Cinco de Mayo, which literally translates in Spanish to “fifth of May” is a Mexican holiday used to commemorate the unlikely victory over the French Empire at the Battle at Puebla on May 5, 1862. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a popular observance of Mexican-American culture but is often mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually celebrated September 16.
There are many Mexican-inspired celebratory foods we indulge in around Cinco de Mayo, many of which can be made healthier and more nutrient dense!
Ways to make Mexican-style dishes more nutrient dense:
· Choose ground turkey, ground chicken, or grilled fish instead of ground beef in many dishes, like tacos or burritos, to decrease saturated fats
· If you prefer soft-shelled fajita wraps, opt for whole-wheat shells over standard white flour shells for added fiber
· Crunchy shells are available in wholegrain options as well as low-sodium options; or choose bagged tortilla chips and make your Mexican entrée into a salad
· Instead of purchasing ready-made or pre-flavored rice, choose uncooked, brown rice to reduce sodium and increase nutrients
· Make your own homemade dips, such as salsa or guacamole, to reduce added sodium, sugar, preservatives, and fats
· Cinco de Mayo is known as a brightly-decorated holiday; model your dishes the same way by adding as much color as possible from a variety of hearty, fresh veggies (and fruits), such as lettuce(s), tomatoes, avocados, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, beans or hummus, mangos, etc
Get creative and find unique ways to make smart substitutions in your family recipes!
Written by: Jennifer Miller
Dietetic Intern, ETSU, class of 2018