I developed a deeper appreciation for Mexican cuisine a few years ago when I participated with the preparations for a Cinco de Mayo celebration at my worksite. This year I am able to put together my own Cinco de Mayo celebration with a bit more flair and confidence! Cinco de Mayo inspires traditional Mexican fare which is as pleasing to the palate as it is to our health. As science continues to discover the nutritional value of foods traditionally used in Mexican cooking, these foods and flavors continue to be assimilated into the mainstream.
1. Poblano Pepper.
These shiny, blackish-green chiles are imbued with a hint of sweet and spice to tempt your palate. Think of poblanos as a cross between a bell pepper and a jalapeño. Their thick skin makes them perfect for stuffing. Try stuffed poblanos with a cilantro lime sauce or go vegetarian with a black bean stuffed poblano. Pablano peppers are packed with Vitamin C, potassium and fiber and some protein to boot.
2. More Chiles…
You name the flavor - Ancho, arbo, chipotle, serrano, pasilla, jalapeno, habanero, guajillo. Did you know there were so many chiles? Chiles provide an abundance of vitamin C, beta carotene, copper and vitamin A and are also rich sources of antioxidants such as capsanthin, capsaicin, lutein, violaxanthin and more. Recipes such as enchiladas verde, chili rellenos and roasted chiles are just a few dishes to check out this year to try different types of chiles.
3 Mexican Cinnamon.
Yes, there is more than one type of cinnamon! With its woody aroma, subtle flavor and hint of citrus, Mexican cinnamon is often considered to be “true cinnamon” among culinary professionals. Because of its versatility, Mexican cinnamon can be used in dishes from sweet to savory. Chili and mole sauces frequently call for Mexican cinnamon. Try Mexican cinnamon in desserts such as Mexican chocolate or Mexican hot chocolate.
Native to Mexico, these small green tomatoes pack a lot of punch insofar as their nutritional value such as vitamin K, vitamin C, beta carotene and antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein. The tomatillo is looking even more promising as researchers continue to study the antioxidant and anticancer properties in these powerful “little tomatoes.” Look for dishes with tomatillos popping up in your favorite restaurants. Tomatillos will add a zing to any of your dishes from fish, rice, tacos and salad. Try a tomatillo guacamole next time.
Can we say anything more about the avocado! Avocado is a staple in Mexican cooking and is becoming more versatile and prevalent in any fare these days as it is considered a superfood for its rich source of antioxidants, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and fiber. Avocado has made its way into our smoothies and entrees; chain restaurants have caught on and are offering avocado on sandwiches and salads. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by using your avocados as a topping for your enchiladas, or try making a traditional Mexican guacamole.
Cinco de Mayo is just days away. Don’t despair…It’s not too late! Call a few friends, google some recipes and in a pinch you can pull together your own Cinco de Mayo celebration!