5 Healthy Mexican Food Must-Haves

Healthy Mexican Food Must-Haves
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I love Mexican food! It has the reputation of being a calorie-heavy cuisine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to discover ways to celebrate your love of Mexican food without ruining your diet! Here are five of my absolute must-haves.

Untraditional Guacamole

This creamy dip is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (the good kind of fat). Guacamole is normally made with avocados and little else, causing the calories to rack up quickly, especially if you don't watch your portions.

I've found that you can add two secret ingredients—Greek yogurt and mashed peas—for added nutrition and a play on flavor. I also love to spice up my guacamole with fun add-ins, like corn and black beans.

Prefer to buy your guacamole? I’m a big fan of Wholly Guacamole. If you're entertaining, try out an adventurous flavor like Chipotle Lime, Margarita, or Sriracha. If you’re snacking solo, get some of the brand's portion-controlled minis. Wholly Guacamole even makes mash-ups of guacamole and salsa, which leads me to my next must-have.

Salsa

Salsa is an awesome condiment and a complete staple in my life. Low in calories and high in flavor, it's always welcome at the party! And it gives everything a bit of Mexican flair. Spoon it over chicken or try it on your salad in place of dressing. And, of course, it's excellent with tortilla chips (but not just any chips).

Baked (Not Fried) Tortilla Chips

Chips are an obvious go-to for Mexican eating, but most chips are fried and loaded with fatty calories.

Luckily, there are plenty of healthier options on shelves these days. Just look for the word “baked" on the packaging. Some of the best? The kinds by Guiltless Gourmet as well as Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops. Or DIY with this easy how-to:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut two 6-inch corn tortillas in half.

Cut each half into 3 triangles, for a total of 12 triangles. 

3. Spray a baking sheet lightly with nonstick spray. Place tortilla triangles close together on the sheet. Cover the triangles with a 1-second spray of nonstick spray. Evenly sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt.

4. Bake in the oven until crispy, about 8 minutes, carefully flipping about halfway through bake time.

Entire recipe (12 chips): 120 calories, 3g total fat (0g sat fat), 312mg sodium, 22g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugars, 1g protein

Lightened-Up Quesadillas

Quesadillas are delicious, but anything crammed with cheese is generally high in calories. That's why I like to make my own quesadillas using light cheeses, high-fiber tortillas (like the kinds by La Tortilla Factory), and other healthy ingredients. Here's how to make a gooey mushroom quesadilla with just around 200 calories:

1. Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook and stir 1 cup finely chopped portabella mushrooms until softened, about 3 minutes.

2. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl, and thoroughly mix in 2 wedges of The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Cheese, breaking them into pieces as you add them. Stir in a dash of garlic powder and a dash of black pepper.

 

3. Grab a medium-large high-fiber tortilla with 110 calories or less. Spread one half with the mushroom-cheese mixture. Fold the other half over, and press to gently seal.

4. If needed, clean skillet. Re-spray and return to medium-high heat. Cook quesadilla until crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Slice into wedges and eat up!

Entire recipe: 203 calories, 5.5g total fat (2.5g sat fat), 740mg sodium, 30.5g carbs, 7g fiber, 5g sugars, 11.5g protein 

Prefer meat in your quesadilla? Make sure it’s the right type.

Low-Calorie Margaritas

No list of Mexican must-haves would be complete without margaritas.

While the staple cocktail is generally a sugary calorie-fest, here's a recipe you'll flip for:

1. Combine the following ingredients in a shaker: 6 ounces no-calorie lemon-lime soda, 1 1/2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce lime juice, and one 2-serving packet (about 1 teaspoon) sugar-free lemonade powdered drink mix. Stir until drink mix has dissolved.

2. Fill a margarita glass with 1 cup crushed ice (about 6 cubes) and pour it in. That’s it!

Entire recipe: 115 calories, 0g total fat (0g sat fat), 55mg sodium, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, <0.5g sugars, 0g protein

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