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Foreign Fare: Ole Mexican

Foreign Fare: Olé Mexican

What's Mexican cuisine?
Are some Mexican foods healthier than others?
How can I make low-fat tortilla chips?

Sure, you know all about tacos, enchiladas and burritos. But have you tasted chicken mole made with chocolate? How about fish Veracruz with lime juice and cilantro? Authentic Mexican food is known for its flavorful, healthy sauces, herbs and spices. That's right, Mexican food can be healthy! back to top

What's Mexican cuisine?
Authentic Mexican cuisine is low in fat and rich in flavor and nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, protein, and fiber. And vegetarians will find many meat-free options. Mexican cooking uses many different flavors and spices, some hot and some not. Here are some common ingredients found in Mexican food:
  • beans
  • corn
  • tomatoes
  • avocados
  • chilies like jalapeños and poblaños
  • onions
  • lime
  • tamarind
  • vinegar
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • coriander (cilantro) back to top
Are some Mexican foods healthier than others?
At most Mexican restaurants in the United States, the food is high in fat and calories. If you ate only side orders like rice and beans, sour cream, and guacamole, you'd be eating about two-thirds of your total recommended dietary allowance for fat for the day. So the next time you're eating Mexican food, make healthy choices. Here are some tips:
  • Think of side orders as condiments, and eat small amounts to add flavor to a healthy main dish like grilled chicken or fish.
  • Soft is sensible when it comes to shells. Order soft tacos, tostadas, fajitas, burritos, and quesadillas. Skip the enchiladas (tortillas softened in oil), chimichangas (boiled in oil), or crispy tacos or taco salads (deep-fried).
  • Choose corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Corn is a complex carbohydrate, and it has more nutrients than white flour.
  • Opt for chicken, black beans, or veggies in your burrito.
  • Ask for brown rice, reduced-fat cheese, marinated or steamed vegetables, sour cream blended with nonfat yogurt, and salads with low-fat dressing.
  • When it comes to salsa, eat up! But use it to flavor your veggies or beans and rice instead of filling up on those high-fat chips.
  • For dessert, fruit and flan are your best bets. back to top
How can I make low-fat tortilla chips?
To make your own low-fat tortilla chips, or tostadas, slice corn tortillas into wedges. Brush the wedges with a little oil. Sprinkle them with a little salt and spices like chili powder or cumin. Bake your tortilla wedges in a 350-degree oven, flipping them over once so that they are crisp on both sides. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. back to top

Last Modified Date: 12/8/2000
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