Healthy South American Recipes

Find healthy, delicious South American recipes including Brazilian and Argentinian recipes. Healthier recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Staff Picks

Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

Rating: 4.9 stars
33
This chipotle-flavored burrito bowl recipe is even better than takeout and just as fast. Loading it with vegetables and using quinoa in place of rice adds nutrition for a healthy dinner.

Basic Quinoa

This foolproof recipe for perfectly cooked quinoa is fast and easy! Use cooked quinoa as a simple healthy side dish, in a salad or as a base for a delicious main dish.

Puerto Rican Fish Stew (Bacalao)

Rating: 4.78 stars
8
Bacalao, salted dried codfish, is the defining ingredient in traditional Puerto Rican fish stew, but salt cod requires overnight soaking and several rinses in cool water before it can be used, so we opt for fresh fish in this quick version. Serve with crusty rolls to soak up the juices.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Rating: 4.64 stars
13
Brazil's cuisine often features smoky, grilled meats, but this healthy vegetarian bean soup recipe is completely meat-free. Instead, blackened jalapeños, fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika provide the Brazilian flair. A little molasses adds a sweet-toasty note, and the kale, while not traditional, bumps up your daily veggie count.

Quinoa Peanut Soup (Sopa de Mani)

Rating: 4.28 stars
4
This spicy vegetable, quinoa and peanut soup recipe is a modern take on a traditional Bolivian soup recipe called Sopa de Mani. Serve this healthy quinoa soup recipe as a starter or make it a heartier meal by adding diced cooked chicken or turkey breast to the soup.

Roast Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Rating: 5 stars
6
Chimichurri--a bright, herby sauce served across Argentina--is the perfect healthy sauce for an easy salmon dinner. This recipe uses parsley but feel free to try your favorite combination of herbs, such as basil, mint or cilantro. Serve with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Amazon Bean Soup with Winter Squash & Greens

Rating: 4.42 stars
6
Shaped like a flattened drum, buttercup squash most closely resembles the local squash used in this comforting hearty soup from northern Brazil. It has a dark green peel, a grayish turban-shaped top and dense orange flesh. Hubbard, butternut or delicata squashes could also be used. Instead of the lip-numbing Brazilian green jambu, we have used spinach. For a more festive look, serve in a roasted squash half (see Tip).

Empanadas with Chorizo & Potato

Rating: 5 stars
3
A staple in South American cuisine, homemade empanadas can be served as a main dish or a side. We keep this simple by focusing on the empanada filling and instead of making the dough from scratch, we achieve flaky empanadas with the help of refrigerated pie crust.

Shrimp Paulista

Rating: 5 stars
5
Residents of Sao Paulo call themselves Paulistas and this simple shrimp dish is a regional favorite. Traditionally, the shrimp are cooked in their shells; however, we've removed them to make for easier eating.

Arepas with Spicy Black Beans

These corncakes are a common style of flatbread in Colombia and Venezuela. Arepas are made with precooked cornmeal and served warmed with butter or cheese, or split open and filled, or topped, as we've done here. Our arepas filling is loaded with fragrant spices and vegetables to elevate the dish.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This easy chicken soup recipe is made in the slow cooker and topped with crispy tortilla chips before serving.

Caramel Cream Cheese Custard (Flan de Queso)

Rating: 4.33 stars
4
Every panaderia (bakery) in Puerto Rico has many flavors of flan, from vanilla to guava. Reduced-fat cream cheese gives this version a rich, comforting texture.
Advertisement

Inspiration and Ideas

Chicken Empanadas
Empanadas usually are served hot and blistered from the deep fryer, but home cooks will be glad that these baked healthier handpies offer similar pleasures without a trip into a vat of bubbling oil. The simple dough, similar to pie crust, comes together in a jiffy in the food processor. For a fun tweak, make the recipe into mini empanadas with 3-inch, rather than 6-inch, rounds of dough.
Chimichurri Chicken
Chimichurri is a no-cook herby-garlicky sauce from Argentina and Uruguay. It's delicious on grilled proteins and vegetables. Here, we use it to double the flavor of basic grilled chicken breasts. The chicken is both baked with and topped with this flavor-packed sauce.

Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

With its pretty striped skin and uniform shape, delicata squash is a beautiful vessel for serving up this healthy quinoa stuffing. Serve this recipe as a stunning side dish or a vegetarian main with a big leafy green salad alongside.