In this year’s June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a study was published noting that the "prevalence of overweight in the US population is among the highest in Mexican-American children and adolescents." Among other factors, this figure is attributed to poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, and low socioeconomic status. In a recent (and completely unrelated) news interview (I forget which one) a nutritionist was quoted as saying that grandmothers really did know best when it came to diet and meal planning. She went on to say that any grocery store products with more than five ingredients listed on the label might as well just be chucked in the trash, because those other unpronounceable ingredients tend to be preservatives and/or sugars.
So to help all you mamis out there, I have put together several resources to help you with meal planning….
First of all, if you haven’t read the book, Gordito Doesn’t Mean Healthy, by Claudia González and Lourdes Alcañiz, then you should. It is a wealth of information for parents looking to prevent and manage obesity in their children. Many Latinas have a deeply imbedded belief that a chubby baby is a healthy baby. In all that chubbalicious glory, they see a baby who is well-fed, lavished with love and affection, and a symbol of a mother’s excellent care. But research shows that more children are developing health problems such as diabetes (on average, Hispanic Americans are 1.9 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age,) high blood pressure, high cholesterol and eating disorders as a result of too much food intake, poor diets, and lack of exercise. This book includes the Latino-Hispanic Food Guide Pyramid (which includes traditional foods like jicama, papayas, corn tortillas and avocado) to guide Latina moms with photos of food portions appropriate for children. It also has a section on Latina mothers and breastfeeding facts that debunks myths. Menu suggestions for newborns to 19-year-olds are also inside. To purchase your copy, check out the Latin Baby boutique here.
Another super resource is the Latino Nutrition Coalition web site. It has recipes, health statistics, and regular updates about health issues affecting Latinos, as well as free education materials in Spanish and English like the downloadable bilingual shopping guide.
Many Latina moms who are second, third and even fourth generation Americans, have the additional challenge in that they have lost family recipes and are less likely to cook traditional wholesome dishes. For those of you looking for more traditional recipes that reflect our cutura, there is a variety of blogs passing along these tasty meals.
One of my personal favorites is A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate . . . And More: A Girl's Guide to Cooking Mexican Food Just Like Her Abuelita. Whew! A long name for a most delicious blog imparting recipes along with beautiful photographs and witty, charming stories rich in cultura.
The Panama Gourmet, Chef Melissa De Leon, also has a delightful site – www.CookingDiva.net - full of recipes from Latin America. Note of Caution: If you’re like me, you may gain 10 pounds just sitting and reading her oh-so-yummy recipes!
Next is Laylita’s Recipes. Filled with Ecuadorian recipes, her blog will immediately make your stomach growl and your mouth water. Her pictures are divine and entice you to run out and buy ingredients - even if it is 3 am!
Spain-Recipes.com offers a wonderful compilation of recipes from all over Spain and they even categorize them as to the dishes typical to each region. WOW! If you are an Española, get over there now! I almost cried when I found the one for croquetas de jamón…
From Argentina With Love will melt your soul with her Dulce de Leche recipes. Who knew there were so many things you could make with it? Rebecca’s blog is a beautiful thing – I’m not from Argentina, but I sure wish I was after reading it!
For the most sabroso Colombian dishes, be sure to dive into My Colombian Recipes. In addition to her wonderful recipes, Erica also gives you ingredient sources and even vegetarian dishes!
Even though he just started his blog in January, everyone seems to be raving about Eric Rivera’s Cooking Blog… and after looking at his Puerto Rican recipe for mofongo served with a sofrito soup broth, I totally understand. Too much work for me, but easy fun for a 27-year-old Puerto Rican culinary school student, I guess!
New to cyberspace is the Tiki Tiki Blog, written predominantly by four Latina moms. Already the gazpacho, churros and salsa fresca recipes are flying, but you can also find links here to their personal blogs, such as Marta Darby’s My Big Fat Cuban Family, which features a healthy dose of Cuban recipes.
In the next post, I’ll share my list of favorite books and blogs to help get your kids off el sofa and corriendo y brincando, climbing and exploring.