The Way I’m Eating Fruit

For the last several weeks, I’ve been trimming down a bit in preparation for a martial arts tournament and promotion exam. One of the things I have started doing is making a tweak to the way I eat fruit for breakfast. I have typically had a small serving of fruit with some mint leaves for breakfast with my oatmeal omelet (as described in my book), but to that I’ve recently been adding/replacing some of it with slices of cucumbers, a drizzle of peanut butter and a sprinkle of chili flakes:

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A lot of people forget that cucumbers and tomatoes are actually fruit too but they tend to be treated as vegetables because they’re not as sweet as what is traditionally considered fruit. And the concept of putting on peanut butter is not that new or revolutionary considering the fact that it’s been eaten with slices of apples or celery as a classic snack here in the states. And the concept of sprinkling on chili flakes is not that weird too since fruits like mango are often dried and spiced up as well.

The combination of all of it is beneficial though:

  • The addition of chili flakes have the benefit of keeping insulin levels low following the meal (aka you’ll feel less hungry).
  • As mentioned, cucumbers have less sugar than the other fruit I’ve been having them with (ie. the photographed examples above from left to right are: mangoes, strawberries, and apples). So instead of completely eliminating these other fruits (which also have their own health benefits) I’m simply replacing some of it with cucumber slices.
  • Peanut butter adds some healthy fat and protein which will also help you feel fuller.
  • There is also a health benefit to my choice of consuming fruit with mint leaves in that mint leaves promotes digestion and also stimulates a digestive enzyme that helps absorb nutrients from food and converts fat into usable energy (as opposed to having it be stored in your body)

While I love having mint leaves with my fruit (to the point where I often think it ends up being more of a mint leaf salad with fruit in it), I’m also going to be looking into getting some basil leaves in the near future too since they have been coming back to the farmers market with the return of the warmer season.

As a form of size/quantity reference, one of the red mini ramekins I used in the photographs above contain approximately 1.5 large strawberries (or 2 small strawberries) chopped + 4 or 5 slices of cucumbers. So it’s really not a lot. And I do more or less the same amount of fruit + mint leaves combination for having with my non-fat Greek yogurt  (with a sprinkle of cinnamon, chia seeds, and nuts) at night as my last meal of the day.

So here’s to a colorful diet and everything in moderation,

-M

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

I did get to go watch the currently popular box office hit Beauty and the Beast this week. And I can see why it’s popular:

  • The film’s story line was richer than the original animated version Disney did, explaining details such as the reason behind why Belle didn’t have a living mother.
  • All the original songs were still sung, but there were additional new songs that got added in.
  • The costumes were true to the animated version and I personally liked the take they had on the white/blue dress Belle had in this one which seemed like it would fit in more with the setting.
  • Those who had been turned into household objects in the castle were gorgeous pieces. I thought the metamorphosis of the broom/duster from the animated film being a peacock bird duster in this one was an elegant choice.

It is one of those films that I feel like you can enjoy it whether you are a child or an adult. And you’ll most likely still like it regardless of whether you’ve seen the original animated version or not. So I personally recommend watching the film [if you haven’t yet]. I give it a letter grade A.

I decided to go with the spirit of the film and gifted my friend who went to go watch the film with me a single red rose as well! So just a fun little suggestion if you decide you don’t want to dress up like the characters or do anything too over-the-top.IMG_1579

Enjoy!

-M

 

Journaling with Self Kindness

I journal every night without fail before going to bed.

This past week I had a very emotional moment as I kept going back and forth in my journal entry that night between how I was really feeling vs how I thought I “should” be feeling. I think in the self-improvement/self-motivating culture that sort of mentality is common. You want to remain positive and grateful so you try to shut down your negative feelings and emotions.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore, driving myself insane, and Skyped with a very good friend in Germany. She then proceeded to make me a gift that I have since then printed out to paste on my journal cover:

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I want to be that kind of friend/person who is there for someone when they really need me, the one that makes you feel like you matter. So that is why I choose to be kind and thoughtful as much as possible —- Because one person can make the difference.

And as I refer to myself as my “twin bestie” in my book, my friend in Germany gifted this book cover to remind me to be kind to my twin bestie too.

-M

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I admit I have a celebrity crush on Trevor Noah. Not that I would hope to be one of those crazy screaming fans if I ever had the chance to meet him. But now that I have read his book it does make me appreciate him that much more beyond the charming sense of humor he evokes on the Daily Show. On the Daily Show he makes fun of Donald Trump but in the book he manages to bring humor amidst some very serious dire situations he’s encountered in his own upbringing. And a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously is a good thing.

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Click here to buy the book Born a Crime

There are people who are “street smart” and those who are “book smart.” It’s very evident that Trevor Noah acquired a lot of “street smart” intelligence with all the different ways he learned to make money from a young age (I do also respect someone who is resourceful like that).

At the same time, it was also very evident that his mother wanted to make sure he was educated to be “book smart” as well — And be very loyal to religion as she was. I personally am not religious so my take on Jesus would probably be a bit more similar to Trevor Noah’s but I certainly enjoyed the debates he had with his mother about God and loved how they were able to love each other regardless of their differences. I would also like to believe that regardless of what/who you believe in that there is something to be said about faith and the magic or miracles of life that sometimes seem to happen as it did in Trevor Noah’s mother’s life.

One of the things that fascinated me about this book was learning more about the history of South Africa. Most of us know of Nelson Mandela and the period of Apartheid ending on a superficial level. From reading the book, I learned that I too would have been classified under the same group as Trevor Noah in South Africa since the Japanese were classified as whites and the Chinese were classified as blacks. Never in my life have I ever thought of myself as half white and half black so that was quite the twist! Then again, I also would have never imagined the name Hitler being common anywhere in the world after World War II.

The chapter that had me laughing so hard it got me hooked on the book right away was chapter 3. Laughter is indeed good medicine and it felt so good to laugh like that. A great book and a delicious hot cup of tea is the perfect combination to curl up with on a rainy (or a non-rainy) day.

-M

St. Patrick Day ~Green Tea Chocolate Chip Cookies~

In honor of St. Patricks Day, I decided to play around with some matcha powder and put them in chocolate chip cookies. The aftermath:

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If you have a favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe, I would just simply add the matcha powder in there, though I would use all white sugar instead of brown sugar to keep the vibrancy of the green color.

Trader Joe’s did start selling match powder recently. I emptied 4 packs into my batter of a 1 egg recipe batch. At Trader Joe’s you do have the option of purchasing chocolate chunks instead of chips but the chips would work better for the same reason I mentioned with using white sugar (to have the green color of the batter stand out instead of having a whole bunch of micro-sized chocolate crumbs blending in).

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So to sum, here’s the gist of what I did:

~Ingredients~

  • About 1 1/2 c flour blend (coconut flour, almond flour, regular flour)
  • 8 oz blend of butter and cream cheese
  • About 3/4 c sugar
  • Drizzle of almond extract
  • About 1/2 bag of chocolate chips (6oz.)
  • About 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 packets  (approximately 6 grams) of match powder

Cream the butter/cream cheese mixture with the sugar, matcha powder and almond extract. Add in the egg and chocolate chips to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients. Refrigerate overnight before forming into balls and baking on a sheet for approximately 8~9 minutes in a preheated oven (350 degrees F).

Wishing you all a festive St. Patricks Day,

M

Seeing Dots

I decided to buy a new pair of brown pumps as they are considered essential in my wardrobe. And of course I decided to get a few other pieces that coincidentally seemed to all work together  (the red hair band and grey dress I was wearing underneath the coat were not part of the new purchase):

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Click here to buy the coat

Though I will not be keeping the coat (the buttons were placed in places that made it a bit tight for active movement) I am definitely not disappointed in the quality of the tights. When it comes to patterned tights I do prefer subtlety and the polka dots thankfully did not make me look like a purple dinosaur (although you may beg to differ). As you could tell from the full body shot, you can’t really tell until you take a look at a closer up photo:

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Click here to buy the shoes
Click here to buy the tights

And secretly, there are red polka dots on the inside lining of the pumps too 😉 It might be because I generally prefer to wear shoes that have rounded toes rather than pointed toes, but there is something about round buttons and dots that are timeless and classy when done right. If it starts raining again, this would be an adorable look to pair with an umbrella. But it has been sunny again here in northern California, so perhaps I’ll be alright with returning the coat after all.

La tee dot, dot, dot ….

-M

My Pre-Ocar Films List 2016-2017

Usually when the Oscar nominations are announced, the nominated films become available for viewing in bulk the weekend(s) prior to the award night. However, I am very sensitive when it comes to sensations such as fatigue of my eyes from film viewing for long periods of time or the motion sickness felt from motions of the camera (and often made worse from the smell of movie theater popcorn).

So I have never done the bulk viewing at such events. Therefore, this year I had resolved to make a list early on in the season in November of films I decided I was interesting in watching prior to the Oscars. Of course, the nominations were not announced back then so I did not know which films would get the nominations at the time I wrote the list. Behold “the list” (with respective release dates):

Hacksaw Ridge – November 4th

Nocturnal Animals – Nov 18th

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Nov 18th

Lion – Nov 25th

Jackie – Dec 2nd

La La Land – Dec 9th

Collateral Beauty – Dec. 16th

Hidden Figures – Jan 13th

Silence – Jan 2017

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(WARNING: Do not read the rest of this blog posting if you do not want any spoiler alerts. )

Like many Oscar-worthy films tend to be, the list is dominated by films that are based on rather serious subject matter. So I did also recently view the film Fifty Shades Darker to indulge on a guilty pleasure moment with a grilled cheese sandwich. And in regards to the Fifty Shades Darker, I did actually enjoy watching this one more than the first one (Fifty Shades of Grey).

Though I applaud Natalie Portman’s transformation into former First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy in Jackie, I was a bit disappointed in the context of the film as it was very much centered around the assassination of her husband which was nothing most of us haven’t heard of (I thought it might go more into her upbringing or other parts of her life).

Nocturnal Animals is the one film I had not been able to cross off my list. However, from watching Collateral Beauty I can see how the films would explore a similar realm in going into someone’s mind in how they see things after a heartbreaking moment. The concept of writing letters to things [in Collateral Beauty] I did find fascinating. And I did think that each “thing” was represented well by the chosen actors – You wouldn’t expect anything less from such an all-star cast.

Andrew Garfield played the main character/protagonist in both Silence and Hackshaw Ridge where he is trying to stand up for his beliefs and they both take place in Japan. But I personally liked Hackshaw Ridge better. It might also be because I’m a sucker for happy endings, but the story of Hackshaw Ridge was also about something I was not familiar with, whereas I had learned about the history of Christianity in Japan in Japanese school (Silence).

Likewise, a lot of people talked about how sad it was that the story of Hidden Figures had not come out until now. But the treatment of black people by NASA and the other characters in the film was something I had become more familiarized with when I binge watched the ABC show Astronaut Wives a few weeks prior to watching the film. Even then, I really did love this film. My girlfriends and I did a lot of cheering for the leading ladies while watching it.

I was also a bit surprised at the ending of La La Land as I thought it was also going to be a happy ending since it seemed like the film was going to be a musical with lots of happy songs (which they still did have a lot of). Prior to watching the film I had heard a few people tell me that they thought the film was overrated but I personally enjoyed the dancing and the artistic color scheme of having everyone wear vibrant solids.

Fantastic Beasts was an adorable film but it might be a bit too adult for a much younger audience as it does also showcase death, abuse, etc. Even if you have never seen a Harry Potter film you should not have any trouble appreciating/understanding the film storyline. I’ve liked a lot of films Eddie Redmayne has starred in and this one seems to also agree with the shy smile-type of personality that he plays well.

With Lion, I liked how you don’t find out what the meaning behind the title is until the very end of the film. I had that experience with the film Arrival back in December (which I also unexpectedly loved). Since Saroo gets lost when he’s only five years old, it did automatically make me think back to my five year old self and what I would be able to recall and piece together had that happened to me. It’s what films do — they make you feel and interpret.

So grab some tissues and get ready to do some crying (and laughing) at the movie theaters if you haven’t already. And to all the Oscar-nominated films — congratulations!

-M