Published on Latino American Today, June 2013 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard
I like to write about food and culture because it gives me the avenue to express myself in a delicious and healthy way. It comes natural to talk about fresh and healthy eating in connection with Latin cuisine because I grew up in an environment conducive to eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and learned about food and cooking with a loving and health-oriented grandmother. She instilled in me my passion for fresh and healthy eating and as a result, I passed good eating habits to my husband and son.
Children mimic what they see their parents do and because of this, I am an advocate for teaching
parents to eat home-cooked meals as often as possible and to involve their children in the kitchen, especially when children are in their first formative years (birth up to 5 years). This is the key time to instill good habits and establish a good foundation for life. I grew up in a home where you eat what is at the table. Children learn quickly that complying is easier than defying.
So how does one who has not had good habits as a child adopt good eating habits? In many ways. For starters, be patient and do it in small steps. Change takes time. Taking easy and healthy cooking classes, reading up on the subject, watching healthy cooking videos, going to farmers markets and buying what is in season and joining group discussions online, are some ways to change one’s eating lifestyle. Re-defining how to eat healthy brings a bounty of goodness for everyone around, but the most important aspect of this is weight control and disease prevention. We have heard this so many times before. So why is it so hard to put into practice?
We love our children so much and perhaps give them everything that we did not have when young, but our best legacy can be teaching them good kitchen lessons for life. The trend of overweight (and obese) adults and children does not seem to be ending despite the amount of information available on the subject. In fact, there is so much disinformation from so much information available on food in general that the crucial information is missed. People do agree that education is the key, but so is personal responsibility. We know that being physically active is as important as eating healthy. The two go hand in hand. If we truly love our children, we should take the time and effort to lead by example if we want them to live long, healthy and happy lives.
Latin cuisine is conducive to wholesome and delicious and vegan and gluten-free eating, and the recipe options are countless. Staples such as corn, beans, tomatoes, chiles and squash, are readily available at a relatively low price when compared to other diets. In fact, these foods form the foundation of Latin cuisines and are very good for our bodies, too, as they contain nutrients and fiber essential for human and digestive health. When combined with low-fat proteins and healthy fats such as canola and olive oil, we can control the amount of calories we consume. Fatty and fried foods contain three times the number of calories of regular foods, so grilling, roasting, baking, broiling, pan simmering, and pan sautéing are healthier cooking techniques with equally delicious results. As the grilling season is upon us, in this article I share a recipe that combines fun and healthy casual food for the whole family. This is easy and delicious food that anyone can learn to cook in a short amount of time.