Friday, March 6, 2015

The Spiralizer

As badly as I want to try out my new sous vide, my fridge is full so I've been holding myself back from going grocery shopping. But being sick is boring! So I decided to try this out instead. Sorry kids! You can have a turn next time!

Now that my youngest is in school a few mornings a week, I've been trying to finally do all the things I've (im)patiently been waiting to do. One of the projects on my list is to eat and cook healthier foods for myself and my family. I've never been your typical "skinny Asian girl" and the main reason is probably because I've always eaten everything I've ever wanted...literally, everything. Portion control, what? Literally, the best I've ever looked, and the most confident I've ever been, was each of the three times I was pregnant, ha! And we all know that women's bodies are not the same after having kids and also with age. So began my little journey towards a healthier lifestyle and this is just one of many steps I'm taking.

I stumbled across this "spiralizer" on the Nom Nom Paleo site. As many times as I've considered getting a Vitamix, I'm usually not too into kitchen gadgets. But this was not an expensive purchase and I really knew I would use this. I love Italian and I also love noodles and pasta. I've lowered my carb intake before but missed the yummy marinara sauces, Rao's being my fave. This was my answer.

Paderno Spiral Slicer

The main reasons why I love this is:
1. added nutrition
2. low carbs & calories
3. quicker cooking time
4. fun for kids

I've been trying to get the kids more and more involved in food decision making, as well as prepping and cooking meals. Getting kids involved with the everyday really does something to their little brains. It's like magic. Suddenly, they're excited to eat new foods, they think everything tastes so good, they think I'm the best cook, and having taken part of it all builds their confidence. I'll take those things any day!

If you want to know more, this chick Ali is the spiralizer guru and goes into the details of all the benefits here.

Getting back to actually using it...
It was very easy to put together, use and clean up. It worked exactly the way I expected with no unexpected glitches.

I was planning on cooking these "noodles" in a pan with a little bit of cooking oil but having no energy, I covered the bowl and threw them in the microwave for a little under 2 minutes. I had leftover sauce and threw some spicy mango & jalapeno chicken meatballs in (Aidells, can be found at Costco) and a few minutes later had this yummy little snack. (Yes, my snacks are mini meals.)

I literally inhaled it. Part of me was expecting it to taste too "healthy" but it was so yummy! And an unexpected plus was that I could use chopsticks! I don't use forks unless there are no chopsticks around.

I was surprised that Bed Bath didn't carry this. If you have a 20% off any item promo code at Williams Sonoma, get one there. Otherwise, Amazon seems to have a better regular price. If you happen to get one there, please use my affiliate link. I get a few pennies and it's no additional cost to you.

There are lots of other veggies and recipes I'm going to try from Ali's site. Take a peek if you're curious. For me, the next step is to make this for the hubs to see his thoughts. Will let you know!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Healthier Eating Step No. 1 - Fruits & Veggies

This post is dedicated to my friend Sonia Chun. I remember when I was shopping for you and thought to myself, "I know Phil loves his potatoes but do they really have to be organic?" You sparked my curiosity and now my family is eating a little bit healthier. You make me want to pray more, too. Thank you!

I've heard that we don't need to buy everything organic. But how the heck are we supposed to know what to buy and what not to buy? Here are some basic guidelines from the EWG (Environmental Working Group), the latest "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" list.

I used to have three grocery lists - Shoprite, Costco, and HMart (major korean supermarket chain). I was avoiding a fourth for so long because of cost but now my priorities have shifted a bit and I now have a WFoods/TraderJoe's list. The Dirty Dozen fruits & veggies now go here. When I see the non-organic dirty dozen with cheaper prices and looking fresh and yummy, I do get tempted. Who wants to go to another store in the middle of our busy days? But then I think back to this video and keep on walking down the aisle. If time and money is really a concern, I just opt for a less pesticide ridden option on the Clean Fifteen list. 

The full list of 50 or so fruits & veggies can be found here.

Update: I want to note that list is not perfect. From what I've read, the EWG bases this list on (1) the number of pesticide residues found (2) the percentage of samples with pesticide residues, and (3) the total amount of pesticides detected. It does not take into account how toxic the pesticides are nor the toxic organic pesticides used on organic fruits & veggies. Are you surprised that there is no simple straight forward answer? Course not.

In an ideal world, we would all just grow our own fruits and vegetables. I do want to start a small garden sometime in the near future. Plus, it's so much yummier. Or we would shop only at local farms where we could ask farmers what kinds of pest control and chemicals they use. Anytime we can do this, great! But realistically, our options are:

(1) blindly just eat what's cheap and easy with no concern for our health - But we're past that already, yes?
(2) buy everything organic - Then I've at least eliminated the synthetic pesticides, right? I wish I could afford to do this but I can't. And I need to still save to buy organic meats!
(3) just stick to this EWG list as a guideline

It's about progress, people, not perfection. And what's most important is eating more fruits & veggies overall. Let's just keep trying new recipes and including more nutritious foods into our daily.

Oh and there are also many Asian fruits and vegetables that aren't even included in this list. Again, I'm aiming for improvements and realistic, doable changes. So for now, I will continue to buy my bean sprouts and Korean melons from HMart and get my organic dirty dozen from Whole Foods or wherever else I can find them.

Why I (Finally) Decided to Make Some Changes To What We Eat

I know a few people who are health food crazies. Honestly, I don't think many of them know why they eat what they eat so I see most of "them" simply as trend followers. Koreans are notorious for this and I actually find it rather annoying. Why would you do something when you don't even know why you're doing it? Of course everyone knows we should all eat healthier but why? I've always enjoyed food and generally thought healthy eating wasn't ever going to taste as good. So why become one of "them"? I'm the kind of person who needs facts and numbers to be convinced of most things. Not that I ever went looking but no one ever really told me the details as to why eating healthier is important.

I've seen snippets of different food documentaries and have overheard my Whole Foods employed sister mention a few things but nothing clicked until I came across this video.

I have three children with peanut and tree nut allergies and one of them also has an egg allergy. Sadly to say, many of my friends have little ones with some sort of food allergy. I've also been praying for friends and their family members with different illnesses including cancer. So naturally, a switch flipped in my head and I decided I needed to start looking into all this and make some changes for my family's sake.

Now, where to begin...
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