Feast & Fiesta! Gluten-Free Mexican Fare


Savor Cinco de Mayo with a fun and festive Mexican menu… all gluten-free.

Cinco de Mayo is the perfect excuse to celebrate Mexico’s culture, heritage and amazing food. A minor holiday in Mexico, the fifth of May is now embraced across the United States, particularly in predominantly Mexican-American populations. Parades, mariachi bands, margaritas and plenty of delicious dishes are served on this holiday. Happily, most of these foods are naturally gluten-free.

Beyond traditional rice and beans, this Cinco de Mayo menu is impressively full of flavor. What’s more, all recipes are gluten-free and can be made without the top 8 food allergens. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Photography by Jeff Rasmussen

Refried Black Beans


This recipe contains healthy and flavorful coconut oil, cumin, green chiles and onion. Top your favorite taco with these beans or serve as a stand-alone dip.

1½ tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup diced white onion
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, to taste
3 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
½-1 cup gluten-free broth (vegetable or chicken)
1½ tablespoons diced green chiles
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon ground cumin

1. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until onions start to brown.

2. Mash 1½ cups black beans with the back of a spoon or a potato masher. Add to the saucepan.Mash another 1 cup of black beans and add. Finally, stir in ½ cup whole black beans.

3. Stir in ½ cup broth. Then add green chiles, salt and cumin. Continue cooking on low heat until ready to serve. Add more broth if beans become too thick or dry.

Each serving contains 119 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 1g sugars, 6g protein, 7 Est GL.

Photography by Jeff Rasmussen



Mexican tamales are purses of masa harina dough cradling a savory or sweet filling, wrapped up in corn husks or banana leaves. Traditional tamale fillings vary by regions of Mexico, from shredded meat and chiles to brown beans, pineapple and corn. Feel free to concoct your own fillings for these tamales or stuff them with Refried Black Beans and Mole Sauce (as pictured). Use true masa harina for your tamales, not corn meal or corn flour. Masa harina is treated with lime and water to loosen the corn hulls and soften the corn kernels, making it easier to form into a dough and rendering the rich niacin nutrients in the corn more digestible.

1 bag dried cornhusks (at least 25)
2 cups masa harina
½ cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¾-1 cup gluten-free broth (chicken or vegetable)

1. Soak corn husks for several hours or overnight in a large pot of water.

2. In a large food processor or stand mixing bowl, combine masa harina, coconut oil, salt and chili powder. Pulse 1 to 2 minutes or beat until mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Slowly stir in ½ cup vegetable broth while pulsing with the food processor or mixing with a stand mixer. If the dough isn’t holding together or is still crumbly, add ¼ cup more broth. (The dough should hold together when squeezed in the palm of your hand.)

4. Lay 1 soaked corn husk on a board with the tapered end facing you. Scoop out 2 to 3 tablespoons of masa mixture (depending on the size of the husk) and squeeze it in your hand to form an elongated ball of dough. Spread the dough out to 1/8 to ¼-inch thickness in the middle of the husk, leaving at least a ½-inch border on all sides.

5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon Refried Black Beans or other filling of choice in a line down the middle of the masa like a cigar. Drizzle Mole Sauce over top.

6. Bring the 2 long sides of the husks together gently so that the masa curls around the filling like a blanket and the 2 sides of the masa just touch. Spread the husks out again and the masa should stay in the middle, folded around the filling. Bring up the bottom of the husk and fold over the masa. Then fold 1 long side over and then the other long side over, like you’re swaddling a baby. Finally, fold the top of the husk over and flip the tamale to keep that last flap closed.

7. Tear thin strips out of two husks to make “strings.” Tie 2 strings around each tamale to keep the husks closed. Repeat with remaining masa dough and husks.

8. Line a steamer basket with additional husks. Fill the bottom of a steamer or large pot with water and insert the steamer basket. Cover and heat until the water boils and steam forms. Place the individual wrapped tamales inside the basket and cover with additional cornhusks and the lid. Steam 15 to 20 minutes. Remove a tamale to test for doneness. Tamales are done when they’re still moist but peel away from the husks easily. If not done, return to the steamer basket and continue cooking until done.

9. Serve warm with additional Mole Sauce for dipping.

Each serving contains 126 calories, 8g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 126mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, 8 Est GL.

TIP Store well-wrapped tamales in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days. To reheat, steam about 10 minutes. If frozen, steam about 20 minutes. Reheating time depends on the size of the tamales.

mole sauce photo

© cokemomo/123rf.com

Mole Sauce


Mole sauce has a long history in Aztec cooking but there’s little agreement about its actual origins. What we know of moles today is that they require many varied and somewhat bizarre combinations of ingredients. The result is the flavor explosion that makes these sauces so famous. While some versions include fried bread, nuts, lard and other items that would be off-limits to many, this allergy-friendly recipe is sublime in its delicious simplicity. Serve it warm as a dipping sauce for tamales or as a marinade or sauce for chicken, pork, fish, shrimp or tofu.

½ tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup gluten-free broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) tomato sauce
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons nut butter or seed butter of choice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, briefly warm oil, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt until fragrant, stirring to combine. Add broth. Then stir in tomato sauce, chocolate chips and nut butter.

2. Cook until chips are melted. Taste to see if you prefer additional chili powder to make the sauce spicier or additional nut butter to cut the spicy heat. Adjust seasoning accordingly.

3. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if using.

Each tablespoon contains 18 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 72mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.

Photography by Jeff Rasmussen



Homemade guacamole is easy to make. Choose Haas avocados, the best for guacamole and typically available year-round in grocery stores. Dark purple or black when ripe, avocados should be firm (not hard) and yield to gentle pressure when squeezed lightly. Serve guacamole with chips, tacos, tamales or other Mexican-inspired dish.

3 ripe Haas avocados
½ sweet Vidalia onion, minced
½ tablespoon minced garlic, to taste
3-5 fresh Roma tomatoes or 2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon coarse sea salt
-Black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 bunch fresh cilantro, slightly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. Scoop avocado flesh out of shells and remove pits. Place avocado in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon.

2. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and mix together with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

3. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

Each tablespoon contains 20 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 33mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 1 Est GL.

Grilled Sweet Potato Veggie Tacos


The colorful combination of orange sweet potatoes, yellow corn, red tomatoes, black beans and green avocado makes these tasty veggie tacos gorgeous to plate and healthy to eat.

1 large sweet potato
1 bell pepper
-Olive oil spray
1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2 recipes prepared Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas
1 recipe prepared Homemade Coleslaw
1 cup cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen shoepeg corn, optional, cooked 1 minute
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, optional
-Salsa of choice
1 recipe prepared Guacamole
1 recipe prepared Refried Black Beans

1. Wash sweet potato and slice it like steak fries. Cut bell pepper in half.

2. Spray grill well with oil and warm to medium-high flame. Lay sweet potato slices, pepper halves and half avocado (cut side down) on the grill. Cook and then turn so vegetables get grill marks. Cook until fork-tender. Cut bell pepper into long slices and slice avocado into small pieces.

3. In each tortilla, layer a portion of Coleslaw, sweet potatoes, bell pepper slices, avocado pieces, black beans, diced tomatoes, shoepeg corn (if using) and green chiles (if using). Top each tortilla with salsa, Guacamole and Refried Black Beans. Wrap each tortilla like a burrito or fold over for a soft taco. Serve warm.

Each serving contains 423 calories, 21g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 631mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 5g sugars, 7g protein, 24 Est GL.

Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas


These pliable wraps are a real treat to eat and far easier to make than you might suspect. Use them to make fajitas, burritos or sandwich wraps. To ensure tortillas remain soft and pliable, don’t roll the dough too thin before cooking them.

2 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
4 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegetable or palm shortening
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3-1 cup very warm water

1. Combine flour blend, shortening and salt in a food processor, pulsing until ingredients are evenly distributed and mixture has a fine, slightly pebbly consistency. With the food processor on, slowly pour warm water through the feeding tube until dough forms a ball. (You may need slightly more or less water to achieve this consistency.)

2. Divide and pat dough into 8 equal-size disks. Place disks on a plate and cover them in clear plastic wrap. Let sit about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your filling for fajitas, burritos, sandwiches or whatever you prefer.

3. After 30 minutes, heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat; do not oil the surface. On a clean surface or pastry mat lightly dusted with cornstarch or gluten-free flour, roll out each disk into a circle. Make tortillas a bit thick to prevent edges from crisping and cracking when cooking. (Imagine the thickness of a traditional flour tortilla and roll to that thickness, no more.)

4. Using a rolling pin or a spatula, gently transfer tortillas, 1 at a time, to the hot pan. Cook tortillas for a very short time. When they start to bubble, flip them to cook the other side for a few seconds. (Overcooking crisps the edges, making it difficult to use tortillas as wraps.)

5. Place cooked tortillas on a towel-lined plate. Wrap them in the towel to keep warm until ready to serve.

Each serving contains 195 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugars, 1g protein, 18 Est GL.

Homemade Coleslaw


This gluten-free slaw is better than any restaurant offering and much healthier. To make it without dairy and eggs, use a vegan mayo. (See Shopping List, right)Use this slaw to fill Grilled Sweet Potato Veggie Tacos or enjoy it as part of a picnic menu. For additional color and texture, add some shredded carrots to the cabbage combo.

1 pound shredded green and red cabbage combination
½ cup mayonnaise or dairy-free, egg-free mayo of choice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons milk of choice
½ tablespoon celery seed
1½ tablespoons sugar, optional, to taste

1. Mix cabbage, mayonnaise, vinegar, milk and celery seed in a large bowl.

2. Add sugar (if desired) to taste, stirring to combine.

3. Cover coleslaw and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Each ¼ cup contains 66 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 44mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 0g protein, 2 Est GL.

Photography by Jeff Rasmussen

Tres Leches Cake


Tres Leches (“Three Milks”) Cake is the perfect dessert to top off a Mexican feast. This moist cake bakes up like a dream. As it cools and absorbs three types of milk, it transforms into an amazing sponge cake. Use coconut, almond, potato or soy milk or any combination of dairy or dairy-free milk; just stay away from skim milks in this recipe. This cake can be made with egg replacement.

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, almond extract or rum
¾ cup coconut milk (full fat), almond milk or milk of choice (not skim)
1 cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
2 tablespoons milk powder of choice or almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


¾ cup coconut milk (not lite)
¾ cup almond milk or milk of choice (not skim)
½ cup coconut creamer or creamer or choice (vanilla flavor)


❧ Whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping
½ cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweet- ened), optional
¼ cup sliced almonds, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for convection oven or if using a dark pan). Grease the bottom and sides of 8×8-inch pan or an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan and line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Add eggs and mix well.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour blend, milk powder, baking powder and salt. Slowly stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Increase mixer speed and beat 3 minutes or until ingredients are well combined.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place in preheated oven and bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan. The cake will be lightly browned on the top and sides. Set cake aside to cool for 5 minutes.

6. Poke holes in the top of the cooling cake every ½ to 1 inch using a toothpick or fork. (This helps the sauce seep into the cake.)

7. To make the sauce, whisk together the three “milks” in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until warmed, about 5 minutes.

8. Slowly pour warm sauce over the entire cake. Do not allow sauce to pool in the center. Tilt the cake pan, if necessary, to help disperse the sauce. Reserve extra sauce to serve with the cake later, if desired.

9. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the sauce is mostly absorbed, usually 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

10. Cut chilled cake into equal squares. Top each square with a dollop of whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping. Sprinkle with flaked coconut or sliced almonds, if desired.

Each serving contains 248 calories, 7g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 256mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 26g sugars, 2g protein, 31 Est GL.

For Egg-Free Tres Leches Cake, omit 2 eggs. Reduce the oil in the recipe to 1 tablespoon. Combine 2 tablespoons flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot water. Let cool. Use this mixture to replace 2 eggs in step 3.