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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
The phrase, Cinco de Mayo, for many Americans means enjoying Mexican food, and many
Mexican restaurants will tout specials for the day. But Cinco de Mayo, which means
May 5 in Spanish, is actually about more than the Mexican food loved by so many, it
commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon
III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla.
Mexican food is a part of our culture and has been labeled in some instances as unhealthy,
high in fat, and high in sodium. Those components that can increase your risk for
Although cardiovascular disease is often thought to primarily affect men and the elderly,
it is also a major killer of women and people in the prime of their life. More than
half of all cardiovascular disease deaths each year occur among women. This should
be a wakeup call for females everywhere.
What can we do to enjoy our favorite food south of the border and still be healthy?
Make our Mexican dishes healthier or make healthier choices when eating out.
Regardless of whether it is prepared at home or eating out, Mexican food has become
a staple of many Americans diets. You may order sizzling fajitas, enchiladas, chimichangas,
nachos, or even sopapillas and fried ice cream.
You can still enjoy your favorite Mexican foods by making a few modifications to reduce
the fat and make it heart healthy when you prepare it at home. Start with the oils
called for in the recipe.
If a traditional Mexican recipes call for shortening, use polyunsaturated vegetable
oils, such as safflower, corn or canola. Polyunsaturated fats are those that are usually
liquid at room temperature, and are found in plant foods such as vegetables and corn.
Monounsaturated fats are those found in canola oil and olive oil, and may actually
lower the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are those fats that are solid at room
temperature and include lard, shortening, butter and cheese and milk fat. These should
be eaten in small amounts.
When a recipe calls for sour cream as a condiment or in the recipe, a healthier, low-fat
substitution is plain Greek yogurt. Not only will you be reducing the fat content,
you will increase protein.
If chimichangas are your favorite, reduce the fat by skipping the deep frying stage,
and bake them instead. Brush lightly with oil and bake at 350 degrees until crisp
and browned. Corn tortilla chips can benefit from this too. Just cut a dozen corn
tortillas into wedges, brush lightly with oil and brown in hot oven until crisp. Corn
tortillas for tostados can be prepared the same way.
Select leaner cuts of meats to reduce fat content. Look for cuts of meat without a
lot of fat in the meat. Skirt steak is great for fajitas and is a lean cut of meat.
If purchased untrimmed, remove extra fat and the silver grey lining with a sharp
knife, then grill.
Of course meatless meals are always an option and will be good for your diet and pocketbook.
Dried beans are a good source of protein like meats, but are much lower in fat, and
Always try to incorporate fresh vegetables into your Mexican dish. They will add flavor
and texture without adding fat or sodium.
For more information, or a free chart on what fresh vegetables should be arriving
at your farmers market, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or
visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org,
on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or
on the web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
These are just a few changes you can make in your cooking style to make Mexican foods
taste great, yet be good for your heart. Pico De Gallo is easily made, can be stored
in the refrigerator and all ingredients can be purchased fresh.
4 sprigs fresh cilantro (or one fourth tsp. coriander powder)
4 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 finely minced garlic clove
2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers (if you like it hot, leave the seeds)
Combine all ingredients in food processor or chop coarsely with a knife. Refrigerate
until ready to use. Serve with fajitas, or over eggs, on tostadas, tortillas or with
baked corn chips. Makes about 3 cups.
By Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.