The best way to shop in Mexico is not at a chain store but in one of the many colorful markets. Take a look at what I found!

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Mexican Market Foods

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Every weekend, I grab my bags and head off to the nearest market, or “mercado”, or to the nearest street market, or “tianguis”.

I head off to buy all my produce for the week at much lower price than in a regular chain store. There’s a lot more variety, and it’s fresher too.

Although you can find anything at all in a Mexican street market (produce, meat, kitchenware, cleaning items, dishes, clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry, accesories, furniture, house plants, and basically everything), I only go there to buy fruits and veggies.

Why? Well, I love to shop just as much as the next person, but there are no shopping carts at the “tianguis” and I sincerely doubt I could carry everything home with me!

In any case, there are lots of interesting fruits and vegetables you can buy in a Mexican street market. Take a look!

Wonderful Mexican Market Foods That You Need To Try

Mexican Market Foods Purslane Corn Smut
Purslane (top) and corn smut (bottom)

Purslane or “verdolagas”

These green veggies are super healthy because they contain a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids, essential minerals, and antioxidants.

In Mexico, we like to cook them in green salsa. Pork in green salsa with purslane is classic Mexican dish!

Corn smut or “huitlacoche”

Huitlacoche is a kind of fungus that infects corn, but it’s also a Mexican delicacy. One of the most delicious foods you can ever try is quesadillas filled with huitlacoche.

Huitlacoche is healthy because, like purslane, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. And it’s also full of fiber, so it helps control glucose and regulate digestion.

Mexican Market Foods Mamey Chilacayote
Chilacayotes (top) and mamey fruit (bottom)

Fig leaf gourd (black seed squash) or “chilacayote”

This little veggie is round, green, and delicious. In Mexico, we use it to make soups, stews, and salads. It tastes a lot like zucchini. In fact, it’s related to zucchini, so it’s really not that strange.

The chilacayote is rich in antioxidants and fiber, and helps control blood glucose levels, so it’s used in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

By the way, the round veggies to the right are round zucchinis. They taste exactly like regular zucchini, except they’re round. But the fun part with chilacayotes and round zucchinis is you can stuff them, like stuffed peppers. Delicious!

Mamey fruit

This is an amazing food! The mamey fruit is absolutely rich and creamy, so it’s best for making smoothies, milkshakes, ice cream, and mousse. It tastes yummy and sweet, and has a lovely pink color. What’s not to like?

The mamey fruit is high in vitamin A and C, and antioxidants. Plus, the oil from the seed makes hair and eyelashes grow longer.

When you come to Mexico, make sure you have some mamey fruit. It’s a must-try!

Mexican Market Foods
Mangoes stacked high.

Mango

I’m sure you’ve heard of mangoes and most likely you have also tried this fruit. Mangoes are one of my favorite fruits ever because it’s very sweet and delicious, but it’s also full of fiber and vitamin A and C.

Yes, I know mangoes are high in sugar, so it’s best no to go overboard with them.

In Mexico, we love to have mangoes with chili powder, and we also use them to make desserts like ice cream and mousse. I love mangoes!

The mangoes you see in front are Haden or “petacon” mangoes. These have a very large seed and are best used to make juice or smoothies.

The ones stacked in the back are Manila mangoes. In my opinion, these are the best kind, and you can used them to make salads, desserts, or just eat them plain.

Plantains

If you’ve never tried these, you are missing out on something great. Plantains are different from regular bananas because they are starchy, the skin is thicker, and they are best used for cooking instead of eaten raw.

And you can make lots of things with plantains! You can slice them, fry them, and serve them with rice. You can mash them and make croquettes or pancakes. You can add them to soups or stews, or drizzle them with syrup for dessert. Yum!

Plantains are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, so they’re healthy and delicious.

Mexican Market Foods
Plantains and papayas

Papaya

This is definitely at the top of my favorite fruits list. Papaya is a staple in most Mexican breakfasts. It can be served diced or juiced, and it’s also a great addition to fruit salads.

Papaya is full of fiber and vitamin A, but the best part of it is that papaya contains an enzyme that stimulates the digestive system. So if you have stomach trouble, an ulcer, or gastritis, papaya is the way to go.

Papalo

This is an herb native to Mexico. It has dark green leaves shaped like a butterfly wing and tastes like a cross between arugula and cilantro.

Papalo is used to spice and garnish soups, stews, tacos, salsas, and guacamole. It’s best eaten raw, but it definitely has a strong taste. 

Papalo is good for conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps with digestion and stimulates the immune system.

I don’t really like the taste of papalo, but they say three leaves of papalo a day will keep the doctor away, so maybe I should give it chance. What do you think?

Mexican Market Foods

Nopal Cactus

I can’t get enough of this veggie! 

The nopal cactus is a superfood. It’s low in calories but contains a huge amount of dietary fiber, which make it one of the best foods to have around if weight loss is your goal. The fiber will keep you full for a long time so it will keep hunger pangs at bay, and will also help you reduce bloating.

Also, the nopal cactus helps maintain your blood glucose level stable. This makes it an excellent nutritional aid in the treatment of diabetes. Apparently, nopal cactus keeps bad cholesterol levels low as well.

You can cook the nopal cactus and use it to make a soup, a stew, or a salad. Or you can make a healthy nopal cactus green smoothie.

At the market, I can buy the cactus and the vendor will scrape off the thorns, so there’s no danger involved. In fact, you can also buy it already cleaned and diced, and ready for cooking. There’s no reason to skip out on the cactus!

Squash blossoms

These beautiful orange blossoms make the best quesadilla filling. Or you can also use them to brighten up soups and stews.

Squash blossoms are not just pretty, they’re also nutritious. They contain several essential vitamins and mineral, plus they’re a good source of fiber.

You will need to remove the stems and pistils before cooking to avoid any bitterness. After that, you can saute the blossoms with onion, garlic, and epazote. The best quesadilla filling ever!

Mexican Market Foods Nopal Squash Blossoms
Squash blossoms and nopal cactus pads.

Street markets are where many Mexican families buy their produce. You can find the largest variety of fresh foods at the lowest price. Plus, if you buy at street markets you’ll be supporting local businesses and farms. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Would like to try any of these foods? What’s your favorite kind of fresh produce?

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