Nutritionist Tweaks Recipes for Diabetics

Posted: Updated: Apr 01, 2016 11:43 PM

WESLACO — People who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the Rio Grande Valley are still able to eat their favorite Mexican recipes. The trick is tweaking the recipe to make the food healthier than its original counterparts.

“Mexican food is really great,” said Rachel Villarreal, a clinical faculty member with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “There are certain ingredients that can, kind of, be on the bad side versus the good side.”

Tacos, burritos, flour tortillas, fajitas and enchiladas contain enough salt and grease for a day’s worth of calories in one meal. The good news is traditional Mexican food can be healthy with a few changes.

Mexican rice pudding or arroz con leche is a Mexican and Valley favorite. However, this traditional pudding can be high in sugar and calories. Licensed nutritionist Norma Bearwood said there’s a diabetic-friendly recipe available for this healthy snack.

The recipe starts with boiling one cup of rice in three cups of water. Once boiled, add skim evaporated milk, eggs, ¾ of a cup of granulated sugar and ¾ of a cup of artificial sweetener, a teaspoon of vanilla and raisins.

The original recipe for arroz con leche contains 292 calories, while the healthier version has 270 calories. The fat content for the original recipe is 7.4 grams, while the tweaked version has 1.3 grams. Cholesterol for the original recipe is at 16 milligrams, while the different version of the dish has 35 milligrams.

Another dish licensed nutritionist Norma Bearwood showed CHANNEL 5 NEWS how to make is enchiladas suizas. She said a tweaked version can cut calories for this Mexican staple.

Regular enchiladas have 550 calories per serving, while the healthier alternative has 281 calories per serving. Fat for the original recipe is 32 grams, while the tweaked version has 19 grams.

And these two healthy dished won’t break the bank.

For two enchiladas suizas, the price comes out to $1.84 and for a bowl of rice pudding, people will be paying 75 cents with these recipes. They’re low in fat but not low in flavor.

Recipes for both dishes:

Arroz con Leche:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 65 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 1 cup of converted long-grain rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of julienne lime peel strips
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 can of skimmed evaporated milk
  • 3 cups of skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ of a cup of white sugar
  • ¾ of a cup of Splenda
  • 1/3 of cup of raisins
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


  • Place the rice in a large saucepan with water, cinnamon, lime and salt.
  • Pour evaporated milk into a bowl and whisk with egg. Pour into the pot with rice, along with three cups of skim milk and sugars.
  • Stir until mixture thickens.
  • Add raisins and vanilla and cook for two minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow the pot to cool. Note: Dish may be served warm or cold.

Enchiladas Suizas:

Servings: 6

Temperature of oven: 350 degrees Fahrenheit


  • 1 ½ pounds of tomatillos, cooked
  • ½ cup of cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 ¼ pounds of cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 12 ounces of low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • 12 corn tortillas


  • Place cooked tomatillos in blender with garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend ingredients and pour into a warm skillet.
  • Place eight ounces of cheese, chicken and onions in a bowl and mix. Add some of the sauce to the mix.
  • Warm tortillas as desired. Spray pan with Pam or wipe with oil or add sauce to the bottom of the pan.
  • Fill each tortilla with the chicken mix and roll. Place seam side down in the pan.
  • Pour remaining sauce over the rolled enchiladas and sprinkle with four ounces of cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nutrition information:

Arroz con Leche: Regular Vs. Modified version

Regular Version:

  • Calories: 292
  • Fat in grams: 7.4
  • Cholesterol in milligrams: 16
  • Carbohydrates in grams: 50
  • Protein in grams: 6.4


  • Calories: 270
  • Fat in grams: 1.3
  • Cholesterol in milligrams: 35
  • Carbohydrates in grams: 52.9
  • Protein in grams: 7.56

Enchiladas Suizas: Regular Vs. Modified version

Regular version:

  • Calories: 550
  • Fat in grams: 32
  • Cholesterol in milligrams: 155
  • Carbohydrates in grams: 33
  • Sodium in milligrams: 720


  • Calories: 281
  • Fat in grams: 19
  • Cholesterol in milligrams: 29
  • Carbohydrates in grams: 40
  • Sodium in milligram: 177

Count on CHANNEL 5 NEWS to bring our viewers the very latest in diabetes coverage. For more information, visit our Heart of the Valley page.

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