Peruvian cuisine is as varied as it is delicious: Potatoes — originally from Peru — and quinoa are grown in the Andes, fresh seafood is plentiful because of the never-ending coastline, and exotic fruits are anything but rare due to Peru’s jungles.
While it’s important to avoid the Peruvian favorite ceviche when you’re pregnant, due to the raw fish in it, there are many, many other Peruvian foods that you can and should enjoy.
First, there’s quinoa, a staple in many dishes, that’s full of nutrients including protein, calcium and fiber. It’s also a good wheat alternative for those who don’t eat gluten. Quinoa is used in a similar way to rice or couscous, and is found in everything from stir fry to soups.
Then there’s the Peruvian causa, which layers potatoes with fillings like fish, avocado and eggs into a tasty side dish. And rocoto relleno is the Peruvian version of stuffed peppers, but uses the red-hot rocoto peppers found in Peru instead of regular bell peppers. (Warning — the two types of pepper look very similar, so make sure you know which you’re eating or you’re in for a fiery surprise! And, if you’re wondering, spicy foods have been given the OK by doctors, as long as they don’t give you discomfort.)
Empanadas, the flaky-dough favorite throughout many South American countries, are also popular in Peru — and are filled with meat, chicken or veggies. For dessert, Peruvians love lucuma-flavored ice cream, and the lucuma fruit, called the “gold of the Incas,” is full of nutrients like iron and zinc. Its unique taste is described as maple-syrup-like, and the fruit looks similar to an avocado.
Ready to cook up some Peruvian mainstays? We’ve pinned some of our favorite Peruvian dishes and recipes here.
Did you know? Peru has made enormous strides in reducing the number of cases of chronic child malnutrition after the creation of a Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion in 2011. The government organization works on issues such as poverty, health care and malnutrition, and is now viewed as a model for other countries in the region to follow. Though chronic malnutrition still exists in Peru, especially in rural areas, according to the Programas de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, the rates of childhood malnutrition have dropped from 37.3 percent in 1991 to 19.5 percent in 2011, and should be down to 18.7 percent in 2015.
Authored by Amy Van Deusen