Culture

20 Foods And Drinks That Take Caribbean Latinos Back To Their Childhood

For Caribbean people, there is something so intoxicating about our food. The food of our islands of origin make an Caribbean’s knees buckle and mouth water. Being in the American diaspora can look very different depending on where you are in relation to the Caribbean. South Florida and New York are filled with grocery stores, bodegas and shops carrying all of the food products that make Caribbean food what it is.

For those Caribbean descendants living in other parts of the U.S., finding your Goya products can be tricky. Some times it is just easier to learn the recipe and make things like sofrito yourself. Regardless, there is just something about the food that nourishes the body and soul.

Mofongo is one dish that every Puerto Rican will swear to be the best dish in the Caribbean.

CREDIT: @picandord / Instagram

Honestly, plantains of any variety will make an islander physically drool. For mofongo, green plantains are fried and smashed in a pillón with some variety of meat or seafood. It tastes better when you eat it straight from the wooden pillón.

Pasteles, i.e. more plantains.

CREDIT: @CookingChannel / Twitter

While mainland Latino countries use masa for their tamales, Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans use plátanos verdes y calabazas along with a pound of sofrito. They’re wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks but are equally as cherished around the holidays.

Obviously coquito is a major staple around the holidays.

CREDIT: @lala / Twitter

Speaking of holidays, it ain’t one until an abuelita or two brings in a gallon of coquito, Puerto Rico’s version of eggnog. You know how, if you’re Mexican, seeing holiday garland makes you need champurrado? Es lo mismo con coquito for Puerto Ricans. Starbucks can’t replicate that no matter how hard they try.

Cafecito isn’t cafecito if it’s anything but Café Bustelo.

CREDIT: @tcclockworth / Twitter

Cubans and Puerto Ricans alike will not submit to any other type of caffeine. It’s beneath us. Except Cafe La Llave if you’re in a pinch.

Even this pic of pastelitos de guayaba will make any islander drool on their phones.

CREDIT: @FeelingEmulsify / Twitter

When someone shows up to your fiesta carrying a cardboard box, there is nothing more precious you could hope for than some fresh Cuban pastelitos. Puff pastry, sweet cream cheese and guava make the world go round.

As will a box of pan de bono.

CREDIT: @5HCcSogno / Twitter

Piping hot pan de bono is like bringing lumps of gold to dinner. The tapioca based cheesy bread makes America’s grilled cheese look like trash.

Aborrajados compete hard for the center stage.

CREDIT: @elsiglocomve / Twitter

To be fair, these originate from Colombia, but they include plantain as a base so therefore, I’m salivating. If there is a banana involved, the tropical isla in me is dancing.

No Caribbean food list is complete without a classic Cubano.

CREDIT: @VisitTampaBay / Twitter

If you grew up in a Cuban household, you know the power this unassuming sandwich. The pork, mustard, pickles and buttered Cuban bread pressed on a hot griddle is everything your weekends were made of.

Did I already mention plantains?

CREDIT: @ELMADGOOD / Twitter

Well, you don’t have to go boiling and mashing and prepping plantains for hours on end (see: pasteles) to make an islander drool. Just cut up a peeled green plantain, fry, press and fry again, baby.

Bacalao con mojo? That’s a double winner.

CREDIT: @bar44penarth / Twitter

We’re islanders. Fish is going to happen and a lot of lime juice is going to happen on top of that. Plus, we always have garlic breath because it is a staple in most of our foods. Bring on the mojo.

Sofrito is the base for everything holy about Caribbean food.

CREDIT: @SoxyStrawberry / Twitter

It takes a while to make but it is so worth the hard work you have to put in. It is the base of so many different foods and adds a very delicious and culturally important taste to their dishes.

Picadillo was for dinner almost every night.

CREDIT: @TheKitchenista / Twitter

You wouldn’t going to eat it without half a jar of banana peppers on top. Plus, it’s a vehicle for rice, which is just too obvious a salivary trigger to even list here.

Pero, let’s talk about yucca, fam.

CREDIT: @cedellamarley / Twitter

I grew up on this when I lived in Miami, but since jetting off further into the diaspora, it’s hard to come by. Yucca fries are la casada perfecta of my identity as Latina-American. It’s the food I would choose to eat forever if someone made me.

The empanadas are also something to admire.

CREDIT: @Rodriguez_Rotisserie_chick / Instagram

I don’t even know what these are called, but I know I grew up on them at every extended family gathering. Folks would divide and conquer their local panaderías and we would feast.

Mashed Yucca is nothing to snuff at.

CREDIT: “Mashed Yuca with Mojo” Digital Image. Eating Well. 10 November 2018.

While my assimilated American self is here for yucca fries, the jóven in me longs for mashed yucca at the Thanksgiving table. All that olive oil and garlic is the key to a happy (albeit single) life.

Croquetas are life-changing.

CREDIT: @Croquetilla25 / Twitter

The only way I know how to eat these is a dozen at a time fighting to the death against my cousins and brothers to stuff my face to the max. It’s a struggle because I still do that even though there is zero competition and a very full gordita belly para cuidar.

Ropa Vieja is that old-school love.

CREDIT: @CocoandAsh / Twitter

An actual national dish of Cuba and honorary dish of Puerto Rico. The shredded beef is in a sofrito sauce that is sweeter than most other dishes and it’s smell will attract islanders like a moth to a flame.

Flan de coco, man.

CREDIT: @505Nomad / Twitter

As far as I know, every other one of my Boricua family members cannot physically do dairy (but they do it anyway to the horror of anyone having to breathe the same air). Maybe that’s why our flan is made from coconut milk. Maybe it’s because we’re from a tropical paradise of coconut trees. Who can say which came first?

And of course, arroz con leche.

CREDIT: @anime_freak2004 / Twitter

This dish came from our invading nation of Spain, but Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic make it with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Plus, the raisins are soaked in good Puerto Rican rum.

You don’t have to go to the mother island to make a Puerto Rican, Dominican or Cuban salivate though.

CREDIT: @jess_cahhh / Twitter

Whip out a Kern’s Nectar of any variety and we’ll be talking you up and down until we can have a sip of that tropics-infused sugar water. After all, all this food makes us salivate for home and sometimes that feeling of nostalgia (on or off brand) is all we need to hit the spot.


READ: Check Out These Croqueta Recipes If You Need Some Good Cuban Comfort Food

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These Healthy Food Tricks Will Keep Your Corazón Full And Healthy While In Quarantine

Culture

These Healthy Food Tricks Will Keep Your Corazón Full And Healthy While In Quarantine

muybuenocooking / Instagram

The first dishes that come to mind when we think of the diverse delicacies of Latina food aren’t exactly healthy staples. Sometimes, I just can’t resist the Uruguayan dishes of churros with dulce de leche, fried empanadas, and ñoquis doused in a creamy white sauce–not exactly nutrient-rich foods. Many of our most beloved Latino dishes are full of fat, salt, and sugar.

By folding in some of these healthy eating tips from our favorite Latina food bloggers you can have a more balanced diet. Cultivate a healthier meal plan so that you won’t feel guilty when you splurge on some of your favorite rich Latino foods. These Latina food bloggers prove that you don’t have to sacrifice taste in order to eat healthily.

Whenever I’m at a loss for how to make traditionally hearty Latino foods with a healthy twist I turn to Afro-Latina Dominican Cecilia Flores of Coco Verde, Latino Vegan Kitchen.

This mama can seriously make the most lack-luster veggies transform into drool-worthy dishes that will make you forget you ever enjoyed fried milanesa. Becoming a mother motivated her to clean up her diet. “It was really after the birth of our daughter that I started to seriously think about exactly what I was eating because I was determined to give her a good start and get her loving good foods,” says Flores.

This mama can seriously make the most lack-luster veggies transform into drool-worthy dishes that will make you forget you ever enjoyed fried milanesa. Becoming a mother motivated her to clean up her diet. “It was really after the birth of our daughter that I started to seriously think about exactly what I was eating because I was determined to give her a good start and get her loving good foods,” says Flores.

Flores had the same concerns that many of us feel when trying to think about incorporating more plants into our diets. “I started learning about plant-based eating and its benefits. The only issue was the food! I didn’t want healthier and plant-based eating to mean that I was leaving my culture and traditional foods behind,” says Flores. She began to get creative as she prepared and transformed the Dominican foods she loves with healthier ingredients.

Another Latina food blogger we turn to for healthy recipes is Mexican Ana Frias of Muy Delish.

The fondest memories from her childhood are helping her mother prepare meals for their family of nine kids in Mexico. But, it wasn’t until Frias started weight lifting that she got serious about sticking to a healthy diet. She believes that balance and moderation is the key to staying healthy. “Healthy eating is about moderation, not about being restrictive with the foods you eat. If you eat a balanced healthy diet and have a treat here and there, you’ll be less inclined to binge or stop eating healthy altogether. Extreme diets never work,” says Frias.

The founder of Muy Bueno Cookbook and author of “Muy Bueno” and “Latin Twist” is healthyish Tejana Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack. “I’m obsessed with my Mexican culture and sharing my family traditions. I create recipes with a healthy Mexican twist, which means less frying, less fat, high protein, and more fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables,” she says. She goes on to explain that she loves Mexican flavors, spicy food, and fresh ingredients, especially avocados. Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fat and a staple in many ethnic cuisines from Latin America.

Her key to successful healthy eating as a Latina is dining at home often. “It’s easy to overboard when a never-ending basket of tortilla chips and salsa is placed on your table at a Mexican restaurant.” Chips and salsa are her weakness. “I know myself too well. If I open a bag of tortilla chips I will eat them all,” says Marquez-Sharpnack and honestly, we can relate! She continues to say that “If you know your weaknesses, try not to buy those items.”

Her key to successful healthy eating as a Latina is dining at home often. “It’s easy to overboard when a never-ending basket of tortilla chips and salsa is placed on your table at a Mexican restaurant.” Chips and salsa are her weakness. “I know myself too well. If I open a bag of tortilla chips I will eat them all,” says Marquez-Sharpnack and honestly, we can relate! She continues to say that “If you know your weaknesses, try not to buy those items.”

Healthy Eating Tips from Latina Food Bloggers

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Tomato jam! A delicious (and relatively easy) experiment. So great for toast or as an appetizer for parties! Crackers with vegan cream cheese and tomato jam are my new favorite. One note: next time I’ll peel the tomatoes by blanching them because I didn’t like the pieces of skin left behind in the jam. Have you ever had tomato jam? What’s your favorite way to eat it?! 2 lbs of tomatoes (peeled and chopped) 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon of minced ginger 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp salt Dash of cayenne pepper Bring mixture to a boil in a pot (stir frequently so it doesn’t burn) and then simmer until it’s a jam texture (stirring occasionally, about 2 hours). Let cool, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and enjoy! _____________________________________ Mermelada de tomate! Súper fácil y muy delicioso! Me encanta poner un chin sobre pan tostado o también comérmela con galleticas y queso Filadelfia (vegano). Lo único que cambiaría para la próxima vez es pelar los tomates antes de hacer la mermelada. No lo hice esta vez y en el resulto final quedaron pedacitos aunque trate te pasar la mermelada por la licuadora. Has probado la mermelada de tomate? Con que te lo comes normalmente?! 2 libras de tomates (peladas y cortadas) 3/4 taza de azúcar morena 1 cucharada de jengibre 2 cucharadas de vinagre de sidra de manzana 1/2 cucharadita de canela 1 cucharadita de sal Una pizca de Cayena en polvo Poner todos los ingredientes en una olla a hervir a fuego alto (moviendo la mixtura mucho para que no se pegue a la olla). Luego baja el fuego y deja que hierve a fuego lento hasta que tenga la consistencia de una mermelada (más o menos 2 horas). Deja que se enfríe y poner en un envase dentro de la nevera. Disfrutar!

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It’s easier than you think to make traditional Latino dishes healthier. If you want to incorporate more veggies Flores suggests using black beans instead of beef as they have more protein, fiber, calcium, and iron than beef and less sodium, cholesterol, and fat. Black beans are already a staple of many Latino dishes so you’ll likely already have some in your cupboard. Legumes are going to be healthier for your body and your wallet as they’re significantly less costly than meat. Give beans a chance and whip up Coco Verde’s Niños Envueltos of cabbage rolls stuffed with lentils and rice, preferably brown rice for more protein and fiber.

Some of the other items that Flores suggests every Latinx have stocked in their kitchen are whole grains like brown rice, sweet or red potatoes, dried beans (or low sodium canned). She supplements these with seasonal fruits and vegetables and pairs it all together for unique renditions of Latino dishes.

Frias thinks of creative ways to make unhealthy dishes better such as focusing on spices and salsas and baking instead of frying.

“I stay away from any high saturated fats like sopapillas and chicharrones. I still eat tamales and churros but only about twice a year,” she says. Marquez-Sharpnack echoes a similar sentiment in her approach to healthy eating. “Stay away from fried and fatty foods, choose dishes that are high in protein, and incorporate fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals.”

If a recipe calls for sour cream or mayonnaise, Frias substitutes with non-fat Greek yogurt which provides extra protein. Going cheese-free can be a challenge so she uses low-fat cheese in minimal portions and opts for lean meat over fatty proteins.

Snacking is hard to resist. Marquez-Sharpnack keeps lots of fresh plant-based supplies on hand such as fruit, veggies, and nuts. “I always have avocados and apples sitting on my counter and a bag of walnuts or almonds. Snack on healthy choices so that you are not starting and make bad choices,” she says.

Healthy Meal Ideas From Latina Food Bloggers

For breakfast, Flores recommends preparing overnight oats similar to avena. Muy Bueno Cookbook has a healthy rendition of old fashioned Mexican oatmeal avena. Breakfast is a surprisingly easy meal for folding in typical Latino foods such as cactus with this licuado de nopal. Avocados are great any time of day–add a Latino twist by skipping toast and serving your mashed avocado over a warm corn tortilla.

At lunchtime, Flores tends to turn to arroz con habichelas instead of rice and chicken. She likes to have a side of some maduros (her maduros pie is to-die-for) and some veggies. Calabacitas are a great side dish to have on hand. Frias says they can easily be turned to the main dish by adding some rotisserie chicken breast chunks. Another fail-proof side or main dish is Muy Bueno Cookbook’s Avocado and Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese which is full of healthy fats.

If you’re a meat eater, lunch is a great time to have seafood which is high in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. The shrimp ceviche recipe that Frias swears by is easy to follow and can be eaten with or without baked tortilla chips. We’re also a fan of her shrimp tacos with mango salsa for an easy and healthy lunch–be sure to use corn tortillas instead of flour. If you want something a bit lighter go for Muy Bueno Cookbook’s Seared Ahi Tuna Salad. Many Latino flavors are bold and low calorie such as lime juice, chile, ginger, garlic, cilantro, onion, and parsley.

If you’re used to having beef for dinner make Muy Delish’s Albondigas Soup–Frias uses 98% lean ground beef instead of fatty ground beef. In the cool evenings of the winter, it’s too easy to fall back into unhealthy eating patterns as you’ll be craving hearty dishes. Marquez-Sharpnack recommends going for a portion of caldo de pollo instead as it’s loaded with protein and veggies and is super flavorful and comforting. Remember, adding veggies is the easiest way to make a dish healthier. There’s always room for more plants in traditional Latino dishes such as arepas, pupusas, tamales, enchiladas, and more.

Why Healthy Eating Matters for Latinas


High rates of health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes in Latino communities motivate Flores to encourage her fellow Latinos to eat healthily. “We’re oftentimes led to believe that genetics is the main reason for this, but in reality, it has a lot to do with what we eat! That’s also the hard part. A lot of what we eat is guided by where we live, especially for people that live in food deserts, or places where fresh healthy food or even supermarkets are very limited or unaffordable,” she says. Basically, you are what you eat, right?

Frias can relate to this on a personal level, as a major motivator for her own journey into healthy eating was that, like many Latino families, some of her relatives suffer from diabetes. “I believe that prevention is the best medicine. I don’t want to end up dealing with health issues as I get older if I can do something about it now. Si se puede,” says Frias. As Latinos, we have a high rate of obesity, heart and liver disease. “We must break that chain! All of these diseases are easily preventable just by eating healthy foods and having an exercise routine.” Recognizing food as nourishment is a key first step into becoming dedicated to healthy eating practices and decreasing chronic disease.

For Marquez-Sharpnack, it’s her mother’s healthy influence that inspired her to pass down healthy eating habits to her children. “It saddens me to hear that childhood obesity in the Hispanic population is growing faster than other segments of the population. Almost two in five Hispanic children between the ages of 2-19 are overweight or obese.” This urgent call for action shows the necessity for healthier eating in our communities–for the sake of our niños.

Disney Parks Has Released Its Churro Recipe Online To Help Everyone Who Misses The Magical Parks

Culture

Disney Parks Has Released Its Churro Recipe Online To Help Everyone Who Misses The Magical Parks

whowhatwearedisney / practicallyperfect_with_shelly / Instagram

Some people just can’t get enough of Disney. The movies, characters, and parks have brought joy to millions of people around the world. For some people, the best part of their Disney memories is about the food that they get to enjoy while in the magical world. Now, Disney is allowing you to cook all of your favorite snacks at home.

We all finally have the recipe for the Disney version of churros.

You read that right. Disney is giving out their recipes to their fans as we all shelter in place to fight COVID-19. The most exciting release of recipes is the Disney version of churros. These sweet, fried dough bits bring people so much excitement in the parks.

People are already excited about being able to make their own Disney churros.

Credit: @Mrsjayknee / Twitter

The one side effect of self-isolation and quarantining is that people now have the time to cook at home and really explore their kitchen skills. This includes people who might not have been big home cooks before. Now that there is all of this time, it is a good time to try some new things.

People are getting very excited about being able to create their favorite snacks at home.

Credit: @talazein123 / Twitter

Let’s be honest. The food at Disney can be kind of expensive so it is nice to know that you can take the magic home with you right now. We all love something free and when it is something so memorable and magical it is just that much more special.

However, some people just aren’t convinced that they will taste the same.

Credit: @coritamexi / Twitter

Tbh, they might have a point. Is the magic of the churro from the churro or the fact that you can enjoy them while chatting with Cinderella? It is hard to figure out what makes these churros so special and flavorful but we all know one thing, the Disney version of churros are delicious.

Check out the full recipe for Disney’s churros below!

Who else is excited to make their favorite Disney snacks at home?

READ: Disney+ Is Bringing Back ‘The Proud Family’ Series, This time They’re Prouder And Louder