Dumplings for vegetarians

Egg and leek dumplings

I am not a vegetarian, but I try to eat more vegetables than meat. Yesterday I had my first (and last) meat dish for the week, so I wasn’t so keen on having dumplings for supper.

But my husband wanted to have dumplings in a Dongbei 东北 (northeastern) restaurant. Most dumplings have meat in them. Thankfully the restaurant serves leek and egg dumplings (韭菜鸡蛋水饺.)

Soy sauce + vinegar + red pepper sauce

Last week I did my dance workout one hour every single day and also did planking and lifting weights and really watched my diet.

I lost 1 kilogram.

Though I tend to eat more during weekends when my husband and I eat together, I know if I really want to, I can lose one kilogram again this week with exercise and a vegetarian diet.

Optimism and discipline. 💪

T.

Coconut Water

When I was a kid, we never had to buy coconut or coconut water as my late grandfather had a farm and we could have all the coconut water we wanted. The tenants’ sons so expertly climbed the tree and got us young coconuts which they then as expertly cracked open with the blunt edge of a bolo.

Those were the days.

Now we have to buy young coconuts for the water. I’ve only tried the coconut water sold in stores once, and that was it. It didn’t taste like coconut water at all. Luckily for me, I come from a country where it’s in abundance so it’s pretty inexpensive. I was quite surprised to find the price of one here in Jimei is 15RMB (2.15 USD). For that price back home, it’s served in a restaurant and you don’t have to open it yourself! Lol.

Coconut water is supposedly rich in potassium, richer than bananas even. It is also low in calories and free of fat and cholesterol.

I had kidney stones as a kid, so my mother often encouraged me to drink more coconut water. Back then I didn’t know why but having read about it more, coconut water is supposed to help dissolve kidney stones because of its richness in potassium which helps prevent formation of kidney stones.

I honestly think it helped me back then, especially as I don’t remember taking medicines for my kidney problem.

However a few articles online also said that if you have chronic kidney disease, you should limit your potassium intake which means coconut water may not be best for you.

Like most “findings” these days, it’s hard to determine which one’s right or wrong. One day “experts” say something is good for you; later, another group of “experts” say it’s bad for you.

I guess the best advice is: moderation.

But one thing I can assure you: fresh coconut water is healthier and more refreshing than an ice-cold soda!

Happy weekend!💕

T.

Bitter (Gourd) Memory

This is what I had for lunch today: bitter gourd with egg, sprinkled with black pepper and cumin.

I loved it. But I haven’t always loved it.

When I was a child, my mother often prepared a bitter gourd salad which I could not even chew because of its bitterness. In high school, our Practical Arts teacher told us this vegetable (or vegetable-fruit) was a blood purifier. That really stuck with me. Several times I tried to like this vegetable, but it wasn’t until only a couple of years ago that I could finally appreciate the bitterness of the bitter gourd.

And am I thankful that I like it now!

It’s supposedly packed with nutrients and can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And as it is rich in fiber and low in calories, it’s great for weight loss as well.

Did I enjoy my lunch? I sure did! (I learned from my Korean friend that this is not cheap in South Korea. However, there’s an abundance of bitter gourd in southern China where I am now and in my home country as well. So, lucky me!)

Have a healthy week!

T.

Healthy Eating, Healthy Living

Six months have passed since I started seriously working out and dieting, and I lost close to 8 kilograms. Last time I was home I put on my old jeans and they were ridiculously loose. That really encouraged me to keep on losing more until I reach that healthy weight and BMI (for Asian bodies).

However a week ago, I got a quite unexpected bad news and it strongly affected me. The fact that I did not ( I still don’t) like to talk about it with people made it even more stressful. And when I’m stressed, I eat! So that’s what happened for 4 days in a row — I cooked, baked and overate and was too upset to do my usual dance workout. When I weighed myself early this morning, yikes!

Thankfully that number on the scale challenged me. And so today I told myself I don’t have to let the bad news get me down. I should just go on and try my best to stay healthy mentally and physically — and a healthy diet and exercise will help me achieve both. So that’s what I did today — had healthy meals, danced for an hour and did planking.

And I feel better.

Have a lovely week!💕

T.

Trying hard to stay healthy (and look younger!)

“But at my back I always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” — Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress

Peach tree sap/peach gum

Last week my husband made snow mushroom soup for me. It is what the Chinese call an anti-aging soup. That soup only had the snow mushroom, goji berries and dried dates.

Yesterday at the supermarket, as we walked by the Traditional Chinese Medicine section (there is one in every big supermarket here), he decided to add more ingredients to the next anti-aging soup he makes for me (he is more proactive in trying to make me look young than I am! Lol.)

This time he added lotus seeds, longans, peach tree gum and lily bulbs. Lily bulbs are supposedly good for the heart and lungs, too.

longans

lotus seeds

lily bulbs

I don’t know if these things actually work, but he wants and tries to get us to stay healthy, so I’ll give it a try!

Apart from watching what I eat, I have also started doing planks! This is the 5th day since I tried, and I can now hold a plank for 40 seconds, and it feels awesome to be able to do it.

I used to think it was hopeless for me to lose the stomach flab, but after watching this video of an 80-year old bodybuilder, I was truly inspired. Discipline. 😉 A healthy diet and regular exercise with tons of discipline — that’s all the recipe I need.

Have a lovely, healthy weekend!💕

T.

Another week of healthy eating

Celery, Cucumber and Apple Smoothie

Normally I try not to talk about my little achievements if I have not reached my ultimate goal yet. I have this superstition that it will be jinxed if I talk about it. But last week I wrote about my diet, and the weekend passed without me ruining it. So here I am writing something more about my diet.

Some vegetables I used to ignore have become interesting in my eyes, simply because I am looking for variety. Before I came to China, I seldom ate vegetables. This is true of most Filipinos. We love our lechon and meat too much. So one thing I’m truly happy about coming to China is learning to love and cook veggies. And fungi!

I had never eaten mushrooms before I came to China, but these days one of my favorite ingredients for cooking is the king oyster mushroom.

king oyster mushrooms

I use this kind of mushroom to replace meat, and I just love it! I cooked it with celery the other day, and today with eggplant.

King oyster mushrooms are abundant in China, but I have never seen this kind in my home city in the Philippines. I will surely miss this when I go home for good!

This evening I tried the cucumber, celery and apple smoothie after coming across this recipe. It’s not my favorite smoothie, but it’s good enough for variety.

I hope I can stick to my healthy diet (and silly dancing) so I’ll be strong and healthy for a busy but fun summer with my son!

Have a healthy, happy Monday!

T.

Losing Weight: Inspiration + Discipline

(This is about my experience, and I know not everyone has the same experience. But there are people like me out there, and this is for them.)

I’ve been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember, but it has been on and off as my weight fluctuates. I started gaining weight and actually became a little overweight on my last year in university and my first year working. Then I went to study Latin dance and lost weight and was my ideal weight for a couple of years until my heart was broken and I became depressed and resorted to stress eating. Then I had the opportunity to move to another country. When my husband and I first met he was so thin and I was overweight, but he liked me anyway. I tried to lose weight, and I did and was quite happy with how I looked in my wedding gown three years later. After 4 years I had a baby and since then I have not been successful in reaching my target weight. My son is now 8 years old.

Looking back, my recipe for losing weight back then was: inspiration/challenge and discipline. I was inspired to lose weight because I wanted to look nice for my then-boyfriend. I was challenged to lose weight after I realized I couldn’t wear the dress I liked because it wouldn’t fit me. There were times I was challenged to lose weight because a guy I liked, liked a girl who was so skinny! As an older person now I find those inspiration/challenges seemed really silly but they helped me lose weight! The point is we need something to inspire us or drive us to want to lose weight.

At this period in my life, my first and most important reason for wanting to lose weight is to be healthy. As my son is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and has several delays in most skills yet growing taller and heavier everyday, I need to stay healthy to still be able to handle him even when he becomes taller than I in a couple of years. This is real and serious inspiration.

Next comes discipline. Discipline means exercise and diet. Those times I lost weight I was either going to dance lessons, dancing in front of the TV (there are lots of dance workout videos available) or running almost everyday. The important thing was I was physically active. Apart from exercise, I also went on a diet. Diet did not mean not eating, but reducing the portion. I have always believed in Aristotle’s idea of moderation in everything.

I put exercise and diet under discipline because these two indeed demand discipline. There were times when I became lazy or tempted to eat more than what I needed, and it took a lot of self-control to get myself to workout or say no to more food. Again, that inspiration/challenge helped me stick to discipline.

And as once again I am trying to lose weight, I am also trying to stick to my recipe of challenge + discipline. So far I have been doing well as I am not home yet (I always put on weight when I go home to the Philippines, where everything, especially eating, is more fun!! The real challenge will be spending the summer back home.)

Right now I have started shedding a couple of pounds, and I have to thank my husband who has also become health conscious when he reached 40. Like me, he realized how important it is for both of us to stay healthy for our son. Though he does not exercise as much as I do (I dance in front of the TV everyday) as he is always busy at work, we both try to eat healthy by eating more vegetables and fruits and less meat and bread/rice.

Like I said, so far so good. I hope you find your inspiration and add lots of discipline to achieve your goal.

Good luck!

T.