This zucchini chicken enchilada casserole has all of the enchilada flavors without the grains or dairy! It’s easily made in one dish and is paleo, whole30, keto, and AIP with modifications.
Living in Texas, you would think that I’ve had tons of enchiladas in my day. To be honest, I’ve really only had them a few times. They were always an option, so I took in for granted. That’s a decision that I deeply regret once I went grain, dairy, and nightshade free. I thought there was absolutely no way that I could recreate it… until I decided to give it a shot anyway
Traditionally, enchiladas are made with corn tortillas, lots of nightshades, and tons of cheese. Lots and lots of cheese! It’s not really a vegetable dense meal, nor is it the first thing that comes to mind when you think “healthy”. But… this zucchini enchilada casserole is!
Why I Love This Zucchini Chicken Enchilada Casserole
It’s low carb, paleo, and has AIP modifications
As someone who is still nightshade free and serves the AIP community, this casserole is made with that in mind, first and foremost. The enchilada sauce is nightshade free, and it’s not made with any extra peppers.
Plus, since it’s grain-free and made with zucchini instead of tortillas, it’s low carb and gluten-free friendly.
This meal is packed with veggies in the enchiladas themselves, and topped with more! Especially if you’re AIP and are making a homemade nightshade free enchilada sauce, you’re upping your veggie factor even more.
My non-paleo husband liked it!
I’ve shared before how much my husband likes cheese. I was iffy about him enjoying this recipe, but he loved it! He didn’t mind that it was dairy and nightshade free. He just appreciated that it was healthy and flavorful.
The Ingredients You’ll Need For This Zucchini Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This summer squash is the star of the show 😉
Cooked shredded chicken
You can use any method to cook and shred the chicken. I often use the instant pot or the slow cooker, but whatever you prefer!
If you’re paleo, whole30, or keto, you can use a sugar-free enchilada sauce like this. However, if you’re AIP or don’t tolerate nightshades, just follow along with the recipe listed!
Cilantro, green onion, avocado, radish, red onion, coconut cream, and apple cider vinegar
These are all of the toppings for the casserole. The coconut cream and ACV actually makes a mock sour cream!
For the casserole
- 1-1.5 cups sugar-free enchilada sauce (like this, or the recipe below for AIP)
- 3-4 medium zucchinis
- 1 lb pre-cooked shredded chicken
- 1 medium avocado, sliced
- 3-4 radishes, sliced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp green onion, chopped
- 1-2 limes, quartered
- 1/4 cup coconut cream
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
For the AIP/ nightshade free enchilada sauce
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 cup nomato sauce (like this)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp cilantro
- 2-3 tsp horseradish powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
For the casserole
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare a large, 2×9 casserole dish
- Slice the ends off the zucchini and use a mandolin slicer or a peeler to slice the zucchini into long, thin, 1/8″ inch strips. Pat them down with a paper towel or clean dish towel to remove excess water. Set them aside.
- Line the bottom of the casserole dish with about a third of the enchilada sauce. Layer on the zucchini slices vertically (you’ll have about two rows of 5-6 slices). Add about 1/3 cup of shredded chicken and layer on a few spoonfuls of enchilada sauce. Repeat this process for about 4 layers. Finish the final layer as just zucchini, and top with the remainder of the enchilada sauce.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes and remove to cool.
- Make the “sour cream” by mixing the coconut cream and apple cider vinegar. Adjust sourness to liking.
- Top the enchilada casserole with the remainder of the ingredients, saving the lime slices for serving.
- To serve, use a spatula to carefully cut a slice of the enchiladas. Serve with limes and additional toppings to taste.
For the AIP/ nightshade free enchilada sauce
- Using a medium sauce pot, add the avocado to medium heat.
- Sautee the chopped onion until translucent.
- Stir in the remainder of the ingredients (reserving the horseradish) and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the horseradish, little by little and adjust the spice to taste.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Blend with an immersion blender before using.
If you like this recipe, you may also like…
Thank you Artisan Tropic for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.
The New Year is here, and thus, new health goals! The holidays are packed with treats, stress, and tons of breaks from our normal routine, so it’s no wonder that resets and reboots are so popular this time of year. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with a little reset to get things going with your health. However, what’s really important is setting longterm sustainable goals for health all year… not just in January! This is especially true for those of us dealing with chronic illness, or autoimmunity.
“Resolution” get a bad reputation. Many folks don’t like the idea of just making a short term goal for 2-3 weeks and then going right back to your old life soon after. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make goals today that are sustainable enough last us throughout the year!
Here are my tips for setting sustainable health goals for the new year…
1. Define your goals and have an action plan
You can’t reach your goals unless you clearly define what they are. We all want to be “healthy”, but what does that really mean for you? How do you quantify it?
Dig deeper than just “heathy” as a goal and give actionable goals like…
- Improving your blood work
- Being able to tolerate more foods
- Lessening of pain or inflammation
- Fitness benchmarks like completing a 5k, going on a big hike, etc.
Now, goals are one thing. We all have goals. However, what we don’t always have is a plan on how to achieve them!
Rather than just defining high level goals, my husband and I sit down every new year to evaluate where we want to be in the next year, five years, ten years, and beyond, and what our action plan is to get there. Don’t know what it will take to get there? Start from square one and just work up from there!
For example… years ago, my goal was to put my Hashimoto’s into remission. The initial plan back then looked something like this….
- Research Hashimoto’s online
- Experiment with different diet protocols
- Read new books on autoimmunity
- Find a new holistic doctor
- Join some online communities
That was just the start! Then from there, I was able to flesh out my plan even more as time went on.
2. Find your favorite healthy staple meals and recipes that you can always lean on
Cooking and trying new recipes is fun! I love cracking open new cookbooks and making new creations. However, it can also be time consuming. Though it sounds glamorous, it’s just not sustainable to cook a brand new recipe every single evening.
Rather than pulling out a fancy cookbook several times a week, find your 4-5 staple recipes that you love and can lean on in a pinch. That way, you’ll able to still have fun and delicious recipes that you love without feeling like a fish out of water for ever meal. Reserve the fancy stuff for special occasions. For tons of ideas, check out my recipe page!
3. Find healthy snacks and treats that you love rather than restricting year round
I get the feeling of wanting a reset or a detox once January hits. Trust me! I enjoy my holiday indulgences as much as the next foodie. I’ve had plenty of sugar hangovers and stomach pain after one too many bacon wrapped dates.
However, we can’t live in reset mode 365 days a year. Balance is hard to find, but the best place to start is finding real food snacks and treats that you love that won’t wreck your health goals! There are endless recipes online that fit those qualifications, however, having convenience snacks that you love is always an amazing option.
One of my favorite snacks that don’t leave me feeling like I need a detox afterwards are plantain chips!
The plantain & cassava strips from Artisan Tropic are paleo and AIP compliant, made with real food ingredients, and are the perfect way to indulge in a healthy snack. The plantain chips come in a few different flavors like a basic savory chip, a naturally sweeter chip, and a cinnamon plantain chip for when you have a bit more of a sweet tooth. The Artisan Tropic Cassava Strips are basically the closest things I’ve had to potato chips since I’ve gone AIP and nightshade free!
The first time I had these was when I went on a business trip to Indonesia in 2016 and brought along all of my own healthy snacks. I broke into the bag on my way to Singapore and was blown away that they were actually AIP! The didn’t make me feel like junk, and they tasted so incredible! I tried to save some to share with my husband when I got back… but it didn’t happen that time around 😉
Plus, all of the Artisan Tropic Plantain and Cassava Strips are so tasty that they’re great for sharing! One of the biggest concerns that I hear from readers and clients when they’re transitioning to a healthier lifestyle or an AIP diet is that they won’t be able to indulge at social events. My answer is always to bring along yummy foods that everyone will love, and these plantain strips fit the bill!
4. Commit to movement that you actually want to do
Movement is a privilege… not a punishment!
All too often, we choose work outs that are oppressive and just too hard to keep up with throughout the year. Speaking as someone who’s been burnt out from crazy workout routines in the past, trust me, you don’t need to go down that road to stay healthy!
Rather than punishing yourself with gym routines that you hate, find movement that you actually love and want to stick to. It could be as simple as just walking for 30 minutes after work, or you could take up a new sport, yoga practice, or light weight lifting. Whatever it is, make it something that you actually love to do.
5. Lean on Community Support to Keep You Accountable
One of my favorite things to come out of my blogging journey has been the community here in this health community! I’ve been able to connect with so many friends and colleagues online that have supported me through rough patches, inspired me, and listened to me when I needed an ear. I created a Facebook community specifically for Gut Healing Support to serve as a safe place for community support to keep eachother accountable, and inspired!
I hope these easy tips help you along in making your New Years goals more sustainable for all of 2018!
In this episode, Anne Marie and I are answering listener questions and providing recommendations on healing hashimotos, POTS, and adrenal fatigue naturally.
- Updates from Michelle [1:45]
- Updates for Anne [2:17]
- What Michelle is loving [5:53]
- Adrenal Fatigue, B12 deficiency and hashimoto’s [8:50]
- Failed food reintroduction symptoms [24:30]
- How many starchy carbs you should be eating [39:03]
- Meal of the week [52:40]
Links we mentioned in the podcast:
Gift specifically giving may not be the reason for the holidays, but let’s face it… it’s fun. Wrapping presents, picking out the perfect gift for someone that you love, and seeing their reaction when you give it to them! The only thing that makes it more fun is food… as always.
Edible gifts are the perfect stocking stuffer, host gift, office gift or last minute gift to give that hard to shop for person. What I love about giving edible gifts that are also AIP & Paleo is that I can taste test, and happily cook them in my kitchen without worrying about cross contaminating my own kitchen and cookware.
These AIP recipes from some of my favorite bloggers make the perfect edible holiday gifts!
AIP Snowball Cookies from Grazed and Enthused
AIP Snowflake Cookies from Unbound Wellness
Apricot N’Oatmeal Cookies from Healing Family Eats
Blackberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies from Don’t Eat the Spatula
Crispy Cinnamon Thin Cookies by A Squirrel in the Kitchen
Maple Bacon Snowballs from Adventures in Partaking
Paleo Ginger Snaps from Gutsy By Nature
Pumpkin Spice Dehydrator Cookies from The Paleo Mom
Sugar(less) Cutout Cookies from Don’t Eat the Spatula
Sweet Potato, Coconut and Vanilla Cookies from Healing Family Eats
The Healthy Gingerbread House from He Won’t Know It’s Paleo (a wonderful gift to have prepared and let kiddos in the family decorate!)
img. via He Won’t Know It’s Paleo.
Candies & Gummies
Apple Cinnamon Gummy Candy from Phoenix Helix
Paleo Peppermint Bark from Unbound Wellness
Turkish Delight Gummies from Eat Heal Thrive
Mint Chocolate Swirl Fudge by Eat Heal Thrive
Paleo “Chocolate” Carob Fudge by A Squirrel in the Kitchen
Sea Salt Carob Fudge by Eat Heal Thrive
Bars, Pies and Cakes
Raspberry and Vanilla Squares by Comfort Bites
img via Healing Family Eats
Raw Coconut, Orange and Date Bars with Pink Himalayan Salt from Healing Family Eats
Raw Tea Cake with Salted Chai Caramel Topping by Comfort Bites
Very Merry AIP Christmas Mince Pies from Joanna Frankham
Others (Bites, Marshmallows, and Granola!)
Bacon Rosemary Salt by Adventures in Partaking
Cinnamon Crispy Date bites from Lichen Loving Paleo
“Chocolate” Collagen Protein Bites from Unbound Wellness
“I Can’t Believe It’s AIP” Christmas Mince by Joanna Frankham
Lemon Herb Shortbread by Eat Heal Thrive
Peppermint Marshmallows by Enjoying this Journey
Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Granola from A Squirrel in the Kitchen
I hope that these ideas are helpful! Have a very Happy Holiday <3
Thank you Douglas Laboratories for sponsoring this post. I was selected for this opportunity by Douglas Laboratories and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Growing up as an American girl in a society that puts so much weight on physical appearance, and body size, I was equally as obsessed. I saw poor choices that I would make in my health as a teen as effecting my appearance, and nothing more. Healthy food would make me look good, unhealthy food would make me look bad… and that’s all that mattered, right? Even now in my mid/late twenties I take my health seriously so I feel good now... and that’s all that matters, right?
In reality, our present health and habits clearly have an effect on our present state, but it plays an equally as important role on our health in the future.
Though we may see health just as looking good or feeling good when we’re younger, we need to take our healthy aging seriously regardless of our age.
Why does healthy aging matter at any age?
Regardless of what age we are, the choices that we make now effect how our health looks tomorrow.
Anything from what we put on our skin, to how much we stress ourselves out all plays a part in how healthy, capable, and able bodied we’ll be in the coming years.
Health is not just a present concern regardless of your age.
When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in my teens and multiple food allergies in my 20’s, I was struck with the harsh reality that the health choices I made when I was younger, had played a part in bringing to me where I ended up. In my childhood and early teens, I ate an incredibly nutrient void diet that harmed my gut health and over used antibiotics and NSAID’s. This harmed my gut health as well as weakened my immune system.
Of course, genetics play a huge role in our health and in my development of autoimmune disease, but my poor diet and lifestyle certainly didn’t help.
When do we start to see the effects of poor health choices?
It’s said that it can take up to seven years to start seeing the effects of deep mineral deficiencies, and the tipping point for imbalances like adrenal dysfunction and hormone imbalance can come randomly. It’s not always obvious that you’re leading yourself down a path that’s harmful until you’re already deep into it.
I hope my story makes you realize that you don’t have to be in your sixties to start seeing poor healthy aging consequences. I first faced the reality of my poor choices at 17 and am still living with the effects years later.
Though those with autoimmune disease, and other chronic illness, may be more genetically predisposed to developing these illnesses, the choices that we make at any point in our life can have a powerful impact of how greatly the symptoms effect us.
How To Live with Healthy Aging in Mind at Any Age
1. Eat real food.
This should be a give in, but it can more complicated than that.
When it comes to health food, there so much noise and conflicting information. With marketing for processed foods masquerading as healthy foods, and a million different opinions on the internet about what is and isn’t healthy, actually making healthy choices can be difficult.
However, my simple advice is to always go as close to the source as possible, and stay close to home. What does that mean?
- Swap pasture raised and grass-fed meats for organic
- If you eat dairy, swap organic for grass-fed and even raw when possible
- Rather than buying all fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, find a farmers market or Co-op
- Don’t fear natural fats like animal fat, egg yolks, coconut oil and grass-fed butter or ghee
- Cook at home as often as possible and only lean on convenience foods in the rarest of occasions
- Follow a healing protocol like paleo, or autoimmune paleo when the time calls for it
2. Move your body daily.
The human body was made to move and be active. And before we all became chained to desks and cars, we did just that… we moved daily.
As a fellow desk jockey, I get it… it’s hard to find time to exercise. I can barely find time to post on Instagram daily (#firstworldproblems ????) so I know what you’re thinking… “With a full-time job, kids, everything else, how am I supposed to find 15 minutes to drive to the gym, an hour to workout, and another 15-20 minutes to clean up and get back home and then make a super health “eat real food” dinner?!”
Well first, I feel you. Second, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Moving your body daily can be anything that fits in your schedule. Though I had an hour a day to workout at a gym 4-5 times a week in college, I’ve had to shift my routine to whatever I can fit in.
Here are some of my favorite ways to move daily…
- Taking 30 minutes during lunch to take a walk
- Turning on a tabata or yoga YouTube video to get in 10-20 minutes of movemenet
- An hour long walk after work with family/spouse that also doubles as quality family time
- Homework out plans like 30 day guides, videos, etc.
- Switching weekly outings to a hike rather than a restaurant visit (my husband I do this and we love it!)
3. Recognize that stress is incredibly harmful to your health.
Even in retrospect, it’s pretty ridiculous how stressful your teen and college years are. Between holding down a job, going to class, studying, doing extracurriculars, and trying to have social life, those years were incredibly stressful to me. Even elementary and middle school can be equally as stressful.
Though we have this weird expectation that we can handle all of this stress when we’re younger, I beg to differ.
Chronic cortisol as a result of stress at any age output leads to serious longterm hormonal imbalance that can result in weight gain, hair loss, menstrual changes, and even infertility.
We all handle stress differently and all have our limits. However, I urge you to be mindful that stress is more than just inconvenient at the time… it has long term effects on our health.
For my clients who are dealing with particularly stressful lives like work and school, or family struggles, I ask them to consider that following…
- “What’s the one thing in your life that’s causing extra stress that you can actually change? For example, having your partner help with the dishes, saying “no” to a commitment, etc.”
- “Where is one hour a week, or a few minutes a day that you can just take to yourself? What would you do with that time? Read? Exercise? Meditate? Pray? Just sit alone and do nothing?”
No amount of de-stressing is too little… take what you can and embrace it.
4. Be mindful about your hair, skin and nails.
I may only be in my mid-twenties, but I’m already starting to see the negative effects of me not taking care of my skin and nails when I was younger. I often kick myself for not taking better care of acne scaring earlier. However, that doesn’t mean that I should have used harsh chemicals in my teens, or that I’m going to use
So, how do you treat your skin, hair and nails right and be mindful about their health?
- Say “no” to nail polish as often as you can. It’s unnatural and super damaging to your nails!
- Dye your hair wisely. Do your research and only dye if you really feel necessary.
- Always wash off your makeup with a natural makeup remover! I opt for a 50/50 mix of vanilla coconut oil and coconut sugar that doubles as an exfoliator and a makeup remover! You could literally eat this stuff. (pictured below!)
- Use natural products free of dyes and coloring like tallow balm (also pictured below).
- Supplement wisely when appropriate and okayed by your doctor.
Even with eating a real food diet, it’s not always feasible to get every needed nutrient from food alone. With depleted soil quality and more, I’m still not in perfect health. Not only is my skin showing signs of me being a lazy teenager, but my nail health is always the first thing to go. I’ve struggled with weak nails on and off my entire life even with eating all of the vegetables and drinking all of the broth.
One of the things that I’ve done in the past to help give me an extra boost is supplementing with a biotin, zinc, and other minerals like Ultra HSN from Douglas Laboratories. I’ve had tons of success with adding biotin to my beauty routine in the past an can’t wait to start incorporating it more again! Always talk to a doctor to make sure it’s right for you, because I’m not a doctor 🙂
So, the moral to the story is this… don’t wait to tackle healthy lifestyle routines that influence healthy aging! You can do it at 16, 30, 60… anything. We’re always aging, and every day is an opportunity to make a positive impact on your life in the future!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I’ll let you know when the cookbook launches!
Enjoy your free goodies from me 🙂