos!
Chiles Rellenos (serves 4)
4 nicely shaped poblano peppers
1 onion cut into thick slices
1 tomato, halved or quartered
1 red bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 Anaheim pepper
1 cup masa harina or cornmeal
1 large ear corn, kernels removed from cob
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder to taste
1 1/2 cups cheese - I used extra sharp cheddar (optional if you want this vegan - cheese isn't the star here)
Mole sauce - see note*
Grill the onion and tomato and grill the all peppers whole until charred on all sides. Place peppers in a paper bag and close tightly. Once cool, you should be able to pull off the charred skin. Slice into one side of each poblano pepper to make a pocket, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side or the bottom. Set aside. Dice up the onion, tomato and all other peppers. Add diced vegetables to bowl with corn, chopped garlic and add salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Mix well. Prepare masa harina: In a pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in 1 cup of the cornmeal masa. Continue to whisk until incorporated, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, whisking occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Add the can of beans, half of the vegetable mixture and 1 cup of cheese, along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted and all is incorporated. Assemble: Place a pool of mole sauce on each plate. Stuff each poblano with some of the masa mixture. Place down on top of mole. Use some of the remaining cheese to cover the opening of the pepper exposing the masa, so it looks like its all cheese. Spoon some of the remaining vegetable mixture over the top like a relish. I ate as is, and my husband topped his off with more jalapenos and some sour cream. Enjoy!
*Note: I didn't have the time or desire to make mole from scratch this time. You can purchase it store bought. However, I couldn't find any store bought mole that wasn't mostly soybean oil and preservatives, so I made Half Ass Mole - not authentic but still delicious in this recipe.
Half Ass Mole -
So I bought a Pasilla chile cooking sauce that had way less offensive ingredients than the store bought mole. I chose the Pasilla because it was dark like mole. I would have probably gotten the Chipotle flavor
if the store had it. I poured about half of the jar into a bowl and added a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder, and blended well. It was great.
I left the pine nuts and cheese out of the pesto and used them as a garnish to add texture. The cheese is optional if you want this to be vegan. I used peas and fava beans for protein, along with the pine nuts.
1 package gf gnocchi (2 servings)
1/2 c all natural marinara sauce
assorted spring vegetables - as much as you like! (try asparagus peas, fava beans, rainbow carrots and their tops, spring onions, green beans - anything in season that you like)
5 oz packages of arugula spinach mix
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 c pine nuts
Cook gnocchi according to package directions; drain and toss in marinara. Meanwhile sauté vegetables in olive oil until crisp tender and bright. For pesto - place greens in food processor with garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Chop. With processor running slowly add olive oil until consistency of a thick sauce. Toss with cooked vegetables. To serve: place gnocchi in dish; top with pesto vegetables; garnish with pine nuts and parmesan.
That's right, you read that correctly... Sweet & Sour Catfish.
My hubby loves sweet n sour, but we don't eat a lot of chicken, we don't eat a lot of tofu, and we were eating too much shrimp because we substituted it for everything that calls for chicken or tofu! So in my quest to find something else to "sns", I decided on catfish. It's fish... but it's firm and fatty enough to keep its shape. I also made the sauce from real ingredients, unlike the extremely sugary and safety-orange" colored sauce you get in restaurants. The results were delicious, and I think I prefer it to the others.
Sweet and Sour Catfish (serves 2)
2 catfish fillets
Brown rice flour,eggs, coconut milk, and gluten free Panko bread crumbs for breading
1/2 c brown rice
1/2 each green and red bell pepper
1 small can pineapple chunks (I usually use fresh, but you need the juice)
2 tbsp all natural ketchup
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
peanut (or canola) and coconut oils
2 heaping tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch
Get your rice cooking first.
Prepare your frying station - use your judgment on amounts and put rice flour in one bowl, 2 beaten eggs with some coconut milk in the next bowl, and panko in the last. Season the panko with the salt, pepper and garlic. Heat the canola oil in a deep pot or deep fryer. Cut the catfish into chunks (you could also purchase "nuggets". Dredge each piece in the flour, then dip in egg mixture, then coat with the panko. Drop into hot oil and fry until done. Cool and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, heat some coconut oil in your wok or skillet. Cut the onions and peppers into large chunks and slice the carrot on the bias. Stir fry these vegetables. When almost done, add the pineapple chunks, saving the juice. To the juice, add the tamari, ketchup, about 1/4 c water and the arrowroot or
cornstarch. Blend well, bring vegetables to simmer, and add juice mixture to wok, stirring well. The juice mixture should thicken and coat the veggies, making a nice sauce. By now your rice should be done. Put some rice on each plate, place the catfish pieces on top, and then spoon the vegetables and sauce over that. Serve immediately because if not your catfish won't be crispy anymore!
Whether you are too busy during the week to cook, or you are only feeding one or two people, a roasted chicken can be very versatile. You can cook planned leftovers by roasting a chicken with gravy, potatoes and carrots for Sunday dinner; just cook extra! Try doing 2 chickens while you have the oven on. Alternatively, you can pick up rotisserie chickens from your local
market. Then you will be able to create all kinds of meals to get you through the week. Many of these ideas can also be done with a pork tenderloin or any other large protein you might cook, like a whole fish or a beef roast.
VEGGIE & CHICKEN HASH - Cut up peppers and onions (do extra!) and sauté them in a pan. Add a jalapeno if you like. Cube half your leftover roast potatoes and chicken, add to pan, season and serve with a fried egg on top.
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP - Cut up your leftover carrots along with some onions and celery (do extra!). Saute in a pan. Add shredded chicken meat, heat through. Remove half of your veggies and chicken and save. Add chicken broth and cooked noodles; season. You can do variations on this - for example use rice noodles and add soy sauce and sesame oil and top with green onions for an Asian Soup.
CHICKEN POT PIE - To the veggies and chicken you saved from the soup, add gravy and your leftover cubed potatoes, along with some peas. Place in single serving casserole dishes and top with puff pastry. Bake.
CHICKEN PASTA - Take those extra peppers and onions you saved when making the hash, add sliced mushrooms, chopped chicken and pasta sauce (marinara, pesto, alfredo, etc). Save half of this, and toss the rest with pasta. Variation - use fresh raw veggies and a pesto or healthy dressing to make a cold pasta salad.
CHICKEN PIZZA - Take the pasta sauce you saved, put on individual prebaked pizza crusts, top with shredded cheese, and bake until the cheese melts. Like BBQ pizza? then save some of the chicken when you make...
BBQ CHICKEN MEAL - Add BBQ sauce to shredded and also to a can of white beans. Put the chicken on
buns. Mix up some coleslaw using preshredded slaw mix.
CHICKEN CURRY - Dice and sauté onions. Add curry powder, shredded chicken and canned coconut milk. Heat through until slightly thickened. Cook basmati rice. Save half of the rice and serve the curry on the other half.
CHICKEN FRIED RICE - dice and sauté onions. add some of your leftover carrots, peas, the cold leftover rice, diced leftover chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil, bean sprouts and a chopped scrambled egg.
WHITE CHILI - dice and sauté onions and peppers, add green chili sauce, shredded chicken, a can of white beans and chicken broth as needed for consistency. Mash half the beans to thicken. Season with cumin and salt and pepper. Serve with a lime wedge. Save half and turn into...
BURRITOS (or tacos, etc) - Take your leftover chili, place on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll up! OR
you can place the chili in individual casserole dishes, top with cornbread batter and bake for a chili pie.
The possibilities are endless!!!
You shouldn't have to choose between healthy and yummy. I focus on showing you how you can have both, utilizing functional ingredients that keep you at your best!