We Talked to Latina Bloggers About Their Healthiest Food Tricks

credit: muybuenocooking / Instagram

By: Lola Méndez

The first dishes that come to mind when we think of the diverse delicacies of Latina food aren’t exactly healthy staples. Sometimes, I just can’t resist the Uruguayan dishes of churros with dulce de leche, fried empanadas, and ñoquis doused in a creamy white sauce–not exactly nutrient-rich foods. Many of our most beloved Latino dishes are full of fat, salt, and sugar.

By folding in some of these healthy eating tips from our favorite Latina food bloggers you can have a more balanced diet. Cultivate a healthier meal plan so that you won’t feel guilty when you splurge on some of your favorite rich Latino foods. These Latina food bloggers prove that you don’t have to sacrifice taste in order to eat healthily.

Whenever I’m at a loss for how to make traditionally hearty Latino foods with a healthy twist I turn to Afro-Latina Dominican Cecilia Flores of Coco Verde, Latino Vegan Kitchen.

This mama can seriously make the most lack-luster veggies transform into drool-worthy dishes that will make you forget you ever enjoyed fried milanesa. Becoming a mother motivated her to clean up her diet. “It was really after the birth of our daughter that I started to seriously think about exactly what I was eating because I was determined to give her a good start and get her loving good foods,” says Flores.

This mama can seriously make the most lack-luster veggies transform into drool-worthy dishes that will make you forget you ever enjoyed fried milanesa. Becoming a mother motivated her to clean up her diet. “It was really after the birth of our daughter that I started to seriously think about exactly what I was eating because I was determined to give her a good start and get her loving good foods,” says Flores.

Flores had the same concerns that many of us feel when trying to think about incorporating more plants into our diets. “I started learning about plant-based eating and its benefits. The only issue was the food! I didn’t want healthier and plant-based eating to mean that I was leaving my culture and traditional foods behind,” says Flores. She began to get creative as she prepared and transformed the Dominican foods she loves with healthier ingredients.

Another Latina food blogger we turn to for healthy recipes is Mexican Ana Frias of Muy Delish.

The fondest memories from her childhood are helping her mother prepare meals for their family of nine kids in Mexico. But, it wasn’t until Frias started weight lifting that she got serious about sticking to a healthy diet. She believes that balance and moderation is the key to staying healthy. “Healthy eating is about moderation, not about being restrictive with the foods you eat. If you eat a balanced healthy diet and have a treat here and there, you’ll be less inclined to binge or stop eating healthy altogether. Extreme diets never work,” says Frias.

The founder of Muy Bueno Cookbook and author of “Muy Bueno” and “Latin Twist” is healthyish Tejana Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack. “I’m obsessed with my Mexican culture and sharing my family traditions. I create recipes with a healthy Mexican twist, which means less frying, less fat, high protein, and more fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables,” she says. She goes on to explain that she loves Mexican flavors, spicy food, and fresh ingredients, especially avocados. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fat and a staple in many ethnic cuisines from Latin America.

Her key to successful healthy eating as a Latina is dining at home often. “It’s easy to overboard when a never-ending basket of tortilla chips and salsa is placed on your table at a Mexican restaurant.” Chips and salsa are her weakness. “I know myself too well. If I open a bag of tortilla chips I will eat them all,” says Marquez-Sharpnack and honestly, we can relate! She continues to say that “If you know your weaknesses, try not to buy those items.”

Healthy Eating Tips from Latina Food Bloggers

View this post on Instagram

Tomato jam! A delicious (and relatively easy) experiment. So great for toast or as an appetizer for parties! Crackers with vegan cream cheese and tomato jam are my new favorite. One note: next time I’ll peel the tomatoes by blanching them because I didn’t like the pieces of skin left behind in the jam. Have you ever had tomato jam? What’s your favorite way to eat it?! 2 lbs of tomatoes (peeled and chopped) 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon of minced ginger 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp salt Dash of cayenne pepper Bring mixture to a boil in a pot (stir frequently so it doesn’t burn) and then simmer until it’s a jam texture (stirring occasionally, about 2 hours). Let cool, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and enjoy! _____________________________________ Mermelada de tomate! Súper fácil y muy delicioso! Me encanta poner un chin sobre pan tostado o también comérmela con galleticas y queso Filadelfia (vegano). Lo único que cambiaría para la próxima vez es pelar los tomates antes de hacer la mermelada. No lo hice esta vez y en el resulto final quedaron pedacitos aunque trate te pasar la mermelada por la licuadora. Has probado la mermelada de tomate? Con que te lo comes normalmente?! 2 libras de tomates (peladas y cortadas) 3/4 taza de azúcar morena 1 cucharada de jengibre 2 cucharadas de vinagre de sidra de manzana 1/2 cucharadita de canela 1 cucharadita de sal Una pizca de Cayena en polvo Poner todos los ingredientes en una olla a hervir a fuego alto (moviendo la mixtura mucho para que no se pegue a la olla). Luego baja el fuego y deja que hierve a fuego lento hasta que tenga la consistencia de una mermelada (más o menos 2 horas). Deja que se enfríe y poner en un envase dentro de la nevera. Disfrutar!

A post shared by Coco Verde Vegan (@cocoverdevegan) on

It’s easier than you think to make traditional Latino dishes healthier. If you want to incorporate more veggies Flores suggests using black beans instead of beef as they have more protein, fiber, calcium, and iron than beef and less sodium, cholesterol, and fat. Black beans are already a staple of many Latino dishes so you’ll likely already have some in your cupboard. Legumes are going to be healthier for your body and your wallet as they’re significantly less costly than meat. Give beans a chance and whip up Coco Verde’s Niños Envueltos of cabbage rolls stuffed with lentils and rice, preferably brown rice for more protein and fiber.

Some of the other items that Flores suggests every Latinx have stocked in their kitchen are whole grains like brown rice, sweet or red potatoes, dried beans (or low sodium canned). She supplements these with seasonal fruits and vegetables and pairs it all together for unique renditions of Latino dishes.

Frias thinks of creative ways to make unhealthy dishes better such as focusing on spices and salsas and baking instead of frying.

“I stay away from any high saturated fats like sopapillas and chicharrones. I still eat tamales and churros but only about twice a year,” she says. Marquez-Sharpnack echoes a similar sentiment in her approach to healthy eating. “Stay away from fried and fatty foods, choose dishes that are high in protein, and incorporate fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals.”

If a recipe calls for sour cream or mayonnaise, Frias substitutes with non-fat Greek yogurt which provides extra protein. Going cheese-free can be a challenge so she uses low-fat cheese in minimal portions and opts for lean meat over fatty proteins.

Snacking is hard to resist. Marquez-Sharpnack keeps lots of fresh plant-based supplies on hand such as fruit, veggies, and nuts. “I always have avocados and apples sitting on my counter and a bag of walnuts or almonds. Snack on healthy choices so that you are not starting and make bad choices,” she says.

Healthy Meal Ideas From Latina Food Bloggers

For breakfast, Flores recommends preparing overnight oats similar to avena. Muy Bueno Cookbook has a healthy rendition of old fashioned Mexican oatmeal avena. Breakfast is a surprisingly easy meal for folding in typical Latino foods such as cactus with this licuado de nopal. Avocados are great any time of day–add a Latino twist by skipping toast and serving your mashed avocado over a warm corn tortilla.

At lunchtime, Flores tends to turn to arroz con habichelas instead of rice and chicken. She likes to have a side of some maduros (her maduros pie is to-die-for) and some veggies. Calabacitas are a great side dish to have on hand. Frias says they can easily be turned to the main dish by adding some rotisserie chicken breast chunks. Another fail-proof side or main dish is Muy Bueno Cookbook’s Avocado and Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese which is full of healthy fats.

If you’re a meat eater, lunch is a great time to have seafood which is high in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. The shrimp ceviche recipe that Frias swears by is easy to follow and can be eaten with or without baked tortilla chips. We’re also a fan of her shrimp tacos with mango salsa for an easy and healthy lunch–be sure to use corn tortillas instead of flour. If you want something a bit lighter go for Muy Bueno Cookbook’s Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. Many Latino flavors are bold and low calorie such as lime juice, chile, ginger, garlic, cilantro, onion, and parsley.

If you’re used to having beef for dinner make Muy Delish’s Albondigas Soup–Frias uses 98% lean ground beef instead of fatty ground beef. In the cool evenings of the winter, it’s too easy to fall back into unhealthy eating patterns as you’ll be craving hearty dishes. Marquez-Sharpnack recommends going for a portion of caldo de pollo instead as it’s loaded with protein and veggies and is super flavorful and comforting. Remember, adding veggies is the easiest way to make a dish healthier. There’s always room for more plants in traditional Latino dishes such as arepas, pupusas, tamales, enchiladas, and more.

Why Healthy Eating Matters for Latinas


High rates of health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes in Latino communities motivate Flores to encourage her fellow Latinos to eat healthily. “We’re oftentimes led to believe that genetics is the main reason for this, but in reality, it has a lot to do with what we eat! That’s also the hard part. A lot of what we eat is guided by where we live, especially for people that live in food deserts, or places where fresh healthy food or even supermarkets are very limited or unaffordable,” she says. Basically, you are what you eat, right?

Frias can relate to this on a personal level, as a major motivator for her own journey into healthy eating was that, like many Latino families, some of her relatives suffer from diabetes. “I believe that prevention is the best medicine. I don’t want to end up dealing with health issues as I get older if I can do something about it now. Si se puede,” says Frias. As Latinos, we have a high rate of obesity, heart and liver disease. “We must break that chain! All of these diseases are easily preventable just by eating healthy foods and having an exercise routine.” Recognizing food as nourishment is a key first step into becoming dedicated to healthy eating practices and decreasing chronic disease.

For Marquez-Sharpnack, it’s her mother’s healthy influence that inspired her to pass down healthy eating habits to her children. “It saddens me to hear that childhood obesity in the Hispanic population is growing faster than other segments of the population. Almost two in five Hispanic children between the ages of 2-19 are overweight or obese.” This urgent call for action shows the necessity for healthier eating in our communities–for the sake of our niños.


Read:7 Body Positive Latina Models That Are Killing The Fashion World and Beyond

Recommend this story by clicking the share button!