Chicken-and-Cheese Taquitos

Deep-fried restaurant-style taquitos can have hundreds of calories per piece, but Robin Miller's lighter, baked tortillas are a healthier, make-at-home alternative.
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A taquito (pronounced ta-kito) is a rolled up, filled tortilla that's deep-fried until golden brown and crisp. In the classic Mexican dish, also known as a flauta, the tortilla is typically corn and the filling is beef or chicken. Taquitos are amazingly crunchy and delicious, and they make a fun hand-held treat. Problem is, depending on the filling, ONE taquito can have 200-500 calories, 8-28 grams of fat and 350-1,134 mg of sodium. And nobody eats just one. Since I want you to enjoy all the flavors without all of the calories, I revamped the dish to make it Healthy Eats-friendly. Not just friendly -- consider this taquito your new best pal! The filling is a savory blend of grilled chicken, salsa and sharp cheddar cheese. And by baking the rolled tortillas instead of deep-frying, I was able to shed hundreds of calories and milligrams of sodium and dozens of fat grams. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Note: I used a regular store-bought salsa for the filling so choose your favorite variety or make one from scratch. The best ingredients for salsa are fresh diced tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, white onion, cilantro and fresh lime juice.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos
Cooking spray
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup prepared salsa (select your favorite variety)
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16 corn tortillas
16 wooden picks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a stove-top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and, when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with two forks.

Transfer the shredded chicken to a medium saucepan and add the salsa. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes to heat through. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Wrap 4 of the tortillas in a paper towel and microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds to soften. Arrange the tortillas on a flat surface and spoon the chicken mixture onto each tortilla (about 2 tablespoons per tortilla). Top the chicken with cheddar cheese (about 1 tablespoon per tortilla). Roll the tortillas up tightly and secure with wooden picks. Arrange the tortillas, side-by-side, on a large baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, chicken and cheese, working in batches of four (this prevents the tortillas from drying out).

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tortillas are golden brown and crisp.

Serves 8

Nutrition Info Per Serving (2 taquitos)
Calories: 219
Total Fat: 7 grams
Saturated Fat: 3.5 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 25 grams
Sugars: 2 grams
Protein: 13 gram
Sodium: 255 milligrams
Cholesterol: 3 milligrams
Fiber: <1 gram

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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