Reduced Guilt Cinco De Mayo [A Double-Dip Day]

Mortar-crushed avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro make for a great appetizer to share.

Mortar-crushed avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro form a thick, chunky guacamole, perfect for sharing as an appetizer at Ole Mexican Grill.

Friends, it’s been too long. I sincerely apologize for the unannounced, extended hiatus. The past few weeks have been jampacked, and I was caught off guard by how little time I’d have between my final theses projects, senior week activities, literary magazine launch parties, award ceremonies and farewell dinners, and finally – my college graduation.  Last Sunday, I received my degree from Emerson College in Writing, Literature and Publishing. Now, I have plenty of time to update you on the past few weeks, which have been full of delicious little bites.

I thought I’d start by taking you back to the fifth of the month. This year, Cinco de Mayo coincided with the day I pressed “send” on an e-mail containing the final assignments of my undergraduate career. I began to celebrate, immediately, with my parents and my roommate. We began with drinks at a nearby bar, before catching a cab to Olé Mexican Grill.

Located in Inman Square in Camridge, this acclaimed Mexican restaurant serves upscale, contemporary versions of Mexican classics. Their menu features corn tamales, tortilla soup, enchiladas and tacos, as well as less conventional items – chilaquiles vegetarianos with layers of salsa-simmered tortillas filled with mushrooms, poblanos, corn and spinach, and a vegetable stew with pumpkin seed sauce.

Until we arrived at the restaurant, we didn’t know we’d be limited to a Cinqo De Mayo menu. While the menu itself contained a fine assortment of items, it was disappointing that we weren’t able to try some of the less common options. Nonetheless, we feasted in a celebratory fashion, splitting mushroom and poblano quesedillas to start, as well as chips, guacamole, and salsa.

I ordered a Jicama Salad, which was a bright, crisp complement to the rich chile relenos that followed. Crunchy carrot and cucumber balanced the orange, pineapple, and tang from the pickled red onions and honey vinaigrette.

Even with the dressing on the side, the Jicama Salad at Ole was a perfect balance of citrus and earthy vegetable.

Even with the dressing on the side, the Jicama Salad at Ole was a perfect balance of citrus and earthy vegetable.

Because today is not only about doing a double-take, but also a little double-dipping, I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite guiltless bites. Try this quick little snack as a party favor at next year’s Cinco De Mayo celebration, or enjoy it all year round as I do. These “mushroom ‘chos” can satisfy a craving for melted cheese and spicy Mexican without the added sodium and fat from the typical order of Nachos Grande.

Recently, I happened upon Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole. This low-fat, low-calorie alternative to tradtional guac is achieved by mixing all the standard ingredients – tomato, jalapeno, red onion and cilantro, avocado – with a generous heping of Greek yogurt. Trader Joe’s creative recipe has half the calories and fat as a version with a pure avocado base; only 30 calories in a two-tablespoon serving, and 2 grams of healthy fat.

To create this dish, simply slice a few large button mushrooms horizontally, creating flat wedges perfect for topping. Evenly spread two tablespoons of the guilt-free guac across the mushrooms. Top mushroom with your favorite salsa, and cover them all with a serving of fat free cheese – I prefer Kraft’s Shredded Fat Free Cheddar, Trader Joes Fat Free Crumbled Feta, or a combination of the two. Each cheese contains only 45 calories in a quarter cup, making them extra-light options.

Depending on the size of the mushrooms, this dish makes about ten super-chunky mushroom nachos, piled high with protein, amino acids, healthy oils and calcium. Share this dish with friends at any fiesta, or enjoy the entire plate as a satisfying, spicy meal, all for less than 100 calories.

Pop you rmushroom 'chos into the microwave for 15-30 seconds for hot, melted cheese and guacamole, just like what you'd find on top of salted, oily tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant.

Pop you rmushroom ‘chos into the microwave for 15-30 seconds for hot, melted cheese and guacamole, just like what you’d find on top of salted, oily tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant.

Cutting out the tortilla chips, high-calorie guacamole, and rich queso fresco or manchego, allows you to enjoy the mouthwatering flavors of Mexico without needing a celebration as an excuse.

Of course, the celebrating isn’t over on the Little Word Bites front. Tonight, I’m off to toast my roommate and her college graduation. But rest assured, I’m back with more little bites and mouthful morsels than I know what to do with. I’m looking forward to making up for lost time with bonus posts, and extra updates. So check back here, and like my page on Facebook, to catch every little word, and share with me every little bite.

Until next time,

Melanie

Advertisements