Chiles en nogada incorporates the colors of the Mexican flag -- red, white and green -- and that makes it a popular dish for Mexican Independence Day (contrary to popular belief, this is not Cinco de Mayo). It starts with a poblano chili. This is filled with picadillo, a savory-sweet mixture that includes ground beef, raisins and nuts, then topped with a white, creamy walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
Fresh poblanos are more readily available in regular grocery stores, and the only other ingredient that might trip you up is bisnaga, or candied cactus. Dried apricots (unsulphured only) are a decent substitute. Ideally, find your nuts whole, then crack and chop them yourself for the freshest taste. The sauce often includes sour cream -- did you know you can easily make your own using buttermilk and cream? The shelf version often contains stabilizers like guar gum.
Lots of traditional Mexican beverages drunk around the holidays are perfect for the whole-foods treatment. Atole is one of the most popular during colder-weather holidays like the Christmas season or during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) because it's rich and warming. When made with chocolate, it's called champurrado. As with other hot drinks, you can find mixes, but of course you'll want to make them from scratch. Atoles start with masa -- either fresh or as masa harina. It's dissolved in milk, with piloncillo (or brown sugar as a substitute) and either chocolate or crushed fruit added.
These are just a couple of Mexican holiday recipes to get you rolling with the idea of combining Mexican cuisine and whole-foods cooking. It's more work, but the results are delicious.
- Eating Well. "Healthy Mexican Recipes and Menus." Eating Well Magazine. 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_mexican_recipes
- Freuman, Tamara Duker. "Mission Possible: A Healthy Tamale." Tamara Duker.com. April 3, 2010. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.tamaraduker.com/2010/04/mission-possible-a-healthy-tamale/
- Gourmet Sleuth. "How to Make Masa." 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Homemade-640/make-masa-nixtamal.aspx
- Gourmet Sleuth. "Mexican Atole." 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Recipes/Hot-Beverages-655/Mexican-Atole-278.aspx
- Graber, Karen Hursh. "Stuffed chiles in walnut sauce." Mex Connect. 1998. (Sept. 25, 2012) http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/2397-stuffed-chiles-in-walnut-sauce-chiles-en-nogada
- Griffin, R. Morgan. "The Benefits of Healthy Whole Foods." WebMD. 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-healthy-whole-foods
- In Mama's Kitchen. "Chiles, Chilis, Chillis in Mexican Cuisine." 2012. (Sept. 25, 2012) http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/Mexican_Food_Cooking/chiles_chilis_chillis.html
- Inside Mexico. "Rosca de Reyes Recipe." 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.inside-mexico.com/cocinarosca.htm
- Lebovitz, David. "Making Glazed Fruit." DavidLebovitz.com. Feb. 22, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/02/making-glazed-candied-fruit-citron-recipe/
- Magee, Elaine. "The Whole Foods Diet." Medicine Net. 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=62664
- My Mexican Recipes. "Masa & Masa Harina." 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.mymexicanrecipes.com/ingredients/masa-harina.html
- Sicard, Cheri. "All About Masas." Fab Food. Aug. 6, 2007. (Sept. 25, 2012) http://www.fabulousfoods.com/articles/21316/all-about-masas-how-to-make-tamales