By Priscilla Soto Vargas

With assistance from Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, Debra Wasserman,Charles Stahler, and Katya Galbis. Recipes by Martha Vargas.

Week One Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Monday gallo pinto*
corn or flour tortillas
fried plantains
orange slices
bean soft tacos
with onions and red and
green bell peppers
lettuce, tomato,
cucumber, and radish
avocado slices
lentil soup
wheat roll
spinach with palm hearts
pineapple chunks
dried figs
Tuesday whole wheat toast
with jelly
strawberries and
rice and beans
fried plantains
cabbage, carrots and
corn salad
tangerine sections
potato stew with
mustard greens
corn or flour tortillas
corn chips
and pico de
Wednesday oatmeal with raisins
wheat toast
black bean soup with
green plantains
steamed broccoli
brown rice and
corn tortillas
tomato, lettuce,
carrots and radish
peach halves
orange juice
Thursday toast with guava or
pineapple jelly
orange juice
white bean soup with
brown rice
pineapple chunks
rice- and bean-
steamed broccoli
corn fruit salad
with hummus
dried figs
Friday gallo pinto*
fried plantains
orange and
bean and veggie
strawberries and
vegetable stew with
potatoes, carrots,
and celery
Brussels sprouts
dried figs
and carrot
Saturday oatmeal with raisins
wheat toast
orange sections
garbanzo (chickpea)
wheat bread
mustard greens
papaya slices
arugula and
broccoli salad
avocado slices
veggie pasta with
tomatoes, basil,
and mushrooms
wheat germ
Sunday gallo pinto*
corn tortillas
orange juice
boiled yuca pieces
refried beans
Russian salad*
steamed broccoli
vegetable and corn
avocado slices
mixed nuts
and carrot

Gallo Pinto

(Serves 4)

This is Costa Rica's most popular dish; it's delicious, nutritious, and vegan.

  • ½ medium onion
  • ½ medium red bell pepper
  • ½ medium green bell pepper
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 ½ cups cooked rice
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans

Chop up the onion, red pepper, green pepper and cilantro. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the vegetables and cilantro without burning them. Add the rice and beans and mix well. Once it's well mixed, you can add to taste some of Costa Rica's most famous sauce called "Salsa Lizano."

Note: The use of Lizano sauce is optional. Please read the labels and ingredients of the products before you purchase them to make sure the product is appropriate for your needs.

Total calories per serving: 220 Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 38 grams Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 2 milligrams Fiber: 7 grams

Patacones (Green Plantain Chips)

(Serves 3)

  • 1 green plantain (make sure the plantain is very green)
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste

Peel the plantain. Cut into ½-inch rounds. Heat up the oil in a big pan. Once the oil is hot, place the rounds in it. Leave them there for about a minute. Before they turn brown, place them on a cutting board. With something hard, like a cutting board, press on each plantain round. Don't smash the rounds too hard; they are supposed to be flat, but intact. Mix the water and the salt, and quickly submerge the plantain slices, or you can simply sprinkle with salt. After they are submerged in the water (or sprinkled with salt), place them back in the pan and cook until they turn golden brown and become crispy.

Note: If you would like to use less oil, use only ¼ cup, or try using an oil spray. Fat content will vary as a result; we estimate that 10% of the frying oil will be retained.

Total calories per serving: 93 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 19 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 2 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Russian Salad

(Serves 5)

Russian salad is eaten in Costa Rica at many parties and big events. It typically includes eggs and mayonnaise, but here is a delicious vegan version.

  • 1 medium beet
  • 2 carrots
  • 5 medium potatoes

Boil all the ingredients separately. After they are cooked, let them cool, then chop them all up. Place everything into a big bowl and mix.

Total calories per serving: 181 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 41 grams Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 42 milligrams Fiber: 6 grams

Pico de Gallo

(Makes approximately 2 ½ cups)

In the United States, Pico de Gallo is known as salsa. This version uses fresh vegetables, making it much better than the kind that comes in a jar. Pico de gallo goes great with corn chips, tacos, and burritos.

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ small green bell pepper
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • Black pepper, lime juice, salt, and spicy sauce or peppers (optional)

Chop up the tomatoes, onion, green bell pepper, and cilantro. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Then if you choose, you can add black pepper, lime juice, salt, and something to make it spicy like hot sauce or hot peppers.

Total calories per 2 Tbs serving: 5 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 1 gram Protein: <1 gram
Sodium: 1 milligram Fiber: <1 gram

Note: If you don ́t consume dairy or eggs, please be sure to obtain a source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vitamin B12 sources include fortified cereals, fortified beverages, fortified meat analogs, Red Star Nutritional Yeast T6635, or a supplement (vitamin pill). Read labels to make sure they contain vitamin B12. Vitamin D can come from sunlight exposure (at least 10-15 minutes of summer sun on hands and face 2-3 times a week for adults), from foods like fortified plant milks, and from a supplement. These menus are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. For special needs, consult with your health provider.

This is excerpted from a longer article on page 28. See

Note week two, which contains foods fortified with calcium and B12.