Natural fruit paletas with watermelon and Tajín

Natural paletas made with watermelon and TajínEvery kid I know loves paletas—and every mom I know wants to reduce the amount of sugar in their kids’ diet. With summer upon us, I’m already seeing watermelon everywhere in the farmers markets and grocery stores. I love watermelon and would eat it for three meals a day if I could, so I’ve been getting more creative with how to use it. These are especially great on a really hot day! A bonus: Because these natural paletas aren’t like traditional popsicles, they’re much less likely to drip and stain clothing if that’s an issue with your kids.

And you don’t need to have kids to enjoy these simple paletas! You can honor your inner child or summer cravings for a popsicle with a healthier twist. For those with diet restrictions, these paletas are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-friendly. This “recipe” isn’t really a recipe; I like to think of it more as a healthy tip I’m passing on to you. Don’t discard leftover pieces that don’t make the cut: Sprinkle Tajín and squeeze a little lime juice on it for a snack, or cut them into bite-sized pieces and freeze to use as watermelon ice cubes to flavor your water…. 

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Coconut milk and chia pudding

Chia seeds aren’t just for aguas frescas, and today I’m sharing with you a super easy, delicious and healthy dessert recipe for coconut milk and chia pudding.

This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

This coconut chia pudding recipe is a simple Mexican dessert with only three ingredients: chia seeds, coconut milk and sugar. This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly. | Get more Mexican recipes on theothersideofthetortilla.com

I love chia seeds. Not in the way that some people mean when they say they love something… I mean I really LOVE chia seeds. I consume them nearly every day of the week and they’re a great source for fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, and even have some protein. They have been used for centuries, including by the Mayans and Aztecs. In present-day Mexico, you’re most likely to notice chia seeds floating in an agua fresca.

I know you must be thinking there can’t be that many ways to use them, but trust me when I say there are so many great things you can do! One of my favorites is to use them to make this tapioca-like pudding with coconut milk. It’s a flavorful and not-too-sweet dessert that any coconut lover will enjoy. And a few bonuses: this recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly! Once the chia seeds develop their gel and you refrigerate the jar, it will get firm and set more like a traditional pudding. If you try to eat it too soon, it won’t be the right consistency.

This coconut chia pudding recipe is a simple Mexican dessert with only three ingredients: chia seeds, coconut milk and sugar. This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly. | Get more Mexican recipes on theothersideofthetortilla.com… 

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Pumpkin flan

Pumpkin flan made with cream cheese is a decadent alternative to pumpkin pie or other Thanksgiving treats if you’re looking to add a little Mexican flair to your holiday table.

In fact, pumpkin flan is a dish I’ve added to our family’s holiday traditions only in recent years but it’s often gobbled up faster than the pumpkin pie and other available desserts. There may or may not even have been a fight two years ago over who got the last piece!

This recipe is for small, individual-sized portions, baked in ramekins. You can double the recipe if you have more guests. I like to use these souffle ramekins from Cost Plus World Market that are 3.5 inches across and about 2.5 inches deep. If you prefer to make one big flan, depending on the depth of the dish, you may need to adjust the baking time. It’s also a little more substantial with a thicker consistency than most flan, so it’s best to let it sit out for about 15 minutes before serving.

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Atole de fresa

Long, cold winter nights mean one thing in my house: we’re making hot drinks to warm us up! One of my favorite cold-weather drinks is atole, especially because it’s customary to drink with breakfast or after dinner. The two most common flavors are vanilla and strawberry—atole de vainilla y atole de fresa. If you make it with chocolate, it’s called champurrado.

It’s a masa-based drink where the dissolved masa acts as a thickening agent to make this hot drink the kind of hearty treat that will really stick to your ribs. I’ve talked before about the availability of atole that comes in powdered packets, but next to my champurrado recipe (which uses prepared store-bought masa from my local tortillería), this version using Maseca instant corn masa flour is even easier to make and a sure step above the flavor from a packet. It’s a homemade taste without all the work of grinding your own nixtamal or having to dissolve masa using cheesecloth. It’s what you might call a semi-homemade version, if you will.

This drink dates back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and is well documented as a form of sustenance amongst the Aztec and Mayan cultures. Historical texts tell us it was often flavored with fruits, spices or chiles.

Sometimes atole is also made with different colors of corn (I’ve personally tasted atole made with white, yellow and blue corn bases) and milk or water as the liquid. I don’t like my atole to be too thin so I have a habit of making it very thick at the beginning and then thinning it out with milk or water as needed. If you prefer yours to be thinner, you can use all water instead of milk, and reduce the portion of Maseca instant corn flour to your liking.

If you want more berry flavor, you can add another whole cup of strawberries and use more water than milk so it doesn’t thicken too much or dilute the berry flavor.

This recipe produces the best strawberry flavor when you use berries that are very ripe. A trick to my recipe is that I macerate the strawberries before I put them in the blender (which just means I slice them up and, place them in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over them to allow the natural juices to come out).

If you won’t consume the atole immediately after cooking, store in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed to the top of the liquid so a skin doesn’t form over the top. If a skin does form, you can gently remove it with a spoon, but then you’re not getting to enjoy your whole batch. A final note: make sure the Maseca you’re using is specifically for tortillas and not tamales or you’ll get a different consistency.

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Celebrating Día de Los Reyes with friends and family

¡Feliz Día de Los Reyes a todos!

We took a long vacation with family for the holidays and part of our trip included a day in Ensenada, located on the West coast of Mexico in the state of Baja California (the northern part of the peninsula, a little more than 70 miles south of Tijuana).

Since we wouldn’t be together on Día de Los Reyes, we found a little rosca to celebrate a few days before. And guess who got el niño Jesus… again. I swear it’s a conspiracy because I get the baby in my piece of cake every single year. The rosca was so small that I didn’t even think there would be a baby inside, but there he was when I broke my piece off. Guess I’ll just have to make tamales for Día de La Candelaria on February 2!

Read more about how we celebrate Día de Los Reyes here on The Other Side of The Tortilla and check out the links below to see how some of our friends celebrate as well. If you haven’t celebrated yet, it’s not too late. Even if you can’t buy a rosca, you can certainly try making one on your own! You can also serve Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado alongside your cake…. 

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