Mexican food has an unfairly bad reputation for being too high in fat and calories. I admit there are several Mexican dishes that meet this description, but there are also many ways to have healthy Mexican food. This time, I’m going to share some tips and recipes that prove that you can have your Mexican pie and eat it too!
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Recently, I realized that although I workout every day, my eating habits were getting the best of me. So I decided to go on a self-imposed 4-week healthy eating challenge.
This healthy eating plan only required me to stay away from junk food, which is easy, but I also had to tweak my daily menu to keep it as healthy as possible.
The problem is I live in Mexico, which means I’m always surrounded by delicious food, such as tacos, tamales, sopes, gorditas, picaditas, enfrijoladas, enmoladas, chiles rellenos, carnitas, barbacoa, chicharron, and the like.
Unfortunately, many of those yummy dishes are fatty, deep-fried, salty, and probably not supportive of my healthy eating goals. Ugh.
But fear not! I’ve found some very useful tips and recipes that will keep waistlines in check and neither you nor I will have to miss out on any delicious Mexican treats.
How To Make Healthy Mexican Food You Will Love
1. Choose corn tortillas instead of flour
I’ve received several comments from people that prefer flour to corn tortillas. I know flour tortillas might taste good to you, but the truth is they’re not as healthy as corn.
And please don’t get me started on taco shells!
Corn tortillas are gluten-free and lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium, so they’re definitely healthier than flour. And taco shells.
You should know the only way to have a proper taco is in a corn tortilla, not in a taco shell or flour tortillas. If you want healthy and real Mexican food, corn is the only way to go!
Try this 3-Ingredient Mexican Corn Tortillas by Isabel Orozco at Isabel Eats.
Try this classic Corn Tortillas recipe by Mely Martinez at Mexico In My Kitchen.
2. Don’t top everything with cheese or cream
I’ve noticed that for some reason, there’s a common belief that all Mexican dishes should be topped with grated cheese or cream.
People, in case you didn’t know, most dishes in Mexico are topped with neither cheese nor cream. I think restaurants started doing that to appeal to foreign tastes.
Just so you know, simply throwing dairy on top of a dish does not make it Mexican. But it does make it less healthy.
Of course, there are certain Mexican dishes that call for a little cream on top, or perhaps for some crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco. Quesadillas also have cheese in them, but it doesn’t have to be the main ingredient.
As far as I’m concerned, salsa is the only proper way to top a Mexican dish. But if you’re not into spicy food, there are other authentic and healthy Mexican toppings you can try. Here are just a few of them:
- Avocado (diced or sliced)
- Pico de gallo
- Crumbled white feta cheese
- Chopped onion and cilantro
- Lime juice
Those are all much healthier options that heavy cream or cheese.
Try these Marinated Flank Steak Tacos with Pico de Gallo by Isabel Orozco at Isabel Eats.
Try these surprising Hibiscus Tacos with Salsa and Feta Cheese by Karla at Mexican Food Memories.
3. Eat beans
The three basic ingredients of old-fashioned Mexican cooking are corn, chilies, and beans. So if you want an authentic and healthy Mexican food experience, you need to include beans.
Beans can be thrown in soups and salads, or they can be served on the side with stews, tacos, tamales, or any other Mexican dish.
Beans are also packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so they’re generally considered a superfood. Dry beans are especially nutritious, but canned beans will also do.
A plate of cooked beans, with tortillas and salsa on the side, is an authentic Mexican delicacy!
Try this classic Frijoles de la Olla bean recipe by Mely Martinez at Mexico In My Kitchen.
Try this very healthy Cooked Pinto Beans recipe by Leslie Limon at La Cocina de Leslie.
4. Include veggies
Mexico has a wide variety of native vegetables, such as nopal cactus, chayote, jicama, squash, tomatillos, and so on. I know most Mexican veggies are only available in Mexico, but it’s a fact that traditional Mexican dishes always include at least one or two of those veggies.
Simply remember that you can’t have Mexican food without vegetables. Veggies are always present in soups, stews, and even taco mixes. Mushrooms and squash blossoms are prized as quesadilla fillings, and sweet potatoes are made into dessert. Veggies are everywhere in Mexican food!
If you want to have a real Mexican dinner, make sure you include at least two kinds of vegetables. And that’s a very healthy tip!
Try this Cuernavaca-Style Cucumber Salad by Douglas Cullen at Mexican Food Journal.
Try this Easy Steamed Squash Recipe by Mely Martínez at Mexico In My Kitchen.
5. Try baked instead of fried
A lot of Mexican dishes call for frying something- tortillas, masa, churros, you name it. However, as much as I love Mexican food, I know frying is not the healthiest cooking method.
Whenever possible, try to substitute frying with baking. For example, you can make your own baked tortilla chips instead of buying a greasy bag of them. Also, when ordering at a Mexican restaurant, ask about dishes that are not fried but baked.
Try this delicious Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Granola recipe by Isabel Orozco at Isabel Eats.
Healthy Mexican Recipes You Will Love
As a special treat, I have asked my favorite Mexican food bloggers to share a few more healthy recipes with you, my readers. Take your pick and enjoy!
- Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema
- Easy Mexican Beer Skewers
- Vegan Green Pozole
- Vegan Chiles En Nogada
- Vegan Spicy Black Bean Burrito Bowl
- 25 Healthy Mexican Recipes