I started cooking when I was nine years old and haven’t stopped since. When I first became “health-conscious”, I panicked over the idea of not being able to enjoy my favorite comfort foods (at the time vegetarianism and veganism were the only “healthy” lifestyle options). So I set out to give my favorite Dominican comfort foods a health makeover…only to discover that when made the traditional way (i.e. without adobo and processed ingredients from questionable sources) most of our wrongly accused “fattening” foods are actually a lot healthier than we are led to believe.
For example, tropical oils such as coconut oil have a lot of health benefits that canola and seed oils do not. Specifically, the saturated fat in coconut oil boosts thyroid function, increases your metabolism (yes, a fat that helps you get slimmer!), and even supports your immune system. Similarly, root vegetables (like yucca) are easier to digest and also provide necessary micronutrients such as vitamin C and manganese that the nutrition darling whole wheat bread does not naturally provide.
Below is my favorite traditional Dominican recipe – pollo guisado with yucca mash, sauteed onions and avocado – made with organic ingredients, full of good fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as micronutrients: guaranteed to satisfy your immigrant nostalgia and palate.
Dominican-Style Pan-seared Boneless Chicken Thighs
organic boneless chicken thighs
Sprinkle chicken with parsley flakes, fresh pressed garlic, ground oregano, black pepper, homemade sofrito (blend of fresh cilantro, onion, garlic, green pepper and onion with 5 tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar) and sea salt.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil, and a teaspoon of sugar on a pan and turn stove on to medium heat. When sugar browns gently place the chicken inside the pan. Turn over after about 1 minute (or when chicken browns).
Lower heat and wait for chicken to cook. Remove chicken from stove.
Garlic Yucca Mash
2 garlic cloves
Peel yucca and cut in small chunks. Bring water to a boil, add a teaspoon of sea salt and 2 garlic cloves. When yucca is tender (about 10 minutes of boiling) remove yucca and garlic from the water.
Mash the yucca with the garlic and 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter. For a creamier taste, add water left over from boiling the yucca to your mash.
Dominican-style Sautéed Red Onions
2 medium red onions
1 tbsp apple cider vingear
Slice 2 medium-sized onions and drizzle with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a dash of sea salt.
Pour 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil on a frying pan and turn stove to medium heat. Place onions into a frying pan. Cook until onions are tender. Remove from stove and serve over yucca mash along with chicken and avocado.
Yaromil Fong-Olivares, ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Reiki healer and lifestyle coach, empowers women to aim beyond weight loss and expand their wellness and fitness goals to include lifelong health, functional fitness, self-love and and healing. Learn more about her work at Brown Stone Fitness.