Lighten Up Your Favorite Foods

Lighten Up Your Favorite Foods

Many traditional foods, while delicious, are often fried and heavy in unhealthy fats and added sugars. Eating healthy, however, doesn’t mean we have to avoid our favorite dishes and snacks. In fact, most tasty meals such as tacos and even mangu, are nutritious at their core. Many of our favorite foods can be lightened up by substituting ingredients, changing the cooking method from frying to baking, or cutting back on added sugar.

Here’s a list of lighter versions of some of our favorite, traditional dishes.

Mangu

At the heart of mangu are the plantains, which are a good source of vitamin A, potassium and magnesium. It’s the added butter and fried meats that can turn this dish into a calorie-heavy gut bomb. For a simple Mangu recipe, recipe one, focuses on the plantains and onions. If you prefer pickled onions check out recipe two. If you want to add protein, while keeping it healthy, scramble some eggs using olive oil, not butter.

Fried Rice and Stir-Fry

Many Asian dishes, such as the stir-fry, are full of healthy ingredients, like veggies and proteins. What can turn these otherwise nutritious meals unhealthy is the overuse of oils and high-sodium sauces, in addition to large portions of white rice and noodles.

Here are some of our suggestions to lighten up your next meal:

  • Use low-sodium soy sauce
  • Decrease the amount of soy sauce, oils and sugary sauces
  • Substitute brown rice for white rice
  • For fried rice, increase the vegetable to rice ratio, meaning you’ll use less rice
  • Use rice noodles or mung bean noodles

Check out some healthy recipes below:

Tostones

While delicious, fried tostones contain a lot of oil and calories, turning the nutritious plantain into a less-than-healthy snack. The recipe below for Oven Fried Tostones with Garlic Mojito Sauce is a healthier alternative that still holds all the flavor and crunch

Empanadas

Many Latino countries have their own version of the staple empanada—an easy grab and go snack. What often makes this finger food unhealthy is the dough and the frying. Make your empanadas healthier by preparing your own dough with less butter or lard, or follow these recipes to substitute it for olive oil or even Greek yogurt.

Hot-and-Sour Soup

Hot-and-sour soup, while low in calories can be high in sodium. Check out this recipe which includes mushrooms and bok choy. Just make sure to use low-sodium vegetable broth instead of regular.

Mango Lassi

The mango lassi is a delicious, refreshing drink, but is often heavy in sugar and fat. Lighten up you next mango lassi by using low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt, using water in place of milk, and less (or no) added sugar. Check out the following recipes for a sweet and healthy treat:

Smoothies and Fruit Juices

The mango lassi is a delicious, refreshing drink, but is often heavy in sugar and fat. Lighten up you next

Loaded with vitamins and minerals, smoothies and juices can be a healthy way to add nutrients into your diet, but there are ways this healthy treat can go wrong. Even without added sugars, smoothies and juices can have a lot of natural sugars due to the fruit content. While these are good sugars, drinking more than your daily serving of fruits can be unhealthy.

Purchasing a smoothie at the bodega is often an easier alternative to making one at home, however many times these are made with added sugar, juice, honey and sometimes evaporated milk. Just one-half cup of evaporated milk is 169 calories and 10 grams of fat. Stick to low-fat milks, water or plant milks with no added sugars.

Whether making your drink at home or picking one up at the corner store, make sure you know what’s in it and keep added sugars to a minimum.

Check out these easy smoothie recipes:

mango lassi by using low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt, using water in place of milk, and less (or no) added sugar. Check out the following recipes for a sweet and healthy treat:

Tacos

At the core, tacos are a healthy meal of protein and carbohydrates. Stick to corn tortillas, not fried, but slightly toasted on the stove. For your filling, focus on leans meats and seafood with an emphasis on healthy preparation using minimal amounts of healthy oils. Turn your tacos into a well-rounded meal by replacing the filling with veggies.

Fried Potatoes or French Fries

From salchipapas to lomo soltado, there are a lot of dishes that include the French fry. 

The famous Peruvian dish of stir-fried beef is often served over the fried potatoes, but can be made healthier by serving it with oven-baked fries or even a side of rice. Incorporate the oven-baked fries in salchipapas and cook your hot dogs in a minimal amount of olive oil, just enough to coat the pan.

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