Healthy Recipes and Ideas for Cinco de Mayo

Theo and I love Mexican food and Cinco de Mayo just gives us another excuse to whip up a fun Mexican meal and a fresh batch of margaritas.  As if we need an excuse!  It's also a great time to take advantage of the local produce that’s popping up in our area of the world.  This month we're finding asparagus, onions, peas, lettuces, spinach and tomatoes among other items. 

Whether you’re planning a Cinco de Mayo party or want to celebrate with a simple festive dinner, here are a few creative ideas to include the local bounty.  Dress up grilled asparagus with fresh pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado, jalapeno and lime juice) and Cotija cheese*.  Try spinach enchiladas for a fresh meatless alternative.  Or lighten up with our favorite healthy and satisfying Baked Chicken Chimichangas recipe, a great alternative to the traditionally fried favorite.  They're so flavorful that you'll never miss the fat from frying!

*Cotija [Ko-tee-hah] is a Mexican-style grated cheese cow's milk cheese similar to Parmesan.  Both Parmesan and Romano cheeses are suitable substitutes.


2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
1 cup reduced fat Mexican Blend Cheese
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
4.5 oz chopped green chiles
16 oz fat free refried beans
6, 8” tortillas
Cooking Spray
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine all ingredients through chiles.  Divide refried beans evenly among tortillas and spread down the middle.  Top each tortilla with an even amount of chicken mixture.  Fold up the bottom third then fold in the sides and roll the tortilla up.  Place chimichangas, seam side down on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Lightly spray the tops of the chimichangas with non-stick spray.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until heated through and beginning to brown.  Serve topped with salsa, fresh avocado slices and chopped cilantro. 

Tip:  To prepare chimichangas in advance, wrap each individually with plastic or parchment and freeze in gallon-size freezer bag.  Defrost before baking.  The chimis will look soggy but don't worry.  They will still crisp up when baked.  

Adapted from Cooking Light Roast Chicken Chimichanga recipe.