Feb 17

Mexican Food for the Health Conscious

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Mexican food has the reputation for being high fat and high calorie. Some of that reputation may be deserved. A single beef and cheese chimichanga is about 445 calories and is high in sodium and fat. Even a small taco is around 400 calories and can be high in fat, especially when laden with sour cream.

But there are many Mexican dish choices, and methods of preparation, that will provide lots of taste yet still rank high on the health meter. Mexican food covers a very wide array and there are many choices that are low carb or low fat or low in calories, often all three.

Salsa, for example, is a very high nutrition sauce. Primarily carrots and tomatoes, it’s rich in vitamins A and C, very low in fat and extremely tasty. Even crispy tortilla chips can be low fat and low calorie when baked instead of fried. They can still be very flavorful when dipped in the right sauce and corn is a great source of thiamin, folate and other valuable nutrients.

Chiles play a prominent role in Mexican cuisine and there is much more to them than just a high heat sensation. They contain phytochemicals that supply valuable anti-oxidants and are rich in vitamin C, B6 and others. And, consumed without the addition of oil, they are low fat and almost zero calories.

But, even main dishes can still provide plenty of nutritional value while being low in fat and calories.

Seafood, for example, is the main ingredient in a huge number of Mexican dishes. Ceviche is a traditional part of Mexican cuisine. It’s similar to Japanese sushi in that the ingredients are consumed raw. Those ingredients may be lobster, shrimp or fish that are marinated in citrus fruits. The acid cures the meat to give it a less ‘raw fish’ taste than sushi and nothing could be healthier. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Even the traditional Northern Mexico burrito can be turned into a healthy meal with only a modest amount of thoughtful substitution. Instead of lathering it with heavy sour cream, use a low fat variety. You’ll rarely notice a big difference in taste. Instead of fat-laden ground beef, substitute soy. Use low-sodium and low-fat cheese. The result will still be highly tasty.

Many Mexican drinks can be high in calories, but that is also an easy problem to solve.

Rompope is a delicious rum-based drink often served as an after dinner liqueur. Made with egg yolks, sugar and milk it can really add on the calories. But using a sugar substitute can eliminate half of them with a barely perceptible difference in taste. Using low fat milk won’t spoil the drink, either.

There are many creative ways to still enjoy the great taste of fine Mexican food while avoiding unwanted calories. With smart choices you can get all the great health benefits without the penalty.

Jan 03

Mexican Food Is Full of Variety

Homemade Corn and Chicken Tamales

Homemade Corn and Chicken Tamales

Mention Mexican food and most people will instantly think of tacos or burritos. But just as Mexico itself is a rich and diverse culture composed of elements from the centuries, so is Mexican cuisine equally varied.

A burrito for breakfast is far from unknown. But there are many other choices on the menu, as well. Huevos rancheros is a great favorite for those who want eggs for breakfast. A tropical fruit salad is a perfect possibility for those who want to get their morning helping Mexican style.

Have a busy lifestyle and need to eat breakfast on the go? You can still enjoy it Mexican style and have a pineapple tamale muffin. If you have more time, treat yourself to delicious apricot chimichangas – a combination of egg, Ricotta cheese on a flour tortilla, topped with apricots and a delightful sauce. If you happen to have some stale corn tortillas left over, use them to make chilaquiles.

For lunch the options grow by leaps and bounds. A frittata made from zucchini, peppers and onions atop a layer of tortilla supported eggs and topped with Swiss cheese is healthy and filling. Haven’t had enough eggs yet? Try an egg and chorizo enchilada. With a garnish of avocados you’ll get plenty of flavor.

Too busy to cook lunch? Fine, grab a plantain or two. If you prefer a more potato-like flavor get these banana-like fruits ultra fresh. If you like a sweeter option get some that have had more time to ripen. Of course, you could go for that basic taco instead. But be adventurous and try a carne asada torta. A Mexican-style sandwich, it houses refried beans, tomatoes and lettuce served on a telera roll.

A traditional Mexican dinner is light and small. Lunch is the main meal. But in English-speaking countries the tradition has been modified to coincide with the larger intake during the evening meal. Still, it doesn’t have to be all heavy fats and huge amounts of calories.

Seafood is an outstanding choice for a Mexican dinner and perfectly in line with tradition. Swordfish and tuna are common in the waters around Mexico and fishing is a tradition in the country that goes back centuries. For something a little different, try a shark burrito. For a tried and true Mexican dinner you can’t go wrong with a Red Snapper a la Veracruzana.

Even apart from the standard division of meals into three periods of the day there are a variety of Mexican foods that can be enjoyed anytime.

Mexican desserts are enjoyed by everyone. Flan, an egg custard with caramel sauce, will please palates of any nationality. Churros are another traditional favorite. Similar to donuts, you can find them sold by street vendors on any corner in Mexico City. But even bread can be a Mexican dessert. Sopapillas have been popular for centuries. Covered in cinnamon and honey, they will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Expand your horizons and your view of Mexican cuisine. Try a variety of traditional Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, anytime!

Nov 17

A Fiesta of Mexican Soup Recipes

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Think of Mexican food and soup is not the first thing that comes to mind. But considering how many delicious Mexican soup recipes there are, it could never be last on the list. Here’s a small sampling of some of those delightful concoctions.

Fabada Asturiana

Fabada is a soup imported to Mexico centuries ago by the Spaniards from the Asturia mountain section of Spain. It has since conquered many a palate.

Ingredients: 1 lb large white Fava beans 4 small chorizos 1/4 lb pancetta 1/4 lb jamón serrano 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1/2 tsp paprika

Soak the beans overnight. The next day, put the chorizos, pancetta and jamón serrano in a pan and spread the beans over the meat. Then cover the mixture with water. Bring the result slowly to a boil and let it simmer for about an hour. Check it occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t boiled away and exposed the ingredients. Then, sprinkle the garlic and paprika over the stew and cook for another hour.

Gazpacho

Making a traditional gazpacho takes only a few minutes of preparation and the ingredient list is simplicity itself.

Ingredients: 4-14 1/2 oz cans of Mexican stewed tomatoes 1 large cucumber 1 bell pepper 2 tbsp chopped green chiles

Just chop the cucumber and bell pepper then mix up the ingredients. Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Easy!

Sopa de Huevo

The Chinese aren’t the only ones who can produce an outstanding egg soup. This one has many of the same ingredients, but makes for a delightful variation.

Ingredients: 3 eggs 6 cups of chicken broth 1 tbsp all purpose flour 1 tsp parsley, chopped  A pinch of chile powder

Bring the chicken broth to a slow boil. While you’re waiting, whip the eggs together with the flour using a whisk. Add the egg-flour mixture. Simmer for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the eggs don’t clump. Top with a little parsley and sprinkle chile powder on top. Spicy.

Sopa de Ostiones

Many parts of Mexico are near the sea and fishing is an ancient and honorable profession in this land. Oyster soup is one of the most pleasant results.

Ingredients: 4 dozen oysters 1 tomato 1/2 cup of white wine 2 carrots 2 potatoes 1 garlic clove, chopped

Chop up the potatoes and carrots into medium-sized chunks. Bake the tomato for about 15 minutes at 350F/177C, then peal off the outer layers. Then fry it in oil for a few minutes and slice it up. Add the vegetables to about 6 cups of water and heat. Add the oysters, then pour in the wine. Add the garlic and cook for another ten minutes. Seafood doesn’t get any better than this.

These delicious samples of Mexican sopas are easy to make and will delight palates of any nationality. They can be served as an appetizer or comprise the main meal for lunch. But whenever they’re tried, they’ll make for happy diners.