Monday, July 9, 2012

The Absurdly Simple, Tortilla-less Chicken Enchiladas with Quinoa.

Also known as, "Quinoa That Actually Tastes Good."

Like any (former) city girl hitting her mid-to-late twenties, I've started eating healthier. I've cut out all soda & fast food, reduced my gluten intake, and have been (very, very slowly) learning portion control. In an effort to continue my healthy lifestyle, I have been introduced to quinoa (keen-wah -- or, if you're stubborn like me: kin-oh-wah). It's low fat, but absurdly high in protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, and iron. It's a miracle pseudo-grain.

It also tastes exactly like how it looks.

I'm all about finding better ways to eat, but I'm not ready to give up taste. Thanks to pure trial and error (and my obsessive love for Valentino's hot sauce), I came up with this little recipe:

For this, you need:
1/2 cup of quinoa
1/3 of a chicken breast
fat-free Mexican cheese
hot sauce (don't go fancy and get the specialty-flavored hot sauce. They're unnecessary calories and add nothing to the meal. I fully recommend Valentina's hot sauce, but Frank's Red Hot will do in a pinch.)

1. Cook the quinoa and bake the chicken according to the instructions. Cooking quinoa is as easy as cooking rice, and takes about the same time.

2. While the chicken cools, mix in approximately 1/4 cup of hot sauce into the quinoa (this is a complete estimate and will vary depending on your taste buds. Essentially go at it until you feel like there is enough).

3. Shred the chicken breast. I said a 1/3 of a chicken breast but, like the hot sauce, the best thing to do is eyeball it and decide for yourself what your optimal chicken:quinoa ratio is.

Shredding itself is easy to do: simply go at it with a fork. Going perpendicular to the grain will speed things up, but, really, any way works. Even just shredding with your hands (provided that you washed your hands first).

4. Serve the quinoa on a plate, sprinkle the chicken on top of the quinoa. Sprinkle on the Mexican cheese and add a nice drizzle of hot sauce on top of everything.

And there you have it. It doesn't look like much, but it is actually really good. It tastes almost identical to a tortilla-free chicken enchilada. The beauty is that this is almost as healthy as regular quinoa and baked chicken, as most hot sauces are fat-free, calorie-free, and cholesterol-free. It's not sodium-free (and the cheese, depending on what you buy, isn't that low-fat either), but, really, life is too short to be that healthy.

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