An Ancient Culinary Delight
Falling in love with tortillas
Corn tortillas have a centuries-old lineage, once forming the cornerstone of the Mayan diet. These floppy disks also happen to be immensely versatile—and contain, on average, only 60 calories, 1 gram of fat, and about 19 grams of carbohydrate.
It's essential to toast the tortilla first, which you can do directly on a stovetop burner (gas or electric) set at medium heat. Using tongs, turn the tortilla frequently until it is golden and charred in spots, about 30 to 60 seconds. Keep the toasted tortillas wrapped in a clean kitchen towel until ready to use.
For a quick open-face sandwich, spread the tortilla with salsa and sprinkle with chopped red onion, reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese, and a few sliced black olives. Bake until the cheese melts. Or fold a toasted tortilla around scrambled egg white with chopped tomato; grilled or broiled shrimp; slightly mashed black beans with a dollop of nonfat sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt; or shredded cooked chicken sautéed with onions.
You can also try making a quickie quesadilla: Spread one tortilla with nonfat refried beans, chopped tomato, minced cilantro, and a sprinkle of reduced-fat Jack cheese. Top with another tortilla, and press down lightly. Toast on a griddle on both sides until golden brown. Cut into wedges.
Associate editor Robyn Webb, MS, LN, is the author of a number of cookbooks, including Italian Diabetic Meals In 30 Minutes—Or Less!, published by the American Diabetes Association. This, as well as other books by Robyn, can be ordered from the Association's online bookstore at http://store.diabetes.org or by calling 1-800-232-6733.
They are a nutritionist's dream: Deliciously rich in vitamins C and A and potassium, mangoes also contain ample amounts of fiber. At 110 calories on average, they make a great guilt-free sweet. And you can now get them virtually year round. Still, mangoes are not an easy fruit to handle—unless you know the score.
Buying and storing
First, press on the mango; it should yield to slight pressure. Next, take a good whiff. A ripe one will smell fruity and aromatic. The color is less important: A ripe mango can be green, yellow, or red or a combination of all three. It should feel heavy for its size. If you purchase a mango that is not quite ripe, place it in a paper bag on the kitchen counter until ready to use.
Peeling and cutting
The best method is to cube the mango. Hold it on a cutting surface with the "fat" end on the board and the more tapered end facing upwards. Using a sharp knife, start your cut just about an eighth of an inch from the "point" of the mango onto the mango "cheek." Slice down going right up against the flat pit. Repeat with the other mango cheek. Next, make diagonal slashes across the surface of each cheek, cutting down through the mango flesh, but not enough so that you go through the peel. Make another set of slashes in the opposite direction to create a diamond pattern. Turn the peel inside-out, and you should now have mango cubes. Peel each cube off with your fingers or cut each off with a knife. Discard the peel.
Sure, mangoes are delicious on their own. But you can also:
Add cubed mango to muffin, pancake, or waffle batter.
Toss mango cubes into your next green salad.
Make a quick fruit salsa to accompany grilled poultry or seafood: Cube 1 mango and combine with 1/2 cup crushed canned pineapple in its own juice, 2 Tbsp. finely minced red pepper, 2 Tbsp. finely minced red onion, 1/4 cup minced cilantro, dash red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and 1 tsp. sugar or Splenda. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Add diced mango to a hot bowl of morning oatmeal.