13 Healthy Cuban Recipes
You may not be able to travel right now but these healthy Cuban recipes are easy to make at home.
Since the first time I visited Cuba three years ago this is the LONGEST I’ve been away.
I am now reaching a year and there are so many things I miss – especially Cuban food.
This may surprise you as Cuban food gets such a bad rap.
I think it’s because at one time people only ate at all inclusive resorts where NONE of the food is usually good.
And so I spent my first two years there researching the best restaurants in Varadero so people would get off the resort.
And I wrote this guide to my favourite 35 Havana restaurants by neighbourhood.
The biggest thing I learned was Cubans do Cuban food really well.
International food not so much. If you want tacos you really need to go to Mexico.
Is Cuban Food Healthy?
At its core there are lots of healthy Cuban recipes. Almost everything is made from scratch and organic farming in Cuba is the norm.
That’s because no one can afford pesticide. It does not exist in Cuba.
And meat can be expensive as it’s often imported.
So some of my favourite main dishes, like garbanzos fritos (tomato based chickpeas) just use a small amount of pork for flavouring.
And as an island, seafood is almost always an option.
Beef isn’t the most popular protein. However, the national dish of Cuba is ropa vieja, which is shredded beef.
And picadillo, which uses ground beef is common to find.
Chicken is very popular, even though it is usually imported. And pork is always one of the most delicious things to eat in Cuba.
Cuba has some of the best avocados, plantains and fantastic root vegetables like yuca, taro root (malanga) and sweet potato (boniato).
Unfortunately most Cubans don’t like vegetables.
So a “salad” usually consists of a few slices of cucumber and tomato on some cabbage.
But to be fair, that is consistent in much of Latin America.
Cubans eat lots of rice so expect it at every meal. It is not grown locally, but usually imported from Vietnam.
Cuban rice is usually white or congri, which is with black beans mixed in.
For a treat some restaurants may serve amarillo or Spanish influenced yellow rice.
So is Cuban food healthy? I think so. It’s a balanced diet built for sustenance.
Is Cuban Food Spicy?
Cuban food is never spicy. If you like spice you need to bring hot sauce with you. They do not use chili peppers like in Mexico or the Caribbean.
Ground cumin is a common ingredient. And while I haven’t seen bell peppers at the stores I do see other types of mild peppers.
I have also never seen spicy peppers. And I find my Cuban friends are pretty adverse to spicy food.
Healthy Cuban Recipes
I haven’t shared a lot of Cuban recipes here because I thought I’d be back on the island soon.
But as 2020 has stretched into 2021 I’ve realized it’s time to make these Cuban dishes at home.
Here is a compilation of great healthy Cuban food recipes from other food bloggers, with a few of my own.
And I’ll keep updating this list as I add more Cuban recipes to the site. If you have any requests just leave a comment below!
Not a fan of flan? This Cuban flan recipe will change your mind – and it’s naturally gluten-free!
While dessert isn’t considered the healthiest, unless you’re going to have some Cuban fruit, this is a really great healthy-ish option.
This healthy Cuban recipe started with a wealthy socialite in Havana in the 1930s. It’s not quite easy to find now outside the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana.
It may seem like a curious combination with turkey breast, cream cheese and strawberry jam but the Elena Ruz sandwich is delicious.
Cuban chicken fricasse is an easy and delicious chicken and vegetable stew using everyday ingredients.
This Cuban steak with onions is an easy low-carb week night meal made in under 20 minutes!
This comforting Cuban dinner is made with cumin spiced black beans, hearty collard greens, and sweet pan-fried plantains over rice.
Need a quick delicious recipe to serve the family tonight? No kitchen in Cuba is complete without a pressure cooker
The look no further than this tasty Instant Pot ropa vieja made classic ingredients for a lick your plate clean eat the whole family will love.
Mojo is very common in Cuban food and one of the easiest ways to add flavour to healthy Cuban recipes.
In this case it is used with roasted pork, and goes beautifully with plantains and the famous Cuban black beans.
Succulent slow cooked pulled pork and black beans. tender and juicy pork, this recipe makes a big batch and freezes beautifully.
Healthy Cuban recipes can be vegetarian and vegan too!
This plantain soup is a great way to showing how Cubans use local ingredients to make filling side dishes.
Fast and easy, Cuban picadillo is made with a few pantry staples and a pack of ground beef.
It is a Super simple Cuban recipe and kids love it, too!
Bistec de palomilla is one of the easiest Cuban staple recipes. A tender steak covered with sautéed bell peppers and onions.
Crema de vie is a Cuban eggnog recipe and great way to spice things up at Christmas in Cuba.
It is a very rich drink if made traditionally but to keep it under the healthy Cuban recipes umbrella I suggest just having a little bit.
After all moderation is everything.
Another great Cuban drink, that is healthy in moderation.
But even more importantly it has a fantastic story behind it, and is one of the few drinks I think is best had outside Cuba.
What other healthy Cuban recipes do you think should be added to the list?