Healthy cooking for busy moms – pasta with pesto

Wonder what to cook on a hot summer evening after working all day? Pasta is your go-to dish. Look at the nutritional value of pasta: a serving has 13 gr. of protein. A daily protein intake can be 10 gr. In short, one serving of pasta – and you can skip meat!

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Now, let’s add some blended basil, green onion and parsley, olive oil and lemon juice – and you got yourself a symphony of vitamins and minerals. (Tip: add water to make pesto less think. Salt to taste).

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Confessions of a Busy Mom

The truth is that sometimes you just order take out for a meal.

To balance out all my posts on healthy eating I want to write this confession saying that sometime you are just too sick or tired or both to cook anything. So, you go out or order in.

It is a rule, by which people try to live: “pay it forward,” and it applies brilliantly to a healthy diet. Meaning, there is no need to be a 100% vegan or vegetarian. The research shows that as long as you keep a ratio of 95%-to-5% (with the animal product of 5%), your diet is super-healthy. So, on my bad days I like to tap into my allotted 5% of unhealthy reserves.

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Europe

 

What worries me most is the frequency with which I experience respiratory-related problems that are directly caused by the low air quality here. Being a teacher, my throat is my weakest spot: if I get slight cold symptoms, I lose my voice easily. To prevent it from happening I run to a doctor who is happy to prescribe me 5-6 different pills. IMG_20140611_121615Taking that many meds often makes me feel uncomfortable. So, to strengthen my throat I have gone to some lengths, including taking voice lessons and completely changing the diet. In other words, I took control of any controllable factors. However, the result is negligible. I get sick almost monthly in Korea. However, it is not the case in any other parts of the world that I happen to be, which inevitably brings me to the only conclusion – air pollution.

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Asia

There are only a few places that monitor air quality

There are only a few places that monitor air quality in North America

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World data

People in the US are still debating if Global Warming is real. They have that luxury of fact-denial because so far they have never needed to wear masks outside. But this is the reality for the entire Asian continent. Of course, even in China there are those who think air pollution is a good thing because it “brings a nation together,” but being sick is a lonely and terrible business. Wearing a mask feels like a punishment in winter, and a torture in summer. IMG_20140417_114821Besides, I really wonder how effective a mask can be at keeping micro-sized dirty particles at bay… Soon enough the pollution will spread (no country has a glass dome over it), and a few places with clean air will become unaffordable for the majority. Still, if you choose to ignore the facts, data, real examples from around the world about the imminent danger of air pollution (aka Global Warming), on which side is it safer to err: (a) make some adjustments in daily habits to clean up air just in case or (b) leave the shit up in the air and hope for the best?

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.

Cherry Blossom 2014

It is official: our third spring is in its full bloom. Very few things surprise us here anymore. But the novelty and awe of cherry blossoms never fail. This is the best and most beautiful sight to behold. The only difference is that nowadays we are seeking places with very little crowds, which is a science-fictional state for Korea.

Blue and Pink

How did we end up with two teams: pink and blue, aka boys and girls? The history of this tradition is very short, because it didn’t take off until the 1940s. According to the Smithsonian magazine, “color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers.” However, this newly acquired tradition of buying children either pink or blue merchandise mandates much more than just dress codes in our society.

Experts say that children become aware of their gender between the ages of 3 and 4, with the full awareness hitting them by the age of 6 and 7. A quick look around a toy store in the developed world shows who sets the trends of gender conventions, who reinforces gender expectations, and how little choice parents have if they want to protect their children from being the subjects of sophisticated and pervasive gender messaging. Before our children learn their letters, numbers and shapes, they know that a female is someone with long hair, cute nail polish and a pink dress, while boys are the car experts, first responders, doers, and savers. Why do we parents allow marketing giants tell our children who they are and how they should act?

Take a look at the toy store choices in the slide show below. Follow the blue and pink color-coding scheme to see personal and professional expectations that toy manufacturers are setting for your children.

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Foliage 2013 at Seoraksan National Park

I never liked Fall: brown leaves, rain, and chilling wind – everything seems to be decaying and dying. Yet, Fall in Korea is a joyful breath of fresh air that lasts well into November. The best place to enjoy the foliage is somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of the city… However, you pay a price for the opportunity to see the dramatic beauty of Fall by having to share it with thousands of other pilgrims who also came to pay homage to Nature. And that is a very heavy price… These pictures were carefully cropped to cut out the multitudes of hikers so that nothing would distract you from the real un-doctored colors of the season.

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.

February 17th: Trip Update

Hope we will fit in the car...

Hope we will fit in the car…

Over the weekend we purchased almost all necessary items, as you can see from the pictures below. We spent 470,000W at VIC and Emart Traders. We are saving 100,000W for the transportation related costs on the day of travel. The remaining 140,000W will be spent this week, as we are yet to buy: 2 cakes, 70 oranges, and toilet tissues. Most likely we will purchase oranges and tissue online with the delivery at the orphanage address. There is a serious concern that we will not have space in the car to transport all the items. So, delivery of some items may be the right way to go.

Thank you everyone who contributed to purchase the items.

Stay tuned for more updates on the trip.

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