If you live in the US, you may have celebrated the fabulously colourful holiday of Cinco de Mayo at some point. Cinco de Mayo is commonly thought to mark Mexico’s independence, but it actually marks the country’s victory over France during the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
Here in Canada, Cinco de Mayo isn’t a holiday that most of us really celebrate so I’m often not paying attention until after it’s over. This year I’m on a mission to change that because I love Mexican food and more than anything, I love to throw a party (even a virtual one!)!
In that spirit, here are my four simple food swaps and recommendations for a healthier Cinco de Mayo (or any other Mexican feast).
1. Eat More Beans
Beans are full of protein and complex carbs to keep our bellies full and give us slow-releasing energy that will last hours. Black beans, pinto beans, red beans, kidney beans… I love them all. They are delish in soups, dips/spreads, energy balls and even brownies! Yes, black bean brownies are fudgy and rich in a way that you’d never expect and they can taste sinful.
They are affordable and even cheaper if you cook from dry beans from scratch.
My pressure cooker cooks them in only 45 minutes to an hour, start to finish. No soaking needed either!
2. Swap Refined-Flour Tortillas for Healthier Options
My next tip is to swap the refined-flour tortillas for some healthier dippers. Paleo-style tortillas made from high-fibre coconut flour or even fresh cut veggies to dip into your homemade guac. There are even tortillas made from my old favourite: Try Something New teff flour.
You might also have time to make your own “crackers” from the leftover pulp from juicing fruits and veggies. I like to mix this with some spices, salt and flax seeds, which acts as a binder. Bake in the oven until golden and crispy.
P.S. Yes, I know these swaps aren’t very traditional… but I promise your heart (and your holistic nutritionist!) will thank you if you can cut out the refined table salt and white flour used in many standard tortilla chips.
3. Make Your Own Guacamole
Tip número tres is to make your own guac! Grocery store guacamole is often packaged at high temperatures, which can affect the integrity of the nutrients, especially unstable fats like the monounsaturated fats that make avocados so famously healthy. These often have preservatives and may be made with cheap (GMO) oils like soy, corn or canola, food starches and even food colouring!
Did you know? In 2006, Kraft was sued for making “fake guac”, or guacamole that had less than 2% avocados.
“We think customers understand that it isn’t made from avocado,” said Claire Regan, Kraft Foods’ vice president of corporate affairs.”
As I say, just eat real food… we’ll all be a lot better off.
The good news is that it isn’t hard to make your own tasty guacamole: mash up some fresh avocados, add a dash of salt, lime (my fav) or lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. Add tomatoes if you like. Super easy and all you need is a fork and a bowl (or plate).
4. Eat More Fish
My fourth and final tip to help you celebrate a healthier Cinco de Mayo or Mexican feast is to enjoy more fish.
If there’s anything I love about Mexican food, it has got to be the fish tacos (actually, it’s more of an obsession. I really, really love fish tacos!!)
Whenever I’m travelling in the Southern states, I always do my research online to find the best fish tacos in the area… and then I try not to go overboard… mostly on toppings because of course that’s my weakness!
(I can’t be the only one?)
Here’s one good reason why fish should play a bigger role in our diets: fish, especially oily, coldwater fish like sardines, herring, salmon, even anchovies, are full of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have an impressive ability to reduce overall inflammation throughout the body and have been researched for their ability to help improve a wide variety of health conditions, everything from mental illness and Alzheimer’s disease to arthritis to diabetes.
I have talked about omega 3 fatty acids before, especially here and here. The truth is, fish have even greater levels of Omega 3s compared to flax and are definitely a better digested source of these healthy fats.
So, whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo where you live—or just looking for an excuse to celebrate Taco Tuesdays like I am—I hope these simple substitutions will help make your next Mexican fiesta one to remember!
Now tell me… what’s your must-have condiment on your fish tacos? I swear this is for research purposes only!
Life is a plate… Eat up,