On Your Table: Lighten up for Cinco De Mayo

Tasty Mexican dishes don’t have to be calorie-heavy

By Cathy BranciaroliFood Correspondent, The Times


Many Cinco de Mayo dishes are calorie-laden but there are lots of healthier options like a taco wrapped in lettuce leaves (Photo Courtesy of Anne Lawton.

Most people have the wrong idea about the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo.

It actually celebrates the Battle of Puebla which took place 100 miles east of Mexico City and commemorates the defeat of Napoleon III in 1862 when Mexican soldiers, greatly outnumbered and poorly armed, prevailed versus the forces of France. The battle is a source of pride for many Mexicans but not necessarily the major national holiday with which it is often mistaken, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is Sept. 16.

But this is a big Mexican celebration for Americans. According to Sandra, an employee at Taqueria Molorean, this is the restaurant’s biggest holiday of the year, with strongest selling dishes including tacos and margaritas. She says the holiday provides the perfect opportunity to try Mexican dishes such as the restaurant’s signature dish, molcajete, in which beef or other proteins are served in a bubbling lava bowl with either green tomatillo or red grilled tomato sauce. The longtime establishment originally operated from Kennett Square but now is located along Newport Gap Pike in Avondale.

While many plan a Cinco de Mayo fiesta with recipes for favorite Mexican foods like tacos, guacamole, enchiladas and nachos, these calorie-laden treats can pile on the pounds, not to mention provide more than a daily dose of fat in one sitting.

A healthier approach to Mexican cuisine is to get back to basics. Mexican food is made with inherently simple ingredients so if the cook just sticks with these simple ingredients there’s no reason you have to do a seven-layer dip in order to have an enjoyable feast.

Here are my top five approaches to healthier Cinco de Mayo eating:

  1. Rethink the burrito or taco since most of the calories actually come from the shell. Consider swapping out that shell for a lettuce wrap or burrito bowl. These can be loaded with beans, meat and lots of healthy vegetables.
  1. Tacos can get out of hand because of the multiple types of dairy on the side — sour cream, cheese and guacamole. –which are full of calories. Pick a favorite and enjoy its special flavor rather than bulk up on all of them.
  1. Try fish for a new twist. Broil or grill the fish for lower fat options. When served in a corn tortilla with slaw and a squeeze of lime these are terrific.
  1. Make generous use of herbs such as cilantro or hot pepper flakes since most herbs have more antioxidants per ounce than almost any other ingredient.
  1. Remember that salsa counts as a vegetable so serve liberally.

Following are some recipes to make your Cinco de Mayo feast satisfying, tasty and guilt-free:

Sopa de Fideo (Mexican Noodle Soup

Courtesy of Tara from Tara’s Multicultural Table


Tacos in Lettuce Wraps

Courtesy of Anne Lawton from Simple & Savory


Salmon Tacos

Courtesy of Caroline’s Cooking



Courtesy of Betsy from Desserts Required

Flan – Desserts Required

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats



   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Betsy @ Desserts Required says:

    Thanks so much for including Desserts Required’s flan!

Leave a Comment