Vegan in a Mexican Household
With such a rich culture and vibrancy, Mexican dishes offer a variety of spices and tastes. Mexican cuisine, with its intense flavors and colorful presentation, has been adapted from Spanish and pre-Columbian influences, such as the Maya and the Aztecs. Although the typical Mexican diet consists of a variety of meat products, there are still many ways for a vegan to enjoy chilaquiles, fideo, enchiladas, and arroz con leche, and soothing drinks, such as agua de tamarindo.
Having grown up in a Mexican household, I know first-hand that it is challenging to find authentic meals that do not contain any meat, lard, or gelatin. However, I became dedicated to creating refreshing vegetarian alternatives. Many of these dishes are very easy to prepare and require little time.
*Note: The fat content in some of the recipes will vary depending on the type of oil used, cooking temperature and time, and other factors.
PICO DE GALLO
Pico de gallo is a chunky, flavorful Mexican condiment that often tops tacos and nachos. I use this recipe as a dip. You will find that the sweetness of the mangos and jicama fruit complements the savor from the bell peppers, cilantro, and onions.
- 2 mangos
- ½ jicama
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 bunch cilantro
- ½ red onion
- Juice of 2 lemons
Wash all of your produce. Peel the mangos and jicama. Chop the mangos, jicama, bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and onion into fine pieces. Make sure that all of the pieces are the size of a fingernail or smaller. Mix all of your chopped pieces together and sprinkle some lemon juice over the resulting pico de gallo.
TORTILLAS FOR THE TORTILLA CHIPS
- 1 cup of water
- 1 3/4 cups masa harina (traditional Mexican corn flour available in the international foods aisle at some supermarkets and from Latino groceries)
In a bowl, mix together the water and masa harina until the dough is smooth. You do not want it to be too sticky or too dry. If it is too sticky, add more harina. If it is too dry, add more water.
Heat a pan over medium heat. Break off a golf ball-sized piece of dough and flatten it with your hand until it is the size of a pancake. Place it into the pan for approximately 35 seconds and turn it to fry the other side for 35 seconds. Repeat the process until there is no more dough. Allow tortillas to cool.
TORTILLA CHIPS (USING THE TORTILLAS MADE ABOVE)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Salt (optional)
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Cut cooled tortillas into strips wide enough to collect the pico de gallo. Add a handful of tortilla strips at a time to the pan and fry until golden and crisp. Stir so they don't stick together. Turn the strips over and allow them to fry until both sides are crisp and golden. Carefully remove from oil. Repeat until all the strips have been fried. Salt the strips, allow to cool, and then enjoy them with your pico de gallo!
|Total calories per serving of pico de gallo: 177||Fat: 1 gram|
|Carbohydrates: 44 grams||Protein: 4 grams|
|Sodium: 29 milligrams||Fiber: 11 grams|
|Total calories per tortilla: 52||Fat: 1 gram|
|Carbohydrates: 11 grams||Protein: 1 gram|
|Sodium: 1 milligram||Fiber: 1 gram|
|Total calories per tortilla chips serving (12): 118||*Fat: 3 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 22 grams||Protein: 3 grams|
|Sodium: 1 milligram||Fiber: 3 grams|
Many people enjoy chilaquiles for breakfast, either with a side of refried beans or alone. They are a great way to use up leftover tortillas.
- 12 corn tortillas, either store-bought or homemade (See opposite.)
- ¼ cup corn oil
- 1 large tomato
- 1 dry poblano pepper
- ½ onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Shredded vegan sharp cheddar, feta, or Monterey Jack cheese
- Chopped avocado to garnish (optional)
- Chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)
Cut the corn tortillas into strips, triangles, or other shapes of your choice.
Coat a large sauté pan generously with oil and heat. Once the oil is hot, add the strips and allow them to fry until they are golden brown. Transfer the fried strips into a different pan.
Place the tomato and poblano pepper in a pan and roast over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Next, place the tomato, pepper, and onion into a blender and blend until you achieve a purée. Add the puréed salsa and salt to the chilaquiles and stir until the tortilla strips are all coated with the salsa.
Sprinkle your favorite vegan cheese on top. For added flavor, top with avocado and cilantro.
|Total calories per serving: 160||Fat: 4 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 28 grams||Protein: 4 grams|
|Sodium: 557 milligrams||Fiber: 4 grams|
CALABASITAS CON SOPA DE ARROZ(Serves 6)
Enjoy this popular lunch item with a warm tortilla! If there are any calabasitas left over, you can use these, along with your favorite mock fajita products, to make squash tacos.
SOPA DE ARROZ
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 2 tomatoes
- ½ onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 vegetable broth cube
In a pan, heat the oil and then add the rice.
In a blender, blend the tomatoes, onion, salt, water, and garlic.
Once the rice is golden, add the puréed vegetables and the broth cube to the rice. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, for approximately 15 minutes or until the rice is done.
- Drizzle of olive oil
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 4 large squash of any variety, sliced into circles and then cut in half to make semi-circles
- 2 teaspoons salt
In a large skillet, add the oil and heat.
Chop the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeño into small pieces. Add the chopped vegetables and the squash to the pan. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 10 minutes. Serve immediately with the sopa de arroz.
|Total calories per serving of sopa de arroz: 307||Fat: 8 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 53 grams||Protein: 6 grams|
|Sodium: 163 milligrams||Fiber: 2 grams|
|Total calories per serving of calabasitas: 70||Fat: 3 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 11 grams||Protein: 3 grams|
|Sodium: 782 milligrams||Fiber: 3 grams|
Fideo is a type of noodle dish that is served hot like a soup, and it is great when you want a light meal. You can find this type of noodle in many mainstream supermarkets. If you can't find fideo, you can substitute thin spaghetti noodles instead.
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- One 8-ounce package fideo pasta
- 1 medium-sized tomato
- ¼ onion
- 1 cup water
- 1 vegetable broth cube
- Juice of 1 lemon
Place the oil and fideo in a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, for approximately 7 minutes or until the fideo is golden. It will still be raw, but it will cook as part of the next step.
Place the tomato, onion, and water into a blender and blend for approximately 3 minutes until you achieve a purée. Add the purée and the broth cube to the fideo. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for approximately 15 minutes, until the broth cube has dissolved and the fideo is cooked. Squeeze lemon juice on top and serve immediately.
|Total calories per serving: 285||Fat: 8 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 45 grams||Protein: 7 grams|
|Sodium: 239 milligrams||Fiber: 2 grams|
(Makes 6 two-enchilada servings)
Enchiladas are popular because they are so versatile! These use a mock meat product, potatoes, and vegan cheese as the stuffing and are topped with tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado. Sopa de Arroz (above) makes a great side dish for these enchiladas.
- 4 dry poblano peppers
- 4 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 12 corn tortillas, either store-bought or homemade (See recipe above.)
- One package Morningstar Farms Crumbles or your favorite veggie meat substitute
- ½ cup shredded vegan cheese
- 1 tomato
- 1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 avocado, chopped
Heat a pan on the stovetop for 5 minutes, add the peppers, and roast over medium heat for 4-7 minutes. Peel and set aside.
Steam the potatoes and peel when ready. Place the potatoes in a medium-sized bowl, mash, and set aside.
Place the peppers, garlic, and cumin in a blender and blend for approximately 3 minutes. Pour into a wide bowl.
Heat a pan and add the oil. Dip a tortilla into the peppers mixture, coating it entirely. Place the tortilla into the pan. Fry for approximately 3 minutes, turn over, and fry for another 3 minutes. Repeat until all of the tortillas have been dipped and individually fried.
In another pan, prepare the crumbles according to the package directions.
Once the tortillas and the crumbles are done, add the crumbles, cheese, and scoops of potato into each tortilla. Roll each tortilla, placing the seam-side down.
Chop the tomato into fine pieces. Sprinkle the tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado on top of the enchiladas, and serve.
|Total calories per serving: 435||Fat: 12 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 65 grams||Protein: 20 grams|
|Sodium: 570 milligrams||Fiber: 13 grams|
ARROZ CON LECHE
This sweet rice dessert, which is similar to pudding, is made with vanilla, raisins, and cinnamon. It can be served hot or cold.
- 2 cups white rice
- Water to cover the rice during cooking
- 6 cups soymilk
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup vegan sugar, or to taste
- ½ cup raisins
- Powdered cinnamon (optional)
Boil the rice in water for approximately 15 minutes. Strain rice, rinse, and set aside.
In a pan, heat the soymilk and cinnamon stick to a slow simmer. Allow to infuse for approximately 7 minutes. You can either remove the cinnamon stick or leave it in the soymilk for added flavor. Add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes. Then, add the vanilla, sugar, and raisins and simmer for approximately 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and, if you like, top with powdered cinnamon.
|Total calories per serving: 232||Fat: 3 grams|
|Carbohydrates: 44 grams||Protein: 8 grams|
|Sodium: 69 milligrams||Fiber: 3 grams|
AGUA DE TAMARINDO
This sweet and refreshing drink is a staple in Mexico and is one of the famous types of 'aguas frescas' (fresh waters). You can get this at any authentic Mexican restaurant, or you can now make it yourself!
Tamarinds can be found in mainstream supermarkets, usually near the garlic. This beverage is like an iced tea except better, since you can eat the tamarinds at the bottom of your glass!
- 12 tamarinds
- 1/3 cup water (to cover the tamarinds)
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 cup vegan sugar
Cook the tamarinds in water for approximately 10 minutes. Allow them to cool. Then, mash them in a container with the 6 cups of cold water. Add the sugar, mix very well, chill, and enjoy!
|Total calories per serving: 139||Fat: <1 gram|
|Carbohydrates: 36 grams||Protein: <1 gram|
|Sodium: 1 milligram||Fiber: <1 gram|