'The Mexican Food Diet': Healthy twists on 4 of your favorite Mexican dishes

Mexican food has become one of the world’s favorite foods, and it's easy to see why: It's delicious, satisfying, exciting and affordable. However, some people may view Mexican food as fattening or unhealthy; I thought the same thing, and during my 30 years of struggling with my weight, I avoided Mexican food.

The truth is that when you know how to prepare healthy Mexican food, you will have found the effortless and delicious way to maintain weight, and even eat a balanced diet while burning fat, regaining your energy and helping to prevent diseases.

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I was born and raised in Mexico City until I emigrated to the United States to attend Harvard Business School, graduating with an MBA.

I always had a busy life with no time to take care of my health. When I was stressed, I ate unhealthy food, and lots of it. The next day, I would eat nothing or very little until I could not resist my cravings for sugar and unhealthy foods.

For 30 years my weight was up, down, up, down, until diets stopped working and I found myself 60 pounds overweight. I also suffered from depression and health issues that no doctor could help me overcome. One day, I decided to go back to school to learn how to eat to get healthy, lose weight and feel great again.

I was very excited to discover that healthy Mexican food, the kind I grew up with, was the best way overcome the two things that were keeping me fat, sick and sad: my uncontrollable cravings for unhealthy food and the many negative effects of all those years of unhealthy eating.

With this powerful discovery in hand, I began writing my book, "The Mexican Food Diet." I wanted to help people who wanted to lose weight or feel healthier without feeling hungry, deprived or bored with bland foods. This book is the perfect example of what I teach today in my programs: healthy eating that feels like cheating™.

The Mexican Food Diet™ has two primary objectives. The first goal is to replace cravings for unhealthy foods with cravings for delicious, nutritious and satisfying foods. The second goal is to give the body the nutrients it needs to fight inflammation and keep people healthy and happy.

Our featured Cinco de Mayo feast was created for maximized detoxification and effortless weight loss.

Margarita Detox Shooters

Think of this as a healthier version of the traditional Margarita which uses a lot of sugar in the form of syrups and mixes.  In my version, I use 1.5 ounces of tequila and mix in 3 ounces fresh lemon juice, 3 ounces of fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 1 jalapeño (take out the seeds and the vein). My shooters are also loaded with vitamin C from the lemon and orange juices (25 percent of your daily requirements in 1 shooter) and antioxidants to boost the immune system and get healthier, younger-looking skin. I made them even healthier by adding chia seeds to provide fiber and protein. This Mexican grown seed also helps reduce the impact on blood sugar and insulin, which can prevent fat gain and disease.

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon organic chia seeds
  • 1.5 ounces tequila
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid stevia
  • 1 jalapeño, without seeds or veins
  • Sea salt for the glass rim
  • 1 fresh lemon half
  • Jalapeño slices for garnish

Directions:

  1. Add first six ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed.
  2. Pour some sea salt on a plate. Use a lemon half to moisten the rims of the shooter glasses, then dip the rims in sea salt.
  3. Pour the blended mix on the shooter glasses. Decorate with a slice of jalapeño and serve cold.

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Detox Blueberry Mole

Our main dish is a delicious nutritional powerhouse. Each serving provides significant amounts of 14 vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health and weight loss. My mole sauce can be a meal on its own. It has healthy protein and fats (almonds and pecans), healthy carbs and spices with detox and anti-inflammatory power (blueberries, hot peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, cinnamon), as well as high levels of fiber from the veggies and nuts. Eating balanced meals like this one helps you keep blood sugar and insulin at healthy levels, which will help you with appetite, weight loss, energy and mood.

I pair it with organic, pasture-raised chicken, but it would also be delicious on fish, meat or a mix of roasted veggies.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 ancho chiles, dry
  • 1 guajillo chile, dry
  • ½ of a medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tomato, organic
  • ¼ cinnamon stick
  • 3 ounces blueberries
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (organic, reduced sodium)
  • 1 ounce raw pecans
  • 1 ounce raw almonds
  • 1 clove
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1 ounce extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces chicken or vegetable stock (organic, reduced sodium)
  • 1 pound chicken thighs or chicken legs with thighs (organic, free range)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash the chiles and remove the seeds and veins. Soak the chiles in water while you measure the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Roast the chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes and cinnamon sticks. Turn them around making sure they are well roasted on all sides (not burnt).
  4. Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat with the blueberries and the first 1/3-cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Place the roasted ingredients in a blender. Add the pecans, almonds, clove, sea salt and water. Add ½ cup of the blueberry-stock mixture. Blend all ingredients in the blender on high speed for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  6. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the blended ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the second chicken or vegetable stock and the remaining blueberry sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Pour all the ingredients into the blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
  9. Place the chicken thighs on an oven tray and cover with the mole. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Serve the chicken with additional mole on top and garnish with almonds.

Mexican-Style Cauliflower Rice

I made my rice with cauliflower instead of traditional rice. One serving of rice made with cauliflower has 100 calories, 9 grams of healthy carbs, 7 grams of fiber and high amounts of a variety of vitamins and minerals. The same dish made with white rice has 350 calories, 47 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and very low nutrient content.

Serves:  4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cauliflower, large
  • 1 serrano chile
  • ½ onion, small
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 tomato, large
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika 
  • 2 ounces tomato paste 
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Chop the cauliflower into florets and put in the food processor or blender. Pulse until the pieces are the size and shape of rice. Set aside.
  2. Take the seeds out of the chile, then chop and set aside.
  3. Chop onion, garlic, cilantro and tomato.
  4. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, onion and chile. Sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
  6. Add the cauliflower and stir. Add the salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Stir and combine, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato paste, cilantro and tomato. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  8. Garnish with cilantro.

Guacamole Ice Cream

We finish our meal with a delicious sweet guacamole ice cream that will satisfy the sweet tooth while burning fat and powering up your brain, energy and overall health. I transformed my famous guacamole recipe into a dessert by using sweet healthy ingredients while keeping the guacamole look. My ice cream has only 160 calories and 1.5 grams of sugar (all from whole nutritious foods), compared to a regular ice cream which has at least 250 calories and 20 grams of sugar (most from added sugars and syrups). I use avocado and coconut milk as the base instead of the regular milk and cream used in traditional ice creams.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1½ avocados
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat
  • 2-3 teaspoons of liquid stevia
  • ½ cup strawberries, organic, chopped in small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 ounce raw cashews, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Place the avocado in a food processor. Add lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Open the coconut milk can and, using a spoon, take out the coconut cream, leaving behind the coconut water.
  4. Using an electronic mixer, whip the coconut cream in a bowl until it's the consistency of a whipped cream. Add the blended avocado and stevia. Incorporate well.
  5. Put the ice cream in a freezer-safe dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. 
  6. Remove from freezer and spoon out into small bowls. If too hard to spoon out, leave at room temperature for a few minutes.
  7. Mix some strawberries, coconut flakes, mint and cashews into each small bowl.
  8. Garnish with some strawberries and fresh mint.

Maru Dávila is a certified integrative nutritionist, weight loss expert, healthy chef and author of the bestselling book The Mexican Food Diet: Healthy Eating that Feels Like Cheating." Maru struggled with her weight for 30 years, eating disorders, depression and other health issues. Maru discovered that the one thing she’d feared and fought with her whole life was the one thing that could save her. For more information on Maru and her company go to http://www.TheMexicanFoodDiet.com/