Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paletas de Sandia

While extremely delicious, my first-ever paletas (the mango ones) were not that pretty. I think I let them sit in the warm water for too long and the got this kind of melty, drippy look. The second time around, I attempted to see if I could do a better job. The water was a little less hot and I only dunked them for about 20 seconds. Look at that! Presto! It worked. I was extremely excited about these yummy-looking popsicles. Although they turned out to be two different colors, they taste like watermelon through and through. These are so nice and refreshing for those hot summer days.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Paletas de Mango

Paleta is the Spanish word for popsicle. The first time I ever traveled to Mexico, I was introduced to the world of paletas. I couldn't believe the variety of flavors. There was mango, watermelon, strawberry, and lime. Mexico has so many different types of fruit and they are all showcased in the delicious popsicles.
There are two different kinds of paletas: paletas de agua and paletas de crema. Paletas de agua are water-based and contain fruit and other ingredients. On the other hand, paletas de crema are milk-based and also contain fruit. These mango popsicles are paletas de agua, but I must say that they taste like eating a mango on a stick. Have you ever eaten a mango on a stick? That's another joy of Mexico. In this recipe I used Manila mangos which are also known as Ataulfo mangos. They are smaller, have and orangey yellow skin when ripe. The fruit is buttery, sweet, and delicious.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Agua de Chia

Chia is a flowering plant that is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans in pre-Colombian times and was a main component of their diet. Aztec warriors used Chia as their main source of fuel during conquests. Chia is derived from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) word, chian, meaning oily. The Mexican state of Chiapas received its name from Nahuatl and means "oily water or river." It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals). Recently, commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores.
When chia seeds are combined with liquid (like water, milk, juice or yogurt), they form a gel due to the soluble fiber that they contain. This may have some benefit in terms of weight loss (although the research in this area is scant) by helping you feel fuller longer and also by delaying the increase in blood sugar of foods that you consume which contain chia seeds. Chia seeds provide many health benefits. The seeds contain one of the highest known plant sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). It is very important that we get enough EFAs to support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. EFAs are known to make cell membranes more flexible and nerve transmission more efficient. This helps to improve brain function (including memory and concentration). Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. The high amounts of antioxidants in chia seeds also keeps the oils from going rancid - contributing to a long shelf life. Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. Two tablespoons of Chia = 7 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, 5 grams omega-3.