How to Maintain Good Health (Cafe) Habits

Good health is important.

For me good health includes:

It also includes frequenting Good Health Cafe. Here are some of the things that we have gotten on recent treks to the ever popular restaurant. (Thank you so much Gaby for introducing it to me! And now I have taken Coco there too. Links: Gaby’s meetup; Coco’s visit.)

When Coco visited, we went for brunch (this was this past Saturday). I got an omelette (whole eggs please) with seasonal vegetables. The vegetables included kabocha squash (!) which made my day. There were also zucchini and carrots; I cannot remember anything else though. It came with a side salad and that amazing carrot-ginger dressing. I need to recreate it; Coco did so I will use her recipe. In addition to the dressing, I also used ketchup. (My ketchup recipe here.)

Note: Technically neither eggs nor tomatoes are macrobiotic, but for me being macrobiotic means being balanced. I do consider this a macrobiotic meal because it is dairy-free and organic and I ate it mindfully.

The weekend before last, Bobby and I also went there for brunch. We are creatures of habit; we like what we like and sometimes trying new places can be disappointing. I opted for the roasted vegetable salad (again, starring my favorite ingredient: kabocha squash) with grilled tofu and again that amazing carrot-ginger dressing. They brought the dressing on the side in a bowl and I ate so much of it. I think I actually had too much because my stomach did not feel so great after that. Eating 1/2 cup+ of an oil-based dressing will do that to you! Lesson learned. I think that I actually eat more dressing when I get it on the side, which sort of defeats the purpose. What are your thoughts on this?

Bobby got the vegetarian sausage link breakfast which came with a choice of scrambled tofu or scrambled eggs – he chose tofu. It also came with roasted potatoes, grilled mushrooms and onions, and a small salad.

And here is a closeup of a dinner side salad. I forget what night this was from but I know I haven’t posted it yet. I really like their appetizer salads; they are big enough, topped with delicious shredded carrots and cabbage, and come with the ubiquitous carrot-ginger dressing.

If I ever start cooking again I would love to cook like this.

When eating out ends up costing about the same as cooking in, I tend to eat out. In New York it can be expensive to cook for yourself, and there are so many healthy restaurant options here for me. And speaking of healthy options, I will give you a teaser about a new restaurant I tried during my birthday week that I will post about soon…

It’s Japanese, macrobiotic, and on the upper west side. Any guesses? I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the name.

Quick Yoga Update

Wednesday was the last day of my 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I noticed significant improvements in my practice, my body (arms), and in my life. Going forward I will not be doing yoga every day (and I did miss a few days during the challenge) but I will make sure to go to a few classes weekly.

What do you do to maintain good health?

Yasai Yaki Soba Recipe {Project Food Blog}

Today’s post is my second Project Food Blog entry (see my first entry here). The challenge? “The Classics”. Each contestant must pick an ethnic classic that (s)he is unfamiliar with. We’re supposed to keep it as authentic as possible.

Ethnic food? Nothing new to me. Authentic ethnic meals? Okay, now you’re onto something. I make a lot of so-called “ethnic” dishes, but they are not usually true to the traditional recipe. I’m always modifying and Maggie-fying dishes, sometimes to the point that they are unrecognizable by the end. I always enjoy the outcome, but I will admit that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. So this challenge is very… well, challenging for me (as it is supposed to be). The main reasons that I usually change a recipe are:

  • I don’t have all the ingredients and I make substitutions
  • I healthify recipes by reducing the amount of oil or adding extra vegetables
  • I simplify recipes to make them quick and easy

My Challenge: Yasai Yaki Soba

Japanese food is a definite favorite for me, but I rarely make traditional dishes. I use a lot of Japanese ingredients, but I don’t make a lot of Japanese dishes. I leave that up to Bobby’s mom (one of my two favorite cooks – my mom being the other one). In my googling I came across a few recipes for Yasai Yaki Soba. I had to pick it because Bobby and I have an inside joke about Yakisoba (it involves a hysterical commercial they used to play on California TV). Turns out that I had almost all the ingredients needed and I only had to run out for 2 things: the garnishes.

Yasai Yaki Soba: What does it mean?

I know there are linguists out there (Lauren and Amber Shea!) that share my passion for words, so let’s break down this recipe to see exactly what Yasai Yaki Soba is.

Yasai = vegetable. Yaki = from yaku, which means “to bake or to grill”. Yaki appears in a lot of Japanese dish names – teriyaki, sukiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki. Soba = buckwheat noodles. I had a lot of trouble finding Japanese etymology resources online, so all I can offer are these definitions. (If you know of a good resource please let me know!) So this is a veggie noodle dish that is “grilled” in a wok (fried). This version happens to be macrobiotic (if organic eggs count) and vegetarian.

Yasai Yaki Soba: The Recipe & The Details

I set about setting up my ingredients.

The main source of panic for me for this recipe? The vegetable oil! I never use that much to stir-fry things. I got over it though; I had to follow the recipe to be authentic. That is the point of this challenge.

Yasai Yaki Soba Recipe (Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces soba noodles (dry weight)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced and chopped
  • 1 large thinly sliced carrot (I used a mandoline)
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Seasoning Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Yasai Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder)

Garnish Ingredients

  • pickled ginger
  • sesame seeds (black or regular or both)

Method

  1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package (usually 4 minutes in boiling water). Immediately rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Set aside.
  2. Beat the 2 eggs and mix in the seasoning ingredients. Add the veggies (pepper, carrot, onion, garlic) and then add the noodles (gently so they don’t break).
  3. Heat a wok over high heat for 1-2 minutes until it’s very hot (almost smoking), then add the vegetable oil. Add the noodly veggie egg mixture and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix together the yasai sauce ingredients while the noodles are cooking.
  4. Remove from heat, add the yasai sauce (while still in the wok), and mix. Divide between 2 dishes and top with the garnishes – ginger and sesame seeds.
  5. Enjoy!

Yasai Yaki Soba: What was challenging?

I had a few difficulties with this…

  1. I followed the recipes to a T – I actually went out and bought the specific garnishes that the recipe called for. And those garnishes made this dish exactly the classic dish I was hoping for! I don’t usually do this, but maybe I am missing out. The little things really do make a difference.
  2. The oil content. When I stirfry I don’t usually use this much oil. I use enough, but I never take the risk of using too much and making it soggy with fat. I used the amount it called for, but it turns out I was probably right – Bobby and I both prefer it less oily.
  3. It didn’t have as many veggies as I usually use, and I was tempted to add more in. When I make noodle-veggie dishes, I always use at least half veggies (in terms of volume). This had more noodles than veggies, but it made me appreciate the simple flavor of the soba.

So this challenge was awesome in that it made me appreciate the fact that I am actually a very good cook (Bobby loved it), I don’t have to always make uber-healthy food, and it solidified my love for true Japanese cuisine. Thanks Project Food Blog!

I will remind you how to vote for me tomorrow. I will also be back either later today or early tomorrow with my weekly roundup – I was out all day yesterday and didn’t get to it.

What’s your favorite ethnic dish?

Mine is papaya salad, duh. I would have made that except I’ve already made that lots of times.

*Note: I combined elements of 2 recipes to get this recipe. See here and here for my inspirations.

I Can’t Budget

**Update: I have since quit the gym… I will stick to my walking and occasional yoga!**

Last night I joined a gym.

::blush::

I know, I said it was expensive. I said it wasn’t worth it. But then someone that I talk to about my problems told me that maybe I should just try it, and see if it makes me happy. And Bobby agreed. So I popped over and signed up. And so far I am very happy! You see, I have this problem – I need to constantly have some kind of mental stimulation or else I get bored and irritable and do things I regret. I also need to have a reason to get out of my house aside from work and the occasional dinner date during the week.

Back to last night though – I did 2 classes. I was actually feeling sick yesterday (I even worked from home because I didn’t feel well in the morning) but by nighttime I’d started feeling better, and I hadn’t left the house and was feeling antsy – so I went over (it’s just a few blocks away).

Delicious Veggie Dinner

You know after a great refreshing workout like that that I had to nourish myself. I met Bobby up at Good Health Cafe (which I posted about yesterday too) and got the macro plate (beans, rice, tofu, seaweed, steamed veggies, with the most amazing ginger-carrot dipping sauce). It’s vegan and macrobiotic. This was huge.

It came with a salad, too. Bobby got some delectable pepper-seitan dish over rice. The sliced oyster mushrooms were the best part. Also vegan and macrobiotic.

We shared (meaning that I ate most of) dessertblueberry apple pie. Vegan, but not macro – it had agave nectar in it which I don’t think counts as macrobiotic.

This was so good – not overly sweet, with perfectly buttery oaty crumbles. (It was vegan, so it clearly was not butter.)

Today’s Tips

  • Enter my giveaway! It’s a big gift certificate good for *anything* at CSN stores. There are a lot of ways to enter and you can probably buy just about anything with it 🙂
  • Do some yoga.
  • Sometimes expensive things are worth it if they make you happy; don’t spend your life saving never to use those savings. Put them towards something that’ll improve your quality of life.

Happy Friday! Do you have weekend plans? I have a choir retreat on Saturday but aside from that I have no idea what I’m doing.

What’s Up Saturday – 9.18.10

Roundup time! I had an awesome birthday week, and I am so happy to bring you some of my favorites on this beautiful morning 🙂 I don’t know why I’m in such a fantastic mood (yes I do), but I am, and I’m rolling with it.

Highlights of My Week

Blogland – New Finds and Favorite Posts

Other Internet Stuff

I am off to convince Bobby to go to brunch with me… At Souen. Do you think he’ll go for a third time this week? Can I use the excuse that it’s still my birthday week? I’m going to. I will be back tomorrow with my Project Food Blog post.

What are your favorites from the week and what are you doing this weekend?

I’m not too old… {Birthday Post}

Today is my birthday. I have lived 24 years. A year ago I was living in Sunnyvale, California, making juices and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I don’t make juice anymore, but I’m still working on that second part. I have gained several things in the last year, including but not limited to: a husbandamazing friendships, new job experiences, a love of New York, and weight. That last one – I’m not so bothered by anymore. I am what I am, and that’s ok!

Another year older, another year wider wiser. Sometimes I feel like I am growing up too fast. Are we grown-ups already? Buying groceries, cooking dinner, paying bills, and worrying? We don’t stay out late partying (at least I don’t), and I don’t have any enough days where I just do nothing (nothing meaning read, play, and do other fun kid-like things).

Sometimes I even feel like I am too old for Facebook, but I think that’s just because I’m sick of Facebook. (I can’t wait to see The Social Network – I think my office is all seeing it together – we have a love/hate relationship with Facebook).

But.

I am not too old! (And neither are you.)

I’m not too old to get giddy when my husband (who is also my best friend) takes me out for an early birthday dinner at Souen (this was Monday). I got Vegetable Curry with Brown Rice.

Bobby got Mabo Tofu with Brown Rice.

And we split a Vegan Kabocha Squash and Chocolate Chip Scone (this is like Maggie in dessert form – all of my favorites: kabocha, chocolate, scone).

That dessert put me in a wonderful mood, and Bobby even agreed that it was awesome. I gave him the smaller half (yes Dad, I know it’s not a half if it’s smaller!). And here are some more related dessert favorites:

I am not too old to break a habit OR to make a new one.

I am proving to myself that I can make new habits, and I am also working on breaking old ones. Yoga daily? You bet! Nighttime snacking? So gone.

I am not too old to act like a kid, or even eat like one.

I eat what I want, and sometimes it’s what I liked when I was little. Sometimes it’s not. I didn’t know about kabocha until I was 22, and I have to make up for all those lost years.

I am not too old to be spontaneous.

Like 2 weekends ago!

I can keep going…

I am not too old to make new friends.

I am not too old to still be young.

I am not too old to try new things.

I am not too old to have big dreams.

I am not too old at all, in fact!

What are you not too old for?