Mexican Food : The treat known as Amaranto

Amaranto is a traditional Mexican candy also know as “Alegría” (happiness, joy, cheer).  A treat who’s ingredients &  manufacturing process have a long standing  history. The candy’s main ingredient is the intensely nutritious grain knows as amaranth, it is so nutritious than it surpass both rice & wheat. Amaranth was a staple food of the Aztecs.  Alegría candy bars contain : nuts, pepitas(pumpkin seeds), rasins, & the amaranth grain  which are “glued” together with pilloncillo(a type of unrefined sugar that usually comes in cones, known to some as “Mexican brown sugar”)


Mexicans synonymous with beans to you? You need to learn about Nopales my friend.

There are those who will automatically connect Mexicans with beans some so much so as to venture to stereotype.  The truth unbeknownst to them however,  there is a Mexican diet staple which far surpasses beans when it comes to being emblematic and symbolic. The nopal is a true symbol of our people.  Depicted in artwork,  named in songs , and referenced in sayings.  For example: when a person tries to deny their Mexican heritage they are greeted with the following saying  “Luego,  luego se te ve el nopalote” which would translate to something like “Oh please you might as well have a big o’l  cactus plant growing out of your head, because there’s no denying you’re 100% Mexican.”

But why does the  nopal hold such a notable position in our culture? Although it does play a big role when it comes to : Mexican  diet, agriculture, traditions, and the economy the most  important reason is yet another.  The nopal is  important  because of  it’s role in Mexico’s history. It is forever linked to our people through being  part of our folklore &  mythology.  Mexico’s legendary founding is a tale of how the heavens guided the Aztects to their future kingdom Tenochtitlan by sending them in search of a cactus plant with an eagled pearched on top eating a snake. The tale which  is what is depreciated on our flag.




Nopales (from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads, or nostle, from the Nahuatl word nōchtli for the fruit) are a vegetable made from the young cladophyll (pad) segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. These fleshy pads are flat and about hand-sized. They can be purple or green. They are particularly common in their native Mexico, where the plant is eaten commonly and regularly forms part of a variety of Mexican cuisine dishes. Farmed nopales are most often of the species Opuntia ficus-indica, although the pads of almost all Opuntia species are edible.

Nopales are generally sold fresh in Mexico. In more recent years bottled, or canned versions are available mostly for export. Less often dried versions are available. Used to prepare nopalitos, they have a light, slightly tart flavor, like green beans, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture. In most recipes the mucilaginous liquid they contain is included in the cooking. They are at their most tender and juicy in the spring.[1]

Though Nopales are most commonly used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), “carne con nopales” (meat with nopal), “tacos de nopales”, or simply on their own or in salads with Panela Cheese. Nopales have also grown to be an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine.[2]

Health Benefits-

Nopales are very rich in insoluble and especially soluble dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins (especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, but also riboflavin and vitamin B6) and minerals (especiallymagnesium, potassium, and manganese, but also iron and copper). Nopales have a high calcium content, but the nutrient is not biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, which is neither highly soluble nor easily absorbed through the intestinal wall.[3] Addition of nopales also reduces the glycemic effect of a mixed meal.[4] Nopales are low carbohydrate and may help in the treatment of diabetes.[5]

Nopales are a recognized in culinary circles as a gourmet ingredient.

photo credits :

Mexican Food: Make it HOT

When it comes to Mexican food and it’s flavors, specifically heat, it seems like I’m always hearing salsa this and salsa that.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with Salsa, it’s just that thanks to far too many stereotypes, & the lack of proper knowledge, the culinary art of salsa making has been devalued, reduce  to a very mild, & oversimplified one cheap trick pony. In reality, when it comes to heat & spicy flavors in the Mexican kitchen, the realm of  possibilities  is so vast.  Your options are so diverse, and varied that you can be at no loss when looking to turn up the taste in your dishes. With the right ingredients you can arm yourself with the ability to produce: unique, extraordinary, and super flavorful surprises. What sort of ingredients? Well, Take for example today’s spotlight food: “Chiles en Vinagre” = Chilies in Vinegar, pronounced (Chee -lehs- ehn -Bee-nah- greh). Chiles en vinagre are pickled peppers. Some use Serranos in their recipe, others use Jalapeños. The basic Chiles en Vinagre recipe actually calls for the pickling of green chilies,carrots,and onions. There are those that will add other things such as cauliflower for example, but I’m more familiar & used to the basic recipe.

So salsa gets all too often automatically associated with Mexican food, to the point that it leads to a constrained singularization. Though this is one of the first things to be mentioned when talking of Mexican cuisine,the fact  is that to some, Chiles en Vinagre are far more important. In some cases truly indispensable. There are people who claim they can not eat a proper meal without their chiles. To some this condiment is as  important as salt & pepper. Week after week this is something on my grocery list. In my house, on our dinner table there’s always been a bowl of “chiles en vinagre” present.

The spicy treat is a great addition to all kinds of food. You can sprinkle the pickled juice on almost anything, you can munch on a crunchy carrot, or bite on a spicy, juicy pepper while you enjoy your meal.  You can have “Chiles en Viangre” with : beans, eggs, on a torta(sandwhich),with tacos, along with stews, heck even with burgers or pizza… seriously the list goes on & on.  With these chilies you can add spice to an already flavorful dish or you can spruce up a simple & humble meal. The latter is the key that is at the heart of true Mexican home cooking.

Find Chiles en vinagre in your local supermarket in the international foods isle, hispanic products isle, visit your local Hispanic Super Market, or

find them online at :

For all your authentic Mexican Product Needs

Get to know MexGrocer  an awesome online company who’s mission is to share with you Authentic,specialty,

Mexican products.  MexGrocer is definitely Mega Super Chido stuff!  Some of the products they sell you can find in regular super markets, but other stuff is exclusive & special finds that are only available online. And even though some stuff is sold in supermarkets there are those who do not live near a Hispanic shopping center. But if that’s your case, then no prob, MexGrocer is her to help.

Food Network A la Mexicana

New show about Mexican cuisine coming soon to Food Network

For more info on the show & its chef visit:

Christmas in Mexico means Posadas

Posadas are a big part of a traditional Mexican Christmas. Posada  means “shelter” or “inn” in Spanish.  The posadas are  a celebration of the Nativity. The posadas  are celebrations that are what is called a “Novena” = a ninth, because it is held 9 days before “Noche Buena”.  Literally in Spanish Christmas Eve is called  “the Good Night “(Holly Night).  The posasadas consist of a reenactment of Mary & Joseph on their journey in search of shelter. Whole neighborhoods participate in posadas. As the Christmas season approaches people meet in anticipation to plan their neighborhood posadas, raise money, &  appoint the different duties.  A different neighbor will schedule a night for the Posada to be held at their home, beggining with 16th of December and ending with the 24th =Noche Buena.  Each house has a  Nativity scene.  *It is also common for posadas to be held at schools as Christmas  parties/festivals  & all teachers, school children  & their families take part in them. THE REENACTMENTS: The neighbors choosen for that night to host the posada at their house will play the inn keepers. The rest of the neighbors will be the “Peregrinos” =the Pilgrims looking for shelter.  The neighbors chosen to represent the main parts of the  Peregrinos: that is Mary & Joseph(usualy teenagers) carry statutes of Mary and Joseph on their journey. In some posadas however they will dress up and play the parts in that  manner instead. Some are so dedicated to holding a good posada that  authentic costumes and a donkey are procured for the procession. Everyone walks through the neighborhood in a choral processsion. The leader of the procession will have a candles inside of a paper lamp shade that looks like an accordion but open at the top and it is called a “Farolito” or little lantern.  Others may also have small candle sticks.  The posadas are know for their bright colors and magical twinkling lights.  Usually a neighbor who is able to play guitar will accompany the group, for those enough lucky to raised the fund or get a group to help out,  a set musicians (sometimes Mariachis) are their accompaniment. They go along singing the same simple little song at each home they stop at :

The Posada Chant (translation from )

Outside: (The Pilgrims)

In the name of heaven, I ask you for shelter
because my beloved wife can continue no longer.

Inside: (The Inn Keepers)
This is no inn, continue on your way.
I am not about to open. You may be a scoundrel.

Don’t be inhuman. Have mercy.
For the God of the heavens will reward you.

Go away, and don’t bother us
because if I get angry I will hit you.

We come exhausted all the way from Nazareth;
I am a carpenter by the name of Joseph.

I don’t care what your name is. Let me go back to sleep,
I am telling you, I am not about to open.

The queen of heaven is asking for shelter,
just for one night, dear landlord,

Well, if it is a queen who is asking?
How is it that at night, she travels so alone?

My wife is Mary, she is queen of Heaven,
and she will be mother of the Divine Word.

Are you Joseph, your wife is Mary?
Come in, pilgrims, I did not recognize you.

May God reward your great charity, good people,
and fill the heavens with happiness.

Blessed be the house that shelters this day,
the pure Virgin, the beautiful Mary!

Final Verse Upon Entering.
Enter holy pilgrims.
Pilgrims, accept this corner; Although the dwelling is poor,
I give it to you with all my heart.
Let us sing with joy, joy.
Let us reflect together, that Jesus, Joseph and Mary,
have come today to honor us. (Repeat)

After reaching the home that was chosen to hold the  posada * the home that is suppose to be the inn giving shelter, a rosary is prayed there around the Nativity scene . Last but not least, before the reenactment can be complete baby Jesus in placed in the manger in the Nativity scene. Along with the Rosary, traditional Christmas hymns are sung. After prayer the party  begins. At the party there are performances, folkloric and non there is dancing and eating and great fun and merriment. There is a piñata which is the big attraction for the children. * Piñatas originally came from Europe, but were adopted for celebrations where children are involved. There are many diffrent varieties of piñatas, but of course a star shape is popular for Xmas. Beside candies , peanuts and oranges are very popular stuffing for piñatas. While waiting for the piñata to be broken the children often sing  ♪”La piñata tine ca-ca- tine ca-ca, cahuates de a  monton” = The piñata filed with with pe-pe ,filled pe-pe, pe-nuts by the ton. ♪ Besides the piñata colorful farolitos= little paper lanterns are what help to make the posadas a colorful and festive time.

The  main event for the adults is the Ponche, a  Punch known as “Ponche con Piquete” =(punch with a sting). The punch is served  hot  & contains  seasonal winter fruits,  cinnamon sticks, &  with a shot of alcoholic spririt.

On Christmas Eve: Families attend Mass(Misa de Noche Buena) at midnight. When Mass is done, everyone reunites in the homes of  family &  friends to have dinner. For some it is traditional to reunite & celebrate at  grandparents homes. Others alternate as to who’s home will hold the Christmas dinner. *  Guest, even last minute ones are ALWAYS welcomed.  Big families reunite to spend this special night together, have a big feast, bond and give thanks for being together. FOOD: Tamales are very popular, but there are a varity of things prepared along with or instead of such a dish.  Pozole(hominy),  chilles rellenos(stuffed bell peppers)buñuelos(fried tortillas sprinkled with sugar)turkey, among many others are the fair for some who opt out of Tamales.  Each family has a different Christmas dish they prefer.

This was a city(goverment) organized posada hence the picture taking and camera crew.

People asking for posada @ a neighborhood restaurant. Posadas really are beautiful for their inclusion of whole neighborhoods.