Do you look forward to Cinco de Mayo every year but wish you didn’t have to break your healthy streak? Turn to these better-for-you food and drink ideas to ace this Mexican-inspired holiday the healthy way:
Follow the 1:2 Rule
Give your Cinco de Mayo meals the 1, 2 punch! For every one decadent item you incorporate into a dish, use two lighter, more wholesome additions. For example, if you use ground beef or sausage to make enchiladas, add at least two hearty vegetables, such as kale and mushrooms, to make it filling without adding many calories. If your nachos are piled high with freshly grated cheese, add in chopped spinach and grilled shredded chicken to fill you up with vitamins, minerals, fiber and an appetite-curbing protein.
Be a Guac Star
Avocados are a popular Mexican super food that is rich, creamy and jam-packed with nutrients, including healthy monounsaturated fats, 3.5 grams of fiber per half avocado, antioxidants, 20 vitamins and minerals, and more potassium than a banana. If there is one food to have a little extra of this Cinco de Mayo, it’s this one. Instead of adding a cheese or sour cream topper, dice up a few slices of avocado.
Healthy Food-Swap Ideas
- Lettuce Wraps vs. Tortillas: The fastest food swap is right in your crisper drawer. Lettuce is a low-calorie substitute for corn and wheat tortillas, which range between 200 and 300 calories. As a bonus, lettuce adds a satisfying crunch to every bite.
- Rice vs. Quinoa: Although brown rice has more fiber and protein than white rice, a better substitution is quinoa. One cup of quinoa has 40 fewer calories than white rice, 21 percent of your daily serving of fiber (compared with 14 percent in brown rice) and 8.1 grams of complete protein per cup.
- Low-fat vs. Full-fat Cheese: Did you think low-fat cheese is a good substitution? Think again. To compensate for the reduced richness in flavor, some low-fat brands can have more than 20 percent more sodium than full-fat cheese. Check the label to make sure, because not all cheeses are created equal.
Healthy Cinco de Mayo Recipes
California Fish Tacos
- 1 tbsp olive oil (plus more for grill)
- 4 (3 oz) tilapia, halibut or black bass fillets
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp black pepper, divided
- 6 radishes, sliced
- 1 cucumber, halved and sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice (plus lime wedges for serving)
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ½ cup chopped purple cabbage
- ½ avocado, sliced
- Heat grill to high and oil grill.
- Season fish fillets with coriander, ½ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper.
- Grill until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
- Break into small- to medium-sized pieces.
- In a medium bowl, toss together radishes and cucumber with lime juice, remaining tbsp oil, remaining ¼ tsp salt and remaining ¼ tsp pepper.
- Serve fish in corn tortillas with the cucumber relish, cilantro, cabbage and avocado.
- Serve lime wedges on the side.
Nutrition: 251 calories, 9.8g fat, 23.3g carbs, 4.3g sugar, 4.6g fiber, 20.4g protein
Recipe by Jorge Cruise, Celebrity trainer and bestselling author of “Tiny and Full.”
Serves 1 (recipe may be increased proportionally as needed)
- 1 avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 lime
- 2 tbsp pico de gallo
- ½ tbsp green Tabasco sauce
- ½ tsp Spike Seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mash avocado pieces in a bowl with lime juice.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Recipe courtesy of Tommy Bahama Restaurant.
Low-Calorie Cinco de Mayo Cocktails
This time of year, the already-famous Mexican cocktails, like the margarita and the michelada, get an even bigger fan base. Unfortunately, frozen margaritas are laden with sugar and can easily surpass 400 calories for one cocktail. A simple switch to a michelada saves you 75 calories instantly. Below are two delicious lower-calorie cocktails for a healthier celebration:
Casamigos Margarita Light
- 1½ parts Casamigos Blanco Tequila
- ¾ part fresh lime juice
- ¼ part fresh orange juice
- ½ part agave nectar
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain and serve on the rocks. Garnish with an orange wedge.
- Mexican beer, such as Negro Modelo (for a lighter option, use Michelob Ultra)]
- Clamato or tomato juice
- 3-4 splashes of Tapatío
- 2 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 splashes of Maggi sauce
- Lime juice
- Tajín seasoning
- Rub a sliced lime around the rim of your glass and dip it in the Tajín seasoning.
- Fill ¼ to ⅓ of your glass with Clamato juice.
- Mix in the Tapatío, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce and lime juice. Sprinkle in Tajín seasoning to taste.
- Pour in the beer until the glass is full.
- Garnish with a lime.
Nutrition: Sub in Michelob Ultra, which has 95 calories and 2.6 grams carbs per 12 ounces (compared to Negro Modelo, which has 170 calories).
Recipe courtesy of Ever in Transit.