11 Mexican Superfoods You Need Right NowDecember 13th, 2019
Torie Borrelli is an Integrative Holistic Nutritionist (NC), trained chef specializing in healing foods that decrease inflammation, and creator of The Vida Well. Her newest cookbook, The Mexican Keto Cookbook, offer more than 100 low-carb, high-fat, anti-inflammatory grounded in Mexican tradition. Today, she writes about the 11 Mexican superfoods everyone should have in their kitchen.
As an integrative holistic nutritionist, superfoods are key in my daily routine. They’re naturally concentrated and nutritionally dense powerhouses that contain high amounts of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
The holidays are a great time to focus on superfoods because they can help boost immunity and keep you energized. If you’re new to them, it’s important to know that a little goes a long way. You can read more about my favorite superfoods and other helpful lists such as my pantry and fridge staples in my cookbook, The Mexican Keto Cookbook.
So let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of my favorites.
If you’ve ever used aloe to treat sunburns, then you’re familiar with its natural anti-inflammatory properties. I love adding it to a smoothie or juicing it and drinking it raw to help soothe the gut and support immunity. Consuming the whole leaf (with the skin on) is great for promoting healthy digestion.
Recommendations: Lily of the Desert (for gut health), Aloe Cadabra lubricant, Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gelly
Apple Cider Vinegar
This living vinegar offers many benefits, including aiding in digestion. Just be sure to buy one that’s organic and unpasteurized with sediment in the bottom of the bottle, known as the mother, to get all the benefits.
Recommendations: Thrive Market
Essentially, bone broth is just a liquid made of the “good stuff” released from boiling bones, vegetables, fish heads—whatever’s in your pot. Simmering low and slow with an acid (apple cider vinegar) helps draw out the minerals, amino acids, gelatin (collagen), and vitamins from the bones, veggies, and herbs. It takes just five minutes to throw these ingredients into a pot on the stove or in the slow cooker. While it has become very trendy recently, bone broth is the ultimate superfood. Use it to get essential vitamins and minerals or to add nutrient-dense flavors to your cooking. (Visit page 120 in my cookbook to learn more about bone broth’s benefits and to get some of my favorite recipes.)
Cacao contains antioxidants, supports the immune system, and tastes amazing. Unlike cocoa, which has been roasted at high temperatures and is mixed with other ingredients (like milk and sugar), cacao is processed at low temperatures and retains more health benefits.
Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, protein, and minerals, plus soluble and insoluble fiber to help keep your digestion moving in the right direction. They also contain a lot of omega fatty acids, which support healthy brain function. Use 1 tablespoon a day in smoothies, lemon-infused water (see page 47 in my cookbook), or to thicken desserts!
There’s a wide variety of coconut products on the market today, including oils, milks, creams, butters, and water, and chips. Coconut contains antioxidants and helps support the immune system. Because coconut oil has a high smoke point, it’s great for high-heat cooking and baking.
Collagen is the primary building block of skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, joints, and cartilage. Our body’s natural production of collagen starts to slow down with age, resulting in wrinkles, thin skin, brittle hair, and weaker cartilage in your joints. That’s why it’s so important to take a collagen supplement. When purchasing, always choose a company that is sourced from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals.
Recommendations: Primal Kitchen, Thrive Market
There are thousands of different types of chiles that range in color, texture, size, shape, and flavor. The compound that gives hot chiles their its heat is called capsaicin. The brain responds to capsaicin by releasing two neurotransmitters: endorphins and dopamine that can help soothe the nervous system.
While classifying lard as a superfood may be controversial, the Weston A. Price Foundation discovered that lard from pasture-raised pigs contained 10,000 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon, which is one hundred times the amount in the USDA food database (based on conventionally raised hogs). Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting the immune system and also promotes healthy energy levels. Lard also contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and is heat stable, which makes it great for high-heat cooking.
This superfood has been nicknamed “miracle tree” for good reason. All parts of the moringa plant are beneficial, but the most powerful parts are the seeds and leaves. It’s antimicrobial,rich in antioxidants, and contains iron, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin A. Add it your water, teas, matcha, soups, desserts, and smoothies to reap its benefits.
Recommendations: Kuli Kuli
Spices such as cinnamon, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric are incredible superfoods to incorporate into your recipes. Use them as much as possible for an extra boost of nutrients and flavor.
Ceylon Cinnamon: This is antioxidant-rich spice that helps support healthy blood sugar levels, especially when practicing intermittent fasting.
Epazote: This herb is native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico and has traditionally been used in traditional Mexican dishes and remedies.It’s closely related to oregano, but with hints of mint and citrus. Epazote has dark green, jagged leaves and is typically found dried, but you can buy it fresh from Mexican specialty stores or farmers’ markets . It can easily be stored frozen for later use and makes a great addition to beans, soups, and meat dishes.
If you’re unsure how to incorporate these items into your meals, I’m sharing one of the most popular recipes from my cookbook to get you started. Pozole is full of Mexican superfoods like bone broth, chiles, and big-flavor spices and is perfect for holiday menus. The bone broth base delivers plenty of collagen while the apple cider vinegar helps extract beneficial nutrients. The pork is cooked in lard, the spices include epazote/oregano, and of course, the broth includes a variety of chiles. To learn how to make my Red Broth Pozole, check out the full step-by-step recipe below!
Red Broth Pozole
This soup is my go-to for any winter gathering. I love the endless possibilities for toppings. Make extra and freeze it for weeknight dinners. You can use two 15-ounce cans of white hominy in place of the cauliflower if you’re not strict keto.
Yield: 8 to 10 cups
Total time: 2 hours
3 cups cold filtered water
8 to 10 dried guajillo chiles
5 to 6 dried chiles de arbol (optional for a hot addition)
2 tablespoons pasture-raised lard or avocado oil for frying
3 pounds pasture-raised pork shoulder/butt (preferably bone-in but not mandatory), cut into 1-inch cubes
Sea salt or Himalayan salt
6 to 8 cups Mexican Bone Broth, brought to a boil and lowered to a simmer (see recipe below)
1 pata (pig foot or bone of choice, such as marrow or knuckle)
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 can crushed tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1-inch florets
- Bring the filtered water to a boil. Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems and seeds from the dried chile pods. In a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan, dry-roast the chiles on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes on each side (do not let them burn). Transfer the chiles to a medium bowl and cover with the boiled water. Let the chiles soak in the hot water for 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles and 2 cups of soaking liquid to a small food processor or blender; carefully puree and set aside. Discard the remaining soaking liquid.
- Heat the lard in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat. Pat dry the pork cubes with paper towels. Season generously with salt. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Do not crowd the pan or stir the meat too much.
- Once all of the meat has browned, transfer it to a plate. Add 1 cup of the broth to the pan to deglaze the bottom by scraping up any browned bits. Allow the broth to reduce slightly. If using pata, add it to the stockpot along with the browned meat. Add the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons salt. Top with the remaining bone broth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for 15 minutes.
- When the soup is simmering, strain the chile sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into the simmering soup, discarding the tough bits of the puree left in the strainer. Simmer the pozole for 1½ to 2 hours. Add the cauliflower 30 minutes before serving, bring just to a boil, and lower the heat to a simmer. (If the soup is too thick, add more broth or water to the desired consistency.) The pork should be easy to shred when ready. This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Simply let the soup cool, cover it, and refrigerate.
- Ladle the pozole from the pot into wide bowls. Serve with the toppings and let the guests garnish to their taste
Recipe reprinted from The Mexican Keto Cookbook. Copyright © 2019 by Torie Borrelli. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Eric Wolfinger. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.