No Time To Cook? 3 Ways To Cook At Least Once A Week

Ok mi gente, because of the health benefits and money saving power of cooking at home- it is a challenge worth tackling! SalviSoul is all about encouraging cooking, cultura and connection so The SalviSoul Blog is here to help! Here are three ways to drop fast food and cook healthy with your family at least once a week.

In 2017 Mia Adorante interviewed supermodel, Every Mother Counts founder, and Salvi sister Christy Turlington Burns in her piece Christy Turlington on Aging, Wellness, and the Defunding of Planned Parenthood for W Magazine. (That's right, Christy's mother Maria is from Cojutepeque, El Salvador!) In the article Christy talks about her healthy lifestyle habits including why she cooks at home. “I do cook a lot and I like to cook. Also, I’m trying to train my children to cook for themselves, too,...” Turlington tells W Magazine. Further on in the article Christy reveals her belief that exemplifying the act of cooking in the home “empowers” her children. “... she can now make a couple of things herself… your parents really are your most important role models, and so those kinds of habits they just copy what they see.”

 Cooking at home is healthier and saves money YOU CAN DO IT!

Cooking at home is healthier and saves money YOU CAN DO IT!

Vanessa Mota is a Dominican American Boss Lady and the founder of SmartLittleCookie.net. In Vanessa's blog post Simple Guide To Meal Planning, she shares all of her brilliant short-cuts in cooking for her family. Vanessa reminds us that doing your own meal planning means your family is eating well and saving money. For valuable life skills and less work get the whole family involved one day a week with prepping ingredients and packing all of your next week’s meals.

So there are many many ways to make cooking at home more do-able, but here are three main tips that have helped me and my circle...

3 TIPS TO COOK AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

  • Build Your Team: It's not all on you! Planning and cooking with friends and family (especially with partners and kids) promotes your cultural roots and a self-reliant attitude for everyone.      

  • Meal Planning: Grocery shopping, processing, and packing the next week's meals with a team one day a week saves time and money. Once this habit is in place you will have meals pre-packed to heat or cook and lunches are "grab-and-go" every morning.  

  • Theme Nights Work: Picking theme nights as a team (don't forget Salvadoran food night!) and writing them down in your sheet or calendar helps you decide your grocery list quickly and cuts down on the "what should we eat tonight?" back and forth. 

A home that cooks and eats together grows together. Remember that cooking at home doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone; enlist the help of your family or friends- you will be eating fresher ingredients and rooting your home in culture. Provecho!

Karla Vasquez
The "Plantitas Guarantee"
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"Let's go see my garden" is one of the things that I can almost guarantee I will hear when I visit homes and interview Salvadoran women who are mothers, grandmothers and the culinary brains of their homes. There are of course a few exceptions, but for the most part if we meet in their home, we somehow always manage chatting about their garden and make our way outside to look at the collection of flowers, fruits and greens. Sometimes the gardens are small in containers, planters and window sills inside their homes.

It's absolutely endearing and it reminds me that preserving customs and traditions is a practice. It's something you have to make time for, something you value and cherish and so you make it a priority. 

For most of the women I've interviewed, cooking is a must because you have to eat. Storytelling is a bridge to relationships, it's the thing we do to connect, to belong. Growing food, and having a garden, that, is something for the soul - 'es parte de mi ser.' Growing plantitas, taking care of them and eating them is special kind of relationship to the land. It's how we connect to our deepest roots. 

The most precious thing about it is the moment they finally show me the native plants from El Salvador, that by some trick they pulled up their sleeve, manage to bring it back from the motherland and grow it here in Southern California.

One of the plantitas that I keep bumping into is Chipilin. In the kitchen, it's often found in soups, tamales, arroz aguado, frijoles, pupusas and all kinds of meat dishes. It's considered to be one of 16 most important species of edible leaves in the world due its high content in calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid.  It's a super good-for-you plant, with an earthy flavor but should never be eaten raw, only cooked. Fun fact - it's actually banned in Australia.

Cooking and gathering around the table is a part of the Salvadoran kitchen, but equally as important is the practice of growing food. Let's not forget to also cultivate (pun intended) a love for where food and our existence begins, in the soil, in the garden. 

 

Karla Vasquez
Dia de los Difuntos - Remembering Mama Juana
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It's Dia de los Difuntos in El Salvador, so today I am remembering my Mama Juana who passed away at the age of 92 in 2011. Mama Juana never learned to read or write, but that never stopped her from being witty, sharp and funny. She made the best handmade, perfectly thick and round tortillas and her pupusas were deemed the most superior in the family. Her laugh was more of a high-pitched giggle, and every now and then, when I laugh, I hear her, not me. 

 Mother's Day 2010. 

Mother's Day 2010. 

When she passed, I was so angry at myself. I had grown up listening to her stories, eating her food, spending time with her and even when I was a child, I knew, I should be writing these stories down. I should be documenting these things so that I never forget where she came from, and ultimately where I came from, but I never did. When she passed, it felt like I had lost myself. 

For a long time, I didn't know how to deal with my grief. I cried, I studied her smile in the pictures I had of her, but what I wanted most, was the chance to hear her talk and record her voice. 

It was in this pain, grief and loss that caused the seeds for SalviSoul, to germinate. Mama Juana had taught me so much about growing up Salvadoran, how to tortillar, how to care for family, how to braid hair, and even at the very end, she taught me how to say goodbye.

Now she is still teaching me. Her passing woke me up and it gave me the courage to begin to dream about SalviSoul. An invitation to to others who don't want to forget, but instead want to hold on to our loved ones in a way that honors them and celebrates their life. 

She was the first inspiration for SalviSoul, and I will continue remembering her. We are connected forever.

Karla Vasquez
Remembering Love Songs

My eyes opened. I felt my cozy, fuzzy blankets beneath my tired eight-year old body and softly I could make out the gentle hum of guitar strumming and sweet, Spanish lyrics.

The stereo was on.

“What is this? What time is it?”, I asked myself.

Why is music blasting from the living r-“ and before I could finish my thought, the answer came to mind. It was Saturday. My mom cleans on Saturday mornings and by the looks of it, it was almost afternoon. Like lightning hitting my bed, or like the jolt that happens while balancing on a chair, I jumped out of bed, quickly brushed my teeth, changed out of my camisón and (quietly) rushed out to the living room area. Stepping out, ready to look like I had been awake all morning, I could finally understand the words that only moments before had woken me.

Suena una guitarra cada día

I saw my mom at the sink in the kitchen. To my relief, she hadn't noticed me yet, and she was singing along with the song in happy spirits. If this song was playing, she was feeling light and happy. I was safe from a reganada. Phew! “She loves this song,” I remembered.

She once told me that it was her favorite song because it was the hit song when she was a young, youthful teenager. I think she must have heard it when she was in love with some young man back in El Salvador, which is why she gets so happy. It's a romantic song. It's a love song. 

Cada vez que sonríes, late mi corazón. Every time you smile, my heart beats. 

It's such a sweet, innocent love song. And it's how I see my mom. She is sweet, though she is also a force to be reckoned with, she carries this innocence that I've never seen anywhere else. She survived a civil war that took many of her friends, neighbors, and gave her a childhood that was consumed with fear, violence, death and constant anxiety. She survived a refugee migration sacrificing her only home for her future, leaving all the things that made up her life. She’s seen so many scary things, felt fear and persecution and yet there she is singing in the kitchen. She sings because of her memories. Wearing her Saturday clothes, she gently sways to the beat of the song. Shifting her weight from hip to hip, with a little tap of the toes ... 

Escucha mi canción, nace del corazón. No sé si te das cuenta, que te quiero. No sé si me comprendes de verdad. No sé si me comprendes de verdad. 

Hear my song, it comes from the heart. I don't think you realize, that I love you. I don't think you truly understand me. I don't think you truly understand me.

From my eight-year old eyes, her singing meant that I was off the hook. Now, through my adult eyes, her singing means so much. It means perseverance, resistance and love, in spite of the many despicable things life threw at her. In this memory of my mom, she never turns to look at me, but that’s not the point. My memory, is simply highlighting what I’m witnessing. She is the woman who carried me across countries, she is the woman who raised me, who loved me, who fought with me, and who definitely called me greñuda, desordenada, and every now and again, huevona but she is my mami, mi amor

When I hear this song, I think only of my mom in this way. Whatever association she had with a guy, or with her young life in El Salvador, it's now my love song to her. Every time you smile mom, my heart beats.

It’s in this unique place of overwhelming love, mixed in with gratitude, inspiration and a touch of sadness that SalviSoul is born. It’s fills me up inside. I'm not sure if that's what they can melancholy but it's what I feel. It's a space where the memories of my childhood live. In these memories, my parents are sharing their stories, which are their memories, and so their memories, become my stories.

I’ve learned how to live listening to these memories. They’ve shaped me, they’ve taught me how ugly life can be, how precious it is all at the same time and that it’s always worth fighting for. My mom singing, despite all of life’s efforts to silence her, is proof of that.

SalviSoul is the place, where together, we learn to appreciate those love songs and recipes passed on to us.

con amor

Karla

Karla Vasquez