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Healthy Mexican Food

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with these lightened favorites

Fresh Shrimp Tacos

Fresh shrimp tacos — Heather Winters/Getty Images

Cinco de Mayo — the 5th of May — is a holiday that celebrates the Mexican army's surprising victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on that day in 1862. Interestingly, it is celebrated more in the United States by people of Mexican heritage than it is in Mexico itself (with the exception of the Mexican state of Puebla), as an observance of Mexican heritage and pride.

See also: South-of-the-Border Cocktails.

Like other holidays, food figures prominently in the festivities. It does not, however, have to be fattening food. Mexican food found in American restaurants often is prepared with too much fat and salt, but when you are making your own you have much more control over what goes into the dishes. Here are some traditional Cinco de Mayo recipes that emphasize flavor, but are lightened up so you can enjoy yourself without the guilt.

Salsa de Chile de Arbol

This robust salsa relies on pan roasting the tomatoes and peppers for its intense flavor; no added oil whatsoever. Serve with baked tortilla chips.


The avocado is an extraordinarily healthful item to include in your diet; it's actually a fruit, not a vegetable. Avocados have fat in them, but it's monosaturated, the "good" kind that has been found to lower cholesterol. They also provide fiber, various vitamins and folic acid, and help boost the body's ability to absorb other nutrients in foods that are eaten along with the avocados.

Soft Tacos of Grilled Orange-Garlic Shrimp

These lighter shrimp tacos rely on grilled shrimp infused with a citrusy marinade instead of meat or fried fish.

Next: More light Mexican recipes. >>

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