Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Tomato Products!

by Sharon Palmer, RD

What’s Cinco de Mayo all about?  It’s a celebration held on the fifth day of May to commemorate Mexican heritage and pride; though, specifically it’s traced back to the Mexican’s remarkable victory over French forces on May 5, 1862.  In modern times, we make Cinco de Mayo a celebration of Mexican culture, in particular the delicious Latin-inspired food that we’ve come to crave.  One of the most popular cuisines across the nation, Mexican food is guaranteed to be a dish that all will enjoy.

Flavor Fiesta

Fresh garden vegetables, warm tortillas, a medley of beans, the kick of spices, tango tomatoes, and creamy avocado all smothered under hot melted cheese—such are the flavors of Mexican food.  Burritos, tacos, chimichungas, tamales, fajitas, enchiladas, guacamole, tostadas, and quesadillas are examples of some of our favorite dishes. And all of these classic Mexican dishes just would be the same without the punch of tomato products—an essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine.

Say “Hola!” to Tomato Health!

Tomato products such as canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, and of course, salsa, are all consistently incorporated into Mexican dishes.  Providing rich color and flavor, tomato products also provide valuable nutrition.  Tomato products are rich in the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to inactivate free radicals, protect against cancer, and slow the development of heart disease.  Further, lycopene in processed tomato products is better absorbed than that of fresh tomatoes.  Regular intake of tomato products has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease and improved blood cholesterol levels.  Eating more tomato products has also been linked with bone protection, prostate cancer prevention, glucose control, and protection against sun damage.

So, on this Cinco de Mayo, treat your family, friends and yourself to a healthy flavor fiesta by serving an authentic Mexican dish.  The options are endless, so don’t choose just one.  Start with our very own simple and tasty, hand-crafted guacamole recipe.  You’ll find that it will be a great appetizer, side dish, or condiment for your Cinco de Mayo meal.

    Spicy Guacamole

6 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup prepared salsa

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mash avocados with lemon juice in a bowl.  Stir in salsa, green onions and garlic powder.  Serve immediately.

Tomato Inspiration for Cinco de Mayo

Open a can of tomatoes or salsa to use in these following Cinco de Mayo dishes:

Chicken Tostada:  Layer a crisp tortilla shell with beans, cheese, lettuce, cooked chicken, and prepared salsa

Turkey Tacos:  Fill taco shells with sautéed ground taco meat mixed with tomato paste and chili powder, lettuce, cheese, and prepare salsa.

Cheese Enchiladas:  Fill corn tortillas with cheese, roll them tightly, place in casserole dish, top with enchilada sauce, and bake.

Bean and Cheese Burritos:  Fill a large tortilla with Spanish rice mixed with canned tomatoes, beans, cheese, lettuce, and prepared salsa.

Shrimp Nachos:  Layer tortilla chips with beans, salsa, onions, cheese, and shrimp.  Bake and serve with guacamole.

Mexican Tortilla Soup:  Create a hearty tomato-based vegetable soup; add shredded chicken, top with tortilla chips and cheese.

Written by Sharon Palmer, RD and Briana Austin, Dietetic Intern

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