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

What Are The Health Benefits of Root Vegetables and Sancocho 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 yucca, 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. 

Gluten-Free 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.


Puerto Rican Paleo Recipes

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 yucca, 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! 


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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 yucca 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. 


Gluten-Free Puerto Rican Recipes

Puerto Rican Sancocho

(Meat and Root Vegetable Stew) 

Ingredients: 

5-6 servings

  • 2 yucca/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

Directions: 

  • 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!!


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How to Make 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.

Healthy Puerto Rican Dinner Recipes

Ingredients: 

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 yucca root (cassava), can be bought frozen (peeled and cut)
  • 2 green plantains
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • 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 yucca, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. 
  • Bring the heat back to high, add the broth, plantain, and yucca. 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 yucca 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. 

Healthy Puerto Rican Dinner Recipes

Enjoy!

Made with Love,
Mayra

___

Thanks for reading our blog. Please let us know what you think of our articles and recipes in the comments below. If you’d like to stay up to date, join our Nutrition Dork’s mailing list here: https://sendfox.com/nutritiondork

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

Resources: 

**https://ohmyveggies.com/a-guide-to-root-vegetables/

https://www.oprah.com/health/dr-oz-foods-you-must-buy-organic 

How Do You Use a Sazón Seasoning?

How Do You Use a Sazón Seasoning?

What is Sazón?

Sazón is a seasoning used in Spanish and Latin cultures to add color and flavor to their foods. It is proven that foods with vibrant colors look more enticing and palatable. This is why the Latin culture has adapted using sazón in almost all of their recipes. 

What is Sazón made with?

Sazón is mainly made with Annatto which translates to Achiote in Spanish. Annatto is obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit. Sometimes also called annatto seeds. The color is extracted by heating the seed in oil or water. In sazón, annatto is used in its powdered form, blended with other spices like cumin, coriander, oregano, and sometimes salt.

Homemade Sazon Seasoning Mix

What does the word sazón mean?

The word Sazón is the Spanish word for flavor. Many times it also refers to seasoning, or to season (e.g. To season the meat). As you can see the sazón seasoning got its name while referring to the seasoning of the food in order to give it flavor. 

How do you use a Sazón Seasoning? 

Sazón is used in rice, stews, to marinate meats and more. With sazón you can make a bland piece of chicken, delicious and appetizing. You can add it to your favorite recipe to bring out the color in your rice, soups, stews, and to enhance the flavor of your foods. To use, follow the directions on the packaging. Most times sazón is used 1-2 teaspoons per every 3-4 servings. 

What Can I Use Instead of Sazón Seasoning?

Sazón is typically used to add an orange/yellow color to foods. Instead of sazón seasoning you can use ground annatto, oil of annatto (recipe below), ground turmeric, and with it add various spices like coriander, garlic, and cumin to your foods. 

How To Make Homemade Sazón Seasoning Mix

To make homemade sazón seasoning you will need ground annatto which is the key ingredient. With that you can add turmeric for its health benefits and bright orange color. You can also add spices like cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. I would recommend experimenting with the recipe until you get the right amount of color and flavor that pleases your tastebuds. Below I’ll share a DIY (do it yourself) recipe to get you started. 

Puerto Rican Sazon Recipe

DIY Puerto Rican Sazón Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ground annatto (achiote molido)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric (cúrcuma)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic (ajo)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (comino)

Optional ingredients:

  • Coriander
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Directions:

In a small bowl or container, blend all the ingredients together. Place in a labeled shaker to use as needed. 

How to Make “Aceite De Achiote” (Oil Of Annatto)

As I’m speaking of sazón I think it is important to also mention how achiote (annatto) initially was incorporated into our Latin cuisine. As I mentioned before, the primary use for annatto and sazón is for it’s color. The color is extracted by heating the annatto seeds in oil or water. I remember my mom making big batches of the oil of annatto, and kept it in glass jars to use as needed. 

Oil of annatto is used as a base when cooking “arroz junto” meaning our yellow rice which includes other ingredients like beans, meats, and vegetables. You’ve probably heard of “Arroz con Pollo” or Puerto Rican’s famous “Arroz con Gandules”. Both recipes include oil of annatto or sazón, or both! Now let’s move on to teach you how to make it, and how to use it. 

All-Natural Sazon Seasoning Recipe

DIY “Aceite de Achiote” (oil of annatto) Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Annatto seeds 
  • Oil of choice 
    • In this case you can use any type of oil you cook with. Many times in Latin cuisine, lard is used as the fat of choice. 
    • Healthy oil options include, avocado oil, and refined coconut oil. 

Directions:

Add 1 cup of annatto seeds per every 2 cups of oil in a pot. Bring the oil to a boil, and allow to boil for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool and strain the oil into a glass jar. If desired, you can save the annatto seeds for another time as you can use the same seeds twice. 

How to use “Aceite de Achiote” (oil of annatto)

You can use oil of annatto in place of plain oil when cooking rice, beans, stews, and to marinate meats. In Puerto Rican cuisine, oil of annatto is used to stir fry the sofrito used in most recipes. Oil of annatto is also used in the “masa” dough used to make Puerto Rican fritters like “Alcapurrias and Empanadillas” to give the dough it’s orange/yellow color. Most of the time the oil of annatto is used 1-2 tablespoon at a time. It all depends on what you are cooking. 

Here’s a quick recipe in which you can use oil of annatto

“Arroz a la jardinera” (Rice with vegetables)

Puerto Rican Sazon Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons oil of annatto
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh sofrito
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sazón (DIY or our delicious Healthy Rican Sazón)
  • 1 bouillon cube (or 3 cups of chicken broth)
  • 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (or 1 can of mixed vegetables) 
  • 3 cups of rice (preferably medium grain or jasmine rice) 
  • 3 cups of water, ONLY if using the bouillon cube
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or “caldero”, add the oil of annatto to high heat. 
  2. Add the sofrito and stir fry until it releases its aroma. 
  3. Add the sazón and bouillon cube (if using) until it’s dissolved into the sofrito. 
  4. Immediately add a bit of the water (if using the bouillon cube), or a bit of the broth. This is to make sure the sofrito doesn’t burn or stick to the pot. 
  5. Add the mixed vegetables and rice, and stir well. 
  6. Add the water, or chicken broth if using. 
  7. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Try the liquid and make sure it’s to your liking. Please note that the liquid should be on the salty side, as the rice will absorb the majority of the flavor. 
  8. Stir and allow to boil until the water/broth slightly disappears. 
  9. Stir again, cover, and set to low heat. 
  10. Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. The time will depend on what kind of rice you used. 
  11. Stir in between to make sure the rice doesn’t stick too much from the bottom. Unless you like “el pegao” which is the rice that burns to the bottom of the pot which will turn out golden, and nice and crunchy. 

Note: If you are using long grain or brown rice, you may need to add more water. Please read the package to make sure you have the correct amount of water per rice ratio. 

Enjoy!

Made with Love,

Mayra

___

Thanks for reading our blog. Please let us know what you think of our articles and recipes in the comments below. If you’d like to stay up to date, join our Nutrition Dork’s mailing list here: https://sendfox.com/nutritiondork

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

What Is a Typical Dinner in Puerto Rico?

What Is a Typical Dinner in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is known for it’s delicious and flavorful food. Typically a Puerto Rican dinner consists of rice, beans, meats, and stews. Mainly cooked in a heavy kettle or caldero. One of the most popular dinners includes beefsteaks, or in other words “bistec”. The beef is marinated in adobo, a mix of salt, garlic, black pepper, and oregano. Then it’s stir fried with onions, and peppers. It is mainly served with white rice, and bean stew, with a side of lettuce, tomatoes, and a slice of avocado. Puerto Rican dinners are super yummy, and the good news is, most dinners are Gluten-Free Puerto Rican Recipes.

Let’s have a look at the detailed cuisine of Puerto Rico and healthy Puerto Rican dinner recipes!

Appetizers and soups in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican meals usually begin with hot and sizzling appetizers. A few of them are sweet cornmeal aka sorullitos, empanadillas, alcapurrias, and fresh cod fritters. Among the favorites are the empanadillas which are demilune shaped turnovers filled with beef, chicken, cheese, and/or delicious seafood. 

For soups, asopao and sopa de platano are some of the most popular soups of Puerto Rican origin. A perfect way to start a savory dinner is to begin with healthy Puerto Rican soups. They are a powerhouse of nutrition with fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. The asopao is made like a chicken soup with rice instead of noodles, and a sopa de platanos is made with plantains. Both are very hearty soups and work great when following a Gluten-Free diet

Asopao can also be called Sopón. You may find it called; Sopón de Pollo con Arroz. It is a rice-chicken recipe that tastes different in every restaurant you visit.

Sopón de garbanzos con patas de cerdo is among the most authentic variations. It’s a soup made with pork feet and chickpeas. It is definitely a unique recipe found in only some restaurants. 

What is the best food to eat in Puerto Rico?

The best Puerto Rican Foods are Tostones, Arroz Con Gandules and Mofongo.

a. Tostones:

Puerto Rico is famous for its tostones. This dish is a plantain appetizer or side dish, that is known for being fried twice. The fried plantains aka tostones are paired with mayo-ketchup, a sauce made with mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic, and hot sauce.

b. Arroz con gandules:

Considered a national dish of the island, Arroz con gandules is an authentic Puerto Rican recipe. The recipe starts with white rice with added pigeon peas, olives, tomato sauce, sazón, and sofrito. Sofrito is a kitchen foundation consisting of onions,  peppers, cilantro, and garlic. Some add plantain leaves on top of the caldero as it cooks to add extra flavor, and make the rice taste like a “pastel”, a Puerto Rican tamale made during the holidays made with green bananas and yautia. 

c. Mofongo:

While cooking Puerto Rican paleo recipes, you can make mofongo which is mashed plantains. A paleo mofongo recipe includes green plantains, garlic, and salt. The seasoning and filling have beef, chicken, vegetables, or shrimp. Mofongo relleno is one of the most popular dishes in restaurants around the island. 

A few of the other best foods are Alcapurrias, Empanadillas, and Rellenos de Papa as appetizers, and Pernil, Pastelon, Pasteles… So many good choices in Puerto Rican cuisine.  You’ll want to try it all!

DIY Puerto Rican Adobo

What are the typical Puerto Rican ingredients?

The aroma of cuisines in Puerto Rico comes from a mixture of Adobo and Sofrito herbs and spices. It brings a distinctive flavor and color to most indigenous foods. A DIY Puerto Rican adobo marinade can be made with a blend of oregano, black pepper, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Sofrito is a blend of onions, peppers, garlic, culantro or cilantro, blended with a bit of oil. Add Sazón or achiote (annatto seeds), to give rice, soup, and stews it’s shiny yellow color. 

A Puerto Rican Sazón Recipe is a mixture of ingredients. They are a delicious mix of Spanish, African, Taino, and American influences. You can add achiote (annatto seeds), coriander, cumin, and garlic. Everyone makes it a bit different, but there are many store bought sazóns that are healthy and delicious. Just make sure to get the ones made with pure ingredients, without artificial colors and ingredients (check out our own healthy blends at the shop Healthy Rican, made by Nutrition Dork).

Make a Homemade Sazón Seasoning Mix by combining annatto, garlic, and salt to start. You can also include cumin, black pepper, coriander, and oregano for a flavorful sazón mix. 

Main Dishes in Puerto Rico

There are a variety of main dishes in Puerto Rico. From rice and beans, to root vegetables and fish, and plantains in various recipes. The food in Puerto Rico is always enticing, distinct, and bold. The people enjoy tasty yet easy Puerto Rican recipes. As they grow a diverse range of vegetables, the island is famous for chayote, a pear-shaped vegetable also known as a christophine plant. Along with berenjena (eggplant), and various squashes like calabaza.
Puerto Rican Sazon Recipe

What are the two typical dishes in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico has a history of savory dishes. Two of the traditional dishes are pasteles and Arroz con dulce. Especially during the holidays. Pasteles are made with green plantains and are generally filled with pork. Can also be made with added yuca or yautia, and chicken. In flavor and texture, many people believe that they are like tamales. Arroz Con Dulce is a coconut rice pudding made of coconut milk, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, and cloves. Garnished with cinnamon sticks & raisins and served as a dessert.

Is Puerto Rican food spicy

Puerto Rican food is spicy, but not hot. It is a combination of spices and herbs which makes the food very flavorful and savory. Most of the food dishes include sofrito, adobo, and sazón as seasonings staples.

Desserts and Drinks in Puerto Rico?

The most popular dessert in Puerto Rico is flan, a caramel custard, made with various milks, condensed milk, and eggs. Flan can be made in various flavors like vanilla, cheese, coconut, and even nutella. 

There are various sweets like guava cake, orange layer cake, and banana cupcakes.

The most popular dessert ingredient is coconut. You can taste a wide variety of tasty desserts with it. Many serve it as coconut flan, coconut cream, and candied coconut rice. You can also find coconut in popular drinks like piña colada, and coquito (a coconut eggnog for the holidays).

Gluten-free Puerto Rican Recipes

Rum is the national drink. Puerto Rico is its leading producer. A few others that go on the list are coquito, black coffee, and beer (Cerveza).

While the food is spicy (in a delicious not hot way), the people are famous for having a sweet tooth. Right from Puerto Rican Breakfasts to Desserts, the food is worth admiring.

What is Puerto Rican ice cream called?

The Puerto Rican ice cream is called helado del país. It comes in various fruit flavors that are indigenous to the island. Some of the flavors are coconut, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit. 

A piragua is another type of “ice cream”. It is not really ice cream, but more like a snow cone as it is a shaved ice cone in the shape of a pyramid, with a fruity syrup on top. The syrup comes in different flavors. They include raspberry, pineapple, coconut, guava, or tamarind.

Piragua is a blend of Spanish words pirámide ("pyramid") and agua ("water").

What drink is Puerto Rico known for?

Puerto Rico is famous for Pina colada, a famous rum-based cocktail.

It is an easy Puerto Rican recipe as it is a proportionate combination of coconut cream, pineapple juice, ice, and rum.

Dinner Etiquette in Puerto Rico

You say "Buen provecho" (enjoy your meal) when you visit a restaurant. At lunch, you say “Buenos dias.” And, it is “Buenas tardes” during dinner.

Puerto Ricans are friendly. You are expected to greet and smile even when you do not know the people sitting at the next table.

What time is dinner in Puerto Rico?

People prefer to consume dinner late in Puerto Rico. Many of the restaurants do not open before 6 in the evening. Until 7, it is usually a person or two. Yet it gets crowded after 8:00 p.m.

Do you tip waiters in Puerto Rico?

In Puerto Rico, tipping is the usual etiquette. It is like most other parts of the U.S. Also, it is an essential source of income.

Fifteen percent of the bill is the average after you have enjoyed a great meal. It is not mandatory to tip in bars. But, you can still tip with $1 per drink.

Takeaway

Puerto Rican Dinner draws influences from American, Taino, Spanish and African cooking. The typical dishes comprise a variety of exotic blends. It reflects the colorful culture. The tropical ingredients make the perfect culinary diversity. Visit Nutrition Dork for healthy Puerto Rican dinner recipes.

How my Health and Nutrition Obsession Started

How my Health and Nutrition Obsession Started

I grew up in Puerto Rico where there was not much knowledge in nutrition and healthy habits, but there were many natural remedies. My interest in reading self-help and home remedy books started as a teenager after experiencing health complications at a very young age. My health issues began in my teenage years, but my real obsession for health, nutrition, and natural remedies started in my mid-twenties after many health issues arose. As a young adult and mom, I felt tired all the time, weak, in pain, and like I was 10 times older than I really was. All I wanted was to figure out what was wrong with me and how to fix it. When I didn’t receive many answers from my doctors, I decided to start doing my own research. Since I wasn’t prone to prescription medications anyways and had an inclination to natural remedies, my journey as an obsessed researcher began.

I still remember how my mother and grandmother would make these concoctions that worked wonders. Sometime in the 1990s, during a hot Summer day in Puerto Rico, I came down with some sort of flu. I must have been 11 or 12 years of age. I was feeling weak and had a very high fever. My grandmother asked me to lay down, then started applying an oil concoction on my feet. The oil had a very strong smell to it, at the moment I had no idea what it was. Later in life, I found out it was an oil of “camphor”. She then asked me to put on socks, bundle up and go to sleep. “But it’s the middle of the day and it’s hot!” I complained. But grandmother said I had to, so I did. After falling asleep around noon, I woke up a few hours later feeling refreshed, energized and with no fever whatsoever. That was my first experience with natural remedies, and I was impacted at such a young age.

Shortly after that experience with my grandmother, I ended up in the hospital with gastroenteritis. I remember I felt bad because my sister was chosen to represent our small community in a parade, as a princess, and my parents and I weren’t there to see her. As my sister was getting ready that day, I was running to the bathroom nonstop. I don’t remember much after that, except being in the hospital with an IV attached to my arm. After I got dismissed, I remember being very hungry and asking my mom to buy me treats. She gave me soda crackers, apple sauce, and ginger ale for a few days. I never understood why soda crackers, apple sauce, and ginger ale until I started learning about nutrition in my adulthood (which I’ll explain in a bit).

After these experiences, I started paying attention to my mom’s remedies and even reading some of her self-help and natural remedies books. I found all the remedies so intriguing. I started learning all sorts of remedies and would look up different symptoms just for fun. In the core of my being, I knew natural remedies work wonders and it’s a better alternative to prescription medicine in some cases.

When I had my son at age 21, I realized I don’t react well to certain medications. I remember being in the hospital after my C-section asking the nurses for pain medications. After the nurse gave me one of the strongest pain killers, I had a massive panic attack. I was shaking, couldn’t sleep, felt paranoid and much more. I remember calling the nurse asking her for something to calm me down. Not sure what she gave me, but the way she put it was, she gave me a medicine strong enough to knock down an elephant and wasn’t sure why I was reacting that way. A few years later I ended up in the hospital for something else and I had a similar reaction. I remember wanting to rip out my IV and just run away. I imagined myself as a crazy run-away woman in the hospital. Thank goodness I was able to internally calm myself down and waited until the doctor came to see me. That day I decided that I was going to avoid visits to the hospital as much as possible and that I would figure out how I could deal with any symptom in a natural way.

My health and nutrition obsession began. After my mom’s natural remedies books, as a young adult, I subscribed to Prevention magazines. Shortly after that, I started buying their books and other books they recommended. I was determined to learn all about health, wellness, nutrition and how it was related to my conditions. I read, Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, Bottom Lines Health Breakthroughs of 2013, New Choices in Natural Healing and more. A few years and many books later I decided to join the largest nutrition school, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015. After graduating with a Health Coaching Certificate in 2016 I was excited to share with others what I had learned about health and nutrition.

Little that I know, life had other plans for me. I was feeling extremely ill. I started presenting symptoms in 2016. I felt mayor daily headaches. Doctors diagnosed me with Chronic Migraines. Even though inside of me I knew that migraines weren’t the case, but I was desperate for relief. After months of daily headaches, I decided to give their suggestions a try. I tried every medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic and more. Nothing was working. A few months later, my headaches started going away on their own, but a new symptom arrived. Now my feet were hurting. I was immediately diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and was told to stretch and exercise my feet. Then my hips and lower back started to hurt. “What now?” I thought to myself. I finally told my doctor “I feel like I’m 90 years old, what’s going on with me?” At that point, every inch of my body was in pain and sometimes I couldn’t walk or get out of bed in the morning. After many tests were done, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease in August of 2017.

And again, the researching begins. “What the heck is Lyme Disease?” I asked myself. I never learned about this in my books or in school. I became, once again, obsessed. One of the first books I found was Unlocking Lyme by Dr. Rawls. Even as an MD, he as well had struggled with Lyme Disease and all its symptoms. He precisely described what is Lyme Disease, how what and why one gets symptoms while others don’t. Plus, he shares his journey and how he overcame the disease using practical solutions. Learning about Lyme was fascinating to me. Although some days I despised the symptoms I had to go through, in a way I loved learning about it. I learned that optimal health is much more than balanced nutrition, it’s also detoxing, eliminating food triggers, replenishing the gut, lots of self-care and more. It opened up a whole new world for me. Soon after I meet Ariel Wachowiak, a health practitioner that took my health to the next level. She is a Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist that specializes in Lyme Disease. With her help, I was able to learn about herbs, botanicals, traditional Chinese Medicine, recommended nutrition for the disease and more. That’s when I learned that the digestive issues I experienced at a young age had followed me all throughout my life.

The Gut and Immune System. With the help of Ariel and Dr. Rawls book, I learned that 80% of our immune system lives in the gut. When our gut (digestion) is compromised, so is our immune system. And with a weak immune system, our body can’t help us fight against disease, which can lead to the growth of bad bacteria, pathogens and even parasites in our body. With their recommendations, I started implementing gut healing foods, herbs and more. One of them was ginger. Which is why many people associate ginger ale with being good for the stomach. I told you I’d get back to the ginger ale. As for the soda crackers and apple sauce, my mom gave me, the starch in the soda crackers help absorb the acid in the stomach and mashed foods like apple sauce are easier for digestion. Plus, apples are great to open up the gallbladder ducts that help eliminate toxins. It’s all an overall win-win.

Today, thanks to my obsessions and research, I’m glad to say that my symptoms have improved more than 50% and I’m well on my way to remission. I’m excited to have a long-lasting good relationship with my body, nutrition, overall health, and wellness.

 

Thanks for reading.

Wishing you much health and happiness,

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide

A real woman

A real woman

A real woman…

A real woman can have a pouch because she is able to carry a baby when/if the time comes.

A real woman can wear her stretch marks with pride. She knows they are scars of growth and show how her body changed from girl to woman or from woman to mother.

A real woman knows it’s ok to have saggy boobs because she’s knows they are there for a purpose.

A real woman has strong big arms because she’s able to hold her babies all day. Plus, she still have the strength to lift them up as they get older and fall asleep on the couch.

A real woman is allowed to have dark circles around her eyes. As caregivers, mothers, wives, and/or professionals, their dedication is endless and many times puts others before her own needs.

A real woman can decide whether or not she wants a career or be a stay at home mom or both.

A real woman can choose not to have kids and/or get married.

A real woman can have grey hair and be proud of her years and wisdom.

A real woman can love her body, enjoy eating foods and still be healthy.

A real woman can have rolls on her body and be proud of it.

A real woman is allowed to love herself, know her worth, be proud, without being conceited.

A real woman is not perfect. She has flaws, makes mistakes, keeps learning, and keeps growing.

A real woman should never feel embarrassed of her scars, her uniqueness, and her body.

A real woman is beautiful in all ways, shapes, and forms.

A real woman just is.

Dedicated to ALL the women in the World. Never forget that you are perfect and beautiful exactly how you are and/or choose to be.

Written by Mayra Luz Colón
Artwork by Instagram artist @ariises

I thought I was going to die.

I thought I was going to die.

I’d like to ask you…
Have you ever wondered how it feels to live with a chronic illness or auto-immune disease? Like how it really feels… mentally, physically, inside and out? If you’ve never been diagnosed you probably don’t know exactly how it feels, but I’m sure you know someone that does and can resonate somehow. I’d like to share some insight into how it feels using my own journey as an example.
Why?
Because regardless of whether or not you have a disease… we all have a story, we all have traumas, we all have felt symptoms at some point, we are ALL in this journey through life’s ups and downs, and we are ALL in need of connection, empathy and support (whether we know it or not). This is WHY I share, this is why I desire to create awareness, this is why I do what I do. And I share this not to make you feel bad about me or anyone else, or to seek attention or make anyone feel guilty. I share this in hopes to create awareness about disease, it’s symptoms, it’s origin(s), and most importantly, in hopes of inspiring more empathy and compassion towards one another.
As human beings, we need to stick together. Whether we like it or not, we all need each other, collectively and energetically in order to survive. Through my toughest years, I tried doing it all alone, I tried to be tough… And it wasn’t until I opened up, mainly because I was too weak to do it on my own, that everything changed. The suffering is gone, the pain is gone, the depression is gone, the anxiety is gone… Now it feels like I’m just flowing through life and I must share. Now I feel like I’m always meeting the right people, always at the right place at the right time, and like the next steps (in health and life) just open up. What I need will always show up! No matter what it is, I just need to trust. And TRUST…ing has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve ever learned in my life! But we’ll talk about that another time.
For those of you going through something right now, a disease, a trauma, a situation or whatever it is… I hear you! And I’m sending you good vibes and a virtual hug!

As I always say;
“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
Now back to the story of when I thought I was going to die…
First, let me introduce myself in case we have never met in person or you just don’t remember me. In the picture above, I’m wearing my favorite tee-shirt that says, “Heart of a Warrior” (because I do). My name is Mayra, as of today I’m a 37 year old Latina living in Buffalo, NY. I consider myself a Nutrition Dork & Lyme Wellness Warrior. I’m obsessed with GOOD Food, Natural Healing, Holistic Health, Wellness and Spirituality, anything to do with Arts, Oh, and dancing!! I’m definitely very multi-passionate.
Back to the (never told before) story…
It all started over 16 years ago after I had my son. Even though I had a normal pregnancy, I didn’t know that the hormones and overeating would push me over to dis-ease. From 2002 to 2017, I suffered from every symptom you can name (well not all, but a lot). I suffered from depression, digestive issues, fatigue, migraines, thyroid disease symptoms, weight gain, auto-immune, joint pain, and more. At some point during this time, I became obsessed about figuring out why I kept getting symptom after symptom. So I did what I do best, research, research and more research.  After being a self-thought nutrition and fitness dork for years, I finally decided to join the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015. The more I learned the more my passion to help others with their nutrition, fitness, and weight loss goals. I felt called to help heal the World. I also became a Turbo Kick instructor in 2012 and then a Zumba Instructor in 2016 (because I was equally obsessed with fitness too). After graduating from IIN late 2016 I had many aspirations, goals, and dreams.
Little that I know, that disease was creeping in…
You see, those ups and downs with my weight (and symptoms) were just the start. Disease doesn’t just show up out of nowhere, it can take up to years if not an entire lifetime to present themselves in a chronic way. No matter what I did and how much I tried, my health kept decreasing. I was clueless and unaware that my immune system had been compromised YEARS ago. And to heal that, it’s was going to require much more than fad diets and exercise alone. I was also unaware that, in 2011 I was bitten by a Lyme infected tick and was never treated. You see, Lyme disease takes advantage of a weak immune system. As it takes over, it will slowly cause a number of symptoms and wreak havoc in your health and body. 
It wasn’t until 2017 that I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Progressive symptoms started years before that, but I didn’t present chronic symptoms until late 2015. It started with mild headaches, then daily headaches for a year, then joint pain, chronic fatigue and exhaustion, and all of that was on top of all the digestive issues I had since I was a child. Needless to say, I felt like crap!  In total, I spent over 16 years feeling a disease of some sort and was always trying to figure out what was going on. All I wanted was to figure out how could heal myself naturally.
I felt like I had tried everything. I kept bouncing from doctor to doctor, to treatments, to natural remedies, to physical therapy and more… I must have tried it all (or at least felt like it). But symptoms kept progressing. My body was in so much pain it was hard to even walk at the end of the night, and would wake up without feeling like a ton of bricks fell on me. I got fed up one day, called off work and made a doctors appointment. I walked into the doctor’s office in tears as I told my doctor “I can’t take it anymore, I feel like I’m 90 years old!” I literally felt like I was dying!
After many many tests, my doctor said, “I’m going to do this one last test and if it’s negative I may have to send you to a specialist.” This is what I heard “I don’t know what to do with you anymore.” Honestly, I was devastated! But to the blinds eye, I was OK!
It was very hard and frustrating (inside) not to be able or afraid to express what I really felt. When I did I got weird looks (like I was making things up) or people would just change the subject. Not that I talked about it a lot, because I wanted people to see me as the “strong”, “independent” woman I’ve always been. I kept telling myself “I got this” but honestly, deep deep inside, I didn’t believe it. I cried myself to sleep sometimes or just couldn’t sleep because I was lost in negative thoughts thinking I was dying.
When the last test came positive to Lyme, it was kind of a relief!
My first thought was “What the heck is Lyme?” I was relieved to know I wasn’t crazy and was making all these symptoms up. At least I had a name to what I was feeling (not that it really mattered). I quickly found out that Lyme is a complex disease that is not easily treated with western medicine.
At the moment I didn’t know it was actually a blessing in disguise. It was what I had unconsciously asked for to get me where I want/need to be. Again, this is a story for another time (I have lots of stories).
As the “let me research this” kind of person I am, ALL of it lead me to a path of self-discovery. A path I may have never taken if it wasn’t for this diagnose. A path of FAITH, TRUST & SPIRITUALITY.
I decided to put my business to a side and focus on my own personal healing journey and self-improvement. I surrounded myself with like-minded and positive people, hired an Integrative Medicine Practitioner, read books, joined programs, and learned everything about Lyme disease, holistic modalities, spirituality, and more. I’ve learned to connect the dots and equally balance my mind, body, and spirit. A year later, although still in the journey, I can say that more than 50% of my symptoms improved, and I’m feeling better than ever from the inside out. I know now that the best is yet to come. (happy dance)
Now, my energy is UP (no more meds of any kind). I wake up energized, I go to sleep and wake up with a positive and grateful attitude, my mood has improved, and I truly feel GOOD (which is my priority). Doing things that make ME feel good!
My mission has completely changed since 2016.
Now my mission is to help end suffering. To help people (that I call warriors) take back their health and life from disease, reduce and get rid of symptoms forever. For those that allow my support, my goal is to create a shortcut and avoid the many many years it took me. Because I realized, we don’t even need a diagnose to start healing and improving our health.
Together we will figure out what works best for you and kick-start a healing journey that doesn’t take 16 years. Help provide the guidance, support, and motivation you need in order to stay consistent and achieve living a better quality life.
Because we all deserve to live at EASE!
Again, the reason I share all of this is; because I know I’m not alone. Far too many people are suffering in silence because they think no one will understand. To those I want to say, I UNDERSTAND! And you are not alone.
If you resonated with this post, I invite you to stay in touch. Either via email or social media. I will be sharing lots of great holistic health and wellness resources, nutrition advice, recipes and more. Although email will definitely have its advantages! You’ll get first dibs, great resources and content (like Tasty Tuesday’s recipes) that I will not share on social media.
You guys are my tribe and for that, I appreciate you! 🙂
I’m opening up my calendar to be of service. If you could use a vent, or some inspiration, please send me a private message and let’s chat! I’m all ears (free of judgment), you can tell me anything!
To schedule a call visit: https://nutritiondork.com/letschat/ 
If you made it this far, I appreciate you. Thanks again for being here with me.
Wishing you much love, health, and happiness,
Mayra