In countries outside the United States, proper nutrition and health due to lack of sufficient food is a large problem. I was curious to see what the Costa Rican’s diet consisted of. When travelling to a foreign country I’ve never been to before, I was a tad concerned on how much I would like the food, and if I was going to be famished the whole time. Costa Rican cuisine did pass the test of my expectations though. Costa Ricans have a varied diet. The “Ticos” definitely have a healthy living influence and the everyday meals consist of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy carbohydrates.
During one of farm visits, we tried many fresh fruits picked right from the trees. The bananas had no comparison to what we call bananas in the US. They had so much more flavor. Their pineapple was also out of this world. I enjoyed all of their wonderful fruit. They had different fruit than we have such as the starfruit and the sweet lemon. It was obvious the difference in the freshness of fruit. And the fresh fruit is so easily accessible.
Nutrition is an essential part of health. In Costa Rica, I noticed they value food on its nutritional content, not just for its aesthetic value. As Americans, we eat what sounds good, what is convenient for us, or what we crave. In Costa Rica, they just consume well balanced meals and what is necessary to fuel their body with energy so that they can work.
From all the meals we consumed, I have gathered that Costa Ricans have a very balanced diet that consists of certain things for each meal. When I say for “every meal,” I am not over exaggerating. I was served Gallo Pinto, or rice and beans, for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to rice and beans, we often were served some sort of salad consisting of lettuce or cabbage and tomatoes, an assortment of vegetables, plantains that are cooked many different ways, and then a protein. The protein was either beef, pork, chicken, or fish. It is typically seared or grilled but never fried. Quite often this protein was chicken. All in all, the food was very lean.
Costa Ricans eat foods with high nutritional content and have a very balanced diet. The Gallo Pinto is low in fat and calories and high in protein and good carbohydrates. The food typically lacked a lot of flavor that suited my tastes. At home I put salt on everything, but they don’t use salt much at all, which is much better for their health. The meat seemed to be leaner and they didn’t fry it. Costa Rican cuisine is healthier than what I am used to, and I appreciate their healthy living values. We could definitely learn from them in the United States. Our country suffers from obesity issues and could benefit from the way Costa Ricans eat and the freshness of their food.
If you’re interested in trying the traditional Costa Rican dish I experienced, here is a recipe for Gallo Pinto, the most popular dish of Costa Rica.
Gallo Pinto Ingredients
2 Tbs. Canola oil
2 medium Onions
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/4 Cups Rice, white
3 Cups Black beans, cooked
1 Tsp. Cumin, ground
1 Tsp. Coriander, ground
6 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce (or Lizano sauce)
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground to taste
Gallo Pinto Directions
1. Put onion in a skillet. When onion starts to turn color, add garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until onion is golden.
2. Stir in rice, beans and seasonings, combining well. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid from canned beans, if desired, to make the rice “dirty.”
3. Cook until heated through, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.