Ingrid Hoffmann

Ingrid Hoffmann is more than a celebrity chef. She’s also a teacher, showing a nation how to prepare healthy and savory Latin meals. In addition to creating countless recipes, the cilantro-loving chef hosts Food Network’s “Simply Delicioso” and Galavision/Univision’s “Delicioso” in Spanish. She’s also published the book SIMPLY DELICIOSO: A Collection of Everyday Recipes With a Latin Twist, and has a cookware and kitchen accessories line.

But what’s making Hoffmann a giant in the foodie world is her deep love of Latino food. “Many people think of Latin food as only Mexican food,” says Hoffmann. “I’ve made it my goal to introduce them to as many Latin-American flavors as possible.”

Born in Colombia and raised in the Caribbean, Ingrid is a self-professed “mutt” with grandparents from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Germany and Spain. “When I cook, I bring all of those influences,” she says about her concoctions. “We are united by a language, but our flavors are very diverse. I take pride in being able to introduce the audience to all of those flavors and new ingredients that they can integrate in their daily cooking.”

Two favorite late-summer and diet-friendly tips she shares are roasting vegetables -- “a great way to bring out their sweetness” -- and making pudding-type desserts using a Greek yogurt base, mixed with either citrus or dark chocolate powder.

“When it comes to healthy cooking, herbs and spices are my best friends,” she says. “It’s the best way to add flavor -- without adding calories.”

Here are two of Hoffmann’s delicioso desserts.

Lime Zest Creme Dessert
Rich, thick Greek yogurt, mellow vanilla and fresh lime combine to form a simple yet sublime dessert. Serve chilled in martini glasses for a stylish presentation.

Makes 4 servings (1/4 cup yogurt mixture and 1 berry each)

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 strawberries, raspberries or blackberries

1. Place yogurt and Splenda in a small bowl, stir gently to combine. Add the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla; stir until combined. Cover and chill until serving.

2. Divide among four small dishes and top each with a strawberry, raspberry or blackberry.

Avocados Stuffed With Farmers Market Roasted Vegetable Salad
Makes 4 to 6 servings

4 medium carrots cut into 1/2-inch rounds and half-rounds
1 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow squash cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium red pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ear fresh corn, husk and silk removed
1 small handful each of fresh parsley, dill and chives, chopped
3 ripe avocados
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons juice and 1 tablespoon zest)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 packet sugar substitute
Handful of mixed greens or arugula (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix the carrots, zucchini, squash and red pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and mix well.

2. Spread one layer on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, set it aside to cool.

3. Remove the corn kernels by standing the cob on a plate or in a wide shallow bowl. Set the blade of a small, sharp knife at the juncture of the kernels and cob and slice downward to remove the kernels. Repeat this procedure, working your way around the cob, until all the kernels are removed. Set aside.

4. Prepare the avocados by carefully peeling the rough skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut lengthwise in half and remove pit. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent avocados from discoloring. (Since it can be tricky to peel the avocado, feel free to skip this step and simply serve the avocado in its shell.)

5. In a large bowl, mix roasted vegetables, corn, remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper, fresh herbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

6. Place each avocado half on a small bed of lettuce or arugula, top with a generous serving of the salad, sprinkle lemon zest on top and serve.

by Shirley Velásquez