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5 Low-Calorie Mexican Recipes

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Pesto

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372 calories, 3.1 grams sugar, 31 grams fat, 20.1 grams carbohydrates, 8.6 grams protein

Liven up grilled corn on the cob by slathering each piece with delicious, homemade Mexican-flavored pesto. Made with antioxidant-rich cilantro and pumpkin seeds, the piquant sauce boasts a slightly spicy bite and serves as a perfect addition paired with fish or chicken too!

“Comparing this to a classic Italian pesto, I replace the basil with cilantro, pine nuts with spicy roasted pumpkin seeds, olive oil with canola oil, and Parmesan with cotija cheese,” says chef Jeffrey Saad.


8 ears corn, husk peeled and discarded

2 c. cilantro, washed, large stems removed

3/4 c. canola oil

1/4 c. roasted green pumpkin seeds

1/2 c. cotija cheese, grated

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

1/2 c. green-shelled pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp. canola oil

2 tsp. chile powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To a small bowl add the pumpkin seeds, canola oil, chile powder, and salt. Mix together well. Spread pumpkin seeds out evenly on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Place in oven. Stir the seeds every few minutes until golden brown, about ten minutes. Set aside until cool. To make the cilantro pesto, in a food processor, add the cilantro, canola oil, roasted green pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese, and garlic. Pulse chop until evenly combined but still slightly chunky. Taste. Usually you do not need salt because of the salt in the roasted pumpkin seeds and cheese. Set aside. In a food processor add the cilantro, canola oil, roasted green pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese, and garlic. Pulse chop until evenly combined but still slightly chunky. Taste. Usually you do not need salt because of the salt in the roasted pumpkin seeds and cheese. Set aside. Peel the corn and place on a hot grill. Turn the corn every two minutes to evenly roast the corn all the way around. It will take about ten minutes. You will see random char marks, which is perfect. Take the corn off the grill and onto a platter. Using a pastry brush or butter knife slather the pesto onto each ear liberally. Roll the corn around to make sure the corn is completely covered. Sprinkle with a little more cotija if you like.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe provided by Jeffrey Saad, Cooking Channel host of United Tastes of America, restaurateur, chef, and author of Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders

Spinach Enchiladas

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222 calories, 1.2 grams sugar, 13.8 grams fat, 15.9 grams carbohydrates, 10.7 grams protein

Stuff these delectable enchiladas with one of our favorite fiber-packed greens—spinach! The all-star veggie is low in calories but rich in vitamins and nutrients, so it offers an ideal diet-friendly filling for corn tortillas. Plus, thanks to a tasty tomatillo sauce, this wholesome dish doesn’t sacrifice festive flavor.


1 package corn tortillas

12 oz. fresh spinach

1/2 sliced white onion

1 tbsp. chopped onion

8 large green tomatillos

2 c. water

1 bushel cilantro

1 tbsp. cilantro

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. salt

1/2 avocado

1 oz. sour cream

6 oz. shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or Asadero)


In a deep pan add the water, tomatillos, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Cook until it boils for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for additional 5 minutes. Pour everything from the pan into a blender and blend well. Next, add the avocado, sour cream, and tbsp. cilantro. Blend until creamy. In a separate flat pan, add oil, tbsp. chopped onion, shredded cheese, and 2 oz. tomatillo sauce from blender. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach, continuously stir until it is dark green. Set aside. First warm the tortillas with a little canola oil. Lay the warmed tortilla flat and add 3 oz. spinach mixture down the middle. Roll the tortilla and cover with the sauce you just made. Add a little cheese down the center on top of the tortilla and bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for several minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe provided by Casa Vega, one of Los Angeles’ oldest authentic Mexican restaurants

Seared Scallop Tacos with Green Chile Chutney

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192 calories, 9.3 grams sugar, 7.4 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein

Plump, juicy scallops are the star ingredient in this low-calorie dish! Not only are these delicious mollusks brimming with essential nutrients (including vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium), they’re also a healthy alternative to your standard fish or beef tacos. Green chile chutney lends just the right amount of spice and flavor, but proceed with caution if you can’t take the heat!


6 green Anaheim chiles

1 small jalapeno pepper

8 large sea scallops

3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. canola oil

1/2 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground

2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, toasted and ground

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. chipotle chile in adobo

1/2 c. sour cream

1/4 c. fresh lime juice

6 or 8 corn or flour tortillas

1 c. shredded green cabbage


Preheat the oven to high broil. Place the Anaheim chiles on a sheet pan on the highest rack in the oven. Use tongs to turn the chiles every minute until they are completely black on all sides. (You can also blacken the chiles over an open flame on the grill, just be careful not to let them catch fire.) Place the chiles in a bowl, cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil, and let sit for 10 minutes to cool. Once the chiles are cool, wipe off the skin gently with your fingers. Do not use water to get blackened skin off chiles; the flavorful oils will get washed away. Remove the seeds and finely chop the chiles. Set aside. Finely chop the jalapeno, removing the seeds for milder chutney or leaving them in for the maximum heat. Add the jalapeno to the Anaheims and set aside. Rinse the scallops well and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the rubbery lip from the side of each scallop. Season with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot (you will see a haze coming off the oil), add the scallops to the pan. Sear on the first side until a nice golden crust forms, about 3 minutes. Flip over the scallops and continue cooking until the sides of the scallops turn from translucent to opaque, about 1 minute. Be careful not to over cook. Remove from the pan and set aside. The scallops will continue to cook when you remove them from the pan due to the residual heat. In a separate medium skillet over medium heat, add the cumin and oregano. Toast for 1 minute just until you can smell the perfume of the spices. Add the vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Add the chopped Anaheim and jalapeno chiles and simmer until the mixture thickens but still easily flows from side to side as you tilt the pan. Using a rubber spatula, remove the chutney to a bowl and let cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools. (Will last for 3 weeks in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator.) Smash the chipotle chile in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the sour cream and the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour in the lime juice and mix well. Set aside at room temperature. Toast the tortillas until warm, soft and slightly golden. Lay them on three or four plates. If not serving right away, place the tortillas in a bowl and cover with a dry towel. Divide the shredded cabbage evenly among the tortillas. Cut the scallops into pieces and lay them on the cabbage. Top with the chutney, then the seasoned sour cream.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe provided by Jeffrey Saad, Cooking Channel host of United Tastes of America, restaurateur, chef, and author of Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders

Skinny Citrus Shrimp Tacos

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140 calories, 3 grams sugar, 3 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein

For a truly light Cinco de Mayo treat, cook up these easy citrus-infused shrimp tacos. Instead of a heavy cream garnish, this recipe calls for Greek yogurt crema that helps pare down calories and fat! Feel free to indulge in several of these tacos without worrying about your waistline.


For shrimp and marinade:

1/2 c. orange juice

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 tbsp. chopped jalapeno chiles

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined

For cucumber salsa fresca:

2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded, chopped

2 tbsp. chopped jalapeno chiles

1/4 c. chopped red onion

1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 1 c.)

1/4 tsp. salt

For yogurt crema:

1 6 oz. container Yoplait Greek Fat Free plain yogurt

2 tbsp. orange juice

For tortillas:

8 Old El Paso flour tortillas for soft tacos and fajitas (6 in.), heated as directed on package


In 1-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix shrimp and marinade ingredients. Seal bag. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix cucumber salsa fresca ingredients. In small bowl, mix yogurt crema ingredients. Drain shrimp; discard marinade. Heat 12-in. nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pink. Drain, if needed. Spoon shrimp on tortillas; top with cucumber salsa fresca, and drizzle with yogurt crema.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe provided by Betty Crocker

Pollo Toloache

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646 calories, 8 grams sugar, 26.7 grams fat, 25.5 grams carbohydrates, 75.6 grams protein

Whip up a totally satisfying meal, and impress your dinner guests, with this chipotle-marinated chicken breast dressed in tasty pico de gallo and roasted corn.

“The spicy adobo sauce that I use to marinate the chicken in is full of flavor and is a great healthy substitute for barbeque sauce and other condiments that have a high sugar content,” says chef Julian Medina.


For the adobo sauce:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 c. Spanish onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves

1 Mexican cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

3 chipotle peppers

10 Guajillo chiles, stemmed and deveined

5 c. water

1/4 c. sherry vinegar

Kosher salt to taste

For the chicken:

4 pieces of 8-oz. chicken breast, French cut

6 tbsp. adobo sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil

For the pico de gallo:

2 c. tomato, diced

1/2 c. cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 c. red onion, diced

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

1 tbsp. lime juice

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. dried Mexican oregano

Kosher salt to taste


4 ears of yellow corn, with husks

4 tsp. queso fresco

Kosher salt to taste


For the adobo sauce:

Preheat a large skillet over medium flame. Combine the vegetable oil, onions, and garlic, and allow ingredients to cook for five minutes. Add the Mexican cinnamon stick, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, and chipotle; then cook for an additional two minutes. Add the guajillos, water and salt; cook until the guajillos are tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set pan aside. When the mixture cools, puree in a blender until smooth. Strain into a bowl, then add sherry vinegar, salt to taste.

For the pico de gallo:

In a medium bowl, combine all then ingredients and mix well, salt to taste.

For the corn:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the ears of corn with husks in the oven. Allow to cook for 20 minutes. Once the corn is fully cooked remove from oven and discard the husks. Let cool slightly, then shave the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.

For the chicken:

Marinate the 4 pieces of chicken in the adobo for a minute, season with salt. Prepare a pan with olive oil on high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan skin-side down and let sear for about 8 minutes, then turn the chicken breasts and let cook for about 8 minutes more.

To assemble and serve:

Per each place, place a 1/4 of the corn in the center, and then over the corn place the chicken breast. Top the dish with the pico de gallo and queso fresco.
Makes 4 servings.

Recipe provided by Julian Medina, chef and owner of Toloache


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