cinco de mayo mealRobbinsville, NJ - Cinco de Mayo celebrations include so many flavorful, traditional Mexican recipes, and with a few key ingredients they can help you hit your healthy eating goals.

Stroke is the number four killer in the nation but research suggests that 80% of strokes can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes like eating healthier. May is American Stroke Month and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is working to build awareness of stroke and to educate Americans that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable.

Things like beans, rice, fruit, tomatoes, avocadoes, peppers, onions, salsa, jicama, seafood and whole grains are common ingredients in Mexican dishes and all can add up to a healthier diet.

 

Less than 1% of Americans have an "ideal diet" on the Healthy Diet Score, according to the American Heart Association. A healthy diet can help prevent stroke. The American Heart Association recommends eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and added sugars.

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, and any cuisine, make the fruits and vegetables the star of the plate and use meats, fish and whole grains in a supporting role. Add sautéed veggies to brown rice with low-sodium chicken broth and black beans for a healthy side dish. Select lean meats like 95% lean ground beef, ground turkey or lean sirloin for fajitas.

Try grilled, not fried, fish tacos on fresh whole grain corn tortillas with chopped tomatoes, lettuce or kale, black bean salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Lime or citrus juice or vinegar can really boost flavor and is a great way to reduce salt in a recipe.

The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day - more than twice the AHA 1,500 milligrams recommendation. Ingredient substitutions like citrus juice, vinegar and fresh herbs can replace sodium for flavor. Roasting vegetables like peppers, onions and squash can also add great flavor to dishes.

When adding cheeses and creams to dishes, try lower fat versions like 50% reduced fat Colby jack or reduced fat sour cream. Bake don't fry tortilla chips and offer fresh, fat-free tortillas for roasted veggie, bean or lean meat burritos.

Some canned refried beans have lard, saturated fat and high sodium content-aim for healthier versions or make your own from dried beans soaked overnight, which is budget friendlier.

The American Stroke Association's Together to End Stroke initiative, nationally sponsored by Covidien and locally sponsored by Capital Health, provides information and tools to help people to prevent, treat and beat stroke. Learn more at . Get more great Mexican recipes and video cooking tips from the American Heart Association at .

Recipes from the American Heart Associations "Simple Cooking with Heart" program:

Black Bean Salad or Salsa

6 servings

About $0.84 per serving

1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can no-salt added or low-sodium kernel corn, drained or ¾ cup frozen corn, thawed
1 medium red bell pepper or 1 tomato diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic from jar
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 
Juice of 1 lime

Toss all together, chill at least one hour.

TIP: Serve this as a side salad to a meal or warm in microwave and use as a filling for tacos!

Per serving:

Calories 

142

Total Fat

2.5 g

Saturated Fat

0.5 g

Trans Fat

0.0 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

0.5 g

Monounsaturated Fat

1.5 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Sodium

11 mg

Carbohydrates

26 g

Fiber

5 g

Sugars

6 g

Protein

6 g

Dietary Exchanges:  1  1/2 starch,  1/2 fat

Quick Chicken Fajitas

4 servings


 About $3.48 per serving

Cooking spray

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken meat sliced in ½ inch strips, visible fat removed (breasts or tenderloins)
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 medium bell pepper sliced, any color
1 medium onion sliced (white, yellow or red)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
8 taco sized whole wheat or corn tortillas (Choose tortillas with the lowest amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.)
1 avocado, sliced
½ cup jarred salsa, lowest sodium available
½ cup fat-free sour cream

  

1.Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat to medium-high and add chicken, cook for 3 minutes until browned.

2.Reduce heat to medium and add soy sauce, bell pepper, onions, pepper and cumin. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.Spoon evenly over tortillas and top with sliced avocado, salsa and/or sour cream (optional).

Beans and Rice

1 (16 oz) canned fat-free, no salt added black beans
1 cup instant brown rice, prepared to package instructions

1.Spray a small pot with cooking spray, heat beans over low-heat until warmed, stirring occasionally (approx. 10 minutes).

2.Combine cooked rice with 2 tablespoons salsa and stir.

  

Per serving:

Calories 64

Total Fat 2.7 g

Saturated Fat 1.5 g

Trans Fat 0.1 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g

Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g

Cholesterol 8 mg

Sodium 207 mg

Carbohydrates 5.5 g

Fiber 1.5 g

Sugars 0.0 g

Protein 5.5 g

Potassium 263 mg

Calcium 129 mg