As a diverse country we’re capable of embracing the culinary traditions we are most fond of. We are also capable of celebrating them in a healthier way. We must think creatively and substitute the ingredients in our favorite recipes that aren’t as healthy, for more nutritious alternatives without altering the essence of the dish.
1.- Add a splash of flavor: the mixture of herbs and spices can take us all the way back to the earliest dishes in our history, like the Muslim period and the discovery of the Americas. Add flavor to your food by mixing herbs and spices, such as chili peppers, ginger, pepper, curry, and cilantro; all great replacements for salt and saturated fat.
2.- Drinks anyone?: our culture, like many others, has plenty of tasty drinks to offer, including a wide variety of fruit juices, spirits, strong coffees, and sweet teas. Consider using frozen fruit to create a delicious smoothie, or adding spices, nonfat milk products and a pinch of sugar to your drinks. At the store, choose those that are lower in sugar and fat. Limit calories by drinking water and other diet drinks instead of soda.
3.- Cook with other people: learn to cook traditional and regional cuisines from people who use authentic recipes and ingredients; explore new ways of improving the nutritional value of your own family recipes. Cooking at home allows you experiment with a wider variety of dishes. If necessary, adapt your recipes by avoiding salsas and creamy sauces; add more veggies or fix them in the oven instead of using the fryer.
4.- Use ingredients you’re familiar with to create an exotic meal: for example, add curry to chickpeas, cilantro to brown rice, or mango to salads and smoothies. One half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
5.- Check for salt and sodium levels in the products you buy: all packaged foods display the amount of sodium they contain. Use low-sodium soy sauce, and broths and canned beans “with no added salt”. Keep an eye on those nutrition facts and only buy products with little or no sodium.
6.- Combine cultures: today, our country offers a great variety of cuisines and recipes, from many different cultures. Celebrate diversity and look for plates with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Our Mediterranean diet is a great source of inspiration.
7.- Enjoy cross-cultural gatherings: celebrate traditions, especially those that involve an active lifestyle. Traditional dances, sports, and games are a great way to exercise and have fun at the same time. Balance your diet with regular exercise.
8.- Teach kids what’s important: they learn how to cook from their parents and elders. Show them how to prepare foods and dishes from other traditions. Let them have a taste of your recipes and share with them anecdotes and customs related to their own backgrounds. Expose your kids to different cultures, but always remember to avoid high-calorie ingredients and foods.
9.- Be smart when dining out: tempting dishes, which can lead to overindulgence, will be at your fingertips. Order food with fewer calories, like those cooked with less oil, skewers (kebabs), or whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce. Share dishes with others, or ask for a container before your meal so you can set aside part of it, and enjoy the leftovers the next day.
10.- Don’t forget! Our app has all sorts of different meals! We designed it with your health in mind. Our goal is for you to eat the healthy and balanced way, combining ingredients from every food group. The program offers practical information, as well as tips, tools, and recipes that will help you enjoy a healthier diet.