Hands down, this dish is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s also one of the most visually appealing things I’ve ever pulled together, so I’m very proud of that.
WHO’S READY FOR A FIESTA?!
I cannot tell you the last time I had an enchilada. Actually, I can. It was a crappy chicken enchilada from the Mexican to-go restaurant by the dorms at UCLA. They only served enchiladas one day each week, and I always looked forward to enchilada day. I ate the same meals over and over again every other day of the week. Sadly, though, they weren’t very good enchiladas. They were soggy and tasted artificial. It wasn’t real Mexican food. It was dorm food. Beggars can’t be choosers, though.
Anyways, the very last time I had an enchilada was after a few weeks of turning my diet around and actually eating healthy food. After a few weeks of “clean eating,” downing that soggy dorm enchilada made me feel… not so great. My stomach was not happy with me, if you know what I mean.
After that, I avoided Mexican food for awhile. At least until I could get a handle on my digestive issues and overall health. When things calmed down a bit, I learned that Mexican food is actually one of the easiest things to eat when you’re gluten-free. Authentic Mexican restaurants usually use corn tortillas, and beans and rice are gluten-free. A loaded salad at Chipotle was always an option on the go. If you’re new to the gluten-free life, Mexican food can be a great option when eating out!
As time went on and my health issues persisted, I learned that beans and rice weren’t doing my digestion any favors, either. After I transitioned to a paleo diet, I ate Mexican food much less often. I can always order a salad at a Mexican restaurant, but I can’t usually get any of the “fun” Mexican food. You know, the dishes with pizzazz.
Enchiladas are a “fun” Mexican dish, by my standards. I never made enchiladas myself, so it was my favorite thing to order out. I can think of so many specific memories relating to enchiladas, as weird as that sounds. At the beautiful, outdoor Mexican restaurant in San Diego with my sister and her friends when she was leaving college, at the hole-in-the-wall shop with two of my co-workers at my first internship, at my favorite place in my hometown right after finding out I got into college, and so many more. Enchiladas stick out in my mind. The food, the memories…all of it.
Anyways, like I said, in the past few years I haven’t really eaten any enchiladas. It wasn’t going to happen unless I made it. I missed the gloriously stuffed creation, the yummy sauce dripping down the sides, the bite of the sour cream melded in with all of the other textures and flavors. Enchiladas were on my mind. Obviously, it was time to satisfy the craving.
Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t a one pan kinda deal. There are multiple parts to it, but it’s worth it. And it makes a ton, so you’ll have leftovers. These are extremely healthy, paleo homemade enchiladas that are completely drool-worthy. You can also completely customize them to give them you’re own flair!
You can follow these steps exactly and include every part of the recipe, or you can just make some parts of it. The first part of the meal is the protein – I used shredded chicken, but you could also use beef or another protein. You could also leave that out and make vegan enchiladas with all vegetables! I love shredded chicken or shredded beef in this recipe though because it goes so nicely with the sauce! The key is to use the crockpot to cook the meat ahead of time. Crockpot chicken is so soft and moist – perfect for inside the enchiladas! You want to cook it on low verrrrrry slowly for the best results.
Then there are the actual enchiladas. You’ll need to prep the collard wraps, which is a super easy process. Collard wraps are one of my favorite healthy tortilla replacements. They hold up better than any other leaf, and it’s important to have something strong to hold all of the goodies inside of the wrap! Collard leaves do the job quite nicely.
Like I said, feel free to use any vegetables inside the enchiladas that you want! I opted for bell peppers and onions, but I thought about using cauliflower rice or zucchini instead. There are so many options! You don’t want to put too much inside, though — make sure you can still roll it up!
The next piece, and the most important, is the enchilada sauce. This sauce has just a hint of a kick to it – nothing too crazy because I’m a wimp when it comes to spices! I’m going to argue that you pretty much have to make the enchilada sauce for these to be enchiladas. However, you can also totally just make this sauce and pour it on something else. For example, I like to just put this sauce on chicken or with eggs. You can use enchilada sauce for anything!
My other favorite part? The vegan sour cream. I usually make vegan sour cream with cashews, but since I can’t eat cashews right now while I’m on my elimination diet, I made it with coconut milk. It was so much faster than with cashews, and SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS. I’ve just been spooning the leftovers as a snack. Honestly, it tastes really similar to dairy. I can’t imagine anyone not loving this healthy sour cream… it’s addicting.
After that, serve it however you like! You can eat the enchiladas alone or serve them alongside other things. I served these with cauliflower rice, arugula, and diced tomatoes. It was a fiesta on a plate. And an even bigger party in my mouth!
I’m practically bursting at the seams for you to make these because they’re truly all I can think about. Never have I wanted to get a recipe up on my blog so badly before! YOU NEED THESE IN YOUR LIFE. They are incredibly healthy, and absolutely mouthwatering. These are paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, soy-free, nut-free…all the goods. They can be made vegan if you don’t add in the chicken. You can remove the onions to make them low-FODMAP too, and they can be made SCD-friendly very easily. Any vegetables you don’t like can easily be replaced with vegetables that you do like! Remember, recipes are not rules. You can always adjust anything!
Although there are quite a few different parts to this dish, each part doesn’t take too much time to pull together. I’ll walk you through piece by piece. Pick and choose what you want to do. I hope you enjoy! (I sure did.)
Paleo Chicken and Veggie Enchiladas (Easy Enchilada Sauce & Vegan Sour Cream)
Makes: 9 stuffed enchiladas
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus time to cook chicken
Easy Paleo Enchilada Sauce
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil/olive oil/coconut oil
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp celtic sea salt
- 1.5 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp cloves
- 3 tbsp diced white onion
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 jar organic tomato puree (about 18 oz)
- 1/2 – 1 cup filtered water or chicken stock, depending on how thick you like your sauce
- In a small saucepan, heat up your cooking oil. Toss in the onion, cumin, paprika, pepper, oregano, and cloves, and let them cook on the bottom for a few minutes over medium heat.
- Pour in the tomato puree, ACV, salt, and water or chicken stock. Use more/less water depending on how thick you like the sauce. Stir everything together, and cover with a lid until it reaches a boil.
- Remove the lid and allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens. Stir in the nutritional yeast.
- Allow the sauce to thicken for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- You can leave the sauce as is, or you can puree it to make it extra smooth. I prefer to puree it after it’s cooled.
- Store the sauce in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Vegan/Paleo Sour Cream
- 1 can full-fat canned coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Flip the chilled coconut milk can over, and open the container. Pour out the excess liquid on top. (You can throw it away or save it for smoothies or something else, but we just want the cream for this recipe.)
- Put the thick cream at the bottom of the can into a bowl. Toss in the lemon juice, ACV, and salt. Use a beater to whip the ingredients together until they’re all well incorporated and the texture is thick like sour cream.
- Store in the fridge until ready to use. If there are leftovers, keep them stored in the fridge.
Shredded Crockpot Chicken
- 1-1.5 lbs organic chicken breast
- 2 cups filtered water
- Put your chicken in the crockpot and toss as much salt and pepper as you want on top.
- Put the filtered water on top of the chicken – it should be at least halfway covered.
- Set the crockpot on low for 5.5 hours. Let the chicken cook.
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot when it’s done and put it in a bowl. Use two forks to “shred” the chicken until it’s all shredded up into little bits.
Paleo Chicken Enchiladas
- 1 – 1.5 lbs shredded chicken or beef (shredded crockpot chicken above)
- Paleo enchilada sauce (see above)
- Paleo sour cream (see above)
- 9 collard leaves
- Vegetables to fill the enchiladas (use whatever veggies you want!)
- 3 yellow bell peppers
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 white onion
- Celtic sea salt
- Cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
- Cilantro for garnish
- Optional: vegetables to serve with (I used arugula, tomato, and cauliflower rice.)
- Prepare the collard leaves. First, cut off the stems at the bottom of each collard leaf. Use a potato peeler or knife (carefully) to shave down the stems in the middle of the leaves so they don’t jut out so far.
- Bring a huge pot of water to a boil. Place the collard leaves in the water for about 30 seconds, until they turn bright green. Transfer to a strainer and run under cold water. You might have to do this in batches.
- Dry the collard leaves thoroughly. If making these ahead of time, store them in the fridge covered with a paper towel so they stay dry.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F.
- Prepare the vegetables that will go inside the collard wraps. Cut up the onion and bell peppers. Heat up a skillet with your cooking oil, and toss in the onion and bell peppers with the salt and pepper. Sauté everything until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove the veggies from the heat.
- Pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce onto the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.
- Now prepare the enchiladas. Take a collard leaf and place some vegetables and shredded chicken in the center. Pour some enchilada sauce inside (a few spoonfuls). Then wrap up the collard leaf by folding up from the bottom, folding in the sides, and then folding down the top. Flip the wrap over so the opening is on the bottom and place it in the baking dish.
- Repeat this step until you’ve filled all of your collard wraps and the baking dish is full.
- Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas.
- Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. This is really just to get all of the flavors to meld together and to get it all warmed up! If the wraps start to crisp, that’s great.
- Remove from the oven and plate. You can serve with any veggies you like, or eat them alone!
- Top with paleo sour cream, and garnish with cilantro.
If you make these, I would LOVE to hear how you like them! Be sure to tag me in your photos so I can see! What’s your favorite Mexican dish?!