Shifting to a plant-based diet:
Latin cuisine is a term used to include a combination of different foods, backgrounds, and cultures that principally mix the Latin American native indigenous cuisine with African, English, and Spanish cuisine. The roots of Latin American dishes had plant-based foods as their plates' main or only component. A great example is when the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, natives cooked primarily with chili peppers, black beans, tomatoes, squash, and corn. The Spanish culture then introduced cattle, pigs, and other livestock. The popularity of plant-based diets is moving many Latin American communities back to their origins or roots, where plant-based foods were the main component of their plate. Beans and other protein-rich plant-based products are being used as substitutes in many traditional dishes, taking center stage throughout many countries once again. Latin cuisine is known for its diversity in its dishes that incorporate spices and herbs in “adobos” (stocks) and “sofrito” (sauce or puree bases), which gives this cuisine its distinctive flavor. Dairy also plays an important role in the Latin American community. However, numerous plant-based options have made it easy to replace them with options that can offer the same or increased nutritional value.
Portion plate mockup:
How to eat:
Building a well-balanced Latin American plate is rather simple. Many regions achieve this thanks to the variety of fruit, vegetables, beans, and grains consumed. Although tofu, tempeh, and seitan are not local food items commonly consumed in Latin America, these can easily replace animal protein in many traditional dishes. A well-balanced Latin American plate can include tortillas or rice under the grains
group (1/4 of the plate); beans, tofu, or tempeh in the protein group (1/4 of the plate); and a mix of starchy or non-starchy vegetables in the vegetable group (1/2 of the plate).
Building your plate:
Vegetables - cabbage, carrots, cassava, chard, chayote, chili peppers, corn, eggplant, garlic, jicama, kale, lettuce, nopales, onion, okra, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, onion, okra, spinach, yams, yuca, zucchini.
Fruit - acai, avocados, bananas, breadfruit, cacao, caimito, cherimoya, coconut, grapefruit, soursop (guanabana), guava, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, oranges, papayas, passion fruit, pineapple, plantains, pomegranate, prickly pear, sapote, starfruit, sugarcane, tamarind, tangerine, tomatillos, tomatoes.
Whole grains - amaranth, arepas, breads, corn, pasta, quinoa, rice, tortillas.
Proteins - black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pigeon peas, pinto beans., lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan. Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pecans, pepitas.
Dairy (substitutes) - Plant-based alternatives for milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, etc.