Mexican food has grown in popularity across the U.S. in both the home and restaurants in recent years. When dining out in a Mexican Restaurant, it is possible to make healthy food choices. Mexican cuisine has some very nutritious and healthy main ingredients including corn, beans and chilies. These ingredients are high in fiber and low in fat. However, ingredients added to them are the determining factor between a dietary dream and a nutritional nightmare.
Dining Out Mexican Style
When dining out in a Mexican restaurant, watch for key words and phrases in the menu choices. If you are trying to eat healthier, or are dieting, you should watch for items that are baked or grilled, served with flour or corn tortilla's, are made with chicken or seafood and are served with vegetables, enchilada sauce, salsa or salsa Verde. Some great choices are fajitas and quesadillas.
Choices to avoid are anything fried such as taco salad shells, chimichangas or tortilla chips. Also be careful of entrees that are smothered in cheese or mole sauce. You can ask that the chef go easy on these ingredients, or request they are served to you on the side. Also, you should ask if the refried beans were made with lard. If so, don't eat them. One more healthy option for you is to add extra vegetables to any meal you order.
Portion sizes in Mexican Restaurants can be up to four times the amount of food you need for a meal so either split a dinner with someone, or take half of it home for another meal. You'll split the fat and calories and have an already prepared meal at home, something we all welcome!
Mexican Cooking at Home
Your favorite grocery store most likely carries authentic Mexican ingredients so why not do some Mexican cooking at home? Mexican recipes are quick, easy and delicious and are also a low-cost, healthy alternative to eating out.
Following are some tips on how you can reduce the fat and calories in just about any Mexican Dish you enjoy, or wish to try. You can use these tips in any Mexican recipe, old or new. Due to the seasonings in Mexican foods, you most likely won't notice the changes too much. Some say that non-fat sour cream is intolerable and if you find you feel this way, use the light. It still reduces the amount of fat by half of the original sour cream. Most people who have never ventured into low-fat sour cream are amazed at how little they notice the reduction in fat.
Tips to Reduce Fat and Calories in Mexican Dishes
- Identify high fat ingredients such as sour cream, cheese and butter.
- Find lower-fat alternatives such as low or non-fat sour cream, low or non-fat plain yogurt, low-fat cheese and lower-fat margarine.
- Substitute equal amounts. For example, if you recipe calls for one cup of sour cream, replace it with one cup of fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt.
By making substitutions and healthy food choices, Mexican cuisine can be as nutritious as any other cuisine.
Spice up your life and try the recipes below!
1 boneless pork loin roast (3 pounds) trimmed and cut into 1-inch slices
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Pepper to taste
3 large oranges, divided
1 large lemon
16 fat-free flour tortillas, warmed
Salsa and shredded fat-free Cheddar cheese, optional
Place meat in a medium-size roasting pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with garlic, cilantro and pepper.
Squeeze the juice from one orange and the lemon over the meat. Slice the remaining oranges and place over the meat. Cover and bake at 350-degrees for about two hours or until meat is very tender.
With a slotted spoon, remove meat and drain well on paper towels. In a skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook meat one pound at a time until brown and crispy. Serve warm in flour tortillas; garnish with salsa and cheese if desired. Yield: 16 servings
Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 220; Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 37mg; Sodium: 364mg; Carbohydrates: 28mg; Protein: 16mg
South of the Border Sundaes
3/4 cup pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite size pieces
1 large mango, peeled, pitted, cut into bit size pieces
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 pints vanilla frozen yogurt
Place bite sized pieces of pineapple and mango into medium bowl. Combine 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, brown sugar and cinnamon in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase the heat and boil until mixture thickens slightly, about one minute. Mix syrup into fruit. This recipe can be made four hours ahead; just cover and chill.
Mix bananas into fruit. Scoop frozen yogurt into bowls. Spoon fruit mixture and juices over and serve. Yield: 8 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 260; Fat: 1g; Sodium: 50mg; Carbohydrates: 4mg
Mexican Chocolate Sauce
Restaurant Refried Beans
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