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!
Sopa de Lentejas (Lentil Soup)
Perfect homestyle recipe for a meatless alternative during lent, or any
occasion. Packed with protein and fiber, you can never go wrong with a
nice warm bowl of lentejas.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
- 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- ⅔ cups of white onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ cup of celery
- ⅔ cups of carrots diced
- ½ lb of lentils
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 sprigs of parsley
Garnish: Limes wedges and hot sauce to serve
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic for
5 minutes over a medium heat.
- Add the celery and carrots and cook for 10 minutes at a lower temperature.
- Stir in the drained lentils, 6 cups of chicken broth, and the parsley.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
Season the soup with salt and pepper. Remember, cooking time will depend
on the lentil variation you use for this recipe.
- Serve your Lentil Soup in small bowls, add a few drops of lime juice, and enjoy!
Serving: 1 serving (total 4 servings) 245 calories, 31g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 12g fiber
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