Beans are often found in Mexican food and they are an amazing source of fiber and B vitamins. They also help to control blood sugar (glycemic) levels which not only makes you feel more energized and vital, but can help prevent a vast array of diseases and ease perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Use beans of all varieties regularly.
To make Mexican food healthier and lighter in calories: Instead of using refried beans which contain lard other calorie laden oils, add whole, cooked, rinsed beans to your tacos, tostadas and burritos. Try the following:
1. Cook the ground lean meat thoroughly and drain off any excess grease. If you are vegetarian skip this step.
2. Add an equal portion of rinsed, whole cooked beans (canned is fine, organic varieties are available - just pick your
favorites or add them all - pinto, black beans, great northern, etc.).
3. Add cumin or smoked cumin (the spice most often associated with “Mexican flavor”), chili powder, paprika (also comes in smoked if you like) garlic powder, the powerhouse of spices --Turmeric --, along with pepper, and salt to taste. (No MSG here!)
4. Add a reasonable amount of water that will cook off in about 10 min. (I usually add enough water so its half way to the height of the meat/beans.)
5. Bring to a quick boil, then simmer on low for about 10 min or until most of the water is absorbed. This lets the flavorful juice with spices sink into the meat and/or beans.
6. Put the finished mixture on lettuce and add the veggies you like: fresh cilantro, tomato, onion, a squeeze of fresh lime for that "street taco" taste, etc for a taco salad or
7. For tacos use a whole grain corn tortilla (lower glycemic index/refinement than a flour tortilla) or if you are a flour tortilla fan, use a whole grain one or the Costco refrigerated flour tortillas you cook up yourself in a snap (yes, they have refined flour and sugar, but relative to the overall health of the meal, I think it’s a reasonable trade off and there is nothing artificial in them).
8. Top if you like with a bit of cheese, salsa, or light sour cream.
I usually make a huge batch of this in a skillet. I regularly freeze leftovers of this mixture in single serving sizes for my family's healthy "fast food."
No one who eats this at my house knows they just ate a healthy, lower calorie meal loaded with protein, vitamins and fiber – they’ll just know it was fresh and delicious. It’s fabulous, fast, easy, healthy and cheap! Plus, the addition of the beans stretches out the meat serving which
- minimizing over eating of meat and research shows beans can help mitigate of some of the negative impacts of meat,
- lowers costs,
- gives you more leftovers for healthy quick lunches the next day.
Parents: my kids love this and fight over leftovers!