Culture

17 Latino Foods That Taste Great, But You Should Avoid Eating Too Often

Expressions of love and joy. If we had to sum up what cooking and food means in the Latino culture, those terms pretty much nail it. Por que? Because for most, our earliest childhood memories revolve around the cocina in our homes where cooking alongside mami and abuela were a regular happening. No tengo hambre is basically a swear word, si?

Yet in today’s culture of Instagram perfection and with more focus on eating healthy for longevity and looks – we may need to cut back on some of the more traditional eats (think: those loaded with lard).

We’ve gathered a lengthy list of our most delicious favorites. But by no means is this a warning to stay away from these classic foods for good, after all, rich foods mean rich traditions.

1. Flautas

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Flautas get their name from their shape. These crowd-pleasing favorites consist of corn tortillas being filled with everything from shredded meats and cheeses to onions and papas.

Once they are filled – then the magic happens, as in throwing them into the fryer magic. Out comes a crispy, warm, cousin to the taquito, bursting with savory yumminess – that you should delight in sparingly.

2. Tortillas con queso

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Maybe you call these round beauties “quesadillas” or “pupusas de Queso” but no matter what region of the world you eat them in, one thing is for certain, cheese stuffed tortillas make for good eats.

But all that cheese can add up to a lot of saturated fat and higher cholesterol levels.

3. Ceviche

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Ay Dios mio, surely this dish is delicious and not unhealthy. True, but those fried tostadas we use as a fork substitute to shovel this succulent seafood dish into our mouths – yeah, not so healthy.

4. Queso Fundido

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With this dish it’s all in the name, FUN-dido! This ooey-gooey, molten dish of cheese has a place in our collective corazones. Add some tequila, throw in some chilies for a bit of heat or just serve this pot of deliciousness up as is. This is definitely a celebration kind of meal to be enjoyed on occasion.

5.Huevos Rancheros

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This traditional Mexican breakfast packs a lot of paunch, I mean, punch. Fried eggs, refried beans, and cheese smothered in a creamy tomato sauce and heaped on top of a warm tortilla.

Most of us could dive into a plate of huevos rancheros morning, noon, or night. But keep in mind, all the fried and refried bits make this classic high in calories.

6. Chiles Rellenos

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Cheesy-stuffed chilies, breaded and fried to perfection. There are endless variations of this Mexican dish being created all over the globe. So if you can’t see yourself limiting your consumption of chilies – try one of the healthier takes on this staple, such as broiling or baking the peppers instead of frying.

7. Chorizo

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The main ingredient is pork fat… see, it’s dripping with health! Okay, it’s not, but chorizo is muy deliciosa—it can be served smoked, sweet, spicy but what it isn’t, is heart healthy. So, take it easy on the sausage mis amigos.

8. Platanos maduros fritos

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A true staple in any Latin kitchen—of course your more traditional relatives might argue ripe plantains are the only real way to make this dish to lock down the sweetest fried treat possible.  

9. Hot Dogs

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We’ll call this dish “new-age” Latin, even though bacon wrapped dogs have been associated with Sonora since the ‘40s. These pork masterpieces have been Latino inspired since their inception.

Popular toppings include chilies, sour cream, even crumbed chorizo — ay the possibilities!

10. Tostadas

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The picture a tostada paints is pretty clear—it’s a “toasted” (and by that we mean deep fried) tortilla of excellence. Again, eating deep fried food on a regular basis increases a myriad of health risks, think diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.

11. Nacatamal

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A Nicaraguan specialty, nacatamales are seen a lot especially in legit eateries and possibly your abuelita’s freezer. Wrapped in plantain leaves and stemmed, it’s hard to believe this beautiful dish isn’t healthy. I mean there’s leaves involved people! But the base for the tamal is usually a lard dough mixture—definitely not something you’ll see on a recommended food pyramid.

12. Sopes

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Again with the frying, again with the variants, but sopes hit-the-spot 100% of the time.  We get that it’s hard to wave away these thicker versions of tortillas, presented with mouth-watering meats, vegetables, and cheeses. Can it be healthy if it’s literally fried just so it can hold up against its massive toppings load? You know the answer…

13. Empanadas and Pastelitos

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It’s an empanada, it’s a pastelito, it’s a Latino version of a calzone – whatever you want to call it, these meat-stuffed turnovers, fried golden brown are hard to resist and hard on your health.

14. Flan

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Flan is just one of those desserts…caramelized sugar and a creamy egg custard whipped up to edible glee. It may require just three base ingredients, but this confection can send you and your blood sugar soaring.

15. Arroz Con Pollo

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This dish goes by a few different names. Whether you know it as Arroz con pollo, Locrio de pollo or simply mama’s chicken and rice, this classic is briny, aromatic and oh so flavorful. With healthy-esque components like chicken, peas (hello, Goya) and onions, it seems like a fairly fit dish. But given that we usually like the darker meat and a fair amount (read: lots and lots) of rice loaded in, this meal is infused with high levels of sodium.

16. Tacos

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Tacos have made their mark in America; food trucks, taco shops, and even gourmet eateries offering these incredible concoctions up to hungry patrons. While there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on where tacos came from, the most common theory is they were developed by mine workers in Mexico. Something to think about as you work your way through a plate of pastor or pescado tacos on occasion, of course.

17. Churros

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Churros are the enemy and by that we mean way too good to stop at one. These dessert items are seen throughout Latin America sold by street vendors and restaurants alike. Like most things on our list, these delights are made from fried dough then sprinkled with sugar, drizzled with chocolate, made into magical unicorn horns… you know ALL the things.

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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