Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Stuff

Well, if you are a sissy when it comes to spice, stop reading right now, tuck your tail and head back under your rock. This is not for the faint of spice. Bring on the Tabasco, or at least the peppers that make up the Tabasco sauce. We here in this house love Mexican food. But not the kind that you get frorm Taco Bell (stinks finger down throat), or even the kind of food you find in any American styled Mexican restaurants. You have to remember that most ethnic restaurants have strayed so far from what is cooked in their country, that if you went to said country and started eating the native cuisine, you would say, "Hey, this is not what I eat back home!" Duh, ya think?

With that said, we can easily vegetize Mexican food which is analogous to anything meat. But for those of you who are venturing outside your meat eating box and think Mexican food cannot be tasty unless there is a dead animal on the plate. Think again. And it could be just as tasty with a bit of preparation.

You will have to modify your main dish. For those who are not willing to let go of the meat just yet, how about trying a lower fat cut of meat, perhaps some lean poultry or even some fish. Step away from the beef. Now if you are brave enough to lose the meat, then you can easily step up your dish with beans. And and all kinds of beans. But there are a select few that are paralleled with Mexican food, such as black beans, pinto beans, red beans, kidney beans. But don't feel compelled to eat only those style of beans. Go outside your box. If lentils is your cup of tea, then by all means use them where the meat used to be.

Step away from the refried beans, unless you plan on making them yourself, which, trust me, is easy schmeazy. I will post our homemade recipe as soon as I am done with this post. So sit tight, recipe forthcoming. But, if you still cannot find the time to make your own, read the labels and opt for a lower fat version or even a vegetarian style canned refried bean and spice away if you feel the need.

With so many meat analogs, you can easily add veggie ground beef, chik strips, fake beef strips, or just add more beans. It is way easier to eliminate meat than you might think.

Go easy on the cheese. I myself never buy low-fat or fat free, I just sprinkle lightly. I have so much other flavors going on that the cheese element is not a necessity. Remember, when you cut back on your fat (which is flavor) you most definitely have to add more spice. That is the plain and simple truth.

When choosing a side dish, try and choose whole grains...duh!. They pack more fiber and more nutrition.

Pile on the homemade salsa. You notice I did not say jarred salsa. Why? Preservatives. In a matter of minutes you can whip up a bowl of salsa and you can customize it to your families liking. Hot, spicy, sweet, mild, the list is endless.

Lose the sour cream and slather on the guacamole. Again you can add anything and everything or nothing to this simplest of dishes. Have avocado, will travel.

Use brown rice. Now this one was a toughy for me. I can eat rice until I turn into a grain of rice. Did I mention that I love rice. In any shape or form. So when I made the decision to eat better, I knew I had to lose the white rice and head down the brown aisle. Look what brown can do for you!

Hah! Make your own tortillas. This is great. While these puppies are baking, you can be preparing your meal. How easy is that? Cut up some flour or corn tortillas into triangles, set your oven to 400 degrees, and place your tray of chips, sprayed with some olive or canola oil into a totally heated oven. Bada boom bada bing. There you have it, chips that were not fried.

You can now walk confidently into any supermarket and put your nose up in the air when you see those prepackaged things for a Mexican dinner. Keep on walking and do your body a favor and make it yourself.

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