Chef Tips For a Lighter Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Even a seasoned Mexican chef like Jose Medina knows that his native country’s cuisine can sometimes be heavy and overwhelming. Born in Mexico City, and inspired by his father’s and grandfather’s authentic home cooking, he went on to train professionally at Hacienda de Los Morales and Les Celebrites, in Mexico City’s Hotel Nikko. Now, as chef and owner of Toloache restaurants in New York City and Tacuba in Astoria, Queens, he makes sure to use fresh ingredients and offer a variety of healthy options (while also leading a healthy lifestyle even when he’s not in the kitchen). If you’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year, you can use some of Medina’s tips to keep your fiesta in check.

  • Serve light dishes such as a ceviche that include fresh seafood, lime juice, avocado and tomatoes, along with delicious fresh seasoning like cilantro and parsley.
  • Guacamole is a must-have on your menu, but you can skip the chips! Serve carrots, cucumbers and jicama (or your favorite veggies) instead for dipping.
  • When serving tacos, opt for fresh grilled fish or chicken as your meat. Keep it authentic and light by topping your taco with a pico de gallo mixture (red onion, cilantro, tomatoes, fresh lime juice and vinegar). Calories from cheese and crema can add up, but pico de gallo has great texture and flavor for fewer calories.
  • Slim down cocktails by skipping the simple syrup. Instead, use fresh lime juice and light agave nectar for sweetness.

    La Flaca

    Yield: 1 serving

    1 teaspoon pomegranate
    2 ounces Partida Blanco Tequila
    1 ounce fresh lime juice
    3/4 ounce agave nectar

    Muddle pomegranate.
    Add all ingredients and ice and shake.
    Double strain over fresh ice, and garnish with fresh pomegranate on top.

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