By Matthew Thompson, Associate Food Editor for EatingWell Magazine
When it comes down to it, there are very few foods I'd pick over a creamy bowl of guacamole and crispy tortilla chips. They are hands-down my favorite party snack, especially when paired with a citrusy margarita. If someone asks me how much guacamole they should make for an event I'm coming to, my answer will inevitably be "More."
But pump the brakes on that pool party! Just because these foods are great-tasting doesn't mean they're great for me. In fact, oftentimes these items come loaded with a shocking amount of fat, sodium and calories. A serving of standard tortilla chips (laughably, only about 8 of them) can pack in 300 calories. A margarita from a premade mix can have 340 calories. Even guacamole-which is, after all, mostly just diced up veggies-can pack 190 calories in a half-cup serving and a whopping 14 grams of fat (avocados are surprisingly high in fat, although it's the healthy monounsaturated variety). ¡Qué horror!
So that's why I was really excited to work on EatingWell's "Slimmed-Down Sips & Chips" story for our May/June issue. Here are our painless tips and delicious recipes to cut 380 calories from the traditional versions of your Cinco de Mayo favorites while still making them taste great!
1. For Lighter Guacamole: Swap Out Some Avocado
Guacamole purists might cringe, but one easy way to slash fat and calories from your avocado dip is to remove some avocado. In our recipe, we replaced about half of it with cooked zucchini. The results tasted every bit as good as traditional guacamole-in fact, I might go so far as to say I like the lighter consistency better! And the nutrition savings speak for themselves: our recipe has about 100 calories fewer than traditional ones, and 6 grams less of fat.
2. For Healthier Chips: Bake Your Own Tortilla Chips
Because most tortilla chips are deep-fried, they tend to be loaded with calories. That's why making your own-in the oven, not the fryer-is so much better for you. By making your own tortilla chips, you can save 130 calories and still get the salty crunch you love!
3. For a Skinny Margarita: Make Your Own Margarita Mix
Most margarita mixes come loaded with sugar-not to mention a long list of other ingredients you've probably never heard of (sodium bisulfate, anyone?). Party healthier by making your own mix. Our recipe cuts 150 calories per drink…and tastes a lot better too!
Don't Miss: A Cinco de Mayo Fiesta on a Budget
Makes: 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 20 minutes
To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
This delicious guacamole recipe replaces half the amount of high-calorie avocado in a traditional guacamole recipe with a stealth, low-calorie vegetable-zucchini-to cut 100 calories and 6 grams of fat so we can eat more guacamole with fewer calories. We use the microwave to cook the zucchini until it's very tender, but you can steam it on the stovetop if you prefer.
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Place zucchini in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on High until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing lightly on the zucchini to extract any liquid.
2. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl; add avocado, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, hot sauce and salt and coarsely mash until combined.
Per serving: 96 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 2 g protein; 4 g fiber; 167 mg sodium; 409 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (27% daily value).
Makes: 4 servings, about 2/3 cup each
Active time: 10 minutes | Total: 10 minutes
This skinny margarita recipe saves 150 calories compared to traditional margarita recipes made with syrupy-sweet margarita mix and gets back to the basics-fresh lime juice, tequila and Triple Sec are all you need. Adding lime zest to the salt rim gives great flavor and cuts the salt in half.
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime wedge
1 cup seltzer or club soda
3/4 cup (6 ounces) tequila
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) Triple Sec or Cointreau
Combine lime zest and salt on a small plate. Combine lime juice, seltzer (or club soda), tequila and Triple Sec (or Cointreau) in a pitcher. Rub the rim of four 10-ounce glasses with the lime wedge and dip in the lime-salt. Fill the glasses with ice and top with the margarita mixture.
Per serving: 181 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 9 g added sugars; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 101 mg sodium; 40 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (15% daily value).
Homemade Tortilla Chips
Makes: 4 servings, 8 chips each
Active time: 5 minutes | Total: 20 minutes
To make ahead: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
It's definitely worth making your own corn tortilla chips-these low-fat baked tortilla chips have a more pronounced corn flavor than store-bought tortilla chips.
8 5- to 6-inch corn tortillas
Canola oil cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Position racks in middle and lower third of oven; preheat to 375°F.
2. Coat both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray and cut into quarters. Spread in an even layer on 2 large baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt. Bake, rotating the pans from top to bottom and stirring once halfway through, until the chips are golden and crisp, 14 to 18 minutes.
Per serving: 169 calories; 5 g fat (0 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 217 mg sodium; 0 mg potassium.
What's your favorite thing to add to guacamole?
By Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.
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