Latina Poets You Should Know

When we think of great poets we may automatically think of Shakespeare or maybe even Emily Dickinson, but did you know that for many years Latinas have also excelled in poetry writing? Plenty of Latina poets have received awards and universal recognition for their poetry collections. Poetry is also what helped secure the first Nobel Peace Prize ever awarded to a Latina. Latina poetry explores a variety of styles and themes and is often inspired by the poets’ beautiful and sometimes painful cultural experiences. Poetry has been responsible for giving many Latinas the strong voice they need to share their unique stories with the world. Here are some amazing Latina poets you should check out.

Sandra Cisneros 

Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican American author who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Sandra may be best known for her novel The House on Mango Street, but she is also a talented poet. Sandra’s poetry reflects her own personal experiences with identity, poverty, cultural stereotypes, and feminism. Some of Sandra’s poetry collections include Bad BoysMy Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. After 45 years as an author, Sandra continues to write and it is her love for writing that encouraged her to start several foundations which aim to advance the success of writers in Texas.

 

 

 

Julia de Burgos

 Julia de Burgos is considered to be one of the first Latina poets and one of the greatest Puerto Rican poets of all time. While Julia’s poetry reflects her love for her country and nature, her poems also reflect her advocacy for Puerto Rican independence. Julia’s poems highlight some of the social struggles going on in Puerto Rico at the time of her writing. Some of her more famous works are El Rio Grande de Loiza,  Poema para Mi Muerte (My Death Poem), and Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (I Was My Own Path). Julia received many awards and recognitions for her poetry during her lifetime and after her death she had several monuments built in her name both in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

 

Pat Mora

Pat Mora is the author of several poetry collections for adults and young adults including Dizzy In Your Eyes: Poems about Love and My Own True Name. Common themes in Mora’s poetry are Mexican American culture, bilingualism and the southwest where she grew up. Mora has also received several awards for her poetry collections for adults which include BordersChantsand Communion. Mora currently works as a literacy advocate for her self-founded initiative “El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” which is an effort to connect children with the joy of reading.

 

 

 

  Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican American poet and novelist. Julia was born in New York City but spent most of her childhood in the Dominican Republic. Her experience as an immigrant  influenced much of her writing. Her poetry collections include The Woman I Kept To MyselfHomecoming and The Other Side/El Otro Lado. Julia’s poetry explores themes of identity, assimilation and cultural expectations of women. Alvarez has won several awards for her poetry and some of her poetry manuscripts are on display in the New York Public Library.

 

 

 

 

Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral was a Chilean poet and the only Latin American woman to ever win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Her most famous poem, Sonetos de la muerte,  was inspired by the suicide of her lover, and themes of love, suffering and pain were a constant in her following poems. Gabriela was also an educator and spent most of her life traveling and working as an education reformer. Though she is not as well-known in the 20th century, her poems laid the groundwork for many of today’s Latina feminist poets.

 

 

 

Why I Love My Major

If you are getting ready to apply to college or have at least started thinking about applying, you are probably wondering how in the world are you going to choose a major. You might already have your parents or other family members pressuring you into pursuing a major that they think is best for you. It might make you less stressed out to know that many college graduates change their major several times while they are in college. Don’t worry, most college graduates agree that your major doesn’t necessarily define the career you will have for the rest of your life.

Getting a college degree in any major only broadens your chances of achieving success. However, it is important to make sure you choose a major that you are passionate about. Your major may not define your career choices but it will influence the types of classes you will take in college. By choosing the right major you can ensure that you will take classes that interest you, instead of some that might put you to sleep. Pursuing a major that motivates you can help make your college experience meaningful and prepares you for a career you will love.

Take it from these five undergraduate Latinas as they explain why finding a major they love has made their college experience more beneficial and has brightened their future.

Maria Librado

Major: Youth and Community Studies

Minor: Sociology

What influenced you to choose this major? I realized there was a strong need for direction in today’s youth. There is also a lack of availability of resources that has negatively influenced the community a child is brought up in.

Why do you think this major suits you? My major suits me because I have a passion for helping youth through community outreach.

Was this major your first choice? No, my first major was sociology. When I realized this major was more focused on research I realized I wanted to major in something that allowed me to make a direct impact on youth.

What has been the best class you have taken for your major and why? Mexican Americans in Higher Education has been my favorite class because I learned about the issues that have deeply impacted the educational attainment of Mexican American students. I learned that alternative paths can be taken to help these students gain access to higher education.

How do you see your major helping you achieve your goals for the future? My career goal is to one day become a counselor focused on helping minorities get into higher education. I feel that my major is giving me the preparation I need to work with and understand youth and communities collectively as a counselor.

 

 

Nicole Garcia

Major: Health Promotion

Minor: Education with specialization in disability studies.

What influenced you to choose this major? I have come to realize how important our physical and mental health is. Coming from El Paso where it’s encouraged to eat, or else grandma gets upset, I never realized how important it is to watch what we are putting into our bodies. Promoting health is important to me because there are people out there who get diagnosed with brain diseases or cancer, diseases that we can’t prevent. So we should do what we can to take care of the healthy bodies we are given.

Why do you think this major suits you? I want to be able to help people and give back to my community, my major gives me the foundation for that. It has also given me the opportunity to take classes that teach a great deal about autism which my brother was diagnosed with during my senior year of high school. After some of my kinesiology classes I am now able to understand him a lot better

Was this major your first choice? No, I started off with exercise science and switched to health promotion. They are in the same umbrella of kinesiology though, so there wasn’t a big difference.

What has been the best class you have taken for your major and why? Programming For People With Disabilities, because my passion has always been to help those with special needs and this class taught me about different disabilities and how to accommodate people with them so they can participate in physical education. This class also gave me and opportunity to volunteer with UT’s Autism Project where I was able to interact with children who have autism. This was by far one of my best experiences at the university.

How do you see your major helping you achieve your goals for the future? My major has given me the information I need to be able to go back home and start programs or interventions that I feel El Paso really needs such as better physical education and nutrition being included in our high school health class.

 

Bethany Ward

Major: English

Minor: RTF (Radio, Television and Film)

What influenced you to chose this major? When I was in high school I had a really good English teacher who taught me how to think critically and outside the box. After that I had very good English teachers throughout high school. I also love to read and write, its always been something I enjoyed.

Why do you think this major suits you? With English major there is no right answer.  As and English major you get to come up with your own opinions and answers to questions.

Was this your first choice? Yes!

What has been the best class you have taken for your major and why? The American Novel After 1920. We got to read many classic American books and the professor was really open and encouraging with the class.

How do you think your major will help you achieve your future goals? Being an English major makes you well rounded, you learn a lot more than just about books. You learn how to analyze and become a more critical thinker which is an admirable trait in many job positions.

 

Patti Martin

Major: Microbiology

What influenced you to choose this major? I have always been interested in science and learning about how bacteria and viruses can infect us and make us sick. It really amazed me that tiny microorganisms have the ability to make people die!

Why do you think this major suits you? I think my major suits me because I like to think analytically and with science there is always an answer. Also I feel as though being able to learn about different symptoms and diseases will help me when I become a dentist because I am going to have to diagnose my patients.

Was this major your first choice? No, first it was biology then I realized I could specialize in an area and I chose microbiology and have stuck with it since that day.

What has been the best class you have taken for your major and why? My favorite class has been organic chemistry because the professor I had was truly an inspiration to me. He showed me that hard works truly does pay off and taught me to never give up.

How do you see your major helping you achieve your goals for the future? I have been accepted to dental school and the first year is basically all science including microbiology, immunology, and physiology which are all courses I’ve had to take under my major. As a dentist I will have to diagnose and treat my patients which is also something I have learned to do in many of my classes.

 

Linda Serna

Major: Women and Gender Studies

Minor: Sociology and Social Work

What influenced you to choose this major? My experiences growing up as a female have encouraged me to pursue this major. I have also always wanted to help and give back to the community.

Why do you think this major suits you? My major suits me because it allows me to surround myself with diverse people. Gender studies is also a new field so there are many more research possibilities.

Was this major your first choice? No my first choice was social work, which I still hope to pursue a Master’s degree in.

What has been the best class you have taken for your major and why? Intro to Women and Gender Studies has been my favorite class because it made me realize how interested I am in this new field.

How do you see your major helping you achieve your goals for the future? My major will teach me to reach out to marginalized groups and create a safe space for all people to express themselves and learn.

History of Our Lady of Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe is one of the most praised saints in the Hispanic culture. She has risen to become the symbol of Mexico, and her basilica in Mexico is visited by millions every year. The Virgin’s iconic image can be seen in thousands of churches, homes and even city murals. Her legend is a miraculous and mysterious one, which has helped to build a strong hope in the hearts of those who worship her.

 

The Legend

The story of the very first apparition of the Virgin is an ancient one. According to the old legend, she appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego in Tepeyac hills near Mexico City. She told Juan Diego to build a church exactly where he was standing. He ran to tell the local bishop, who asked for some proof. Juan Diego went back to the hill and the Virgin appeared to him again. He told her that the bishop wanted proof, and she told him to cut the roses growing behind him. When he turned around, he was amazed to see roses growing. He cut the roses, placed them in his poncho and returned to the bishop. When he arrived to the bishop and opened his cloak before the him, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place was the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric. Today, the sacred icon is displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe.

 

The Basilica

The Basilica of Our Lady Of Guadalupe in Mexico City began as a series of shrines. The old building was constructed from 1531 to 1750. The church was then granted basilica status by Pope Pius X in 1904. The infamous Juan Diego cloak was on display in the basilica from 1709 to 1974. In 1921, a bomb placed in a flower vase near the altar exploded and caused major damage to the interior of the building. Due to this, and the fact that the basilica was sinking into the weak ground, a new building was built. The modern basilica was built by Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. The new basilica which holds 10,000 people, was constructed in a circular shape to promote visibility of the image of the Virgin inside. The church hosts so many pilgrimages it is considered the second most important sanctuary of Catholicism.

 

Mexico’s Symbol

The Virgin has played a strong role in Mexico’s national history as well. The Virgin is known as the patron saint of Mexico. According tocatholic.org, after the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego “six million Native Mexicans had themselves baptized as Christians.” In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo called for Mexican independence with his Grito de Dolores, with the cry “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!” During the Mexican Revolution Emiliano Zapata and his men carried banners with the image of Guadalupe as they fought for “tierra y liberated.” Over the years, the Virgin has become not only Mexico’s national symbol, but a symbol of motherly hope and love to the common people. December 12th marks the official feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Millions of people from all over Mexico make pilgrimages to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on bike, foot and even by knee! Mexicans use the holiday to show their loyalty to the Virgin as well as continue to ask for her blessings. The worship of a Virgin mother is not unique to Mexico though, many other Hispanic cultures also place their faith in a virgin such as Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

 

The Virgin in Popular Culture

To this day, many Mexicans worship the Virgin and believe that the she has appeared to them in some shape or form. La Virgen de Guadalupe has become so overwhelmingly loved by the common people, mostly because she is famous for appearing to the humble and poor Juan Diego. It is very common in Mexican culture to see shrines to the Virgin outside homes, paintings and statues of her indoors, and murals with her figure around town. The praying of the rosary to the Virgin has become a common practice in Mexican culture to both praise the Virgin and petition to her. Wendy Guadalupe Valera, age 16 shares her relationship with the Virgin, “My mom gave my grandpa the opportunity to chose my name. So he made a promise to the Virgin that if I came out healthy, he would name me after her.” The Virgin’s impact on pop culture can still be seen today as she has become the subject of many art forms such as poetry, music, paintings and even jewelry and clothing.

Breakfast Ideas For Girls-On-The-Go

Do you ever feel like the most rushed and crazy part of the day happens right after your alarm rings in the morning to the moment you step out the door? Well, you are not alone! Whether it’s school, work or practice that you are waking up for, most girls can agree that mornings are not always a walk in the park! Between trying to pick out an outfit, doing your hair, applying makeup and getting your bag ready, it easy to forget to eat the most important meal of the day, breakfast!

We are all guilty of taking an extra ten minutes on our hair, rushing out of the door with an empty stomach and having to deal with embarrassing stomach growls until lunchtime. It is easy to forget that eating breakfast can make your day run a lot more smoothly. According to the American Dietetic Association, children and teens who consume a healthy breakfast behave better and perform better in school and they are able to remain focused until the next meal. This explains why you may feel sluggish or sleepy throughout the day when you skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast also decreases your metabolism and may cause you to overeat at lunchtime. People who eat breakfast regularly have a good metabolism, and can keep a healthy weight.

Taking a couple of minutes out of your busy morning to eat breakfast is definitely worth it! Check out theses delicious breakfast ideas that are perfect for a girl on-the-go!

Banana Breakfast Bread

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 Small Banana
  2. 2 Slices Wheat bread

Directions:

  1. Toast the bread
  2. Cut each slice in half
  3. Cut banana in small slices
  4. Lay three slices of banana on each half and spread with a butter knife
  5. Sprinkle Cinnamon toast seasoning on each half
  6. If you don’t have the seasoning available you can use ground cinnamon and truvia (sugar)

(From:undressedskeleton.tumblr.com)

 

Pina Colada Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients

  1. 1/3 cup(s) reduced-fat vanilla yogurt
  2. 1/2 cup(s) crushed canned pineapple, or canned mandarin oranges
  3. 1 tablespoon(s) coconut

Directions

  1. Top yogurt with pineapple (or canned mandarin oranges) and coconut.

(From: delish.com)

 

Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) plain fat-free yogurt
  2. 3 to 4 bananas, peeled, cut into chunks
  3. 14 ounces strawberries, stems removed, roughly chopped to equal 3 cups
  4. 1/4 cup skim milk or soy milk
  5. 2 tablespoons honey
  6. 1 cup ice

Directions

  1. Gradually add all ingredients to the jar of a blender; puree until smooth. Serve.

(Smoothies can be prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight!)

(From: marthastewart.com)

Cereal “Sundae”

Ingredients:

  1. A bowl of fiber-rich bran flakes (about 1½ cups)
  2. Lemon or vanilla yogurt
  3. 1/4 cup of nuts or fresh or dried fruit, such as chopped pecans or blueberries.

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients!

(Make it portable by replacing the milk with and mixing it in a to-go container.)

(From: realsimple.com)

 

Kicked-Up Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  1. 2 flour tortillas (regular or whole-wheat)
  2. 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  3. Several thin slices of a Granny Smith apple

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle an even layer of cheese over one tortilla.
  2. Scatter the apple slices on top of the cheese and top with the remaining tortilla.
  3. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts.
  4. For a crisper tortilla, use a large skillet and crisp for 1-2 minutes on both sides, until the cheese is melted.
  5. Cut into 6-8 wedges.

(From: parenting.com)

 

Whole-Grain Toast with Yogurt and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  1. 4 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
  2. 2 slices whole-grain toast
  3. 2 tablespoon honey
  4. 2 tablespoon shelled pistachios

Directions

  1. Spread nonfat Greek yogurt on whole-grain toast.
  2. Drizzle each with honey.
  3. Sprinkle each with shelled pistachios.
  4. Serve immediately.

(From: marthastewart.com)

 

 

 

Latinas in the Olympics

If you were one of the millions of people who tuned into the 2012 Summer Olympics, you may have noticed that female athletes ruled the games. Women from all over the world were stealing both hearts and gold medals. A total of 58 medals were won just by the women of Team USA! If you think that is amazing, you may also be shocked at the number of Latinas that contributed to that medal count. From water polo to boxing, Team USA had some amazing Latinas representing us. Not only are these women the best at what they do, they are also educated, beautiful and so very strong. So get inspired by these amazing Latinas that have broken barriers and made Olympic history.

Marlen Esparza

Marlen joined Team USA for the very first time this year. At 5’3 and 112 pounds, you would never guess that she is the first American woman to qualify for the Olympics in the first year that women’s boxing was an Olympic event. Marlen is a 23 year old Mexican-American from Houston, Texas. Marlen is as beautiful as she is fierce; she is also the first American amateur boxer to be signed with Cover Girl cosmetics! Things weren’t always so easy for Marlen though. She admits to being bullied in high school, an experience that turned her into a troublemaker especially with girls. When she was 12, Marlen began training with her coach, and she began to notice some changes. By the time she graduated from Pasadena High School, she was class president and graduated in the top 2%of her class. Marlen went on to win a bronze medal at this year’s Olympics. She is the first American woman to earn a boxing medal. Marlen informed the media that she would be retiring to attend college in hopes of becoming an anesthesiologist.

Diana Lopez

Diana who is 28 years old is an American Olympic Taekwondo competitor. Diana is a world champion in Taekwando. While she didn’t medal this year, she did win a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing games. She is from Sugar Land, Texas and her parents are originally from Nicaragua. Diana’s parents got her and her older brothers started in Taekwondo at very young age. She was just six years old when she got started! Diana along with her older brothers became the first trio of siblings to all medal at an Olympic Games. Diana is also an instructor at the Lopez Taekwando Academy which was started by her oldest brother. To add to her amazing talents, Diana is working on an undergraduate degree at The University of Houston, and wants to continue working towards her masters in education! Diana tells HispanicBusiness.com that she loves being a rolemodel for Latinas and shares that, “Latinas are beautiful strong and confident.”

Brenda Villa

Brenda has competed four times on the U.S. water polo team, and this year she was the squad captain. She is 32 years old and originally from Los Angeles California, where her parents immigrated to from Mexico. Brenda joined her first swim club at the age of six. While in high school, she played on the boys’ water polo team since there wasn’t a girls’ team! Since then, Brenda won a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics. This year as team captain, she helped lead the US American Water Polo team to their first gold medal win in four Olympic games! Brenda is now the most decorated woman’s water polo athlete. She also graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science. Brenda co-founded a non-profit organization called Project 2020 which helps give children with lower resources a chance to learn how to swim and play team sports.

Amy Rodriguez

Amy is a member of the United States women’s national soccer team and a two-time gold medalist. Amy helped her team win gold at the 2008 Beijing games and again at this year’s London games. Amy is 25 years-old and from California and her father is from Cuba. Less than a month after her 18th birthday Amy began playing with the U.S. national team. Amy graduated from The University of California where she played with the USC Trojans women’s soccer team and majored in psychology. Amy has tied a U.S. record by scoring five goals in one match! After soccer Amy says she would like to pursue a career in counseling or nursing.

Sarah Robles

Sarah who is 23 years old is known as the strongest woman in America. Sarah is a three-time national champion, and this summer was her first time competing for Team USA. Sarah finished seventh out of 14 lifters in her weight class. Sarah is from California, and her great-grandparents immigrated from Mexico. After Sarah’s high school track and field coach got her into weightlifting training, there was no going back even despite the fact that she deals with an arm deformity that causes a lot of pain during lifting. To add to all that physical strength, she is a body image activist who’s mantra is “Beauty is Strength.” Sarah has her own blog where she encourages girls to follow their dreams and be confident about themselves. Check out Sarah’s awesome blog at http://prettystrongblog.blogspot.com.

Inspired yet? To read more on these amazing Latinas and a few others check out their Olympic athlete profiles on http://www.teamusa.org/Athletes.aspx

 

Summer Before College Bucket List

Whether you are planning to stay home or move away for college, the summer before your first year of college is oh-so important! Making the transition to college can seem like a nerve-wracking experience. Packing the summer before you head to college with fun and beneficial activities can really prepare you and ease some nerves. Okay so you are not kicking the bucket yet, but this special summer bucket list will help you make a smooth transition to a new and exciting phase of your life.

1. Relax!

If you are just graduating high school, you have probably had a very stressful year trying to meet graduation requirements and applying to different colleges. Summer is the ideal time to kick up your feet and just breathe. Depending on how you plan your schedule, your new college life may not offer very much down-time. Pamper yourself, go for a swim and enjoy some fun in the sun while you can.

 

2. Find Your Inner Tourist

For those of you girls planning to leave home, taking in as much of your hometown as you can is a great idea. Take a week out of your summer to visit local parks, museums, attractions, historical sites or your favorite restaurants and stores. You may even discover things in your city you never knew existed! Taking a tour of the city you are moving to is also very important. Find places like your closest grocery store, the best local food, and the cheapest gas! Really getting to know your new home will help you feel more confident and comfortable.

 

3. Make Time for Family and Friends

If you are planning to leave town for college, it is important to spend the most of summer with family and friends before you take off. Make sure to make plenty of memories to fill in for the time you will be away. Even if you are attending college at home, it’s a great idea to spend as much time with family as possible. As you begin to study and get more involved as a college student, you may see less and less of your family. Take time to plan family outings, take lots of photos of your favorite people, take a road trip with your friends and get your fill of grandma’s cooking!

 

4. Explore Your Major

Right around now you are probably getting lots of input on what other people think you should study in college. It’s important to take time during the summer to figure out what it is that you really love to do; it might save you some stress! USA News reports that 80% of college students change their majors at least once. Getting to know your major and the classes you will be taking can really help you make the right choice about what you want to study. Interviewing people that have your dream job is also a fun thing to do during the summer. If you are an aspiring journalist, get in touch with a local newspaper journalist–they may have some great advice to offer.

 

5. Become an Interior Designer

If you are attending college in your hometown, the summer before you start is a great time to redecorate your room. You definitely want to make your room study-friendly. It is a good idea to invest in things like a desk, a lamp and maybe even a bookshelf. If you are moving into an apartment or dorm, the summer before you move is a wonderful time to try some DIY (do-it-yourself) crafts to make your new living space more comfortable and homey. DIY crafts are not only fun, they can really save you some money! Websites like HerCampus.com and TheCollegeJuice.com have some great ideas to get you started.

 

6. Grab a Campus Map

If you haven’t already taken a tour of the school you will be attending, the summer is a perfect time to do so. Even if you have taken a tour, you should still take a map of your campus and try walking around and finding your classes. Most college campuses may seem enormous compared to a high school. Taking some time to figure out quicker routes to your classes can really save you some time and energy!

 

7. Search For a Mentor

Reaching out to a mentor can easily be the smartest move you make during the summer. Upper-classmen or graduates have been in your shoes before and have plenty of wisdom to offer that can really benefit you. They may know where to get the best food on campus, which professor to take or not to take, and they may even let you borrow old notes or books. “Mentors help you set goals and encourage you along the way,” says Maria Librado, a third year student at The University of Texas at Austin. “Most importantly they hold you accountable for your goals because they want to see you succeed.”

Easy Recipes for College Students

Ramen noodles and Wendy’s dollar menu is probably what comes to mind when you think of your future diet as a college student. It’s true that many chicas in college end up having an unhealthy diet due to a lack of time, fear, or painful cooking experiences.  Having your mom or abuelita hovering over you while you attempt to chop onions isn’t exactly the Rachel Ray moment you expected.

But here’s a wake up call: having your own kitchen means having your own cooking style!

As a college student you can avoid an unhealthy diet and bring the comfort of home. Using basic ingredients like avocado, beans, cilantro or mango can help remind your taste buds of mamá’s cooking once you leave home. Whether you will be attending college in the Fall or in a couple of years, always try to eat and cook healthy meals.

Healthy recipes that are quick and easy are often just a click away, like at muybuenocookbook.com.  The chicas behind the Muy Bueno Cookbook, Yvette Marquez,  her sister Veronica and mother Evangelina, are on a mission to preserve traditional and new Latin-inspired family recipes that “add flavor not fat.”  Yvette Marquez, founder and blogger at Muy Bueno Cookbook,  says:  “We really want to stop the stereotype of Mexican food and share healthy and easy-to-prepare Mexican meals …  Just because you are only cooking for ONE doesn’t mean you can’t cook a large meal and freeze for later. ” When it comes to cooking, Yvette advices: ” Cooking is about planning and if you plan to eat healthy and have healthy food around, it will be less tempting to eat unhealthy food.”  Skip the fast food and freezer aisle and try out these quick and easy recipes.

Instead of running to Taco Bell try…

Beef and Bean Taco Casserole 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 can Old El Paso® refried beans
  • 1  jar (16 ounce)Old El Paso® Thick ‘n Chunky salsa
  • 1  package (1 ounce)Old El Paso® 40% less-sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 2 1/2  cups coarsely broken tortilla chips
  • 1/2  medium green bell pepper, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 4  medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
  • 2  medium tomatoes, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1  cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1/4  cup sliced ripe olives
  • 1  cup shredded lettuce

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in refried beans, salsa and taco seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  2. In ungreased 2-quart casserole, place 2 cups of the broken tortilla chips. Top evenly with beef mixture. Sprinkle with bell pepper, onions, 1 cup of the tomato, the cheese and olives.
  3. Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese is melted. Top baked casserole with lettuce, remaining 1/2 cup tomato and remaining 1/2 cup tortilla chips.

 

Instead of Ramen Noodles Try…

Avocado Basil Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 8  ounces dried bow tie and/or wagon wheel pasta
  • 2  medium avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 6  slices bacon, crisp cooked, drained, and crumbled
  • 2/3  cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2  tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the avocados, bacon, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt. Add the hot pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

(Dom’s Time Saving Tip: Cooking Bacon can be messy and time consuming, so try using microwavable bacon instead. Chopped ham also works great with this recipe.)

 

Instead of a McDonalds Double Cheeseburger Try…

Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño, stems and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • A dash of freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 4 slices crusty white/wheat bread
  • 4 slices Cheddar cheese
  • Butter, for buttering bread (non-fat spread works too!)

Directions:

  1. To make the guacamole-cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped tomato and stir.
  2. Heat a pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Spread desired amount of guacamole on both slices of bread then top with cheese. Butter outer slices of bread and grill on one side for about 2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip the sandwich and grill until golden brown. Make the other sandwich the same way and serve warm.

 

Instead of Chicken Nuggets Try…

Black Bean & Mango Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen corn, thawed (canned corn works also!)
  • 1cup chopped mangos
  • 1/2 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 env. (0.7 oz.) GOOD SEASONS Italian Dressing Mix

Directions:

  1. COMBINE ingredients.

(Dom’s Time Saving Tip: Nervous about cooking chicken breast? You might find it easier to use shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken that can be found ready to eat at your local grocery store.)

 

Instead of a pint of ice cream try…

Tropical Fruit Kabobs

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Cantaloupe
  • Lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut your choice of fruit. Squeeze the lime over the cut fruit and toss gently.
  2. Alternate the fruit used as you thread the cut fruit onto 12” wooden skewers. Chill before serving.
  3. Place on your creative serving platter. Any leftovers can always be eaten at breakfast.

 

Recipes taken from:

muybuenocookbook.com

twopeasandtheirpod.com

bettycrocker.com

recipe.com

kraftrecipes.com

Check them out, you might find additional inspirational recipes to try out.

Whether you will be attending college in the Fall or in a couple of years, always try to eat healthy.

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