Hungry Pumpkin goes to Mexico.. at least with food!

Do you like Mexican food? Do you also find the abundance of terms that seemingly refer to almost identical foods confuse and embarrass you? Not to worry, Hungry Pumpkin has got your back, so today we are going to take a brief look at these different terms in Mexican cuisine so that next time you’re at a restaurant you’ll be all set to order before the waiter can even ask what you’d like!

The basis for many Mexican dishes is the humble tortilla. This flat bread somewhat resembles a salty crêpe. Originally, tortillas were made from corn flour since corn has always been an important agricultural product in the Mexican area. That being said, wheat was brought in during the colonial period and came to be used for this purpose as well. Making tortillas is actually quite easy, requiring wheat flour (or a mix of wheat and corn flour), water, salt, and oil. Roll the dough out into thin disks and cook them on an oiled hot plate or pan. The preparation and final product is similar to chapati, roti, and naan breads from Asia (everyone loves bread, no matter where you’re from!). After baking, Mexican tortillas remain soft and flexible, allowing you to wrap various ingredients in them. If they are dried after baking, they can be turned into semi-circular hard shells that can still be filled with goodies but are too stiff to wrap. Tortillas are also often cut up into smaller triangles and then dried, baked, or boiled, thus giving us the famous (and delicious) tortilla chip, ready to scoop up some delicious salsa. The word “tortilla” in Spanish literally means “a small cake,” so don’t be surprised in other countries where they speak Spanish to find other things going under this name! For example, in Spain a tortilla is a potato omelette that we have previously written about.

Mexican tortillas then become the base from which many dishes can be prepared. Tacos are made by putting ingredients into a small, folded tortilla. Traditionally, these would have been made with meat and cheese, topped with roasted vegetables, salsa, and sour cream or guacamole. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and chilli peppers are among the most commonly used vegetables for this purpose. Making tacos doesn’t need to just be for the omnivores, however, as vegan versions can easily be made by omitting the meat and dairy components and adding in more delicious veggies, maybe supplemented with some beans or lentils. In Mexico, tacos are considered street food and are eaten with the hands.

A larger tortilla is needed in order to make a burrito, which involves wrapping up various ingredients. Burritos originated from Mexico and Texas and from there spread northward up into Canada and throughout the world! The tortillas used for this purpose are often steamed to make them softer, though they can also be toasted once they are rolled up! This food is also usually eaten with the hands, but can also be eaten on a plate with utensils when topped with salsa or sour cream.

Starting to get even more confusing, we then have enchiladas, which are similar to burritos in that they involve wrapping food up, but different in that they are only made from corn flour and usually have a cheese or chilli sauce served with them. They can be filled with various meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or some combination of these things. The whole thing is then baked again.

Next up we have quesadillas, which are very similar to tacos, but most often are in smaller corn-based tortillas. They are also folded after being stuffed with just cheese normally, though meat and vegetables may also be included. All of this is then grilled up in a pan or on a hot plate. There are also taquitos (which translates to small taco) and flautas, which are both small corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and beef or chicken and then all fried together.

We often find another fried dish in Mexican restaurants, though this one actually originated in Texas (let’s not forget, TexMex is also a culinary style!). This is the chimichanga, which is made from a large wheat tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, and cheese, and sometimes also contains meat. The whole thing is folded like a pocket and then fried together.

Another common Mexican dish containing tortillas is a fajita. Historically, every dish that contained grilled meat served in a tortilla was a fajita. Nowadays however, fajitas in restaurants often grill meat and vegetables and then bring them to the table in a hot iron pan with a side dish of warm tortillas as well as guacamole, cheese, various sauces, and pico de gallo, a sort of salsa from sliced tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and then seasoned with salt, lime juice, and coriander.

We decided to make tacos our own unique way this time, but first we started the lunch off with a creamy soup made from potatoes, carrots, and buckwheat.


Recipe, preparation, and cost

 

Quantity (g or ml)

Price for 4 person (EUR)

Soup

Potato

300

0,30

Onion

100

0,08

Carrots

100

0,12

Buckwheat

100

0,24

Olive oil

20

0,12

Salt

10

0,01

Sauce

Onion

150

0,12

Carrots

135

0,16

Sweet corn

280

1,41

Beans

230

0,34

Olive oil

40

0,24

Flax seed flour

8

0,15

Salt

10

0,01

Side dish

 

 

Lettuce

100

0,30

Spinach

50

0,65

Beets

150

0,51

Carrots

50

0,06

Tortillas

370

1,79

Together

4,80

 

 

To begin, we worked on the soup. We pan fried onions in olive oil before adding in sliced potatoes and carrots. Once this cooked a bit, we salted it and added in the water and allowed it to cook away. Once everything was nicely cooked through, we used our handy stick mixer to blend it all up (as always, careful not to let it splash when doing this!). We then added our buckwheat to the soup and allowed it to simmer until the buckwheat was cooked.

As for our tacos, they were a spontaneous decision. We had beans and corn and some other ingredients already, so we decided to make a fresh vegetable sauce to put in tortillas. For this sauce, we first fried up the onions and carrots in olive oil. Once softened, we added beans and corn (both canned) and allowed the sauce to thicken. Towards the end, we seasoned it with various spices and a bit of flaxseed flour to make up for same excess water we didn’t want. While this cooked, we cut lettuce, carrots, and precooked beets, as well as washing spinach. Once it was all prepared, we used the vegetables as a stuffing along with the sauce in wheat tortillas.

The price for today’s lunch came out to 4.80€ for 4 people, so just over 1€ per person. Tacos are very simple to make and there are a wide range of things that you can put inside them. You could use some of your favourite vegetables in the sauce itself or as fresh vegetables when stuffing the tacos. Of course, the price will go up as you add more ingredients, so to get the best bang for your buck choose a range of highly nutritious vegetables that complement each other’s nutrient profile.


Nutritional value

With lunch consumed quantity

% From daily needs

Energy

503,03

kcal

25,20

Proteins

14,74

g

26,30

Total fats

17,49

g

39,70

Carbohydrates

79,40

g

 

Starch

33,07

g

 

Sugar

15,59

g

 

Fibers

14,44

g

57,70

Calcium (Ca)

106,46

mg

10,60

Iron (Fe)

4,66

mg

46,60

Magnesium (Mg)

162,08

mg

40,50

Phosphorus (P)

347,13

mg

49,60

Potassium (K)

1370,99

mg

68,50

Sodium (Na)

2360,20

mg

429,10

Zinc (Zn)

2,41

mg

24,10

Copper (Cu)

0,54

mg

59,60

Manganese (Mn)

1,47

mg

64,00

Selenium (Se)

4,63

µg

9,30

Vitamin A

746,81

µg

74,70

Vitamin E

3,54

mg

23,60

Vitamin D

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin C

35,87

mg

35,90

Thiamin (B1)

0,39

mg

30,30

Riboflavin (B2)

0,28

mg

18,90

Niacin (B3)

4,80

mg

33,10

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1,57

mg

26,10

Vitamin B6

0,73

mg

48,40

Folic acid (B9)

201,74

µg

50,40

Vitamin B12

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin K

114,45

µg

163,50

 

With our lunch today, we covered 25% of our daily caloric needs. We managed to get 26.3% of our daily need for protein, primarily from the buckwheat, beans, corn, and potatoes. We also managed to get lots of fibre (57%), while also meeting our needs for iron, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals. The meal was a bit low on calcium, but adding broccoli, radish, arugula, or sprouts throughout the day can balance this out. The meal was also rich in vitamins, with us getting 74% of our requirement for vitamin A, mainly from carrots, spinach, and lettuce. We also got lots of vitamins C, B, and K. As always, there was no vitamin D or B12, as is typical of vegan food.

If you have questions about today’s lunch or ideas for future meals then write to us at hungry.pumpkin.blog@gmail.com! We will get back to you as quick as we can.

Have a great weekend!

-The Hungry Pumpkin Team.

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