Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Healthify" and Stretch Your Mexican Meals!

Almost everyone I know LOVES Mexican food.  I know I do!  I get cravings for it at least three times per month.  It was one of the first types of food that I tried to "healthify" over a year ago to trim my waistline.  I'm going to share with you what I do to make it an improved meal.  Sure it's a little "sneaky" but who cares?  Sometimes what others don't know can't hurt them!  :-)

Check out the below photo.  See how it all looks the same color.  You'd never know that I have broccoli and avocados in there....

How to Healthify your Mexican Dinners:

1.  Go With Ground Turkey - The first thing I did over a year ago was switch from ground beef to ground turkey.  It's way less in fat and much better for your heart.  I know die-hard meat lovers want to wiggle their noses in disgust at this poultry substitute; however if you season it well, you won't miss the red meat.  Trust me.  Just try it.

2.  Add in broccoli to your meat - Place some steamed, finely chopped broccoli to your meat.  I use my food processor to chop it into very fine pieces.  It looks like a garnish or seasoning, not like broccoli at all!   You can add 1 cup to 1 pound of meat.  Or if your family is smaller, use 1/2 cup of broccoli to 1/2 pound of meat.  You still season it like you normally would with taco seasoning.  The broccoli soaks up the flavoring!   Of if you're dead set against using broccoli, then try cauliflower which will blend right in.  Or you can use spinach or carrots too.  Any type of healthy veggie that is finely chopped will add fiber and make your meal more filling!

3. Use less taco seasoning - If you use a short cut (cheater's method) like I do while making tacos or burritos, like store-bought taco seasoning packets, try using less of it.  Most of the time using the whole envelope makes it too salty.  Instead, reserve about 1-2 tablespoons of seasoning for your salsa or guacamole dips.  That is yet another way to stretch your dollar and your food!   (If you make your own taco sauce, then good for you!   You can probably skip this tip.) 

4. Place avocados in your salsa or taco dip - Avocados have many health benefits, including studies shown that they lower cholesterol and may reduce risks of certain types of cancer.  So enjoy them and put them in with your Mexican recipes.  If your family doesn't like green stuff, then just add a bit more tomatoes and seasoning to them to change their color a bit.  Check out my easy guacamole recipe and my tips for pureeing and freezing avocados so you can enjoy them all year long! 

5. Use reduced fat cheeses -  I know, I know.  Cheese is just so dang good as it is.  But if you're trying to slim down or stay trim, then I'd recommend using the reduced fat cheeses in your recipes 3/4 of the time and then indulge the other 1/4 of the time.  I began buying the 2% shredded packages by Kraft and I think they taste just great! 

6. Use whole wheat/ whole grain flour tortillas - Skip the crunchy corn tortilla and opt for the whole wheat/ whole grain tortilla instead.  You'll save yourself calories and heartburn.  The kind I buy are only 100 calories each and they're huge!  They also can be baked with a bit of olive oil and turned into baked tortilla chips that you can use for dipping that salsa or guacamole.  Mmmm, mmm, good stuff!

Well those are just a few ways that I've made my Mexican recipes new and improved.  When adding a vegetable, I've made them more filling and more nutritious.  By stretching the seasoning I use, I save money and use it toward the appetizer and the main meal.  Through my tips on freezing avocados all year round, I can enjoy the health benefits of them yearly too.   Reduced fat cheese and whole grain tortillas are better for your heart and your waistline.  These are so simple to incorporate into your food routine.  Try them, you'll be glad you did!

Have you taken steps to make your meals more healthy?  I'd love to hear any tips you have or ways that you enhance those traditional fattening recipes!

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