The holidays are finally over”” and so is the season for self-indulgence. While it’s time to look forward to a new year, many are daunted by the unhealthy food choices and irresistible treats consumed during last year’s festivities.

If you’re feeling like you need to start the year with healthier eating habits, you can start by cooking your favorite meals, with a healthy twist.

In a previously published story, Boyle Heights Beat reporter Daniel Vidal got a few tips from Boyle Heights native Aaron J. Perez, a professional chef “who likes to come up with ways to cook healthy Mexican meals that also honor tradition.”

    “People think change is bad in”¦a traditional dish instead of exploring other ways to be creative,” said Perez. “There are “a lot of variations that you can use when you’ re cooking that people don’ t know about.”

    Boyle Heights’ families who can’t find healthy options for eating out locally may have to learn tricks to make a healthier traditional meal. Perez has made it his goal to provide people with the proper knowledge to cook a healthier meal. “ We deserve, as a community, to have the privilege of great tasting food,” he said.

Read the full story here.

To get you started, here’s one of Chef Aaron’s recipes to a traditional Mexican dish.

A Healthier Approach to a Classic Chile Relleno

Serves 4-8. Calories for one chile relleno: 310

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 garlic cloves

7 whole black peppercorns

2 small bay leaves

1 sprig fresh cilantro

Kosher salt

1 small onion, chopped

6 large eggs, separated

All-purpose flour

Grapeseed oil

12 oz. Panela cheese, cut into 8 sticks

8 poblano chile peppers

Chicken broth (low sodium)

EQUIPMENT

Blender

2 Sauté Pans

Bowl

Plastic Wrap

DIRECTIONS

1. Fire Roast chiles, turning, until the skins char (almost burned), about 8 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool, about 10 minutes.

2. Peel the chiles. Slice each open lengthwise, about 1/2 inch from the top to 1 inch from the bottom. Remove the seeds, and then rinse any remaining seeds. Dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Carefully stuff each chile with a stick of cheese.

3. Puree the tomatoes; blend your chopped onion and garlic in a blender until smooth. Heat 3 tsp. of grapeseed oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until you see waves building up. Add the tomato puree, whole garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, cilantro, and fry, stirring, until thick, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the broth, reduce the heat, and simmer until thickened, but still brothy, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with kosher salt. Strain and keep warm.

4. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches of grapeseed oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Beat the egg whites, 2 tbsp. water, and 1 tsp. kosher salt with a mixer until stiff, but not dry. Beat the yolks in a separate bowl until combined, and then gently fold them into the whites.

5. Overlap the sides of the chiles to enclose the cheese, and then dredge in flour, working with two chiles at a time. (Coat any tears with flour.) Using tongs, dip and roll the chiles in the egg mixture to coat. Fry in the hot grapeseed oil until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer with a large skimmer or 2 spatulas to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, letting the excess oil drip back into the pot. Repeat with the remaining chiles and egg mixture. Place in the oven on the lined baking sheet to cook off any excess oil, about 10 minutes.

TIP

Ladle the tomato broth into 4 shallow bowls; place 2 chiles in each. Garnish with cilantro.

 

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