Healthy Cooking on the Cheap: Easy Chicken Enchiladas, Pan-Seared Salmon, and More
By Jenna Weber
Cooking seasonal meals is the best way to stretch your dollar at the dinner table, so I have more fall-inspired recipes to keep your tummy full and your bills low. I recently moved to Northern California where there is much more of a change of season than in South Florida, where I'm from. As I drink in all the delicious autumn air, I'm loving fall produce to make simple meals. Since I'm a little homesick and missing my friends and family back home, I'm looking for figure-friendly comfort foods that pack a whole lot of flavor—but not excessive fat. And I'm starting a new job, so I haven't quite gotten in to the groove of my new schedule—meaning I don't have time to stress about my meals.
The chicken enchiladas and roasted veggie soup make wonderful leftovers for lunch boxes. Let the flavors meld overnight and they taste even better heated up the next day. And the poached eggs and salmon are perfect when you only have 15 minutes to spare in the kitchen. The last time I was far away from my home base, I was studying food writing in France. I felt even more alone because of the language barrier. Poached eggs became my go-to dinner, so now I see them as the ultimate comfort food. Give them a try on a crisp fall evening—they're easy, they require almost no cleanup, and they're gentle on your wallet too!
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders (go for organic if you can afford it)
Small can diced green chiles
1 bottle salsa
1 container light sour cream
1 package whole-wheat tortillas
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 large bag reduced fat Mexican cheese
1 sweet potato
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1 butternut squash
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic
Lentils (easiest and most affordable to buy in bulk!)
4 5-oz salmon steaks
4 large heirloom tomatoes
2 large packages of spring lettuce mix
Easy Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe is the perfect nod to my new California home.
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
8 whole-wheat tortillas
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup salsa
1 can diced green chiles
2 cans enchilada sauce
1 large package (give or take) reduced-fat Mexican cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Boil a pot of water on the stove. Add the
chicken breasts and poach them until done.
2. In an 8" by 8" glass casserole dish, pour one of the enchilada
sauces to coat the bottom of the dish.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and the salsa.
4. When the chicken is done, cool and shred into bite-size pieces. Lay
a tortilla flat on your working space. Smear a little sour cream/salsa
mixture, chicken, a sprinkle of cheese, and a few green chile pieces.
Close up the tortilla and lay, seam side down, in the enchilada sauce
in the dish. Prepare each tortilla this way.
5. When all the tortillas are filled and tightly packed into the
casserole dish, pour over the remaining can of enchilada sauce. Cover
with the remaining cheese and green chiles.
6. Bake covered in foil for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil and
bake for 10 minutes more. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Roasted Veggie and Lentil Soup
Nothing says fall like a thick, hearty soup.
1 parsnip, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
2 whole cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, cubed
Sea salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry lentils
1. Put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to
a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30–35 minutes, until
2.Preheat the oven to 400º. Combine all vegetables plus garlic in a
large roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Roast the veggies for about 40 minutes, until completely tender.
4. Move 1/2 of the roasted vegetables to a blender (or food processor),
add the stock, and puree until smooth. Pour into a pot.
5. Add the other non-pureed veggies to the pot with the puree. Add the
lentils and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and then
serve when heated through.
Pan-Seared Salmon With Heirloom Tomato Salad
The ultimate superfoods dinner! Omega-3 packed salmon pairs perfectly with a lycopene-rich tomato salad.
4 5-oz salmon steaks (wild Alaskan preferred)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large heirloom tomatoes
Spring lettuce mix
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or salad dressing of choice)
1. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet.
2. Season each salmon steak with sea salt and pepper. Once oil is
sizzling hot, add salmon. Sear two fillets at a time, to not overcrowd
3. Sear each salmon steak for about 5–6 minutes per side or until
desired effect is achieved. I like my salmon on the medium-rare side
so I veer toward the 5-minute rule.
4. On each portion of lettuce, top with a thickly sliced tomato.
Drizzle with dressing and serve alongside salmon.
Poached Eggs, Parisian Style
My favorite comfort food dish—plus it's quick and super cheap to boot!
1 large bag spring mix
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A couple drops of vinegar
1. In a small bowl, combine about 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with
2 tbsp vinegar. Whisk and add a tiny touch of sea salt. Set aside.
2. In simmering water, add a drop or two of vinegar and then the
cracked eggs, gently. Simmer for about 6 minutes or so until the
whites have coagulated. Gentle remove with a slotted spoon—careful!
3. On each person's plate, place a mound of lettuce and top with two
poached eggs. Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.