Chef and television star Ingrid Hoffman rethinks "comfort food" for a new generation of health-conscious latinos.
Arepas, chorizo, rice and beans. Platanos and calabaza. So much leche condensada. The Latin diet in anchored by a pantry of truly stick-to-your-ribs ingredients, foods that make you feel all warm and cozy and ready for a siesta. For a culture that lives primarily in warm-weather, tropical climates, “we have a tendency to load up on carbohydrates,” says Ingrid Hoffmann, laughing. But it is taking a toll on our bodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 percent of Hispanic adults in the United States are expected to develop the chronic disease Type 2 diabetes (a rate that is higher than for the average adult, who has a 40 percent likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes). So the question is: How do you tell a community that equates good food with celebrations, love and family feasts that those same foods could threaten all of the above? “I am a big believer that food has everything to do with managing disease. If you just make some small alterations to the recipes that you love, your system will run so much better,” says Hoffmann. In her new book, Latin Comfort Foods Made Healthy, she does just that. Published in partnership with the American Diabetes Association, its mission is to help Hispanics buck a frightening trend. By adding fiber to carb-heavy favorites (arepas with oats) and making smart substitutions (phyllo-wrapped empanadas), Hoffmann charts a new course for a healthy Latino lifestyle. “Eating vibrant makes you feel vibrant,” she says. “Once you start feeling this natural high and waking up with more energy, you are never going to want to go back to that old way of eating. Guaranteed.”