Healthy Puerto Rican “Gazpacho”

Healthy Puerto Rican “Gazpacho”

Gazpacho is a cold dish made with “Bacalao.” Bacalao is salted codfish that is used in many ways in Puerto Rican dishes, and it’s actually one of the healthiest. It’s high in protein, omegas, and healthy fats.

Codfish health benefits include; high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, the same type found in oily fish or seafood like salmon, mackerel and sardines. It’s also one of the few and best vitamin D–rich foods. No wonder our ancestors were so healthy, they would eat bacalao almost every day.

Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats are proven to improve joint mobility, brain function, reduce inflammation, improve overall health, and much more. Check out more of the benefits in the resources below.

Nutrition Dork Tip: Make sure the package says “Wild Caught” and/or codfish from Alaska. Due to ocean contamination, we need to make sure we get our fish and any other seafood from great healthy sources.

GAZPACHO RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of fully cooked boneless salted cod or pollock fish fillets (pollock is a marine fish species of the cod family)
  • 2 or 3 small ripe avocados (the more the merrier)
  • 1 or 1/2 small chopped yellow or red onion (your preference)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 – 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional: 1 tsp of vinegar or squeezed lemon (maintains the freshness of the salad)
  • Pink salt (if needed) and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Rinse the salt of the fish very well (2 or 3 times). You can also soak overnight or for a few hours. I usually rinse the fish very well, then boil it to remove the excess salt. Sporadically taste the fish to make sure it’s to your liking.
  • Let it cool and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl mix the chopped avocados, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice.
  • Pull the fish into flakes and make sure there are no stray bones.
  • Add the fish to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix very well.
  • Add pepper to taste and salt if needed. The fish might still have some remaining salt.
  • Serve immediately and ENJOY!
  • You can refrigerate for up to 24 hours but it’s best when served immediately.
  • Typically this dish is served inside soft roll, or with white rice as shown in the picture. 
  • Other healthy pairings are, 1 cup of brown rice, and/or cooked quinoa, for a low-carb option.  
  • If served with quinoa, this dish is high in protein, omegas, and healthy fats. All proven to promote weight loss, so ENJOY!!

Note: For a healthy vegan option, omit the fish and add over greens for a tasty and delicious salad!

Buen Provecho!

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide!

 

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3#section14

https://draxe.com/omega-3-benefits-plus-top-10-omega-3-foods-list/

http://nourishingtraditions.com/are-we-over-dosing-on-omega-3s-or-why-we-need-fish-liver-oil-not-fish-oil/

Cauliflower “Arroz con Pollo”

Cauliflower “Arroz con Pollo”

My first time trying this and it came out perfect!

It tasted like Puerto Rican “arroz con pollo.” A bit mushy, but if you are okay with that, and just looking for the flavor to satisfy your craving, then you are in luck! It’s a great alternative for a low carb diet.

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb – cooked pulled chicken
  • 1-2 tbs – healthy fat of choice
  • 1-2 tbs – homemade “sofrito
  • 1-2 tbs – homemade “sazón
  • 1-2 tbs – homemade “adobo
  • Optional: olives, diced red peppers, and onions.
  • 2 tbs – plain tomato sauce
  • 2 lbs – cauliflower rice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • For the chicken, boil 2-3 chicken breasts for approximately 10 minutes or until pink is gone. Let cool and pull the chicken in treads using 2 forks.
  • In a separate pot, add healthy fat and “sofrito” on high temperature until the “sofrito” sizzles and releases the aroma.
  • Quickly mix together the “sazón”, “adobo”, and tomato sauce. At this moment you can also add any olives, onions, peppers, or any extra ingredients you’d like to add.
  • Add the chicken, mix well with all the ingredients until the chicken absorbs the color and flavor.
  • Add the cauliflower and mix well.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Lower temperature and cover.
  • Do not add water. The cauliflower will release juices as it cooks.
  • Cook on low for approximately 10-15 minutes, mixing in between to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

NOTE: Make sure the flavor is to your liking. Everyone makes Puerto Rican foods in different ways. My rule of thumb is, if you are familiar with Puerto Rican food, start the recipe as you normally would at the beginning. When it comes time to add the rice and water, you’d add the cauliflower rice instead, minus the water. The cauliflower will release juices as it cooks and there is no need for extra water.

Enjoy!!

Made with love,

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide

Finished product! Yummy!

References:
https://draxe.com/healthy-cooking-oils/
https://empoweredsustenance.com/lard-is-healthy/

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Puerto Rican Sofrito

Everyone makes Puerto Rican sofrito in their own way. Just like cooking, we all have our own styles. This is my personal way of making sofrito. You will find that everyone makes it slightly different. There isn’t a perfect, right or wrong way, we all have our own “Sabor” aka style. After making sofrito a few times, and cooking with it, you’ll be able to play around with the recipe and make it your own.

Made with more red, yellow, and orange peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bag of yellow onions
  • About the same amount of onions, buy a variety of peppers (green, red, orange, yellow). It’s your choice, although they can all be green.
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (and/or culantro)
  • 6 to 8 oz. of peeled garlic cloves. I don’t measure, but I’d say about 2 or 3 handfuls. I like a lot of garlic so I buy a pack of already peeled garlic cloves and put it all in there.

The next 2 ingredients are optional, as these are harder to find in stores sometimes. It all depends on where you live, and how much access you have to Latino groceries. No biggie if you can’t find these, as cilantro and bell peppers are very similar in flavor.

  • About 2 handfuls of “Ajisito” aka “Aji dulce” (similar to a sweet pepper).
  • 1 bunch of “Recao” aka culantro. In stores, it would be near the cilantro as they are very similar in taste. If you do find it, it’ll be long green leaves and probably say “Recao” on it.

Note: You would add these in addition to the other ingredients.

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together in a blender, if it’s too hard to mix, add a bit of water or oil until they start to blend. If they don’t all fit, you can start a bit at a time or in batches.

To store; Keep 1 jar or container in the fridge to use as needed, and freeze the rest.  You can either use various plastic containers or use ice cube trays to freeze the sofrito in portions, then move to a large ziplock bag, and save in the freezer. It’s all up to you!

Sofrito is a very important ingredient in Puerto Rican cooking, and even on a daily basis. It’s used in rice, beans, stews, soups, meats, and more. It’s what gives Puerto Rican foods it’s amazing flavor.

Depending on what I’m making, I use about 1 or 2 tbs at a time. It all depends on the amount of food you are making. Examples, for 1 can of beans, I’d use 1 tbs, and for 3 cups of rice, I’d use 2 tbs. It is all preference, and you may have to play around with it to find out yours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and able to apply to your next Puerto Rican dish!

Made with love,

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide

Adobo and Sazón Seasonings, made Healthy

Adobo and Sazón Seasonings, made Healthy

I choose to make my own adobo and sazón because most packaged ones sold in stores are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like MSG, GMO’s, artificial colors, fillers, and bleached/refined salt. Any white salt means it has been bleached, refined, processed, and stripped from its natural color and nutrition.

I personally use Himalayan pink salt in it’s most natural form. That would mean that it has not been depleted of its pure form, color, and natural minerals. Pure salts have minerals that our bodies actually benefit from. Other good choices are natural sea salt, celtic salt, and any other salts with their natural color.

RECIPES:

Adobo

  • 2 tbs. Himalayan fine pink salt
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp. Turmeric 
  • Mix all together and place it in a labeled shaker.

Sazón 

  • 2 tbs. Ground annatto (achiote molido)
  • 2 tsp. Ground turmeric 
  • 1 tsp. Ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. Garlic powder
  • Mix all together and place it in a labeled shaker. Optional:  you can also add 1 tbs of Himalayan salt. I make one of each because depending on what I’m making, I like salted or unsalted sazón.

Nutrition Dork Tips: You can also make them ORGANIC by buying all the individual seasonings labeled USDA Organic. Adobo and Sazón are typically used to season meats, rice, beans, stew, and soups. Adobo is mainly used to season meats, while sazón is used to give food a nice orange/yellow color and a bit of Latin flavor.

Please note that we only do small quantities at a time in order to avoid the product from caking. In order to avoid the hassle of buying individual seasonings, and mixing up in small amounts, we are in the process of manufacturing our very own adobo and sazón. We are very excited and can’t wait to share it with everyone! #staytuned

I hope you enjoy these Latin/Puerto Rican staple seasonings and able to create delicious foods with a bit of Latin “Sabor” (flavor).

Made with love,

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide

Reference:
https://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-healthy-salt-recommendations/

Is traditional Puerto Rican food, Healthy?

Is traditional Puerto Rican food, Healthy?

I feel a bit annoyed when I hear people say, “Puerto Rican food is not healthy.” When you take time to analyze traditional Puerto Rican foods and how they were made, you’ll find that in its nature, the food is actually pretty healthy. I’ve been studying nutrition for over 5 years now; the latest research shows, the healthiest diets consist of mainly wholesome foods in their natural state, healthy fats, and a good source of protein.

Now, let’s break this down into the two major diet theories out there; Veganism and Paleo. These two mayor diet theories seem to contradict but are indeed similar. Both enforce consuming more fruits, vegetables and wholesome foods as the main portion of one’s diet. Where they differ is, Paleo relies on animal consumption as their main source of protein, omegas, and fatty acids; whereas, Veganism relies on nuts, seeds, grains, beans and legumes.

Traditional Puerto Rican foods are actually a combination of both. If we learn to choose the right ingredients, and healthiest food combinations; there is no reason for us not to enjoy all our favorite foods.

Before commercialized foods, most people in Puerto Rico and all around the World were eating from the land and whatever was in season. In Puerto Rico, foods like roots vegetables, avocados, mangos, papayas, bananas and plantains, and many other fruits and vegetables are native to the island. Many would grow organically in different seasons, and some would grow year-round. As a tropical island, there was an abundance of wild fruits and vegetables that would grow organically in people’s back yards. Unfortunately, throughout the years, commercialized foods, industries, chemicals, constructions, climate changes, among other things, have caused hardship on the growth of Puerto Rico’s native foods.

Back in the day, most Puerto Ricans fished, and pasture-raised animals in their own land, depending on what part of the island they lived in. Lands close to the ocean would fish, while those up in the mountains raised animals like pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, and even rabbits. Even in the 1990s, when I was growing up in parts of the country, there was still an abundance of wild fruits and vegetables. I still remember wandering with my friends through the wilderness, finding exotic fruits and natural ponds to bath in. We were even chased by a bull one time because people were still raising animals in their own back yards, allowing the animals to be wild and free. One of my neighbors had a whole farm full of grass-fed cows, another neighbor had pigs, and my next-door neighbor had free-range chickens and ducks. Even my dad had a few chickens and ducks that had crossed over. I guess living in harmony and exchanging goods was still a thing in some parts of the island up to the 1990s.

Before commercialized foods and the implementation of the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), most Puerto Ricans were healthy, and there was a huge lack of obesity, cancer, auto-immune diseases, and other major illnesses. In fact, most households would cook fresh foods every day, and schools rarely served processed foods. It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that things started to change. With many climate changes, little by little, I started seeing fewer animals, no ponds, less wild fruits, and lots more other alternatives to foods. I slowly started noticing more and more fast foods, processed foods and less vegetation being served. Of course, as a kid, I adjusted easily to the new ways. I never realized how bad the situation was until I found myself being un-healthy myself and dealing with mayor chronic health issues in my early twenties.

The Change: Once I realized I was stuck in a SAD diet and how bad it was for me, I decided to make a change. Through much research and learning about nutrition; it led me to realize that a traditional Puerto Rican diet was pretty healthy and even the best alternative for me. I started adding wholesome organic foods, wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, free-range poultry, and healthy fats like avocado. Then I started making all my favorite Puerto Rican foods in a healthier way and realized everyone can do this. They just need to learn what foods to avoid, how to replace them with healthier ingredients and learn to combine foods in a way that it’s easier to digest. I’ll explain these in the next few paragraphs.

First off, learning how to food combine is essential. Before learning this, I was a mess with every digestive issue you can mention. Now, I stick to some basic principles of food combining. I eat fruits for breakfast or on its own as a snack, for lunch and dinner, I choose either a protein with vegetables or starches with vegetables. Vegetables can be eaten with carbs or protein, but all three together can be hard on your digestive system.  As a side note: Healing your digestion can be the best thing you ever do for your body. If you didn’t know, 80% of your immune system lives in your gut (digestive system). Therefore, if you heal your gut, you can also heal your body. Food combining is one of the first steps to getting there.

Second, avoid all processed foods. To make it simple, processed foods are the ones made in a factory. Anything, from a box, can, or container has been processed in some way shape or form. If you do find yourself buying something processed, make sure it’s made from wholesome ingredients (that you can read and understand); with 5 ingredients or less.

Third, choose foods that are in season. The best way to do this is to visit local farmers’ markets and see what they have available. You can also do a quick google search to find out what grows seasonally in your area.

Finally, fats. For a long-time fat in the Nutrition-World has been looked at like the source of all evil. It wasn’t until a few years ago that researchers discovered that fat is good for you, even fried foods, you just need to know which ones. Healthy fats can help improve your brain function, increase energy, improve your metabolism and ability to burn fat, and more. Healthy fats are necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are some examples of healthy fats; coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, lard, and tallow. Studies show that consuming these fats with a large sum of vegetables; can increase your health, prevent and even recover from illness and disease. The reason I mention fats is because Puerto Rican foods are known for their fried foods. When frying, coconut oil is the best option.
As a side note: if you are consuming animals, animal products and fats, avoid the consumption of processed carbs. This combination of lots of carbs and fats is the leading cause of high cholesterol and disease. Ideally, fats are consumed with a large sum of fresh vegetables, including root vegetables.

In summary, the next time you are thinking of eating healthy, just remember it doesn’t have to be boring, and you don’t have to give up on your favorite foods. Consume a large number of vegetables with all meals and fruits as a snack or with breakfast; at least 50% of your daily food intake. The remainder 50% should be divided into whole grains and proteins. Whole grains should be in their natural form and may include rice, grains, starchy vegetables, and root vegetables. Proteins include; animal sources like farm-raised meats, fish, poultry, milk, and eggs, and non-animal sources like legumes, nuts, and seeds. Include healthy fats with all your meals, foods like avocados, coconut oil, butter, nut butter, and more. Remember to buy foods that are in season and/or from your local farmer’s markets.

Keep in mind your bio-individuality when choosing a healthy lifestyle. We are all different and what works for one person, may not work for another. If you are confused or don’t know where to start, seek professional guidance from an experienced holistic health coach or practitioner that has been trained in bio-individuality, and can help you figure out your personal needs.

I’m open to chat if you feel called. 🙂
http://nutritiondork.com/letschat

Wishing you much health and happiness,

Mayra

References:
https://draxe.com/paleo-vs-vegan-diet/
https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/fats-and-oils-and-their-impact-on-health/
https://draxe.com/healthy-fats/
https://healthfully.com/179652-puerto-rican-food-nutrition.html
https://thedrjoe.com/carbs-fats-together/
https://www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2016/08/integrative-nutrition-s-secret-to-total-health-bio-individuality
https://drhyman.com/?s=fats+with+carbs

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