As a registered dietitian in the health and wellness industry, I know the importance of eating healthy and fresh ingredients. As a Latino and Peruvian, it is essential that food is made tasty and explodes with flavor in your mouth. Many people till this day think that eating a nutritious and healthy meal means that you have to eat bland, non-exciting food. That is not the case, as I often tell my clients that you don’t have to kill flavor to eat healthy. Latino countries bring ingredients that add not only a burst of flavor to different dishes but also add nutritional value. During Hispanic Heritage month, it is the perfect time to incorporate and experience the Latino flavors.
National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of Hispanic men and women in American society. What started off as a week celebration to honor countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica & Nicaragua, grew to a month long dedication to include other holidays such as Columbus Day, or Dia de la Raza.
As part of my celebration, I have included three healthy, delicious and nutritious recipes that mix together ingredients from Mexico down to Argentina. Although these recipes are intended for this monthly celebration, they are not just for Latinos & Hispanics, but for everyone to enjoy.
Choclo-Jicama Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing
Jicama is a crisp, white fleshed tuber that is enjoyed in Mexico and used in a variety of foods such as salads or as a potato substitute. Jicama’s great as a low carb, low calorie food item providing about 37 percent of your dietary fiber with only 9 grams of carbohydrates, all within a ¾ cup serving. An added bonus is that it is only 49 calories. In this recipe, I combine jicama with choclo, a large corn kernel from the Andes, a mountain range that covers Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Together they create a refreshing salad that brings fresh, hearty goodness to your table.
Serving Size: 1 cup
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound cooked choclo (big Andean corn) or just regular corn
½ medium yellow bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 medium carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1 cup jicama, sliced into strips
¼ medium red onion, cut into half-moon slivers
- Put the vinegar, chili, lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
- Combine the choclo, bell pepper, carrot, jicama, and onion in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.
Note: Choclo-Jicama chopped salad will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days.
Baked Yuca Fries with Cilantro Chimichurri
Yuca is a tuber that can be found anywhere in Latin America, making it one of the most iconic food staples. In recent studies, the phytochemicals, resveratrol and yuccaols, that are found in yuca have been shown to have antioxidant properties, linking them to cardiovascular disease prevention. Usually, you can find yuca prepared either boiled or often than not, fried. Here, I decided to bake the yuca for a healthier alternative. I also paired it with my cilantro-chimichurri sauce. Originally, chimichurri comes from Argentina, but making it with cilantro brings a flavor that many Latinos are familiar with.
Servings: 6 Serving Size: 4 wedges
For Cilantro Chimichurri
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
For Yuca Fries
1 large yuca (about 1½ pounds with skin on)
6 cups water
Salt and pepper
- For Chimichurri: Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and homogeneous.
- For Yucca: Slice the yuca into 3 equal-length portions. Holding each portion on its axis, carefully slice off the outer peel and discard. Chop each portion in half lengthwise and then into 8 wedges.
- Put the yuca wedges, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until tender throughout. Drain and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the cooled yuca on a large baking sheet and spray with coconut oil to coat. Season with salt. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, flipping once halfway through the baking process, until the fries are golden in color. Serve warm that day.
Pupusa is a classic staple from El Salvador, but it can also be seen in other countries such as Honduras and Guatemala. Originally made with corn flour and made into a disk, this dish is usually stuffed with ingredients like cheese or beans. Here, I decided to make the dough with a combination of corn flour and cooked quinoa. Quinoa, a power seed from Peru & Bolivia, is considered a complete protein because it contains a total of 21 amino acids. Incorporating quinoa give the pupusas extra protein power while also adding texture to this already delicious treat.
Serving Size: 1 serving
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup yellow corn flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
4 teaspoons canola oil
- Place quinoa, corn flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Using a fork, mix it around to evenly distribute all the ingredients.
- Add water and fold in batter with your hand. Make sure you mix all the ingredients. At this point, the masa should be sticky but should form an easy ball when rolled. If not, add water until it is sticky but easy to work with.
- Heat up medium sized frying pan on medium heat. Add two teaspoons of the canola oil and let it heat up, about 1 minute.
- Take about a ¼ cup of the dough and roll it around to form a ball. Flatten the ball to make a flat disk to desired thickness. Place in the pan with oil. Repeat another ball for two disks in the pan.
- Cook for about 8 minutes on each side or until you begin to see charred marks.