• Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD

Baked Beef Chimichangas

For a quick, easy and delicious dinner your family will love, try these baked beef chimichangas. They taste fantastic, and they are packed with nutrition.

Typical chimichangas are not even on the “healthy” spectrum. Usually it’s a large portion of meat, wrapped in a huge tortilla and deep fried. But they are tasty, so I decided to give them a reboot.

This recipe is packed with shredded zucchini, onions and black beans. With all this added to the filling, I only needed 1 lb of hamburger to make 11 chimichangas, so this is a very economical recipe as well. Also, I went light on the cheese, and used a thin style tortilla. Then, rather than frying them, I spread a tiny bit of butter on top and then broiled them for about 3 minutes per side. This creates the crispy tortilla we love with chimichangas, but a fraction of the calories.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my biggest issues with Mexican food is the sides. Typically, we have something with a large tortilla, and sides of beans and rice, and then chips and salsa. All these things are great on their own, but all together, it’s definitely too many starchy foods. Pairing it with salads and vegetables instead makes a huge difference in the final nutritional profile of this meal.

Also, another thing to try is using plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. If you don’t say anything, your family will never know. I tested this on my husband. He had no idea I’d made a switch!

This meal was definitely a hit with my family. My kids even ate this one as is—no modification. I used mild green chiles and a little chili powder, so it was not too spicy. If you prefer more heat, I’d suggest using diced jalepenos instead of green chiles.

Finally a note on tortillas—look at labels and be picky with your tortillas. Size is not always telling of calories. I’ve seen small 6-inch taco size tortillas that are 150, because they are real thick. Most burrito size tortillas like we need for chimichangas are 210+. I was able to find one thin-style burrito size tortilla that was only 160. That makes a big difference in how I was able to keep the calories down for this meal.

The Meal:

  • 1 chimichanga

  • 1 ½ cups Romaine lettuce

  • Chopped cucumber, tomato and avocado

  • ½ oz cheese

  • 2 Tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt

  • ½ cup carrots

  • 1 Tbsp ranch dressing

Recipe Used in this meal:

Baked Beef Chimichangas

Serving size: 10 oz portion

Servings per Recipe: 11

Ingredients

  • 2 cups zucchini (shredded)

  • 1 lb Ground Beef

  • 1 cup onion (diced)

  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce

  • 1 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp oregano

  • 1 (4 oz) can green chiles (mild)

  • 2 (15-oz) cans seasoned black beans (drained)

  • 11 (10-inch) tortillas

  • 5 oz shredded Mexican Style cheese

  • 2 tsp butter

Directions

  1. Shred zucchini in a food processor. Chop onion in a food processor, or dice by hand.

  2. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and add zucchini. Cook at med-high heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

  3. Add ground beef to skillet, breaking apart with a spatula as it cooks. Cook on med-high heat. Add the onion after about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, moving frequently, until the onion is softened and the beef is cooked through.

  4. Add tomato sauce, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and green chiles and beans. Add back in the zucchini. Stir to combine, and then simmer on low heat for 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.

  5. Prepare to roll chimichangas. Set up meat, cheese, tortillas and a baking sheet. Set out one tortilla. Place ½ oz of cheese and ½ cup of beef mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Fold the two ends in towards the middle, than roll to close. The filling should be completely enclosed in the tortilla. Secure with toothpicks if needed. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat for all tortillas.

  6. Spread a thin layer of butter over the top and bottom of all the rolled chimichangas.

  7. Broil for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Nutrition Facts Label for Entire Meal:

Nutrition Facts Label for Baked Chimichangas:

RD and Me

Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD

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© 2016 RD and Me Nutrition Consulting, LLC