21 Delicious And Healthy Takes on Traditional Mexican Foods
Traditional Mexican food is rich with a variety of vegetables and lean proteins, all boasting big flavors! In many ways, it was the Americanization of Mexican food that has made it less healthy. Switching to lean ground poultry, adding beans to ground meat dishes, using less sour cream, or switching to low fat cheese can all add up to make any dish healthier. Let’s look beyond the tacos and burritos and into the kitchens across the country where it can be easy to find delicious, healthy versions of Mexican favorites…in fact, I bet you won’t have to look too far.
A simple swap, choose the corn tortilla next time you order a taco. This staple food is a whole grain, which packs more fiber and nutrients than its flour counterpart. At least half our daily grains should be whole grains. This is a tasty way to meet that goal!
Get your protein grilled, not fried. Grilled steak packs a protein punch with little to no added fat, since it’s cooked on a grill and not sautéed in oil or butter.
Credit: Carne Asada. Pixabay. 9/14/13.
Huitlacoche or Corn Smut
Corn what? This corn fungus, which is very similar to mushroom in flavor, is considered black gold in some areas of Mexico. When rain droplets fall into the corn husk, the kernels of corn begin to rot and develop a fungus that turns the golden kernels into grey, stone-like blobs. The fungus adds proteins that aren’t found naturally in regular corn kernels. This makes it a great choice in tacos or quesadillas for vegans or vegetarians.
Credit: Quesadilla. Pixabay. 10/23/18.
Seemingly so simple but let’s not forget this healthy version of a sweet treat, after all, fruit is twice as sweet in Mexico! Fruit is always a good choice because it is packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Credit: Melon. Pixabay. 6/15/2016.
This tasty staple, is simple to make and has all the elements of a comfort food; warm and flavorful. You can make a healthier version by swapping in brown rice for white rice.
Credit: Rice. Pixabay. 10/27/2016.
Mole de olla
This hearty soup is a steaming bowl of comfort (and nutrients!) on a gray day. This soup consists of broth with potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, corn, and other vegetables that suit your taste. Preparing your soup with beef or pork? Trim the visible fat off the meat to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the recipe.
Credit: Chicken stew. Pixabay. 05/16/2016.
So much soup! Another bowl of steaming comfort, the chicken is baked, grilled, roasted, or poached making it a lean, low fat choice with a ton of protein! Instead of topping your soup with crumbled fried tortillas try baking your tortillas in the oven until crisp and then crumbling them.
Credit: Chicken soup. Pixabay. 11/27/2013.
Another healthy Mexican dish, a whole grilled fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind you get in fish oil supplements ,which are so good for your heart! Grilling the fish means little to no added fat. Using fresh herbs, such as cilantro, and citrus juice, such as lime, make the fish flavorful without any added salt!
Credit: Fish. Pixabay. 11/5/2016.
Pico de gallo
This fresh salsa is a great way to add a healthy boost to any dish. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, lime, and onions provide flavor, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s a juicy flavor boost in each bite!
Credit: Pico de gallo. Pixabay. 04/30/2017.
This vibrant green salsa is rich in vitamin C and vitamin K. It packs a flavorful punch on any fish or taco.
Credit: Salsa. Pixabay. 01/09/2015.
A tomatillo broth with rich meatiness is another healthy Mexican dish, that will have you asking for seconds. When using goat (or pork) trim the visible fat and use a low sodium broth to make your soup.
Credit: Soup. Pixabay. 04/11/2018.
Another alternative taco filling, pork or beef is roasted in chilies, garlic, onion, vinegar, and plenty of herbs and spices. Though packed with flavor, making it at home means it is not packed with sodium.
Credit: Carne. Pixabay. 03/27/2018.
What’s a list without guacamole? This creamy fruit (yes, a fruit!) is a great option when topping a baked chip or taco. Just be mindful – 1/3 of an avocado is the recommended portion.
Credit: Guacamole. Pixabay. 07/08/2014.
Guisada al pollo
Chipotles in adobo are responsible for the flavor punch in this dish. Along with flavor from protein, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, and bell peppers it’s super nutritious without being super salty.
Credit: Chicken stew. Pixabay. 07/10/2012.
Fish is almost always a healthy choice and this is no exception. “Cooked” in citrus fruits and juice, this seafood dish is cured without adding the fat found in fried fish.
Credit: Ceviche. Pixabay. 12/31/2014.
Homemade agua fresca is going to be a healthier version than store-bought, most of the time. You can add fresh or frozen fruit to your water to add subtle flavor. Try using less sugar or simple syrup. You can also use agave, Splenda, or another calorie free sweetener to cut down on the amount of added sugars you consume from drinks.
Credit: Agua Fresca. Pixabay. 11/09/2018.
These pocket pies are filled with deliciousness, and when that crust breaks open to reveal a savory sauce or sweet fruit filling, it’s like heaven in your mouth! Baking your empanadas, instead of frying them, will make them a bit more heavenly with a lot less added fat.
Credit: Empanadas. Pixabay. 6/22/2014.
Sopa de poro y papa
This potato leek soup is another delicious dish. When adding the cream or sour cream, try a low fat version or try using plain Greek yogurt. By using plain yogurt, you‘ll be adding protein, calcium, probiotics, and cutting way back on saturated fat!
Credit: Potatoes. Pixabay. 05/26/2018.
Guiso de flor calabaza
This quick stew uses fresh squash blossoms from a summer squash plant. It’s easy to prepare and quick to devour. Packed with cancer fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber this stew is bright, beautiful, and as healthy as it comes.
Credit: Zucchini blossom. Pixabay. 07/25/2014.
A sweet treat! Traditionally fried then rolled in cinnamon and sugar, this tasty treat has soared in popularity – and for good reason, it’s delicious! It’s also loaded with added sugars and added fat. To make this treat a bit healthier, try piping your dough on a cookie sheet and baking it, to reduce the added fat.
Credit: Churros. Pixabay. 02/22/2015.
Salsas are always a healthy topping for any dish or a great dip choice for baked chips. Salsas usually contain fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, tomatillos, mangoes, and even grapes! Some may even occasionally contain avocado, a source of healthy fats!