Friday, February 8, 2019


February is “heart” month so be good to your heart. Here are six steps to a healthier heart.

¨ EXERCISE: For a healthier heart, exercise 150 minutes per week. To maintain a “healthy” weight, exercise 60 minutes most days of the week.

¨ DON’T SMOKE: Smoking is among the top preventable causes of heart disease and certain types of causes also.

¨ EAT PLENTY OF VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: Include a variety of five or more fruits and vegetables a day for children and seven or more for adults.

¨ EAT WHOLE GRAIN FOODS: Include foods such as whole wheat bread, cereals, and pasta. Look for the “whole grain” label on foods.

¨  INCLUDE HEALTHY FATS: Try peanuts, avocados, and olive oil. Avoid saturated fats and trans fat which contribute to heart disease. Saturated fats are found in butter, whole milk and dairy products and fatty meats. Trans fats are found in some margarines, snacks foods, processed foods and many other items so check those labels!

¨ LIMIT YOUR SODIUM INTAKE: Try ground pepper, fresh or dried herbs or spices, lemon instead of salt. Go easy on canned soups, cold cuts, frozen dinners, chips and other processed foods.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


Food is any substance that provides the nutrients necessary to maintain life and growth. There are many ways to eat healthy and we are not limited to one right way. For example, there are different methods of cooking vegetables such as stir-frying, steaming, boiling or even eating them raw. United States is a mecca of cultural diversity. In 2016, nearly 326 million people legally immigrated to United States from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.1 As humans continue to migrate, so does food and dietary habits. For example, we can experience Chinese cuisine flavors through a stir-fry pork dish made with soy sauce, rice wine, and ginger root; Mexican cuisine flavors through a meal combined with tomatoes, onion, chili pepper, and cumin; and experience Italian cuisine flavors through a pasta made with tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, and olive oil.

As immigrants have transformed food in the United States, food for immigrants is a cultural identity. Food is a way to stay connected to the land they left behind while cultivating a feeling of security and comfort in a new environment. Moving three years ago to United States and  eating a plate of rice, beans, and fried plantains represents home and each bite reminds me of the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico, the warm weather, and my mother’s kitchen. The Puerto Rican cuisine is influenced by a mixture of cultures: African, Spanish, and TaĆ­no (indigenous group). This blend of cultures makes the Puerto Rican cuisine delicious and preparing a Puerto Rican dish makes me feel close to my identity, as well as home even though I am 1,713 miles away from my loved ones.

For others, food means preserving balance and harmony; for example, eating “yin/yang” foods2. In Asian culture, “yin” foods are believe to cool and moisten the body and are low in calories. While, “yang” are foods that are believed to warm the body and are characterized as high in calories. Some “yin” foods include: vegetables and fruits. Some “yang” foods include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs and alcoholic beverages. In addition, food represents strength, vitality, and health.

Food ties us to our culture and is a portal to experience new cultures when you are far away from home. Immigrants have provided us accessibility to different cuisines and adventures. It is important to be mindful when trying new cuisines and take into consideration the history and special place it has for the person who prepared the meal.

 By: Kalelys L Calero

1. Largest U.S. immigrant groups over time,1960-present. Migration Policy Institute website. Accessed October 19, 2018.

2. Goyan P, Sucher K, Nahikian-Nelms M. Food and Culture. Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


3 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well), reduced sodium or no sodium
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup quick oats
¼-1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

¾ - 1 cup chocolate chips (I also think less than ¾ cup works well but this is personal preference)
Chocolate chips for presentation
Add some walnuts and/or ground flax for added nutrition

Black Bean Brownies Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up! Makes 9-12 brownies. The trick with these: serve them first, and then reveal the secret ingredient. You can also make a thicker brownie and cutting them into smaller pieces by using 1 1/2 times the recipes. Cooking time increases slightly.

Yield: 18-24 brownies

Per Black Bean Brownie:
Calories: 137
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 15-19g
Sugars 10g
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 3g
Sodium: 17mg