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Healthy versions of Latin classics: Red quinoa con pollo, guacamole verde

Enjoy classic Latin recipes but without the guilt! Radio and TV personality Angie Martinez and acclaimed chef Angelo Sosa have teamed up to make healthier versions of their family's favorite dishes. Here, they're sharing recipes from their new cookbook "Healthy Latin Eating," like red quinoa con pollo, guacamole verde and a tropical smoothie.

Red Quinoa con Pollo
Serves 4
Time: 50 minutes

It seems like every Latino family has its own version of arroz con pollo. But no matter how you make it, traditional rice with chicken is heavy on the carbs. That's why I love Angelo's take on this classic. He's replaced the white rice (and all those empty carbs) with quinoa — a whole grain packed with protein, fiber and iron. This dish is not totally traditional, but it's close enough to make everyone in my house happy when I serve it.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (about 11/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh
  • Ginger
  • 2 cups dry red quinoa
  • 11/4 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh
  • Oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh
  • Cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives

In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the paprika, the cumin, and the turmeric. Toss well and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sweat until aromatic, about 6 minutes. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Add 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, and cilantro, then cover. Remove from the heat and let steam undisturbed for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add the marinated chicken and cook until golden on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff the quinoa with a fork. Season with salt. Transfer to a large platter, top with the chicken, and garnish with the olives and cilantro sprigs.

Guacamole Verde with Tomatillo
Serves 4
Time: 5 minutes

It's pretty hard to get a perfectly ripe avocado at the grocery store. But a trick I learned for speeding up the ripening process is to put them in paper bags with apples or bananas. Those fruits release ethylene gas, which can help soften rock-hard avocados.


  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatillo
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Cotija cheese

With a sharp knife, cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and with a spoon, scrape the flesh into a small bowl. Transfer half to a medium bowl and use the back of a fork to mash it until a paste for ms. 

Add the onion, lime juice, cilantro, tomatillo, and salt and stir to combine. Add the reserved avocado half, mix gently, and season with more salt, if needed.

Transfer the guacamole to a serving bowl and gar nish with the cheese.

Tropical smoothie
Serves 1 to 2
Time: 5 minutes

I like that the Greek yogurt has protein and satisfies my hunger in the morning. Plus, it's got naturally sweet and delicious fruit that's worth jumping out of bed for.


  • 1 peeled and diced frozen mango
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (1%) milk
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Pour into one or two pretty glasses and serve.