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12 Things You Didn’t Know About Puerto Rican Food & Drink

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Tess Rose Lampert

April 26, 2019

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Brandon Rosenblum/Getty Images

Rich in Pleasures

Puerto Rican cuisine often gets lumped into the general «Latin food» or «Spanish food» categories, but it has its own rich culture to explore. African roots (all the mashed plantains), regional specialties (hello, fritters), and modern touches all play a part. Many Boricua who went abroad to study the culinary arts have come back to continue the evolution of contemporary Puerto Rican cuisine. Here are a few details about the island’s dining and drinking scene to whet your appetite for a visit.

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Ocean Lab Brewing

There’s a Craft Beer Scene

The craft beer movement has reached Puerto Rico, where craft beer is produced as well as enjoyed. Ocean Lab, the main craft brewery on the island, releases unique and tasty offerings, some with refreshing infusions of passion fruit and grapefruit. El Tap is a local favorite bar for sipping on a wide selection of imported craft beers.

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Amanda F./Yelp

The Coffee Is Amazing

Coffee nerds, rejoice: Puerto Rico has a lot to offer. Hacienda Tres Angeles is among the coffee plantations that offer tours and tastings. The tours give visitors an inside look at agricultural practices and the production of coffee, as well as a more intimate knowledge of coffee flavors.

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La Factoría/Yelp

It’s a Cocktail Paradise

One of the world’s most attended cocktail conferences, Tales of the Cocktail, did a special 2019 «on the road» edition in Puerto Rico. La Factoria is the craft cocktail bar that helped pioneer the local industry, but these days high-quality cocktails with fresh ingredients and good spirits can be found all over the capital city of San Juan.

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Not All Mofongo Is Created Equal

Mofongo is a traditional dish made up of garlicky mashed plantains, usually with some pork mixed in. It’s a regional food that can be either delicious or boring, depending how it is prepared. The most exciting versions are the updated classics, such as those from Azucena, a new contemporary restaurant. It offers a range of sauces on top of freshly made mofongo, including a truffle cream sauce option.

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You Can Eat a Presidential Meal

Kasalta is a popular cafe for breakfast or lunch — even more so after a visit from President Barack Obama. It’s a great place to try regional specialties such as mini meat pies, salt cod fritters, and sweets. It also offers a wide range of deli meats, cheeses, and sandwiches.

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Ron del Barrilito

The Rum Goes Way Beyond Bacardi

Ron del Barrilito is a rum with a long history, and with small production geared toward quality, its aged rums are some of the most delicious you can find. But it’s revamping for the modern spirits industry, which you can see during a facility tour that includes samples in a new tasting room and bar.

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Tess Rose Lampert

There’s an Island Dedicated to Fritters

Piñones is a small island that is home to a long line of modest outposts specializing in fritters of all kinds. Try the traditional alcapurrias, which are made from savory, seasoned, mashed plantain and filled with crab or a meat such as ground beef, and the bacalaítos, crispy codfish fritters. The island is a popular weekend spot where people will wait in hours of traffic just to jump from shop to shop, enjoying the fried delights.

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Princesa Gastrobar

The Gastropub Scene Is Growing

The gastropub is becoming a popular format to offer traditional food with a contemporary vibe and standards of service. Princesa Gastrobar is a pioneer in the category and also the first bar dedicated to Puerto Rican rum. The menu is focused on historical foods, giving guests another delicious way to interact with the culture.

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You Can Eat Your Way Around on a Food Tour

Spoon Food Tours offers informative, personalized, and in-depth trips through San Juan, some even including cooking classes. The tours give guests a window into the local culture while supporting what makes it special. «We use food as a culinary lens to reveal the culture of Puerto Rico,» co-founder Gustavo Antonetti says. «We dissect the provenance of our ingredients and the evolution of our recipes to decipher our past and share our heritage. We honor our roots by showcasing the myriad of the traditional and contemporary influences that make Puerto Rico’s culture both complex and enchanting.»

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Frutos del Guacabo

The Farm Industry Is Small but Thriving

Even though there is viable farmland, a vast majority of the food consumed in Puerto Rico is imported. «People talk about 80 to 90 percent,» says Efrén Robles, vice president of Frutos del Guacabo, one of the major suppliers of local produce, dairy, and meat. «This number is way too high.» He and others have decided to invest in farming, with encouraging results. «If we see this as an opportunity, we will impact our community and economy in a positive way,» Robles says.

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Frutos del Guacabo

Hydroponics May Be the Future

Hydroponics — growing with nutrients delivered through fluids, with no soil — may offer a solution to having fresh produce year-round. «Hydroponics are a very efficient and quick way to get back on your feet after a major climatic event,» says Robles, of Frutos del Guacabo, which uses hydroponics to grow a wide variety of vegetables served in local restaurants. In addition, «this new technology provides an opportunity for people and communities to start getting involved in farming.»

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Mona W. /Yelp

Women Are Pioneering Sustainable and Local Dining

Loyda Rosa Figueroa, founder and owner of the restaurant Verde Mesa, started the «little, healthy, cruelty-free, diet, organic, and self-sustainable» lunch spot as a passion project a decade ago. «Everybody called me crazy,» she says. «It was the weirdest thing around.» But today, Verde Mesa is a local icon and a model for the industry, paving the way for similar concepts successful with locals and tourists.

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Eating the Past: The rich history of Puerto Rican food

Tammy: This is Tammy Proctor. Today I am pleased to welcome Carmen Hernandez, who currently resides in Dubuque, Iowa. Carmen is going to talk about Puerto Rican foods with me today.

Carmen’s grandparents immigrated to New York from Puerto Rico, thus she is steeped in that rich food tradition. Her son lives in Puerto Rico today, so she has a great reason to travel there with some regularity.

Carmen, when I think of Puerto Rican food, I think of sofrito and pork and plantains — sort of like Cuban food. What would you say makes Puerto Rican foods or cooking unique?

Carmen: Thanks for having me on your program.

Cuban and Puerto Rican foods are very similar; both use pork and plantains, but in Puerto Rico, the native root vegetables have been more frequently incorporated into the dishes.

Tammy: As an historian, you may have a sense of how and why Puerto Rican food developed as it did. Could you talk about how world history may have transformed foodstuffs, cooking and the meaning of food for Puerto Ricans?

Carmen: The native Taino inhabitants of Puerto Rico harvested native root crops, as well as native beans, culantro (an herb that tastes much like cilantro), and peppers. Taino ate fresh and saltwater fish, crabs, now sadly very endangered, and other seafoods, all of which remain part of the cooking.

The Columbian Exchange brought Spanish foods to the cuisine of Puerto Rico, olive oil, garlic, rice, gandules, plantains, bananas, coffee and sugar, and livestock: pigs, chickens, goats and cattle. Dry salted cod, or bacalao, became an important staple protein in the diet because it was non-perishable.

Enslaved people from Africa influenced food preparation in Puerto Rico, especially the practice of frying foods. Food stands offer fried foods because they can be prepared ahead of time, and can be easily eaten with hands. Sofrito, a basic seasoning, blends some native herbs with other seasonings to form the basis of many recipes. For Puerto Ricans, food means family, community and island identity.

Tammy: How is Puerto Rican food different for those who have moved to the mainland? For instance, has Puerto Rican food fused with other traditions in New York city?

Carmen: Puerto Rican diaspora communities have always been able to get their ethnic foods in their neighborhood, especially the Nuyorican community, so the influence of American cuisine on Puerto Rican cooking is small. But a dish of fries, whether potato, yuca or plantain, is accompanied by a dip of mayoketchup, a blend of mayonnaise, ketchup, and garlic and sometimes a bit of hot sauce.

Tammy: What is one of your favorite Puerto Rican dishes, and could you supply us with a recipe for our website?

Carmen: One of my favorite dishes is arroz con gandules. I am happy to share a recipe that I found on the internet, because as often happens with ethnic cuisines, the recipes are filed in my head. Our families never wrote them down and we preserve them by teaching them to each successive generation.

Tammy: Sincere thanks to Carmen for talking with us about her delicious food history. Join us later this month for more Eating the Past in these United States.

Nutrition and aging | IAEA

Healthy lifestyles throughout life, especially a balanced diet and regular physical activity, reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases and improve physical and mental performance in later life. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over the age of 60 is estimated to almost double, from 12 percent to 22 percent. The risk of malnutrition in the elderly is especially high. Lean body mass (muscle mass) and metabolic rate decrease with age. Micronutrient deficiencies are common, partly due to reduced food intake and due to a lack of variety in foods consumed by the elderly. In addition, increasing obesity and reduced bone density leading to osteoporosis are problems. Osteoporosis and associated fractures are one of the leading causes of illness, disability and death in the elderly, especially in postmenopausal women. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual number of hip fractures in the world will increase from 1.7 million cases to 1990 to about 6.3 million in 2050.

If left unaddressed, these problems can negatively affect older people, causing pain, deformities, physical and mental health problems, and death.

The IAEA supports the use of stable isotopes and other nuclear techniques to measure changes in body composition (typically loss of muscle mass and gain in fat mass) and physical activity, bone health and micronutrient bioavailability:

  • WHO has proven that dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the best method for assessing bone mineral density in postmenopausal women and based the classification of osteoporosis on the results obtained using this method.
  • Body tissue composition changes with age. Muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is affected by diet and physical activity. It also reflects the quality of the diet and the level of physical activity. Energy requirements decrease with age, but this is often not accompanied by a corresponding reduction in caloric intake, which ultimately leads to an increase in body fat mass and abdominal obesity. Therefore, it is important to control the composition of the tissues of the body, since its changes are associated with physiological changes in the body, which can lead to diseases.
  • Measures of total energy expenditure can be used to objectively assess the quality of life of older people, as physical activity is generally associated with a better quality of life and better mental health. Physical activity is also important in slowing down the rate of muscle loss and reducing the effects of osteoporosis. The doubly labeled water method can be used to validate measurements of physical activity and assess the impact of interventions to increase physical activity in the elderly.
  • Diet quality assessment: absorption and retention of provitamin A, iron and zinc from fortified foods or bio-fortified foods (accumulation of higher levels of minerals and vitamins during plant growth), or mixed diets; and the bioavailability of protein from plant foods.

Activities in this area support Sustainable Development Health Goal 3.4, which aims to reduce by one third premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases by 2030 through prevention and treatment, and to promote mental health and well-being.

Brezhnev and other stars who eat right

Proper does not mean tasteless. Correct means useful! No, we are by no means asking you to put the sandwich aside and urgently go to the refrigerator for celery. We just speak in the words of celebrities who fundamentally adhere to a healthy lifestyle, which means proper nutrition. About the culinary creeds of some of them, we will describe in more detail below.

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weight loss



life hacks


These two terrible letters of PP, not everyone decides to follow the rules. What could be worse than boiled vegetables or unsalted cereals? That’s right, extra pounds and stomach problems. Where to start in order to switch to proper nutrition, experts and hosts of the Friday Morning program on the Friday! TV channel will tell in detail. Life hacks, tips and miraculous recipes — consider that a healthy lifestyle has begun!

Vera Brezhneva

“A person cannot live without air, water, mineral healthy food and love, but without everything else he can!” — says Vera Brezhneva. The singer is sure: if you want to look good, you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and turn all bad habits into good ones. Like Hollywood beauties, the singer eats small portions, leans on vegetables, proteins, cereals and drinks a lot of water. Breakfast is light, and the most nutritious meal is lunch, which often consists of a main course and a salad. For dinner — some meat, fish or seafood, eggs, legumes, vegetables.

Between the main meals, Vera, of course, has a snack, but at least an hour before the next meal. At the same time, he takes food for a snack with him: “So I know for sure that I will be full and eat exactly what will be useful and tasty for me. So if you see me with a small package, don’t be scared. It contains my food.»


Vera Brezhneva and other stars who became parents early

While studying at the Dnepropetrovsk Institute, Vera Brezhneva met a young man named Vitaly Voichenko. With him, the blonde lived for several years in an unregistered marriage, in which the couple had a daughter, Sonya. Early pregnancy (the singer became a mother at 19years) was difficult, the birth lasted 14 hours and exhausted Vera. But despite the fatigue, the future star of the stage cried with happiness and thanked the clinic staff when she heard the first cry of her heiress.

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Sandra Bullock

How old do you think Sandra Bullock is? And while you are thinking, looking at her photo, we will answer: almost 60! Yes, yes, true, true. We, too, never cease to be surprised by this fact. The skin of the face is like that of a baby, and students will envy the figure. The actress calls a healthy diet and a special training program one of the main secrets of her beautiful appearance and youth. No diets are needed, the actress believes. Bullock calls his special diet TheZone, which means eating special combinations of foods in small portions. Such a program allows you to burn fat due to insulin. “No anti-aging creams will help if you ignore healthy food,” says the actress.

Of course, the actress does not always adhere to a “strict” diet. One day a week, she arranges for herself a «deceptive» day — that is, she eats whatever she wants. Do you think Sandra is starting to gobble up fast food? And here it is not! Bullock simply buys his favorite foods that are not desirable to eat on a proper diet. Amazing self control!


Jennifer Lopez

Another beauty whose age can only be guessed by looking at her passport. And then, at the same time, without fail exclaiming: yes, it cannot be! But it’s true, Jennifer is in amazing shape! The singer excluded refined foods from her diet, preferring fresh vegetables and herbs. For breakfast, Lopez often prepares protein shakes: he mixes protein with berries, yogurt and honey. In this way, protein helps her overcome cravings for harmful foods. For lunch, the star most often has salmon with vegetable salad with lean protein, and for dinner — whole grains and protein: fish, chicken or pork with Puerto Rican-style sauce.

By the way, Jennifer always has fruits and vegetables with her for a snack. After reading this, you might think that the star does not eat sweets at all, but this is not so. The actress simply loves chocolate and sometimes allows herself her favorite desserts: ice cream with chocolate chips and oatmeal cookies with chocolate.

Gisele Bundchen

It seems that the girl’s slender figure is the result of strict diets, but that was not the case. Giselle is sure: it doesn’t matter what you eat, the main thing is how much. Therefore, the Brazilian model eats 5-6 small meals a day and drinks plenty of fluids. Bundchen believes that reproaching yourself for eating a spoonful of something delicious is just stupid, because sweets make us truly happy. A piece of chocolate or ice cream — why not?

By the way, if Giselle cooks herself, she always adds cayenne chili pepper to her food, which speeds up metabolism. It is also interesting that the passion for healthy eating was also transferred to the children of the model — they almost do not eat anything sweet.

Jennifer Aniston

Another star who is getting prettier day by day! Jennifer is called one of the main fans of a healthy lifestyle in Hollywood. The girl replaces harmful products… with vegetables! If you want bread — eat avocados, pasta — broccoli, sweets — artichokes. The diet must also contain vegetable oils, sea fish, seafood, poultry, cottage cheese and egg whites.

Jennifer always drinks a lot of water and eats often, but in small portions. And if the actress can afford to eat a delicious candy or cake, then fast food — never. Once, Jen even admitted that she almost died after eating fast food. Jennifer’s advice is pretty simple and concise: «Just stop eating shit every day.»

Jessica Alba

One of the sexiest actresses in the world is literally obsessed with what she eats. And, in general, Jess does this for obvious reasons. The girl has suffered from health problems all her life, so now she carefully monitors a healthy lifestyle. Jessica carefully checks all the food products that she plans not only to eat herself, but also to give to her children. The actress does not use GMO products, does not eat products that need to be cooked in a microwave oven, and in general, with all her hands for organic food. Both vegetables, fruits, and meat that end up on the table for the actress pass a serious aptitude test. It is also interesting that Jessica published a book on how to eat right a few years ago. By the way, the book of the actress has a very concise title — The Honest Life, which means «The Right Life».

And, of course, the owner of sexual forms does not forget about intensive training and tries to keep her body in shape with the help of various physical activities.

Jamie Oliver

Didn’t expect to see this figure on the list of healthy eating advocates? But in vain! Yes, and here you need to be surprised in another way. The celebrity chef stands for… food at home! Jamie explains this simply: a modern person is used to eating on the run in fast foods or measuredly in restaurants, but only homemade food prepared by oneself or by a loved one will be useful. The bottom line is simple: at home you have the opportunity to cook food from natural ingredients.

Therefore, Oliver strongly recommends reading product packaging and especially what is written in small print.

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