Sope is a traditional Mexican street dish consisting of a fried masa base with savory toppings. Also known as picadita, it originates in the central and southern parts of Mexico, where it was sometimes first known as pellizcadas.
Health Related Issues with Traditional Mexican Cuisine
Traditional Mexican diets have a high association with raised cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, the development of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. These patterns are related to high amounts trans-fat found in many traditional Mexican dishes. According to the Mayo Clinic, trans-fat is the worst type of fat you can eat. Trans-fat lowers good cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Luckily, this is not the case for all traditional Mexican dishes, and there are many substitutes to make your favorite dishes healthier. Sopes are one of these dishes that a nutrient-dense and low in trans-fat, offering a hearty delicious post-workout snack. Also, try this Pozole Verde recipe.
The Good Nutrients in Sopes
Good vs Bad fat
Monounsaturated fats (MUFA’s): unsaturated fats are the healthy type of fat. Incorporating these into your diet and replacing trans and saturated fats with MUFA’s can help reduce heart disease risk via their health benefits. MUFA’s can help lower an individual’s levels of LDL cholesterol while maintaining your HDL, decrease inflammation, and construct more grounded cell layers in the body. Some examples of these include: Olive oil, Nuts, Canola oil, Avocados, Nut butters, Olives, and Peanut oil. Note of caution – these are still fats so do not go overboard and consume in moderation.
Protein: Every cell in our body contains protein. In addition to growth and development, protein helps repair cells and tissues in our body and gives us long lasting energy to further fuel us through our days. Healthy sources of animal protein include: meats, milk, fish, and eggs. Healthy sources of plant-baed protein include: soy, beans, legumes, nut butters, and some grains (such as wheat germ and quinoa).
Vitamins and Minerals
Sodium: In contrast to popular belief, sodium has health benefits when consumed in moderation. The recommended level of less than 2,300 mg per day. However, the average Americans consumes about 3,400mg per day, leading to the development of health risk like hypertension. The health advantages of a regulated sodium intake includes: balance liquids in the body, sends nerve impulse, required for muscle compression, and impacts blood pressure.
Calcium: Since diary is a large part of many traditional Mexican dishes. The biggest benefit from diary is calcium. Calcium is needed to manufacture and keep up solid bones. Our heart, muscles, and nerves likewise need calcium to work appropriately.
Iron: Notably, iron is a mineral many Americans are deficient in, especially in adult females. Maintaining stable iron levels will help increase energy levels, support immune function, and reduce paleness.
Potassium: This is known to regulate the heartbeat, ensure proper function of the muscles and nerves, and is vital for synthesizing protein and metabolizing carbohydrates. Potassium is also increasingly beneficial for individuals who consume a Mexican diet as it can fight common health risks associated with the diet such as: reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and support bone and muscle quality.
Healthy Sope Recipe
This Sope recipe is a healthy take on the traditional fried dish. By baking it in the oven, you can reduce the fat content and still savor the crunch of the masa base. Additionally, this is a vegetarian alternative, offering a cleaner form of protein using soy. Other options are to use unsaturated oils like avocado or peanut oil, offering a healthier option compared to other frying oils.
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cups masa harina
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 Tbs. vegetable oil or olive oil
- 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Begin by whisking together masa harina, Parmesan cheese, if using, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Next, stir in 2 1/2 cups hot water until the mixture forms a soft dough. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir egg, then oil, into the dough.
3. Finally, roll 1/4 cup dough into a ball. Press into a 3-inch disk on the prepared baking sheet, pinching together any cracked edges. Press indentation in the center of the disk using a small drinking glass, then shape a 1/2-inch edge around indentation with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake 10 minutes, or until sopes begin to look dry. Sprinkle each indentation with 2 tsp. grated Monterey Jack cheese. Return to oven, and bake 5 minutes more, or until cheese has melted. Top with Zucchini-Corn Filling or Pico de Gallo.
- Calories: 86
- Carbohydrate Content: 11 g
- Cholesterol Content: 13 mg
- Fat Content: 4 g
- Fiber Content: 1 g
- Protein Content: 3 g
- Saturated Fat Content: 1 g
- Sodium Content: 159 mg
- Sugar Content: 0.5 g