Not all Mexican food is fried and smothered in cheese, Frias says. All photos courtesy of Ana Frias
About a decade ago, Ana Frias began feeling a little, well, off. The Mexican-born resident of Surprise, Ariz., had always been blessed with a lean physique. She could eat pretty much anything and not have to think twice about it, but after having two children and settling into her mid-30s, Frias didn’t feel quite as comfortable in her skin.
“I wasn’t happy with how I was starting to look,” Frias told Yahoo Food. Though her weight remained constant, she felt sluggish and softer around the middle. But rather than accept the changes as the to-be-expected effects of age, Frias decided to do something about it.
“I started reading more about nutrition,” she said, learning how to makeover the northern Mexican dishes of her childhood with healthier ingredients and cooking techniques. She also discovered weight lifting, which helped slim down and tone her figure. In 2010, she decided to document her journey on a blog, Fit, Fun & Delish, very recently re-branded Muy Delish.
Frias cuts the calories in her albondigas soup by making her meatballs with lean ground meat.
These days, Frias swaps out fatty ground beef for a six-percent fat variety in her rich albondigas soup, which features tiny spicy meatballs. Instead of frying the corn tortillas that form the base of her chilaquiles, she bakes them. Even shrimp tacos get the low-fat treatment.
“They’re grilled, so I use very minimal oil, and I don’t like to use creamy dressings or toppings made with heavy sour cream, which is very typical of Mexican food,” Frias said. “I like to use nonfat Greek yogurt instead — it tastes the same.”
Blogging isn’t Frias’s second job … it’s her third. During the day, she works as a consultant in the healthcare insurance industry. On the side, she runs her own portrait photography business. And somehow, Frias finds time to develop recipes and shoot gorgeous, style pictures for Muy Delish.
“I’m a busy person! But I like to stay busy — I need to keep growing all the time,” she said. “My husband is like, ‘You’re all over the place! Does your brain every stop?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t think so.’”
There’s a time and a place for everything, Frias said — even shrimp and scallops fettuccine.
Frias’s goal is to change American conceptions about the essential nature of Mexican food through her blog. “A lot of people associate Mexican food with heavy cheese and fried food, but there’s so much more to it,” she said. Frias is a proponent of fresh vegetables draped in vibrant sauces chock full of fragrant herbs. Grilling, too, is a favorite cooking method. And protein is always important, which helps keep hunger at bay. All things considered, however, Frias doesn’t believe in cutting out anything entirely from one’s diet, including carb-filled tortillas and pasta.
“I believe that in order to be healthy and to stay on that path of healthfulness, you need balance,” she said. “If you remove something, you’re going to want it so bad and binge on it.”
That’s partly the reason that Frias dropped the word “fit” from her blog’s name. Don’t get her wrong — Frias is still into fitness, but didn’t the word to limit her blog or her diet. “If I want to post a recipe for a cake, I don’t want to feel guilty about it,” she said with a laugh.
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