Category Archives: Foodie and Travel

For a Healthier Pantry…

Many of my friends still think that to lose weight and be healthy they need to “diet” – and by that they mean making temporary changes in what they eat and when.  After they have reached a certain goal, they believe they can go back to the way they were eating again while somehow, magically, their weight and health remains intact.

It is my personal experience that losing weight and being healthier starts when you make lasting lifestyle changes.  These changes don’t have to mean you deprive yourself of what you love, they mean you can start loving new things that you probably didn’t know existed.  It means you’re going to make slight modifications to the things you enjoy.  It’s about consciously making better choices for yourself and your family.

Better diets start at the grocery store.  You need to think and inform yourself about modifying the way you purchase food.  This way, when you’re at the grocery store you will know which product is better for your health and spirit.

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We Can All Cook!

Some of us love and enjoy cooking, while others just like to eat and would very willingly skip the cooking part because they find absolutely no joy in it.  Sometimes they just believe they do not have the skills necessary to cook delicious and healthy meals.  Such is the case of Alison, our Executive Director.  Alison loves to eat and she actually wants to follow a healthier diet, but feels her skills in the kitchen are an obstacle to her goal.  She does not feel comfortable in the kitchen at all – not even her own kitchen.  She doesn’t even know what kitchen appliances she owns and what they do!

She came to me for help: “Madelyn…I can’t cook to save my life!  Where do I start?”  Alison is not alone.  I get this same question all the time from friends, family, and even people I meet randomly.  And what I suggest all of them do is start small.  I now love cooking, but it wasn’t always like that.  I remember there was a time when all I knew was how to make things in the microwave.  It’s all a matter of exposure to flavors, techniques and ingredients that make your life easy and delicious.

I went to Alison’s home recently and created a whole dinner party menu anyone can put together, even those of you who are kitchen challenged.   This menu is all a matter of “assembling”: mixing, layering, pureeing and tossing together ingredients which in the end all look and taste delicious.  The best part is, it’s all good for you.  If you look closely at the recipes, you will find that they require lots of assembly and very little tending over a stove.

Here was our menu:

White Sangría

Hummus

Baked Goat Cheese in Tomato Sauce

Asparagus Tart

Mesclun Greens, Figs and Blue Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Apple Crisp

I hope Alison and some of you “eaters-not-cookers” find the confidence to make at least one of these recipes at home.   You don’t have to make them all for a dinner party… start small.  Pick one and start building your self-confidence.  You’ll see that in very little time you’ll slowly start enjoying cooking – or at least “assembling” – a whole lot more.  Stay positive, I am rooting for all of you.  Right, Alison?

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Organica Yogurt 100% Natural Yogurt

Antonio Castro went from personal trainer to food industry entrepreneur and he’s not done just yet.

Orgánica started when I was 23.  At that moment I was studying Exercise Sciences at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón and worked as a personal trainer.   My own clients helped me develop the idea. I have always been surrounded by wellness, nature, exercise: a healthy lifestyle.  During a trip to New York City I went into a Health Food establishment that made me wonder what it would be like to create my own natural product back at home.  So the first thing I did when I returned to Puerto Rico was research.  I read endlessly about fermentation, milk, yogurt – and created my first product, the strawberry flavored one.

Do you have a motto?  What is it?

What has always led me to accomplish things: one step at a time.  You have to wake up in the morning

order to achieve my dreams?”

Do you feel you inspire others with your work?

I think so.  When we offer our products to small businesses we inspire them to move ahead and grow.  Many of my clients are young entrepreneurs like me, so we inspire each other, in a way.  I know that they benefit from selling my product, and that way we all grow.

How do you define healthy eating? 

Eating organic is about eliminating any chemically processed items from your diet.  For example, think of a fruit, which is a lot less modified than, say, pasta.  Many of the foods we buy are so processed that they have to artificially add in more vitamins and minerals because otherwise you’d have a dead product that won’t nourish you.  Organic foods are healthy from the start, protected from the source to make sure you receive all the nutrients.

A good diet should have whole wheat, lots of fiber, and it should respond to your body’s specific needs.  Even though I understand the vegan lifestyle, I don’t like completely eliminating meat because the body needs those proteins and fats that are only present in meat.  Good fats, like the ones you find in fish and linseed, aren’t saturated.  And of course, I have to mention exercise.  The body needs exercise in order to properly absorb the nutrients and process the foods we put into it. 

So, why yogurt?

That brings us back to my trip to NYC.  When I entered that Health Food store all the employees were doing everything naturally, fresh.  They were chopping carrots and fruits, churning them into products and packaging them right there.  I looked at a refrigerator and saw some yogurt cups that looked good and thought to myself: “I want to make that product, that’s what I want to do” because it’s an extremely healthy thing that I’ve always liked.  When I arrived in Puerto Rico I had no idea how to make it, so I burnt a lot of pots and milk.

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