As much as I like local, hole-in-the-wall Mexican places, nothing beats making Mexican food at home. It’s easy to leave a Mexican restaurant feeling overly stuffed and loaded down by all of the fried chips, heavy ingredients, and huge portions, but at home, it’s easier to keep your meal on the lighter side without compromising any of the yum factor.
I love making a huge spread of toppings like guacamole, freshly shredded cheese, sautéed veggies, salsa, and sour cream to top my homemade Mexican food. And my favorite of all?Homemade refried beans! They’re loaded with protein with just a little kick of spice, and they’re superbly creamy. Until a year or two ago, I had no idea that you could make refried beans yourself. They’re surprisingly simple, and they’re 100x better than the canned kind. All you have to do is let dried pinto beans soak overnight in water, add some spices in the morning, cook them for several hours, and then mash them with a potato masher. They’ll be ready in time for dinner, with almost no hand-on work! At my house, we love having these on tacos, inside fajitas, quesadillas, & burritos, and alongside chicken enchiladas.
I briefly contemplated buying a slow-cooker for my dorm room just so I could make things like refried beans and soups, but I think that’d officially place me into the “high-maintenance” category. Also, I’m not so sure that slow-cookers are actually allowed in dorm rooms…
So, until I have my own kitchen again, I’ll have to settle for enjoying them at home or defrosted from my freezer. Homemade refried beans freeze perfectly, so I can always bring them back to school in individual portions. Yum!
Some ideas for keeping your Mexican food on the lighter side:
- Make a “deconstructed” taco or fajita plate! Fill your plate up with all of the normal fillings and toppings while skipping the outer shell or tortilla.
- Go heavy on the fresh & sautéed veggies, lean protein, salsa and refried beans. Go light on the cheese, sour cream, rice, and tortillas.
- Use lettuce leaves to make Mexican lettuce wraps!
Question for you: What’s your favorite Mexican dish?
I love enchiladas verdes and quesadillas. And of course, I love my homemade burritos! They’re the best thing ever at school in the midst of lots of eating out and storebought frozen meals. I also love making a huge Mexican salad with spicy grilled fajita chicken, refried beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and guacamole. YUM!