by Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH
Mexican food is primarily made from simple, fresh ingredients. To make sure you have a heart healthy Mexican style fiesta, you can incorporate the following 10 things:
1) Make your own chips. This is easy and fun and avoids the highly saturated fats and salt of store-bought tortilla chips. Use low fat, corn tortillas, cut them in eighths, spray a cookies sheet or a pizza pan lightly with canola oil and bake at 400˚ for 6-8 minutes. (Watch carefully that you don’t burn them.)
2) Substitute highly saturated fat cheeses with alternatives like SoySation® 3 Cheese Blend, or SoySation® Mozzarella Shreds, The Original Almond® Cheddar or Mozzarella Shreds or Rice Cheeze®. These delicious substitutes won’t clog your precious arteries.
3) Guacamole is excellent for you. Make it with ripe avocados, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, chopped onions, lemon or lime juice and a teaspoon of white vinegar. Season with coarse sea salt, but not too much. Go lightly for your heart’s sake.
4) Salsa is another wonderful, fresh treat. Mix Roma tomatoes, cilantro, chopped onions, minced garlic, chopped jalapeno peppers, lime juice and you won’t need to add any salt.
5) Avoid high fat sour cream topping by using non-fat sour cream or substitute non-fat Greek Style Yogurt instead.
6) When making filling for tacos, taquitos and enchiladas, use ground turkey breast or chicken breast instead of beef or pork. Cut your meat by a third by adding cooked lentils for fiber and to reduce overall calories.
7) Avoid burritos, fried dishes and chimichangas at all costs. Instead, choose corn tortillas and fill them with lettuce, salsa, guacamole and black beans. You’ll be full and feel satisfied without damaging your heart. Also, be sure to avoid refried beans unless you cook them yourself or use the non-fat refried canned beans.
8) Substitute fish for red meat whenever you can. Grill, don’t fry and top with fresh salsa.
9) Nachos are heart bombs. They contain fatty meats, fat-saturated cheeses, lard-infused refried beans and fat-soaked fried chips. This is all bad news for your heart. Make a heart healthy version by using your own baked tortilla chips, veggies, Soy, Almond or Rice cheese substitutes, fresh tomatoes, low-fat black beans, cumin and cilantro.
10) Lighten up your drinks and lengthen your life. Use my recipe for Heart Easy ™Margarita- Lite recipe or the Heart Easy™ Beergarita-Lite.
Absolutely have a party, but be wise in your choices so your heart will be able to support decades and decades of Cinco de Mayo celebrations to come with your close friends and family.
Heart Easy™ Margarita-Lite
Makes: 4 servings, about 2/3 cup each, 181 calories.
This Lite Margarita recipe saves you 150-200 calories compared to traditional margarita recipes made with corn syrup-powered, bottled margarita mix. This is a fresher, healthier version. If you want to convince yourself of the health benefits, celebrate the vitamin C **you will get from the fresh limes. (Remember to celebrate with responsibility and have only one of these delicious treats!)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 lime wedges and lime slices for garnish
1 cup seltzer or club soda
3/4 cup tequila (6 ounces) (I use white tequila)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) Triple Sec or Cointreau
2 packets of Good & Sweet or Stevia
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest
1 Tablespoon Kosher or sea salt
For the Rim Glaze, blend together 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest with 1 tablespoon Kosher or sea salt (Adding lime zest to the salt rim gives great flavor and cuts the salt in half.)
For the Margarita, combine lime juice, seltzer (or club soda), tequila and Triple Sec (or Cointreau) with the sugar substitute sweetener in a pitcher.
Rub the rim of four 10-ounce glasses with the lime wedge and dip in the lime-salt.
Fill the glasses with ice and top with the margarita mixture. Garnish with a slice of lime.* I skip the salt entirely to control unwanted sodium. But, if you’re a traditional margarita-lover, have a little salt but please go lightly. Your heart will appreciate it.
**Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (15% daily value).
Heart Easy™ Beergarita-Lite
Another fun way to cut calories and stay with fresh ingredients is to choose a light beer mix it with a ton of fresh lime juice – serve in a salt-lime zest* rimmed glass and it gives you a margarita feel at under 125 calories and some added vitamin C to boot.
*Use 1 tablespoon Kosher or sea salt mixed with 1 tablespoon lime zest. This cuts down on the salt, yet still gives you a festive feel.
Heart Easy™ Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Dip
1 can (16 oz.) fat free refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium avocados, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup fresh chunky salsa.
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup non fat sour cream
1/2 package (1.25 oz) low sodium taco seasoning mix
3 green onions, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded Lisanatti SoySation® 3 Cheese Blend or The Original Almond® Cheddar Shreds
12 corn tortillas cut into 6ths and baked.*
On a large serving plate, spread the refried beans. Top with the black beans.
In a large bowl, blend avocados, lemon juice and salsa. Spread the avocado mix on top of the beans.
Fold the mayonnaise, sour cream and taco seasoning together. Spoon the mixture onto the avocado dip.
One at a time, layer green onions, black olives, tomatoes, and top with cheddar shreds.
Serve with homemade tortilla chips.
*Use medium size (low fat) corn tortillas. Cut them into 8ths. Lightly spray a cookie sheet or a pizza pan with non stick canola spray. Bake for 6-8 minutes at 400˚ or until golden, crispy brown. Remove from oven and cool. Do not salt. Serve with the dip for a heart healthy Cinco de Mayo.