No corn? a chorus of murmurs ripples through the group. Some women look concerned. As provisioners and cooks they have a large and difficult role in their families diets. Canola oil smells like fish, a husband says in an aside to his wife. Only corn oil for me.
Bazyler points to the Goya and Crisco brand lards. Goya makes a liquid corn oil, and liquid is not bad for the heart, she says. But Crisco is solid: Malo, bad.
Were in trouble. We kill pig and eat the lard 7 x 24, says Saavedra. In her cart are three packages of fat back used for flavoring. We dont eat beans without it, she says.
Betty Cortina, a food writer, editor of The Heralds Indulge section, and web producer of NBCs Latina Now, believes flavor can be the key ingredient to a healthier diet, as it was in her fathers case.
His blood pressure was through the roof. Something had to change, Cortina says. She began experimenting with what she calls flavor infusions, for example, using smoked paprika, the main flavor agent of delicious but fatty Spanish chorizo, to make a tasty vegetarian chick pea stew. She also got him to substitute brown rice for the parboiled variety thats a staple of Cuban-Americans diets, by cooking it in low sodium chicken stock and adding onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil for extra flavor.
His numbers stabilized and he dropped 12 pounds, Cortina says.
Back at Sedanos, the tour moves to the cereal aisle. Villa Senor asks about corn flakes, a family favorite. It only has one gram of fiber, says Bazyler. She holds up a box of All Bran with 10 grams of fiber in a half-cup of cereal and 4 grams of protein. As long as you have the word bran, its better for your blood sugar.
Villa Senor nods her head: The difference between the bran and corn flakes is clear.
For her most important point, Bazyler holds up a package of China brand paper plates with three food compartments laid out like a peace symbol. It all goes back to vegetables and lean meat. Starches in the small compartment, vegetables and protein in the two large ones. If most of us ate like that, wed be really healthy, she says.
Back at Open Door, the lights burn into the evening as clients return for testing and medications. It takes time to change, Bazyler acknowledges in her office. I recommend people try to make just one or two simple changes at a time. Because were never done. We can always learn and improve.