Category Archives: health
Carlos reminded me that yesterday was Ash Wednesday. Lent (“Cuaresma” in Spanish) is not something I grew up celebrating, but I know that many people do observe various traditions this time of year, such as eating meatless meals. I checked my recipe index and there are several options to choose from that fit this criteria, but I’ve chosen 5 of my favorites to recommend to you. Whether you’re celebrating La Cuaresma or just want to explore some vegetarian Salvadoran cuisine, these are some tasty meals to consider making and enjoying with your familia!
5 Meatless Salvadoran Recipes
Casamiento is a delicious marriage of beans and rice, best served with fried plantains and rich Salvadoran cream. Get the recipe here.
Desayuno Universitario isn’t just for hungry university students on a budget. Beans spread on toasted french bread, topped with melted cheese and fresh salsa, make a satisfying and well-balanced meal for anyone. Get the recipe here.
Pupusas are the national food of El Salvador and many varieties are completely vegetarian-friendly. Try pupusas de queso (cheese), pupusas de queso con frijoles (bean and cheese), or pupusas stuffed with cheese and shredded zucchini. Served with curtido, (the traditional pickled cabbage slaw), and a fresh salsa, even meat lovers will be begging for more. Get the recipe here.
Plato típico is a traditional breakfast in El Salvador, but breakfast for dinner can be just as delicious. Fried sweet plantains, refried beans, scrambled eggs, Salvadoran cream, and warm, thick, corn tortillas fresh off the comal are perfect washed down with a cup of coffee. Get the recipe here.
Rellenos de Ejotes are a must for cheese lovers. Green beans are encased in slightly salty mozzarella, then dipped in a batter and fried to a golden brown. Serve with fresh salsa and rice and you’ve got yourself a complete meal, my friend. Get the recipe here.
Do you eat vegetarian meals once in awhile? What are your favorite meatless meals?
I love scars because behind each scar there is often a story that when told, reveals something about the bearer of that scar; for that reason, Carlos’s scars were one of the things I asked him about early in our relationship when we were still getting to know each other. The differences in our scar stories and the number of scars we each had was pretty representative of the different lives we had led up to that point.
Scars on Carlos’ shin and thigh, the result of a careless delivery man dropping a crate of beer bottles onto him as he slept in a hammock in his mother’s liquor store. The scars on my knees? From the time I checked out too many library books and crashed my bicycle trying to ride home with them in my arms. The scar on his forehead is from the time his brother threw a rock at his face. Thin, lightly raised scars mark the outside of my wrists from the time I tried to hug my grandmother’s short-tempered cat, Charlie.
There is one scar on Carlos’s upper left arm; a roundish mark, pinker than the surrounding skin, and about the size of a small coin.
“What’s that one?” I asked, expecting him to say someone had burned him with a lit cigar because of its appearance.
“From a vaccination. Everyone has them,” he said.
In Carlos’s experience, everyone did have them, but that wasn’t the case in my experience. I don’t have one, my sisters don’t have one and none of my friends growing up had such a scar.
For years I just accepted that Salvadorans, (and many Latin Americans I met), have such a scar, without knowing why. Recently I did some research to satisfy my curiosity about which vaccination caused the mark and why I don’t have one.
Various sources, (websites as well as anecdotal stories from friends) have narrowed it down to various possibilities. Some say they’re certain which vaccination it was, others say they have no idea, and still others think it was a combination of shots they received. The vaccinations most frequently blamed for the scar include tuberculosis (also known as “TB”), polio, and smallpox.
The countries of the people I spoke with who have the scar include:
El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Japan, and The Dominican Republic.
Interestingly enough though, there were also a handful of people born in the United States who have the scar, but all of them were born before my birth year (1979), so it seems to me it’s a vaccine that wasn’t given after a certain year in the U.S. My mother says that both she and my father received the smallpox vaccine but that neither of them scarred and that they had stopped giving that by the time my sisters and I were born.
I managed to dig up my vaccination record and it says that when I was 3 months old I was vaccinated against polio, so, being that I don’t have a scar, perhaps we’ve narrowed it down to “TB” and/or smallpox – or it’s possible that like my parents, my skin doesn’t scar when it comes to vaccinations. A friend from Mexico further convinced me to eliminate polio as a possible source of the scar when she told me that the vaccination for polio, at least in her experience, is not a shot, but given orally along with sugar water. Obviously an oral vaccination wouldn’t cause a scar on the arm.
This website, Descubre Aprende (hat tip to my friend, Eliana!) says that these scars are caused by the TB vaccination which is called “BBG” – One of my Salvadoran friends stated that he was 100% certain that this was correct.
What do you think? Do you have a vaccination scar either on your upper arm or upper outer thigh? Do you know what it was from, in which country you received it and what year? Leave a comment!
Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!
Últimamente parece que cada día una amiga diferente me dice que está enferma. Creo que es un buen momento para compartir mi secreto para combatir el virus del resfriado. Hace muchos años Carlos insistió que tomará un “té” de miel y limón cuando tuviera un dolor de garganta; mucha gente en El Salvador beben esto cuando están enfermos. Yo era escéptica, pero con los años descubrí que ayuda y ahora, cada vez que siento los primeros síntomas de un resfriado, empiezo a beber este té varias veces al día hasta sentirme mejor. El limón proporciona Vitamina C y la miel es un antibiótico natural, además de que sabe bien y se siente bien beberlo. Salud!
Té de Miel y Limón
una rodaja de limón
una taza de agua muy caliente
Exprimir el limón en el agua caliente. Añadir una o dos cucharadas de miel y revuelva. Servir.
Opcional: Últimamente también he ido añadiendo una pizca de jengibre molido que añade sabor y también tiene beneficios médicos.
Lately it seems that each day a different friend tells me she’s sick. I think it’s a good time to share my secret for combating the cold virus. Many years ago Carlos insisted I drink a “tea” made from honey and lemon when I had a sore throat; many people in El Salvador drink this when they’re sick. I was skeptical, but over the years I found that it helps and now, whenever I feel the first symptoms of a cold, I start drinking this tea several times a day until I feel better. The lemon provides Vitamin C and honey is a natural antibiotic, plus it tastes good and feels good drink. To your health!
Honey Lemon Tea
a slice of lemon
a cup of very hot water
Squeeze the lemon into the hot water. Add one or two tablespoons of honey and stir. Serve.
Optional: Lately I’ve also been adding a pinch of ground ginger which adds flavor and also has medical benefits.
Cinnamon is believed to have a lot of health benefits – from boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, and lowering blood sugar to relieving arthritis, fighting bacterial infections and promoting brain function. I’m not a doctor and can’t say for sure if any of this is true, but it’s an easy and refreshing drink when chilled and served over ice.
Té de Canela
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons white table sugar
Bring ingredients to a boil then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour through a sieve and serve over ice. Makes two to three glasses.
Note: Cinnamon has been shown to cause medical problems for some people. Talk to your doctor before self-medicating or consuming cinnamon in large quantities or for an extended period of time.
A car crash, dental surgery, a migraine, hit by shrapnel, a seizure – all these incidents led to the same condition in different people and that condition is Foreign Accent Syndrome, (FAS.)
Of the approximately 60 to 70 recorded cases of FAS, patients include one Australian woman who began speaking with a French accent after a car crash; a British woman who began speaking with a Chinese accent after a serious migraine; and an American woman who began speaking in a mix of Irish, English and other European accents after dental surgery. The very first recorded case occurred in 1941 after a young Norwegian woman suffered a shrapnel injury to the brain during an air raid – she began speaking with a German accent afterward and was ostracized as a result by people who thought she was faking the accent.
A common misconception among people meeting someone with FAS is that the FAS patient is able to speak a second language. Most FAS patients are actually monolingual and none of them acquire the ability to speak the language from which their accent derives. (There is one case, which is probably not considered FAS, of a Croatian girl who fell into a coma and woke up having lost the ability to speak Croatian but being able to speak fluent German.) [source]
I found it interesting as I researched that most of the cases I encountered were of Anglo women, but then I discovered the case of a man in England who began to speak with an Italian or Greek accent and an Australian boy who spoke with an American accent. Still, the vast majority of people with FAS seem to be women and I’m unable to find information of this occurring in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Whether this means it hasn’t occurred there or simply that the cases weren’t recorded as FAS, remains to be seen. (I can imagine that some cases could have been disregarded as mental illness.)
For some people this condition is a source of depression, frustration and embarrassment. Some people feel like they’ve lost a part of their identity – other people embrace it as a new identity.
How do you think you’d react to one day waking up with Foreign Accent Syndrome? Is there an accent you wouldn’t mind having? Which accent would you not want to have? How do you think it would affect your daily life?
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Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!
¿Cómo afecta tu cultura a tu sentido del olfato y las cosas que crees que huelen bien y las cosas que crees que huelen mal?
En un artículo que leí, hacen el argumento que aprendemos nuestras preferencias olfativas. ¿Qué interesante, no?
Unos ejemplos puedo dar de mi vida: A mi, me gusta el olor de zorrillo y también el olor de gasolina. Yo sé que son olores muy ofensivos para mucha gente, pero estos olores están ligados a buenos recuerdos de mi niñez.
También, olores que normalmente se consideran agradable en una cultura, pueden convertir en ser ofensivos para otros. Por ejemplo, el olor que llamamos “cherry” (cereza, pero cereza artificial como usan en paletas y chapstick), me encanta. Tengo bastantes buenos recuerdos con el olor “cherry” – pero mi suegra odia el olor y el sabor de “cherry” americano. (Digo “cherry americano” porque ella le gusta cerezas naturales.)
Siempre cuando hice una jarra de jugo sabor “cherry”, mi suegra empezó a quejarse de “el tufo.”
“Hiede a sapuyulo!” ella me decía.
Yo no sabía lo que era sapuyulo pero es una fruta, también conocido por el nombre “zapote” o “mamey” en algunos países. Mi suegra me explicó que cuando era niña, tuvo que tomar sapuyulo por un remedio casero o usar lo en forma de jabón, no recuerdo exactamente pero de cualquier manera no le gustó – y por eso el olor de “cherry” le molestaba mucho.
¿Y tú? Cuáles son tus experiencias entre olores y cultura? Cuáles olores te gustan? Cuáles olores no te gustan? Y cómo afectan tus buenos o malos recuerdos a los olores que te gustan o no te gustan?
Nota: Mil gracias a mi amiga Claudia quién me dijo como deletrear “sapuyulo.”
How does your culture affect your sense of smell and the things you think smell good and the things you think smell bad?
In an article I read, the argument is made that our olfactory preferences are learned. Interesting, right?
Some examples I can give from my life: I like the smell of skunk and the smell of gasoline. I know these are very offensive odors for many people, but these scents are tied to fond memories from my childhood.
Also, scents normally considered to be nice in one culture may be offensive in others. For example, the scent we call “cherry” (cherry, as in the artificial cherry scent used in popsicles and chapstick), I love very much. I have many fond memories of the “cherry” scent – but my mother-in-law hates the smell and taste of American “cherry.” (I say “American cherry” because she likes natural cherries.)
Whenever I used to make a pitcher of cherry-flavored juice, my mother-in-law would start complaining of “the bad smell.”
“That stinks like sapuyulo!” she’d say.
I didn’t know what sapuyulo was but it turns out it’s a fruit, also known by the name “sapote” or “mamey” in some countries. My mother-in-law explained to me that when she was a child she had to take a home remedy made of sapuyulo or that she had to use it as a soap, I can’t remember exactly how it was, but either way she hated it – and that’s why the smell of “cherry” bothered her so much.
And you? What are your experiences with smells and culture? Which scents do you like? Which scents do you dislike? How do your good or bad memories affect the scents you like or dislike?
Note: Many thanks to my friend Claudia who told me how to spell “sapuyulo.”
This past week I wrote my weekly column for Fox News Latino about the tradition of Christmas Eve fireworks in El Salvador, and the injuries it causes each year.
While doing research for the article I came across several videos which, despite the serious subject matter I was writing about, I found really amusing. It’s funny when people have a good time with fireworks and don’t get hurt, so I can definitely see why people continue to buy them and set them off.
I myself have never handled anything more serious than sparklers and since I didn’t grow up with fireworks being set off right in front of me as Carlos did, I have a healthy fear/respect of them. That being said, I know some of you will be setting off some pretty impressive cuetes tomorrow night, so I just wanted to take a moment to remind everyone to be careful and to keep small children at a safe distance while you’re celebrating. If you talk to your family in El Salvador on the phone, remind them too. Christmas is not as fun at the hospital. Have fun, pero con cuidado!
Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is below!
El otro fin de semana, Carlos tenía dolor de oido, sentía que tenía fluido por dentro, y me pidió una cura. Empecé a enumerar los remedios caseros, pero Carlos no estaba entusiasmado por ninguno de ellos. Entonces me acordé de una pintura de Carmen Lomas Garza llamado Ventosa, que muestra un cono hecho de periódico con fuego en el oído de alguien. Le conté a Carlos y quiso hacerlo.
Hice un poco de investigación y luego decidimos probarlo. La primera vez lo hicimos en el comedor y eso era un gran error. El suelo en nuestra casa es alfombra y algunas cenizas empezaron a caer, creando un peligro de incendio. Cuando el fuego en el cono creció me dio pánico y no sabía cómo apagarlo. Abrí la puerta de atrás y lo tiré al patio.
Después Carlos me dijo que no se sentía mejor y unas horas más tarde quería tratar otra vez. Esta vez lo hicimos en la bañera, pero una vez más cuando el fuego creció un poco fuera de control, me ponía nerviosa. Yo creo que este remedio casero es demasiado peligroso por casas en los Estados Unidos, la mayoría que son hechas de puras cosas inflamables.
Al final, Carlos dijo que el “cono de fuego”, como lo llamamos, realmente no le ayudaba. Intenté uno de los primeros remedios que había mencionado originalmente – gotitas de aceite de oliva en el oído. Ahora se siente mejor.
¿Tienes experiencia con el “cono de fuego”? Funciona para ti?
The other weekend, Carlos had an earache – he felt like he had fluid in his ear and he asked me for a cure. I started to list home remedies I knew of, but Carlos wasn’t enthusiastic about any of them. Then I remembered a Carmen Lomas Garza painting called Ventosa, which shows a newspaper cone of fire in someone’s ear. I told Carlos about it and he wanted to do it.
I did a little research and then decided to try it. The first time we did it in the dining room which was a big mistake. The flooring is carpet in our house and some ash began to fall, creating a fire hazard. When the fire grew bigger on the cone I panicked and didn’t know how to put it out. I unlocked the back door and threw it onto the patio.
Afterward Carlos told me he wasn’t feeling better and a few hours later he wanted to try again. This time we did it in the bathtub, but again when the fire grew a little out of control, I got nervous. I think this home remedy is too dangerous for homes in the United States, which are made of purely flammable things.
In the end, Carlos said the “cone of fire”, as we call it, didn’t really help. I tried one of the first remedies that I had originally mentioned – drops of olive oil in the ear. Now he feels better.
Do you have experience with the “cone of fire?” – Does it work for you?
It’s a constant battle. One day I’ll try to be more active and make healthier choices, other days I give in to every craving that pops into my mind – this weekend was no different. Despite watching the Olympics and feeling guilty that I can’t even manage a consistent 20 minutes of activity each day while athletes are capable of so much more, I was hit by an intense yearning for pupusas … and horchata … and tamales fritos.
I have learned a lot in life, but I have yet to fully overcome my hedonistic nature – this manifests itself in various ways but most notably through what I eat. Suegra used to laugh at me when we’d go to the Latino market because I would come out of the store with various kinds of candy instead of normal groceries like other adults. “Sos como una niña” – You’re like a little girl, she would say to me, shaking her head.
So this weekend, this niña had Carlos take me to a pupusería to fulfill my latest craving.
Pupusas de queso con curtido y salsa, a tamal de elote frito, platanos with crema y frijoles, and horchata to drink. (I actually gave most of the platanos to Carlos and my older son and only had a few bites of the beans but it’s still more food than any one person should be eating, and also not the healthiest food either.)
I went for a walk after that meal, to put a small dent in the damage at least, but sometimes I wish I would crave healthier food. My suegra used to crave mangoes and would enjoy them, slurping the sticky juices with her eyes closed, declaring them to be perfectly ripe and delicious to anyone who would listen. I, on the other hand, don’t ever crave fruit and while I do make sure I eat it on a daily basis, I don’t feel passionate about it, (unless chocobananos count, which I don’t believe they do.)
So today when I read “Can the Latin Diet be Healthy?” by fellow contributor, Chelsea, on SpanglishBaby, and “Don’t Let the Olympics Make You Feel Fat” by fellow contributor Elizabeth on Mamiverse, I was reminded of my own thoughts this past weekend, and of a neat link a friend gave me months ago.
Zhu of Correr es mi Destino, E-mailed me a link to a PDF provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The nearly 60 page bilingual PDF document is a cookbook of popular Latin American foods, made healthier. Platillos Latinos includes recipes for yucca (baked in the oven instead of fried), lomo saltado, Mexican pozole, arroz con pollo, and even pupusas revueltas using ground chicken and low-fat cheese.
I’m a fan of making small changes to eat healthier since drastic changes don’t last long for me. Others say “everything in moderation” – but moderation is something I still can’t get the hang of. Obsessively passionate or completely disinterested tend to be the two settings I run on regarding everything in life and I’m not so sure I can be re-wired. So I will choose to have my Tres Leches and eat it, too – but perhaps it woudn’t hurt to use fat-free sweetened condensed milk.
Heelys (the shoes with wheels), have a new line of shoes coming out this fall – and many of them are designed for women! I was offered a pair for review but, as much as I wanted to try them, I opted to get a pair for my 10 year old instead. (Honestamente, my roller skating and ice skating skills aren’t so bueno, so I don’t know if I’d be able to get the hang of Heelys.)
Heelys can be worn with or without the wheels, (we will have to take the wheels off if he wears them to school), but most people don’t know they come in adult sizes. In addition to the adult sizes, Heelys is introducing three brand new lines – an athletic shoe which will be lighter in weight, shoes made specifically for girls and women with more fashion forward colors and styles, and a street shoe with improved outsoles. (Ahora falta botas picudas con ruedas. Can you imagine? Now that would be chévere!)
My 10 year old was super feliz to finally get a pair of Heelys. These are the “Element” style Heelys in Youth size 3. The wheels were easy to install and are easy to take out, too.
It took my son about 30 minutes to get the hang of them. The trick is positioning your feet just so.
Once he knew how to use the Heelys, he didn’t want to stop. Here’s a little video to give you a taste of the fun.
Now he wants to learn how to do tricks with the Heelys. I’m happy he’s found another activity to get him outside and away from the video games.
Disclosure: A pair of Heelys was provided for review. All opinions are my own.