Healthy Recipes Series
What is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a savory sauce?
Originally from Mexican cuisine, enchiladas are corn tortillas that can be filled with several ingredients, like our Enchiladas, with delicious raw vegan foods, such as vegetables and nuts. Then there is the sauce, usually a chili-based sauce, salsa, or tomato-based sauce. You will be surprised how creative you can get when turning your favorite dishes into healthy meals!
Like the Tacos recipe we shared with you, the enchiladas can be a very versatile meal, ideal when craving some Mexican flavors, spicy food, having friends around, or just wanting to prepare something different for the whole family.
Enchiladas require three main components: tortillas, filling, and sauce.
The tortillas are typical in tacos and enchiladas, although here we use a slightly different recipe, and we will highlight the number one healthy ingredient: onions.
Our filling is mainly based on sunflower (or pumpkin) seeds and walnuts. We will explain some of the health benefits of sunflower seeds, and you can go back to the Brownies recipe for more nutritional information on walnuts.
Finally, the star of the sauce: chili peppers!
Probably one of the most popular foods in the world – onions.
Onions, scientific name Allium cepa, belong to the family Alliaceae, genus Allium. We have discussed the benefits of Allium vegetables in many of our blog posts, like Cancer Fighting Foods.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Onions1,2,3,4
- Frequent consumption of onions has been associated with a reduced risk of many cancers.
- Contain powerful antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin and fisetin, with anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetic properties. These compounds can have applications in treating many chronic diseases.
- Flavonoids may inhibit cancer cell proliferation and angiogenesis and kill off cancer stem cells.
- Especially red and pink onions contain substantial amounts of quercetin and anthocyanins, both cancer-fighting flavonols.
- Quercetin, besides helping deter many cancers, also chelates excess iron from the body – high iron levels can promote cancer cell growth.
- Anthocyanins have strong antioxidant properties and are considered cancer protective.
- Fisetin is neuroprotective and protective against cancer.
- Onions also contain other flavonoids that promote the production of glutathione – the body’s master antioxidant.
- Another beneficial phytochemical present in onions is allicin. Allicin has many beneficial effects: anti-mutagenic, anti-diabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It may contribute to reducing cholesterol, normalizing blood pressure, and preventing blood clots, which leads to a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke.
- Good source of vitamin C with its protective antioxidant effect and some B-vitamins like pyridoxine (B-6) and folate (B-9).
- Rich in the trace mineral chromium, important for adequate insulin response.
- Good source of soluble dietary fiber.
The seed of the sunflower plant, Helianthus annuus, is native to Central America, but Russia and Ukraine lead the current global production.
Sunflower seeds are versatile and rich in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds5,6,7
- Great energy source, mainly from healthy fats, excellent content of protein and essential amino acids, and rich in dietary fiber.
- Rich in fatty acids, especially the poly-unsaturated linoleic acid (50%) and the mono-unsaturated oleic acid. These fatty acids contribute to a healthy blood lipid profile and prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Contain beneficial phenolic compounds with antioxidant action, such as chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acids.
- Excellent source of the also powerful antioxidant vitamin E (35.17 g per 100 grams of kernels; 234% RDA).
- Super rich in B-vitamins, especially thiamin, B1 (123% RDA) and pyridoxine, B6 (103% RDA). Thiamine plays a vital role in nutrient metabolism by helping convert nutrients into energy. Pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production, and the creation of neurotransmitters.
- Also contains high amounts of other B-complex vitamins, namely folate (B9), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and pantothenic acid (B5).
- Amazing source of several minerals, like potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. Many of these minerals play essential roles in diverse biological functions, and consuming sunflower seeds can be a great way of achieving daily needs and preventing deficiency.
Chili pepper, Capsicum annum, like bell peppers and tomatoes, belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, Solanaceae, and are used mainly for hotness, flavor profile, and strong spicy taste.
Chili peppers show fantastic health benefits, mainly from plant-derived chemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits of Chili Peppers8,9,10,11
- Amazing source of Vitamin C (143.7 µg per 100 grams of fresh chilies; 240% RDA). This is an impressive number for such an essential vitamin and powerful antioxidant.
- Chili peppers also contain very good amounts of another antioxidant vitamin, vitamin A (952 IU per 100 grams of fresh chilies; 32% RDA).
- Contain reasonable amounts of several other antioxidant compounds, such as β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin, with impressive benefits, helping protect the body against free radical damage.
- Good source of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), providing 39% of the daily recommended amount per 100 grams. As mentioned earlier, pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, neurotransmitter formation, and red blood cell production.
- Contain the alkaloid capsaicin, the active ingredient of chili peppers, responsible for the characteristic pungent flavor and strong spicy character. Capsaicin may have anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, and analgesic properties. Reported as beneficial in obesity, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal conditions, neurogenic bladder, and dermatologic conditions.
- Capsaicin can act as a cancer preventive agent and shows wide applications against various types of cancer.
- Moderate source of certain minerals, like copper, iron, manganese, and potassium.
Time to start prepping your Enchiladas – Everyone is waiting for the final result!
Here is the full recipe for the Enchiladas:
- Makes: 6 servings • Prep time: 1 hour • Total time: 12-14 hours
For the tortillas:
- 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup onion
- ¼ cup flax seed, ground
- 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
For the filling:
- 1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- 3 tbsp tamari
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp black pepper
For the sauce:
- 1 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup sundried tomatoes
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
For the tortilla chips, place all tortilla ingredients in a food processor and process until mostly smooth. Scoop cup portions onto teflex sheets and spread into 5-inch circles between ½ – and ¼-inch thick. Dehydrate at 115 °F for 12-14 hours until dry but pliable. Or dehydrate until crispy to make tostadas!
If they get too dry, dip each one in water and return to the dehydrator for about 20 minutes.
For the filling, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse into a crumbly texture. Taste and adjust flavors according to your preference. Set aside.
For the sauce, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors according to your preference.
To assemble the enchiladas, divide filling among the tortillas, roll each one, and place on your serving dish seam-side down. Spoon the sauce over the top.
Serve with avocado, cilantro, lime, and coconut-cashew “sour-cream.”
Vanessa Pinto graduated with a degree in Biology and Masters in Ecology from Lisbon University. After graduating, she underwent a series of professional and personal growth experiences, including being an officer in the Portuguese Army, working in countries as diverse as Iceland and Costa Rica. Vanessa became certified as a Yoga and Meditation teacher in rural India.
Being a compassionate person by nature, Vanessa is able to bring her connectedness when working with others while enhancing the importance and practicality of a pragmatic evidence-based approach to facilitating lasting and permanent change. Vanessa is a certified health coach whose specialties are nutrition, exercise, and mind/ body connection. She works both in Portugal, Thailand and USA, where she develops her work closely with people diagnosed with cancer, mainly in the areas of nutrition, movement and health education.