Archive | Lifestyle Changes 2010 RSS feed for this section

Healthy Lifestyle Change for DECEMBER – Avoid Buying Canned Goods

1 Dec

By now, I have shared with you 11 tips on how to integrate new healthy habits into your everyday life.  Ideas, without changing too much the way you live currently, can actually have a positive impact in your overall health and well being.

It’s kind of funny that the idea I left for December was to Avoid Canned Goods…  because some of the very typical Xmas recipes I have and prepare every year have canned goods as the main ingredients and unfortunately these do not come in any other presentation, that I know of so far.  Tembleque, Coquito, Arroz con Dulce…  all are recipes that use sweetened condensed milk or coconut milk or cream of coconut and I have not been able to find those ingredients in another packaging format.  And these recipes or Xmas would not be the same without these ingredients.

Which actually helps me make the point… this series is about developing conscience of the ultimate better choices for you.  These ideas and changes are about modifying the way you purchase things so they’re overall better for you.  So when you’re at the grocery store you learn which packaging has less impact on the contents inside.  Not necessarily to start jumping hoops and making things extremely difficult for you if other choices are not readily available. 

So now…  onto the can thing.  Try to avoid cans as much as possible.  WHY?

  • Usually, canned products tend to contain more chemicals to help preserve the contents when compared to the same product in a different package format.  These chemicals and preservatives are only harmful to our health.
  • Canned products have been cooked previously a long time ago by the time they reach your home and this devoids them of many nutrients.
  • Cans can’t be recycled the way plastic or glass containers can be…

I understand how convenient it is to purchase canned goods.  How they’re economical, there always there in your pantry when you needs them… and hey, they give you comfort in times of need, like when preparing for a hurricane.  But, instead of purchasing this that typically you buy in cans, you’ll start buying them in another packaging format with many of them still getting the convenient pantry shelf life.  Here are some examples:

Instead of buying CANS of: You’ll now buy:
Vegetables Frozen Vegetables

  • such as corn, spinach, carrots, peas, etc.


Tomato Sauce Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce POMI brand of Tomato Sauce which comes in UHT boxesPasta Sauces in glass jars
Stewed TomatoesWhole Tomatoes Stewed Tomatoes and Whole Tomatoes in glass jars
Evaporated Milk Buy Evaporated Milk in UHT boxes
Roasted Bell PeppersRoasted Piquillo Peppers Buy them now in glass jars
Fruit CocktailsPineapples in syrupPeaches in syrup Buy these preserved fruits in plastic or glass jars and better if they are in natural juice or light syrup.
Beans Buy dried beans and soak them overnight

Cranberry Sauce Make it yourself… it’s so easy!!!
And I understand that nota ll you readers are 100% vegetarian yet… so here are additional considerations when purchasing goods:
Vienna Sausages (Salchichas) Buy refrigerated sausage productsOr even better…  Use veggie hot dogs
Tuna It’ll be preferable if you bought the pouches to transition away from the cansOr buy frozen TuNo product from a health food store

Healthy Lifestyle Change for NOVEMBER – Do not buy any frozen meals or that have been cooked a long time ago.

1 Nov

 For exactly the same reason why you should not be drinking sodas anymore, frozen prepared meals have little to no nutritional value.  These meals, even thou they seem to be a real advancement in modern technology, in reality they’re a step backwards in terms of health and nutrition.


 Frozen meals – a la Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and all the like – are meals that were cooked at very high temperatures really long time ago.  These two elements make their nutritional value close to null.  They’re basically hay that fills up your stomach, but doesn’t really nourish you.  If you read the labels closely, you’ll see they’re laden with artificial preservatives and sodium that only makes you retain water and affects your blood pressure and the way the heart functions.

Remember that this new lifestyle program is geared to getting used to eating foods that are healthier for us and will help us lead a healthier life.

But don’t fret… there are still many frozen things you can still enjoy: 

  • Frozen vegetables – super convenient to use instead of any canned vegetable
  • Frozen Fruits – great for desserts, sorbets and smoothies, and even better if you freeze them yourself
  • Fried Plantains and Tostones – I like the King’s Crown brand and they’re a real help in the kitchen sometimes or you can prepare your own.
  • bread Eggplant Milanese  and freeze it to be able to enjoy them anytime I am hungry…
  • Frozen Breads – excellent when you’re in need to a sub fix…
  • Ice creams and Sherbets – but always eat these in moderation… 


Here are a few recipes of dishes made with frozen ingredients that are as easy to prepare as placing a Lean Cuisine in the oven, but I guarantee you, they’ll be much more delicious and nutritious:

 Spinach Empanada 4

Spinach Empanada – uses frozen puffed pastry and frozen spinach


Spinach Pinwheels

Spinach Pinwheels – using frozen spinach and puff pastry too…


Empanada Gallega

Galician Empanada – with puff pastry and frozen tuno


Corn and Spinach Lasagna – using frozen corn and spinach


Yucca with Cuban Mojo – I buy frozen yuca, much easier than to peel fresh ones…


Very Berry Sorbet – using frozen fruits…

Healthy Lifestyle Change for OCTOBER – Do not eat eggs

1 Oct

Eggs are filled with cholesterol and substances that are more harmful to your health than beneficial.  Eggs are very difficult to digest and if I start telling you all the diseases they could carry, we would never finish.

My plan for those of you out there that are not vegetarians yet is to at least, try to stop eating eggs in their integral form – not fried, not scrambled, not poached, not in a traditional Spanish tortilla, not in an omelet – not even the whites.


To replace all these forms of traditionally eating eggs, there are plenty of much healthier alternatives and some of them even with fewer calories:

Instead of Making: You’ll prepare:
Scrambles Tofu Scrambler – it’s a mixture you add to tofu and it’s available at most health food stores
Spanish Tortilla Make the tortilla using cheese or other egg-free alternatives.  Here are my recipes for Tortilla Espanola
Potato Salad Make the same potato salad with egg-free mayonnaise and without the boiled eggs.  It’ll taste just the same…
Breakfasts Eat oatmeal, hot or cold cereals, fresh fruits, toasts…


But just because you’ve decided to not eat eggs anymore, the world will not stop turning.  Here you’ll find several dishes traditionally made with eggs, you still can enjoy just making them a little bit differently:

Tortilla Espanola 1

Spanish Tortilla


Eggless Mini Fritatas


Carrot Cupcakes


Eggless Scramble



Tuno Sandwich

Healthy Lifestyle Change for SEPTEMBER – Do not buy products containing preservatives or artificial coloring

1 Sep

With the craziness and fad of counting calories and having everything be “fat-free”, counting carbs, etc.  The food industry has modified foods in such a way to make them comply with the latest fad out there.  To do this they do not mind filling those foods with chemical additives, preservatives, or colorings to make us believe we’re eating the original…  at the end of the day, these modified products are not even a shadow of their original counterparts. 

I have adopted a philosophy, now for over 10 years, that I would like to pass on to you – I read the labels and I try not to buy anything that contains ingredients I can’t understand or even pronounce.  Basically, I only buy products that have the least ingredients possible.

I was even once told – why even buy products that have labels you can read?  For example, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, apples, pears, etc. usually do not have a label we can read to see what they contain, right?  Without going into the details of branding or organic vs. conventional, there’s some food for thought…

By choosing products with the least ingredients, I also avoid:

  • Any chemical ingredient I can’t pronounce
  • All artificial colorants such as FD Red #5, Yellow #10, etc.
  • Any ingredient containing SULFITES or NITRITES –  preservatives added to food to preserve their vibrant color and known carcinogens.

As a general rule:

I do not Buy: I Buy:
Cheeses or anything labeled Fat Free Regular cheeses or those made with 2% milk

  • Light cream cheese – neufchatel
  • Swiss cheese
Nothing that contains Nutrasweet, Splenda or artificial sweeteners – read the labels – my sister, the diabetic in my family, tells me that many regular chocolates/candies have less carbs than chocolates labeled sugar-free. I look for products that do not contain added sugars or that are made with Brown sugar.I sweeten things with honey or agave nectar
Bottled Dressings I make my own…  here are a few ideas.
Bottled Sun-dried tomatoes or dried fruit – like dried pineapple, mangoes or apricots Brands that specifically state they do not contain sulfites.


I know it’s a challenge, but you just get used to reading the labels and be more conscious of the ingredients that go into the food you eat.  And even though you might get familiar with the brands you prefer, you need to periodically read the labels because sometime companies change formulas and a product that was perfectly fine, now might have some added something it didn’t have before.

 Now, you’ll be more aware of the brands that have the healthiest options… and little by little you’ll see how your health and palate gravitates to more natural flavors and ingredients.

Healthy Lifestyle Change for August – Eat at least 2 fresh fruits a day

2 Aug

For the same reason we should eat more green salads, we should also eat more fresh fruits.  This was one of my new year’s resolutions a few years ago.  Just in case you are living on another planet and still need to be reminded the benefits of eating more fresh food, here are a few cues:

  •  Great source of insoluble fiber
  • Contain essential vitamins and minerals to protect you from chronic diseases
  • Is the way nature intended for us to nourish ourselves

My recommendation is to have fruits preferably in the morning with your breakfast or as a snack in the afternoon.  Another alternative is as a dinner snack if you’re not having a full-blown dinner. 

  •  Fruits are best eaten early in the morning.  They’re the best way to “awaken the stomach” after not having had any food while sleeping. 
  • Snacking on fruits is a delicious way to help keep your metabolism going while consuming natural sugars.
  • Try not to eat fresh fruits as dessert… because fruits are mostly water and they slow down your digestion.


If it’s difficult for you to eat fresh fruits, here are a few ideas:


  • Buy fruits you can eat without having to peel, just as they are, like grapes, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, strawberries.  Just make sure you wash them well to take off any dirt or wax.
  • Add fruits in your breakfasts – like adding bananas to your cereal, blueberries to your pancakes, etc.
  • Make freshly-squeezed juices
    •  A citrus juicer is a great investment to juice oranges or grapefruit


    • The best juices to consume while eating are apple, pineapple or papaya because they contain enzymes that help digestion


 When making a fruit salad, it is important to know which fruits go well with other fruits.  When we eat fruits that are incompatible, usually produces uncomfortable gas.  Here are some good comphbinations:

  • Papaya, mango, apple, pears, peaches, bananas, plums, etc.
  • Strawberry, kiwi, grapes, passion fruit, pineapple, starfruits, green apples, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits.
  • All melons should be consumed by themselves – watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, musk, etc.
%d bloggers like this: