Esquites Get a Healthy Food Flip—Plus Cauliflower!
- January 2022
- By Naihomy Jerez
- Recipe from Mexico
Esquites are one of Mexico’s favorite street foods. This popular on-the-go snack in a cup is also exhibit A of the flavor mashup that makes the country’s cuisine so distinctive. Take a bite and you’ll taste the trio of seemingly competing sabores we can’t stop craving: sweet (corn)+ spicy (chile) + creamy (queso).
Food vendors all over Mexico hawk to-go cups filled to the brim with toasted kernels of street corn—topped with a velvety mix of cotija cheese, mayonnaise, lime juice, and ground chiles. This maíz treat can also include butter, oil, Mexican crema, the spice epazote, and more—depending on which street stand or food truck you buy from, and where in Mexico you find yourself when ordering.
Esquites—its name is the Aztec word for: toasted corn—is not to be confused with elotes, though both are prepared with the same savory chile-cheese combo. Esquites means the corn is savored off the cob, and elotes means the kernels are still attached to the cob.
We asked our Healthy & Delicioso food editor Naihomy Jerez to give esquites one of her famous food flips and nudge it into a more saludable direction. In place of the high-fat crema and vegetable oil, Naihomy, a health and wellness food coach, uses olive oil, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits . She swaps in soy mayonnaise for regular mayo. She mixes in cauliflower florets—loaded with vitamin B—with the corn to add fiber and calciferous nutrients.
Thanks to Naihomy’s flavorful food makeover, these esquites turn into a good-for-you snack that is still sweet, gracias to the corn and good for us.
To check out more of Naihomy’s food flips on traditional Latino dishes, check out her Healthy & Delicioso makeovers like these: nachos with ground turkey, arepitas de yuca, arroz con pollo, Dominican moro de guandules, dulce con habichuela (an Easter staple, D.R.-style!), and pumpkin flan. She also healthied up some of our favorite drinks. Check out her vegan coquito, and—our favorite all-time drinks: lighter margarita and paloma.
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