How to prepare a healthy and nutritious Spanish Paella

Can we really say “the” Spanish gastronomy? That would be an understatement because Spanish cuisine is actually the sum of different regional types of culinary traditions. Spanish gastronomy is like the geography of this country: diverse. Think about it, Spain has mountains and flat plains, rivers and seashores, beaches and fields. This is a place in which there is an option for everyone and this aspect is also visible in the gastronomic scene. All regions have created true jewels with the ingredients available to them: Galician-style octopus in the northwest, tapas in Madrid and botifarra de ceba in Alicante are just a few examples. Of all these preparations, there is one that has a special place in the heart of Spanish people: paella.

Put your patience to the test!

It is said that there are as many versions of paella as Spanish citizens. On this occasion, we have brought you a low-cal adaptation of the traditional seafood paella recipe. To be fair, as long as you respect the basics (rice, meat and vegetables) you will be making paella. Sounds easy, right? However, this recipe has a reputation for being difficult. Its complexity actually lies in the process since you have to be patient. If you have developed this trait, you probably noticed that flavors concentrate much better when you do not hurry the cooking process.

Healthy is not the same as boring

If you think that eating healthy means gulping down tasteless meals, you are absolutely wrong. Almost every dish can be prepared in a healthier manner than the traditional one and that doesn’t imply taking the flavor away. There are some tricks that you can apply to any meal and will significantly reduce calories intake. 

First of all, substitute those ingredients with added fat, so instead of using oil or butter, choose low calorie cooking spray. In some high-carb preparations, another great piece of advice is to increment the number of vegetables. One last tip to make your cooking habits even healthier is not to add salt while you are cooking, wait until the preparation is ready to serve for seasoning. 

Think of herbs and spices as your greatest allies, many times they can replace salt and oil flavor. Now, let’s apply these tricks to paella!

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • 1 can low calorie cooking spray.

  • 3 oz (100 gr) medium-grain rice.

  • 2 cups water.

  • 1 low salt vegetable stock cube.

  • 2 garlic cloves.

  • 1 small onion.

  • 1 tomato, peeled and diced.

  • ½ red bell pepper.

  • 3 oz (100 gr) fresh green peas.

  • 5 oz (150 gr) shrimps.

  • 8 clams, cleaned.

  • ½ tsp paprika.

  • ½ tsp saffron threads.

  • Salt and pepper, to taste.


  1. Heat 2 cups of water in a pot and dissolve the vegetable stock cube. Reserve.

  2. Dice the onion and bell pepper. Mist a paellera or a large shallow pan with cooking spray and heat over a low flame. Sauté the vegetables until the onion starts to get translucent. Do not forget to stir occasionally.

  3. Crush garlic cloves and add them. Stir and incorporate rice, green peas, tomato, paprika and saffron threads. Cook for 1 minute, until rice becomes slightly golden. Be careful not to burn the grains!

  4. Add the vegetable stock, turn the heat up to medium and let it boil. Then, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Rice should be al dente. If during this process you notice that the liquid evaporated too soon, you can add some more water.

  5. Now is the time to incorporate the seafood. Add the clams and shrimps and cover once again. Cook for 10-15 minutes. It will be ready when the clams open up.

  6. Remove from the heat, season to taste and serve.

Did you know that you can make your own low-salt vegetable stock cubes? Just grab 500 gr (about 1.1 lb) of your favorite vegetables, chop them and cook at low heat with 100 gr (3 oz) of sea salt for approximately 1 hour. The veggies will “sweat” and they will cook in their own liquid. Then mix them, scoop this purée into ice cube trays and take them to the freezer. Magnifique! Homemade stock cubes in 1-2-3.

If you have any leftovers, remove the clams before putting the paella into an airtight container. This type of seafood doesn't react well to the freezer and will acquire a rubbery texture.