Chicken Enchilada Casserole Passes WWII Muster

“Well, we’re headed into another battle. This time we’ll call it WWII.” Ed said, as he turned into the United Methodist Church parking lot.

“Honey, it’s not like we’re about to face a firing squad.” I couldn’t help but be amused with his flair toward the dramatic. “Maybe after a few Weight Watchers meetings we’ll get back into the swing of dieting,” I said, attempting to look at the bright side of our on-going battle of the bulge.

When we still lived in Seattle, Ed lost 56 pounds and I lost 18 (56 and 18 is not a misprint) on the Weight Watchers program. It was challenging to stick with a diet that didn’t include ice cream as one of the major food groups, but we managed nicely on the plan for over a year.

Time marched on; then we made a major move to the Southwest, which was a convenient excuse to start bouncing off the WWI wagon. In a nutshell, we grazed our way 1,900 miles south, and with the passing days, weeks and months we kept promising each other we’d be enlisting in WWII as soon as we were settled in New Mexico. Now we are 23 and 18 pounds heavier, pulling up our bootstraps in the church parking lot preparing for WWII.

During WWI we learned the rewards of exchanging one bad food for a good one. It’s basically a food item trade-off that works well most of the time. However, some suggested “exchanges” are ludicrous, such as drinking a glass of sugar-free lemonade to satisfy a craving for chocolate cake. Or, trying to convince us that fat-free cottage cheese is a succulent prime rib dinner, or that cucumber boats are maple bars. Someone must have been telling a joke and we didn’t catch the punch line!

Our desire to reduce has prompted us into seeking out and experimenting with new and “alternative” foods. Quaker Crispy Caramel Corn rice snacks are a perfect example as I’ve started purchasing these sweet, crispy “discs” by the case and I store them in my car for on-the-go snack attacks. When our taste buds begin screaming for sodium, we take a dive into a bag of Lay’s WOW potato chips to calm the squirrelly little beasts. Nature’s Own Light Bread allows us to trick our psyches into thinking we’re munching down a forbidden BLT. We’ve even resorted to using I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Zero Calories because it’s much tastier than merely waving the butter above the toast and calling it delicious.

We earned our Good Conduct medals about 6 months into WWI, but only after we’d faced compromising situations. At the first meeting it was impressed upon us, by our fellow comrades, that munching on pizza during the meeting was not acceptable behavior. Six weeks later, forgetting the earlier pizza incident, Ed stood up and asked, “How about we all go for Mexican food after the meeting?” Everyone in the room joined us and we had the time of our life. However, the following week the Drill Sargent (oops, I mean WWI Instructor) took us aside and pointed out the potential physical dangers of mentioning pizza or Mexican food in a room full of ravenous people who aren’t related to Twiggy. We can only surmise that Ed caught them on a good night.

Now that we’ve re-upped for a second stint, we’re trying to do everything right. We religiously study our weight loss books. I’ve pulled out my low-everything recipes, including my favorite “legal” meal, Chicken Enchilada Casserole. I’ve stocked the refrigerator with 5 pounds of fresh broccoli and a quart of non-fat Ranch dip. The treadmill (ugh!) stands ready for duty 24/7.

How did we do the first week of WWII? It was a victory, Ed lost 8 pounds and I lost 1 (8 and 1 is not a misprint). Morale is running high among the troops. But I’m wondering if the esprit de corps will sustain itself when my husband is caught whispering into his cell phone, “Hello, I’d like to order a Mexican pizza to go…”

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups canned Mexican Tomatoes, do not drain
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green chilies, roasted, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces lean chicken breast, cooked and chopped fine
4 corn tortillas (6” size)
4 ounces low-fat Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1-4 ounce can sliced olives, drained
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream or ½ cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Spray a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Lightly brown onion and garlic in prepared skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes (including liquid), mushrooms, chilies and seasonings. Simmer uncovered, over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken, 8-10 minutes. Transfer half the tomato mixture to a medium bowl; add the chopped chicken; stir and set aside. Remove remaining tomato mixture from the stovetop and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an oblong-baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Using a dry, cast iron skillet, heat 1 tortilla on both sides (about 30 seconds on each side) just until it begins to soften. Lay the tortilla flat and add 1/4 ounce cheese and 1/4 the chicken mixture. Roll stuffed tortilla up and place in prepared baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat process until all tortillas are filled.

Pour reserved tomato mixture over enchiladas, top with remaining cheese; and bake until cheese melts, 15 minutes. Garnish with sliced olives; serve with fat-free sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Serves 4 light appetites. Weight Watchers = 3 POINTS per serving or 261 CALORIES per serving

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