DENVER — These Latin foods are delicious and are a great way to celebrate Latinx or Hispanic Heritage Month. As a dietitian, I also recommend these foods for the nutritional value they offer.
Nopales (cactus leaf)
Nopales are available in Hispanic markets as a whole leaf or already cleaned without thorns and chopped. To cook them, simmer in salted water, then drain, and rinse. Try them grilled or stir-fried. You can make them into a salad or serve them with tacos. When you add lime juice, jalapeños, tomatoes and avocados they make a great dip. They are low in calories. One cup is equal to about 22 calories. Due to their fiber content, they can also help control blood sugars. For people who have diabetes, this vegetable can decrease blood sugar response after a meal.
This vegetable looks like a pear. It is a versatile green squash and pairs well with protein, rice dishes and other vegetables. You can boil or cut chayote into slices and cook it with a little oil or butter until soft. I like to stir-fry chayotes with carrots, add some herbs, and serve with a lemon dressing. A cup of cooked chayote has 35 calories and 4 grams of dietary fiber. It is a very low-calorie vegetable and it is a good source of vitamin C.
A juicy and crunchy vegetable that is eaten as a fruit. It goes well with chili powder and lime juice. You can peel it and cut it into strips then serve with salsa or guacamole. You will get 6 grams of dietary fiber for every cup.
Fresh papaya is a refreshing fruit. Let it ripen to get a juicy flavor. Cut in half, remove seeds and peel. Make a fruit juice with just water, papaya, and a splash of lime juice. Papayas are well known to help with digestion and constipation. It is rich in vitamin C and it contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, and lycopene.
These are perfect to steep in hot water to make hot tea or an iced drink. They may help with reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, and it has some antioxidants.
Find Malena Perdomo and her healthy eating ideas on her blog, or social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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