Asian Food Markets

Click here to find your nearest Asian Market

Most cities with at least 50,000 people in America are bound to have some kind of Asian market. It might be Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, or any other Asian nationality. That shouldn’t be a problem because all Asian food is awesome!

The map to the right will help you find your closest Asian food market. Just keep clicking in the area of your city or town to eventually find it! If you are good with Google, you could substitute “usa” with “[your town]” to search faster. Continue reading Asian Food Markets

Sleep off your Weight

I noticed a woman’s magazine article today about “6 Reasons You’re Struggling with your Weight”, and the top reason was lack of sleep. It makes perfect sense. Not only does your body feel slow, but you will go for processed and sugary foods/drinks in order to give you a quick hit of energy, even when you aren’t hungry.

In China, I’ve always chuckled at the mid-day “resting” time from about 1-2pm. It always seems like laziness or something for kindergartners. But, when you analyze this habit more closely, you’ll find that it probably is quite helpful; Your brain will be completely recharged, you have time to eat a proper lunch, and you will feel less tired overall. That last one is pretty obvious, but it can reduce your excuse-making for eating sweets and starches.

Can’t get a mid-day nap in your schedule? Try cutting useless tasks out of your day. Three times a day you should ask yourself, “Is this task really necessary to improving my life or job results?” If you start deleting useless tasks from your day, you will find time to get more rest. Don’t let our extremely modern, fast-paced culture force you into useless long-hour days.

Desert for Breakfast

How often do you or a loved one eat desert after dinner? Maybe some oreos, macadamia nut cookies, or a bowl of ice cream… We all probably think “I’m being bad, but its OK because I deserve it!” I know you “deserve” it, but that really isn’t the issue when it comes to desert. Your body doesn’t deserve a sugar rush just before bed and your taste buds are being selfish at the expense of your entire body.

After dinner I rarely eat anything sweet. In fact, a lot of meals I eat in China already account for my desire to eat sweet things. And at restaurants, the desert of choice is watermelon. Yes, a fruit. But, they aren’t thinking “oh, lets make a healthy choice and eat fruit” They are thinking, “watermelon is sweet, delicious, and its what my family ate while growing up.” Oftentimes, our parents teach us eating habits without realizing.

Just imagine 100 or 200 years ago; were grown adults eating ice cream or cookies after every evening meal? No way- this behavior is new for human biology and it leads to loads of health problems that the world now refers to as “Western Diseases”;  type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This is clearly an issue affecting the health of young people too, and it is not fair that they are learning these eating habits from their parents, who could be making better choices.

It’s your choice: I propose that you still eat desert, perhaps less of it, and at the beginning of the day. Yes, I am seriously suggesting desert in the morning instead of at night. Let your body use up the energy and calories while you go about your day rather than pack them away while you sleep. At some point, turn the daily desert into a special occasion food.

Nutrition Science and Overeating

Its no secret that the Western Diet has led to larger waistlines and that eating our diet tends to give people higher rates of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. This comes from the scientific community, but we also learn loads of very detailed nutritional “factoids” about our food from them too. Eat more of this food for the amino-acids, and less of that because of the fats… blah blah blah. I believe the complication of our food choices has caused the problems. Things only get worse by simply patching the system here and there, rather than scrapping it all together. Read Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” for a deeper understanding of our broken food system which shows that the current system is good for profits, but bad for people.

One of the major problems with our food system is that it is based on efficiency, which really doesn’t sound like a bad idea! (Improved technology = increased food production = a good thing, right?) But in fact, the more food you grow, with the same amount of available nutrients, actually causes a reduction in those nutrients per item/bushel/whatever. Then, you must eat more in order to get the nutrition you need…. that’s probably true and can cause some people to eat more. However, the more likely situation is a less cognitive one; Pollan explains it well:

… a body starved of critical nutrients will keep eating in the hope of obtaining them.

Meaning that a national food system that is mainly consisting of corn, wheat, and soybeans will create a natural craving in our bodies for something more! Of the 50-100 nutrients and compounds needed for healthy living, we probably don’t consume more than a couple dozen in a given week…. thus, our bodies tell us to eat more in hopes of someday getting them! That is one of the major connections I’ve realized recently between the folly of nutrition science and the natural occurrence of overeating.

So, eat more colorful food and other varieties. Spend money on exotic veges and fruits. Cook with different ingredients. Make meal time an exotic part of your day, rather than a chore. As you eat better, you’ll feel better.

Remember: variety is the spice of life, and then some!

The “Too Healthy” Complex

I’m not sure where this all came from, but while I was growing up in Middle-America 1990s, I specifically remember people getting called out as “Health Freaks” or “Health Nuts.” For whatever reason, which I’m finding bewildering today, a person who chose to eat Toufu or drink Soy products was trying too hard to be healthy. As clear as day, I remember other kids saying “my mom drinks soy milk at breakfast and its gross!” Another would say “What a health freak!”

Well, we all avoided those too-healthy things and stayed in the safe zone. Phew! But what is so scary about soy milk? I drink it a few times a week now that I’m in Asia. Its popular with children here too. Its part of a balanced breakfast, which also includes porridge(congee), hard boiled eggs, scallions and salty tubers. It’s delicious with a little bit of sugar too. (And I’m sure its healthier than coffee!)

As I enjoy the Asian diet everyday here, I find that a lot of my Western diet starts to disappear. I only eat toast with peanut butter because I miss home sometimes. I only eat a large hamburger or pizza when I go on a pricey date with my girlfriend. I eat chips with salsa or dip when I’m home for Christmas. Sandwiches have lost their flavor for me. Salad is also flavorless, and is nothing more than uncooked vegetables in my mind. I’m not a health nut, I just like Asian food better.

Tea Time! Before 3:00pm

jlh-teatime2Traditionally, in England, tea time was used as a way to keep the Queen Mum from feeling sleepy in the afternoon. (But you don’t need to supplement your tea time with crumpets!) Just make sure you drink tea after breakfast or lunch.

Tea is a stimulant and if taken in the evening it is almost certain to keep you up at night. Eating and drinking healthy shouldn’t cause insomnia, so don’t watch your evening program with tea or coffee… try warm water instead.

More recently I’ve been creating my own stomach-soothing beverage. I buy fresh turmeric root at Whole Foods and wash it off really well. Then steep the root for a few minutes before filling the cup completely with hot water. To learn more about healthy, natural teas just visit this article: Learn to Brew 5 Fresh and Healthy Teas at Home

Move Around and Flex your Body

lazy cat on the couch
Easier than entertaining mice

Things I’ve been learning in Asia are not new but, instead, are confirmations of good ideas that have sat quietly in the back of my brain for a while.

I’ve never been the type to ask someone else in the room “could you pass me the remote?” or “can you just hop into the kitchen and get me a glass of water…?” Those requests always seemed kind of lazy to me. The only time I’ve ever requested this kind of help was when I was bed-bound from flu or a broken bone.

When I think about it even more, I truly feel that there is not enough movement in our daily lives. If you’ve seen Super-Size Me, a documentary about a man who eats McDonald’s everyday for 1 month, you’ll notice that the average person takes 3,000 steps in a typical day. Think about it… we get up, walk to the car, drive somewhere, go to the office from the parking lot, sit for hours, and repeat the movements going back home. City people probably walk more, but they are walking by loads of tempting food and desert shops too…

There is a saying in Chinese which goes “饭后百步走,活到九十九” – “Take a hundred steps after eating and you’ll live until you’re 99” literally. So, find a reason to walk after dinner… or make extra movements when you are doing things in the house. Really, inefficiency by moving more than necessary is a good thing! (A more active bedroom life can help too…)

Portions and Plate Sizes

portion control
Less is More

I hadn’t realized that my serving sizes were getting smaller until my first return home from China around Christmas of 2005. I remember waking up and going into the kitchen to make some cereal. I pulled the box out and began to let the Honey Bunches of Oats fly! Then, I realized that filling the bowl half way was the same amount that filled my bowls in China. My portions had nearly halved while I was away.

Then, as the day went on, I realized that our plates had dwarfed the food I was putting on them. There was no way to fill the plate completely. At dinner, I watched my family eat and I decided that our servings are really big in America. Restaurants also use huge plates and a dinner at La Carreta (my family’s favorite Mexican place) was so big that I had a full lunch the next day. Two meals for $11 isn’t bad! One meal that is the size of two, unfortunately, is bad… and is the norm.

How did our portions get so big? Perhaps it is a chicken and egg story, but modern commentary agrees that the bigger your container, the more you fill it, and the more you eat.  Take a look at my normal lunch portion which costs $1 at the university canteen. When I move back to the US, someday, I’m definitely going to buy smaller plates and bowls.

Have you noticed this issue in your kitchen cupboards?

Meat as a Garnish

Meat as a garnish
Meat as a Garnish

The big question here is about portion control through cooking. You will allow you and your family to consume less meat, and enjoy food more!

From this day forward, you should start looking at meat the same you look at salt and pepper. They are seasonings, flavorings, or whatever you use to give food a bit of a kick. Trust me- you will still consume meat, but it won’t be 1/2 or 3/4 of your meal. (Exaggeration? Think about what you ate for dinner over the past 2 nights.)

Try this: ONLY eat meat when you have sliced it into bite-sized pieces and cooked it with a vegetable. Not only will you enjoy the meat with more bites, but you’ll enjoy eating vegetables! Try some of the meat/vege recipes on this blog, like Sausage and Green Beans. My meat-loving family consumed 1 sausage and loads of green beans this way, instead of serving each member of the family one full sausage link. Try it and let me know how it went!

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee or Tea
Coffee or Tea

Are you a zombie without coffee most mornings? When I was studying business at SNHU, I used to be too. I craved coffee with milk and some sugar. For some reason, I crave tea now. Its the flavor I guess. It’s not so harsh that you need milk to “smooth” it out.

Learning to enjoy drinking tea is like learning how to enjoy beer. When I was a teenager I truly thought that beer was someone’s clever idea of making me drink skunk pee. (And charging me for it!) Over time, we mature enough to really “appreciate” beer, wine, liquor, etc. Tea is no different, but it is actually BETTER for you and there is more Caffeine than coffee. (You can decaffeinate tea by steeping the leaves well and draining first.)

By the way, I suggest using real tea leaves instead of bag-tea. You know those felt bags, thread, and staple were manufactured cheaply in a factory somewhere in the world and probably aren’t very healthy. Quality, loose leaf tea will sink to the bottom of a glass, so there’s no need to worry about spitting bits of leaves everywhere. (Enjoy Responsibly!)