Exploring Hispanic Cuisine with Sylvia Klinger

Meet Sylvia Klinger. We had the pleasure of interviewing her about food history and culture. She keeps reading and enjoys her recipe. Jicama and mango salad.

As an expert on cross-cultural Hispanic health and nutrition issues, how have you found foods to tell a story and shape culture?
In our Hispanic culture, food is the essence of our life. It’s what keeps us together. We are obsessed with the flavors, colors and textures of our cuisine. Although our typical Hispanic cuisine includes different preparation and cooking methods, and ingredients and flavors vary from county to county, we adapt quickly and love all the variations.

How do you inform people about the intersection of food, history, health and culture?
I love teaching families and community health professionals how to cook our favorite dishes. It helps me share the story of our cuisine and demonstrate the nutritional value of the foods we love. I teach them how to incorporate our favorite foods in a way that combines flavors and nutrients in amounts (serving sizes) for our age, gender, and activity level.

What are some plant-based foods that are the basis of Hispanic food traditions?
Plant-based foods are the foundation of our Latin food, including all types of beans (e.g., black, pinto, chickpeas, red, pigeon peas), vegetables (cassava, squash or squash, zucchini, bananas, corn, tomatoes), fruits (tropical fruits, citrus, passion fruit, coconut), grains (corn, amaranth, rice, tortillas) and nuts. My job as a dietitian-nutritionist is to teach our communities about the incredible health benefits of our foods and the role they play in preventing chronic diseases. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious to season savory Latin foods with more onion, garlic, chiles, and fresh herbs instead of too much salt, and to spice up Latin desserts with more cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and citrus juices. instead of adding too much sugar.

Do these foods or dishes have any important meaning or history?
Absolutely! Many of our basic ingredients originated in Latin countries. Corn was first domesticated in Mexico by native indigenous people hundreds of years ago, and the history of chocolate also began in Mexico, where the first cocoa plants were found. It’s no wonder that many of the famous dishes in Mexico and neighboring countries include corn and chocolate!

What do you imagine is the way forward to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables and, especially in the West, return to traditional Hispanic eating patterns?
My mission is to encourage my Hispanic communities to continue eating the foods they love, as many of them are highly nutritious, and add the foods and nutrients they are missing. For example, Mexicans love fruits and vegetables, and even their snacks consist of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tell us a little about your work and career.
I am a dynamic global nutrition expert and sought-after bilingual consultant, international speaker, communications professional, business owner, award-winning author, mentor and board advisor to several associations and Fortune 500 companies. I am motivated to empower communities to who achieve better health outcomes through building professional relationships, developing health/nutrition programs, and strategic planning.

I have a relentless passion for understanding dietary behaviors, diet quality, and dietary patterns, as well as generating science-based evidence to develop timely strategies that promote a healthy lifestyle through the dissemination of nutrition education programs. and culturally relevant health for disease prevention and management. I draw my energy from my family-oriented and compassionate approach to helping low-income communities establish healthy eating habits within their budget.

Please tell us a little about your books.
I have published two books on how to provide a tasty, healthy and culturally appropriate lifestyle for Hispanic populations, who today face increasing health problems. The award-winning Hispanic Family Nutrition: Complete Counseling Toolkit for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides optimal wellness and nutrition counseling tools, and The little book of simple eating is packed with practical tips in both English and Spanish to achieve optimal health every day.

Jicama and Mango Salad

1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups jicama, peeled and julienned
3 cups mangoes, peeled and sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup red onion, peeled and chopped
Zest of 1 orange
Orange pieces to taste
Lemon zest to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
Black pepper to taste
Sliced ​​radishes (optional garnish)


  1. Mix garlic, lemon juice and cilantro. Season with lemon pepper and black pepper to taste.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir lightly and serve. Garnish with sliced ​​radishes, if desired.

Servings: 4 – 8 people

You can find Sylvia on her website. here and Instagram here.

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