There’s this very American mentality that Latin cuisine isn’t healthy. Sure, starchy carbs and processed meats aren’t great for you but there are a lot of foods and ingredients—vegetables especially—that our abuelos and abuelas grew up eating that are filled with loads of nutrients. It’s the processing, dairy and even certain meats that have fattened up the Latino diet. But if you go back to the way our ancestors were eating centuries ago, you’d learn that the Latino diet can actually be quite healthy. In fact, there’s a whole decolonizing diet movement around it that a lot of health-conscious Latinas are adapting. They’ve even mastered how to decolonize some of their favorite Latino holiday dishes. The movement of decolonizing diets simply means embracing the plant-based native foods that came from the land that our indigenous and African ancestors ate and connected with.
“Decolonizing food during the holidays means asking both my grandmothers what they ate, ingredients they used, and ways they prepared food during the holidays back in our home country of the Dominican Republic and making it with them,” says food justice activist and founder of Woke Foods, Ysanet Batista. “It is important for me to learn from elders in my family how to make dishes they’ve been making for the holidays as a way to keep myself connected to them, our culture, and traditions. I feel a deep sense of love when I prepare pastels en hola from scratch using fresh ingredients with my paternal grandmother.”
Batista along with a few other Latinx food justice activists, chefs and food experts break down how you can decolonize your Latino holiday dishes while still enjoying the flavors you grew up loving!