Mix up a batch of lightened-up margaritas, then cook up a bunch of these fiesta-inspired favorites.
Soup, Starters and Sides
Fresh ingredients and lots of spice make these appetizers and side dishes healthy crowd-pleasers.
Mexican Chicken Soup
Mexican Zucchini Oven Fries
Five Layer Mexican Dip
Mexican Potato Skin Bites
Spicy Cheesy Rice
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The chimichanga, or chimi as it’s affectionately termed in the Southwest, is a deep-fried burrito stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices. Once fried to perfection, chimichangas are often topped with cheese and served with a variety of condiments, such as green onions, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and black olives. Sounds delicious, right? It is delicious, but consider that one restaurant-style chimi has around 760 calories, 34 grams of fat and 1,930 mg of sodium. With that much sodium, you’re done for the day — you’ll have reached your daily max in sodium in only one meal. Store-bought frozen chimichangas fare slightly better, with around 300-500 calories, 25 grams of fat and 1,200 mg of sodium per serving. Filling aside, it’s the deep-frying that does most of the damage. Regular burritos have about 200-300 calories and 10-20 grams of fat each, but drop them into the deep-fryer and you can add 225 calories and 21 grams of fat to each burrito. Yes, the deep-fried, crunchy exterior is great, but not worth the health consequences, especially when a healthier version is so easy to make.
You can stuff flour tortillas with delicious ingredients and then bake the chimichangas in the oven for the same, amazing result. Try this recipe and let me know if you agree. Read more »
A taquito (pronounced ta-kito) is a rolled up, filled tortilla that’s deep-fried until golden brown and crisp. In the classic Mexican dish, also known as a flauta, the tortilla is typically corn and the filling is beef or chicken. Taquitos are amazingly crunchy and delicious, and they make a fun hand-held treat. Problem is, depending on the filling, ONE taquito can have 200-500 calories, 8-28 grams of fat and 350-1,134 mg of sodium. And nobody eats just one. Since I want you to enjoy all the flavors without all of the calories, I revamped the dish to make it Healthy Eats-friendly. Not just friendly — consider this taquito your new best pal! The filling is a savory blend of grilled chicken, salsa and sharp cheddar cheese. And by baking the rolled tortillas instead of deep-frying, I was able to shed hundreds of calories and milligrams of sodium and dozens of fat grams. Check them out and let me know what you think! Read more »
Mexican is quite possibly my favorite type of food. It’s the cuisine I crave most often. Unfortunately while it’s loaded with flavor, it’s typically packed with calories too. So the last time my craving for tostadas hit, I opted for a healthy variation.
Where do you get bold flavor without all of the fat? A zesty marinade of lime, garlic and chipotle peppers give Grilled Chicken Tostadas al Carbon their kick. Instead of frying the tortilla (as restaurants usually do), the chefs in the Food Network Kitchens toss it on the grill for a delightfully smoky taste. Add bright, bold toppings to the citrusy chicken and the fiesta really gets going.
The tomatillos bring a robust tang to the plate. After being charred on the grill, all that’s needed is a rough chop, a splash of oil and a pinch of salt. Throw on some shredded lettuce for body, diced onions for extra pow, and queso fresco, because a little bit of cheese is always a good thing.
The next time you’re searching for new chicken recipe, look no further. This lightened-up tostada comes in at just 365.5 calories per serving and will leave you completely satisfied. It’s so tasty, you won’t be missing the guacamole.
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Have you noticed the influx of flatbreads at the grocery store? In my town, the wafer-thin, soft breads have taken over the deli section and they’re available in a wide variety of flavors, textures and shapes: from white to whole grain, soft, flavored and light. All variations are amazing and they make the ideal base for pizzas, wraps and folded sandwiches. Most flatbreads have no saturated fat and most provide a good source of whole grains and fiber (8 grams per serving). Never one to stick to the ordinary (or the suggestions on a label), I decided to use soft flatbreads to create mock sushi. Mock “Mexican” sushi with all the ingredients you would find in your favorite layered dip – refried beans, guacamole, salsa and sharp cheddar cheese. Thanks to the flatbread AND the beans, there’s a whopping 17 grams of fiber per serving. This fun dish is colorful, nutritious and makes a great presentation. I promise, you will FLAT OUT love it.
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- Make cheesy quesadillas at home; they'll have much less fat, calories and sodium than the ones served in restaurants.
Not a week goes by when we don’t have quesadillas in our house. Breakfast, lunch or dinner – quesadillas are perfect for kids, parents, grandparents and friends because you can slap whatever you want between two tortillas and enjoy a mouth-watering, cheesy treat in minutes.
I cook quesadillas at home all the time, but we also order them out a lot, so I decided to check the stats. I wish I didn’t. Depending on where you dine, one quesadilla can have almost 1,500 calories, more than 100 grams of fat and 2 days worth of salt. And that’s without the side of sour cream. What are they putting in there, pork rinds? Flour tortillas are almost fat free so it’s the filling that sends numbers soaring. I was seriously shocked. And if you eat quesadillas regularly, you know that you often eat something ELSE with them. Read it and weep:
Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 quesadilla – range in numbers reflects different restaurants)
Total Fat: 26-103 grams
Saturated Fat: 14-39 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 51-72 grams
Sugars: 0-1 gram
Protein: 22-73 grams
Sodium: 1177-3300 milligrams
Cholesterol: around 60 (some restaurants did not list cholesterol)
Fiber: 2-4 grams
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- Food Network Magazine's Slim Six-Layer Dip
In the US, the 5th of May is a day to celebrate Mexican heritage. Get your Cinco de Mayo fiesta started with these tasty bites and killer cocktails.
Classic Margaritas, Lightened Up
Slim Six-Layer Dip (above)
Chili Cheese Dip
Nectarine Avocado Salsa
Mexican Tortilla Pizza
Mango Salsa Scoops
Margarita Chicken Skewers
Tell Us: What’s on your Cinco menu?
- Replace regular mayo with a creamy, avocado-based sandwich spread.
We’ve told you how to enjoy avocados these 5 basic ways—but here are 5 more creative ways you can use them in recipes. Which will you try?
Although the fat in this recipe slightly exceeds our Healthy Eats guidelines, it’s the heart-healthy, unsaturated type. Since fat takes longer to digest, this low-calorie snack will help keep hunger at bay.
Recipe: Avocado Boats
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- Mexican lasagna: Meat-free and flavor-packed.
Lasagna is one of those dishes I reserve for the winter months, when I want something warm and comforting. This Mexican Lasagna, which uses tortillas in place of lasagna noodles, has some added heat from the salsa and jalapenos to really warm things up on a cold winter day. If you can’t stand the heat, use a mild salsa and omit the jalapeno.
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- Everyone can customize these breakfast burritos, making it a dish the whole family will love!
Breakfast burritos are the perfect family breakfast: They’re nutritious, easy and totally customizable for both picky junior eaters and adults. When I tried this at home, my kids went gaga! Here’s how to make a breakfast burrito spread to please the whole family.
Breakfast burrito how-to »