Healthy Eating for Busy Moms

Secret #3: Soups! Soup is the best friend for busy moms because they cook themselves. You can make them for dinner and have leftovers for your lunch at work. There are two kinds of soups that you should consider. First – legume-based (pea, lentil, beans). Second – all veggies. Lentil and pea soups take 30-40 minutes to make. Beans cook minimum 1,5 hours.  Pre-soak grain the night before to cut the time by 50%.

Day 1. Before going to bed put legumes in a pot, cover with water. (takes 2 minutes)

IMG_0184Day 2. Switch the water in a pot, and bring it to boil. As soon as it boils, add: onion, carrot, and salt. Cook until lentils are tender (20 minutes). Add parsley, cumin and coriander.

Day 3. Have leftovers? Try blending the soup. To add variety to the taste of soup – try adding some lemon juice. (5 minutes)

 

Blended Lentil Soup

Blended Lentil Soup

Legume Trivia: Red Lentil is super food, which makes it my favorite soup. It has folate, copper, manganese, iron, protein, B1, B6, zinc, potassium, etc, and it is low in calories. So, you can eat a lot of it without gaining weight. It tastes even better the next day.

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Garden of Morning Calm

In Korea hiking is a national pass time, and as a result there are hundreds of picturesque walks, trails, parks, mountains, and botanical gardens. Professional and amateur photographers can capture stunning images of nature during any season. However, winter landscapes may get a little sad, and to combat that, as I have noticed, many botanical gardens make use of decorative lightning. For example, check out the images from the Garden of Morning Calm located in Gyeonggi-do province, where a Festival of Christmas lights is taking place from December to March. As you can see, a tourist can find places of interest during any season to make the trip to Korea worthwhile.

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The Baseball Experience in Korea

Have you ever been to a baseball game? If yes, then you know what it is: heat, food, beer, lots of sitting and eating (mingling, if we wish to be PC). Sorry to offend any baseball fans, but – boy, it is very boring, especially if you do not drink beer.

Korean style baseball is quite different. For example, fans are more strictly seated according to their teams. Fans of the Doosan Bears will almost exclusively be on one side, and the fans of the LG Twins on the opposite side. The game begins and two sets of cheerleaders pop up: one for each team. Music is going almost non-stop throughout the entire game as the scantily clad cheerleaders dance on their platforms. The 30-second video below captures some of the excitement in the stadium, and this energy level remains at this height throughout the entire game. Mind you, this is just an ordinary game of the season, not a playoff game.  Again, this is the energy level for every pitch of the game. Of course, food and beer is walking around too.

But what I loved most is the free daycare center for children at the stadium for the duration of the game. Should a child get bored sitting in one place, there are several daycare centers – aka closed-off playgrounds – inside the stadium, which are divided according to the age of children. A parent can drop off a child and leave an ID and a cellphone number with the daycare worker at one of these playgrounds and enjoy the game while the little one is enjoying running around or jumping on a giant inflatable castle.

There is a giant screen that features many games between the innings including the “Kissing game.” In short, the spectators are generously entertained throughout the game and they return the favor by actively cheering for their teams, slapping inflatable cheer-sticks together, participating in activities, moves, and dances. In short, with such rambunctious fans, baseball in Korea can be more exciting than an NFL playoff game.

Click here to watch the video clip.

Thank you donors!

Big thank you to our donors: Lake Country Estate Sales, LLC  and Luidmila Z! We are on the final stretch. The city is getting ready for the Lunar New Year. We are going to start shopping this week too for the supplies. Everything will be photo-recorded so that you would feel as involved as possible.

Seoul Art Center

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Seoul Art Center is the representing arts complex visited by two million users every year in Korea. It presents more that 1,400 performances and 100 exhibitions in the specialized spaces offering various events of the renowned national and international artists, musicians, and dancers to the audiences. In my opinion, the highlights of this February are: London Symphony Orchestra (Feb 28th), Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti (Feb 6, 7), Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky Series (Feb 20), Musei Vaticani Exhibit, American Impressionism (1870-1940) Exhibit, Van Gogh in Paris Exhibit. If you happen to be in Seoul this month, check the full schedule at www.sac.or.kr

Seoul Art Center can surely keep a tourist busy with 1 opera house, 2 art museums, 1 design museum and a music hall. Do not miss the exhibit “Van Gogh in Paris” which runs till March 24th, 2013.  The exhibit showcases the work of Van Gogh before his move to Paris. His time in Paris was the period of discovering new art and becoming a new artist. We can see his artistic talents and genius in art since he absorbed art of the time, and was able to developed his own style within such a short period of time. The time in Paris is the fruitful academic research that changed Van Gogh from a realist into a modernist. This exhibit is the result of 7-year academic research of experts in Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Difference between Wi-Fi in Korea and the US

Wi-Fi in the subway car

Wi-Fi in the subway car

I remember when I first bought my MacBook in New York about 5 years ago. I wanted to take it with me everywhere, and I did. I was hoping to search for special hidden places, Skype people overseas and show them the city in real time. In short, I thought I would stay connected. However, it is hard to stay connected when there is no free Wi-Fi connection. I remember the frustration of having to pay 5$ for accessing a hot spot. I even tried to go with the AT&T wireless connection for $70 per month. Since AT&T was involved, as you might imagine, nothing good came out of it. Companies keep developing more and more technology that requires a wireless connection, but free wireless hotspots are rather rare.

In South Korea, Wi-Fi is basically everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that Samsung had something to do with it. After all, a company that is specializing in selling smartphones should be interested in their customers actually using that technology. Of course, all phones come with a data plan here, just like in the US. But it is Wi-Fi that allows people to watch US shows (e.g. “House MD,” “Person of Interest”, etc.), news and play Internet games on their cellphones during their daily subway commute. An average South Korean family will have one smart phone per person. It would be financial suicide to sign up all 3-4 smart phones for the unlimited data plan. Yet, kids and parents alike keep using their phones as portable computers and TVs. How can they afford it?  Free Wi-Fi is available in a great number of places: public transportation (including the subway), public buildings, cafes, restaurants, and etc.

Wi-Fi on a subway

Wi-Fi on a subway

School Lunches in Korea

A heated debate was created when First Lady Michelle Obama took up an initiative of improving school lunches and steering the kids towards healthier diets. Working at various public schools in WI I observed firsthand what food is served at an elementary school cafeteria. I would name that food “an orange lunch.” Somehow the food would be orange in color – fried potato, pizza, hot dog, carrot, applesauce, etc. Some other colors could include green (for pees) and red (for pizza sauce).

This winter break I was running a winter English camp for elementary school children at a Canadian International School in Seoul. It is an expensive private foreign school with more than 90% of students being Korean natives. The school follows the curriculum of the British Columbia educational system. The lunches served for students were typically Korean. For two weeks I had a smile on my face trying to imagine what the American media would have said had this food been offered to American schoolchildren. Take a look at my photo gallery and judge for yourselves.

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Chasu – Korean Embroidery

IMG_20120701_162242Touring historical sights one cannot miss the lustrous colors of green, red, orange and pink. The colors are reflected in the architectural designs on palaces, decorations, and national clothes. Palace walls, furniture, pillows, blankets, flags, uniforms, accessories, traditional outfits, and much more are made with silky fabric, which is embroidered with shiny pictures of animals, flowers, trees, birds, and so on. The pattern of embroidery bears the distinct Asian character. One may easily recognize local mountaintops or patterns of cherry blossoms from the back yard.

 

Chest

Chest

Historically speaking, “it is believed that the Korean People used the embroidery quite early in its history. However, historical records only record usage in much later periods from Joseon Dynasty around 14th century.” Chasu, the Korean word for embroidery, was a method of cultivating beauty in every corner of daily life. The remaining examples of Korean embroidery are spectacular. While looking at the examples, one forgets that the pictures are made using threads with fish-bone needles, and not paint with brushes. Most of the folk museums, palaces, and cultural cites will have a few examples of embroidered items. Most famous ones are in the Korean Folk Museum and the Jeonju Provincial Museum.

detailed view of a chest

detailed view of a chest

Cabinets

Cabinets

Detailed view of a cabinet

Detailed view of a cabinet

Accessories

Accessories