I am LOCO about (healthy) Mexican food!!

Last night I made Dave and I some HEALTHY chicken fajitas (quick and easy since I spent all weekend at yoga teacher training) and they turned out quite well (there weren’t many leftovers!)  While they weren’t as homemade or healthy as I would’ve liked (I grabbed a “Smart Fiesta” kit from Loblaws that included whole wheat tortillas, low sodium salsa and mix for the meat) they were delicious and quite satisfying and better than what most people were eating at their Super Bowl parties…just saying!

I don’t know what it is about Mexican food but I LOVE IT ALL! Anyone else agree??!!  The only thing I don’t like is the damage it can do on my digestive system if I am not careful.  I am currently trying to find ways of making my own ‘clean’ Mexican dishes.  Coincidentally this month’s issue of Clean Eating magazine included an article that provided a few simple clean eating tactics to transform some popular “South of the Border” favourites into the healthy, tasty dinners they were meant to be.  So the next time you (and I!) want to ‘indulge’ in  some yummy Mexican food with an extra handful of cheese, generous dollops of sour cream, and who can resist the oh-so-salty taco seasoning, maybe you will think twice and try these healthy alternatives instead…

Enchiladas: Add heart-healthy fiber by using whole-wheat tortillas.  Cut back on fat by reducing the cheese by one-third and replacing one-third of the meat with hearty-nutrient rich vegetables such as roasted squash, meaty portobella mushrooms or cooked greens.

Seven-Layer Dip: To slash sodium, use home-cooked, mashed pinto beans rather than the canned variety, and purchase fresh pico de gallo instead of jarred salsa.  Swap full-fat cheese and sour cream for low-fat versions and cut the amount of guacamole by one-third to shrink the fat count.

Bean & Cheese Burrito: Ditch empty carbs for healthy ones by opting for whole-wheat wraps and brown rice over their white counterparts.  Go for low-fat cheese, and to increase the protein and satisfaction level, swap out half the beans for an equal amount of chopped chicken breast.

Mexican Rice: Axe refined white rice for long-grain brown rice to get a boost of energizing carbs.  Reduce the amount of fat by sauteing uncooked grains in safflower oil instead of shortening or butter (replace shortening with half as much oil).  Replace salty salsa or canned tomato sauce with unsalted tomato paste-simply cut the amount required in half.

Sounds easy enough!  If this means I can still enjoy my favourite dishes with less guilt and calories than I am all for it!

And the featured recipe was a Gluten-Free “Taco” Bowl which cuts 387 cals, 42g of fat, 1,358mg of sodium, 55mg of cholesterol (compared with traditional taco salad).  It looks delicious!!!  I am definitely going to make this on the weekend for Dave, Melissa (my awesome roommate!) and I….

Serves 6

Total time: 1 hr, 10 mins (40 mins hands on time)

Ingredients

1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red or yellow onion

1 cup brown rice

3 tbsp low sodium tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp chile powder, divided

1 tsp ground cumin, divided

1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided

1/2 tsp sea salt, divided

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

Olive oil cooking spray

1 lb 95% lean ground beef

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 head romaine of green leaf lettuce, chopped and thick stems removed (3 cups)

3 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice 1 lime

3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese

1/2 avocado, cubed

1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium-low.  Add onion and rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is glossy and slightly opaque, about 2 minutes.  Add tomato paste and stir to coat.  Add 1/2 tsp of chile powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt and oregano and stir well.  Stir in 2 cups water and increase heat to high.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender, about 55 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in beans.  Cover and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet on medium high and mist with cooking spray.  Add beef and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Add remaining 1 tsp chile powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Stir in paprika, onion powder, black pepper and 1/2 cup water.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until majority of liquid is evaporated, 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine lettuce, tomato, jalapeno and cilantro.  Drizzle with lime juice and toss to coat.  Layer each serving bowl** with rice mixture, beef and lettuce mixture, dividing evenly.  Top each with cheese, avocado and lime wedges.  Serve with yogurt.

Calories: 374, Total Fat: 9g, Carbs: 44g, Fiber: 7g, Sugars: 5g, Protein: 29g, Sodium: 346g, Cholesterol: 50mg

**1/2 cup rice mixture, 2 oz beef, 1/2 cup lettuce mixture, 2 tbsp cheese, 1 tbsp avocado, 1 tbsp yogurt

TIP: Have these taco bowls on the table in 30 minutes flat by preparing step 1 up to two days ahead.  Simply cover, refrigerate and reheat before serving!

Looks like a lot of work but totally worth it in the end!  I will let you know how they turn out or how about YOU let me know how they taste!

Feliz Monday!

Les 🙂

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