Metro Health Hosts 'Healthy Tamalada' on South Side

by Morgan Montalvo


San Antonio's Metro Health Department is offering nutritional advice to reduce fat and cholesterol when preparing a perennial Texas holiday favorite: tamales, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

A community wellness team on Wednesday hosted the department's first-ever "Healthy Tamalada" at the Mission Branch Library on the city's south side. The event featured tamale preparation demonstrations, a tamale discussion "forum," child literacy activities and displays and samples from area food vendors.

Metro Health's Vicente Escobedo says for many San Antonians, socioeconomics and tradition are challenges to changing attitudes about foods and their preparation methods.

"A lot of the recipes that we use are all culturally sensitive. We try to make sure that we use recipes that the residents have access to those ingredients, and are affordable, of course," Escobedo says.

Vanessa Rodriguez with Metro Health says simple, creative substitutions for the usual greasy pork and corn paste laden with lard will substantially reduce fat and cholesterol.

"We're doing low-fat chicken," Rodriguez says. "Instead of the lard that is normally in the tamales, we're actually using low-fat Greek yogurt, which is an alternative but's still very delicious."

As Mexican food grows in popularity nationwide but generates concern about calories and fat content, companies now are offering reduced fat, lower cholesterol ingredients, such as gluten-free "masa" or corn paste mixes. "Masa" forms the outer layer of tamales and contains fillings such as pork, beef, beans, cheese or even fruits. 

The masa-and-filling tamale is wrapped in corn plant leaves and steam-cooked prior to serving.

Several reduced-fat, lower cholesterol tamale recipes, along with wellness tips and nutritional guidelines are available at:


San Antonio Metro Health nutrition specialists conduct a low-fat,  reduced cholesterol tamale workshop during the agency's first-ever  Healthy Tamalada Wednesday afternoon at the Mission Branch Library on  the city's south side. Photo by Morgan Montalvo

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