Healthy Latin American Meals You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

First, we want to remind you that eating healthier absolutely in no way, means that you have to give up your favorite cultural foods

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Photo: Unsplash/ Nadine Primeau

First, we want to remind you that eating healthier absolutely in no way, means that you have to give up your favorite cultural foods. So many Latin American dishes are brimming with nutrients that will fuel and strengthen your body. Regardless of whether your goals are for overall health or because you want to lose a few pounds, there are plenty of Latin American recipes that are on the lighter side. There are a number of lower calorie seafood dishes, meat-free options and some delicious and nutritious sides that will totally satisfy any craving for that Latin American flavor profile.

Here are some delicious LATAM dishes that not are not only good for you, but they’re relatively quick and easy to prepare too, so you’ll even be able to stick with your healthy eating plan on busy days.wp_*posts


Calabacitas is a delicious Mexican side dish with Indigenous roots that includes summer squash, corn, peppers, onions and just a bit of cheese. The veggies are sautéed with herbs and spices like cumin, garlic and oregano to create a super flavorful vegetable dish that goes with just about everything. You can even scoop it into a whole grain tortilla to make a quick and filling veggie taco.

Get the full recipe from Isabel Eats.wp_*posts

Nopales Salad

Raw nopales (cactus) salad is a super light and healthy but still quite flavorful side dish to serve with just about any dinner, or even to have for lunch with the protein of your choice. It’s a combination of nopales, tomato, pepper, cilantro, onion, avocado and little bit of queso fresco, dressed simply with lime juice and olive oil.

Get the full recipe from Mexico in My Kitchen.


Ají de Aguacate

Technically, Colombian ají de aguacate is a sauce, but it’s thick enough to serve as a dip which makes it a perfect healthy snack option as well as a condiment for things like baked empanadas, grilled meats and potatoes. It’s a savory combination of avocados, habanero peppers (which are a metabolism booster), lime, vinegar, hard-boiled egg, onion and cilantro. Everything is blended together to create a velvety dish that feels rich and decadent but is full of nutrients.

Get the full recipe from My Colombian Recipes.wp_*posts

Mexican Fruit Cups

Nothing is simpler or more satisfying when it comes to healthy eating than fresh fruit, especially when you eat it Mexican style, seasoned with Tajin and just a tiny bit of chamoy. Any fruit works, but sweet pineapple, mango and watermelon are particularly delicious with these savory, spicy, tangy flavors.

Get the full recipe from Isabel Eats.wp_*posts

Octopus Salad

Pulpo—or octopus—is a very traditional ingredient in many parts of the Caribbean and coastal areas of Latin America. It’s healthy and low-calorie, and when transformed into a salad full of bell peppers, garlic, olives and herbs, it’s savory and toothsome. It only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, but  it gets much tastier after it sits for an hour or two. That’s totally hands-off time in the fridge, that you’ll have to chill or tick some other things off your to-do list.

Get the full recipe from Delish D’Lites.wp_*posts

Chicken Nachos

Yup, you read that right. It’s actually super simple and fast to make a healthier version of nachos. Even if you’re on a diet, the most nutritious meals are well-balanced and include carbs, protein and plenty of veggies, just like these “lighter” loaded nachos. The base is multi-grain tortilla chips, which are topped with shredded chicken breast, a load of veggies, a lower-calorie homemade cheese sauce and a Greek yogurt sauce.

Get the full recipe from The Noshery.wp_*posts

Shrimp Ceviche

Any seafood lover who has been to Mexico knows that Mexican-style ceviche is out of this world. It’s fresh and light and packed with flavor. This one only takes 15 minutes to prepare, but you do have to let it sit for about an hour before eating, which actually makes it a great make-ahead dish. It’s made with raw shrimp, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, lime juice and a few seasonings to bring out all the flavor.

Get the full recipe from My Latina Table.wp_*posts

Avocado Salad

Latinxs have been eating avocado salad in various forms pretty much forever. No matter what you put in it, it ends up tasty, and of course, it’s full of nutrients. This one is a simple mixture of the avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro that takes just a few minutes to throw together. Add some grilled or sautéed chicken breast or shrimp, and it’s a perfect meal that’s done in no time.

Get the full recipe from Isabel Eats.wp_*posts

Guineos en Escabeche

A dish that many Puerto Ricans hold dear, guineos en escabeche is basically marinated green bananas. The bananas are boiled until tender and mixed with olive oil, onions, green olives and sometimes, pimientos. So there are lots of nutrients from the bananas and healthy fat from the avocado. The taste is addicting, and while it’s not low-calorie, it’s full of good-for-you ingredients.

Get the full recipe from The Noshery.wp_*posts

Mango Salsa

Whether you’re adding it to your tacos or topping fish or chicken with it, fresh mango salsa adds major flavor to any dish. That boring-but-healthy chicken breast will be totally transformed by this nutrient-dense salsa that includes mango, bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. It’s simple to make with a few fresh ingredients and tastes incredible.

Get the full recipe from Delish D’Lites.

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