10 Ways to Cut Calories This Thanksgiving

HealthyLatinFood_ThanksgivingDietTipsToday I am patiently waiting for my turkey to defrost. You know what I’m waiting for.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a day when some of us will be excitedly cooking, some of us will be watching football or the parade, some of us will be anxiously awaiting the food or shopping on Black Friday, and some of us will be stressing out about all of the calories we’re likely to consume.

I read recently that the average Thanksgiving meal is 2300 calories per person. That’s right, 2300 calories! That is basically the daily amount for the average person. Daily amount, not calories-per-meal. It’s no wonder gaining weight over the holidays is almost a given!

To help combat some of this, for both myself and others, I wrote a story for Latina.com today on how to cut calories without suffering. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds! And, as I say in the piece, there is always another holiday to overindulge–you don’t have to do it on Thanksgiving simply because it comes around once a year. Instead, I prefer having my pumpkin pie and eating it, too–without gaining a single pound. Continue reading

Smoky Three Bean & Kale Chili with Quinoa

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About a week ago, it was an absolutely miserable day in New York City. The sky was gray, it was raining on and off, and I just couldn’t get warm all day. It was probably the first truly dreary day this autumn, and I was in an undesirable mood.

All I wanted was to go home and eat some leftovers but, as I made my way home, I just didn’t feel like eating the spicy sweet potato and black bean salad I had (although I had been enjoying it for lunch for several days now). Instead, I needed something hearty. I needed something warm. I needed chili… And I needed it bad.

That’s how my crappy day turned into a great one, ending with a smoky three bean and kale chili that I topped with Greek yogurt and served over quinoa. I knew that it was going to take a lot to improve on this dreary day, and luckily this chili did not disappoint. Continue reading

Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad

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When I was younger, you couldn’t pay me to eat a salad. I remember my mami begging me to try one: a Caesar, some spinach, anything! But I refused and stayed a stubborn, picky eater. Now, after having lost 100 pounds, I definitely know better.

I can almost surprise myself with how differently I eat these days. Instead of avoiding salads like the plague, I eat all kinds of greens. I also enjoy seasonal produce, clean eating (you know, as little processed stuff as possible) and making healthy choices as much as possible. That’s why a couple weeks ago, when I saw Fall produce begin to appear in farmer’s markets stalls across New York City, I had to buy a few sweet potatoes. Plus I just had to get some pomegranate seeds. And I admit: I was actually craving a salad.

After thinking about what I had in my cupboards (black beans) and what dressing I recently fell in love with (the avocado vinaigrette), I decided that what I really wanted was to make a spicy sweet potato and black bean saladContinue reading

Easiest Ever Avocado Vinaigrette

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Do you know how easy it is to make your own vinaigrette? Up until a year ago, I didn’t. The truth is I had never really tried. I was always happy just buying whatever I fancied from the store without thinking about it much. Man, was it boring!

Then my friend Alejandra of AlwaysOrderDessert.com told me the basic ratio for a simple vinaigrette, and I took off running. For me, part of eating healthy is eating unprocessed. In fact, I did my best to eat unprocessed in October as part of Eating Rules’ October Unprocessed 2013. That’s when I first came up with the idea of making an avocado vinaigrette for the salads I was frequently having that month.

The best part of this vinaigrette is that it instantly makes your salad much healthier than a Caesar dressing, since avocados have tons of potassium (more than a banana!), are one of the only high-protein fruits (4 grams per avocado) and also contain vitamins C, K, folate and B6, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, and amino acids. Seriously, is there any better reason to make this avocado vinaigrette ASAP? Try it.

Continue reading

5 Things Friday (Latina Curves, Yucca, Smorgasburg & More)

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Last weekend I convinced my friend Christiana to come with me to Smorgasburg Williamsburg, an outdoor food market by Brooklyn Flea, because I saw that baker Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina would be there selling Pan de Muerto. I mean, could I help myself? It was Dia de los Muertos and coincidentally a gorgeous, warm autumn day.

We ended up having a fantastic time and tried a ton of food, including this delicious traditional Colombian arepa from Palenque Food and an alligator chili that we just LOVED from Brooklyn Bayou. Afterward, I was in a good mood all day.

In fact, I felt pretty good all week. After cooking up a (healthy) storm a couple weeks ago, I finally put up some of my recent recipes. My big batch of Cuban sofrito, which I’ll be enjoying for a while to come, and the baked plantains with avocado crema, which I brought to a potluck with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, are winners. Of course, there’s also a few more things that I wanted to share with you this week. Take a look! Continue reading

Baked Plantains with Avocado Crema at American Potluck Trip

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A couple of weeks ago, I received a very special invitation. Shauna James Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, was going to be in New York City and hosting a potluck! It was all part of a few weeks trip that she was making with The Chef across America to taste regional dishes as research for their next book.

To prepare for the American Potluck Trip event, I had to figure out what to make. Oh man, what to make?! It was actually a stressful decision because, well, I’d be surrounded by people I admired. How do you make something for people you look up to?

In the end, I settled on making something that would touch on my roots–a dish with plantains. Since I needed to make something regional, I went with a Puerto Rican-inspired recipe by making them crunchy like tostones. But of course I had to make them healthier, which is how I came up with the baked plantains with avocado crema. Continue reading

How To Make a Big Batch of Traditional Cuban Sofrito

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The first thing my mami taught me how to cook is a traditional Cuban sofrito. I remember my mom, who worked during the week and would typically cook on weekends, leaning over the pressure cooker pot and following the very specific steps to making the base that is at the start of many Cuban dishes.

I didn’t take into account just how important this all was back then. It really wasn’t until college, when I started to cook on my own, that I realized I needed to learn more. Finally, one day I asked my mom to teach me to make Cuban black beans. On her next visit, she did, but first she explained that I needed to start at the beginning.

A sofrito is a sauce that is used as a base in many Cuban dishes. In fact, it is the base of many Latin dishes–but we all do it a little differently. A traditional Cuban sofrito is made with onions, bell peppers and garlic all being cooked in a particular order.

When I started cooking healthier, I realized that having sofrito always on hand was a good way to start almost any dish. The flavors from the fragrant onions, peppers and garlic combination is now something I keep in my refrigerator at all times. It started slowly but these days I’m in the habit of making a big batch of traditional Cuban sofrito, then storing it in my fridge for the next few months. I think mami would be proud. Continue reading

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