LatinaLista — For a community where 38.2% of its children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese, compared with 31.7% of all U.S. children those same ages and a segment of its male adults (Mexican Americans) come in second as having the highest rates of obesity, Latinos have slowly started adopting healthy habits.
But it’s one thing to start taking the stairs instead of the escalator or parking farther away from the store entrance and quite another to be told to give up abuela‘s cheese enchiladas or that extra-stuffed burrito or those cheese-filled arepas or homemade flour tortillas dripping with melted butter or…the list is endless.
Yet, a lot of people don’t have a choice anymore if they don’t want to suffer, or watch loved ones suffer, from diabetes, heart disease, chronic joint pain, etc. due to overeating beloved staples of Latin cuisine.
There are a few Latina chefs and food companies trying to strike that healthy balance between culturally favorite Latino dishes and developing good eating habits.
One site is the food blog Skinnytaste. Created by Latina Gina Homolka, Skinnytaste recipes are all under 500 calories. Gina, also an amateur photographer, shoots each picture of her finished creations. Her dishes range from American to South American and European. The best part is that many of her ingredients can already be found in most kitchens and she has adapted a lot of Latino favorites into “skinny” recipes.
Gina also follows Weight Watchers and supplies how many Weight Watcher points each dish has.
A new source of healthy Latin favorites is from a familiar name in cooking ingredients — Goya Foods. The nation’s largest Hispanic-owned food company joined First Lady’s Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move initiative and has just released their first cookbook — Healthy, Tasty, Affordable Latin Cooking.
The bilingual cookbook featured ten recipes for complete meals. Of course, the majority of ingredients utilize Goya Foods brands but each dish is built around a well-rounded diet which means fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.
(Editor’s note: To download the free pdf of the cookbook, visitors must register at the site. It wouldn’t be too bad if all they asked for was an email address but the registration may prove too time consuming for busy families who want to start eating healthy and not spend their time filling in the blanks.)
While there is no limit to food blogs and chef sites dedicated to Latin cuisine, there are still way too few sites that show how to enjoy our favorite dishes that substitute unhealthy ingredients with healthy ones without losing the smells of abuela‘s kitchen.
With obesity still a major health concern in the Latino community, it makes sense that there is a greater need for more Latina/o cooks to show the rest of us that no one needs to sacrifice their favorite dishes just to get healthy.