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Mexican Food With a Lighter Touch

10 recipes that are low fat and tasty

cinco de mayo light: pico the gallo recipe

Photo by Dwight Eschliman/Getty Images

Eating low-fat, tasty meals can be an everyday occurrence.

While many Mexican and Tex-Mex meals eaten in American restaurants consist of deep-fried flour tortillas stuffed with meat and cheese; and large portions with too much salt and fat; we have 10 low-fat recipes for the Mexican food lovers among your family and friends.

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Traditional Mexican food is much healthier, centered on nutritionally savvy ingredients like beans, tomatoes, onions and avocados. The dishes below strike a compromise between familiar Mexican-style classics and health-conscious nutritional needs. Condiments like pico de gallo are extremely low-cal and flavorful, so swap them out for sour cream and guacamole if you’re counting calories! Beans are rich in antioxidants and fiber, keeping you feeling full longer.

Enjoy your healthy fiesta.

1) Homemade corn tortillas by Joe Yonan: The tortillas served in fast food or fast casual Mexican restaurants are too often made with oil in the batter, then fried in more oil, and are large enough to make a meal on their own. These homemade corn tortillas, like the ones eaten in Mexico City, are made only of masa harina (dried corn flour), salt and water. A cast-iron tortilla press can be purchased for less than $20, and a little practice in the art of tortilla making will have you hooked on the homemade version. Per serving: 69 calories, 1 g fat.

2) Meredith Deed’s pico de gallo by Fred Thompson: This Latin American condiment, translating literally to “rooster’s beak” and also known as salsa fresca, is generally made from chopped tomato, white onion, chilis, and sometimes lime juice and cilantro. Use pico de gallo to top tacos, nachos or salads. Per serving: 18 calories, 0 g fat.

3) Drunken chicken by Maria Dolores Beatriz: Skinless chicken breasts and lean turkey ham cut calories from this dish without sacrificing flavor. Sherry, raisins and sweet spices give the chicken its signature flavor, and it’s done in under an hour. Per serving: 218 calories, 7 g fat.

4) Frijoles de olla by Diana Kennedy: This recipe for slow-cooked pinto or black beans starts with dried beans, ending in a dish with a velvety texture and well-developed flavor. With 9 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein per serving, these pack a hearty nutritional punch. Per serving: 211 calories, 2 g fat.

Next: Check out these six flavorful dishes. »

5) Spicy jicama salad with tangerines and fresh coriander by Rick Bayless: If you haven’t tried jicama yet, Cinco de Mayo is a good time to experiment. With a radish-like texture and slight sweetness, it’s Mexico’s answer to water chestnuts and goes well with a variety of fruit in this refreshing salad. Per serving: 69 calories, 0 g fat.

6) Mexican meatloaf by Terry Golson: Lean ground turkey and ground beef make for a lower-fat meatloaf with salsa, shredded zucchini and peppy seasonings. With 25 grams of protein per serving, they’ll keep you full and well-fueled for celebrations. Per serving: 181 calories, 4 g fat.

7) Tortilla toasts with salsa-marinated Mexican caviar by Jane Butel: You can make this recipe with homemade or store-bought corn tortillas, baked instead of fried for crispness. The “caviar” is made from garbanzo beans, mixed with salsa and lime juice. Per serving: 94 calories, 1 g fat.

8) Black bean – smoked chile dip by Deborah Madison: This spicy, tangy Southwestern dish serves as a dip for crudités or tortilla chips as well as a spread for quesadillas and burritos. Per serving: 37 calories, 1 g fat.

9) Basic ceviche by Roberto Santibanez: Once mastered, the technique for making ceviche can be applied to all kinds of seafood, paired with savory and sweet fruit, vegetables and mixed herbs. Ceviche “cooks” the seafood by marinating it in an acid, like lime juice, although some shellfish require grilling before being added to the ceviche. Per serving: 112 calories, 3 g fat.

10) Shrimp and jalapeno jack cheese quesadillas by David Burke: These fun appetizers are miniature indulgences, with creamy melted cheese and shrimp puree sandwiched between tortilla rounds and cooked until golden and crispy. Per serving: 49 calories, 2 g fat.

You may also like: How to make a Mango Pisco Sour cocktail.

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