A classic quesadilla done the healthy way

A healthy 'little cheese thing'

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  • | 9:00 a.m. January 19, 2017
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Quesadilla is a Spanish word for "little cheese thing." The recipe typically calls for mounds of cheese and pork chorizo between two corn tortillas. Although there's just a small amount of cheese in this recipe, it's the lean ground chicken, the spices and the delicious salsa that are the stars of this healthy dish.

The substitution of lean ground chicken breast for pork chorizo cuts down on the calories without sacrificing any of the flavor. Chorizo sausage is usually made with ground pork and combined with fat, wine, paprika and salt, and stuffed into a casing made of tripe. Paprika and red chilies are the primary spices in Mexican chorizo and infuse it with a deep reddish color.

This recipe uses the same spices that are used in the pungent Mexican sausage to marinate the ground chicken. This allows you to mimic the flavor of chorizo while cutting out the fat. Small, diced potatoes add a distinctive texture and also absorb the spices. The avocado salsa completes the dish and adds a burst of fresh citrus with the addition of the lime juice.

Try one of these healthy quesadillas, accompanied by a dab of fat-free sour cream, if desired, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You'll never miss the original recipe!

Chicken chorizo and potato quesadillas

1/2 pound ground all-natural chicken breast

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 small bay leaf, ground in a spice grinder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 cup diced and peeled potato

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 cup diced, purple onion

1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

8 corn or whole-wheat tortillas

The Salsa:

1/2 ripe avocado

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup diced purple onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 Serrano chili, minced

2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

To prepare the quesadillas:

  1. Combine the chicken, chili powder, salt, pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, cloves and vinegar in a bowl, mix well. Set aside.

  2. Boil the potato in lightly salted water in a saucepan until tender, drain. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken mixture, stirring to break up the pieces until the chicken is almost cooked through.

  3. Add the potato, onion and remaining canola oil, cook until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove from heat and mash mixture. Top each of four tortillas with an equal amount of chicken mixture. Top with shredded Cheddar cheese, then another tortilla. Spray a griddle or nonstick skillet with non-stick cooking spray.

  4. Cook the quesadillas over medium heat until both sides are crisp, turning once.

To prepare the salsa:

In a small bowl, mix together the avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, chili, lime juice, salt and pepper until well-combined. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with the salsa. Makes four servings.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis. (c) 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.