13 Healthy Cuban Recipes

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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.

 
30 TRADITIONAL DISHES: 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.

 
Garbanzos fritos at Nurmis Cafe in Centro Havana Cuba
Garbanzos fritos

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.

 
Ropa vieja, national dish of Cuba, on a wooden table in a Cuban restaurant
Ropa vieja with congri rice in Trinidad Cuba

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.

 
Healthy Cuban food options in a restaurant in Havana

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.

 
Typical healthy Cuban food in the countryside, on a table in Las Terrazas
Typical food from the countryside in Las Terrazas Cuba.

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!

 

HEALTHY CUBAN RECIPES

Cubans are fantastic at creating filling meals from scratch with quality ingredients. These healthy Cuban recipes will bring you back to the Isla Bella.

What other healthy Cuban recipes do you think should be added to the list?

 

Pin it: Healthy Cuban Food

Join the Conversation

  1. Nice overview, thanks for preparing that!

  2. Andrea Carter says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever told you that I love your blog. But I do!!

    I am a Canadian living in Chile, and reading about you being in the Maritimes makes me feel at home (even though I’m from western Canada) and relating to your experiences abroad makes it all feel so right. Your recipes are amazing. I’m making one for dinner today (trying to impress some traditional Chilean friends with something just a bit different.)

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

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