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Healthy (and Spicy!) Mexican Eats

This week we are ramping up the spice and looking at healthy Mexican dishes. You don't have to sacrifice flavor while eating healthy because it all comes down to the ingredients. Adding spice to your food has many benefits. Here are some of those benefits:

  • ​spicy foods ramp up your metabolism

  • spicy foods combat inflammation

  • may inhibit cancer cells

  • powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties

  • heart healthy keeping LDL (bad cholesterol) low

  • pain reliever

Let's look at some Mexican favorites.


​Start out by making your own seasoning mix. The beauty here is that you control the heat. ​

​Packaged seasonings can have fillers and plenty of sodium which are things you don't want.

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp oregano


Change up your regular enchiladas with this green sauce. It can be used many ways such as on tacos and in casseroles as well.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

or avocado oil

  • 3 lbs tomatillos, husks and stems removed, halved

  • 3 green chiles, ribs and seeds removed

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 head garlic, peeled

  • 2 jalapenos, stems removed (seeds and ribs are optional depending on how spicy you like it)

  • 1 lime

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro

  • Heavy pinch sea salt

  • Pinch black pepper

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  1. ​ Place tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic and jalapeno in a large baking dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and broil until tender and lightly charred, about 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it--if onion and garlic begin to cook faster, remove them first.

  2. Transfer your cooked ingredients to your food processor or blender. Zest the lime into the mixture, then add the juice. Add cilantro and remaining seasonings and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds. Store in an airtight container refrigerated for 2 weeks or freeze for months.


Here is a nice, light cream sauce. Try it on a taco salad or over enchiladas.

  • solid coconut cream from 1 13.5 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 2 limes

  • 1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or smaller bullet-sized smoothie blender. Blend until smooth.

  2. Note: if the sauce is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water or lime juice at a time until you have a consistency you like. Enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator for later.

  3. Store in a sealed container for up to 7 days.

  4. To serve once chilled through, soften by heating it prior to serving or simply dollop while slightly more solid on warm food for it to melt there.

Troubleshooting your sauce: if you find that your sauce separates while you make it, simply heat it up slightly (either in the microwave for about 15 seconds or on the stove just until the chill is gone) and stir again. It will come back together!​


There is nothing easier than a fish taco. The pickled onions are a nice touch.


  • 3/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced (reserve remaining 1/4 for the salsa)

  • 1/2 cup apple juice

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt*

  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes


  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced (or 1 tbsp. dried)

  • Zest from 1 lime (about 2 tsp.)

  • 1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned, firm white fish such as mahi mahi, lingcod, California (white) sea bass, or rockfish (aka Pacific snapper)*, cut into approximately 1- by 5-in. strips

  • About 1 tsp. kosher salt*

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • About 1 tsp. kosher salt*

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed, and dried

  • 1 firm-ripe Hass avocado, peeled and sliced

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • Juice from 1 lime (about 2 1/2 tsp.), plus more to taste

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (leaves and tender stems), chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

  • About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt*

  • About 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  1. Make pickled onions: Put onion slices in a pint-size jar. In a liquid measuring cup, combine remaining pickled-onion ingredients, stir to mix, and pour over onion slices. Push slices down with a fork until submerged in the liquid. Seal jar and chill at least 30 minutes (4 hours are ideal) and up to 1 week.

  2. Marinate fish: Whisk together 1/4 cup oil, the oregano, and lime zest in a bowl (it will be thick, like pesto). Pat fish dry with paper towels, then add to bowl and turn to coat thoroughly with marinade. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

  3. Make salsa: Put pineapple in blender, followed by remaining salsa ingredients, and blitz until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or more lime juice to taste.

  4. When you're ready to cook the fish, heat a grill to medium-high (450°) with a large cast-iron frying pan or griddle set on cooking grate. Meanwhile, toss fish with salt and pepper.

  5. When pan is hot enough that it evaporates a drop of water instantly, swirl remaining 1 tbsp. oil into hot pan, add fish in a single layer, and cook undisturbed, grill covered, until browned underneath, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully flip pieces over with a fish spatula or other thin spatula. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more, covered, or until fish is cooked through.

  6. Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter (if any are torn, top with a second leaf). Arrange fish on lettuce, tearing pieces to fit, and season with salt if you like. Add sliced avocado, a drizzle of salsa, and pickled onions. Serve with lime wedges and remaining salsa on the side.

*Avoid cod; it's too soft and will flake apart here. Tam uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which has bigger crystals than Morton--so if you're using Morton, cut the amount by a third.

Make ahead: Pickled onions, up to 1 week, chilled; salsa, up to 4 days, chilled.


Spicy meatballs!! Yum!


  • 1 lb ground beef

  • 1 lb ground pork or chicken/turkey

  • 1 small red onion finely diced

  • 3 cloves garlic crushed

  • 1 green pepper grated

  • 2-3 tbsp finely diced jalapeños

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tbsp cumin

  • 1/2 tbsp paprika

  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup almond flour

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  • 1 onion finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 tsp oil

  • 2 14- oz cans chopped tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin

  • 1 dried ancho chili or alternatively 1 tbsp chipotle paste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F

  2. In a bowl combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Using your hands work the ingredients together until they are well combined.

  3. Roll the mixture into balls approximately the size of a golf ball and place the rolled meatballs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. The recipe should make approximately 25 meatballs.

  4. Bake the meatballs in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, flipping them half way through cooking to ensure they brown evenly.

  5. While the meatballs are cooking prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a pot and cook the onion and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add in the tomatoes, beef stock and cumin.

  6. If using dried ancho chili, let them soak for about 5 minutes in boiling water and then transfer to a blender along with a splash of the soaking water and blend into a puree.

  7. Add 1 tbsp of the blended ancho chili paste or chipotle paste to the sauce and let simmer for 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened. Taste the sauce and adjust the flavor by adding more chili paste or cumin if desired.

  8. Serve the meatballs coated in the sauce and sprinkled with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!


​As you know a traditional chile releno is battered and fried. Skip all that with this recipe. You'll have all the flavor, but in a healthy way.​

  • 3 poblanos peppers

  • 6 ounces goat cheese crumbles