Yes, Mexican food can be light

Jennifer Mastroianni

If your idea of Mexican cuisine is cheese-heaped nachos from a drive-through fast food restaurant, this cookbook isn't for you.

But if you like the idea of naturally healthful Mexican fare you can create in your own kitchen, consider Kris Rudolph's new book, "Mexican Light, Healthy Cuisine for Today's Cook" (University of North Texas Press, $17.95). The book celebrates the flavors of Mexico from a more healthful perspective.

Rudolph's 50 recipes cover everything from appetizers to after-dinner refreshers, and each includes nutritional information. Many of the recipes are rooted in the country's earliest culture. Others are healthful twists on contemporary dishes.

"Did you know that pre-Columbian Mexican cuisine was low in fat and high in fiber and vitamins?" says Rudolph. "Based on corn, squash, tomatoes, beans and lean meats, the everyday diet of the first Americans was remarkably close to the recommendations for healthy eating we hear about every day."

For a good light meal, consider Meatballs in Chipotle Salsa, Roasted Garlic Soup with Chicken and Mango Mousse.



1 pound Roma tomatoes

1 white onion, quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 chipotle chile, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste


1 pound extra lean ground beef

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic in large stock pot. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Empty stock pot, along with water, into a blender jar. Add chipotle chile and salt. Purée in batches.

Strain salsa back into stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. While salsa is cooking, make meatballs: Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form beef into 1-ounce balls.

Once salsa reaches a boil, place meatballs directly into stock pot. Lower heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Six servings. Per serving: 233 calories; 11.4 g fat; 4.3 g saturated fat; 11.3 g carbohydrates; 1.1 g fiber.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 heads garlic, peeled

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

6 cups chicken broth, heated

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups spinach, chopped

1 cup shredded cooked chicken

Salt to taste

1/3 cup green onion, finely chopped

Place olive oil in large stock pot over medium-low heat. When warm, add garlic and sauté until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add tomatoes and continue cooking 2-3 minutes more. Add heated chicken broth and bring soup to a boil over high heat. Transfer to a food processor or use an immersion blender to purée the soup.

Return soup to the stock pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Pour the eggs slowly into the soup, stirring constantly. Add spinach and chicken. Cook for 5 minutes. Salt to taste. Garnish with green onions.

Six servings. Per serving: 145 calories; 9 g fat; 1.8 g saturated fat; 5.9 g carbohydrates; 0.7 g fiber.


2 ripe mangoes, chopped

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place mangoes, lime juice, nutmeg and cinnamon in food processor. Purée using the pulse button, so the mixture remains chunky.

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream and vanilla to soft peaks. Gently fold into the mango purée. Spoon into individual dishes. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Four servings. Per serving: 121 calories; 7.6 g fat, 4.6 saturated fat; 12 g carbohydrates, 0.6 g fiber.

Recipes from "Mexican Light"

Reach Repository Food Writer Jennifer Mastroianni at (330) 580-8304 or e-mail