Cinco de Mayo parties tend toward snacks laden with calories and fat--fried tortilla chips, complicated dips, enchiladas stuffed with cheese, sour cream toppings. A partial antidote for all this comes from Austin, Tex., where a company called Guiltless Gourmet is producing fat-free, oil-free chips, dips and salsa.
The chips are baked and contain only the fat that occurs naturally in corn. They come salted or unsalted, which helps sodium watchers too. The picante salsa eliminates water as well as fat and oil, so what you get is straight tomatoes, onions, jalapenos , cilantro, vinegar and seasonings. New to the line are pinto and black bean dips with either mild or spicy seasoning.
The dips, salsa and chips are available at Mrs. Gooch's in Beverly Hills and Mother's Market & Kitchen in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach. The chips are carried at Erewhon in Los Angeles, One Life Natural Foods in Santa Monica, Follow your Heart in Canoga Park, Naturway Natural Foods in Anaheim and other Mrs. Gooch's. Prices range from $1.69 to $1.99 for the seven-ounce bags of chips, and from $2.69 to $2.99 for the 13.5 ounce jars of bean dip and 12.5-ounce jars of picante salsa.
A fat-free Mexican dinner might start with the 14-garden-vegetable soup from Health Valley. Carrots, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, green peas, green beans, baby limas and pinto beans are included in the long list of ingredients. Not only is the soup fat-free, it provides three grams of dietary fiber and just 50 calories per serving. Eleven of the vegetables and herbs are certified organic; the can (recyclable) is enamel-coated and lead-free.
To make the soup authentically Mexican, pass bowls of lime wedges, sliced jalapenos and hot salsa so guests can season their servings to taste. If you're not so worried about keeping fat out of your Cinco de Mayo party, you could pop some albondigas (meatballs) into the soup.
Another careful eater's option for Cinco de Mayo is Health Valley's fat-free chili. One is made with black beans, another with a combination of kidney, pinto and white beans.
The soup retails for about $1.50 and is available in natural - foods stores, Ralphs, Vons and Lucky markets.
There's nothing like fragrant, steaming flour tortillas fresh off the griddle. If you don't have the skills to make them from scratch, you can get close to the same effect with Sonora Brand fresh uncooked tortillas, made at a factory in Santa Ana. You plop one into a non-stick pan and cook it for less than a minute on each side. You may also grill these tortillas or deep-fry them for chips.
The tortillas are stocked in the refrigerated deli sections of Vons, Lucky, Hughes, Gelson's and other markets. Unlike fully cooked commercial flour tortillas, they have a long shelf life--90 days if kept refrigerated and unopened, two weeks after the resealable package is opened. The retail price for a dozen is $2.29.