My Mexican family is loud, but I love spending time with them every chance I get. We have a lot of traditions, and my favorite one is gathering with my family a week or two before Christmas to make tamales to enjoy on the 24th of December.
The tamale-making party takes place at Abuelita's house, where we enjoy a glass of wine and crank up the music to get everyone in a festive mood. Making tamales is a long process, but we always look forward to this time. We know that we will be together for hours and that we will be laughing the whole time. This is also when the children learn about our traditions, and that family is important.
Tamales are made from masa or cornmeal that is mixed with lard and stuffed with some type of meat, cheese, and sauce. The tamales are wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaves and steamed. Eating tamales once a year is ok, but it can become a health concern when eating tamales year-round.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Latino adults have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Complications like kidney failure, diabetes-related vision loss, and blindness are also major concerns for Latinos. (Hispanic/Latino Americans and Type 2 Diabetes, 2019). Latinos have a greater chance of developing diabetes because of genetics, Latino foods can be high in fat and calories, being overweight, or obese, and not being physically active. (Hispanic/Latino Americans and Type 2 Diabetes, 2019). These complications increase with those that are obese, following unhealthy diets, or are inactive. These are things that can be modified to live healthier lives. Switching to a healthier diet and becoming more active can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. (Amirehsani et al, 2018)
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is shown to delay the onset of diabetes and improves insulin resistance. (Corsino et al, 2017) The DASH eating pattern includes the following:
Pediatrician Catherine Vigran of Rancho Cordova has partnered up with Nurse practitioner Carrie Beale, to create healthy cooking classes for their diabetic patients at Kaiser. Beale came up with the low-fat tamale recipe that is included. The recipe was introduced at one of their cooking classes, where the parents worked with their children to make this healthier tamale version. Dr. Vigran admits that she was hesitant about attempting to make tamales without the lard, but the feedback received was positive. (Rubensteingrubenstein@sacbee.com, 2011) I hope you enjoy the tamales as well. Feliz Navidad!
CHICKEN TAMALES RECIPE
1 whole chicken
1 onion, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 head garlic, plus 1 clove
5 California chilies or dried Anaheim chilies
4 cups masa flour (fine corn flour)
Corn husks, soaked in water to soften
1. Boil the whole chicken in 4 cups of water with the carrot, onion, celery, one whole head of unpeeled garlic, and two chilies. Boil until the chicken is soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Allow the chicken to cool. Separate the chicken from the stock, and strain and cool the stock. Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and shred the meat into small pieces.
2. Boil the remaining three chilies (stems and seeds removed) in 2 cups water until soft, about 20 minutes. Cool and blend the mixture with one whole, peeled clove of garlic.
3. Mix the masa flour with 1 cup of the strained chicken stock (be sure to remove most of the fat off the top of the cooled stock). Add more stock until you have a soft, moist paste -- this usually takes 3 to 4 cups of liquid. Mix in 1 teaspoon salt.
4. Mix the shredded chicken with the blended chili sauce. Remove the corn husks from the soaking water. Spread about 1/4 cup of the moist masa in a thin layer on each husk, then top it with about 1 tablespoon of the chicken. Roll the leaf up into the shape of a closed packet. Tie it shut with strips of corn husk.
5. Steam the tamales for 1 to 1.5 hours.
Makes 30-35 tamales.
Campbell, A. P. (2017). DASH Eating Plan: An Eating Pattern for Diabetes Management. Diabetes Spectrum, 30(2), 76–81. doi: 10.2337/ds16-0084
Corsino, L., Sotres-Alvarez, D., Butera, N. M., Siega-Riz, A. M., Palacios, C., Pérez, C. M., … Avilés-Santa, M. L. (2017). Association of the DASH dietary pattern with insulin resistance and diabetes in US Hispanic/Latino adults: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 5(1). doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000402
Rubensteingrubenstein@sacbee.com, G. (2011, December 11). TAKING ON TAMALES Worried about obesity and diabetes, a team at Kaiser gives Latino families a low-fat option. Sacramento Bee, The (CA), p. B1. Available from NewsBank: America's News – Historical and Current: https://infoweb-newsbank-com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/apps/news/document-view?p=AMNEWS&docref=news/13B95D7BA5DC5648.
Amirehsani, K. A., Hu, J., Wallace, D. C., Silva, Z. A., & Dick, S. (2018). Hispanic Families’ Action Plans for a Healthier Lifestyle for Diabetes Management. The Diabetes Educator, 45(1), 87–95. doi: 10.1177/0145721718812478
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