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Tostadas: The Healthy Mexican Option

If you want a dish that is easy and quick to prepare, you should try tostadas. This is a popular traditional Latin American dish which uses corn tortillas as a basic ingredient. The tortillas may be toasted, baked or fried and served with various toppings. Some common toppings are cheese, chicken, beef, shrimp, beans, tomatoes and onions. Tostadas are similar to tacos because of the tortilla and topping combination. However, unlike tacos, which are folded, tostadas are left open. You can serve tostadas as a main meal, snack or appetizer. Your choice of toppings goes a long way to determine the nutritional value of the meal.

Nutritional Value

The corn tortilla in itself does not contain a significantly high amount of calories. One medium-sized tortilla, 28 grams, contains about 60 calories, with 5 calories from fat. Carbohydrates account for 10 grams. Some of the key nutrients include:

  • Protein – 2 grams
  • Vitamin B1 – 2 percent of recommended daily value
  • Vitamin B3 – 2 percent
  • Vitamin B6 – 3 percent
  • Vitamin B9 – 7 percent
  • Calcium – 6 percent
  • Iron – 3 percent
  • Phosphorous – 9 percent
  • Magnesium – 5 percent
  • Manganese – 5 percent
  • Copper – 2 percent

This serving also contains 1 gram of dietary fiber. The total calorie count varies according to the toppings you choose. Below is a guide on the calorie count for some common toppings, 3 ounces.

  • Ground lean beef – 180
  • Chicken, diced – 150
  • Shrimp – 90
  • Cheddar cheese – 330
  • Parmesan cheese – 360
  • Romano cheese - 320
  • Tomatoes – 15
  • Lettuce – 15
  • Onions – 35
  • Refried beans – 100
  • Pinto beans - 130

How to Make Tostadas

Buy as many corn tortillas as you’ll need to serve the expected number of people. Get a sauté pan and add in a few drops of olive oil. Use high heat to heat the oil. Fry each tortilla on both sides until they are a nice, golden-brown color and crisp in texture. As you remove each tortilla, place on a paper-lined tray or surface to remove the excess oil. Prepare the toppings of your choice separately. You may want to season with spices or herbs to enhance the flavor. When ready, scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of the toppings and spread evenly on each tortilla. Serve with a juice or beverage of your choice.

Tips to Cut Calories in Tostadas

  • Use vegetable toppings, as these contain fewer calories than beef, chicken or cheese, which are popular toppings for tostadas. You can shred tomatoes, onions and lettuce to give you a healthy alternative to meat and dairy toppings.
  • It is a good idea to bake or toast your tortillas rather than fry them. If you must fry, opt for a healthy cooking oil such as cold pressed virgin olive which is a better choice in food preparation. It helps to lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • You may want to try whole wheat tortillas for your tostadas. These contain twice as much dietary fiber and protein that regular corn tortillas. The fiber helps to sustain healthy digestive activities. It also helps you get full faster which curbs the appetite and food intake.

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