You can put your May the Fourth Star Wars gear away now, because it’s Cinco de Mayo and time to put your sombrero or serape on. The fifth marks the anniversary of the Mexican victory over the French military, led by Napoleon III, who had been trying to maintain control over the land. This victory over foreign dominance is celebrated annually across Mexico and much of the U.S. — about 65 percent of the 53 million Hispanics are of Mexican descent — with dancing, parades, music, and lots of food and drink.

It’s easy to get caught up in the fried, fatty foods typical of a Mexican diet. Comprising lots of cheese, fried tortillas, and meat, it’s no wonder why Mexico has surpassed the U.S. in obesity rates. Nevertheless, the food is delicious, and there are ways to make them healthy. Here are three for a relatively complete meal.

Black Bean Soup


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped,

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

3 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon oregano

3 15-ounce cans black beans

Black pepper, to taste

Salsa (see next recipe for ingredients on this)

Shredded cheese (go with low-fat or none at all for a healthier soup)

Fresh, chopped basil

Preparation: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Stir it all together. Next, puree one can of black beans, and add it to the pot. Add the second can of black beans without pureeing it to the pot, and then drain the last can of black beans before adding it to the pot (also without pureeing). Once everything is in the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring the soup often. Add black pepper to taste, and water if the soup is too thick. Finish it off with salsa, shredded cheese, and basil. You can also add jalapeño if you want a little extra spice.

Carne Asada Tacos

Ingredients (for 8 servings):

1/2 cup of white vinegar

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 3/4 teaspoons of salt, divided (use kosher or sea salt for less sodium)

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 lbs. flank or skirt steak, trimmed and cut equally into 3 portions

1 lb. tomatoes

2 to 4 jalapeños or serrano chiles, fresh, seeded, and finely diced

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, fresh

1 ripe, slightly firm avocado, diced

Juice of 1 lime

16 5 to 6-inch corn or whole-wheat flour tortillas, warmed

1/3 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (also called queso añejo/añejado) or other shredded cheese

Marinate the meat: Start by whisking the vinegar, chili powder, 2 teaspoons of salt, and garlic powder in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Put the steak in and coat it all around with the mixture, leaving it for at least an hour — might want to start right now for dinner tonight — to marinate.

Make the salsa: Combine the tomatoes, jalapeños (to taste), onion, cilantro, avocado, lime juice, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Do this about 20 minutes before cooking the steak. You want it fresh!

Complete the meal: Preheat your broiler, keeping the oven’s rack in the upper third part of your oven. Remove the steak from its marinade and put it on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil it for 3 to 4 minutes per side for a medium cook. Once it’s done, put it on a clean cutting board and let it sit for 5 minutes, allowing the juices to redistribute, then cut it against the grain in thin slices. Wrap the steak with the salsa and a little cheese in a tortilla and eat up.

A Real Margarita

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

1 tablespoon finely grates lime zest

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime wedge

1 cup seltzer or club soda

3/4 cup (6 ounces) tequila

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) Triple Sec or Cointreau


Preparation: Combine lime zest and salt on a small plate — put to the side for later. Combine lime juice, seltzer or club soda, tequila, and Triple Sec or Cointreau in a pitcher. Rub rim of four 10-ounce glasses with the lime wedge and dip in the lime/salt mixture. Fill the glasses with ice and pour margarita mix over. By avoiding pre-made margarita mixes, this recipe saves 150 calories, while also giving you the real, fresh margarita experience.