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Grilled Tilapia Tacos with Mango Salsa Recipe

Submitted by on March 22, 2012 – 6:57 am10 Comments

Healthy Latin Food Tips and a Recipe

grilled tilapia tacos recipe

Grilled Tilapia Tacos. Photo credit: Colin Erricson/www.robertrose.ca

5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking by Camila V. Saulsbury

Saulsbury's book, in the Tiki Tiki store.

By Camilla V. Saulsbury

Many of the fundamental ingredients of Latin cooking are not only nutritious, but are superfood superstars. Think beans, stone-ground corn tortillas, fresh fish, cilantro, mangoes, bell peppers, pineapples, avocados —even traditional Latin spices, such as cumin and cinnamon are nutritional powerhouses.

The key to keeping it healthy is to keep the added fat to a minimum. In place of Cheddar cheese and sour cream, for example (which are not traditional ingredients anyway), opt for more traditional, flavor-packed ingredients—a squeeze of fresh lime, fresh cilantro, salsa fresco and some dice avocado—all of which deliver great health, minimal calories and incredible taste.

Some other simple swap to consider:

  • Multigrain or stoneground corn tortillas in lace of white flour tortillas
  •  Long grain brown rice or quinoa (the ultimate Latin American superfood of the ancient Incas) in place of white rice.
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
  •  A crumble of Cotija cheese or other traditional Latin American cheese in place of Cheddar cheese.
  • White fish tacos (frozen white fish, as well as budget-friendly tilapia fillets, work beautifully) in place of ground beef tacos.
  • Fresh tropical fruit (e.g., melons, pineapple, mango, papaya) for dessert.

Latin Superfoods

Here are three of my favorite Latin American superfoods that are inexpensive, convenient, and likely some of your favorite ingredients already. Viva Latin cooking, in all its healthy glory!

Black Beans
Shiny, oval black beans are an inexpensive addition to the diet. Nutritionally, they are high in the indigestible portion of the plant known as insoluble fiber, which can reduce cholesterol. Their extremely high magnesium content means they are an excellent food for people at risk of developing or suffering from heart disease, and are also rich in minerals and antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, flavonoids that can help prevent cancer and blood clots.

Mangoes
Mangoes, grown throughout the tropics, are fruit superstars. Their orange flesh contains more beta carotene, which can protect against some cancers and heart disease, than almost any other fruit. They are also a valuable source of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin E, and contain a special enzyme that can be a soothing digestive aid.

Avocados
Avocados are very high in fat, but it is mostly heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat. The oleic acid contained in monounsaturated fats can lower the risk of breast cancer; further, these fats can help to reduce “bad” blood cholesterol levels. Avocados are rich in nutrients, including vitamins C, E and B6, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium, and the antioxidant plant chemicals beta-sitosterol (which can also help lower blood cholesterol) and glutathione (which protects against cancer).

Grilled Tilapia Tacos with Mango Salsa Recipe

This dish showcases tilapia’s outdoorsy side and the bright, fresh flavor of early summer mangos in tropical tacos that are perfect for lunch with friends or a light dinner eaten al fresco. Brushing the delicate fillets with a spiced lime vinaigrette seals in their juices and intensifies the flavor of the tacos.

Preheat barbecue grill to medium-high

Salsa

  • 1 cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen
  • mango
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1⁄4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Tacos

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp chili powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 4 skinless farmed tilapia fillets (each 4 about 6 oz)
  • 4 8-inch (20 cm) whole wheat tortillas, 4 warmed
  • 2 cups shredded purple or green cabbage

1. Salsa: In a small bowl, combine mango, red pepper, cilantro, red onion, salt and lime juice.
2. Tacos: In a small cup, whisk together cumin, chili powder, salt, lime juice and oil. Brush on both sides of fish, coating evenly.
3. Grill fish on preheated barbecue, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fish is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Flake fish into small pieces.
4. Fill warmed tortillas with fish, cabbage and salsa.

Tip: According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, U.S.- and Canadian-farmed tilapia are the best choices because the supplies are abundant, well-managed and farmed in an environmentally friendly way. A good alternative is tilapia farmed in Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras or Ecuador.

Nutrients per serving:
Calories 370
Total fat 9 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Cholesterol 88 mg
Sodium 579 mg
Carbohydrate 34 g
Fiber 5 g
Protein 41 g
Calcium 52 mg
Iron 1.7 mg

Excerpted from 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Image: Colin Erricson/www.robertrose.ca.

Camilla V. Saulsbury is a food writer, recipe developer, cooking instructor and fitness expert/personal trainer. She has been featured on the Food Network, in the New York Times and on Today and QVC, and has won numerous top cooking competitions, including the Food Network’s $25,000 Ultimate Recipe Showdown (Cookies Episode).

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