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Fresh and Traditional Latino Food Makes A Healthy Comeback


A side of rice and plenty of ripe fruits and vibrant vegetables are all hallmarks of lighter Latino fare.
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Fresh pinto beans simmered with garlic and onion, cool and refreshing fish or shrimp ceviche, seasoned and grilled chicken with a side of rice and plenty of ripe fruits and vibrant vegetables are all examples of the lighter fare that many in the Latino community are serving up more and more these days. From the family table to neighborhood restaurants, battered and fried, cheese-filled chile rellenos and similar dishes are being replaced with delicious lower calorie, fat and cholesterol choices. The whole grain, high fiber foods such as beans, rice and fish are once again taking center stage.

Now is the time for change. According to the Sacramento Bee, “Latinos in the United States are experiencing surging rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic health problems associated with nutrition.” Community organizations such as Yolo Family Resource Center in Woodland, CA and dietitians such as Monica Randel, a registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Point West, are leading the charge with recommendations including baking instead of frying, swapping ingredients such as lard for canola oil and plain non-fat yogurt for sour cream.

Some of our tips for lightening up your fiesta fare?

  • Citrus juice adds flavor and vitamins without the fat or sodium. Freshen up salads and soups with lemon or lime at restaurants and at home, and marinate chicken with orange juice.

  • Let vegetables shine. Look for dishes on the menu that feature peppers, onions, chiles, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other vegetables. Use MyPlate as a guide.

  • Request whole wheat or corn tortillas that are warmed, not fried. These whole grain, fiber-filled choices will be the perfect complement to fajitas and tacos.

  • Order fresh fruit for dessert. Sweet, juicy fruit is the perfect, light end to any meal.

How do you lighten up your favorite Latino food?

 

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