As you are rushing around getting last-minute gifts and tying up loose ends, it might be hard to find ways to sneak in a healthy meal (especially if you cringe at the thought of eating another salad 😉 Try these Caribbean dishes that are wrapped and ready-to-go as a healthy alternative for your lunch. They are either baked or steamed and have a healthy balance of carbohydrates and protein. Eat them on their own to provide a filling meal, or combine them with a salad to make sure you get a healthy serving of vegetables and nutrients while on-the-go.
Pastelles are a type of pie that contain a filling of minced meat and vegetables with an outer “crust” of cornmeal. They are very popular around Christmas time in Trinidad and Puerto Rico and are a tradition for the season in a way similar to the increased presence of poinsettia. In Trinidad, they often use beef or chicken to make the filling, while in Puerto Rico they use pork instead. Although they are quite difficult to make – or perfect – they are often available for sale as seasonal specials at your local Caribbean restaurant. Seek and ye shall find these healthy, portable meals that are a great portion size for a lunch meal.
Patties are traditionally known as a Jamaican dish where the pie has a right yellow, pastry crust with a seasoned beef filling. You can find patties almost anywhere in New York and other urban centers in Caribbean restaurants and even delis and pizzerias. Although you may not consider “Jamaican patties” diet food, consider that again they are a ubiquitous, portable dish that contains a good ratio of carbohydrates and protein to give you energy during the day. They also come in a wide variety of fillings including curry chicken, tofu, and steamed vegetables. Opting for a steamed vegetable patty will often result in a lunch that contains whole wheat flour instead of white flour and are filled with flavorful, sautéed vegetables that gives some benefits similar to a salad with a lot more flavor. You can also purchase patties in your freezer section or get just the crust and make your own healthy filling.
- Jamaican beef patty recipe by Jamaicans.com
Just saying the word makes the mouth water for this Latin American dish. Empanadas are in the same pie family as pastelles and patties, but have a more traditional crust made of a simple pie dough. They can be served in hors d’oeurves in small “empanacitas” or as large, filling pies that are about 5 inches wide. If you are not close to a Caribbean restaurant, stop by your local Latin restaurant to see if they have empanadas. Their filling can contained minced beef with a variety of chopped vegetables and seasonings that are packed with flavor.
- Empanada recipe by Squidoo