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Recipes & Tips

The Flavors of Mexico

Recipes and Cooking Tips From the Healthy Traditions Cooking Show, Mexican American Segment

The following traditional recipes have been modified to be lower in fat, but are still delicious.
Studies show that low-fat diets that include more fruits and vegetables are more healthful and can prevent illness such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Enjoy these updated classics! The following abbreviations are used: Cals=calories; Pro=protein; Carb=carbohydrates; g=grams; DV=Daily Value. Current recommendations are that only 30 percent or less of the calories we eat be provided by fats. Note: Some of these recipes are a little higher than 30% fat. When these recipes are prepared together as one meal, however, the entire meal will not be more than 30% fat. The 30% limit is meant as a guideline for planning meals.

Arroz Blanco Con Vegetales

(White Rice with Vegetables)
Yield: serves 6

  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice (uncooked)
  • 1/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, ONLY if using unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 ear corn kernels, blanched, or 1/2 pound frozen corn
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup green peas (frozen peas are okay)
  • 1) Roast the chile at 425 degrees until brown or over a gas flame on top of the stove. Remove any charred skin.
  • 2) Heat the oil in a pre-heated large skillet with a lid, over medium high heat. Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds.
  • 3) Add 2 cups of chicken stock and salt (if needed). Cover and cook until stock evaporates, about 10 minutes.
  • 4) Add remaining stock, and sprinkle in corn, carrots, and peas over the rice. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Serve hot.

Cals: 264 Pro: 8 g Carb: 50 g Fat: 4 g Vit A: 125% DV Vit C: 23% DV
Percentage of Calories from fat: 12%

Cooking tip:

Glazed clay pottery from some other countries, especially Mexico, contain lead, which is poisonous. In particular, be aware that Mexican clay pottery has been associated with numerous cases of child lead poisoning. Glazed clay pots should only be used for decoration, and not for cooking or serving.

Salsa de tomate para guisos

(Grilled Tomato, Cumin and Cinnamon Sauce)
Yield: serves 6

Spice Mixture
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 inch stick cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 20 peppercorns or 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Grind any whole spices with a molacajete or mortar and pestle, or grind in a blender or spice grinder. Add the Tablespoon of water to ground spices to form a loose sauce.

  • 4 large tomatoes (about 3 pounds), grilled or roasted and skinned
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1) Grill tomatoes over medium heat, or roast in a 425 degree oven, turning them occasionally. Cool, peel, and core the tomatoes.
  • 2) Purée the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.
  • 3) Heat the olive oil, preferably in a non-stick skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the tomato purée and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the skillet.
  • 4) Add the spice mix, bay leaf, sugar, and salt to the skillet. Mix in the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10-15 additional minutes and remove from heat.
  • Remember, the fresher your ingredients (including grinding your own spices), the better the flavor you will get.

Health tip:
When the vegetables or fruits you need aren't in season, consider using canned, frozen or even dried.

GUISADO DE POLLO (Roasted Chicken)

Note: The amounts of seasonings can be varied based on personal preferences.

  • 1 large (6 pounds) roasting chicken, skinned
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1) Place the salt, thyme, pepper, onion and garlic powder together. Rub the skinned chicken with this spice mixture. Place the chicken on a metal rack inside a roasting pan or place on some cut carrots so as not to have the chicken sitting directly on the pan. Cook at 375 degrees. Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (about 15-20 minutes per pound). Baste with pan juices occasionally.
  • 2) Test the chicken to be sure it is thoroughly cooked pierce the thigh with a knife; the juices should be clear rather than cloudy. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
  • 3) Place the pieces of chicken in the grilled tomato sauce (see previous recipe) and simmer for about 10 minutes before serving (if the sauce has thickened too much, add more liquid to adjust the consistency.) Garnish with green chiles and purple flowers, if desired.

Note: Since liquids tend to dry out during roasting, add water to the roasting pan (if necessary) to baste the chicken. If desired, you can use this extra liquid in the sauce for more flavor, but remember to remove the fat before using in the sauce. Be careful about the amount of salt you rub on the chicken since this salt will end up in the drippings.

Cals: 380 Pro: 50 g Carb: 9 g Fat: 15 g Vit A: 9% DV Vit C: 31% DV
Percentage of calories from fat: 37%