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Families living in Central Mexico often prepare a very traditional dish for Christmas
and New Year’s Eve
: romeritos con mole y camarones.
Also known as revoltijo
, mole and shrimp romeritos
are cooked with romeritos
, new potatoes, nopales, mole sauce, and dry shrimp. Even though this traditional dish
is a must during the holiday season, it is also prepared during Lent.
If you are a fan of romeritos
, we have good news for you since, in addition to being a budget-friendly and yielding food for the Christmas dinner
, this quelite
is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which make it the perfect ingredient for a well-balanced and healthy diet. Keep reading to learn more about the many health benefits of eating romeritos
What Are Romeritos?Romeritos
, also known as Mexican greens, romerillos
or salted quelites
, are an edible plant indigenous to the Valley of Mexico, although it is considered a weed
in other places. This kind of plant often grows in the fields with other staple foods of Mexican gastronomy, such as beans, zucchini, and maize.
The Origins of Romeritos
are prepared with mole sauce and shrimp nowadays, this ingredient is not new in Mexican cuisine
since, according to Mexico’s Agricultural and Rural Development Ministry (Sader), this plant has been eaten since pre-Hispanic times.
Back then, the Aztecs prepared romeritos
with eggs of axayacatl, aquatic insects that taste like shrimp. According to the Sader, this dish was consumed during the fasting periods performed before celebrations in honor of the gods.
Later on, during Colonial times, romeritos
consumption significantly declined since it was considered a weed. In those years, nuns focused on combining this edible plant with mole sauce, nopales, shrimp, and potatoes, a dish known as Christmas romeritos
. Thus, romeritos
became popular once again among Mexican households. Nowadays, this dish is one of the most popular ones among families.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Romeritos?
According to experts, romeritos are as healthy as Swiss chard, spinach, and watercress due to their high content of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
- Folic acid: This vitamin is essential for creating new cells, which makes it ideal for pregnant women.
- Amino acids: The U.S. National Library of Medicine asserts that amino acids are a source of energy, but they are also necessary for growth, digestion, and to repair tissue.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important because they help fight the effects of free radicals, which cause diseases like cancer.
- Calcium: This mineral helps to have strong and healthy teeth and bones.
- Fiber: It prevents constipation and improves digestion.
- Iron: A mineral that is essential for the production of proteins, hemoglobin, and myoglobin. It prevents anemia.
- Potassium: It is a mineral and an electrolyte that helps with proper nerve and muscle function, as well as keeping a constant heart rate. In addition to this, it is also ideal for promoting the flow of nutrients into the cells.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is essential for the bones, sight, and the immune system.
- Vitamin B2: It will help you repair tissue and it is good for the skin.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is good both for skin and bones. It is rich in antioxidants.
Can Romeritos Fight Gastritis?
According to data published by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), quelites
are good for gastritis.
Scientist Irma Romero Álvarez, from the Biochemistry Department of the UNAM’s School of Medicine, asserted that it was found out that romeritos
, and all quelites
, have a significant effect on the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes gastritis.
In an interview, Romero Álvarez said that “all the species of quelites
(…) inhibit the bacteria, even better than metronidazole”. Besides gastritis, this bacteria also causes conditions like peptic ulcer and gastric cancer.
The expert mentioned that eating romeritos
and other quelites
helps prevent gastritis, although it must be stressed that eating these plants does not cure cancer; it simply improves the symptoms and prevents their worsening.
Keep in mind that if you want to make the most of the health benefits of romeritos
, it is best to steam them since adding mole sauce could cause heartburn and gastritis.
Why Do We Eat Romeritos with Mole Sauce for Christmas?
According to the Sader, families in Central Mexico rejoice in delicious romeritos
and New Year’s Eve dinner
since Colonial times. Back then, religious people held a vigil on December 24, so this meatless dish was the perfect yielding and filling option.
Translated by Miranda Perea