Category Archives: health

Fruit For All! Fruta Para Todos!

One of the great things about having a blog is that sometimes opportunities come along to use that blog to do good – this is one of those times. I have an amazing project to share with you today, and then after that, a really unique giveaway.

First, the project – Nestlé Juicy Juice and Feeding America are working together to literally put fresh fruit into the hands of children who otherwise wouldn’t have it, and there are a lot of ways you can help make that happen.

Ways to contribute to the Fruit For All Project

• Now through August 31st 2012, when you buy Juicy Juice products, Nestlé will donate fruit to Feeding America.

• Now through August 31st 2012, you can complete “challenges” such as sharing a photo on Juicy Juice’s Fruit for All website, in return Nestlé will donate fruit to Feeding America.

Ready to help out? Here are the websites in English and Spanish:

Juicy Juice – Fruit For All Project – English

Juicy Juice – Proyecto Fruta Para Todos – Español

The Giveaway

Okay, now for the giveaway – I hope you believed me when I said this is unique. The prize in this giveaway is a donation of 400 meals to a food bank in your community! What an amazing gift to be able to give!

How to Enter

All you need to do to enter is just leave a comment below telling me your favorite fruit!
(Please read official rules below.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be living in the United States. Your information will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between June 8th, 2012 through August 1st, 2012. Entries received after August 1st, 2012 at 11:59 pm ET, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post. The only compensation I received was the offer to donate 400 meals to my local food bank. All opinions are my own.

Fun for Niños at McDonald’s Fútbol Clinic

Yesterday we were invited to take part in a soccer clinic organized by McDonald’s which took place at Soccerdome in Landover, Maryland. At the soccer clinic, the kids were given a free uniform and tickets for the US vs. Brazil game later this evening at FedEx field. Chévere, right?

El Zol 107.9 FM was there playing music and getting the kids hyped up and they also introduced special guest, Ronald McDonald, the clown. This freaked me out and I made sure to keep my distance, (es nada personal against Ronald – all payasos make me uncomfortable)- however the niños seemed to have fun with him.

At some point, Carlos and I, as well as our 10 year old, were interviewed by Telemundo. I have no idea when and where they’ll use the videos, if they choose to use them. I say “if they choose to use them” because the questions were in Spanish, por supuesto, and I’m sure el chiquito and I made more than a couple grammatical mistakes, besides just being very self-conscious in front of the camera. Carlos was more comfortable than us but even he got a little nervous. Anyway, it was further confirmation that I’m a writer for a reason.

As for the actual clinic – it was a lot of fun. For several hours the kids played fútbol and other games, did drills and were instructed on how to improve their technique by friendly coaches. McDonald’s is often the target of criticism from health advocates and while I don’t disagree with a lot of common discussion on the topic, I think that when a company does something good, that should be recognized. McDonald’s does a lot of good things, the most well-known being Ronald McDonald House Charities – but these sports clinics are also really great healthy initiatives that should be praised. It was fantastic to see all the kids running around getting exercise and I noted that McDonald’s provided the kids with 100% juice rather than soda.

The best part of the event was that 22 of the children were chosen as escorts to walk players of the National US Soccer Team onto the field and stand with them during the anthems at tonight’s game – My 10 year old is going to be one of those kids and I’m sure this will be an experience he’ll never forget.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. We were invited by McDonald’s to the soccer clinic and given tickets to the game. No compensation was received in exchange for this post and as always all opinions are my own. at the White House – The Issues

On May 21st I attended the LATISM Top Bloguera Retreat in Washington, D.C. and part of that event included a White House briefing on issues affecting the Latino community. Today I want to share my experience and some of the things I learned which I think are worth passing on.

The main issues discussed were Health and Education, however, that didn’t stop Meagan Ortiz of Vivir Latino from kicking things off with a very good question regarding immigration. Of course the answer to the question was less than satisfying to anyone who has long supported comprehensive immigration reform, but perhaps that was to be expected.

(Check out Meagan’s thoughts on her experience here.)

Meagan’s question seemed to ignite others. Passionate blogueras lined up and asked very brave and difficult questions. I was proud to be in a room full of women who weren’t afraid to stand up and speak their minds.

Roxana Soto of SpanglishBaby asked about bilingual education and the possibility of more dual immersion schools – again, the answer she/we were given, didn’t satisfy me, but I still feel that our voices were heard, and that’s a start.

(Check out Roxana’s thoughts on her experience here.)

While the blogueras were given plenty of time to ask questions, the White House also had plenty of talking points and messages they wanted to get out to us and to the Latino community as well. Here is video I took, highlighting some of the parts I found most informative.

Here are some links to learn more about the programs mentioned in the video: (Nutrition Assistance Programs)
La Mesa Completa
Let’s Move!
Let’s Move! – Spanish version/español
Choose My Plate
Choose My Plate/Mi Plato – Spanish version/español


What information did you find most useful or surprising? What question would you have asked? at the White House

As you all know, I attended the LATISM “Top Bloguera” Retreat in Washington, D.C. Since coming back home I’ve had a lot to catch up on with work, my family, the household, and on top of that, we’ve been having some suegra drama so I haven’t had the luxury of sorting out my thoughts on the event, (let alone my videos and all my photos!)

I did write a recap for Latina Bloggers Connect though, and here is what I said, in part:

“Me personally, I’m still processing it all. I’m the type that needs a few days to think before I can say for certain what conclusion I’ve come to, but I can say with certainty that the event did the following for me:

The Top Bloguera Retreat encouraged me to re-think what I put my energy into and to consider whether I need to re-focus or re-distribute that energy in a different way for more satisfying payoffs, (emotional as well as financial.) – Now you know why I have a lot of thinking to do!”

(Read the rest at: Latina Bloggers Connect.)

The White House briefing was really informative. The Obama Administration has done a lot of things that benefit not just the Latino community, but all communities, and I’m hoping to bring you the highlights of what I learned in an upcoming post.

For now, check out the White House blog: #LatismAtTheWH – Latinos Active in Social Media Visit the White House.

Agua Con – Water, Latino-style

Agua Con - flavored water

Agua Con sent me a box of their newly launched line of flavored waters to try. The box arrived at our door just as we sat down to lunch so I wanted to try them right away but I discovered it’s really important to drink these very cold or the flavor isn’t as good.

Here are some super chévere things about Agua Con:

• The flavors right now include: Piña y Coco, Guayava, Lima y Limón and Horchata.
• Agua Con has zero calories.
• Agua Con has no sugar or artificial sweeteners.
• Ingredients include: Filtered Water, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid and Stevia.
• Agua Con is a product of the USA and they’re based out of Los Angeles.
• Agua Con contains no preservatives and no sodium.

Hours later, I gave them another try and after sampling each, the entire family agreed that Guayava and Lima y Limón are the standouts. I would have bet a million dollars that Horchata would be my favorite, but I guess I love real horchata so much that horchata-flavored water can’t quite do it for me – Each time I try it, it does grow on me though. (I desperately want to love it because drinking horchata-flavored water instead of real horchata all the time would be better for my health.)

Over all, I think it’s a genius idea and I wish Agua Con a lot of luck.

Find out more about the company and where you can buy your own at their website, or by connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review. I received Agua Con products to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

La Merienda and Mexico’s Abuelita

“La merienda” is a traditional Latin American snack break which can be taken between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. It’s different from most American snack or coffee breaks because la merienda isn’t something you would scarf down behind the wheel of your car, buy from a vending machine, or mindlessly munch while checking E-mail. It’s a moment each day, often shared with others, where you sit down at the table and savor what is more like a miniature meal. This tradition is about taking a moment to relax and truly appreciate comida, familia and amigos, which creates a thankful spirit.

Nestlé Abuelita sent me some of their products to enjoy during our daily merienda and although I wish you could have been sitting at the table with me, I took some photos so you can share in the experience.

I usually use the Abuelita "tableta" to make hot chocolate, and I love to add cinnamon.

Nestlé Abuelita sent me the granulated form and instant hot chocolate mix packets which make it easier for the boys to make their own.

Using hot milk instead of water provides calcium and a creamier drink.

Merienda time with a cup of hot chocolate and a tamal de elote.

History & Culture

Coincidentally this past weekend, while watching a Pedro Infante film, (Los tres García) with Carlos, I said, “That old lady looks familiar,” – referring to one of the actresses on screen. Carlos laughed, “That’s abuelita!”

“I know that’s the abuelita,” I said, for she was the grandmother of the three main characters in the movie, “I mean I’ve seen her somewhere else.”

“Yes, she’s the abuelita on the hot chocolate!” Carlos said.

I thought he was joking, but it’s true. After a little research I discovered that the woman on packages of Abuelita is Mexican actress Sara García – She so often played the part of the “abuela” in films during the 1940′s-1950′s that she became known as “Mexican Cinema’s Grandmother.”

Are you ready for your merienda?

Below, find out how to win a Nestlé Abuelita Prize Pack. Also know that sometime on or around March 7th, you can visit and RSVP to join a special event where you’ll have another chance to win a merienda prize pack from Nestlé Abuelita.



Prize: The Nestlé Abuelita Prize Pack for ONE lucky winner which values at $50 will include:

• Nestlé Abuelita Instant and Nestlé Abuelita Granulado product
• Two coffee/hot chocolate mugs and saucers
• One hot chocolate spoon
• A set of recipe cards to provide some ideas for enjoying your Nestlé Abuelita products
• Nestle note cards
• Disposable digital camera

How to Enter:

In the comments section, tell us if you currently partake in a daily afternoon snack break or “merienda.”

Official Rules:

No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the company in charge of prize fulfillment. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between February 20th, 2012 through February 25th, 2012. Entries received after February 25th, 2012 at 11:59 PM, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Disclosure: I received products from Nestlé to facilitate the review and writing of this post. All opinions are my own.

Resolutions + Perspective

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but this year it became a time of self-examination and a clear starting point to make some changes. The changes I’ve made have been a long time coming – some once, (or many times), attempted and abandoned, others have been bouncing around in my head waiting for me to give them importance – still others have only come to me recently, as if they knew now was the moment I would welcome them.

I don’t like to call them “goals” or “resolutions” because I prefer to think I spend every day of my life stepping toward the self-actualized version of myself – Admittedly it’s a two steps adelante and one step atrás sort of thing.

Like many others, one of my “resolutions” (for want of a better word), is to take my health more seriously. I’m starting to feel my age and that – even more than wanting to look like a bikini chica in a Pitbull video, may be enough to scare me straight. My back hurts when I wake up. My knees ache when it rains. It’s too early to consider retiring to Miami so maybe, just maybe, I need to put down the Bubu Lubus.

When my dedication to working towards these “resolutions” wavers, (as it always does), I need to try to remember that my “problem” – my “struggle” – is only difficult from my perspective.

Think about this with me. Think about the ridiculousness of the challenges we face. Some common complaints:

• Food is too accessible and abundant. I can’t get away from the temptations.
• It’s too cold out so I can’t [leave the warmth of my house to] get some exercise.
• I’ve become bored with my workout. I don’t feel motivated.
• Food blogs tempt me with delicious photos of flan and burritos.

(Okay, that last complaint is mine.)

These are what you call “first world problems.” If you just shift your perspective, you may start to laugh at the once mountainous obstacles that seemed insurmountable.

This should shift your perspective. I took this photo in El Salvador – but what does it have to do with anything I’m talking about here? Let me explain.

While we were in El Salvador we went to visit family in Chalatenango. It was a long drive from San Salvador in an unairconditioned microbus. On the way back to the city, the traffic became thick. We shoved at the already open windows to let more air into the vehicle which now moved at a crawl. We fanned ourselves, watched beads of sweat roll down the sides of each others’ faces.

At some point, we came to a stop in front of a public well just off the highway. There I watched women and children washing laundry and scooping water over their heads – bathing fully-clothed with no privacy. I tried not to stare, didn’t want them to feel self-conscious, but Salvadorans are famous starers and I was probably the only one on the highway trying to watch without being obvious about it.

The laundry now heavy and wet, was put back into large plastic tubs, balanced on sturdy heads, and walked home, who knows how far, to be hung to dry.

…Something to remember next time taking a walk around my quiet suburban neighborhood seems too difficult.

Interview: Latin Pop singer Luis Fonsi

I recently had the opportunity to interview Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi about his involvement with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Check it out!

Inspired to support this charity? Check out

Ama tu Cereal – Breakfast & Mamás Latinas

My youngest niño eating a bowl of cereal before school.

While I was at the Blogalicious conference, you may have seen me using the hashtag #amatucereal (love your cereal) on Twitter. Ironically the Blogalicious conference didn’t have cereal available for breakfast or else I would have been eating it.

Cereal is a staple at our house, and in most houses in the United States, for many reasons. For one, cereal is easy to prepare and many people don’t have the time or energy to cook a hot breakfast like frijoles molidos, tortillas, huevos revueltos, chorizo, platanos, etc. (though I do make that breakfast for the entire family on the weekend!)

You’ve heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and it’s true, so it’s good that we have cereal as an option to start the day. Not only is it fast, easy, affordable, and well-loved by even the pickiest niños – breakfast cereal with milk is the leading source of 10 nutrients important to growing bodies.

Here are some more interesting facts from a survey conducted by Kellogg’s:

  • Nutrition experts agree that breakfast in the morning helps children focus in the classroom.
  • 9 in 10 Latina mothers want their kids to eat breakfast every day.
  • Latina mothers are 20% more likely than mothers overall to get up early and prepare breakfast.

Want to learn more about the Kellogg’s survey? Visit

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. Kellogg’s sponsored my attendance at the Blogalicious conference. All opinions are my own.

El Salvador – El dentista

Image source: Meredith Farmer

While brushing my teeth a week before we went to El Salvador, a filling broke off a back tooth. I won’t pretend it was the brushing that did it, as it was more likely the JuJuBes candy I had eaten a day or two before. Though I wasn’t happy, we had planned on going to a dentist in El Salvador anyway, so at least it was good timing.

The original plan had been to go to a dentist in Carlos’s neighborhood, but after all the drama that happened the first day, we decided we would have to find a different dentist somewhere else in San Salvador.

That may seem like an inconvenience but the good thing about El Salvador is that whatever you need, a random stranger will have connections to get it for you. In this case, our favorite taxi driver’s son turned out to be a dentist. He was too busy to schedule us in, but he referred us to a colleague of his.

So we went to the office that was recommended by the son of our taxi driver. The office we went to was clean and modern. Of course, clean and modern are very important when choosing a dentist. We knew it would cost a little more than maybe some other offices in El Salvador, but this is one thing you really don’t want to get the best deal on, ya sabes.

The receptionist, dental hygienist, and the dentist himself, were all very nice. The first day they only cleaned our teeth and said we should come back another day due to excessive bleeding and the need for the swelling to go down in our gums. This sounded very logical and professional, so although I wanted to get it all done, I was pleased that this guy definitely knew what he was doing. Two days later we would have to return a second time to have my filling repaired, take care of a new small cavity I didn’t even know I had – and as it turned out, Carlos had a broken crown which was very close to becoming a root canal which he needed fixed too.

After our first appointment, the dentist actually closed up shop and gave us a ride back to our hotel. How’s that for full service?

The second appointment was a little less fun and a little more painful – but nothing out of the ordinary. Towards the end of my time in the dental chair, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

I went to a dentist appointment in El Salvador! I said to myself. I understood everything and the dentist understood me! I learned new words like “Enjuaguese” for “Rinse” and “Relleno” for “Filling” … I’m so clever! I smiled to myself as the dentist finished brushing some terrible tasting “flúor” (flouride) on my teeth and then started to walk away. My mouth was full of saliva but he hadn’t told me “Enjuaguese.” I wanted to spit it out! This stuff was nasty, it seemed like a dangerous idea to swallow it and I was ready to drool on myself.

“Doctor!” I managed to get out.

He turned and looked at me expectantly.

“Puedo… puedo…” My mind went blank.

The dentist cocked his head and waited patiently.

I pointed a finger from my mouth to the little sink.

“Puedo…” Argh! What was the word for spit?!


The dentist looked amused and perplexed, as he took off his gloves and smiled at me. Obviously he didn’t speak Spanglish.

Carlos sat in a chair in the next room through an open doorway. I called to him for help but by now I was definitely drooling.

“CARLOS!” I gurgled, “How you say spit?”

“Um… Tirar saliva?”

Maybe “tirar saliva” was perfectly fine to use, but my mind translated it literally to “throw saliva” and it seemed too rude and reckless so I rejected it immediately.

“No – that’s weird! I want a real verb!”

The dentist looked back forth between us.

“Escupir?” Carlos said.

“YES! Escupir! Doctor, puedo escupir?”

The dentist smiled kindly and said “No” – explaining that I needed to be patient and try to hang in there for a few more minutes. All that panic and drooling on my shirt for nothing. I closed my mouth full of spit until he gave me the okay.

After Carlos’s cleaning I went downstairs to wait with the boys in the other waiting room. While I waited, I noticed that several people who seemed to be friends of the receptionist, came in and sat down. I figured they were just waiting for her to get off work so they could go out together but lost interest in figuring it out when Carlos came downstairs.

We went to the counter to pay. For two cleanings, fluoride for both, one filling replaced, one new cavity filled, and one crown replaced, our total was less than $300.

I said something like “Wow! It would have been more than a thousand in the United States” and Carlos gave me ‘the look’ which means I said something I shouldn’t have. “Do you want them to charge us double next time?” he whispered.

So, we paid, called our ride to come pick us up, and went to wait outside the clinic because from what we understood, we were the last appointment of the day and we didn’t want to hold up the staff if they wanted to close up and go home.

We waited under the narrow awning as it rained but our ride didn’t arrive right away. The receptionist kept opening the door and begging us to come back in and wait comfortably inside. We turned her down twice. The third time, the dentist himself insisted we come back in and “enjoy the movie.”

As we followed him back into the clinic, I whispered to Carlos, “Did he say movie?”

Back in the waiting room, the office staff and friends of the receptionist had rearranged the chairs movie theater-style to face a TV in the corner of the room. We obediently sat down and waited as the dentist started the DVD and sat down to watch with us.

The boys kept looking at me but I avoided eye contact precisely because I knew they wanted to laugh and that they would make me laugh. It isn’t every day you get to watch a movie in the dentist’s office.

The movie was called, “Bosco: La historia de mi secuestro.” It seemed to be a documentary about a real life kidnapping that took place – in other words – very serious subject matter – Which is why I was horrified when I realized Carlos and the boys were shaking silently with laughter, trying to hold it in. Carlos literally had a hand clapped over our younger son’s mouth to keep him quiet. They weren’t laughing at the film, but at the fact that we were watching a movie at the dentist’s office. It was all very surreal and I wanted to laugh too. I needed to get out of there, because if Carlos was laughing, I definitely wasn’t going to be able to hold it in much longer. Thankfully I saw our ride pull up outside just in time and we excused ourselves.

On our ride back to the hotel I smiled at the irony of the situation. Here I had been lamenting the loss of a day at a dentist’s office – disappointed that we would be losing time in which we could have been experiencing something more uniquely Salvadoran. As it turns out, doing the most mundane tasks in El Salvador is always educational and culturally authentic – even going to the dentist.


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