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While traveling through beautiful Mexico, I stumbled upon some not so encouraging news. Just recently, The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) announced that Mexico is now the fattest country in the world. Their obesity rate is as high as 30%, and up to 70% of Mexicans are overweight. The USA comes in second (not surprising), with a 28% obesity rate and 68% overweight rate. Being “obese” is officially defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30, and “overweight” is defined as having BMI over 25.
I personally don't buy into BMI as an assessment of health, as it is just a ratio of height & weight, and doesn't factor in fat or other important indicators. But these statistics are startling, nonetheless. (You can check your BMI here. My BMI is 22, which is considered “normal.” However, I have about 8% body fat, which is much lower than “normal,” and not taken into consideration at all).
I find the assertion that Mexico is the fattest country in the world very surprising, because, to me, it is MUCH easier to eat healthy in Mexico than it is in the USA. The meat and produce here are so much fresher! I particularly love the eggs; they have these nice, dark orange yolks and a much better taste.
On another note, a good friend of mine is actually allergic to all dairy products in the USA. He breaks out in hives and rashes if he drinks any milk, cheese, or cream. But somehow, in Mexico, he can eat dairy just fine! Similarly, I find I can eat corn tortillas here with a meal without much of a spike in my blood sugar, but I can't seem to do this with other starches - particularly those made in America.
In fact, I've been very surprised to find how low my blood sugar has stayed while eating authentic Mexican cuisine. Some of the food I've been eating violates the Paleo Diet--which I usually follow very strictly--since some of the food does contain small portions of legumes and dairy. But even with these present, I haven't had any issues.
Thus, it seems to me that the problem in Mexico, sadly, is not the traditional Mexican food, but rather all the junk imported from the USA! They are now consuming all our processed, high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden garbage, and it is clearly taking its toll.
It is worth noting that, as with many international cuisines, Mexican food in America is very different from authentic Mexican food. Unless you've been to Mexico, you've probably had Tex-Mex or northern Mexican food (which is also good food, but it is different).
So, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite authentic Mexican dishes from the past month, all of which are healthy and, in my opinion, very delicious.
|Tacos Al Pastor|
These are classic Mexico City street tacos (although these are missing pineapple). Absolutely delicious. For these, the meat is roasted on a shwarma style grill (which I've heard was started by Lebanese immigrants), and topped with cilantro, onions, salsa, and whatever else the vendor may have. You've never eaten tacos until you've had these--trust me! Another plus: they only cost about $0.20 each!
|A breakfast one morning with|
An assortment of quesadillas, some on blue tortillas (back right). Some of these were a bit strange to me, but nonetheless, very delicious. There were actually some that had crickets (grillos)! Others had Huitlacoche (moldy corn the Aztecs ironically called "Shit from the Gods"), Hongos (a type of mushroom), and Flor de Calabaza (the flower from a squash plant). The vegetable on the right is a jicama root, shown here prepared with lime juice and chili powder. An amazing and healthy breakfast.
Yum! One of the best sauces in the world. Two places you can find some of the best Mole in Mexico (or “Molli,” as the indigenous call it) are Puebla and Oaxaca. This one is from Oaxaca and is a Mole Negro sauce, which can have up to 26 ingredients and take up to 4 days to cook! One of those ingredients is usually Mexican chocolate, which accounts for the slightly sweet taste.
Sopes are a traditional Mexican dish. They are thick, semi-toasted tortillas with vegetables and meat toppings. The toppings on Sopes can vary greatly. These are on Blue Tortillas and were from an awesome restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casa, called “Tierra Adentro”.. If you are in town, I'd highly recommend this place.
Click HERE for Part 2