Happy Monday or Sunday or Monday…This time change is truly wild! When Cory and I took our first vacation out of the country we felt so disconnected to the outside world and depended solely on our Garmin to get us through. There was limited access to wifi in South America and even though Facebook was a thing, Instagram, Snapchat and Insta-Stories were not a part of our daily lives like they are today. I have been having so much fun sharing my travels with you and I am even more ecstatic to have such a strong wifi connection in order to do so. As we are about to head into the last part of our adventure I wanted to share a little more about our travels to the other side of the world.
Obviously, healthy food is one of the biggest parts of living life ala TWF. Cory and I are total foodies and live a balanced lifestyle the best we can which means pizza, steak and wine are truly a part of our “diet”; however, I/we try to eat intuitively. I try my best to eat when I am truly hungry, give in to cravings here and there and eat foods that are rich in the nutrients my body craves. If I am feeling tired that usually means I am lacking iron and I up my daily amount of greens or have a serving of grass fed beef. If I am bloated I add more fermented foods that are rich in probiotics like sauerkraut or kefir. Eating intuitive means checking in with yourself and eating foods that make you feel good. Even if that means you consume something to satisfy your soul every now and again!
Here in China I had a conversation with one of Cory’s classmates about how she feels when coming to the states. In China she never deals with bloating as most of their diet consists of gut-healing broths, fresh vegetables, fish and steamed dumplings. When she attends class in the states it is the exact opposite. After being here for over a week I have yet to leave a meal feeling nothing more than full, satisfied and nothing a brisk walk couldn’t autocorrect. The lunches and dinners are overwhelmingly large and satisfying yet not paralyzing. What I learned is that food was rationed here until the 80’s and the Chinese are now living in a time of abundance and they dive in with open arms. I mean imagine oysters, draws the size of your head, pizza, fresh fruiting endless champagne served at a club! Yes…that happened. Warm tea is also served at every meal along with steamed vegetables and minimal dessert. All of this has helped keep my digestion balanced and calm. Also, this added probiotic powder has helped tremendously.
I have learned a bit about some of the food practices here and wanted to share a few new health foods and practices that were introduced to me in hopes that you incorporate some of them into your daily life. As you may know, I am an avid eastern medicine supporter. I do acupuncture regularly and use herbs as medication and I have never felt better. Most of the foods I will share in today’s post will add much needed nutrients to your diet and aid in cleansing and creating a balanced gut environment. That is the Chinese way. You know, the Ying, the Yang…and all that jazz!
My New Favorite Chinese Health Foods
Sea Vegetables: If I am being honest I am not a huge fan of anything that tastes pungently like the ocean; however, a good seaweed salad is something I enjoy and a little sprinkle of nori on my pho adds a depth of flavor that delights my palate. Sea vegetables are considered one of the worlds healthiest foods. They are full of iron which means they are great for anyone suffering from a thyroid disorder, but as a health food they are a healthy living powerhouse chock full of vitamin C, manganese, copper, zinc, B6 and PROTEIN! Yes! Sea vegetables are one of the best protein sources around which make them great for vegans and vegetarians. I may just have to create a kelp noodle stir fry for you guys! In fact..I plan on it! Grab some nori (seaweed) or kelp noodles next time you head to whole foods and pair them with spices and vegetables until your hearts content.
Green Caviar or Sea Grapes: I know we just spoke about sea vegetables, but “Green Caviar” otherwise known as Sea Grapes (Shown on top of the salad above) is something so new, exotic and delicious that I believe they deserve a category of their own. When we first were presented with this gorgeous salad I assumed the tiny green clusters were fish eggs. Upon tasting them they were had a mild flavor and freshness I haven’t seen anywhere else. They literally pop in your mouth. The only website I found for them is this one. If anyone knows where I can get them please share!
Pho: We know Pho very well in America, but did you know it is a staple in China to eat it for breakfast. Cory and I had it almost every morning and the greens, rice noodles and subtle broth were the perfect start to our mornings. In America Pho can be very high in sodium so I would suggest making your own chicken or beef broth or amplifying sodium free store bought brother with spices like garlic, ginger and red pepper. You can create a pho based on flavors you love and add lean protein like chicken or tofu for an added kick.
Congee: Congee is essentially a healing breakfast porridge made from a ration of 1:10 or 1:6 rice to water. I have experienced congee with dried fruit and nuts in the morning to congee with crab, lobster and green onion. You can make this dish with only rice or with beans, rice and herbs. When you consume congee in the morning you will feel you energy sustained throughout the day and improvement in digestive function which makes it a fantastic pre-workout. The added digestive benefits are very important while traveling. You can prepare congee in a crockpot or on the stovetop and save for daily use as a main or side dish.
Chinese Greens: There are many greens we have access to in the states, and there about ten here in Shanghai that are as common as kale and arugula are in the states. Next time you are at the grocery story adding Napa Cabbage, Baby Bok Choy, Pea Shoots or Chinese Broccoli known as Gai Lan.
Herbal Tea: Herbal tea is an art form here in China and you will undoubtably find it at every meal. Not just as a dessert accompaniment. When you look around you will never see ice in water here in china and even cold water is a more “western thing” and our body has to use more energy to warm the water before it can be used in the body. Warm herbal tea can aid in the digestive process and many teas can be used to treat everything from fertility to acne to weight loss. I love using tea for relaxation rituals and I now thoroughly enjoy sipping it with every meal.
Eat Family Style With Small Plates and Bowls: It seems like a simple thought process and I tell you what…it works. Small soup bowls are placed beside small appetizer bowls and eating off those at a slower pace allowed you to consume less yet still become full and satisfied. American portions are so much bigger than anywhere in the world. One night we had an extra large “lazy susan” on our table which made sharing even easier.
Think of vegetables as the main dish and protein as the side dish: Vegetables here are the main event. Many nights you will see 3 plus vegetable dishes on the table with 1-2 meat dishes and 1-2 fish dishes. Usually in America protein takes center stage. Here…vegetables shine bright like a diamond!
Cook foods in terms if the Yin and Yang: Chefs here work towards balance in the Yin and Yang. Yin being your cold foods. Think foods that are more green, grow in water, bitter or sour. The Yang foods are your hot foods. Red foods, foods that grow in soil and require ample sunlight to grow. Combined they achieve balance and also offer you key nutrients that may be missing in less balanced dishes.