Adios, Chipotle: 6 Guilt-Free Mexican Dishes You Can Make at Home
Mexican is definitely a favorite cuisine for many. Lines snake around Chipotle cashier counters, Americans observe Cinco de Mayo as if it is a celebration of their own independence, and eating guacamole is considered religious experience for many. It is not hard to understand why Americans gravitate to the warm tortillas, salty cheese, ground beef, and mouth-watering guacamole, but as tasty as Mexican food is, it also isn’t always the most healthy, and that’s where health-conscious consumers get in trouble, especially if they’ve had one too many margaritas.
But luckily, Mexican food doesn’t have to be fatty and greasy, and if you want to eat Mexican and look great in a bathing suit, too, you’ve come to the right place. We’re rounding up six healthy Mexican recipes from around the web that taste great but still aren’t weight deal-breakers, and hopefully proving to you that the cuisine can be enjoyed just as satisfactorily, even when certain ingredients are removed. (Carb-rich tortillas, we’re looking at you.) Pull up a chair and get comfortable. Your mouth is about to water.
1. DIY Chipotle Burrito Bowl
The first recipe we’re highlighting comes from What’s Gaby Cooking, and it’s for a DIY Chipotle Burrito Bowl. If all of your dreams seemed to just have come true, we don’t blame you because this dish won’t only save you money, it’ll also save you your waist line. Step out of the long Chipotle line and back into your kitchen. You can easily make your own healthified burrito bowl via your own indoor or outdoor grill, and Gaby teaches you how. Without the oil-soaked tortillas and extra calories that invariably go into restaurant or fast food meals, you’ll definitely be eating healthier with your DIY Mexican dinner, and then you can also save room for a margarita.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup white basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- kosher salt to taste
- 1 cup pinto beans (warmed)
- 1 cup frozen charred corn (warmed)
- 1 cup guacamole
- 1 cup pico de gallo
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup finely shredded monterey jack cheese
Directions: For the chicken, combine the vegetable oil, chopped chipotle peppers in adobo, garlic powder, cumin, dried oregano, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place the chicken in a large zip top plastic bag and add the marinade. Zip the bag and mix the chicken into the marinade. Place it into the fridge and let it marinate for at least 1 hour. Heat an indoor or outdoor grill to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit (medium high heat). Place the chicken onto the grill and grill 5 to 6 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces and use as needed.
For the rice, in a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the white rice and lime juice and sauté for 60 seconds to toast the rice. Add the water and bring the rice to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed. Add in the cilantro and fluff rice with a fork.
To assemble, arrange equal parts of the white rice and chopped grilled chicken in four bowls. Top with equal parts of the pinto beans, corn, guacamole, pico, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve immediately.
2. Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas
Healthy enchiladas might seem like an oxymoron, but contrary to popular belief, they do exist, and they don’t taste half bad, either. And this recipe for Black Bean, Corn, and Zucchini Enchiladas from Cooking Light proves it. Packed with seasonal fresh veggies like corn and zucchini, what these enchiladas lack in meat they make up for in healthful nutrients and tasty alternatives. Even better, they take only 30 minutes to bake and enlist some cheese so no one can complain. Who ever said nutritious can’t equal delicious?
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 2 cups diced zucchini
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole-kernel corn
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups enchilada sauce, divided
- Cooking spray
- 8 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups zucchini and corn; sauté for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat, and stir in beans. Spread 1 cup Enchilada Sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/2 cup zucchini mixture down center of 1 tortilla; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, and roll up. Place seam-side down in baking dish. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, zucchini mixture, and 14 tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining 2 cups sauce evenly over enchiladas. Cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Uncover; top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
3. Taco Lettuce Wraps
Next up: tacos sans the tortillas. Don’t let the lack of carbs scare you away. This recipe from Damn Delicious really is damn delicious, and it may convince you to never go back to carb-rich tortillas again.
Everyone knows the best part of tacos is the meaty insides, so why even waste calories on the vehicles that transport them to your mouth — aka the tortillas. Instead of letting the tortillas get in the way, sub in some crispy butter lettuce, and get ready to taste the Mexican flavors even better. You won’t have any guilt as you eat lettuce cup after lettuce cup filled with goodies, because in fact, you’ll be doing yourself a favor shoveling these nutrients into your belly.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, optional
Directions: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the turkey as it cooks; drain excess fat. Stir in salsa, green chiles and taco seasoning until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in corn, beans and cilantro until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste. To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the turkey mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style, garnished with cheese and sour cream, if desired.
4. Skinny Margaritas
To wash those protein-packed lettuce wraps down, try this skinny margarita recipe from She Knows. Requiring only three ingredients, these no-fuss margaritas let the tequila do the talking, and don’t let any sugar get in the way. If you really are a fan of authentic Mexican beverages, you’ll love this margarita recipe that sticks to the basics and comes together in no time. It’s low on the calories and high on the fun, and won’t make you bloated after several servings.
- 2 ounces silver tequila
- 1 1/2 ounces lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 ounce agave nectar
Directions: Combine all ingredients and serve on ice.
5. Turkey Taco Salad
Back to the food, we come to this recipe for Turkey Taco Salad from Taste of Home. Because as we’ve seen before, greens pair well with Mexican, too. If you don’t believe us, try this recipe and see if both your tastebuds and your waist line dare to disapprove. Summertime is the season where our Mexican cravings are the strongest, but that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in cheese, carbs, and beef to get the job done.
- 12 ounces ground turkey
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
- 1 small sweet yellow pepper, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups salsa
- 1/2 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 cups torn romaine
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
Directions: In a large skillet, cook turkey, peppers, onion and garlic over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, breaking up turkey into crumbles; drain. Stir in salsa, beans, chili powder and cumin; heat through. Divide romaine among four plates. Top with turkey mixture; sprinkle with cilantro and toppings of your choice. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
6. Tortilla Soup
Rounding up our list is this healthier version of tortilla soup from Eating Well that we promise is delicious. Though this soup still has your essential tortilla strips and cheese fix-ins, it makes our list thanks to the handful of summer fresh vegetables it enlists, amping up its nutritional profile. And what’s more, believe it or not, this soup can land on your table in just 45 minutes, so even though your kids might initially want to go to Chipotle, they’ll soon see that either Mom or Dad can whip up a perfect Mexican meal just as fast.
- 8 corn tortillas, halved and thinly sliced
- Canola or olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 Anaheim or poblano peppers, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (see Tip)
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread tortilla strips in an even layer on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Bake until browned and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken, broth, tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice. Serve each portion topped with some of the baked tortilla strips, cheddar, and cilantro.