To Your Health
The not-so-guilty pleasures of Mexican cuisine
Seven-layer taco salad, loaded nachos, burritos dripping with cheddar cheese, fried tortilla chips, battered chiles, a tres leche cake. These are familiar Mexican foods that seem as far from a nutritionist’s dream cuisine as possible.
There’s a world of difference between uber-popular Tex-Mex and original Mexican cuisine, spanning centuries and continents. Reframing Mexican food to incorporate the dairy and meat products native to Texas and an American palate accustomed to generous amounts of sugar and fat, meant much was lost in translation.
As some of the earliest proponents of plant-based eating, authentic Mexican recipes can go grain to grain with the revered Mediterranean diet. Every important box is checked—an abundance of native, fresh ingredients, documented health benefits and a focus on clean eating.
The building blocks of this cuisine, stemming back 9,000 years, are based on three foods: corn tortillas, beans and chile peppers. Also on the indigenous Mexican food plate are ancient grains, herbs, edible flowers, and a bountiful variety of vegetables and fruits. Experts note that sugar cane arrived with the Spanish, as did lime, tamarind and fragrant new spices such as cinnamon, clove and pepper. The original flavors and healthy sensibilities are still part of today’s authentic Mexican dishes.
We’re here to explode the age-old myth that mainstream Mexican foods are defined by cheesy, deep fried and creamy richness. They are, in fact, some of the healthiest dishes on the planet.
It’s fitting then that Mexico was the first world cuisine to be named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The 2010 recognition was inspired by the country’s numerous distinctive achievements: environmentally responsible planting techniques (milpas, rotating fields of corn and other crops, and chinampas, creating small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops in the Valley of Mexico); cooking processes such as nixtamalization, a soaking technique that increases corn’s nutritional value; use of native ingredients (corn, beans and chiles augmented by tomatoes, squash, avocados, cocoa and vanilla) and singular utensils, including grinding stones and stone mortars. It was a long time coming, but Mexico is at last being appreciated for its authentic contributions to the global table.
Restaurant, Inc. is proud to celebrate this magnificent cuisine with recipes crafted by Reinhart Executive Chef Jeff Merry, inspired by the vibrant, fresh and healthful flavors of Mexico from its earliest days. Viva Mexico!