By Christian Torres, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Torrance
Memorial Medical Center
Common to all cultures, food means more than just nourishment. In Mexico,
food represents culture, family, and history. Mexican cuisine stems from
the three main cultures: Mayan, Aztec and Spain, with Spain having the
most influence in today’s cuisine.
A cornerstone for the Mayans was avocados, cacao and maize (corn), giving
rise to corn tortillas and chocolate, which date back almost 7,000 years!
Staple ingredients in the Aztec’s meals included peppers, squash,
tomatoes, turkey and duck. Lastly, the Spanish introduced a wide array
of foods from dairy products and spices to new live stock.
Authentic Mexican food has changed dramatically, and modern-day Mexican
food often has increased calories, reduced essential nutrients, and frankly,
is not as tasty. Traditional Mexican dishes are made almost exclusively
with whole foods and minimal processing. When foods are minimally processed,
we take full advantage of the benefits they have to offer.
Traditional foods are jam-packed with nutrients including fiber, protein,
antioxidants and other essential nutrients. For example,
frijoles (beans) and
lentejas (lentils) pack enough protein to make perfect meatless alternatives and
provide high amounts of fiber which support digestion and reduce cholesterol.
Spicy peppers like jalapenos and serranos contain capsaicin, a compound
shown to help lower blood pressure and improve congestion. Common herbs
like cilantro and oregano contain high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins
that help boost our immune system.
The next time you have an appetite for Mexican food, try returning to the
roots of Mexican cuisine. Include whole foods that have not been heavily
processed and enjoy not only the rich flavors but also the nutritional
benefits Mexican food has to offer!
Fajitas de Pollo (Chicken Fajitas)
This popular Tex-Mex dish contains high amounts of protein, fiber and vitamins.
Serve with corn tortillas and boiled pinto beans, perfect for any occasion!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
- 1/2 medium green pepper, julienned
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
Garnish: Cilantro, Avocado
- In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice and seasonings;
add the chicken. Turn to coat; cover. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
- In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, sauté peppers and onions
in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm.
- Drain chicken, discarding marinade. In the same skillet, cook chicken over
medium-high heat until no longer pink, 5-6 minutes. Return pepper mixture
to pan; heat through.
- Spoon filling down the center of tortillas; fold in half. Serve with desired toppings.
Serving: 1 serving without beans and tortillas (total 4 servings) 300 calories,
30g carbohydrate, 28g protein
Recipe Courtesy of Clinical Dietitian, Christian Torres, RDN
If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to
help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the
Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our
Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the
Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707. https://www.torrancememorial.org/Nutrition