Healthy Pupusas?

It’s a constant battle. One day I’ll try to be more active and make healthier choices, other days I give in to every craving that pops into my mind – this weekend was no different. Despite watching the Olympics and feeling guilty that I can’t even manage a consistent 20 minutes of activity each day while athletes are capable of so much more, I was hit by an intense yearning for pupusas … and horchata … and tamales fritos.

I have learned a lot in life, but I have yet to fully overcome my hedonistic nature – this manifests itself in various ways but most notably through what I eat. Suegra used to laugh at me when we’d go to the Latino market because I would come out of the store with various kinds of candy instead of normal groceries like other adults. “Sos como una niña” – You’re like a little girl, she would say to me, shaking her head.

So this weekend, this niña had Carlos take me to a pupusería to fulfill my latest craving.

Pupusas de queso con curtido y salsa, a tamal de elote frito, platanos with crema y frijoles, and horchata to drink. (I actually gave most of the platanos to Carlos and my older son and only had a few bites of the beans but it’s still more food than any one person should be eating, and also not the healthiest food either.)

I went for a walk after that meal, to put a small dent in the damage at least, but sometimes I wish I would crave healthier food. My suegra used to crave mangoes and would enjoy them, slurping the sticky juices with her eyes closed, declaring them to be perfectly ripe and delicious to anyone who would listen. I, on the other hand, don’t ever crave fruit and while I do make sure I eat it on a daily basis, I don’t feel passionate about it, (unless chocobananos count, which I don’t believe they do.)

So today when I read “Can the Latin Diet be Healthy?” by fellow contributor, Chelsea, on SpanglishBaby, and “Don’t Let the Olympics Make You Feel Fat” by fellow contributor Elizabeth on Mamiverse, I was reminded of my own thoughts this past weekend, and of a neat link a friend gave me months ago.

Zhu of Correr es mi Destino, E-mailed me a link to a PDF provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The nearly 60 page bilingual PDF document is a cookbook of popular Latin American foods, made healthier. Platillos Latinos includes recipes for yucca (baked in the oven instead of fried), lomo saltado, Mexican pozole, arroz con pollo, and even pupusas revueltas using ground chicken and low-fat cheese.

I’m a fan of making small changes to eat healthier since drastic changes don’t last long for me. Others say “everything in moderation” – but moderation is something I still can’t get the hang of. Obsessively passionate or completely disinterested tend to be the two settings I run on regarding everything in life and I’m not so sure I can be re-wired. So I will choose to have my Tres Leches and eat it, too – but perhaps it woudn’t hurt to use fat-free sweetened condensed milk.

18 thoughts on “Healthy Pupusas?

  1. I truly believe in making small changes like these but still enjoying an hedonistic life! I gained weight when I first came to Canada (and it is not like I was especially thin in the first place before!) but I managed to lose it easily by reading the labels and adjusting, i.e. buying cookies with less calories, using low-fat cream cheese, etc.

    • I wish these small changes translated to weight loss for me. Logically and scientifically, it should – cutting calories here and there should add up to weight loss, but it just doesn’t happen in my case. Maybe I cut calories on one thing and then indulge in another, so I never really have a true deficit :p … Hopefully I will at least prevent further weight gain though, and, aside from weight, healthier choices are just healthier for the heart/body, etc.

  2. Yo me doy mi gusto cuando tengo antojos! I don’t get cracings often, but when I do, they are really weird! But i give in all the time. One of my usual cravings is spicy and chocolate…at the same time so I buy hot cheetoh flamin hots and use nutella as a dip…. don’t judge me. LOL
    I’m starting to think its not a craving but more of a part of my regular eating habits. (I crave it a lot) haha

    Right? Cus no se supone que cravings only pasan de ves en cuando? Not on a regular basis?

    • Trying not to judge but that is an odd combo LOL

      You know they make chocolate bars with chile added, right? My favorite is by a company called Chuao – they have different types but I think you’d like the “Spicy Maya” (I used to buy it because the spiciness prevented me from eating the whole thing at one time. LOL.)

      As for the definition of “cravings” – to me it isn’t necessarily not on a regular basis – it’s just a sudden, strong desire for something in particular. I eat pupusas two to four times a month, so it’s a regular thing for me – but it isn’t like I just calmly say “I think I’ll have pupusas for lunch today” in the way I get myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast (which is a regular thing) – it’s more like, “OMG – I NEED PUPUSAS TODAY” – that’s a craving. LOL

      • LOL, yes I know, super ODD!! Chocolate y Chile. I’ve tried de esos chocolates, pero no es igual. Nutella and hot Cheetohs, i get the crunchy from the chips along with the salty and spicy… y luego el chocolate cuando se mezcla….MMMMMMMMM!!!

        There was this store in Universal Studios-City Walk (CA) haven’t been there in years. Pero, When i was working at Panda Express hace 8 anos i think..(first job during HS) estaba una tienda de dulce mexicano. Tenian una variedad de dulces chocoaltes, chile and little cositas. Pues, during my break one time fui a traer dulces, pero instead me llamo la atencion unos chocolates in shape of jalapenos. Compre dos… LOL. no sabian buenos. Pero si eran jalapenos dipped in chocolate.

  3. Thank you so much for this!! I will defend the traditional recipes a bit in the fact that at least they are made from scratch and not using processed foods with too many artificial preservatives, but if I find some low-fat creama mexicana I will give it a try :)

    • I agree that the lack of artificial ingredients and preservatives makes homemade traditional recipes healthier in that sense for sure!

  4. I am always making traditional Salvadoran dishes healthier but let us face the truth the “normal” stuff is yummy….anyways portion control is my issue

  5. mmmmm…that looks great! I think I will go to El Atlaklat this weekend! Its a great Salvadorian restaurant in the heart of Miami! Thanks!! (notice how I completely disregarded your health talk) ha!!

  6. Great post!! I too have a problem with portion control. That’s why I’m so gordita, lol. My biggest problem is my sweet tooth. I’ve had to cut a lot of sweets of my diet because of my health. I still crave something sweet daily and although I try not to eat sweets most of the time my craving wins. It’s been hard, but little by little I have been loosing a few pounds.

    I’ve made a few changes on how I cook and how often I eat red meat, etc. Something I can’t give up, maduros. I have to have maduros every time I cook rice which is 4 to 5 days a week!

    LOL at Dev’s comments about her cravings of spicy and chocolate…

  7. Tracy, I am on the DASH diet for my blood pressure. You can definitely do things to still have your pupusa and eat it too. For me pupusa is more of a crave not an everyday staple anymore, but I can still go for it without guilt.
    Make pupusa with loroco instead of revueltas, use crumbled queso fresco with a little bit of grated monterey jack (part-skim/descremado) mixed in, mix a little bit of plain yogurt in with the crema salvadoreña, for the platanos use canola oil and when they’re done really pat the oil off with paper towels.
    If what you’re trying to do like me is boost your veggies, eating platanos and loroco is actually a great idea!
    Sometimes I go to the Pupusodromo and eat everything the way they cook it but I go when I’m not totally starving and can just get 1 pupusa de loroco con queso and a small order of platanos. And if I can order and extra cup & make my son share his agua de marañon with me.
    With the DASH diet this is something the US government designed and clinically tested on tons of people (your tax dollars at work, as they say) & it is good for you also if you have colesterol, diabetes, kidney stones, so I’m absolutely making everybody in the family also eat this way at least if they want me to cook. The idea is upping potassium & fiber, decreasing sodium and saturated fat but honestly, if I actually get even close to the amount of potassium & fiber per day the plan says, I’m too full to even want the fatty stuff.
    Basically I still get all my craves, but I may need to make them myself in order to get them prepared so that they don’t blow my “diet”.
    Amazingly this eating plan does cause weight to get to a healthy place. Although it’s not about that and you never count calories or carbs! I guess you can tell I love it and really recommend it so if you want me to send you the website link for free pdf’s let me know :-)

    • i just realized the pdf link you shared for Platillos Latinos is actually part of the “dash” website i was talking about. thanks for sharing! i can testify this is really useful.
      some of the recipes are maybe a version that isn’t really like the region my husband is from but more of a different region. however i have tried making the recipes as is and then next time tweaking it (of course, without bringing back the manteca). that is how i have learned some tricks about basically taking any recipe and making it healthier.

      • Thanks for all the tips, Beth. It’s good to know I can contact you for ideas or advice on healthy substitutions in Latin American cuisine :)

        One of my favorite substitutions is using non-stick canola cooking spray instead of oil when I make tostadas and platanos fritos.

  8. Hola! I really liked this entry. It struck my interest because I have worked really hard to make healthy Latino food and I even sell it through my business “La Vida Veggie.” When I make pupusas, I will eat them de puro frijol or I make shredded zuchinni or loroco with vegan cheese. (Dairy gives me a headache…and makes me fat, so I avoid it.) I also make walnut meat tacos with veggies, use only a little olive oil to fry my black beans, make portobello mushroom and veggie enchiladas, etc. If you need some ideas, you can check out my FB page. I have pix on there! Provecho, nina! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your links, Heather. I’ve had pupusas with zucchini and cheese and really like them. Loroco I like sometimes – it has to be really fresh though because when the flavor is too strong, I’m not crazy about it.

      I will definitely be checking out your recipes!

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