food & drink

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

Twitter @carnitasmexica2

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

Twitter@IsmarMiranda01

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

Twitter@CasaSolyMar1

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

Twitter@CncharliesLV

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

Instagram@cocinacaseramx   

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

Twitter@Sergio_Perez13

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

Twitter@xchuyx3

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

Twitter@recipesallkinds

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

Instagram@Jojoalaire

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

twitter@TacosMexi

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

Instagram@avaughan6585

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

Instagram@_chicaflash

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

https://www.instagram.com/elrincon.demipais/

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

Instagram@pedrolambertini

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

Instagram@rosychavez76

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

Twitter@TonyOnFood

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

Instagram@foodylandia

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.

Make A Splash At Friendsgiving This Year With These Easy-To-Make Latino Dishes

Food & Drink

Make A Splash At Friendsgiving This Year With These Easy-To-Make Latino Dishes

@tacotraplord / @TheKitchenista / Twitter

Many of us will not be going home for Thanksgiving this year for a number of reasons. Maybe you just started a new job and can’t get the time off. It might just be too expensive to make the trip. Whatever reason keeps you from going home, there is still hope and it comes in the form of Friendsgiving. The holiday really boils down to food, friends and fun conversations as we get ready for the end of the year.

This year, we’ve come up with ways that you can be the most celebrated human at Friendsgiving. It’ll just take a little preparation and cooking but you will not be taking Takis again this year.

One of the easiest ways to score big is to bring some coquito.

CREDIT: @meeleza / Twitter

You might be thinking that this is really a Christmas drink and you wouldn’t technically be wrong. However, why keep this delicious Puerto Rican eggnog limited to just one month and one holiday? It is not as heavy as American eggnog and will make everyone at the party all the merrier.

Arroz is going to be the staple everyone forgets about.

CREDIT: @fcbsnathalie / Twitter

Rice is as important to a large dinner as the cutlery. Plus, it isn’t something most people outside of Latino culture think about when they think about Thanksgiving. It will be as unexpected and well received as you might imagine.

Cuban beans made proper.

CREDIT: @russellmanthy / Twitter

All beans are good and created deliciously, but there’s just something about Cuban beans. The time, love, dedication and spices needed to get this dish just right is something to be admired. You’ll definitely stand out if you show up with this scrumptious dish.

Picadillo is the crown jewel.

CREDIT: @TheKitchenista / Twitter

If someone is already bringing rice to Friendsgiving, this is a good bet. Bring the flavor and the meat to top that rice with. If you really want to be impressive, make a vegan take on the dish and surprise all of the vegetarians who never get remembered on this day.

Pupusas in lieu of utensils.

CREDIT: @tacotraplord / Twitter

Pupusas are meant to be eaten with your hands so make sure someone brings some napkins. You can use the curtido and salsa for the pupusa. Just don’t get offended if some people use it to eat their rice and beans.

Tostones are always a crowd pleaser.

CREDIT: @nrfe01 / Twitter

These savory fried bites of heaven are so simple and so loved by everyone who eats them they you have to consider bringing them. The best part is that the dip you make for it is just a chopped yellow onion in olive oil. It’s just that easy.

Be the person that brings the green.

CREDIT: @vegancuts / Twitter

Speaking of health, salads can be a nice and unexpected addition to any Thanksgiving. If you’re here for the pressure of bringing a bomb salad that people will love, try this vegan Caesar salad by @vegancuts. Trust, you’ll be appreciated.

Taquitos in bulk because that’s how we do.

CREDIT: @jennfax / Twitter

If your Friendsgiving is happening the weekend after family Thanksgiving, use the leftover sweet potatoes (and everything else) to stuff in these babies. They will definitely do the trick.

Stuffed Canoas are the easiest, cheapest option for excited consumption.

CREDIT: @BorikenPDX / Twitter

I mean, it really doesn’t get easier. Ask your mami to make you some picadillo and then stuff a bunch of platanos and roast in the oven.

Just a couple gallons of queso.

CREDIT: @Fox4Natalie / Twitter

There is never a wrong time, or way, to eat cheese. It’s Friendsgiving so you should expect to eat way too much and enjoy a confusing array of food. Adding a little bit of queso dip to the plate will make it all so much better.

Or you can make some homemade salsa picante.

CREDIT: @kintiman / Twitter

This is a more intensive endeavor if you make it right, but you’re reading this to become the MVP, pues, dale. Put in the work and be glorified until the next Friendsgiving.

If you’re displaced from home, bring the taste of home with pan de bono.

CREDIT: @5HCcSogno / Twitter

It’s the pan that I only ever eat when I’m home in Miami, but if a friend brought these fresh baked I’d kiss them on the mouth. So, beware.

Give these delectable croquetas a chance to shine.

CREDIT: @DevourMadrid / Twitter

Panadería? What panadería? Croquetas are pretty easy to make, believe it or not. There are so many variations that you can find online to make sure you make the best version for your friends.

Guava pastelitos will crush the competition.

CREDIT: @TheKitchenista / Twitter

I know about a thousand ways to make these the lazy way, with straight up Pilsbury pastry dough and guava paste, but if you have more time and resources you can try making the dough from scratch.

Churros con chocolate or café.

CREDIT: @tatii0294 / Twitter

Pack your Café Bustelo and whip up some churros to be the main star post dinner. There isn’t a Latino alive who doesn’t have a little cafecito after a feast to keep the party going.

Stuff that cornbread.

CREDIT: “Mexican Cornbread” Digital Image. Southern Bite. 12 November 2018.

We’re not making weak cornbread from a box okay? But you are getting a can of creamed corn and self rising corn flour. We’re not that domestic okay. Combine with a couple eggs and your favorite meats, cheese, chives and onion. Bake in a cast iron and reheat at the party. This is truly a show stopper.

Yucca is a must for any kind of pot luck gathering.

CREDIT: “Yucca puree” Digital Image. PETA Latino. 11 November 2018.

You can use them to make all sorts of dishes. Puree them to make them look like a better version of mashed potatoes. It is a root so you can treat them like any other root veggie.

Or make some unforgettable Yucca fries.

CREDIT: @sall3n / Twitter

Only you know your audience. Maybe fried food is not appropriate for your friends or it might be the thing they need most. Use these yuccas as needed. Easy and beloved.

Dessert must: arroz con leche.

CREDIT: @PatiJinich / Twitter

Use any milk you choose to make this dish. If you have some lactose intolerant amigos joining the party, you might want to skip the regular milk and use any of the many alternatives to make this dish everything for everyone.

And, of course, flan.

CREDIT: @505Nomad / Twitter

The bottom line is that whoever goes home with an empty plate is the winner. We hope this helps you be that person.


READ: 15 Latino Sides To Impress Everyone At Your Friendsgiving This Year

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