What’s in a Name?

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It has come to my attention lately that only about half of my friends know my name. While having dinner with one of my closest friends from college, we were in the middle of a very lively discussion about Gilmore Girls when I dropped a glob of ranch on my shirt, at least my third spill of the hour. “Oh my God, Cande, eat much?” I say aloud to myself, wiping the dressing off with a napkin. “Wait,” she stops me. “Who’s ‘Cande’?”

Let me explain. For twenty years, I have lived with the struggle of having a hard-to-pronounce name. I go by “Cande” (pronounced Kahn-de), which is a short version of my full name, Candelaria. I always dreaded first days of school, when teachers would call out for a “Calendar” or a “Candelabra.” I avoided going to Starbucks, knowing that the barista would mishear and hand me tall coffee cup with the word “Grande” scribbled across it. Ironic. Introducing myself to new people was my least favorite, though. It’s at least a three-step process. Say it once, normal: “Hi, I’m Cande.” Say it a second time, louder: “HI, I’M CANDE.” Say it a third time, very slow: “Hiiiiiii, I’m Caaaaaaaan….deeeeeee.” In special circumstances, there’s even the additional fourth step of spelling it out. For some reason, you’re not allowed to let go of a person’s hand until they can understand your name, and a handshake can only last about five seconds before it becomes very uncomfortable and someone starts sweating. Okay, before I start sweating.

That’s why at some point, I just started teaching people to pronounce my name as “Candy.” For years it has proven a fairly solid solution to my problem. It’s easier for me to say when I’m introducing myself, and it’s easier for everyone else to understand. What I didn’t realize, is that a name is more than just an identification, it’s part of your identity. Your name is loaded with meaning, whether your parents intend those meanings or not. As easy as it is to pronounce, there are consequences to allowing myself to be called by my anglicized name, “Candy.” I frequently get comments like, “what a cute name,” or, “you must be so sweet!” Sure, it’s okay to be sweet and cute when you’re just talking to your friends or petting a puppy, but I don’t want that to be the first association when people think of me. I stand at a whopping 4 feet 11 inches tall and I have a round, childlike face. It’s a challenge just to get the hostess at Denny’s, who always approaches with a kid’s menu in her hand, to take me seriously as an adult, let alone my professors or potential employers.

More important than what “Candy” means to other people, though, is what “Cande” means to me. Cande was my grandmother, and it was my grandmother’s grandmother. Cande is the history of strong Hispanic women who worked to make better lives for themselves and their families in new worlds and new countries. Cande is the delicate bounce of a “c” and a subtle “d,” the sounds familiar to the language of my family and my neighbors and my ancestors. Cande is my mother speaking to me, and me speaking to myself.

Your name is more than a label, it’s a part of you. There is a story behind it, and it is the title of the story you write for yourself. My friend couldn’t have known all of this about me without knowing my real name. Your name shouldn’t have to bend itself around what is convenient for everybody else. Be a good friend, a good daughter, a good student, or just somebody who adds value to the world. Then, believe me, people will want to know your name, and they’ll want to say it right.

DIY Grad Gift: Succulent Painted Tin Can

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What’s something that graduates love to get on their special day? Flowers! But this time, try something different than the usual roses. Succulents. Lately, these little plants have been taking over desks, offices, bedroom, living rooms you name it! And no wonder, since these plants are so easy to take care, last longer than roses, and are super affordable! Now, imagine adding a simple touch with a beautiful tin can for a pot.

Supplies:

  •  A succulent of your choice; they can be found in the gardening aisle of Wal-Mart, Lowes, or Home Depot.
  •  Spray paint of your choice
  •  Succulent potting soil
  •  Rocks
  •  Tin can larger enough for the succulent
  1. First you will begin with the tin can pot. Spray paint the tin can in the color of your choice. Hint: try to paint it to the color scheme of your graduate’s dorm room or her favorite color!
  2. After you painted your can, let it dry for an hour or so until it’s completely dry. Once it’s dry it will be time for the repotting.
  3. Grab your “pot” and fill it with a layer of small pebbles/rocks. Trust me, if you don’t add rocks then the succulent will not live long.
  4. Then, fill the pot with a little bit of succulent potting soil and grab the succulent from its original pot and place it in the pot.
  5. Place more soil in the can, pat down and tighten the soil around the succulent.
  6. Now, add a layer of rocks and there you go!

You can make one or more succulents; they’re inexpensive to make, and can even double as a graduation/dorm decor gift.

Making Friends in College

Besides stressing over how to pay for college, what classes to take, and not having parents around, incoming college freshman have to worry about one more thing: friendsickness. According to the American College Personnel Association website, friendsickness is “having difficulty letting go of precollege friendships and investing in new ones.” Are you a victim of friendsickness?  If so, keep the following in mind:

For the mariposas that are flying away:

The car door closes, your million and one bags are stuffed in the trunk, and you wave goodbye to the city you have known your whole life. A whole new beginning is waiting for you as you begin your college life. However, you cannot seem to shake your memories  and, more importantly, you cannot forget your amigas. Having promised to stay in touch and never forget each other, you hope that stays true for the rest of your lives. You already know that you have friends who will always be dear to you, so go out and find friends in this whole new world, don’t be nervous.

First of all, go to all the freshman socials provided by the college, but it may be a little awkward because everyone is a little scared in this big new word. However, since all of you have this in common, find a way to break the ice and meet great people (and free food)! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the dorms, which makes it a great place to find friends. You will be around these people constantly which is a great groundwork to make new and interesting memories. Outside of the dorm, your hungry college self will surely be yearning for a bite to eat at the dining hall. You can bond with your lunch time pals over how bad (or surprisingly delicious) the food is. You can also whine about how much you miss your mom’s enchiladas.When it comes to eating you’ll want to manage your food intake, stay away from the dreaded Freshman 15. You can fix this problem by going to the rec center, it’s a great way to stay fit plus there are group workouts and activities where you can meet your new gym buddies. This also applies to joining sports around campus.

Your only interests can’t just be sleeping, eating, and exercising, and the college knows that. To connect with your interests, and with your new friends, make sure to join a lot of clubs! When you join a team that has the same interests you will surely find people that click. If you don’t find any clubs that spark your interest, join something that sounds fresh and new! Lastly, enjoy your new city by finding and making adventures with your new college friends. Guadalupe Villas, a college freshman that left home, gushes, “The best part is meeting new people and getting to see the diversity of a university out of your city.”

For the flores remaining firmly planted:

You watch all of your friends leave their homes, their families, and you behind. You go back home and snuggle in your bed knowing that you have the comfort of remaining in your hometown. Even with this comfort, you know that you will miss your friends dearly. You have a whole town that you think you know better than you know yourself, but you don’t have your pals by your side to be your shoulder to cry on, or to laugh wildly with. It’s time to make friends with the rest of your city.

Just because you’re staying home does not mean everything has to continue to be the same. You can talk to people you would never have hung out with in high school. They’ll help you see your hometown in a whole new light. Also, you’re most likely not the only friend that chose to stay.  Reconnect with these friends and continue building those friendships. Consider spending  a lot of time on campus. You’ll see a new side of town, and be sure to bump into old and new friends.  Maybe you’ll even have classes with old friends, like Melissa Rivas. Melissa, who stayed in her hometown, says, “I was lucky enough to have friends in my classes. I became really good friends with people I was only sort of close with during high school.” In order to make your home town tons of fun, stay entertained and join school clubs. You won’t feel the absence of your old friends if you keep yourself busy. Also, when you’re involved, you can bond with people that have common interests.

To keep in touch:

It proves wise and fun to visit your best friend’s campus. It’s an excuse for a road trip and nothing feels better than seeing an old friend face to face.  The second best thing to meeting someone in person is a face to face encounter through webcam, like through Skype. Schedule a Skype date with your friends! When asked how to keep in touch with friends Courtney Riddlebarger, a college junior, commented, “I had a roommate in college that was an exchange student from Finland. Now that she moved back [to Finland], we keep in touch through our weekly Skype dates on Sundays.”  Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter these days; contact your buds through Facebook (and more) to let them know you keep them in mind. A “Hey, this crazy thing happened and I thought of you!” on their wall or inbox can make a huge difference.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought that many people would care what you write about in your blog, but your friends do, especially if they don’t see you everyday. Create a blog where you and your close friends can write about your daily experiences. The blog can be about anything and everything you want to write about. When asked about how she would keep in touch, high school senior, Nadia Garcia stated, “I will probably schedule calls with them since I don’t think we’ll have time to find any other way to be a part of each other’s lives.” Besides calling, you can also text your friends, it’ll be just like they never left — except you can’t make plans to meet up at the mall later.

Melissa Rivas, a college sophomore, says, “I haven’t talked to one of my close friends since graduation day. We had known each other since middle school and now I don’t even know what city she’s in anymore.” If you don’t want this to happen, don’t break your Skype dates, don’t stop blogging, and don’t stop with the messages. If you and your friends keep on being dedicated, you’ll mold friendships that will truly last forever.

Nuestras Raíces

When the Europeans reached the Americas in 1492, different cultures met and ways of living changed forever. Even though many things were adopted such as the Catholic religion, other things were also lost. Many indigenous traditions coming from the Aztec and Mayan empires as well as from other indigenous tribes disappeared and from all of this, a nation of mestizos (of Spanish and indigenous blood) was created in Mexico.

Even after years and years of change, we continue to be connected to our indigenous ancestors in many ways and without even knowing continue to practice activities that reach back to these ancestral times. These activities and traditions connect us back to our ancestors and remind us that these indigenous culture are not really gone at all.

Women of all ages share their story of how they keep in touch with these indigenous cultures and stay connected to their roots everyday.

 

Gabriela Prieto has found other ways to stay connected to her indigenous roots. For her, being involved in the Danza Azteca, medicine ceremonies, and other spiritual and celestial ceremonies, is a way to stay connection to past generations.” The feeling that I get out of being a part of ceremony and other cultural practices, is a sense of profound self-understanding, humility, and an always growing devotion to my community,” said Gabriela. “I get a feeling of being deeply connected to generations that passed before me and generations that will come.”

Her own community is who taught her to stay connected to her roots and everyday she carries out activities that bring her back to these as well.

“My community taught me how to conduct myself in ceremony, but I taught myself how to pray and keep daily mindfulness of the profound lessons I have been given over the years.  If it weren’t for the Indigenous community, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I doubt that I would be as confident in my individuality,” said Gabriela.

I think it is important to stay connected to our indigenous roots as Latin@s/Xican@s because the Indigenous being is half of who we are as Mestizos. “I think it is time we celebrate our Native American roots and honor the history of the ancestors who laid claim to the Americas long before any other human being stepped foot here.”

For other women, being connected to the indigenous culture has always been part of their lives, they grew up learning how to appreciate this ancestral past and they continue to be connected to it in every aspect of their daily lives.

UTEP professor and Director of the Museo Urbano, Dr. Yolanda Chavez Leyva shares that her father is the one who taught her about their ancestors and their culture.

“I think it started with my father, my father’s grandmother was Raramury,” said Dr. Leyva. ” So he always raised me with the idea that we were indios and he was super proud of his abuelita…so it was something I always felt was part of us.”

She has now made a career out of staying connected to her indigenous ancestors. In her museum exhibits and Mexican American classes she always tries to include something that will show others how we are all still connected to out indigenous ancestors. She participates in danzas and matachines and the Danzantes del Sol as well as in sweat lodges, an indigenous tradition. Dr. Leyva also mentions that she lives a spiritual life where she does daily prayer in the indigenous languages.

She explains that she sees the indigenous culture everyday in life even when many don’t notice it. “I could see it in the words we would use. I saw it in the foods that we ate.” said. Dr. Leyva. “I tell my students, I ask them, how do you say grass in Spanish, everybody says zacate! Zacate is an indigenous word so you’re still using an indigenous language.” Dr. Leyva adds. “The Mexican Spanish and border Spanish is very indianized, so a lot of the words we use, we think are slang are really words in Nahuatl.”

She finds that it is important to know where we all came from.” I want us to have very firm roots of who we are, ” said Dr. Leyva. ” It helps us understand that we belong to this land. To me, these practices or this acknowledgement, it helps us to have a sense of belonging.”

To be connected to your roots means to hold that place where you came from in your heart. Even when being miles away from it or in a place where not everyone practices that culture, the everyday activities you carry is a way to stay connected to your roots and to feel that place nearby. It is up to you to maintain it alive and as long as you keep practicing these traditions, they will never die.

Mi Quinceañera Chapina

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

At first, I didn’t want a fiesta, but my mom would not allow it. “My mama had a Quince, I had a Quince, y tu mijita, you will have one too! Trust me, you will thank me later,” she said to me. And so I boarded a plane to Guatemala and took a crash course in all things Catholic; three months later, I was kneeling in front of a padre receiving my blessing. There was a big party, lots of food, and so much dancing! While my quinceañera was probably the best day of my life, I didn’t think it was anything too extravagant. It was inexpensive and simple in comparison to the fiestas celebrated aqui en los Estados. Or so I thought…

My cousin, whom I had grown very close to in my few months while visiting, confided in me: “This has got to be the biggest party we will see around here for a while. No one has ever done something like this here before. Or had a doll like that,” she said pointing to my ultima muñeca. That day, I gave my cousin the doll, but she gave me a wake-up call.

La Tradicion Chapina

In Guatemala, traditional Quinceañeras are a bit different than the ones here, take a look at the schedule:

  • The day starts at 5am. Imagine waking up to what sounds like a million gun shots. Don’t worry, those are just the fire crackers your family has ignited right outside your porch.
  • They are immediately followed by a much more pleasant, less-frightening, sound. A serenata! A serenade during which mariachis, a marimba group, or family alone will sing Las Mañanitas to the birthday girl.
  • There is a long day up ahead, so the familia and the musicos enjoy a big breakfast consisting of café con pan, tamales, etc.
  • The cooking and getting ready begins after breakfast, which lasts almost all day.
  • It’s not until 7pm when the church rings the bells and the entire town starts heading over to mass. During the mass the girl receives her blessing and reconfirms her faith.
  • She is presented as a woman at the reception, where there is a toast and the familiar food and dance celebration happens! The night comes to an end when the guest can eat and dance no more.

Some of the significant differences between a traditional Guatemalan Quinceañera and those in the U.S. are:

  • There are no chambelanes. The Quinceañera has 14 damas, preferably ages 1-14, to symbolize the different stages of her life.
  • Dresses are pastel pink, baby blue, or Pastel yellow.
  • Padrinos are not customary.
  • The presentation usually does not consist of the crowning of the birthday girl, the changing of the Zapatillas, or the presentation of the last doll.

Guatemalan Quinceañeras have a traditional structure, they vary depending on many factors – money, heritage, religion, social preferences and, ultimately, the girl.

It is Really About You

In the United States, Quinceañeras, for the most part, seem to have lost their meaning. The more expensive the better, the more scandalous the more memorable. In “Sweet 15” Pamela Colloff of the Texas Monthly  writes, “…there has been a cultural shift over the past few decades; in previous generations, families of modest means threw simple quinceañeras or just declined to have them. Now it is common for middle-class and working-class families to throw extravaganzas, relying on a network of relatives and friends to help them foot the bill.”

“I didn’t have one. Mainly because my parents couldn’t afford one. My mom felt so bad because she couldn’t give me a regular one,” says Angela Bonilla, 20.

“I still remember what my father would say when I was 14, ‘Para que? You know people will only gossip about how the food was bad, and the party will end when the borrachos start fighting,'” shares Betty Arreola, 25.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your coming of age, chica. Whether you have a “traditional” quince, small party, or a large gathering, the most important part is YOU. Quinceańeras are not a competition; your quince is a day to celebrate you. When the day gets here, enjoy the party, give thanks to your family and friends, but most importantly celebrate it according to your values and your wants. If you do so, it is guaranteed to be a night that you will never forget.

Latina Musicians

Music2We are currently jamming out to these Latina musicians. Who is your favorite? 

Buffalo Moon/Monella

Buffalo Moon is also known as Monella. She has an eccentric music style, which is a combination of pop, old rock and Latino influence. Buffalo Moon sings in both English and Spanish so you have a wide variety of songs and rhythm combined with 2 amazing languages. With topics such as relationships and personal experiences, Buffalo Moon has captivated the music industry by sharing stories about her life. 

Check out: “Machista” & “Poolside Dreaming”

Esperanza Spalding

With African and Hispanic ascendency, Esperanza Spalding is a singer and bass player who has centered her music in jazz. Her voice is sweet and powerful, and her ability to play the bass/double bass on stage gives her performance something exceptional. Songs about relationships and being proud of who you are are abundant in Esperanza’s discography. 

Check out: “I Can’t Help It” & “Black Gold”

Raquel Sofia

Originally from Puerto Rico, Raquel Sofia  sings in Spanish and has a wonderful sound that makes you want to dance and wish you had her voice at the same time. Raquel has a wide variety of songs suitable for many situations you’ve probably experienced before. 

Check out: “Te Amo Idiota” & “Agridulce”

Natalia Lafourcade

Born in Mexico, Natalia has been in the music industry for many years, and has explored different styles, worked as a producer and has performed in a group and as a solo artist. Natalia is full of surprises; she has released many songs with artists from different genres.  Her pop/rock style is worth a listen!

Check out: “Hasta La Raiz” & “El Amor Acaba”

Latina Spotlight: Nydia M. Velazquez

Nydia_M._Velázquez_113th_Congress

Nydia M. Velazquez, the Congresswoman, is originally from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. She was born in a family where she was one of nine children, and was the first one in her family to earn a college diploma. Her passion for politics took her to where she stands today.

She has shaped history numerous times during her term in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman voted into the U.S. House of Representatives. Six years later in 1998, Nydia was named the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Ranking Member of a full House committee. The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in Nydia’s vocabulary! To add to her extensive list of accomplishments, in 2006 she was the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee after being named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee.

Velazquez is well known as an equal rights fighter and advocate of economic opportunity for the less fortunate and working class. Congresswoman Velázquez mixes intuition and sympathy as means to improve economic development, community health, environment, affordable housing and health care, and quality education for all the families in New York City. Nydia is a great example of how passion works as an inspiration to achieve your goals.

Like a GIRL!

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First aired in June 2014, the Always commercial “Like A Girl” pointed out a phrase that’s normally used in society—a phrase that, whether you realize it or not, has some very negative connotations.

In the commercial, people—men, women, and boys—were asked to do something “like a girl.” When asked to “run like a girl,” each person exaggerated their movements, acting weak and flimsy. When asked to “hit like a girl,” people made a show of hitting clumsily, or sometimes just slapping instead of hitting. When asked to “kick like a girl,” some pretended to drop a ball. One person, in their acting as a girl, added with a falsetto voice, “Oh, but that’ll ruin my hair.” But when the same questions were asked to young girls, they ran, they hit, and they kicked hard and forceful, like anyone would. So what does the phrase “like a girl” imply? That to do something like a girl—to be a girl—is to be weak and clumsy and, in general, to do it badly. The girls in the commercial certainly showed that this is definitely not the case.

Gabriela Moreno, a middle school student at Regents School of Austin, helped illustrate this point: “This guy told me I hit like a girl. So then I hit him like a girl and he never said that again.”

The phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t be negative—but it’s used that way.

Have you ever used the phrase “like a girl” to describe something someone’s done badly? You’ve at least heard it. Many don’t even realize what they’re implying. As school director Monica Moreno pointed out, “I have heard that expression for a long time and haven’t felt that it was something sexist. But then I realized that it’s used as an offense. That shouldn’t be an offense. It’s the same thing as the phrase ‘be a man!’. A woman can be strong and tough, too. Actually, we are. We need to educate people, show them that these phrases are wrong…most people don’t realize what they’re saying, we should show them what it really means.”

When doing something like a girl is an insult, how does that make girls feel? “It makes me feel weak and embarrassed,” high school sophomore Mackenzie Henson said, “It bothers me because there are girls who are stronger than most guys. By saying that you are demoting girls and making them feel inferior.”

So what does being like a girl truly mean?

Being a girl can be tough, especially when using expressions such as “like a girl” negatively is so prevalent in our society. But being like a girl is anything but bad. It’s being awesome, true to yourself, strong, and confident in who you are. Westlake High student Hannah Young adds that “Being a girl means that you can kick butt and wear high heels at the same time. It’s the ability to never let people belittle you or make you feel bad just because you have boobs.”

Just look at all these women in history who have left a mark on the world: Rita Moreno is a legendary singer, dancer, and actress and is the only Latino who has won the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)—like a girl. Mexican Hilda Solis is the former labor secretary and helped labor unions by pushing wage and hour laws and job safety regulations—like a girl. Julia Alvarez, a Dominican poet, essayist, and novelist, wrote pieces that changed the world—like a girl. The list could go on forever!

Gender should not stop you from being strong and powerful. “Being a girl is amazing,” says 15-year-old Rachel C..

“If you want to do something, do it. Being a girl does NOT make you handicapped at ALL. It makes you who you are. If someone says anything like “you ____ like a girl” you should say it’s because you are a girl and believe in yourself,” she adds.

So run, kick, hit as hard as you can. Be yourself, be proud of being a girl. And next time, whenever someone says you or anyone around you does something like a girl, you can go up to them and say, “That’s a nice compliment!” Because it really is.

A Corrido

You may have heard a corrido on the radio, on your father’s cds, or even from your grandfather whistling. These narrative songs, extremely popular amongst the Latino population, are widely known and recognized by many due to their universal themes and poetic lyrics. While these corridos all vary in popularity, they have served as an outlet, both presently and historically, for the Latino population to express themselves in a creative way about their history, culture and current events.

First of all, what exactly is a corrido? A corrido is a song genre found in many parts of Latin America such as: Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Mexico. This song genre describes a social, political and religious event shared by the Latino community and in many ways offers an outlet for people to celebrate, understand and share these events in an artistic way. A corrido is typically very structured and can usually be divided into five parts. It first begins with an introduction from the singer announcing that he will be singing a corrido. Secondly, the singer shares information and describes the main character of the song. Thirdly, an action presents the character, followed by an introductory farewell and lastly, the final farewell, also known as la despedida. Following this specific structure, these songs serve as a way to tell a story or a legend about an important person, historical event or religious occurrence in the form of poetry in a way that is easily identifiable and very comprehensible.

Escobedo_CorridoDeLaPersecusionDePanchoVilla_1938_M_MTRThe more popular and widespread corridos are those from Mexico, particularly those dealing with Mexican history. These songs can be dated back to the 1800’s and are most often associated with the Mexican Revolution. For example, the popular singsong for young children called  “La Cucaracha” at one time was used by the revolutionary hero, Fransico “Pancho” Villa, and his soldiers to rally against President Victoriano Huerta. Today, the song can be compared to a nursery rhyme or a fun sing-a-long but its traditional lyrics are loaded with political symbolism that reflect the social and political events of that time in history. Interesting, huh?

While there are many traditional folk songs that tell about Mexico’s history, today, corridos describe very important aspects of Mexican culture. They are important in sharing and dealing with issues such as: border-town life, special events, drug-related problems and religious stories. Recently, it has become a popular way for people to share a very dark story about the state of Mexico.  What has resulted is a genre that follows the same structure as a traditional corrido but deals with contemporary issues such as drugs and topics related to the drug war called narcocorridos. While the style and sound are drastically different from a traditional corrido, the song describes events that many people in border towns and in Mexico experience on a daily basis. This way, they not only tell a tragic story but they also express hardships in order to connect with an audience that is able sympathize.

In this way, corridos have served as a way of expressing oneself about an event, a person, or religious event in the form of music. While the musical part is important, the words are the ones to convey the real message of the song. The lyrics, many times, tell about hardships and people overcoming adversity. In many ways, these songs serve as a way of therapy, not only for the composer but also for the listener. Corridos serve as a way for people to find an outlet to connect with others and share experiences that directly affect people like them. So the next time you sing a song or listen to a song that you think may be a corrido, look for the clues and try to understand the REAL message.

Decolonize Your Diet: Latin American Superfoods

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

In recent years there has been a movement towards healthy living, which includes eating a healthier diet. As more and more Latinos face health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and different forms of cancer, it is extremely important to take care of our bodies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by changing our diet. Food blog Decolonize Your Diet teaches people the importance of eating natural food: “it is time to reclaim our cultural inheritance and wean our bodies from sugary drinks, fast food, and donuts. Cooking a pot of beans from scratch is a micro-revolutionary act that honors our ancestors and the generations to come.” So maybe we ought to think twice before we pass on the beans.

Here are 10 foods you can introduce to your diet that are not only super healthy, but can help you connect back to your ancestral roots:

Quinoa:
Quinoa has been all the craze lately, this grain is a popular substitute for rice. It is rich in nutrients and acts as a complete source of protein (something that can’t be said about other grains). Quinoa is rooted in Andes region of South America. It was one of the two significant sources of food for the Incas, the other being maiz.

Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which provides potential anti-cancer benefits. Bell peppers have also been found to provide 7 percent of total vitamin C intake. Bell peppers have been cultivated for over 9000 years in South and Central America. It was first “discovered” by European colonizers in the 1500-1600’s.

Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds used to be available in certain health stores, the superfood seeds have become so popular that they are now common place in restaurant menus, and grocery store isles. There are about 140 calories per two tablespoons along with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. These seeds are popular as additives in fruit smoothies and shakes since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which are essential for muscle-building. Other popular ways to eat them include sprinkling into yogurt, oatmeal, or in a salad.

Chayote:
The chayote, native to Mexico, is a member of the squash family. In fact the word chayote derives from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote comes in two forms, prickly and smooth. It can be eaten raw in salads or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying, or boiling. The chayote contains fiber and is high on potassium and low on sodium which makes it good for supporting healthy blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and have been consumed since prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese, iron, and vitamins C,E, and D. Their high potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure because it removes excess sodium and regulates fluid balance in the body. They also help in reducing stress since they can help relax muscles and steady nerves. Sweet potatoes should be steamed or boiled when cooked to get the most nutritional benefit.

Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds make a great go-to snack and are readily available almost everywhere. These seeds are the actual seeds of the sunflower plant and have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years. They not only help get you through until your next meal but they contain high amounts vitamin E, magnesium, and  selenium which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, maintaining healthy bone production and reducing cholesterol.

Papaya:
It is no small secret that papayas are native to Latin America. This delicious fruit was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher columbus. It contains high levels of vitamin E as well as the digestive enzyme, papain, which  has been shown to help with inflammation and to improve healing from burns.

Blueberries:
Blueberries are often included in health lists for their high antioxidant values and associated health value. However, what many don’t know is that this superberry is native to North America and Native Americans used different parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Peanuts:
Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re legumes (similar to peas, lentils, and other beans) and are believed to have originated in South America.  Peanuts grew as far north as Mexico when the Spanish began their exploration of the “New World.” Peanuts are rich in fat, the kind of fat you want in your body. The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are important for a healthy heart. In fact they have higher levels of antioxidants than apples or carrots, which helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cashews:
The cashew nuts, as you know them, are actually the seeds stuck at the bottom of the cashew apple. They belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio and are native to Brazil.The fruit is actually considered a delicacy in Brazil, and the juice of the cashew apple is considered a popular beverage. The nut itself contains many of the same benefits as peanuts, and it contains essential unsaturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.