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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.