Spicy Cuban Cheese Ball

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For my annual Holiday party this year, I made a spicy cuban cheese ball inspired by Michelle Buffardi’s wonderful cookbook GREAT BALLS OF CHEESE. I’ve been dying to share it with you guys ever since, but the Holidays were busy and I just didn’t get the chance. But now I’m finally sharing–just in time for the Super Bowl!

It’s really hard to resist this one. My friend Justin of JustCookNYC first introduced me to the beauty of cheese balls, and they’ve officially become my favorite party food. In fact, I couldn’t wait to try making my own version for my party in December and you can bet that I’ll be making this again at a Super Bowl Party in a few weeks. I highly recommend you take my advice and try this one, too.  Continue reading

Avocado Star Breakfast Smoothie

HealthyLatinFood_AvocadoStarSmoothieAs I promised last week when I wrote about juicing 101, I recently made three delicious breakfast smoothies that I couldn’t wait to share with you all–and here’s the first! It’s what I am calling the avocado star breakfast smoothie, made with avocados, starfruit, Greek yogurt and key limes.

The two ingredients that I couldn’t wait to use for this one were the starfruit that my parents gifted me and the key limes that were actually straight from my mami’s garden. Then, of course, there was the addition of avocados.

This time last year, I came back from Christmas with a really nice Florida avocado–a different variety than the black-skinned Haas avocado. However, no such luck this time so instead I just bought a couple ripe avocados. They were the perfect way to complete this breakfast smoothie. And, to be honest, I really, really loved it. That’s why I’m sharing it first! Continue reading

Fresh Kale Salad with Queso Blanco

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I fell in love with kale a few years ago.

Soon after I started my studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I took a few healthy cooking classes and somewhere along the way was introduced to kale. I can’t remember exactly how it happened but, all of a sudden, I was one of those crazy kale-worshipping nuts. And I’ve never been happier.

After I discovered nutritional powerhouse that is kale, I discovered caldo verde, a Portuguese soup made with sausage, potatoes and, of course, kale. I also started making sautéed kale and constantly adding it in my quinoa salads and pasta dishes. It was glorious. But I didn’t truly appreciate the full versatility of kale until I discovered how to make a fresh kale salad. Continue reading

Juicing 101: 5 Things You Need to Know

breakfastsmoothiesOver the holidays, I was lucky enough to get a Ninja Kitchen Blender to test out for work. Needless to say, I’ve become pretty obsessed with the thing. I came home from Christmas with fresh fruits and vegetables from my mom’s garden–and that’s when the magic truly began.

I started to read up on juicing, including Eric Helms’ new book The Juice Generation (with a foreword by Salma Hayek), talking about it with friends who love it and learned the difference between juicing and smoothies. It turns out what I made originally are smoothies–recipes I’ll be sharing with you soon–and I like those, too. To get started, read my Juicing 101 guide. I’ll definitely be doing a lot more of it this year! Continue reading

Slow Cooker Sofrito Turkey Broth from Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Please tell me you’ve saved your turkey bones from Thanksgiving. Seriously. Please pretty please tell me you haven’t thrown them away yet.

I know my pleading may be a little odd, but trust me when I say you’re going to want to make this latest recipe of mine. You see, I made the turkey for Thanksgiving this year and decided, after planning to but ultimately never getting to it last year, making a slow cooker turkey broth out of the leftover turkey bones. And of course, I just had to add some Latin-inspired spice to it, which is why I cooked it with the makings of the traditional Cuban sofrito: onion, bell pepper and garlic. Continue reading

Very Berry “Mojito” Smoothie

HealthyLatinFood_VeryBerryMojitoSmoothie1It’s officially December, which means the full start of the Holiday season.

The past weekend has been a really good one for me. I celebrated Thanksgiving with dear friends and even made the feast’s turkey for the second year in a row. And I didn’t completely overdo it, to boot!

But I have to admit: although I did a pretty decent job of cutting calories this Thanksgiving, and will continue to practice (mostly) healthy eating, I also rejoined Weight Watchers on Friday. I did so for a variety of reasons but the main one definitely being that tracking my eating and exercise, even on days that I overdo it, is still a good way for me to see what is really going into my body. That’s why I decided to start this week with my very berry “mojito” smoothie for breakfast. 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.

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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

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