How to fix a fit-friendly fiesta

Click here to watch our May 15 segment on WJBF News Channel 6!

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The celebration of Cinco de Mayo earlier this month got me thinking about ways to lighten up Hispanic cuisine, which is one of my absolute favorite kinds of food. Before my weight-loss journey began, two dishes I made often consisted of tostadas and stuffed peppers. I loved impressing my husband with them. So, I’ve lightened up my original tostadas recipe as well as a classic chiles rellenos recipe. I also included recipes of substitutions like cauliflower tortillas and quinoa taco meat. Like most, if not all, of my creations, these incorporate complex carbs instead of simple carbs, lean meat instead of fatty meat and plenty of veggies!


Vegetarian TostadasIMG_8473

Serves 6


  • 3 cans reduced-sodium black or pinto beans
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 fajita whole wheat tortilla
  • 4 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups guacamole
  • 1 ½ cups pico de gallo and/or salsa
  • 6 cups lettuce
  • Optional: Lean ground turkey or quinoa


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Drain black beans, and mash.
  3. Coat muffin tins with cooking spray.
  4. Place wet paper towels between every couple of tortillas. Place on a plate, and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.
  5. Place tortillas in compartments of muffin tin. Portion black beans in each tortilla – about enough to fill the muffin tin – and carefully pressing the beans down as you go so the tortilla doesn’t rip. The packed-down beans will help the tortillas to take on the shape of the muffin tin and, therefore, stand up on their own once baked and they come out of the muffin tin. Portion cheese in each tortilla shell, and bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, place two tostadas on each of the six plates, and top with remaining ingredients of your choice.

Baked Chile RellenosIMG_8474

Serves 6


  • 6 poblano chiles/peppers
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • Optional: Stuff with pork or ground chicken or turkey


*Note: I recommend wearing rubber gloves while handling the poblanos.

  1. Cut poblanos vertically down the side, and seed and devein them.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil, and coat with cooking spray. Place poblanos on baking sheet, and broil until blackened and blistered, for about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand 15 minutes. Carefully peel the blistered portions off and whatever else will easily peel off, and discard skins.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Spoon ⅓ cup Jack cheese inside each chile.
  6. Place egg whites in one shallow dish and cornmeal in another. Dredge poblanos in egg whites then cornmeal.
  7. Place stuffed chiles on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
  8. Portion tomato sauce on plates, and place one poblano on each plate on top of the sauce.

Click here for a healthier taco recipe!

Recipes of Substitutions that Suit Your Dietary Needs

Cauliflower TortillaIMG_8471


    • Cooking spray
    • 1 head cauliflower
    • ½ cup egg whites



  1. Boil water in the pot you use to steam vegetables over high heat, and place the steamer basket on top.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Chop cauliflower into florets.
  4. Pulse in food processor until looks like couscous or grits.
  5. Steam for about 10 minutes, or until cauliflower has translucent/greenish tint. Don’t fret if your steaming basket has holes that appear to be a little larger than the grain of the cauliflower; it will clump up, keeping it from falling through. Mix frequently so cauliflower steams consistently.
  6. Lay dish towel that is tightly woven (essentially with no holes in it) flat on countertop. Once cauliflower is boiled, transfer onto dish towel to get rid of moisture that cauliflower soaked up during steaming. Once it cools, pick up the edges of the towel with the cauliflower still in it to form a sack. Over the sink, squeeze the sack remove water from the cauliflower.
  7. Once moisture is removed, transfer cauliflower to a bowl. Add egg whites and spices of your choice, and mix thoroughly.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray. Roll cauliflower/egg white mixture into six balls, and place on a large baking sheet. Flatten balls into circles, no larger than 6 inches in diameter (or else they’ll fall apart when you flip them).
  9. Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully flip tortillas, and bake for another 5 minutes.
  10. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and cook tortillas for two minutes or until golden.

IMG_8472Quinoa Taco Meat

I often use quinoa as a protein-packed filler for chili – so why not use it for taco meat? This is simply my ground turkey taco meat recipe with quinoa instead of ground turkey.

Serves 6


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 4.5 oz. can green chilies
  • 1 cup tomato sauce


  1. Cook quinoa per package instructions.
  2. Place oil into skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  3. Once heated, place onion into skillet, and allow to cook for a few minutes minutes, until golden and translucent.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, and add the cooked quinoa, green chiles and tomato sauce. Mix thoroughly, and cook until heated throughout.

Other healthier swaps:

  • Flour tortilla: Whole wheat tortilla; for tacos and burritos, lettuce makes a great substitute
  • Sour cream: Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Ground beef: Lean ground turkey
  • White rice: Brown rice


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