{WIAW} Konnichiwa! (What I Ate Wednesday From Japan)

I am in Japan! Bobby and I left NYC last Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Japan Wednesday night. We were on the plane for 16 hours and we crossed the dateline, hence the entire day+ difference. The flight is only ~13 hours, but there was a problem with the plane’s toilets and we ended up sitting on the plane while they fixed them.

I can’t remember exactly what I ate that Wednesday but it included this:

A surprisingly good airplane dinner of beef and veggie stir-fry, shrimp cocktail, a little salad, and bread. The meal came with “buttery spread” which is really margarine-like. I am not sure why people are still eating margarine. It should go the way of large sugary sodas in NYC. Dessert was a small cinnamon brownie.

There were a few other surprisingly OK airplane meals, and then we were in Japan. We found Bobby’s mom in the airport, and then hit up a Starbucks. Did you know that Starbucks has a “short” size? They do – but it’s not listed on US menus. If you ask for it though, apparently you can get it (I believe only for hot drinks; I haven’t tried yet because I didn’t know until this trip). The tall is so large – I don’t usually want to drink that much coffee/frappuccino/whatever.

After 1.5 hours on a train and subway we were at Bobby’s aunt’s house in a suburb of Tokyo/Yokohama. A veritable feast was laid out for us of amazing Japanese food. Most of the daily eats in Japan are macrobiotic. I wish I could remember each dish. Some where – rice (they eat white here; brown is rare), a stew with konyakku/lotus/daikon, hijiki salad, and more. And kabocha is also ubiquitous here.

And finally – shower and bed. I find that the best showers come after long days of traveling. This was possibly the best shower of my life.

Here are some more pictures from the trip so far:

Me enjoying a Japanese grocery store.

A double yolk egg. Did I mention that egg yolks are this really intense shade of orange here?

Not from the trip… but I miss these guys. My friend is taking care of them.

 —

Signing off for now. Have you ever been to Japan? What about another Asian country? I have not – this is my first time. I have traveled to Europe and Canada and that is about it.

Spinach & Potato Frittata Recipe

Recipe based on a recipe from Delilah’s Farm via the Fruit Guys.

 

Spinach & Potato Frittata Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced potato (yellow fingerling)
  • heaping 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions + 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • fresh salt  & pepper

Directions

  • preheat oven to 375F
  • heat ghee over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet (if you don’t have one, just transfer to a baking dish before the last step)
  • saute scallions + garlic for 2 minutes
  • add potatoes, large pinch of salt, small pinch of pepper, and cook until potatoes are cooked through, stirring frequently (~8 minutes)
  • add spinach, cook and stir for 1 minute
  • add eggs, mix together, turn off heat
  • sprinkle cheese then remaining 1T scallions on top
  • bake in the oven until eggs are set and top is slightly browned (~30 minutes)

Serves 3-4. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes.

Cook’s note: you can serve this with ketchup, salsa, guacamole, hummus, or any other sauce you like. You can also make these into individual frittatas using muffin tins (cook for just ~20 minutes instead); serve on a muffin or bagel as a breakfast sandwich. For an appetizer use mini muffin tins (~15 minutes).

8 Foods I Couldn’t Live Without

Ages ago, MDA did a post with almost the same title. ^^ (He did 10 foods.)

So, being the copycat that I am, here are my 8 foods! (They change all the time, but really, these ones are here to stay for good.)

1. Kabocha Squash (you knew that was coming)

Kabocha, also known as Japanese Pumpkin, has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I even turned orange at one point because I was eating so much of it. It’s high in beta carotene and vitamins C, B1, and B2. For more on kabocha, read my kabocha FAQ.

2. Bacon

Bacon is the food that always keeps me from being a vegetarian. At the moment I am assuredly not a veg-head, but I’ve flirted with vegetarianism, veganism, and macrobiotics in the past. And then I remember bacon, and it’s all over. One important thing to note about bacon though, is that you have to eat the kind without nitrates and nitrites, and preferably organic/hormone-free/antibiotic-free. The nitrates and nitrites especially can contribute to stomach cancer later on in life (something I am genetically predisposed to).

3. Broccoli / Brussels Sprouts (it’s a tie)

Apples and Brussels Sprouts

Apples with Brussels Sprouts

I love cruciferous veggies! They’ve been linked to cancer and heart disease prevention and they’re filled with vitamins and nutrients. Plus, they taste really, really good. When Bobby and I first started dating I turned him onto Brussels sprouts. After hating them his whole life, it turns out that he just didn’t like the mushy kind. When I cook them now I steam or saute them so the inside is barely cooked – no mush.

4. Sunflower Seeds (and sunflower seed butter)

Ahh, sunflower seeds. Growing up I would eat these at my dad’s softball games so they always conjure up that image for me – sitting on the bleachers, reading, but staying alert enough to avoid stray foul balls. Sunflower seed butter is a more recent discovery of mine, but it ranks up there as well. (Aside: I would have put peanuts up here until a week ago, but after keeping a food log for a week – doctor’s orders – it looks like some of my stomach issues come from eating peanut butter alllll the time. Oops.)

5. Apples

Maggie picks and eats an apple

My favorite fruit. Should have in moderation because I break out from eating too much fruit (or sugar in general). However, bad at moderation = lots of apples (wah, skin).

6. Dark, dark chocolate.

My favorite dessert. Also should have in moderation because I break out from eating too much chocolate (unless it’s 99% dark – which probably just means I break out from the sugar in it). Lots of antioxidants, lots of deliciousness. You know what’s really good? Bacon chocolate.

7. Eggs

Scrambled!

I also like them fried, hard-boiled, and in a salad.

8. Butter!

Of course I need something to cook all of the above in. Love butter! Hooray for healthy fats.

***

I am now off to a yoga class.

What are your top 8 foods?

Weekend Link Love – 07.03.2011

This week’s link love is short and sweet. Happy birthday, America!

Food, Recipes, Fitness

  • Kath’s Pumpkin and Cinnamon Beanies look ah-mazing! I haven’t baked with beans in a while and it is something I must try again. I made these black bean brownies back in March of 2008.
  • Must make Erin’s Almond Flour Zucchini Muffins. (This one you have to use just the whites because you beat them!)
  • Mark’s Grok Walk Workout looks awesome. Definitely fits into my current exercise routine.
  • Week 5 of Biz’s 101 Days of Summer Challenge is over. Check out the comments on her post to see how we all did.

Salad Girl Updates

  • Today… I rewrote this post on Reducing Sugar. It was originally just “10 healthy tips” for cooking and baking, but upon reading it I discovered that I used to demonize butter and fats and think that we should all be eating carby, fat-free diets. So I rewrote it. Do check it out if you get a chance.
  • A year ago today… I made homemade ketchup. And I was eating egg whites.
  • 2 years ago today… I made healthy fried rice. And then 2 days later I got engaged.

What are you doing this weekend? Do you like whole eggs, just the whites, or just the yolks?

Big Fat Video Links – Weekend Link Love

I watched 3 really interesting videos in the last 3 days. The first was a documentary on Hulu called Fat Head. Here’s the summary:

Have you seen the news stories about the obesity epidemic? Did you see Super Size Me? Then guess what? … You’ve been fed a load of bologna.

Comedian (and former health writer) Tom Naughton replies to the blame-McDonald’s crowd by losing weight on a fat-laden fast-food diet while demonstrating that nearly everything we’ve been told about obesity and healthy eating is wrong. Along with some delicious parody of Super Size Me, Naughton serves up plenty of no-bologna facts that will stun most viewers, such as: The obesity “epidemic” has been wildly exaggerated by the CDC. People the government classifies as “overweight” have longer lifespans than people classified as “normal weight.” Having low cholesterol is unhealthy. Lowfat diets can lead to depression and type II diabetes. Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease — but sugars, starches and processed vegetable oils do.

Fat Head Video Link Here.

The second was a talk/lecture by Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories – now I must read this book) called Big Fat Lies. He has a second book that just came out entitled Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, which may be more appealing – it’s less scientific and includes explanations designed for lay-people.

The last video I watched was called Sugar: The Bitter Truth. It became somewhat of an internet sensation back in 2009 but I guess I missed it. It’s a 1.5 hour lecture on why fructose is a toxin. (I’m sold.) The lecturer is a doctor by the name of Robert H. Lustig.

If you have some time (each video is over an hour) I highly recommend them. The gist of all of them is that the obesity epidemic is caused, not by fat/saturated fat/meat, but by too much sugar and too many carbohydrates. My take on them:

Fat Head

The first link (Fat Head) “proves” that a high-fat diet is good for you. Um, duh. Tom Naughton’s high-fat diet consists of a lot of meat; I am still kind of undecided on the meat issue. Two more of his points are that 1) grains are doing a lot of damage (he does go into detail but I don’t want to right now) and 2) processed vegetable oils (corn oil, soybean oil, etc… – and not just he partially hydrogenated trans fat ones) are also killing us. Humans are not used to eating either of those things.

Now – I like meat, and I would eat it, but I am morally opposed to the way meat is produced in our country, and I can’t bring myself to eat it anymore. If meat were truly ethically raised? I’m still unsure nowadays. I’m getting off topic, but my takeaway from this one – fat is good. Eat more of it. Eat veggies too, though. It may be possible to have a semi-healthful fast food diet, but it’s probably better to just be more primal.

Mmm… bacon and eggs and butter.

Personal side notes:

  • My “Bring on the Fat” post from last year (one year ago – to the day). Sadly I didn’t keep up with this as much as I’d have liked. Now that I’m a veggie I need to get my animal fat from butter, ghee, eggs (with yolk), and dairy (goat’s and sheep’s milk yogurts are my faves; regular ol’ organic whole cow’s milk for my coffee). Since I went veggie I have been eating too many carbs and not enough fats.
  • The Great Fat Animal Experiment. This was from a year and 3 days ago; it was an intro to my passion for animal fat. I still do love animal fat; again, I’m just going to try to get it from non-meat sources.
  • Way back in July 2009 (4 days before I got engaged… can’t believe I am married now!) was one of the first times I started trying to eat more fat. I didn’t really follow through, at least not to the extent that I should have. I have come a long way since then.

Big Fat Lies

The second link (Big Fat Lies) discusses the matter of why people are getting fat; is it simply that we eat too much and sit on our asses? Gary Taubes seems to think that it’s because we have too much insulin (I’m leaning towards agreeing with him, but I think the reason we have too much insulin is because we… eat too much). He basically says that we aren’t getting fat because we’re eating more; we’re eating more because we’re getting fat. He debunks Ancel Keys’ Lipid Hypothesis/Seven Countries Study which states that:

  1. Saturated fat increases cholesterol. (If A then B.)
  2. High cholesterol associated with heart disease. (B associated with C.)
  3. Saturated fat must cause heart disease! (If A then C.)

What a load of bologna! Ugh, too much to say about this horrible study, will post about this later (if I don’t remind me). I tend to agree with Taubes’ conclusions, but I think that there are a lot of people out there who do simply “eat too much” for probably mental reasons. It’s not just hormones that are making us fat. We have issues that also make us eat too much which starts the vicious cycle of greedy fat cells –> eat more –> greedier fat cells –> eat even more –> also be lazy because we’re too fat.

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

The last link, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, Robert H. Lustig discusses how fructose is metabolized in the body. It turns out that fructose is very similar to ethanol, which is a toxin. He also debunks the Seven Countries Study (though for different reasons than Taubes does). He’s not a low-carb advocate (unlike the other two); he thinks we just have to eat the right carbs, which does not include sugar at all. His diet prescriptions for his patients (mostly kids) are (this is around the 1:10 mark):

  • Only beverages should be water and milk
  • Eat carbs with fiber (ex: fruit is fructose but has fiber built in)
  • Wait 20 minutes for second portions
  • If you’re gonna stare at a screen (tv/video games) you have to do equal amounts of activity (playing outside)

His prescriptions are probably easier and more reasonable to follow than what Taubes thinks we should do (low-carb, lots of meat); they’re also probably more sustainable (we can’t all live on steak due to overpopulation). I’m still on the fence about carbs though. I love ’em, but they make me feel like shit. Maybe I’m just more sensitive than some people; my husband could probably live on just carbs and get along fine. (Though he did lose 10 pounds in the last month from being vegetarian – 10 pounds he did not need to lose and he is worried about. He’s practically as skinny as I am.)

What are your thoughts? On grains? On carbs? On sugar? On fructose? On saturated fats? On animal fats? On “healthy” fats? On a low-fat diet? On a low-carb diet? On Tom Naughton/Gary Taubes/Robert Lustig?

Or, if you wanna stop with the heavy topics…

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

Bobby got us reservations as a restaurant we haven’t been to yet but that I hear great things about.