Home and Living


The Home and Living Section of the Sol Mexico News is devoted to food, furniture, decoration and fun in your Mexican Home

Mexican fare gives you what your body wants

As the days get shorter and chillier I find my tastes change. Instead of meal-size salads and chilled soups I crave hot, hearty dishes.

I like heavily flavored food and recipes that have plenty of spice. Mexican dishes always seem to hit the spot once the leaves start falling and snow begins appearing on mountain ridges.

Whether eaten at home or at a restaurant, Latin cuisine can be healthy, especially if you keep an eye out for nutritious additions.

Let us start with the carbohydrates. As I tell my clients, carbohydrates are not bad, and they are often good. Best in their whole food form, they fuel the brain, power muscles and keep body energy levels balanced. Mexican foods that contain measurable carbs include tortillas, beans, rice and corn. Corn tortillas are often just whole corn, corn oil and salt. Simple and nutritious.

Restaurant flour tortillas, used for burritos or fajitas, are usually made from processed white flour and are low in fiber. If you choose flour tortillas at the grocery store your options widen. There are whole-wheat and low-carb varieties with plenty of fiber and probably more B vitamins and magnesium.

When you are at a restaurant choose corn tortillas. At home opt for corn, whole-wheat or low-carb options. Even a nice, crunchy tostada shell contains only 75 calories and very little fat. And it makes an excellent start to a colorful plant-based tostada salad.

Any meal based on beans will be good for your body. Everyone should have half a cup of beans each day, according to Dr. Walter Willett, nutritionist at the Harvard School of Public Health. Rich in potassium, magnesium and B vitamins, these legumes are some of the most nutritious foods available. Quercitin and saponins found in black beans are antioxidants that are particularly heart healthy and protect cells from cancerous growths. Incredible but true, beans also contain a measurable amount of selenium, a mineral that prevents inflammation, helps the body detoxify cancer-causing compounds and plays a role in liver enzyme function.

Athletes trying to teach their bodies to store carbohydrate energy will find that beans are the best. That’s because the slower-absorbing carbs stick longer in the cells as glycogen and are available up to 48 hours after eating. Simpler sugars like sports gels or drinks last less than 24 hours.

All dried beans are good, but kidney, black and pinto, in that order, are the best. Cooking them from scratch is the best choice because they will generally have less unhealthy fat, like lard and less salt. Canned beans can be soaked and rinsed to eliminate most of the salt.

With 8 grams of soluble fiber per half-cup serving, beans truly perform medical magic. The proof is in their dramatic ability to lower LDL cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar and optimally fortify an athlete for ultra endurance. In fact, I have recently been recommending a bean meal rather than pasta for the night-before-a-race dinner because it tends to clean out the gut and enable the runners, bicyclists or skiers to race lighter and faster. Energy levels in the athletes also seem to improve, so they can go longer distances before hitting the wall.

Although beans can provide plenty of protein for a main dish, there are alternative options for a satisfying Latin-flavored meal. Cold-water fish, seafood and skinless chicken are the best. Beef is less heart-healthy; fajitas are the optimal red meat choice. Pork is not white meat, as advertised. It’s really a red meat with similar levels of saturated fat to beef.

My favorite restaurant entree is grilled fish tacos, whether cod, mahi-mahi, swordfish or salmon. All those cold-water fish provide a measurable level of omega-3 fats to soothe joints, heal the brain and decrease risk for cardiovascular disease. Better yet, choose fish tostadas, which offer more vegetables in the form of leafy greens to further “healthify” the meal.

The best part about Mexican food is the salsa. It’s always nutritious, whether based on tomatoes, mangoes, tomatillos or pineapple, and the addition of the produce dramatically ups the antioxidant factor in a spicy dish.

With a rainbow of colors, each offering a compendium of nutritional value, get creative when making salsa at home. Order extra at a restaurant, including the fresh salsa, or pico de gallo.

For home dishes try the black bean salsa recipe above. Although this is my basic recipe, I encourage you to try other varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans, onions or herbs. Roasted summer or winter squash or cubed sweet potatoes are other possible variations. The sky is the limit for creativity in this yummy condiment. It can even be used as the main ingredient for burritos, tacos or tostadas. Simply add it to the tortilla and top with leafy greens and condiments.

Clean-eating black bean salsa


  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ears of fresh corn on the cob, steamed 4 minutes, cooled and kernels cut off the cob
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 large Haas avocado, peeled and diced
  • 3 bell peppers, diced (one each of green, red and yellow)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste


  1. Gently combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cover and chill overnight for best flavor.
  3. Season to taste with more lime juice, hot sauce or cilantro.
  4. Serve on your favorite Mexican dish.


  1. ad Hinde and Jaimes


The Secret Behind The World’s Best Vegan Mexican Food


I’m sitting at a tiny table in a tiny restaurant tucked above a subway station at the amorphous über-trendy intersection of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. I’m surrounded by what seems to be off-duty models with perfectly messy hair, and all I can think about is the urge to undo the top button of my jeans. That, and how I can somehow eat another bite of enchilada.

Ja Ja Ja (pronounced “ha ha ha,” a noise several people in front of me made when informed of the hour-plus Wednesday-night wait time) combines two concepts so disparate as to almost be an oxymoron: vegan Mexican food. Mexican is arguably the hardest cuisine to vegan-ify, often leaning heavily on cheeses, meats, and animal fats for the hearty, recognizable flavors. While old-school vegan staples like fake meats and mayonnaises pop up on the Ja Ja Ja menu, they’ve also (far more interestingly) set about superfood-ifying Mexican staples.

Black beans are fermented, for a complex, tangy flavor. Squash is battered with hemp and flaxseeds and smothered in chipotle almond butter to become a facsimile of a “fish” taco with a crispy crust that, to my trained tongue, came damn close to passing as fried. Tortillas are spiked with turmeric; the Tinga Tostada is served on a chlorophyll-corn base.

The food and atmosphere are festive, not austere or rooted in deprivation; with matcha cocktails that still feature a generous serving of alcohol, there’s an understanding that wellness is about celebration, tasting good, and enjoying life.

I chatted a bit with the founders to get the secrets behind their runaway success.

Vegan Mexican food is quite ambitious—where’d the idea come from?

It made sense for us to veganize Mexican food because historically, the ancient Mexican diet is plant- and grain-driven. We saw a void with no one diving in, a space for us to explore our menu in a fun, playful, healthy, and interactive way—something that vegans and non-vegans alike could enjoy.

Are you vegan?

One of our partners is a vegetarian, and two of our main childhood friends/investors are completely plant-based eaters. Whenever we would go out with them, there were lots of obstacles in ordering for the table, so we wanted to be a part of the solution by finding common ground for a shared experience (regardless of dietary choices).

What’s the most popular dish at Ja Ja Ja?

Our Chayote “Fish” Taco—chayote being a common South American squash popular in Mexican cooking—has definitely been an item people can’t get enough of, and we find our nachos pretty hard to beat.

What were the hardest Mexican foods to veganize? What solutions did you come up with?

The core of our menu is Mexican street food, most of which traditionally incorporates meat in various ways. That was our biggest challenge—making great-tasting tacos with familiar textures. In order to solve that problem we searched for vegetables that could not only hold up well with various cooking methods but enhance the flavors of every dish while remaining true to the root of the dish.

What are a few things people can do at home to make their cooking a little bit healthier?

Having fun exploring your kitchen is really the key. Cook with more vegetables in creative ways! You can alleviate the need for oil by using high-water-content vegetables, such as onions and mushrooms, and cut back on sugars by replacing them with natural fruits. We also try to use less-processed starches, and to incorporate charcoal into a few items to help the digestive system.

Dorado With Asparagus and Almond Sauce


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds  
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice  
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey  
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard  
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper  
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley  
  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed  
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest  
  • 4 6-ounce skinless Dorado fillets (about 1 inch thick)  

Preheat the broiler. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and broil, stirring frequently, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine the toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, honey, mustard, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the parsley.

Toss the asparagus with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon water, the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste on the same baking sheet. Spread in a single layer and broil until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Sprinkle the fish with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and arrange on the same baking sheet, rounded side down; broil until opaque, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets, brush with some of the almond sauce and continue broiling until just firm and cooked through, 3 to 5 more minutes. Divide the fish and asparagus among plates and top with the remaining almond sauce.

Oaxaca cheese

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

            Oaxaca cheese (Spanish: Queso Oaxaca) is a white, semihard cheese from Mexico, similar to unaged Monterey Jack, but with a mozzarella-like string cheese texture. Outside Mexico, Oaxaca cheese is often confused with “asadero cheese” (or “queso asadero” in Spanish), a cheese produced in the Northern state of Chihuahua. They are similar in texture and taste but they are produced with different methods, making Oaxaca cheese slightly drier.

It is named after the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, where it was first made. The string cheese process, originally from Italy, which is used to produce mozzarella, was brought to Mexico by the Dominican monks that settled in Oaxaca. However, as water buffallo milk was unavailable, they started using cow milk instead. The cheese is available in several different shapes.

The production process is complicated and involves stretching the cheese into long ribbons and rolling it up like a ball of yarn. Italian mozzarella is another cheese which is processed by stretching (the pasta filata process).

Queso Oaxaca is used widely in Mexican cuisine, especially in quesadillas and empanadas, where the queso Oaxaca is melted and other ingredients, such as huitlacoche and squash flowers, are added to the filling.

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How to Make REAL Vanilla Extract

VanillaMaking Vanilla extract is an easy and economical way to bring powerful flavors to your baking. Many extracts that you buy commercially use corn syrup to sweeten the product. No need if you you are baking!Vanilla2

Try this

6 vanilla beans

2 cups of bourbon or vodka

Jar with a tight lid

  1. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise an put into the jar. Cut in half if you need to fit them into the jar.
  2. Cover completely with the bourbon or vodka
  3. Shake periodically. Store in a cool dark place for at least 2 months.

1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

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Mexican food diet best for health, weight loss, author says

Maru Davila, author of “The Mexican Food Diet,” explains in her new book why Mexican food is best for getting healthy and losing weight.


Maru Davila, author of “The Mexican Food Diet,” explains in her new book why Mexican food is best for getting healthy and losing weight.

Davila stopped by ABC7’s sister station WLS-TV’s studio on Thursday. She said seven out of 10 people are overweight, and many are also suffering from health issues related to excess weight.
The best possible thing to help with these problems is to eat Mexican food, Davila said.
Davila gained 60 pounds and neglected her health, struggling with her weight for 30 years. She found the solution in the food she ate while growing up in Mexico.
Mexican food is commonly perceived as delicious but also unhealthy and leading to weight gain. Davila said Mexican food has elements that are great for health and weight loss

Mexico’s blossoming wine region: Valle de Guadalupe


VALLE DE GUADALUPE (KGTV) — 10News Anchor Kimberly Hunt paid a visit to the stunning Valle de Guadalupe to learn about the blossoming wine industry. It’s the beautiful wine region less than two hours south of the U.S/Mexico border in San Diego.

She traveled to one of the oldest wineries in the area and the first to create a premium wine, called Monte Xanic. She also spent time with star chef Javier Plascencia who owns a group of restaurants which are changing the cuisine of the country to a style called “Baja Med.”

Last year more than 160,000 people visited Valle de Guadalupe. Every year, that number triples.

As more and more tourists explore the valley, hotels, restaurants and wineries are popping up to keep up with the demand. Today Valle de Guadalupe has 150 wineries.

Kimberly spent time with Monte Xanic CEO Hans Backhoff in the vineyards of the winery where they grow numerous varieties of red grapes as well as the very popular whites of the valley – Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.

Kimberly met Javier Plascencia at his famed Valle restaurant Finca Altozano, known for regional cuisine fresh from the ranches, orchards, and gardens of the valley.

If you want a beautiful view of Valle de Guadalupe we invite you to watch. Who knows, it may even beckon you. Cheers!

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