Masa or menos: Why health experts warn tamale lovers of overeating

Life & Health

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Tamales are a temptation many can’t resist during the holiday season, but doctors and trainers want to remind the community what’s going into your body when you eat them.

According to Tamales El Tejano in Central El Paso, for every 25 pounds of masa, there are 12-13 pounds of lard mixed in.

One local trainer reminds people that there are other ways of lowering the calories in their tamal.

“It will really clog up your arteries, it will add a lot of visceral fat, that clogs up your heart and your liver so a better option for you instead of that animal lard that animal fat would be canola oil and chicken broth for that Latin flavor,” said TK Fitness trainer Kai Malachi.

He explained that each tamal contains 300-500 calories, which is equivalent to a fast-food cheeseburger.

“Most people eat 3-5 tamales per sitting but no one eats 3-5 cheeseburgers,” he said.

Malachi told KTSM simple ways like switching pork meat to chicken is one way many people lower their fat intake.

Practitioner Kida Thompson explained, the easiest way to stay healthy is moderate eating.

“You should not eat too many tamales over Christmas… tamales have a lot of carbs which turns into sugar so you should probably only have two even though they are really good just be mindful of how many you have,” said Thompson.

TKFit Butternut Squash Tamales

Ingredients
FOR THE DOUGH:

  • 2 CUPS BUTTERNUT SQUASH DICED
  • 3 CUPS VEGETABLE BROTH
  • 6 GREEN ONIONS CHOPPED
  • 1 TABLESPOON ADOBO SAUCE RESERVE THE CHILES FOR FILLING
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC MINCED
  • 2 TEASPOONS KOSHER SALT
  • 1 TEASPOON GROUND CUMIN
  • 3 CUPS MASA HARINA LIKE MASECA OR PAN
  • UP TO ½ CUP CANOLA OIL

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 TABLESPOON EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • 6 GREEN ONIONS CHOPPED
  • 4 CLOVES GARLIC MINCED
  • 2 CHIPOTLES EN ADOBO ROUGHLY CHOPPED
  • 1 TEASPOON GROUND CUMIN
  • 1 TEASPOON KOSHER SALT
  • ½ CUP SPANISH OLIVES WITH PIMENTOS* CHOPPED
  • ½ CUP GOLDEN RAISINS
  • ¼ CUP CAPERS DRAINED FROM THE BRINE
  • 1 CUP VEGETABLE BROTH
  • 1 TEASPOON ORANGE ZEST
  • ½ CUP CILANTRO FINELY CHOPPED

Directions
Dough:

  • Before cooking, soak about 20 corn husks in hot water for ½ hour.
  • Bring broth to a boil and add diced squash, green onion, adobo sauce, salt and cumin. Cook for 15 minutes or until squash is tender.
  • Drain the broth into a bowl and reserve. Remove the squash and save other half for the filling. Mash the squash and mix in the masa. Slowly add broth and add oil, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is moist.
  • Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

  • Heat the oil in a skillet, then add green onions, garlic, chipotles, cumin and salt. Cook for about 1 minute, further breaking up the chiles with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Add reserved squash, olives, raisins, capers, and cook 1 minute more, stirring occasionally.
  • Add broth and orange zest. Cook on medium heat for another 2 minutes. Add cilantro and remove from the heat.
  • Assemble tamales: Spread ¼ cup dough in the husk, and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the filling. Spread another few tablespoons of the dough on top, leaving enough room for folding or tying ends. Wrap tamales and place in tamale steamer.
  • Steam tamales for about 1 hour, then serve!
  • The secret to making this healthier is using butternut squash instead of lard. You can also substitute butternut squash or pureed canned corn instead of lard in your own recipe.

TK FIT Healthier Holiday Tamales

  • Ingredients
  • 30 CORN HUSKS
  • 2 POUNDS CHICKEN BREAST SHREDDED
  • 10 TOMATILLOS
  • 1 WHITE ONION
  • 1 SERRANO CHILE
  • 1 TABLESPOON CANOLA OIL
  • 3 CLOVES GARLIC
  • 2 TABLESPOONS CHICKEN FLAVOR BOUILLON DIVIDED
  • 1 3/4 CUPS WATER (or substitute 1 3/4 chicken broth for boullion and water)
  • 3 CUPS MASA FOR TAMALES
  • 3/4 CUPS CANOLA OIL
  • 1 1/2 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER

Directions

  1. Soak corn husks in warm water until soft, about 1 hour. 2. Drain and thoroughly dry corn husks.
  2. Cover chicken with water in 4-quart saucepot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from chicken from saucepot. Cool, then shred; set aside.
  4. Toss tomatillos, onion, serrano pepper, and garlic in oil and broil until evenly charred, turning occasionally; allow to cool slightly.
  5. Process vegetables, 1 tablespoon Chicken flavor Bouillon and garlic in blender or food processor until smooth.
  6. Cook processed vegetables with shredded chicken in 12-inch skillet low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and excess water has cooked out, about 5 minutes.
  7. For masa dough, dissolve remaining Bouillon in boiling water. Pour water into mixing bowl, then stir in masa harina and baking powder. Beat on medium speed using paddle attachment, until combined. Remove from bowl and set aside.
  8. Add oil. then add masa mixture, a handful at a time, until mixture is smooth and well combined. ( Chopped green chili can be added here) Increase speed to high and beat until masa is a soft, thick paste, about 4 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  9. Spread 1/4 cup masa dough onto each husk.
  10. Place 2 tablespoons chicken filling on the middle of the masa dough. Fold sides of corn husk to center, wrapping the filling. Fold one end of corn husk up against the seam to seal.
  11. Arrange tamales vertically in steamer basket over a pot over boiling water, top with extra husks. Cover with lid and steam until husks pull away from filling, about 45 minutes.
    Check water level often and add additional water as necessary to avoid burning tamales. Cool tamales 3 minutes before serving.

TKFit Skinny Tamales

  • Ingredients
  • 1 pkg corn husks
  • 2 lbs shredded cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can(s) (8oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1/4 c enchilada sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 c 98% fat free chicken broth
  • 3 1/2 c masa harina
  • 2/3 c canola oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 jar(s) (16 oz) salsa, pureed
  • sour cream
  • Directions
  1. Soak cornhusks in hot water until soft (about 30 minutes to 1 hour). While corn husks are soaking, Combine chicken, enchilada sauce, pureed salsa, green chilies, salt, cumin, onion powder and garlic in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl and electric mixer on medium speed, blend masa harina, canola oil, baking powder and the 4 cups chicken broth. Beat the masa until it feels like mash potatoes. Season the masa to taste with salt and pepper to taste. Set masa mixture aside
  3. Tamale Assembly: Place 3 Tablespoons masa mixture on the smooth side of the softened cornhusk and spread into a 4×4-inch square (on the square base of husk). Place two tablespoons of the seasoned shredded chicken down the center of each masa. Roll the cornhusk lengthwise from right to left. Fold the tamale tail end under and place on tray with folded end on bottom. When 2 dozen tamales are completed, cover and place in refrigerator.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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