Damn right John Gunther.
There Is No Such Thing As Arrival
Mindful Eating For Dummies
Are you constantly hangry? Are you constantly craving EVERYTHING?
STOP! Don’t exit. This is not some generic ad for an ab-machine.
What this is, is a few simple steps in winning this seemingly impossible hunger game we, the wealthy 21st century humans, all seem to be playing.
Remember my post about the health benefits of smoothie bowls? The more we chew, the more our stomachs signal our brains that we’re full. Apparently, we’re supposed to chew our food 20-30 times before swallowing. I hear ya! Ain’t no body got time for that. Well, I ain’t got time to buy new jeans either.
2. USE A PLATE
Try to do this even when you’re feeling angry or upset. No doubt, you’re less likely to eat a whole packet of Oreos if you see them on a plate. This visual reality check will instantly show you that the portion is too big.
3. EAT AWAY FROM THE SCREEN
Checking the number of likes on your new profile picture can wait. Experts caution that eating meals or snacking while distracted by our cellphones and/or computers makes our food seem less satisfying. Dissatisfaction will most likely cause us to seek out more snacks later. This concept also applies to eating food “on the go”: driving/studying/etc/etc. So like, don’t eat a muesli bar with one hand and hold the steering wheel with the other. Instead, pull over and smell the roses. This means focusing on the taste, texture and aroma of each and every mouthful. Remember, we are among the very few privileged individuals of this day and age who actually have access to such an abundance of food. Which means we are seriously obliged to give our food time, energy and respect.
4. PRIORITISE SLEEP
Lack of sleep can mess with our moods, food cravings and even cause our skin to breakout. It does this by increasing our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that causes inflammation and turns on our oil-producing glands. In addition, insufficient sleep causes hormonal changes that decrease our satiety after eating, lower the calories we burn during the day, and turn on obesity-promoting genes. BRB snoozing!
5. BEWARE OF OTHER HUMANS (A tad OTT, but true.)
Other people can hugely influence our food choices. When US researchers looked at groups of three people for the 2012 Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Cookies study, they found that if two friends restricted their intake of biscuits, the third friend followed suit, NOT ONLY when with the group but also when alone! On the other hand, when two friends ate more biscuits, the third friend also tucked into more, and again, ate more when alone. In short, pick healthy friends. Or, be that healthy friend. Let’s do this together <3
Some People Come To Japan And Turn Japanese
and others retreat to their roots.Because, there’s only so much salt, sugar and seaweed a girl can take. Ah, I feel so ready to move on to my next chapter… though I know how important it is to enjoy the now and how dangerous it is to wait wait wait. Especially when we don’t know what could happen the very next second. So, I have booked my ticket to Spain! For which, as you can imagine, I am crazy excited. I wish it was sooner. And this wish is dangerous. So, I must try to be positive and to continue making the most of my current situation. Because there are a lot of things I (hate is a strong word but still) hate about my job and my place of residence. But, it’s not forever. It’s a learning experience. It HAS been an incredible learning experience and and this too shall pass. So I will continue to actively foster creativity in my everyday at the same time as eagerly awaiting my future adventures.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
-Viktor E. Frankl
Pictures: my number 1 love, which used to be a pancake but is now a Persian breakfast and my Persian-inspired bento which is actually a big contradiction because Lunch for Iranians is the biggest meal of the day. So, this tiny thing would definitely not be sufficient but alas the flavors are there. Recipe below.
1 cup brown jasmine rice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 small pumpkin
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
bunch of fresh parsley (chopped or torn)
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
1/4 cup raisins
bunch of young radish (sliced thin)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
Cook rice as per packet instructions but incorporate the turmeric in the cooking water.
Once done, let cool.
Chop pumpkin small then toss in a bowl with a tbsp of oil (I used olive) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper then bake in a toaster oven or oven oven on high (220C) turning every now and then and keeping a close eye on it for 20 or so minutes or until crispy and golden. Again, let cool.
Mix rice and pumpkin with remaining salad ingredients together.
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small jar and do as T Swift and shake shake shake it IN TO the salad.
Refrigerate before nomnom for best results or bon appétit if you just can’t wait!
Day Nine, Our First Hanami!
Hanami literally means “flower viewing”, however, it commonly refers only to cherry blossom viewing. Cherry blossom viewing is easy: simply enjoy the intensity of the many blossoms by looking at a single tree or a group of trees and eat good food. I made Petite Kitchen’s gluten and refined-sugar free cheesecake topped with 100% cherry jam, My New Root’s Life-Changing Loaf, hummus, babaganoush/eggplant dip (recipe below) and a simple pasta salad with tuna, blue-cheese stuffed olives, red onion, parsley and cherry tomatoes. My beautiful friend Mina prepared a vegetable frittata, brown rice, carrot, mushroom and soybean onigiri (rice ball), rice-paper rolls, semi-dried bananas, a tomato salad and cut fruit. It was all so good. I am so happy. Happy one year Japanniversary to me! <3
PS: Just like that, sakura carpets, already!
1 large eggplant
2 tbsp tahini
juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
Optional toppings: a handful of skinned then roasted pistachio nuts, some sesame seeds, and a small dollop of extra virgin olive oil.
You’re going to take me as a fool but I’m not kidding, honto (really in Japanese). Place the eggplant as is in a toaster oven or normal oven on high heat (mine goes up to 220) until burnt on the outside and squishy on the inside. Don’t fret the burnt skin, it’s what gives this dip its smoke.
When cooled, scoop out the insides and blitz alongside remaining ingredients (excluding toppings – well, duh) in a food processor or in batches, in a blender like moi. Das all. Top with toppings and enjoy with bread, cut veggies, grissini or what have you!
A Healthier Potato Salad and Cheesecake
Both recipes inspired by Petite Kitchen
3 large potatoes of choice
1 small-medium cucumber
2-3 medium gherkins/pickles (chopped small)
A handful of dried blackcurrants
1/2 cup of raw pistachios (chopped small)
A large handful of fresh mint (roughly chopped)
Juice of one lemon
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Scrub potatoes well then cut in to small cubes. Place in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil. Then simmer, uncovered until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook!
When ready, strain potatoes and set aside to cool.
Once cooled, combine and toss all ingredients in a large bowl.
6 free-range eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup of almond meal/almond powder
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla essence
Note: alternatively, you can use 100% store-bought fruit jam.
1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup of water
Silvered almonds and flowers
Preheat oven to 180C
Grease a round cake tin then line with baking paper -grease that a little bit too.
Combine all cake ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. Since my blender couldn’t fit/handle all the ingredients at once, I managed this part by blending in batches at a time.
Pour batter into a cake tin and bake for about 45-50 min or until set. Note: batter will be very runny, this is normal.
Keep a good eye on the prize, if the top starts prematurely browning because your oven is shit like mine, use a sheet of tin foil to cover the top.
As your cake bakes, add all topping ingredients to a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer until juicy and thick- set aside to cool.
Once both topping and cake have cooled, bring the two together in the most perfect union using the back of a tablespoon..
Decorate with silvered almonds and small flowers. Last but definitely not least, Instagram it.
A big shout out to Daniel and Mariko for having me over, listening to all my Japan problems and giving me kind brotherly and sisterly advice and my tummy, vegetarian gyoza and perfectly cooked brown rice!
Three Food Bloggers I Wish Were My Friends
There are gazillions of foodies on the internet but frankly, 99% are the same. Seriously, if I see another excessively decorated nana ice-cream or ridiculously high and overly sauced buckwheat pancake stack, I’m going to debeak a chicken myself. GASP (oh no she didn’t).
However; I absolutely adore the following three women – even though I’ve never actually met them. Alas, thanks to the power of the internet, they have become my inspiration. Of course, they don’t need the publicity, especially from an amateur-blogger like me (I’m not fishing I swear) but for a while now, I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to them, so here it is:
Eleanor Ozich of Petite Kitchen
Fellow Kiwis, we’re SO blessed to have this lady in our homeland. Based in Auckland, Eleanor’s focus is on simple wholefood recipes. Recipes which are often naturally free of gluten, dairy and refined-sugar. But not always. For she has something delicious for every palette. ‘Simple’ is the word Eleanor uses again and again which is undoubtedly, what makes her blog so popular. I wish Eleanor were my friend so I could play with her two (and one on the way) absolutely adorable curly-blonde-haired children, trade dresses with (both she and her style are gorgeous) and be able to join in on (and thus eat at) her warm and cosy picnics and dinners.
Heidi of Apples Under My Bed
Heidi is a Melbourne-based recognised and practising dietician. Her blog is her diary about food, travel, cooking and life as we know it. Heidi’s approach is real and honest. I love her posts. I love her recipes and I love her newly born daughter. Joan is so tiny but her eyes so big. I am truly gaga over her. If I could only use two words to describe Apples Under My Bed, they’d be cozy and comfort. I wish Heidi were my friend so I could wrap up in her blankets and eat her delicious home cooked talent. Oh and borrow (and forget to return) her vintage spoons and cloth napkins.
Siri Barje aka Olive Hummer
Siri is a trained chef at the Grythyttans Restaurant School. Sometimes she lives in Dubai and others in Stockholm. Her blog is about “real food. No damn diets, detox or bad conscience juices.” Siri says “breakfast is important. Eat pasta. Do not forget lunch.” I LOVE HER. Her recipes are bold, colourful and unfailingly flavoursome and so is she herself! Her posts are always so entertaining. Her personality is SO great! I wish Siri were my friend so I could stroke her luscious hair (seriously it’s insane), eat her delicious creations (well, duh) and engage in long, meaningful and humor-filled conversations. Puss (kiss in Swedish).
Persian-inspired spinach loaf
Housebound and food-obsessed. Can’t stop baking! Don’t worry I’m not eating everything (seriously) but instead sharing with my wonderful neighbours, friends and colleagues. Yes, I’m sooo lovely.
This savoury loaf is super easy to prepare and tastes/reminds me of a childhood and typical Persian dip: mast o seer (literally: yoghurt and garlic). It’s deliciously fragrant of yoghurt, garlic, turmeric and cumin. Mmmmm I feel I’m back at home with my mama when I’m having it.
3 free range eggs
1/2 cup of yoghurt (you can use dairy-free if you wish)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large grated carrot
1 clove of garlic (mashed)
200grams spinach (roughly chopped)
1 1/2 cups of wholemeal flour (or any GF variety will do)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
Start mixing ingredients together, one by one, in above order.
Pour into a greased or lined loaf tin
Top with pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of black pepper then bake for 45-50 min at 180C.
Enjoy warm 5 minutes after taking it out of the oven.
Healthy okara (soy pulp) and banana muffins.
(less)swollen-ankle girl here. I am slowly recovering! Thank, God.
Last week I baked muffins (yes, more muffins!) using my okara and banana cake, recipe (here) except muffanised. Luckily, they turned out well and, were the perfect size to carry around (in my handbag) in case of hunger pangs and/or sugar withdrawals! If you can get your hands on some okara please try these and let me know what you think! I hear okara is also great for vegan/vegetarian burgers – next on my list of things to try.
And then I was bitten by a centipede
My ankle is the size of Russia. As in, swollen as f$%^. From a centipede bite. Yes, centipede. Thank you, inaka (countryside). To make matters worse, I happen to be staying at a nice hotel, in a busy spot in Okayama city with plenty of foodie places to explore (for a three day teacher’s conference) and, since I can’t WALK I can’t go outside. Alas, things could be worse. My hotel could be one of those 1 in a trillion hotels where there’s no room-service available.. oh wait, it is one of those… !!!
On a good note, today’s lunch at The Market, an organic bakery was Divine (with a capital D). I had a vegetarian sandwich and a soy latte. From across the street at Cotan (the organic food-store sister of Market) I purchased a RAW cacao bar, organic banana and a cold camomile tea drink which I am slowly savouring for dinner now. WHAT HOTEL DOESNT HAVE ROOM SERVICE? Good thing Cotan saved my behind. Anyways, I loved both Market and Cotan. I am so lucky that they’re only 2 min walking distance from my conference hall. In fact, I will be hopping there come lunch-break tomorrow and the next day, if I make it out alive. Please keep my foot in mind! I’m serious, my ankle’s HUGE.