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Killing Time

June 14, 2010

Well, turns out that time does NOT fly when you’re waiting to pack and go back to your home country after being in the strangest of lands for 11 months. I’m driving myself nuts with nothing to do and with planning everything that I want to do when I get back! I’d reproduce my list here, but that would just ruin any and all surprises now wouldn’t it? =)

Very excited though, my new Nikes arrived safe and sound at my mom’s house in Northern CA…..funny that they were made and shipped not too far from me in China…GOOD thing they’re ready for me because the things that I’ve been wearing on my feet for Insanity the past two weeks barely resemble shoes anymore.

So instead of rambling on about going here, or here, or making some of these, I’ll post an AWESOME dish that I made tonight. A while back I made Pad Thai, which was loosely based on this version from NYTimes (it had to be China-fied) and inspired by my trip to Thailand. I still have tons of leftover ingredients that I need to use up! The Pad Thai sauce seemed like it would be excellent as a marinade/glaze, so I threw it on some tofu, cooked up some bok choy and was very very pleased with the Thailand meets China outcome.

Pad Thai, China Style

Pad Thai Style Tofu (makes 4 servings):

1/4 cup oyster or fish sauce (I used oyster)

2 tablespoons vinegar (I used apple cider, but rice vinegar would be better)

2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar (honey also works here…about 1/3 C)

8 quarter inch blocks of firm and pressed tofu

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/4 cup Chinese chives or scallions

8 heads of baby Bok Choy

1. Add oyster/fish sauce, vinegar and brown sugar or honey to a small sauce pan and stir over low heat until it thickens slightly and sugar has melted.

2. In a sprayed or oiled pan on medium heat, add the tofu blocks 2 at a time and cook on each side for 1 minute, then spoon or brush sauce  over tofu (1 tbsp per side) and cook on each side for another 1-2 minutes.

4. Serve over steamed bok choy or any leafy green, and garnish with red pepper flakes, chopped peanuts and chopped chives/scallions.

Delish!!!

Days until CA: 7

Chinese Food and Anatomy Lessons

June 13, 2010

So the other day I came up with a strategy to not over eat and feel too full at Chinese restaurants. Well, last night my friends and I had a huge last dinner/karaoke outing together (since some people are heading back to the US soon) and instead of sticking to my plan like I should have, I ate my ass off. DAMN you MSG. Anyway, here’s a look at some authentic Chinese food!

Bucket o' Rice

Some of my favorite Chinese dishes:

Eggplant and Green Beans

Steamed Pumpkin

Bowl of Perfection

Glass Noodles and Cabbage (with fried eggs hiding on the bottom)

Cauliflower

Random Green Stuff

Here’s some of the meaty-ness that I skipped over:

Pork and Peppers

Since everything in China is cooked in animal fat anyway, I DID eat some of the peppers out of here which were INSANELY hot. It didn’t hit me until after a few mouthfuls and my mouth was seriously on fire. HOLY HELL. I don’t think I mentioned that Hunan Province (where I live) is famous for super super spicy food. mMMm.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Fish and Tofu

Beef Dish (somewhat fajita like), Fish and S&S Chicken

Empty Rice

I’m somewhat pleased that I was able to get over my fear of Chinese food for one night and just not care. Felt kind of nice to not stress out about it. I’m also glad I’m getting the chance to show you some authentic Chinese food!

One of the highlights of dinner was our discussion of the English language and balls. Yeah, those kinda balls. It started with us saying “it’s hot as balls in here,” which led to us talking about how English is crazy interesting since you can really make up anything you want and native speakers will probably understand you (i.e. adding -y to the end of words, adding sky as in napsky, making up ridiculous curse words, etc.), which THEN back to us talking about balls and trying to get the Chinese people to tell us how to say it in Chinese. We’re 12 =).

My friend trying to describe balls to the Chinese people:

Anatomy Lesson

Our Chinese friends were beyond embarrassed. Mostly because where I live in China, people aren’t very open about sex and or/sexuality. Which made seeing this at the karaoke place super random:

What?

Ha I was completely amazed (and I promise we WERE at a karaoke place)! I have no idea why this was at a karaoke bar…Hmmm…China can be so random sometimes =).

Massive Private Karaoke Room!

Amazing selection of songs…

I think I need to be better about actually being in pictures. I never have any pictures of myself!

Protein-errific Day

June 11, 2010

After my inspiration to eat a lot more protein struck yesterday, I’ve started meal planning off with: What kind of protein will I eat and how can I eat a lot of it? This question reminds me of my meat loving days, but I guess it works for non-meat eaters as well! Funny to think that before I came to China my favorite meal was a bloody steak with eggs on top.

To start off the day I made an oat pancake but made a half batch (which was still huge), added hemp protein, added some half-way made PB and then ate 3 eggstra egg whites on the side….sorry about that horrible corniness.

AWESOME breakfast

Pancake: 1/4 c oats, 1 egg white, lots of cinnamon, 1 tbsp hemp protein, kabocha blob. Mixed and made normal pancake style!  Topped with chopped frozen banana and halfway made PB –> NORMALLY this would be banana soft serve and finished PB….but my blender officially broke this morning. I didn’t realize until smoke was filling my kitchen…sad!!! That’s three blenders I’ve been through this year…..dreaming of the day when I can buy myself a Vita-Mix. UGH!

I supplemented this awesome pancake with a side of 3 egg whites and more cinnamon dusted kabocha (needed to finish it). I deem this a perfect breakfast…protein success!

Baisc nutritional stats (approx) : Calories (400) Protein (24.5) Fiber (7.5) Fat (8-9)

Breakfast was followed by some weight training (all supersets with 10 lbs):

3 sets of tricep kickbacks (15), 3 sets of overhead tricep pulls (10)

3 sets of chest press (15), 3 sets of chest fly (10)

3 sets of bent over rows (15), 3 sets of bicep curls (15)

3 sets of bicep crossovers (10), 3 sets of shoulder presses (15)

50 basic crunches, 10 reverse crunches, 10 leg lifts, 30 bicycles, and 20 of something I have no idea how to describe (x2).

YAY! I’m hoping that I’m nice and sore tomorrow. The only problem is I’m not totally sure what to eat these days after working out since my options are kind of limited. I had an apple after my workout but I feel like I should have something better (would love to have a fantastic shake!). Might have to wait until I get home to figure that out….10 days!

Wow, I had a seriously stressful morning =)….breakfast, work out….post-work out hair wash/massage/blowout….awesome lunch:

Bean Town

Protein base was beans, made into kabocha curry bean burgers (the last of my kabocha).

1 c beans (mixture of kidney and black eyed peas), 1 T bread crumbs, 1/2 cup steamed kabocha, 1 T curry powder, S&P. Mashed up and cooked on a pan for 3 mins each side. With steamed broccoli!

In a perfect world I would have added: sliced avocado, maybe some nutritional yeast flakes, and/or some sort of awesome yogurty dressing. Just some thoughts =)

Basic nutritional stats (approx): Calories (275) Protein (16.4) Fiber (14.6) Fat (2)

I guess this could use more protein…but I didn’t want to overdo it on tofu and egg whites since I already had egg whites and plan on tofu for dinner. Ayyyyy can’t wait for American grocery store heaven!

Plus an awesomely humongous iced green tea:

Iced Green tea

I guess I should teach a few classes now……

English Competition and Fear Facing

June 10, 2010

Last night’s English (singing) competition was pretty amazing. All of the contestants sang random English songs and were pretty good at it! Highlights were: Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” “Open Arms” by Journey, and “My Heart Will Go On,” Titanic belting madness. DAMN those students went for some high notes. Some were successful, some were not (but at least they tried).

Hand Holding Love

What a pimp!

I was a super important judge:

Ready to score....not in the good way.

I had no idea how to fairly score! So I ended up giving them all a 9 or a 10 since they all put in a ton of effort.

Then, of course, after the competition I was invited out to dinner which is the thing I’m most afraid of in China. That’s so messed up…but I plan on doing a post explaining exactly why I have this fear because it’s a long story!

Anyway, for the first time ever I had strategy going into dinner and did pretty well. The need to do Insanity when I got home really helped me not overdo it at dinner since I didn’t want to risk throwing up!!

Basically, when you go out to dinner in China the table always looks a little like this:

Lazy Susan

Lazy Susans BEG for overeating. You have tons of plates to endlessly pick at with your chopsticks!! It’s also difficult because people are constantly telling you to keep eating. Before I know it I end up eating like 5-6 bowls of food. However, I vowed to NOT let that happen this time. CHINESE DINNER YOU WILL NOT DEFEAT ME. So, here we go…

How to navigate Chinese dinner without people thinking that you aren’t eating (because if at any point you look like you aren’t eating, someone will tell you to continue):

Step 1: Have a small veggie appetizer

Random Vegetable

Step 2: Have one more veggie appetizer

Green Beans

Step 3: have a normal bowl of food

Rice, more beans and corn

Step 4: Have some protein once other people have gotten some so the focus is off of you! I had a few squares of tofu but I forgot to photo.

On the table there was also fish, beef, mushroom soup, the tofu, bullfrog and sautéed celery. Of course I got tons of  pressure “Just try the beef, it’s really special!!” BUT I stuck to my guns and appreciatively declined due to vegetarian-ness. I try not to think about the fact that most restaurant dishes in China are cooked in animal fat.

Animal fat hiding in my food

And served in a bowl full of oil.

Oil

Not to mention, Chinese restaurants use MSG. There is no way that green beens are that tasty without it. They didn’t even taste like green beans. They just tasted like something that I wanted to constantly shove into my mouth until it was gone (MSG acts as an “anti” appetite depressant). For info on MSG check out MSG Truth OR watch the movie A Beautiful Truth (deals with many other food related issues) which is fantastic.

I’m very happy to say that I left this meal not feeling like my stomach was about to burst and was able to work out after! A first for me in China! VICTORY!! Now don’t get me wrong, all of the food here was beyond delicious. I have this fear that this post might sound bad and somewhat ignorant of Chinese culture…but I’ll clear things up very soon with why I am this way after having spent a year here….

I’m a Teacher?

June 10, 2010

Two students just came into my office while I was hysterically laughing watching Ali G and eating ice cream. For some reason I get really weirded out when students see me eating ice cream because I feel like it makes them see me as one of their own (which is never a good thing in the behaving-well-in class department). Maybe that’s just in my head? Anyway, I had never felt like LESS of a teacher. That was until they brought me this:

HUGE mango

Not quite as symbolic as an apple, but close enough. =)

What up!

They came in to discuss what movie they would be watching later. 17 Again? High School Musical? Alice in Wonderland? Hopefully they won’t decide on Alice in Wonderland because I’ve already shown it to 5 different classes (which means I’ve seen the first 40 minutes 5 times now).

This morning's class, post-Alice in Wonderland

In other teacher news, about 5 minutes ago two students came into my office and asked if they could sing me a song. The song ended up being “DANGEROUS” by Michael Jackson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS6x9wgswNw&feature=related

Awk.

It was supremely awkward but very very adorable. After they finished they ended up staring at me while I finished up some work, because they were too nervous to try to speak to me in English. Then they asked if they could sing again, so I said of course and got a taste of “Dangerous,” round 2.

Never a dull moment. All this and it’s only lunch time! I have an English singing competition to judge later today so that should be interesting =).

Onto food stuff…I was very inspired by a post at Health.com by Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake about eating more protein. My meals recently haven’t been holding me over as long as they used to (back in college/back in the US) and I haven’t really been sure why. I guess I’ve been focusing A LOT on fruits and veggies, and since becoming a vegetarian I really don’t think about protein enough….especially when my only options in China are tofu, beans and nuts.

Sure enough…today I packed my breakfast with protein and some fat and 5 hours later I’m still not really hungry (ice cream was purely to please my taste buds). Not to mention the fact that added protein will definitely support my nighttime Insanity workouts and my morning weight training.

Protein, Fruits, Veggies, Fat

Cinnamon sugar glazed tofu with: microwaved cinnamon apples, a kabocha blob and a tablespoon of SUPER chunky PB (since my blender broke half way through making it).

I just cut the tofu into squares, coated the squares with cinnamon and some brown sugar, and cooked them in a pan for a few minutes. Easy! The rest is pretty self explanatory although next time I think I’ll cook the apples in a pan since microwaves tend to make food suck more often than not.

Tofu, hiding

Off to class!

Kabocha Induced Happiness

June 9, 2010

I have been in such a fantastic mood the past few days I can hardly stand myself. I even danced around my apartment this morning when I woke up at 6:30 AM. Can’t even handle what I was listening to enough to tell you. OK…it was Taylor Swift (guilty pleasure much?). What is making me so happy??

Is it the fact that I’m going home soon? Is it the fact that my students are being cute as hell recently? Is it the greatest workout ever aka Insanity? Is it the fact that I’m so good at ordering tea in Chinese (NO MILK NO SUGAR!!) that the tea shop owner thinks I’m actually GOOD at the language (which is hardly true)?

Is it my Kabocha obsession?????

Last Night (post Insanity):

Tofu Open Face

Pan sautéed tofu covered in curry powder, red peppers with tons of garlic, and steamed kabocha with cinnamon mixed in. Sprinkled with S&P. All together now:

Ready for the deliciousness

Cinnamon + Curry + Pepper + Kabocha = Heaven. Since I don’t have an oven I’ve been relying on Kabocha blobs which means a spoon full of this:

STEAMED Kabocha Blob

This Morning (post dancing):

Oat Pancake Mixture

1/2 c oats, 2 egg whites, baking powder, 1/4 c grated carrot, 1/2 diced mango, and (later) kabocha blob.

What's that??

Is that….cinnamon? YES!! My friend and fellow foreigner Jeff gave me a bit to use. I had given him one of my jars at the beginning of the year not knowing that I would plow through two containers of it in 10 months……

Carrot Cake Pancake

I got this idea from another blog but I can’t remember which!! I’ll update in a bit with the link.

Destroyed

Grossly overestimated my flipping abilities with such a hefty amount of fruits/veggies in there……luckily I was able to hide this beastly thing under some frozen banana slices. How amazing would this be with shredded coconut or coconut butter!?!?!

Frozen Banana-y

Are you sick of seeing my kabocha usage yet?? Me neither….

A few hours ago:

Eggplant, Peppers and Kabocha on some EGG WHITES!

Peppers and eggplant sautéed with S&P and garlic powder. Kabocha blob. 3 egg whites. I threw some last minute curry powder on there as well!

Destruction #2 (only the beginning, destruction got much worse)

This was friggen enormous. And delicious. I’m out of kabocha pictures for now but I’m sure there will be more soon. You can put it in anything!!

China fact of the day: In China, if you miss a day of work or school for a national holiday, or for any reason whatsoever, you have to make it up on the weekends. Bizarro? Next week is the Dragon Boat Festival, which means we get three days off, which also means that we have school for the next two weekENDS! My last two weekends in China! Imagine if we had to have school on the weekend after Thanksgiving??

Non-Fancy Green and Orange Monsters?

June 7, 2010

Since I don’t have any fun ingredients like almond milk, good tasting protein powder (my hemp protein is disguustttoooo) or berries/cherries to make shakes a little more creative and interesting, for the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with putting veggies in my smoothies or pancakes or oats. It’s almost like my own personal challenge to see what I can come up with.

CARROTS AND PUMPKINS ARE MY NEW BEST FRIENDS!! I guess this makes sense since they are the vegetable most commonly found in sweet dishes. Can’t wait until I can get my hands on some zucchini! Zucchini pancakes!!

Ready for the blenda

No idea what this is

Any ideas? It tastes like pumpkin, and smells like pumpkin, therefore it must be a pumpkin? Ideas? (edit: later on I found out it’s kabocha) Anyway it’s been GREAT in everything breakfasty.

With oats

My first green monster ever!! I think I should try adding some tofu (they have silky kind here) for some creaminess. Either way, this was pretty good!! What really makes veggies taste good in smoothies (when you aren’t adding anything chocolate, vanilla or berry) is CINNAMON. Too bad I completely ran out of cinnamon (and SEA SALT AHHH) and will have to tough things out for the next two weeks until I’m back in the US.

This morning I attempted a non cinnamon mixture: ORANGE MONSTER

Orange

So much orange went into this, not the fruit, just the color: 1 banana, 1 mango, 1/2 grated carrot and 1/2 cup pumpkin. Beta carotene maxed out. I guess this isn’t really a monster since it’s so small but I was afraid to add too much more due to lack of cinnamon. Ughhh I will never take that amazing spice for granted again.

Either way, fruit and veggie smoothie semi success!! I guess there are points in there for being 100% natural and mostly enzyme-y raw right? Ayy…My get home wishlist for powders and supplements or smoothies is out of control at this point..

*Update: Thanks to some helpful comments I found out that it is not pumpkin, but kabocha! YAY. That stuff is so low calorie and so delicious..I could eat it for days.

Massive rainstorm at school right now:

Thunder and Lightning!!!

Good thing it’s movie day =)

Ready to watch AVATAR