I grew up in Tucson, Ariz., where comfort food was always something Mexican or southwestern involving tortillas, rice, beans, cheese and a tasty sauce to drown it all in. Which is a long way of saying that enchiladas are pretty much my dream food. So it became my goal to create a version that mimicked the flavors and comfort of my childhood but didn't make me feel weighed down and searching for my elastic waistband sweat pants.
I swapped out white rice for brown rice to boost the nutrient profile and used black beans without added fat. (I almost don't miss the lard.) While cheese enchiladas are my flavor of choice, I added chicken to give heft and protein, which enabled me to reduce the amount of cheese. Without the extra fat, I needed some moisture to keep the filling luscious and tasty. Surprisingly, finely chopped baby spinach worked great, adding nary a calorie but a little boost of vitamins (A, C, folate) and iron.
I whipped up a simple enchilada sauce using canned whole tomatoes. And my final victory? I used large chard leaves instead of tortillas. Chard is an incredible source of vitamin K (one cup has four times your daily requirement), while also providing vitamins C and A. And, one cup of chard has, get ready: 7 calories.
Using chard as a casserole wrapper is way easier than it sounds. Trim away the thick stem and then boil the leaves for two minutes, softening them just enough to fill and roll without falling apart. Try today's recipe for enchiladas, and once you master the rollup technique, try swapping chard leaves for pasta in Italian dishes like manicotti.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."