Monday, April 18, 2011
This is no ordinary hot dog--it's a four course meal inside a bun
This is no ordinary hot dog, this baby is called a Tripleta, the Triplet. It's an extreme hot dog--served with chili (ground meat), french fries, onions and cheese, ketchup, mustard or relish to taste. It's a popular dish on streets of Puerto Rico, ground zero for obesity. And a dish that I have--proudly--never tasted! Yeah, that came across as smug, but, eating it would be akin to filling my gas tank with water and sugar. It's bound to ruin my engine. I was introduced to it by my beloved mother, who loves to eat the treat every once in a while, so she says.
Notes on healthy eating:
The other night during dinner conversation with some girlfriends one woman who was new to the group asked me what I like spend my extra cash on--shoes or designer hand bags? She happened to be a shoe horse, and saves her pennies to get her pedicured feet into luxury shoes--Manolo Blahniks, Pradas and YSL's. That night, she was coveting a new Louboutin sandal she spotted on some celebrity (who PS, probably got the shoes for free so that she can create want in us!) The woman wouldn't stop yapping about how much she wanted to buy the sandals. I know that I deeply and grossly disappointed her when I answered--food! I spend my extra cash on organic food! Whole Foods keeps my whole check.
Here's the thing:
To me, food matters, it deeply matters. What I put into my and family's body is something I deeply care about. If I had a choice between buying a luxury car or a life time filled with designer-quality foods, I'd go for the latter. Poor thing, the shoe-loving woman looked at me like something was deliriously wrong with me. I wasn't preachy about my eating philosophy in the way some vegetarians are zealous about extolling the alleged evils of meat. Mine was an earnest and candid matter of fact answer.
Good food is expensive, which is why Whole Foods is really my whole check but I made a decision that I can cut back on spending money on brands or really ish I don't really need and treat myself and my family like a luxury brand and eat more nutritiously. And trust me, this has made me the butt of jokes in my rice-and-bean-some kind of meat-eating family. Some relatives call me, Miss Organica as if its a four letter word. One time, I got a bad case of diarrhea from something that did not agree with me, and the joke was on me, "sigue comiendo organica! One Thanksgiving, I hosted the family dinner and the turkey was not only free range organic but kosher. It was very delectable too, but that didn't stop the jokes about virtuous poultry.
I've been conscious about eating more nutritiously for a while so I limit my junk food, and with the exception of Oreos for my little guy once a month, I abstain from purchasing chips, soda and fruit juices, cookies, cakes, Twinkies, etc. That fructose corn syrup is gas engine! This is not always easy--heavily processed foods are cheaper and really delicious. But, I am aware of how they have caused-in part-the dangerous epidemic of obesity and ill health and I watch what I eat. And I watch what I feed my kids and family. My son is not overweight, which makes him a rarity statistically--Latino kids are the most at risk for obesity.
Not being preachy, but check this out:
Last fall I wrote a heartbreaking piece on the childhood obesity epidemic in New York City, particularly in the Bronx and it broke my heart when I interviewed a Lincoln Hospital doctor who runs a childhood and youth obesity clinic--toddlers as young as three are being diagnosed with Diabetes II. Causes, are many, societal, environmental and social: parents feed kids garbage (during my visit, I saw parents pushing strollers with babies drinking Coke inside their milk bottles. They, in turn, holding bags of chips. There are very few play grounds and parks for kids to run around in, and parents are reticent to let their kids out for fear that the streets are a dangerous playground. (They can be.) In public schools, gym class/physical education has been deleted from curriculum. So this generation of American children will have--for the first time ever--a lower life expectancy than their parents! Kids are eating poorly and not exercising. So are their parents. This is all going to catch up to us, individually and collectively as a nation.
Two things hit home for me and made me want to change how I eat: I watched a remarkable documentary, "Food Matters," which takes a hard-hitting look at how the food we consume is hurting or helping our health. The obesity epidemic is no coincidence and it's directly tied to the horrifyingly unhealthy foods that are sold in today's supermarkets and the fast food proliferation that exits in our lives. It's also about our values as a nation around food and luxury goods.
One particular expert was poignant when he said that it baffles him how adults are willing to spend $30 to $40 thousand dollars on a Lexus yet feed their kids and themselves pre packaged TV dinners. Amen.
I actually come from a family where mother would never used canned foods or fast foods. She fed us oatmeal in the morning, not corn flakes. (We could not afford those treats anyway.) The only thing she gave us that came out of a can were the canned veggies-carrots, beets, green beans, peas. And she did because there were no farmer's markets in the neighborhood. Mom was never a fast food kind-a cook, though honestly, in her golden age, she has taken to Fish Fillets from Mc Donald's, Popeye's Chicken and Tripletas. (See picture above.) But the thing is, I had a base that was a good example. And I am going back to it.
The other influence that changed my perspective on food was hot yoga. Since the practice entered my life, I have noticed how my body and cravings changed. Greasy, fried, heavily processed foods are now rejected by my body. I can't even look at them. It may sound fancy and that I am a traitor to my cuchifrito-fried-food-cuisine loving people, but the truth is, that grease is bad for me. And bad for you.
So, the next time you are counting your pennies to get that awesome Gucci this or Balenciaga that--think how happy your insides will be with a delicious-nutrient-wholesome organic meal, or two, or three. Your heart, spleen, kidneys and all your innards will thank you.
Posted by Sandra Guzman at 5:52 PM