What Are The Health Benefits of Root Vegetables and Sancocho Recipes?

Best Puerto Rican Paleo Recipes

What are root vegetables “vianda”?

Root vegetables or in Spanish referred to as “Vianda” are, as the word says, vegetables that are roots; meaning they grow underground. They are a starchy vegetable like yuca, cassava, yautia, malanga, taro, sweet potatoes, and more. These are the most popular ones in Latin America and Puerto Rico as they are native to the land. Because they grow underground, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil.

**Yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, celery root (or celeriac), horseradish, daikon, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, and ginger are also all considered roots. 

Puerto Rican Recipes

Some of the health benefits of root vegetables include: 

  • Good source of dietary energy
  • Rich in soluble and insoluble fiber
  • High levels of vitamin A, B & C
  • High levels of minerals and antioxidants
  • Helps boost gut health
  • Lower high levels of blood fats and glucose
  • Reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers

Because root vegetables grow underground, it is important they grow as natural and organic as possible. Just like they absorb the nutrients, they can also absorb any pesticides and chemicals in the soil. Buying the produce when it is in season, from a farmers market, or organic is recommended to get the best quality and  nutrients. 

How to make “Vianda”

Vianda is a popular dish made in Puerto Rico. It is basically root vegetables boiled until soft. They are served with a bit of olive oil on top, and typically with bacalao (salted codfish) on the side. You can find a recipe for our famous “Gazpacho” on the blog

To make the vianda; peel and chop yuca, yautia, ñame and malanga into 2-3” chunks. You can also peel a few green bananas and cut into 2” pieces and add to the vianda. In a large pot, add all your vianda, fill with water until it is all covered, and boil until soft enough to stick a fork in them. Drain, add a few pieces of each onto a plate, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt to taste. Enjoy as a side to your favorite protein, and veggies or salad. Buen provecho! 

What is sancocho?

Sancocho is a popular stew in Latin American countries, mainly because it’s made with various root vegetables that predominantly grow in warmer climates.  The recipe varies from place to place but the base of it is really similar. The stew consists of chicken, pork or beef, and a variety of root vegetables like yuca roots (cassava), yautia (malanga), ñame, and batata (a type of sweet potato or yam). Some also add green bananas and green plantains. I will share the Puerto Rican version of sancocho, as it’s the one I’m most familiar with, as well as a recipe inspired by the Panamanian sancocho. It’s the perfect meal for colder weather and rainy days, but can be enjoyed at any time. Plus, it’s a really healthy stew as root vegetables are gluten-free, low-glycemic, and high in fibers and minerals. 

Best Puerto Rican Dinner Recipes

Puerto Rican Sancocho

(Meat and Root Vegetable Stew) 


5-6 servings

  • 2 yuca/cassava roots (peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces)
  • 2 malanga roots (peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces)
  • 2 green bananas, or green plantains (peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces)
  • 2 or 3 corn on the cob cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 2 or 3 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • Optional: celery root (chopped)
  • 2  lbs of chicken thighs cut into pieces (with or without bone)
  • Optional: 1 lb stew beef
  • Cooking oil of choice
  • 4 tbsp of *sofrito (blended onions, peppers, cilantro and garlic) *Recipes on my blog.  
  • 2 tbsp of stuffed green olives
  • 1 tbsp of *sazón (seasoning made with annatto) *Recipe on my blog or can purchase at healthyrican.com
  • 2 cups of organic tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of chicken broth


· Boil the chicken in about 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Do not drain.

· In a separate large pot (big enough to fit all the ingredients), add the oil, sofrito, olives and sazón. Stir fry for a minute or so.

· Add the tomato sauce and stir.

· Add all the root vegetables including the green bananas, plantains, carrots and corn.

· Add in the boiled chicken and broth until everything is covered.

· Cook until all the root vegetables are cooked (soft enough to stick a fork in them) and the liquid has a thick consistency. 

. Serve and sprinkle cilantro on top if desired. 

· Can be served with rice or on its own as a hearty soup. Enjoy!!

Caribbean Sancocho 

(Chicken & Root Vegetable Stew)

As I mentioned before, sancocho is a traditional soup or stew found in various Latin American countries. This recipe was inspired by my trip to Panama. I ordered a sancocho at a local restaurant and was pleasantly surprised. In Puerto Rico, sancocho is made as a hearty stew with a variety of meats and root vegetables. In Panama, it’s made as a broth chicken soup. In this variation, I combined both the Puerto Rican and Panamanian sancochos, with a twist, as I’ve made it compliant to suit both the elimination (Whole30) and auto-immune paleo diets. I love this recipe because it combines the soothing benefits of bone broth and turmeric. It is ideal for someone dealing with autoimmune symptoms.

Best Puerto Rican Recipes


4-6 servings

Paleo – AIP – Whole 30

  • 3 lbs organic boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • ⅓ bunch fresh cilantro
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground annatto (if available)
  • 2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil
  • 8 cups of homemade bone broth, or 2 quarts store bought chicken broth 
  • 1 large onion
  • 1.5 lbs yuca root (cassava), can be bought frozen (peeled and cut)
  • 2 green plantains
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste


  • Cut the chicken into small pieces. 
  • Chop the cilantro, including the stems. 
  • In mortar and pestle, mince the garlic cloves. Add the cilantro and continue to mince together. Then add the salt, oregano, turmeric, cumin, annatto, and mix well.
  • In a large pot, on high heat, add the oil and the herb and spice mixture, allow to sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the chopped meat and mix well. 
  • Continue to stir on high heat for a minute or two. Add a bit of broth if it starts to stick. Bring to low and cover. 
  • In the meantime, chop the onion, add to the chicken and mix well. Cover and continue to cook on low.
  • Peel the plantains and yuca, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. 
  • Bring the heat back to high, add the broth, plantain, and yuca. Continue to cook on high heat until it boils. After it boils, lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the yuca and plantain are tender enough to stick a fork in them easily. 
  • Turn off the heat. Enjoy right away or allow it to sit and cool off for 10 minutes. 
  • Serve and top with a few fresh cilantro leaves if desired. 


Made with Love,



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Want to find out more about our Healthy Rican Spice Brand? Visit our online store here. There you will find our Healthy Blends of Latin Adobo & Sazón made with all-natural ingredients. Our NO-JUNK seasonings are made with pure flavor “Puro Sabor” and are FREE of MSG, GMO’s, artificial ingredients and artificial colors. Check it out now at HealthyRican.com




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