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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Calabacitas con elote

Calabacitas con elote is a traditional Mexican side dish, typically baked in the oven in a casserole dish or olla de barro. But I’m giving it a summer makeover by cooking it in easy-to-make foil packets for the grill. We’re spending tons of time outside with family and friends now that summer grilling season is here and this is a great dish to take to any parillada!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and the California Milk Advisory Board.  The recipe and opinions are my own.

calabacitas_con_elote_TOSOTT

This vegetarian dish is one of my favorites for serving as a quick dinner side dish as well as for taking to parrilladas (barbeques) that are typically full of meats but lacking enough veggies. If I’m making it for just the two of us, I refrigerate half the recipe and grill it later in the week so that it’s fresh off the grill at dinnertime.

Now that we live in California and have such a variety of fresh, local dairy, produce and meats available to us year-round thanks to the climate, I’ve been consciously trying to eat more locally (and by that, I mean seeking out locally grown produce at the farmers markets and other foods made in my new home state). California is the country’s leading producer of Hispanic dairy products, which are sold nationally, and is the nation’s second largest producer of cheese. In fact, California produces more than 25 kinds of Hispanic cheeses and many other dairy products. A Real California Milk seal means your dairy products are made from 100 percent California milk.

This is what the calabacitas should look like inside the foil packet when it’s done or almost done cooking:

calabacitas_con_elote_grill_packet_TOSOTT… 

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Ensalada Xec: Mayan Citrus and Jicama Salad

We’ve been making an extra effort to eat healthy in our house, especially since we moved across the country and have access to more local produce than ever before (hello, California citrus!). This crunchy, spicy, juicy citrus salad from the Yucatan area of Mexico is the perfect healthy snack. Ensalada xec (xec is Mayan for “mixed,” and is sometimes spelled as “xeec,” “xek” or “xe’ek” and is pronounced “shek”) is a staple dish in the region and is sometimes also made as a salsa without the jicama.

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

Ensalada xec: Spicy Mayan citrus salad made with orange, mandarin orange, grapefruit, jicama, lime juice, chile habanero, cilantro and sea salt. #Recipe on theothersideofthetortilla.com.

I served my ensalada xec for a salad-themed Food Bloggers LA meetup once, and it was a big hit. I love this recipe because it keeps crunchy in the refrigerator for a few days in the event that you have leftovers. I find this dish keeps best when refrigerated in a covered glass bowl. Some recipes for ensalada xec call for ground cayenne pepper, which is perfectly fine, but I prefer to use fresh chile. Habanero is frequently used in the regional cuisine in the Yucatan, so I used it in this recipe. If your tastebuds can’t handle the heat from a habanero pepper, you can substitute a finely chopped serrano chile or just use a dried chile powder of your choice. You could also use  Tajín (the popular Mexican chile, lime and salt seasoning) sprinkled on top if you don’t want to use fresh chiles; if you use Tajín, remember to leave the salt out of the recipe…. 

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Spicy ancho chile baked kale chips

I love baked kale chips, but have you seen what they charge for them in the grocery store? It’s a crime! That’s why I started making my own baked kale chips at home with a Mexican twist: Spiced with ancho chile powder. It’s just enough spice to give the kale chips a little kick, but not too spicy. Trust me when I say you’re going to want to eat them all in one sitting… and it’s OK if you do, because these chips are healthy for you!

baked_kale_chips_ancho_chile_spicy_TOSOTTThe chips are easiest to make with the flat leaf kind of kale (called dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale or lacinato kale, and called col rizada in Spanish), and you really don’t have to use that much cooking spray to coat them. I’ve been making my own kale chips for a few years and have experimented with other chile powders to make them spicier, using ground chile morita for a smoky chipotle flavor and even ground chile de árbol for a really spicy snack. Ancho chile powder is perfect for kids or anyone who doesn’t like very spicy snacks but still like a little chile flavor. I got a great deal on kale at the farmers market in Mar Vista this weekend, so I made a few batches of these spicy kale chips to snack on during the week. I hope you like them as much as I do!… 

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Turkey stuffing, Mexican-style

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’m always looking for a way to infuse Mexican ingredients into our family’s holiday traditions. I came up with this turkey stuffing recipe that’s a riff on my mom’s traditional turkey stuffing, but with a little kick from jalapeño chiles and soy chorizo (aka soyrizo).

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Arroz poblano

With the cold weather and the holidays approaching, I can think of nothing but comfort food. Arroz poblano is a staple comfort food in my home during the winter months and is a filling dish that can be served as a side or even as a vegetarian meal. Because the holiday rush has already begun and my schedule is getting tight, this is a great quick recipe because I use one big cheat to cut down on prep time: ready-to-serve microwavable rice.

Arroz poblano con queso

This arroz poblano recipe also has a unique twist from the typical one you might be familiar with that has chopped poblano and yellow corn kernels mixed into white rice. In my suegra’s house they always add crema Mexicana, which is something I’ve adapted into my own version of this family favorite. My recipe uses a blended poblano crema to coat the rice and keep it moist and a thin layer of cheese both in the middle and on top…. 

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