Back in the States, when I wanted a healthy meal, I just dug up a recipe for quinoa and kale, maybe with a slab of tempeh. With the language barrier and the array of foreign (to me) foods, it’s all so much more complicated here, or it can be if you don’t do a little homework. I was inspired by this post to start a Pinterest board of recipes for healthy ingredients that are easy to find here. I’ve actually put more than a couple of hours of work into it, and I’ve been cooking the recipes I’ve found. It’s about three weeks now that I’ve been eating mostly very healthy (with the occasional poor decision when I am short on time or…drunk…).
Here’s what I’ve been eating and drinking. I’m just gonna assume you don’t need more pictures of my groceries to know what’s up.
- Overnight oats with two tablespoons of flaxseed: lots of fiber and good bacteria and whatnot. I started off with 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 a cup of yogurt, but I realized it was too much food (I hardly ever realize that…). I went down to 1/3 cup, then 1/4 cup, and now I’m lazy and usually just toss some muesli in with my bit yogurt and add my 2 tablespoons of flax. Same same, but different.
- Mixed-grain rice: lots of fiber and stuff; better than white rice
- Seaweed: lots of iodine and stuff
- Kimchi: lots of good bacteria and makes everything taste better
- Miso soup: Contains magical, healthy salt; very filling when it’s too late for me to make a full meal. I make it with bonito broth granules, and I add seaweed, green onions, maybe some tofu, oftentimes some kimchi.
- Matcha: I’ve been in a much better mood since I started working out and eating really healthy and I’m sure it’s all connected, but I really think the biggest mood booster for me has been switching from a morning cup of coffee (which was often a quickie HFCS-sweetened latte at the convenience store) to matcha, sweetened with black sugar and some soy milk. I was totally sold on all the health benefits of matcha, and I’ve suspected for a while that the caffeine and sugar from my daily coffee routine was the source of some of my irritability.
- Black sugar: So this is a kind of less processed (I think?) sugar that all my Taiwanese female friends claim is “very good for women.” A lot of my friends eat it (literally nibble on ice-cube-sized cubes of it) when they have their periods. I haven’t found a ton of information about it in English, except for the link back there, so I am still uncertain about it. But obviously different countries and cultures have different ideas about health foods, and black sugar is probably better than refined white sugar and not worse, so I’ve been putting it in my matcha and sometimes in my morning oats.
- Goji berries: possibly a superfood; at least pretty good for you. I eat them by the handful, though you could use them to make a tea or soup. Sometimes after I rinse and soak them, I put them in my morning yogurt concoction. Keeps things colorful.
- Blackstrap molasses: lots of crazy vitamins and minerals; I make a drink with this and some all-natural apple cider vinegar. I found it once at Wellcome and then never again, so I’ve been buying it online at PCHome.
- Apple cider vinegar: cleansing.as.fuck.
- Mung beans: so much fiber, some protein; I make a big pot of mung bean dahl (ish) almost every week and eat it for lunch and dinner all the time. I add whatever vegetables are about to go bad (esp. root vegetables and tomatoes), then onions, ginger, garlic; curry powder, turmeric and cumin; and at the end, drizzle it with some butter or olive oil, lemon juice, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Make it rain! It’s different every time I make it and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Love it with Sriracha, too.
- Black adzuki beans: I’m still figuring these out, but I’ve made some salsas/salads that are nice. I think I need to start soaking them before cooking them, which isn’t necessary for mung beans.
- Kohlrabi: Super good for you, really low in carbs; I can eat an entire kohlrabi, cut up, seasoned and roasted like baked french fries.
- 4-6 liters of water: just to keep everything running smoothly, keep me from feeling hungry when I’m really just thirsty. BTW, 4 liters is more than a gallon. Sweet!
- Fresh fruit, especially guavas: guavas are just ridiculously good for you. We have no idea about them in the US.
- Tofu: I really don’t like to buy, cook, or eat meat much anymore (I still manage chicken wings and street-food skewers, somehow, because I lack moral fortitude), so I throw a lot of tofu into dishes just for good measure. Tofu steak, tofu pizza, tofu scramble
- Hard-boiled eggs: Haven’t completely sworn off animals products, so I’m still doing yogurt and hard-boiled eggs. I sometimes have one with a big pile of greens just to top it off and make sure I’m full, make sure I am getting a good meal. I fucking love a hard-boiled egg with ketchup and furikake. It’s not natural how much I enjoy such a simple snack. And cheap!
- Sweet potatoes: So convenient, so filling, so good for you. You can find roasted sweet potatoes at Family Mart convenience stores here, leaving me with no excuse for not having a super healthy meal even when I don’t have time to cook at home.
- Cauliflower: Super good for you, kind of trendy right now with the cauliflower steaks and cauliflower pizza crust. I love it roasted, love it in this salad (which I have to make with a grater instead of a food processor here.)
- Chinese kale/jie lan: Good for you and just so tasty. I can eat a whole plate of it myself. Add a little butter, a little black bean soy sauce, some lemon juice
- Peanut butter: Meh, a conventional favorite. Am having trouble finding all-natural peanut butter here, especially made without any sugar, so I am investigating the possibility of switching over to a black-sesame butter. But then I might start eating toast, and it’s all downhill from there. But a spoonful of peanut butter is so satisfying right after work when I am about to start eating anything I can get my hands on. I eat my peanut butter out of the jar, then make dinner like an adult.
- Soba noodles/buckwheat noodles: An imperfect solution to the problem of not wanting a terrible carb or starch with my meal. Soba noodles are better for you than white-flour noodles or white bread, so if we want to make a soup for lunch, we can have soba noodles instead. I’ve recently found buckwheat groats for sale at the local grocery store, and I thought I might try those instead of rice some time.
- Yonanas: We just got a Yonanas machine to make frozen-banana “ice cream”. You’d definitely have to like the flavor of bananas for this to be a possibility, but then you can add peanut butter, chocolate, other fruits, etc to mix it up. Obviously, this isn’t super healthy, but it’s better than ice cream, it’s vegan, and gosh darn it, I like it.
So far, I’ve been in a much better mood! I’ve also been sleeping better and waking up more easily. I’ve learned that eating sugary foods early in the day will make me crave sugar all day, and that being sleepy will be make ravenous after dinner–best just to go to bed! Anyway, I’ve lost a few pounds, a couple of kilos, and I am feeling better. I’m glad I did all this research so I don’t end up making bad choices out of ignorance or laziness. Instead, I make bad choices because I am stubborn, or possibly drunk. Anyway, if I’m full up of healthy food, it’s harder to make bad choices.