Hibiscus flowers are commonly used in Mexico to make a cold, sweetened beverage or to brew a relaxing tea that can also be used to treat hipertension (high blood pressure). The flowers are usually discarded after brewing, but they can be used as a meat substitute in a number of dishes. I have also discovered in the process that I can get a lot more beverage from a batch of flowers than I thought. The chewy texture resembles that of shredded beef or pork, and they absorb the flavors of garlic and onion when sauteed. If you don’t live in Mexico, you may be able to find hibiscus in a supermarket or Mexican grocery, or you can order it on Amazon. These tacos got a hearty thumbs-up even from the non-vegans at my house in Cancún.
Chia is a flowering plant in the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It is rich in calcium, phosphorous, and other minerals.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by Curcuma longa plants. It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, a member of the ginger family. There is some confusion in the two names because curcumin is a component of turmeric. Reports say that turmeric is better for some conditions, while curcumin alone is better for others. Turmeric, commonly used in Asian food, is the main spice in curry. It is a bright and tasty addition to everything from smoothies to soups and stir-fry vegetables.
Even in small amounts, nutritional yeast is a significant source of some B-complex vitamins. Some brands are fortified with additional B12. It has approximately 9 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons. It provides 9 amino acids that the human body cannot produce and 5% (unfortified) to 20% (fortified with B12) of recommended daily iron.
Beans are a constant in Mexican home kitchens. (In Texas, we didn’t have them every day, but they were served often, sometimes as a simple supper with cornbread and a salad.) Pinto beans and black beans are usual types. They are delicious fresh-cooked, known as frijoles de olla (beans in the pot), and they can be mashed, seasoned, fried, and served as frijoles refritos, refried beans.