Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Recipes: Healthier Mexican Food

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Mexican style recipes can be loaded with fat and sodium. Beans can be good for you, but when they are canned the sodium is high. It helps to rinse the beans before using. Flour tortillas are high in calories and sodium, but corn tortillas have no sodium and very little fat, if any. My husband used to love white corn tortillas fried crisp in oil. Now I bake them for a much healthier alternative. Salsa is the best part of Mexican cuisine. It's fat free and low in sodium if you make it yourself or watch the brands that you buy. Try using lowfat cheese with your burritos or tacos, or leave it out and use more salsa, lettuce, tomato and green onion. I have also had really good luck using the boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for taco filling. I put 3-4 pounds in the crockpot and add a packet or the equivalent of taco seasoning (low sodium). Cook on low or high until it starts to fall apart, or you can remove and cut it up once it's cooked through. IF you use ground beef, then use ground chuck or round and drain as much of the fat as possible. I even pat it with paper towel to remove more of the fat. Try the recipes below with the chicken tacos next time you get the urge for spicy food!

Baked Tortilla Chips

corn tortillas (6-inch size), cut into wedges
seasonings: chili powder, garlic powder or any Mexican spice
cooking spray

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place the cut tortillas on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Spray them lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with seasonings. Bake in a 400 F oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Every oven is different so watch them carefully. Bake them until crisp and VERY lightly browned.

Slow Cooked Spicy Black Beans


1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight
4 slices turkey bacon
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced

Drain the black beans the water ( rinse too) and place in a crock pot, Fill with new water to cover the beans. Start heating the slow cooker on high. Brown the bacon in a skillet over medium heat with the onions. Cook until the bacon is cooked and onions are softened. Stir into the beans along with the brown sugar, molasses, spices and the jalapeno. Stir to blend, then cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until beans are tender. Serve as a side dish, or as a filling for tacos with or without meat.

"Refried" Beans

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Place the dry beans in a pan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil hard for 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to stand for 45 minutes to an hour. Drain the beans, return to the pan, and add more water to cover. Boil 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the onions and garlic, then sauté till softened in a small skillet. After the 30 minutes, add to the beans with the chili powder. Cook until tender enough to smash the beans with a potato masher. They don't need to be smooth-- leave some texture. Serve as you would refried beans.

Learn to make Spotted Dog for St. Pat's Day!

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