National Hispanic Heritage month is observed every year from September 15th to October 15th to acknowledge the contributions of those American citizens of Central and South American, Mexican, Caribbean and Spanish descent.
During these 4 weeks, we celebrate Hispanic history, culture and community in many different ways. One way to learn more and celebrate the Hispanic culture is through food!
Typical Hispanic Foods
The Hispanic community includes Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Tropical and exotic spices, herbs and condiments designate a lot of our foods by giving them their unique taste that varies from country to country. Some of the most popular Hispanic foods include tacos, fajitas, ceviche, paella, tamales, empanadas, and arroz con pollo (rice and beans). While these dishes are best known in North America, Hispanic countries offer a plethora of flavorful meals that are not only delicious to the palate but provide several beneficial nutrients to our bodies.
Healthy Hispanic Ingredients
There are several ingredients featured in Hispanic dishes that offer health benefits, while others consumed in moderation allow us to enjoy and celebrate the Hispanic culture through food.
Avocados are a good source of vitamins C, E, K and B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Their high levels of healthy fat can help you feel fuller between meals and in moderation can be used to maintain appropriate cholesterol levels.
Beans are a vegetarian protein source packed with fiber, iron, folate and antioxidants. With many varieties: black beans, red beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and black-eyed peas, this powerhouse food aids in protecting the body from free radicals that can cause cancer, can prevent neural tube defects in the fetus during pregnancy, and lower blood glucose levels or even prevent diabetes.
Papaya is a fruit that contains potassium, folic acid, antioxidants and more vitamin C than an orange. This orange fruit boosts immune system and helps fight off inflammation, as well as improves digestion and helps prevent heart disease.
Cilantro is an herb that often gets confused with parsley, but has a distinct flavor that enhances a variety of dishes. It is a great source of antioxidants, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
A plantain is a fruit that looks like a big banana. It can be consumed in any stage of ripeness, and is rich in carbohydrates and a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C and B6. The resistant starch supports gut health. Disadvantages: Many times, this delicious fruit is cooked in ways that can come with unnecessary amounts of sodium or fat.
Better known as chili peppers, chiles help reduce inflammation in the body through an active component called capsaicin. In addition, they are a good source of vitamins C, B6, K, A, potassium, and a powerful antioxidant that has been used for wound healing and immune function.