Pull out your sombreros, maracas, and get ready to listen to some Mexican folk music as you head out to your local restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The day, May 5th, is often thought of as Mexico’s Independence Day, but it is actually a holiday called El Dia de la Batalla De Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla). Although the day is celebrated in the United States as a day of celebration of Mexican heritage and culture, it is actually celebrating the day when the Mexican army beat the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican army was largely outnumbered by the French (4,500 vs. 6,040); yet, in the end, Mexico only ended up with 83 casualties, while France had 462 casualties. “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath,” according to Time magazine.
The holiday became popular during the 1960’s and 70’s by Chicano activists who identified with Mexican soldier triumphs over the French. It is now celebrated on a larger scale in the U.S than it is in Mexico, mainly with festivals, parades, fabulous food and lots of tequila.
Celebrating on a Healthy Note
Mexican cuisine, while amazingly tasty, has been known to be high in calories and fat. Thankfully, you can make a change this year and create your own recipes of well-known Mexican dishes and drinks (margarita, anyone?) without feeling like you’re breaking your diet plan.
Party On With Healthier Drinks
If you go into a restaurant and order your normal, 10 oz. margarita, it contains 550 calories, which is equal to a McDonald’s Big Mac! Don’t lose hope though—we can help. Thankfully, we’ve got a great low-calorie Frosty Blended Margarita recipe for you that packs in 179 calories, so you don’t have to feel guilty if you indulge after having just one. We also have a great recipe for a tequila sunrise, if you aren’t a margarita fan.
Ingredients: Limes, salt, Mexican limons, tequila, Cointreau, superfine sugar, ice
1. Run a lime wedge around the edge of each glass. Then dip rims into a saucer filled with the salt.
2. Put the remaining ingredients into a blender; blend until the ice cubes are chipped and the mixture becomes frothy. Pour the mixture into the prepared glasses; garnish with lime.
Ingredients: 1-1/2 oz. Tequila Blanco, 3 oz. sugar-free orange juice, ½ oz. sugar-free Pomegranate Blueberry juice, orange slice garnish (optional)
Directions: Place tequila and orange juice in highball glass over fresh ice. Stir. Pour pomegranate blueberry over top as floated sunrise. Garnish with orange slice if desired.
We all know that once we start imbibing we love to have something to munch on, especially when it comes to Mexican cuisine! But most Mexican dishes are loaded with cheese, rice, guacamole, fat and calories. Wouldn’t you like to swap out some calories this year while you celebrate with your friends and not have to worry about gaining another pesky five pounds over the weekend?
Luckily, our friends over at Health have come up with some great recipes that are not only healthy for you, but they actually TASTE good. That’s right—you heard me correctly. They don’t taste like cardboard; these are dishes your kids would devour if you’d let them.
Calories: 49 per serving (serving size about 2 tablespoons)
Ingredients: 1 cup of frozen peas, 1 ripe peeled and seeded avocado, 1 juiced lemon, 1 chopped and seeded tomato, ½ cup finely chopped red or sweet onion, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper, 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Slightly thaw frozen peas at room temperature.
2. Place peas in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Set aside.
3. Mash avocado with a fork or potato masher in a medium bowl. Add in the lemon juice, tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add prepared peas and mix well.
4. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with an array of fresh vegetables, such as bell pepper strips, jicama, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes.
Variation: You could also use steamed broccoli florets, asparagus tips or edamame in place of peas.
Ingredients: 1 lb. dried black beans, 2 slices of chopped bacon, 1 cup of chopped onion, ¾ cup of chopped carrot, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper, 4 (14-oz.) cans of fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1 (28-oz.) undrained can crushed tomatoes, 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Directions: Sort and wash beans; put in a large bowl. Cover with water to two inches above the beans and cover. Let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans. Cook bacon in a large oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from pan, keeping bacon drippings in pan. Add onion, carrot and celery to drippings in pan; sauté for 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and jalapeno; sauté for two minutes. Add beans, bacon, broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the beans are tender. Put 4 cups of soup in a blender; let stand 5 minutes. Blend until smooth; return pureed soup to pan. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve with low-fat sour cream.
Ingredients: Non-fat cooking spray, ¾ lb. mahi-mahi or other firm white fish fillet, 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning, 2 cups pre-sliced green cabbage (about 6 oz.), 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 8 (6-inch) corn or low-carb tortillas, 2 ½ tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream (optional), ½ pitted and diced avocado, Bottled salsa, lime wedges
1. Lightly spray grill rack with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat grill.
2. Sprinkle both sides of fish with fajita seasoning, pressing into flesh. Grill fish 3-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Flake into pieces with a fork; keep warm.
3. Mix together cabbage, lime juice, salt and cilantro in a small bowl.
4. Wrap tortillas in paper towels and microwave one minute on HIGH or until they’re warm.
5. Place taco ingredients on the table for assembly. Spread each tortilla with one teaspoon of sour cream, if desired, and top with fish, cabbage mixture and avocado. Serve with salsa and lime wedges on the side.
Want more healthy recipes to quench your love for Mexican cuisine? Just check out Health.com for a list of healthy Cinco de Mayo drink and food recipes, so that this year, in 2012, you’ll be able to celebrate without a guilty conscious!