Healthy Eating

Latin Light

Ingrid Hoffmann, host of the Food Network&rsquo;s <em>Simply Delicioso</em>, says maintaining her weight is easy: She just eats what she cooks!

Latin Light
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Stock your cabinets and fridge with these must-have Latin American superfoods:

SALSA. Hoffmann recommends this super-quick, salsa-based salad: Combine a medium jar of organic low-sodium red salsa with a can of black beans, then dice a small carrot, a celery stalk, and a mango on top. Benefits: The tomatoes in red salsa contain heart-healthy lycopene.
FRUIT. When fresh mango, papaya, and guava aren’t available, Hoffmann recommends canned pulp. “Mango pulp (available at is great in salad dressings or in place of lime in ceviche,” she says. Benefit: Many South American fruits have high levels of vitamins A and C, and papayas have enzymes that aid in digestion. This baked banana recipe gives you good nutrition and decadent flavors.
BEANS. Black, pinto, and garbanzo beans are great with a little minced garlic and oil, in soups, or with meat dishes. “I use dried beans when I have time—they’re tastier and lower in sodium than canned, but they need to soak in water before you start cooking,” says Hoffmann. Benefit: The combination of fiber and protein in beans is a source of longterm energy. Check out her recipe, Dad's Black Beans.
SPICES. “I love achiote and cumin,” Hoffmann enthuses. Achiote seeds add sweetness and a light peppery note to dishes. Cumin seeds, popular in Cuba and Mexico, bring out the natural sweetness in other foods. Hoffmann also recommends dried chile powder—made from chipotles or poblanos—to up the flavor without adding fat, sugar, salt, or calories. Benefits: Anchiote and cumin are loaded with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
CHILE PEPPERS. Jalapeños, chipotles, poblanos, and yellow peppers add fiery flavor if you leave the seeds in, or a milder heat if you remove them. “They satisfy the taste buds without adding calories,” says Hoffmann. Benefit: Anti-inflammatory capsaicin in peppers can relieve joint pain and may improve circulation and metabolism.
TORTILLAS. Choose whole wheat tortillas and top them with chicken strips sautéed in olive oil, red salsa, and chopped cilantro, suggests Hoffmann. Benefit: Whole wheat features soluble fiber, which helps keep blood sugar and cholesterol in balance. Try her tasty Tuna & Mango Tacos here!

Food is fuel for Ingrid Hoffmann, but she also uses certain foods as energizing and pain-relieving remedies.

PINEAPPLES. “For arthritis, I boil pineapple rinds and drink the water,” Hoffmann confides. (Studies suggest that the bromelain in pineapple can help fight inflammation throughout the body.) ˘
AVOCADOS. “I eat two or three avocados every day,” says Hoffmann. “People always ask, ‘Aren’t they fattening?’ They have good fats in them—when I get my blood work done, I always have low LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol)—and my doctor says it’s because of all those avocados.” This Chicken & Avocado Salad recipe combines "good" fats with lean protein.
PLANTAINS. Hoffmann says plantains neutralize stomach acid and are great for soothing ulcers. “Everybody thinks they have to be greasy and fried,” she says. “Not at all: Just peel a plantain, slice it crosswise, rub a little olive oil on it, sprinkle it with parsley, salt, pepper, and chile powder and bake it. To me, that’s a lot tastier than French fries—and I only eat about half a plantain.” For her complete Parsley-&-Chile-Crusted Baked Plantains recipe, click here.