Growing up in Texas, I can’t remember any of my mother’s homemade Mexican meals without accompanying flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are a tradition in my family, and as a child I looked forward to assisting my mother in making them every Sunday. Although flour tortillas are not the healthiest choice, it seems you can’t eat any Mexican meal without being given a generous portion of them.
According to the National Diabetes Education Program, 11.8 percent of Hispanics/Latinos are diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately, like so many other relatives in my family, my father was diagnosed with diabetes last year. At that point, my mother decided to make adjustments in her cooking to accommodate my father’s new diet restrictions.
What was the first recipe to change? It was our beloved flour tortillas. My mother adjusted her over 30-year-old recipe to make whole wheat flour tortillas by swapping refined flour to whole wheat. Why? Whole wheat flour is one of the best choices a diabetic can make for carb consumption. Eating whole wheat tortillas have other benefits as well. They can help you control your weight, are a good source of calcium to keep your teeth and bones strong, and can keep your heart healthy.
Of course, my mother made this change for everyone in the family. We eat them so often now that my 3- and 6-year-old nieces refer to them as “brown tortillas.” It just goes to show that family recipes can be made healthier and still be delicious.
Here is my mother’s recipe for whole wheat flour tortillas. She and I both hope you enjoy it.
Yields: Approx. 20 whole wheat tortillas
Prep Time: 15 minutes for mix, 60 min to roll and cook tortillas
6 cups of whole wheat flour
¾ cup of vegetable shortening
1 tbsp of salt
2 ¼ cups of hot water (not boiling), approximate
Hand mix flour, vegetable shortening, and salt.
Slowly add hot water as you continue to hand mix the ingredients to ensure consistency is doughy, not watery.
Knead the dough.
Begin plucking off 1-inch diameter balls. Knead each of these into a ball with your fingers until it is shaped like a fat disk.
Let all the bundles sit for 5-10 minutes.
Heat up an iron skillet on low setting (higher setting will burn the tortillas).
Using a rolling pin, stretch the dough into the round, flat shape of the tortilla.
Place the flattened dough onto the skillet.
Let the tortilla cook on each side for about 2 minutes. Flip as needed until it is well cooked and has a nice brown color to it.
On a cloth napkin and paper towel, place all the cooked tortillas to let them cool off.
Enjoy these tortillas with any meal – breakfast, lunch, or dinner!