8 Fave Latinx Recipes Made Delicioso for Diabetes

Can you have arroz con pollo and be healthy, too? Si, says Familia Kitchen, with these twists on popular foods and drinks.

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This story produced in partnership with Familia Kitchen.

It’s a perennial problema. You’re trying so hard to eat healthfully. Diabetes runs in your family. You know you’re at risk for type 2... but.

But ...you’re going to your aunt’s house for dinner tonight. To not eat her family-famous tacos would not only be difficult to do but borderline disrespectful. Plus, they taste a-MAZ-ing. And, you’re super-stressed right now—a little home cooking would go a long way. Right?

I get it. I grew up in Puerto Rico with a Boricua mom and American dad (who happily let my mother do all the cooking—lucky us). The allure of arroz con pollo, pumpkin flan, and P.S. anything plantain cannot be denied. Not then and not now.

But if your family is a from a Spanish-speaking place, eating your favorite foods the way your abuela (Grandma) makes them—served with a side of white rice and double-fried plantain tostones—can contribute to the development of diabetes. And that’s a problem, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since Latinx folks are already at twice the risk of the disease compared to non-Hispanic whites. They’re also more likely to be overweight, another big diabetes risk factor.

So, traditional comidas (meals!) don’t always help in this regard. Latinx “foods can be high in fat and calories. Also, family celebrations may involve social pressure to overeat,” reports the CDC. (Tell us something we don’t know...)

OK, this may surprise you: Everyone can lower their risk of getting diabetes (or better manage it if it’s already been diagnosed) with exercise and healthier food choices. Even losing 10 to 15 pounds can make a big difference, according to the American Diabetes Association. Whether your heritage is Latinx or you just love Latinx food, it’s totally possible to enjoy tasty tacos and stay a step ahead of diabetes—and, for many of us, stay close to our family roots.

We call this “abuela cooking” at Familia Kitchen, a Latinx recipes website I founded that crowdsources favorite Hispanic and Latinx family recipes from home (but by no means amateur) cooks throughout the U.S. This includes our special “Healthy & Delicioso” recipes, where we makeover dishes with good-for-you ingredients and preparations. You really can enjoy yuca fritters—and keep your eating diabetes-friendly, too.

On that note, check out these eight recipes (including yuca fritters, nachos loaded with the works, arroz con pollo, margaritas, and even pastel de chocolate), created by Naihomy Jerez, one of Familia Kitchen’s favorite Dominican cooks, who also happens to be a food and health coach. She knows how to work the flavor, minus the sugar and fat, to create healthy, traditional fare. Buen provecho!

Appetizers

yuca fritters
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Arepitas de Yuca (Yuca Fritters)

Servings: approx. 24
From start to finish: 1 hour

A favorite Dominican and Cuban side or snack is yuca—the root of the cassava plant—fried and dipped in garlic oil. “Yuca compared to other root vegetables is lower on the GI [glycemic index] scale,” says Jerez. She kept the yuca, switched to whole wheat flour, and added flax seeds. “The ground flax seeds help slow down digestion and can help prevent spikes in sugar. Turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory spice,” she adds. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, flax seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help keep disease at bay by ridding our bodies of free radicals, and turmeric has an active ingredient called curcumin that helps tame inflammation.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of finely grated yuca (about 2 lbs. of yuca)

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal

  • 2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt (or to taste)

  • ½ tsp. anise seeds

  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric

  • 1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Peel and wash the yuca. Then finely grate the yuca into a bowl big enough to allow mixing.

  2. Finely mash and chop the garlic cloves. (You can use a mortar and pestle, garlic press, or grater—just be careful with your fingers!)

  3. Sprinkle in the whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed meal, salt, anise seeds, black pepper, turmeric, and raw apple cider vinegar. Mix in well with the yuca.

  4. Make a hole at the center of the mixture and crack the 2 eggs. Make sure no shells fall in. Scramble the eggs and then mix in well with the yuca mixture.

  5. In a medium-size frying pan, over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil.

  6. Once oil is hot (but not burning), take about 1.5 Tbsp. (a little less than 1 oz.) of the yuca mixture and gently place it in the oil. Pat it down with a spoon so it takes the shape of a round fritter. Add about three other fritters, careful not to overcrowd the pan.

  7. Cook each fritter side for approximately 3 minutes or until the edges are nice and crispy golden. That’s how you know the fritter has cooked all the way through.

  8. Remove the fritter from oil, then place on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

  9. If the pan runs out of oil while frying, add more coconut oil between fritter batches. Then repeat steps 6 through 8 until the mixture is finished.

Tips:

  • Test-fry a couple of fritters to ensure you have enough salt in your mixture.

  • If you have leftover fritters, store in the refrigerator in a tight container. Heat in a toaster oven or regular oven for a few minutes (instead of re-frying). This will allow the fritter to regain its crispy consistency, healthily.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 90
Total fat per: 3.2g (or 4% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 2.2g (or 11% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 16mg (or 5% or daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 14.5g (or 5% of daily value)
Total sugars: 0.6g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 5% of daily value)
Protein: 1.4g

loaded fiesta nachos
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Loaded Fiesta Nachos

Servings: 12
From start to finish: 45 minutes

Who doesn’t love nachos? This calorie-laden treat is traditionally made with high-fat ground beef and cream-based toppings and sauces, but you'll swap the ground beef for 99% fat-free ground turkey. Jerez made sure to include vegetables as toppings (including broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cabbage), which ups the fiber content and, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), helps prevent sugar spikes. Additionally, this recipe includes raw apple cider vinegar, which ADA research shows helps improve insulin sensitivity, for the pico de gallo.

Ingredients:

For the brussel sprouts:

  • 1 lb. or 2 cups or brussels sprouts

  • 1 tsp. EV olive oil

  • ¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder

For the broccoli:

  • 2 cups of broccoli (about 1 head)

  • ½ tsp. baking soda

  • 3 cups of water

For the ground turkey:

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey (99% fat-free or white-meat only)

  • 2 Tbsp. EV olive oil

  • 4 Tbsp. chopped onion

  • 3 Tbsp. chopped green pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. chopped red pepper

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • ½ + ¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper

  • ½ tsp. garlic powder

  • ½ tsp. ground oregano

  • ½ tsp. ground cumin

  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper powder

For the pico de gallo salsa:

  • 2 large tomatoes

  • 1 mini English cucumber

  • ½ larger red onion

  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

  • 1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper

  • 2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar

  • 1 lime

Plus:

  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips (about 13 oz.)

Directions:

Step 1: Season and prep the ground turkey.

  1. Finely chop onion, green and red peppers, garlic.

  2. Add olive oil to pan over medium heat. Let oil warm up.

  3. Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Stir gently for about 5 minutes—be sure garlic does not burn.

  4. Once mixture is tender, add ground turkey and mix.

  5. Sprinkle the salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, ground oregano, ground cumin, and cayenne powder over turkey mixture and mix in well.

  6. The turkey will release its natural juices. Keep the pot uncovered as it cooks, while stirring occasionally.

  7. In about 30 to 35 minutes, all the liquids will evaporate. Stir occasionally to make sure the turkey does not stick to the bottom of the pan or clump up.

  8. Once the turkey meat is browned, remove from pan, then set aside until you are ready to assemble the nachos.

Step 2: Bake the brussels sprouts.

  1. Clean, wash, and cut in half the brussels sprouts. Remove as much water as possible.

  2. In a bowl, toss the brussels sprouts with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil

  3. Place in a baking dish and put in the oven (or toaster oven) at 400 degrees.

  4. Roast for about 30 minutes. Toss the brussels sprouts about halfway into the cooking time to help ensure even cooking.

  5. Most of the brussels sprouts should be caramelized and golden in color. Remove from oven, place in a dish, and set to the side.

Step 3: Blanche the broccoli.

  1. Place 3 cups of water in a saucepan over high heat.

  2. Wash and cut the broccoli into florets.

  3. Pour the baking soda into the hot water.

  4. Once the water comes to a boil, carefully place the florets into the water. Make sure all florets are submerged and lower the heat.

  5. Cook for about 3 minutes or until a fork is able to glide into a floret stem.

  6. Drain the broccoli from the water into a strainer. Place into a bowl and set aside.

Step 4: Make the pico de gallo.

  1. Wash and chop tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into small square-like chunks and place in mixing bowl.

  2. Wash and chop cilantro into small pieces and put in bowl.

  3. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, raw apple cider vinegar, and the juice of the lime in the bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

  4. Cover bowl and set aside in the refrigerator. It will make 2½ cups.

Step 5: Assemble the nachos!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large sheet pan, spread the tortilla chips evenly.

  3. Distribute roasted brussels sprouts and blanched broccoli over the chips.

  4. Layer on the cooked ground turkey.

  5. Sprinkle and layer the shredded cheddar cheese.

  6. Place the sheet pan in the oven for about 10 minutes, until tortillas crisp up and the cheese melts.

  7. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and let it cool for 3 minutes. Then evenly layer the shredded cabbage across the nachos.

  8. Layer on the pico de gallo, add a final sprinkling of chopped cilantro (if you have any left over), then serve!

Tips:

  • You can include dipping sauces to use on top or on the side like salsas, guacamole, refried beans, and a variety of hot sauces.

  • If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven or toaster oven, first covered, and then uncovered.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 159
Total fat per: 7.4g (or 10% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 2.7g (or 13% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 31mg (or 10% or daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 11.5g (or 4% of daily value)
Total sugars: 4.6 (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 4% of daily value)
Protein: 13.7g

Cocktail

margarita
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Fresh and Classic Margarita

Serving size: 6 oz. drink
From start to finish: 5 minutes

Margaritas, a favorite cocktail in Mexico and across the world, typically contains simple syrup and Triple Sec—which can really add up on sugar. Jerez eliminated these ingredients while still honoring traditional margarita flavors—she replaced them with fresh orange and lime juice and pulp. The pulp adds fiber to the marg, and the fiber can prevent sugar spikes, according to the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation. Top off this drink with sparkling water to make your margarita fully Healthy & Delicioso!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (approx. ½ lime)

  • 1.5 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice (approx. ½ orange)

  • 2 oz. tequila reposado

  • 1 to 2 oz. sparkling water

  • Ice cubes

  • Tajín or salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare your glass by adding tajin or salt to the rim. Pour water on a flat plate and salt or tajin on another flat plate. Gently dip the glass rim in the water, and then in the tajin or salt plate, making sure to cover as much of the rim as desired. Then add in a few ice cubes into each glass.

  2. Combine lime juice, orange juice, tequila and a few ice cubes in a shaker. Cover and shake for a few seconds until all ingredients are well combined and cool.

  3. Remove cover and carefully pour into serving glass.

  4. Top with sparkling water and add a lime garnish, if desired. Salud!

Tip: Good news for tequila fans. This Mexican spirit is made from the agave plant, which has a natural form of sugar called agavin that, when used as a sweetener, can help lower insulin levels for people with diabetes, according to the American Chemistry Society.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 156
Total fat per: 0.1g (or 0% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 0g (or 0% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 0mg (or 0% or daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 7.2g (or 3% of daily value)
Total sugars: 4.4g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 3% of daily value)
Protein: 0.4g

Main Meals

arroz con pollo
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Arroz con Pollo

Serves 12
From start to finish: 90 minutes

Arroz con pollo is the national dish of Puerto Rico and a beloved staple in many Latinx destinations. Jerez flipped the white rice to brown rice and quinoa. Why? Three words: whole + grains + fiber. Per the Mayo Clinic, whole grains are full of fiber and help slow down digestion, slowing sugar spikes. For seasoning, she added fresh chopped veggies to replace the super-salty sofrito or sazón. And she used a whole chicken, mixing in the leaner white-meat cuts with the more traditional only-dark meat, helping decrease the fat levels.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into small pieces

  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice (soak in water for 2 to 3 hours ahead, if possible)

  • ½ cup tri-colored or regular quinoa

  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots

  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro (extra for garnish)

  • 2 Tbsp. red onion

  • 2 Tbsp. red pepper

  • 2 Tbsp. green pepper

  • 2 Tbsp. cubanelle pepper

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 3 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • 1 tsp. oregano

  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste

  • 1 Tbsp. EV olive oil

  • 3 cups of water

For the chicken marinade:

  • 1 ½ tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • ½ tsp. garlic powder

  • ½ tsp. oregano

  • ¼ tsp. cayenne powder

  • ¼ tsp. cumin

  • 1 ½ tsp. raw apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Tbsp. EV olive oil

Directions:

Step 1: Prep the chicken.

  1. Wash and cut chicken into small chunks, similar to stew or purchase precut.

  2. Make your marinate: Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, cumin, and raw apple cider vinegar to the chicken and mix well.

  3. Let it marinate for 10 to 15 min. (This is a good time to start chopping veggies for the rice.)

Step 2: Brown the chicken.

  1. When the chicken is marinated, warm a sauté pan on high heat and add the olive oil and let it warm up for a couple of minutes.

  2. Pour the chicken into your caserola or large pot as fast as possible, being careful not to get burned with the oil. Immediately cover the pot with a lid for a few seconds as the chicken settles in.

  3. Remove the lid and spread the chicken evenly as it cooks over high heat.

  4. After about 8 minutes, stir the chicken to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn so that all sides brown.

  5. After about 15 minutes of the chicken cooking at high heat, lower the fire, remove the chicken from the pot, and set to the side. (Do not worry that the chicken is undercooked. It will finish cooking with the rice.)

Step 3: Put it all together: arroz con pollo time!

  1. Add olive oil to the pan over low heat where you cooked the chicken. Leave all of the brown bits in, as they will add to the flavor.

  2. Add onion, all peppers, and garlic. Stir and let it cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add salt, black pepper, oregano, and tomato paste and stir until well combined. Cook for another minute.

  4. Add 3 cups of water, raise the heat to high, and let the water come to a boil.

  5. Rinse rice and quinoa and add into pot once water boils.

  6. Add cilantro and stir.

  7. Rinse frozen carrots and peas and add to pot—mix all ingredients well, and let it come to a boil.

  8. Continue to let the mixture boil until the water begins to evaporate. Once enough of the water has evaporated, you will see holes from the boiling water start to open in the rice and a very thin layer of water on top of the rice. At this point, add the chicken back into the pot. Let is rest on top of the rice and water.

  9. Pour in any juices left on the plate from the chicken. You can even rinse it with a tiny bit of water.

  10. Lower heat all the way to low. Cover the pot tightly and leave it covered for 35 minutes.

  11. After about 35 minutes, stir the chicken into the rice mixture. Make sure to mix everything in the entire pot. (Tip: this is a good time to check if the rice has enough salt. If not, sprinkle a little bit more in, keeping an eye on keeping it at a healthy level.)

  12. Tightly cover the pot again for another 15 minutes on low heat.

  13. Give the whole pot one final big stir. It’s ready! Serve. Buen provecho!

Tips:

  • Use a strainer when rinsing the rice and quinoa—it makes it easier than washing them in a large bowl.

  • And to keep your arroz con pollo as flavorful as possible without adding salt, feel free to add an extra dash or two of your spices, like garlic powder and oregano.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 353
Total fat per: 7.8g (10% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 1.3g (6% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 10mg (3% or daily value)
Sodium: 615mg (27% of daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 61.8g (22% of daily value)
Total sugars: 18.3g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 22% of daily value)
Protein: 12g

taco bar
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Simple Taco Bar

Serves 40
From start to finish: 50 minutes

Instead of using tortillas to build your tacos, try Bibb lettuce, which acts like a healthy wrapper in the perfect shape to hold your fave taco fixings. Jerez flipped the traditional toppings to make them veggie-rich, including in the pico de gallo and cabbage. You'll get your healthy monounsaturated fats with avocado, and lower the overall fat content by using lean pork instead of a fattier cut.

Ingredients:

For the shredded pork:

  • 2 lbs. lean pork tenderloin

  • 2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 tsp. oregano

  • ½ tsp. ground cumin

  • ¼ tsp. cayenne powder

  • 3 fresh garlic cloves

  • 1 lime (approx. 2 Tbsp.)

  • ½ orange (approx. ¼ cup)

  • 2 Tbsp. EV olive oil

  • 1 cup of water

  • ¼ cup onion (garnish)

  • ¼ cup cilantro (garnish)

For the pico de gallo:

  • 2 large tomatoes

  • 1 mini English cucumber

  • ½ large red onion (approx. ½ cup)

  • ½ cup cilantro

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • 1 ¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • 2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar

  • 1 lime

For the cabbage:

  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage

  • ½ tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ½ lime

For the toppings and fixings:

  • 2 Hass avocados, sliced

  • 1 cup of low-fat cheese, shredded (Cheddar used here)

  • 1 Bibb lettuce head

  • 1 lb. bag corn tortillas (about 30 tortillas)

Directions:

Step 1: Prep, marinate, and cook the pork.

  1. Clean and cut the lean pork chunks into small squares and put in a bowl.

  2. Mash or finely chop the garlic cloves and add to the pork.

  3. Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, ground cumin, garlic, cayenne, fresh lime juice, and fresh orange juice to the pork. Mix well.

  4. Let the pork marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. In a pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil to warm up for about 1 minute.

  6. Once hot (but not steaming!) add the marinated pork chunks into the pot as fast as possible, being careful not to get burned with the oil. Immediately cover the pot for a few seconds as the pork settles in.

  7. Remove the lid after about 10 seconds. Spread the pork evenly to let it cook over the high heat for approximately 5 minutes.

  8. When the pork releases some of its juices, pour 1 cup of water to the bowl where the pork was marinating. Swirl the water to pick up the remainder of the seasoning.

  9. Pour the water over the pork and stir. The pork should be almost covered in the water.

  10. Reduce the heat to medium and let the meat simmer uncovered.

  11. After about 20 minutes, the water should have almost evaporated completely. Stir the pork to ensure it start to brown on all sides.

  12. Check the meat for tenderness. If it is not tender, add about ½ cup more water and let it simmer for a few minutes.

  13. If the meat is tender, continue to brown it as the remainder of the water evaporates. If you need to add in a little bit more olive oil to prevent sticking (about. 1 tsp.) do so

  14. Once the water has evaporated and the meat has browned, use 2 forks to pull the pork apart ad roughly shred the meat.

  15. Place the meat in the serving dish for the taco bar and garnish with cilantro and onions.

Step 2: Make the pico de gallo salsa.

  1. Cut the tomatoes, mini English cucumber, and red onion, into small square-like chunks and put into a bowl.

  2. Rough-chop the cilantro and add into the bowl.

  3. To the bowl add the black pepper, salt, raw apple cider vinegar, and the juice of 1 lime.

  4. Mix well. Let the mixture sit for approximately 10 minutes. The pico de gallo salsa will start to marinate and pickle in the acidity of the lime and vinegar.

  5. Taste the Pico de Gallo and adjust the salt and/or acidity as you wish.

Step 3: Make the cabbage.

  1. Shred 1 small cabbage, which should amount to approximately 4 cups, and place in a bowl. To shred, you can use a mandolin on its “super thin” setting, or use a knife to thinly cut the cabbage.

  2. Sprinkle the salt and squeeze half a lime into the cabbage. Mix well.

  3. Set the cabbage aside for approximately 10 minutes. The cabbage will wilt and release its natural juices.

Step 4: Prep the toppings and fixings.

  1. Thinly slice avocados onto a serving dish.

  2. Shred an 8 oz. block of low-fat cheese and place in a serving dish. (Cheddar is used here, but feel free substitute for your favorite low-fat cheese.)

  3. Carefully remove each Bibb lettuce leaf, gently wash, and dry.

  4. Place on a serving plate and set aside.

  5. Warm up the corn tortillas by placing them over a low direct flame on your stove, using tongs to ensure you do not burn yourself. A few seconds on each side should be enough. They warm up quickly. Be careful not to burn them.

  6. Other ways to warm up the tortillas: Place on a frying pan over low heat—without oil, in the toaster oven, or in a microwave.

Step 5: You’re ready! Set up your taco bar. It’s fiesta time!

  1. Place all dishes and toppings on table: the shredded pork, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, Bibb lettuce shells, and corn tortillas.

  2. Have fun with your family creating different taco combinations, using a variety of the toppings. Top off with a hot sauce if you wish!

Tips:

  • When chopping the onions and cilantro, consider dicing 2 Tbps. extra of each and setting them aside for later use as a garnish.

  • And, aim to get a block of cheese and shred it yourself to make it as healthy as possible. Pre-shredded cheeses contain extra ingredients to prevent caking and preservatives.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 126
Total fat per: 5.8g (7% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 2.2g (11% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 24mg (8% or daily value)
Sodium: 273mg (12% of daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 9.6g (3% of daily value)
Total sugars: 1.6g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 3% of daily value)
Protein: 9.1g

lentil soup
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Lentil Soup

Serves 16
From start to finish: 75 minutes

Lentils are popular throughout Latin America, especially during Lent. This soup is wholesome and full of plant-based protein and fiber just from the lentils alone. Jerez also packed in vegetables lower on the GI scale, like carrots and kabocha squash—a favorite Caribbean cooking ingredient, and added spices like turmeric and cumin, which are full of anti-inflammatory properties and may help manage diabetes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lentils

  • 3 Tbsp. EV olive oil

  • 1 red pepper

  • 1 large red onion

  • 1 green pepper

  • 4 stalks celery

  • 1 bunch cilantro (divided into 2 halves)

  • 1 head garlic, separate and peel cloves

  • 1 lb. bag of carrots

  • 1 kabocha pumpkin (approx. 2lbs)

  • 2 limes

  • 2 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • 2 tsp. turmeric

  • 2 tsp. cumin

  • 2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 2 tsp. onion powder

Directions:

  1. Wash and roughly chop the aromatic vegetables (peppers, onions, celery, and garlic) and half the cilantro.

  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the spices (salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder), then set aside.

  3. Place a large pot (at least 8-quart) on the stove at high heat. Add olive oil. Once oil is hot (but not steaming!), stir in the chopped aromatic vegetables and cilantro.

  4. When they start to soften (about 5 minutes), stir in spices.

  5. Add the carrots and pumpkin and stir all ingredients until well combined.

  6. After about 3 minutes, rinse lentils and stir into vegetable mixture.

  7. Fill the pot with water to just an inch below the top.

  8. Add juice of 1 lime and the raw apple cider vinegar.

  9. Leave the pot uncovered (or half-covered, if you prefer) and boil gently. The soup will start to slowly evaporate and thicken. Stir occasionally, so the lentils and vegetables don't stick to the bottom.

  10. After about 45 minutes, scoop out the peppers, onions, and celery from the pot, and put into a blender bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes and blend until smooth.

  11. Return the pureed vegetables to the pot on the stovetop, then set to low heat.

  12. The soup will continue to simmer and thicken for about 15 minutes.

  13. Taste the soup and add more spices, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar, as needed.

  14. Once soup reaches desired thickness, it's done and ready to serve!

Tip: This is la sopa perfecta to double and triple—and freeze. Those nights when you come in late or just don’t feel like cooking? Don’t succumb to ordering in or grabbing something fast but unhealthy—Just thaw this soup, serve it with a side salad, and you’re good to go.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 183
Total fat per: 3.2g (4% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 0.4g (2% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 0mg (0% or daily value)
Sodium: 319mg (14% of daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 30.8g (11% of daily value)
Total sugars: 7.9g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 11% of daily value)
Protein: 9.2g

Desserts

chocolate cake
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Vegan Chocolate Lover’s Cake

Serves 16
From start to finish: 45 minutes

Jerez’s main flip for this recipe was replacing brown sugar with monk fruit sweetener, a natural zero-calorie sweetener that will not raise blood sugar and helps glycemic control, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity. Additionally, she replaced the eggs with “chia seed eggs” and added ground flax seeds to increase the fiber and plant-based protein. For a final health upgrade, swap regular milk (which has a good amount of sugar in it) with unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk. Yum.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. chia seeds (divided in 2)

  • 8 Tbsp. water (divided in 2)

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour

  • ¾ cup monk fruit sweetener

  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 tsp. instant coffee

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed meal

  • ½ tsp. cinnamon powder

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • ½ cup refined coconut oil

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup boiling water

Healthy & Delicioso 4-Ingredient chocolate glaze:

  • ¾ cup of dark chocolate chips (Naihomy likes this one because it’s allergy- and dairy-free.)

  • 2 Tbsp. refined coconut oil

  • ¼ tsp. instant coffee

  • ¼ tsp. salt

Directions:

Step 1: Ready, set, prep.

  1. In 2 small bowls, pour 1 Tbsp. of chia seed and 4 Tbsp. of water in each. Mix well and let sit for about 10 minutes (while you prep the rest of the cake). This will serve as an egg replacement.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9- or 10-inch pan.

Step 2: Bake the cake!

  1. In a bowl add the whole-wheat flour, monk fruit sweetener, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, instant coffee, salt, ground flax seed, and cinnamon powder, then mix well.

  2. Make a small hole in the middle of the dry mixture and add unsweetened vanilla almond milk, coconut oil, chia seed “eggs,” and vanilla extract, then mix. (It will be a bit dry, and that’s OK.)

  3. Slowly pour in the boiling water to the bowl and gently mix until there are no clumps.

  4. Pour into the pre-greased baking dish.

  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

  6. After 30 minutes, stick a butter knife in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, or with very minimal cake stuck to the blade, you know the cake is done.

  7. Let the cake cool for approximately 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely.

  8. After it has completely cooled, the cake is ready for the glaze.

Step 3: Make the Healthy & Delicioso 4-Ingredient chocolate gaze.

  1. Set up a double boiler (Naihomy uses a glass bowl that fits well over a small saucepan). Add in all ingredients into the bowl and gently stir until all the chips are melted and it looks nice and glossy

  2. Remove from heat and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Pour over cake; let it drip down the sides until the cake is completely covered.

  4. Let glazed cake sit and set for at least 30 minutes.

  5. Enjoy this healthy and delicioso treat.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 135
Total fat per: 11.3g (15% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 8.6g (43% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 0mg (0% or daily value)
Sodium: 311mg (14% of daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 10g (4% of daily value)
Total sugars: 2.7g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 4% of daily value)
Protein: 2.2g

pumpkin flan
Courtesy of Familia Kitchen

Healthy & Delicioso Kabocha Pumpkin Flan

Serves 24
From start to finish: 2 hours

Latinx foods vary by destination—Argentinian food is as different from Mexican, as German is from French—but they share some things in common. Flan is one of them. Served at tables across Latin America and the Caribbean, flan is delicious—but a healthy-eating nightmare, with its fat-laden condensed milk and mucho sugar. Jerez flipped the script by replacing raw brown sugar with monk fruit sweetener and ditching the dairy for unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk.

Pumpkin flan is popular in Caribbean islands like Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where home cooks use a Caribbean pumpkin called kabocha (replace with acorn squash if you can’t find it in your local store). Kabocha squash is lower on the GI scale than most squash/pumpkin varieties: Again, the extra fiber can help reduce sugar spikes.

While Jerez did use 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup to build the iconic caramelo for the flan, maple syrup is lower on the IG scale than traditional sugar and it is not concentrated within the flan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. 100% maple syrup (for caramel)

  • 4 cups kabocha pumpkin puree

  • 3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (evaporated to 12 oz.)

  • 5 eggs

  • ½ cup ghee

  • ¾ cup monk fruit sweetener

  • 1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (13 oz. or 13.5 oz.)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg

  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour

  • 2 Tbsp. dark rum

Directions:

Step 1: Prep the pumpkin and evaporated milk. (Feel free to do this step ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.)

  1. Wash, de-seed and cut the kabocha pumpkin. Steam or boil it with the skin on, until soft. Peel off skin and mash the pumpkin. Set aside to cool. (You can also use canned pumpkin.)

  2. Place a saucepan on medium-high heat and bring 3 cups of vanilla almond milk to a boil to make the evaporated milk. Boil until about half the milk has evaporated and you are left with approximately 12 oz. Set to the side to cool.

Step 2: Make the caramel.

  1. Pour maple syrup into the mold where you will bake the flan.

  2. Heat the maple syrup-filled mold over the stove over medium heat. It will start to bubble and soon start to evaporate. After about 5 minutes, you will notice the syrup becoming extra sticky/ thick.

  3. With a protective glove or oven mitt, swirl the pan so the syrup touches all sides of the mold. When it starts to stick, remove from heat. Swish gently to coat the syrup on all sides and set to the side to cool.

Step 3: Mix it up.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, crack the eggs and gently mix with a fork so that they are thoroughly mixed.

  3. To the eggs, add monk fruit sweetener, ghee, coconut milk, cooled almond-evaporated milk, whole-wheat flour, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dark rum. Gently blend with a hand mixer, or by hand with a fork or whisk.

  4. Add pumpkin puree. Mix until smooth.

Step 4: Set your “water bath” and bake!

  1. Add flan mixture to the pan. The syrup should have hardened by now.

  2. The flan needs to be cooked in a water bath or baño Maria: Place the pan filled with the flan inside a large enough oven-proof container. Add water to surround the flan pan halfway up the side. (Naihomy uses something as simple as a disposable aluminum pan.)

  3. Place into the preheated 350° degree oven for 1 hour.

  4. At the 1-hour mark, place a butter knife in the middle of the flan. If the knife emerges clean or with very little flan attached, it is done. If there is a good bit of soft flan on the knife, leave it in the oven for another 15 minutes, and do the knife test again. Repeat as needed up to 2 hours, maximum.

  5. When done, take the flan out of the oven and let cool and set. It is best to leave it for a few hours, put it in the fridge when cool to set even faster, preferably overnight.

  6. To lift the flan out of the plan, run a butter knife all around the edge of the pan to detach the flan or jiggle it a little. Place your serving plate (which should be larger than the baking pan) over the pan, so it completely covers it. In one quick motion: Flip the pan onto the plate, with one hand on each side for balance. Let the flan and syrup gently slip on the plate. Scrape any remaining caramelized syrup from the mold with a spatula and gently swirl onto the pumpkin flan.

  7. You're done! Serve chilled.

Tip: Flan baked in a shallow plan cooks faster than a deep pan, so take pan size into account with your baking time. If your baking dish is on the shallow side, start checking it 10 minutes early, doing the knife test to see if it’s done.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 121
Total fat per: 10g (13% of daily value)
Saturated fat: 6.7g (33% of daily value)
Cholesterol: 44mg (15% or daily value)
Sodium: 131mg (6% of daily value)
Total carbohydrate: 5.7g (2% of daily value)
Total sugars: 3g (which are measured in the total carbohydrate, or 2% of daily value)
Protein: 2.2g

Find more “Healthy & Delicioso” recipes for your favorite Latinx authentic dishes at FamiliaKitchen.com

Kim Caviness
Meet Our Writer
Kim Caviness

Kim Caviness brings 20+ years of editorial experience in health, food, and wellness content—including as chief content officer of three top U.S. content marketing agencies, and on editorial teams at WebMD, TreatmentMagazine.com, and Diabetes Forecast en Español. She is the founder, CEO, and editor in chief of Familia Kitchen, an online community that collects, curates, and celebrates Latinx culinary traditions at their most authentic and delicious—one family recipe at a time. Kim grew up in Santurce, Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mom and American dad, and she loves cooking for family and friends. Familia Kitchen recently launched its Healthy & Delicioso section, offering makeovers to traditional Latino dishes from all the Spanish-speaking places we come from—so we can eat well and be well.