Consider dark, leafy greens—like the fresh kale here—a power food. Few ingredients pack as much nutritional punch. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Consider dark, leafy greens—like the fresh kale here—a power food. Few ingredients pack as much nutritional punch. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

3 ways to add Latin flavor to healthy, leafy greens

All week long we’re focusing on our five food resolutions of 2013, with lots of delicious recipes and tips on how to eat better this year. From posting yummy recipes incorporating whole grains to providing healthy protein alternatives to the usual chuletas and carnitas, NBC Latino is sharing how you can kick off 2013 in a healthy way.

It’s been said again and again: eat your vegetables. If you come from a Latin family (or at least my Latin family) that meant eat your boniato. Or your plátano. Or your maiz. Of course, that’s not the kind nutritionists and doctors are referring to; they really mean: Eat your dark, leafy green vegetables—like kale, swiss chard and spinach—which are fiber, vitamin and mineral powerhouses. They are, in fact, the number one food you can eat regularly (and in larger portions!) to improve almost every aspect of your health, helping prevent heart disease, diabetes and maybe even cancer. Today, we bring your three delicious ways to combine dark leafy greens with classic Latin ingredients, so your veggie dishes still have plenty of sabor.

An important piece of advice when you’re starting to cook with these veggies: resist the temptation to overcook them. If you, say, boil them until they’re overly tender you’ve “cooked away” most of the vitamins and minerals you were hoping to get in the first place. In this recipe, the kale is oven-baked for about 20 minutes until it turns into crispy little chips—a highly addictive and totally delicious alternative the potato chips.

Crispy kale chips with pimentón

Crispy kale chip with pimentón. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Crispy kale chips with pimentón. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

An important piece of advice when you’re starting to cook with  veggies: resist the temptation to overcook them. If you, say, boil them until they’re overly tender, you’ve “cooked away” most of the vitamins and minerals you were hoping to get in the first place. In this recipe, the kale is oven-baked for just about 20 minutes until it turns into crispy little chips—a highly addictive and totally delicious alternative the potato chips.

2 bunches kale, rinsed, dried and chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces (or a large bag of pre-chopped kale, available at many supermarkets now)

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp smoked, hot pimentón

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)

1. Heat to 325 degrees. Place kale leaves in a single layer on baking sheets. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with pimentón, garlic powder and salt. Use your hand to mix the kale and make sure the seasoning is well incorporated and spread out.

2. Place baking sheet in the over and bake for about 20 minutes, until the kale has turned dark, reduced in size and turned crispy. (It will reduce in size by about half.) Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Potato, swiss chard and mushroom tacos

Blue corn tortillas are folded over a fragrant sauté of potato, swiss chard and mushrooms for a vegetarian taco that's anything but boring.

Blue corn tortillas are folded over a fragrant sauté of potato, swiss chard and mushrooms for a vegetarian taco that’s anything but boring. (Photo/Courtesy Penny de los Santos)

From Hugo Ortega, the Houston-based James Beard nominated chef, comes this totally tasty vegetarian version of a taco. Notice there’s no chorizo or piles of cheese here, just hearty vegetables sautéed in a little olive oil to bring out their natural sugars and flavor and ultimately make you feel  you’re really biting into something. Click here for the recipe.

Veggie-stuffed quesadillas

Quesadillas - overflowing with veggies between whole wheat tortillas - are a healthy dinner option.

Quesadillas – overflowing with veggies between whole wheat tortillas – are a healthy dinner option. (Photo/Nina Terrero)

If you or your family haven’t yet developed a taste for vegetables, this low-fat cheese filled quesadilla is a great way to start “sneaking” greens into dishes. In this case, it’s fresh spinach, but feel free to add any vegetable. Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the cheese, and try to reach for a whole wheat tortilla to really amp up the nutritional value. Click here for the recipe.

Comments

  1. This is a good tip particularly to those new to the
    blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this
    one. A must read article!

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