Being healthy doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite dishes or cocktails. You just need to give them a healthy twist! With these simple tips and tricks you can make any of your Latin favorites healthier, better for you and taste better too.
First off, the basics: Keep fresh fruits and vegetables accessible, front and center. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, minimize your salt and sugar intake and don’t keep junk food at home. If you have piroulines you can bet you are going to eat them.
As for recipes, the first step to making them healthier is as easy as swapping ingredients.
1. Healthier Meals: Whole Grains
Swap white flour for whole wheat or whole grain.
From your tortillas to your bread and flour, opt for whole wheat and whole grain. You get more of a nutritional punch, increased fiber and lower sugar.
2. Healthier Meals: Egg Whites
Swap whole eggs for egg whites.
Your huevos rancheros will be just as delicious with egg whites, and better for you too. Egg whites are low cholesterol, high protein and low calorie.
3. Healthier Meals: Milk
Swap whole milk for low fat milk, soy milk or coconut milk.
These alternatives are lower calorie and have the same if not better nutritional value. They will perk up your morning cafecito, and can be used in any recipe you would use regular milk.
4. Healthier Meals: Oils
Swap canola, corn and vegetable oil for olive, coconut or avocado oil.
All oil is high calorie, but some of them are better for you than others. Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil contain healthy fats which help lower your cholesterol, fight heart disease and can even help you maintain your figure. Use them for salad dressings, sautés and baked bites.
Making a favorite dish one you can enjoy while working towards a healthier lifestyle is easier than you might think. Simple tweaks can make our beloved Latin cuisine even more accessible.
5. Healthier Meals: Oven
Instead of using your trusted frying pan stick to the oven.
Miss your fried churros, papitas and plátanos? You don’t have to! Churros are delicious baked, and papitas lightly sprayed with olive oil come out crisp on the outside and soft on the inside every time. A misting of olive oil makes oven fried plátano as delicious as the original.
6. Healthier Meals: Portions
Watch your portion size.
Latin dishes are notoriously enormous. Keep your portions in check and invest in measuring cups. Fill up on a simple salad before the main course and employ the half rule. Eat and enjoy half of your meal and save the other half for your next meal. This way you don’t over eat and you get to enjoy that delicious meal more than once!
7. Healthier Meals: Vegetables
Increase your vegetable intake.
The Latin diet is full of fresh produce, so take advantage of it. Panquecas de Zanahoria are full of carrots that add color and nutrition, and your next batch of rice can have shredded broccoli, carrot and sweet peppers adding more flavor and fiber. Ground meats can follow suit with some added shredded vegetables keeping meat moist and tender.
8. Healthier Meals: Lean Meat
Use leaner cuts of meat.
The Latin diet is based around meat evidenced by delicious dishes like lomo saltado and pabellón. Using a leaner cut of meat and trimming off visible fat, as well as incorporating my other tips and tricks, will make your dish lighter and healthier overall without sacrificing flavor.
9. Healthier Meals: Wine
Have a glass of wine.
When you want to party with a glass in hand choose wine. Wine is low calorie, and has no cholesterol, fat or sodium. If you want a mixed drink opt for calorie free mixers like diet cola and tonic water. For you beer lovers try low calorie options and watch your serving size. As the choice with the highest calorie count, it’s easy to lose track.
Living a healthier Latin lifestyle isn’t difficult if you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve. Try these out and enjoy your favorites with all the flavor and none of the guilt.
Have tips of your own? Sound off below and stay tuned for more healthy tips, tricks and swaps to come!