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: Unrated
25
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.

Arroz con Pollo

Rating: Unrated
9
Arroz con pollo, or chicken cooked with rice, is a common dish in Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean. We use quick-cooking brown rice here to help you get this on the table in just 40 minutes. Serve with a mixed green salad tossed with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

Moqueca (Seafood & Coconut Chowder)

This seafood stew from Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, dates back hundreds of years and reflects the region’s diverse population and history. It merges the African ingredients of dendê (red palm oil) and coconut milk with indigenous traditions of preparing seafood in clay pots over coals. Dendê is traditionally used for its rich flavor and beautiful red color, but you can use canola oil instead, as the tomato paste will still lend the dish a vibrant hue.
By Sandra Gutierrez

Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Rating: Unrated
10
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.

Puerto Rican Fish Stew (Bacalao)

Rating: Unrated
5
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.

Roast Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Rating: Unrated
2
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.

Shrimp Paulista

Rating: Unrated
4
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.

Empanadas with Chorizo & Potato

Rating: Unrated
2
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.

Amazon Bean Soup with Winter Squash & Greens

Rating: Unrated
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).

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.

Quinoa Peanut Soup (Sopa de Mani)

Rating: Unrated
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.

Inspiration and Ideas

Caramel Cream Cheese Custard (Flan de Queso)

Rating: Unrated
3
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.

Roasted Chicken Drumsticks & Potatoes with Mojo Sauce

Rating: Unrated
3
Roasting chicken and potatoes right in the same pan is a great shortcut for a busy night. While you make this healthy roast chicken recipe, whir up a quick batch of this tangy Cuban mojo sauce for drizzling and dipping.

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.