August 4, 2010 § 32 Comments
Back in the days when I was still a little kid (how I wish I could turn back time!), I would go to this one summer camp year after year. Like any summer camps, we had our camp songs that we would sing near and dear to our hearts. I remember so clearly that Tuesdays and Thursdays were Pool Days, meaning we got to go on the school bus and go on a field trip to the swimming pool! On those days, we would sing this song:
Swimming, swimming, in the swimming pool
The day is hot, the day is cold, in the swimming pool!
Breath stroke, side stroke, fancy diving too
But don’t you wish you can have, anything else to do!
This morning, I did just that! I went swimming at the pool in our community. And by swimming, i didn’t mean your splish-splash type, but swimming laps. It’s a great total-body workout!
I did about 35 min of alternating free-style and breath strokes.
True story: I used to be deathly scared of water when I was little. I took my first swimming lesson when I was 6 or so. I accidentally swallowed and choked on lots of water, and refused to take another swimming lesson from then on. Finally during 3rd grade, we were required to take some sort of swimming lesson for our P.E. class. I had no choice but to face my fears as I, once again, tackled to put my head under water. I realized during that first class that I liked swimming. It felt so calm and serene under the water, and I loved the way that I could float around like I was in outer space.
+ What was a fear that you had as a kid, but had to face eventually?
After much bumming around in the house these past few days, I finally got to meet up with one of my high school friends today! For lunch, I requested we go to another vegetarian restaurant.
The restaurant was located at the entrance/exit of a trail–just perfect for hungry hikers! But alas, we didn’t go hiking today (toooooooooo hot!), but I was still hangry from my swim in the morning!
For starter, we had a small salad with passionfruit dressing and pumpkin soup. Both are to die for!!! And I’m not even close to exaggerating.
For my main course, I had Pumpkin Rice Noodles (very tasty!) that was loaded with mushrooms and veggies.
While my friend S got the Mushroom Risotto. Last time I was here I got this dish too, and it was the best risotto I’ve had. Ever. (Sorry for the blurry pic)
The meal was followed by a light dessert, Lavendar Tea Jello, and iced tea with an apple slice!
I only managed to finish half of my noodles, so I asked the waitress to pack it to-go for me, thinking that it’d make a yummy lunch another day. Ugh, and now I can’t believe I actually forgot it there! 😦
The heat made us want to hide in cold, air-conditioned buildings. What better ways to satisfy our needs to be cooled than hiding in a dark and chilly movie theater? Off we went to see some booty-kickin’ Angelina Jolie.
Like always, she totally rocked her role, and I was absolutely diggin’ her in the black hair!
We killed time at a mini arcade while waiting for the movie. S is the master of the master of these claw machines. I kid you not!
The results? Pacman and his little jellyfish friend. Actually, S managed to get me two jellyfishies 😀
Okay, so here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for–the recipe for the cookies I made yesterday.
Muesli Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup Muesli
- 1/2 whole wheat flour
- 3-4 Tbsp chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup (or less) honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Then, in a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and blend.
Add the dry to the wet and mix with spatula till only combined.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart (they don’t rise much). Bake for 10-12 minutes.
These cookies are moist and chewy! One bite equals a chockful of grainy touch from the muesli!
Not enough salivating cues from this post? I leave you with this:
Matcha fluffy-shaved ice with sweet adzuki beans! The shaved ice has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Enjoy!
July 31, 2010 § 26 Comments
Unbearable…that’s how to describe Taiwan summers. It averages at least 90 degrees F here, which may seem ok, but take in mind that the humidity here is like 250%. I’m not even half exaggerating. The minute you walk out the door, you start to sweat like you just came out from under the Niagara Falls. Forget about taking a shower after your workout, because the sweating never stops!
Besides the unbearable humidity + heat here, my second day has been fab. I zonked out last night at about 9pm and woke up at about 5:50 am this morning. Woohoo almost 9 hours of sleep! And I’ve already completely overcome the time difference as I did not wake up even for one second during the night.
Anyone care for breakfast? How about some really fat finger bananas?
I have a confession to make: I like finger bananas more than I like plain bananas. There, I said it.
I sliced half of this into a bowl with some kiwi and topped the fruits with some plain yogurt and honey on top.
One of the things that always catch me by surprise whenever I come back is how small everything here is compared to those in the states. Check out the size of this bowl! It’s literally palm-size. This would be considered a kids bowl in U.S. standards. No wonder people here are skinny.
On the side I had a slice of this bread that I got yesterday: whole grain with walnuts, dried figs, and brushed with honey on top. It’s one of my fav breads from one of my fav bakery! I always get this whenever I come back home.
Hey look! It’s a snail on my plate!
I also got the chance to hit up the gym this morning. Although it was only 25 min of running on the treadmill, I’m not joking when I say that every pore on my body was streaming out sweat. Okay that sounded quite gross but it was the only way I could think of to describe my condition as! I don’t sweat alot, but only in Taiwan do I sweat like this.
After that almost unbearable sweating session, my family and I went out for something totally bearable. We joined my grandparents for lunch at my favorite vegetarian restaurant here!
For starter, we had this “Energizing Juice“, a house specialty that blends various veggies, fruits, nuts, honey, and fruit vinegar into this yummy drink.
My main dish was a soup pot with a tomato-based soup, tons of veggies, mushroom, chestnuts, cashews, and Japanese sweet black beans. The soup pot came with 8 treasure rice, or, simply put, rice with 8 types of grains. This rice is really, really good! It has a slightly nutty flavor because of all the grains, and very chewy!
We also got a dish of stir-fry cabbage that was soooo sweet, soooo crisp, and just soooo yummy overall! The cabbage was cooked with mushrooms and goji berries. Two thumbs up!
The restaurant had a variety of soup pots to offer, and my sister got one of our favorite ones: Rosemary-infused veggie pot.
Remember the silver fungus I was talking about yesterday? Well, whaddya know, it has a cousin–the black tree ear fungus (aka cloud ear fungus)!
My dad got the Cream of Veggies pot.
And my grandpa got the pumpkin fried rice.
And now, the most important part of a meal: dessert! I sound like a hypocrite saying that, because I didn’t have any! I was stuffed to the max by the time dessert came around. I think the heat really screws up your appetite.
The afternoon was spent chilling and reading in a well air-conditioned (too cold!) Starbucks with my mom, and some cellphone browsing. iPhone or HTC? Well, I use a Macbook, so I think I should stick with the iPhone. 3Gs or 4? Well, I’ve heard enough flaws about the iPhone 4 that I decide to stick with the 3Gs. Hmm..that pretty much narrow down my choices to…one. If (or should I say when?) I am getting an iPhone, I’ll have to wait till I return to Cali since it’s alot cheaper in the U.S.
Before I knew it, it was time for dinner. My stomach agreed. Seriously, where did the afternoon go?
If you’re curious, bamboo shoots before peeling, steaming, and chopping into bite-sized pieces look like this:
To eat, these shoots are usually steamed first and peeled when cool. Afterwards they can either be cooked in soup or eaten cold dipped in some mayonnaise. We ate them cold tonight, but I went sans mayo since I’ve never been a big fan of mayonnaise.
I’m really sorry if I can’t give more accurate names or descriptions of certain vegetables that we eat here, because alot cannot be find in the States. Case-in-point:
On the top left is a type of Chinese vegetable that is usually stir-fried with some garlic. In raw form, you can see hints of red/purple in the leaves. When cooked, it leaves a residue of purple juice.
Protein of the night? A hot-spring egg that I got from 7-eleven today.
You must be thinking: What? At 7-eleven?! Yes indeed. I love 7-eleven in Taiwan because they offer a variety of health(ier) breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack food instead of your usual hot dogs, slurpees, and hot pockets. While they do sell those items at the 7-elevens here, there are actually more of prepackaged salads, fruit cups, yogurt, microwavable meals (okay, maybe not so healthy), fresh sandwiches, and rice balls wrapped in seaweed with either some sort of meat/seasoning/veggies.
What’s with the “hot springs”, you ask. It’s actually a Japanese-style of cooking eggs. These eggs are slowly cooked in hot water in hot springs (well, it doesn’t have to be cooked in a hot spring) of about 160 degrees F until the eggwhites are cooked and soft but the yolk is still runny. Kind of like your soft-boiled egg. This one was probably cooked in soy sauce since it was well-seasoned.
Let’s talk about dessert…again. I did eat them this time.
My mom bought these cute little marshmallows as we were leaving Starbucks because she had an afternoon munchie attack. I ate them despite knowing that these contained gelatin. Here is where I am bending the rules of my vegetarianism.
Did I feel bad? Maybe a little. Was it good? Heck yes! They were soft and fluffy, maybe a tad sweet, but acceptable if you eat one or two at a time.
This is the type of situation where I let loose of my vegetarian lifestyle. Gelatin is derived from the collagen from inside animals’ skin and bones, and thus, not strictly speaking a vegetarian-friendly food. But over the past couple of years of my vegetarianism, I’ve come to accept the fact that I can’t always eat a clean, vegetarian diet all the time. There are gelatin hiding everywhere–in yogurts, candies, pudding, jello, marshmallows, desserts. Unless you have an encyclopedia of ingredient lists of all the food you’re eating with you all the time, it’s really hard to distinguish what has gelatin and what doesn’t when you’re eating out. This is exactly like what Katie was talking about, that sometimes veganism, or vegetarianism, aren’t black or white.
Marshmallows, as well as other food that may or may not contain gelatin (puddings, jello, gummy worms), are what I’ll term yellow light food. You know how when you see the light turning yellow, you’re not sure whether to step on the gas or hit the brakes? That’s what I’m referring to. There’s the obvious green light food for vegetarians (veggies, beans, tofu, milk, eggs) and the red light food (meat, duh).
But what about yellow? Should you go for it or stop yourself? Most of the time I stop (the same goes with my driving….REALLY!), but I can’t say that I’m completely clean.
So, dear readers, I leave you today with a question to ponder (before my laptop completely crashes from all the pictures overload): Are food items containing gelatin completely out of the bounds for vegetarians? Is an individual still considered a vegetarian if he/she knowingly consume food with gelatin?
July 27, 2010 § 23 Comments
A best friend is someone who you know inside out and upside down.
A best friend is someone who knows you inside out and upside down.
A best friend is someone who doesn’t judge you.
A best friend is someone who you know for sure was your sister/brother in your past life.
A best friend is someone who you may not always hang out with, but know that she/he is always there when you need her/him.
A best friend is someone who points out your mistakes and flaws in the kindest, nonjudgamental ways.
A best friend is someone who you can trust your life with.
A best friend is someone who you can talk with for hours and hours on little and big things.
A best friend is someone who you share all your dreams with.
A best friend is someone who knows when to listen and when to talk.
A best friend is the first person who you tell or call if you’ve had a bad day, good news, or just because.
A best friend is someone who you can sit beside in silence and have the greatest conversation ever.
A best friend is someone who can almost always read your thoughts, and you hers/his.
A best friend is someone who you’d like to see and hug everyday.
A best friend is someone who’s left footprints in your heart.
Yesterday while Dmitri was on Kramster (a website where kids can ask any questions, ranging from math problems to proofreading an essay, and others answer), he came across a kid asking, “What is the definition of a best friend?” Whether the kid was fooling around or he really doesn’t know, I have no idea. How sad would it be to not know what a best friend is? I met my best friend when I was 10, and we’re still as tight as ever even if we’re 400 miles apart. Meeting my best friend was the best thing that happened to me.
+ Feel free to add to the list!
Quickie post of today’s eats:
Oats with almond milk and egg whites beat in. Oh my , egg whites made everything sooo voluminous! It was almost twice the volume of yesterday’s oats!
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 egg white
- half a peach, chopped
- 2 dried apricots, chopped
The toppings today were the other half of the peach, passion mango butter, and a blob of sunflower seed butter.
Okay, seriously, why did I wait so long to try chopped dried apricots in oats? I think Jess had already raved about them countless times. Now I truly know how amazing they are in hot oatmeal!
I enjoyed every last bite of it with some tea…
…which came with a really nice quote!
You’ll be seeing alot of mish-mash of foods because I’m trying to clean out the fridge before I leave for Taiwan tomorrow!
Random salad with spinach and arugula, mashed sweet potato with black beans, leftover veggies from yesterday, roasted zucchini and roasted eggplants, and humnut dressing.
When I came home today, there was total power outage throughout the entire apartment community! Bummer 😦 I had dinner planned and marinating in the fridge, but no oven or stove! We decided to pull the emergency plan: Souplantation! It was good that we had a coupon too, so the buffet for two came down to $15 total.
They were supposed to get the power fixed by 8pm, but didn’t come on till about half an hour ago! We were living in the dark for an hour or so. Well, with a flashlight. We proceeded to playing this cute little game in the dark (with flashlight):
Halfway through, the light came on.
Check out Dmitri’s hands…
Okay. It’s way past my bedtime! Need to hit the sack soon! Nighty night!
July 25, 2010 § 22 Comments
The banana pancakes this morning kept me full for 4 full hours! It must be the combination of bananas plus whole grains and some protein! Definitely a keeper of a recipe.
As if we didn’t get enough eggs last night, the star of my lunch today were…eggs.
I used Allie’s method of cooking her eggs, and by golly, they indeed turned out beautiful! How shameful of me to cover them in nooch before I took a picture to do them justice. 😐
The eggs were on a bed of spinach and arugula, with some sugar snap peas, red pepper, roasted eggplants, and roasted sweet potatoes on the side. Can’t have roasted sweet potatoes without the ketchup!
I don’t know what took me so long to try date + nut butter, but it totally blew me away when I popped this bite-sized dessert in my mouth!
Like what any normal person would do on a lovely Sunday afternoon, we window-shopped at this beautiful outdoor mall called Victoria Gardens in the P.M.
I guess my legs were a bit tired and sore from the long-a$$ bike ride yesterday, so we came home for some splashing in the pool. While we were in the jacuzzi (hot tub) to end our splashing session, these two little girls (3 and 7 maybe?) joined us. At first I was playing with them, so I cupped my hands to get some foam and blew it at them. You know, for fun. They returned the foam blowing. At first it was just friendly and fun, and then they started to get violent! They’d put the foam on my head and pat my head, hard. They also splashed me in my face with the warm water :(. Now that’s not cool. I know, I know, they’re just kids, and I do love playing with kids. But sometimes they need to know when they’re stepping out of the line!
- 3 La Tortilla Low-Carb tortillas
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup feta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- salt & pepper
But first, the onion broke my fragile little heart. It laughed at me as I shed tears and cursed at it.
Well, I’m a tough girl so for my sweet revenge I sauteed it with some mushrooms in a little olive oil. I added the spinach to block out its glistening, golden eyes. I dumped everything onto the “crust” that was simply 3 layers of tortillas, and buried the onion deeper with the feta cheese.
I mixed the 2 eggs plus the yogurt in a bowl and whisked till well incorporated. I poured the egg mixture over everything.
I put the okras that I got on Thursday to use. I usually eat them steamed with some soy sauce, but this time I decided to roast them. It was a good plan 😀
A wholesome meal!
Oh onions, why must you cry and turn the crust soggy? Well, I believe the yogurt was his accomplice too. See, I used plain yogurt which contained more water than your regular greek yogurt. Gosh darn it, I should have strained the plain yogurt first!
Now go and enjoy your Sunday evening!
+ What are you favorite shops at the mall?
July 25, 2010 § 21 Comments
…I was finally home.
Because of last week’s whale-watching fail, Dmitri and I braved the chance of biking those long 50 miles out to Newport beach. The roads were ugly alot of the time, with bumps and dips, and there were a few long stretches of uphill roads.
I filled my bottles with coconut water, which I finished within 2 hrs of our bike trip. It was so sweet and refreshing!
15 times the potassium? YES PLEASE! 😀
I also made myself an apple + brie sandwich on ab Ezekiel Sesame Toast for lunch.
Of course I had to bring some sort of snack. Enter: Mama Pea’s KIND bar.
…which turned out kind of soggy (everything was sort of falling apart!). I blamed it on the maple syrup (I should have used honey instead). I wrapped the somewhat more solid ones in plastic wrap and took them on the road. It’s just as delicious if you simply scoop the “dough” and eat them straight like that :D.
0 hr (7:10am). Little did Trekmeister and Ms. Gianta know that their mountain bike frames were going to be tested on the road.
25 miles and 2 hrs and 30 min later, I was exhausted.
28 miles and 2 hrs 45 minutes later, Dmitri got a punctured and flat tire. Fortunately, while I sat in Subway as Dmitri biked over to the nearest Target to get some rubber stuffings, he met a couple of bikers who happened to have equipments & tools on them!
28 miles and 4 hrs later, I called it quits. I’m usually not one to give up easily, but my quads were burning and my knees were starting to act up. I didn’t want to strain my knees because I have really bad knees!
5 hrs later, we were still circling around the city of Fullerton trying to find the nearest train station. Dmitri recently got the new Android phone and he was using the GPS on his phone to look for the Metrolink station. All the GPS did was take us in a big circle.
7 hrs later, we finally hopped onto the train heading to L.A. Union Station.
8 hrs and 25 min later, our train to Claremont departed from L. A. Union Station.
9 hrs and 5 min later, we arrived at Claremont and biked 2 miles back home.
9 hrs and 30 min later, with more than 28 miles behind me, 2 burning quads, and 1 sore butt, I was home.
I did a full on Savasana the moment I stepped into the house. Whale-watching still did not happen, but it will, it will, I PROMISE!
11 hrs and 30 min later, we celebrated our failure with McDonald’s McElaine’s.
On the menu:
- Egg McMuffin (one fried egg and melty cheese)
- Chicken McNuggets Boca McNuggets
- French fries Carrot fries
- Real fruit smoothie (yes real watermelon!)
I haven’t been to the Golden M in almost 6 years. I don’t plan to ever go there when I got this!
Dmitri got creative and made In & Out-inspired animal (carrot) fries!
Everything was lip-smacking delicious! And you bet I went back for more Boca McNuggets ;-).
After that lonnnnng day, I still had to drag my butt to lab for about an hour or so. I came home and was barely awake as I mindlessly skimmed through some blogs.
15 hrs and 10 min later (10:20 pm), I crashed onto the sweet comfort of my bed, and snoozed till 7 this morning. I feel so refreshed now!
Yesterday, Dmitri brought this banana on the road but didn’t get a chance to eat it. The poor banana barely made it.
Heat + bumpy roads = no good for bananas.
Well, with a banana like that, I can only think of one thing for the morning: Banana Pancakes!
Quick Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes
(adapted from Green Lite Bites)
- 1 large overripe banana
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (forgot to add this, but still turned out a-okay!)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg I used cinnamon because I didn’t have any of this
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and the milk. Whisk till light and frothy.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix till just combined.
Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Pour desired amount of batter into pan and cook about 1-2 min on one side, or till small bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side for another 1-2 min.
I made 4 small pancakes and 3 large ones.
Drizzled with watered-down PB2! I’m telling you PB2 makes the perfect pancake topper!
Pancakes with a side of yogurt for dippers and blueberries.
Have a fantastic Sunday!
+ Do you know how to make perfectly smooth and even pancakes? I need help! My pancakes always turn out blotchy, with uneven brown spots!
July 18, 2010 § 18 Comments
It seems like everyone’s opting for Plan C with the bike riding. I like that idea too. However, we must take into account that Newport Beach is about 50 miles away from where I live. Dmitri have been doing alot of research all day today, looking up bike trails and roads to take. So I might be able to make it there on bike, but the question is, will I be able to make it back? It would totally be like a bike marathon or something like that.
So-Cal has officially entered summer. I cannot believe how hot it was today! I feel like I’ve been in some sort of semi-heat stroke the entire day–woozy, dizzy, heated, while downing H2O like nobody’s business.
The morning started out nice enough, about mid-80’s, when Dmitri and I headed out to TJ’s and Sprout’s for our weekly grocery run.
Guess what I found at Sprout’s?!?!?!??!
An 18-oz box of blueberries for $1.88!!! This was definitely a steal. I was screaming in excitement to Dmitri when I saw it: “Oh my gosh! A humongous box of blueberries for $1.88?!?! Do you know how rare this is? Look how plump they are!”
Dmitri didn’t answer, but only held out the basket. The end. I couldn’t resist. This week has been such a good week for me in terms of steals, from the $3 locally grown and organic plums to this Hugh Jass box of blueberries. Life is good.
We lounged by the pool for a little while after we got back. Well, it got too hot too soon. Not to mention it was almost noon with the blaring sun right above us. I refuse to get skin cancer!
Once back in our shadier and cooler sanctuary, we whipped up a pizzalicious lunch featuring TJ’s Garlic Herb Pizza Dough. Obviously, I failed at making my pizza “round,” but who said pizzas must be circular? Heck, I can make them heart-shaped for all I want. But again, that’d be too hard for me. 😛
I didn’t go the “traditional” pizza route, i.e., I didn’t do the whole cheese shebang. Instead, I used Mae’s humnut cheese. I’m not a big fan of the uber cheesy pizza, but I am a big fan of hummus! This was delicious!
I topped the pizza dough with TJ’s Pizza Sauce, the humnut cheese, some broc, eggplant, tomatoes and roasted red peppers.
Perhaps it was the heat, perhaps my breakfast was fillin’, but I only ate half of this long pizza. Oh well, leftovers are good 😀
The heat made both Dmitri and I very lazy and sluggish, and we ended up spending half of the afternoon just bumming around the house. Him watching Lost while I blogsurfed and watched one episode of Gossip Girl. We finally decided we couldn’t stay in the house forever, and braved ourselves to step out to the sweltering heat and into somewhere with AC.
Target. Barnes & Noble. Shoe Store (Dmitri needs ’em).
My family has a strange addiction to flavored-water drink powder. Okay, I confess I had one too! But I am trying to limit my intake as I know now that they’re nothing more than just chemicals, fake sugars, and artificial yucks. Nevertheless, while throwing in boxes after boxes of Crystal Light, Propel, and Target-brand drink powders into the basket, Dmitri and I couldn’t help but notice this enticing flavor.
Let’s just assume it somehow creeped into our basketful of Crystal Light too.
It certainly made me drink my water though! I am now well-hydrated 😀
Is this going to turn my tummy red?
It was a tad sweet, and tasted nothing like Strawberry Daiquiri. It’s still a nice way to slurp up ice cold water nonetheless.
We kept dinner simple, with the “main” course as this amaaaazzzinnnnnnggg salad.
I tossed together some sliced strawberries, spinach, arugula, toasted walnuts, toasted pine nuts, and feta cheese. In another bowl I mixed together about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, some salt & pepper, and an overflowing teaspoon of honey. I added the dressing to the salad and tossed tossed tossed.
Voila! Summery salad in minutes! I’m so glad that I made more than enough, because that means I’ll get to eat this again for lunch tomorrow! Yay for leftovers again!
Dmitri decided to go the pizza route again, but this time using toast as the “crust.” I stuck to roasted butternut squash, again leftovers from the other night.
I topped half with leftover arugula pesto and some parmesan cheese, and the other half with marinara and cottage cheese. Both halves were equally yummy!
So now, here we are again, another Sunday night. The dreaded night before the Monday. BUT! Last week of research for me!!! I’ll be at my Home Sweet Home in 1.5 weeks 🙂
+ What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you like cheese on top of your pizza?