Connecting to Hispanic Heritage Through Food

Sep 15, 2022 | Eating Well

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Food is a means to connect to our own culture and experience others’ cultures.

Jen Bays Avis, MEd, LDN, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian with St. Francis Medical Group, shares recipes influenced by Hispanic culture. Make this appetizer, entrée and dessert to have a complete meal.



  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes) 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, thawed if frozen 


  • 2 avocados 
  • Juice of 2 limes 
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Tortilla scoops, for serving 


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, paprika and cayenne. Season with salt. Add shrimp and toss until fully coated, then cover and let marinate in fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. 
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook shrimp until pink and completely opaque, 2 minutes per side. 


  1. In a medium bowl, mash avocados with lime juice, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Season with salt. 
  2. Dollop a tablespoon of guac into tortilla scoops, top with shrimp and garnish with cilantro before serving. 



  • 4 poblano peppers 
  • 1 pound organic ground beef, 93/7 
  • 2 cups leftover-organic black japonica cooked rice or your preferred rice 
  • 14-ounce can organic petite diced tomatoes 
  • 3 green onions 
  • 1 mini yellow pepper, chopped 
  • 1 mini red pepper, chopped 
  • ½ teaspoon organic garlic and 
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon organic cumin 
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 cup Colby jack cheese 
  • 1-ounce Fritos, crushed 


  1. Prepare poblanos by cutting off tops. 
  2. Chop pepper tops and mini peppers. 
  3. Brown beef, add green onions and cook a couple minutes more. Remove from heat. 
  4. Place in bowl and add chopped peppers and other ingredients. 
  5. Stir in grated cheddar cheese. 
  6. Fill peppers with mixture, top with Colby Jack cheese and top with crushed Fritos. 
  7. Put extra filling into the bottom of casserole dish. Place stuffed peppers on top, cover with foil and bake 350 degrees for 60 minutes. 
  8. Remove foil and cook for 15 minutes more. 



  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 3 large strips orange peel (avoid as much of the bitter white pith as possible) 
  • 3 large strips lemon peel (avoid as much of the bitter white pith as possible) 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and the insides scraped into the pot along with the whole bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (use paste, not extract, as the paste has real vanilla bean flecks in it and is more concentrated in flavor) 
  • 7 large egg yolks (make sure they are large) 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use 1 cup if you prefer it sweeter, but keep in mind the dessert also has a burnt sugar topping) 
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • Brown sugar for the burnt sugar topping 


  1. Pour the milk and cream in a small stock pot and add the orange and lemon peel, vanilla bean or vanilla paste, and cinnamon stick. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the milk is just on the brink of boiling. Then turn off the heat, cover (to prevent a skin from forming). 
  2. Let sit and cool for 30-45 minutes to allow the flavors of the citrus peel, vanilla, and cinnamon to infuse the milk. Once cooled, remove the citrus zest, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean (if using). 
  3. Toward the end of the cooling process, put the sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl along with the egg yolks. Whisk until smooth and pale. Pour some of the milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and whisk together. Next pour all the egg yolk mixture into the pot with the milk mixture and whisk until combined. 
  4. Slowly heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until thickened. DO NOT BOIL. 
  5. Pour the custard into individual ramekins. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on top. Let them cool and then place them in the refrigerator to chill overnight, preferably for 24 hours for best flavor. The longer the custard chills the more time the flavor will have to develop. 
  6. Remove the custard from the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving to come to room temperature. 
  7. Then sprinkle with brown sugar. (The more you add, the thicker the crunchy burnt sugar topping will be. But be careful or it will end up being overly sweet.) Use a butane kitchen torch to “burn” the sugar until it is a rich golden brown with some dark areas (see note for alternate method). The ramekins will be very hot so let them sit for a minute or two and then serve immediately. 


Broiler Method: If you would rather, you can also caramelize the sugar under the broiler in the oven instead of using a kitchen torch. To do this make sure the Catalan Cream is fully set and very cold (straight out of the fridge). Broil until the sugar is caramelized. This method runs the risk of cracking the dish, so you must be very careful! Also, with broiling it will NOT get as dark and caramelized as with a kitchen torch. 

Looking for more ideas to eat well? Check out  our other blog posts.

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