Summary: I find Mexican food comforting and fun. For me it makes the perfect date night or family night meal. More precisely I love fajitas…The idea of having lots of fixings and creating a wrap/burrito tailored to your liking is awesome! Plus it’s a great meal you can share with friends and everybody can add what they like…Again you don’t have to wait for Cinco de Mayo for these types of “feasts” as my husband says. Moreover, when cooked the right way it can be healthy. I make this type of meal at least once every 2 weeks. So you’ll see me creating lots of Mexican inspired lunches & dinners because they are quick, make great leftovers, and can be easily vegan or vegetarian. Plus you don’t have to be a goddess in the kitchen to get the flavors right. Also, having a can of vegan meat & refried beans in your pantry can be a lifesaver. I love to keep these 2 products in my pantry because when I’m short on time and can’t make it to the supermarket..this will do. I posted a picture of the 2 products I buy below. Additionally most people usually have onions, garlic, and peppers lying around in their fridge – it also helps that they have a long fridge life (mine lasts for weeks). So how can Mexican be healthy?
Here are 10 tips on making Mexican food HEALTHIER:
1- Choose vegan ground beef: this is sometimes as much as 75% lower in fat content than animal derived ground beef
2- Choose 2% or skim cheese: there a lot of great Mexican cheese mixes out there that are not loaded with preservatives.
3- Choose whole grain or multi-grain tortillas: I always try to keep mine about 100 cal. per tortilla. Read the nutrition facts next time you buy some.
4- Limit yourself to only 1 tortilla. I don’t know why but when I eat out I tend to eat more than 1 tortilla…however when I am at home I always restrict and portion control everything I eat. I know this sounds harsh but this will “allow” you to eat those extra calories when you decide or need to eat out.
5- Don’t add any extra fat! Most restaurants load mexican food with pig fat or other oils which are the chemical catalysts for that attractive sizzling sound that fajitas make. In my Mexican recipes I limit the amount of fat to “healthy” fat – and by that I mean some olive oil (about 1.5 tsp) for cooking the vegetables.
6- Be gentle or even skip the cheese….I know melted cheese is delectable but if you add other flavorful vegetables you won’t need the cheese. In my recipe below I make a veggie salsa plus serve my vegan meat with slices of avocado….they all add tons of flavor.
7- Don’t skip the seasoning. Seasoning is key for adding flavor without fat or heavy calories.
8- Use fresh ingredients to lighten up the flavors: lemon/lime juice, tomato & parsley are my favorite additions.
9- Don’t eat tostitos or corn chips or any other chips straight out of the bag! This is a huge mistake! Always serve EVERYTHING that you are going to eat on your plate. That way your plate will look FULL and you’ll be less likely to overeat. When eating out of a bag you lose control over portions and are more likely to overeat.
10- Add jalapeños or hot sauce – this have been proven to speed up metabolism
Yields: 4 servings
VEGAN FAJITA MEAT:
1/3 of a red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 a can of Worthington’s Vege-Burger low fat vegan meat or aprox. 9oz of vegan ground beef
1/3 of a yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1/8 tsp of ground coriander
1/8 tsp of ground turmeric
1/8 tsp of ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, “recao” or coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 can Rosarita vegetarian refried beans
Red veggie Mexican Salsa recipe
1 small avocado, sliced or chopped
4 multi-grain or whole wheat tortillas
Optional: Vegan cheese or 2% Mexican cheese mix
1. VEGAN FAJITA MEAT:
To speed up the process feel free to use a food processor for all the chopping! Chop the peppers, onions, and parsley.
2. Heat some olive oil on a large non-stick pan. Add ALL of the chopped vegetables along with the vegan meat. Sprinkle with the seasonings and mix. Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are cooked and the onion pieces look transparent. Proceed by incorporating the parsley and cooking for an additional minute. Set aside.
3. FAJITA FIXINGS:
Heat the refried beans (optional – sprinkle some mexican cheese or preference on top before reheating) – takes 40 secs to 1 min on the microwave.
Heat the multi-grain tortillas (either on a skillet, grill or microwave)
Make my red veggie salsa recipe and serve on a bowl.
Slice or chop the avocado and set aside on a small plate.
4. ASSEMBLY: be creative. I love to layer meat on the bottom, followed by avocado pieces & the tomato salsa. I love to spread the refried beans either on the bottom or over half of the tortilla so it serves as a “glue” to all the other ingredients.
5. WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS:
I made this recipe for 4 mainly because my husband the super athlete eats for 2 people…so I always end up cooking for “3” although we are only 2 people. I usually get creative with the leftovers and pack them for lunch.
Combine the remaining refried beans (usually about 1/2 a can remains uneaten) & remaining fajita meat. As you will see the refried beans will create the perfect meat “paste” which makes awesome lunch burritos for the next day. If desired sprinkle with some mexican cheese and just reheat for 1min on the microwave the next day! Serve with a side of leftover salsa + avocado chunks & corn chips.