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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good byes are hard!


(Emily center)
Why is it that almost all my girlfriends eventually leave Japan? Ironically, its always through My Gym (work) that I meet these awesome awesome ladies, but they eventually realize they want something a little more that Japan doesn't offer.
First it was dear Hana and to this day I still miss her terribly and now its Emily!
Emily is another Hapa sister...wait let me rephrase that....Emily is another BEAUTIFUL hapa sister who immediately was so lovable. She joined me for yoga classes, let me practiced my (yoga) teaching on her and showed me her beautiful back bends!
Her gymnastic background brought a whole new atmosphere at My Gym and we all learned how to teach children gymnastic through more innovative methods.
We had serious but touching talks over coffee, going over everything ugly and beautiful in life.
What I love about Emily is her passion for certain things. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. She doesn't take any shit from anyone, but is always diplomatic in her presentation. I love how she knows her food and is a little snobby about her wine, cheese and ham. Her taste is impeccable down to her clothing and accessories. When you talk to her, you know she's listening and thinking about what you said. She always responds in a polite and honest way...I sometimes wish I could be as graceful when speaking.
Shes a free spirit who loves to travel and is taking full advantage of it. One year in Japan and now off to Hong Kong! You're going to do great girl. I admire your courage to pack everything up and start from square one again and again.
We will meet again or at least stay in touch. Thank you for being a wonderful friend.

(Emily far right)
I can't wait to tell you how France was and I'll keep all your advice in mind.
That being said, I must pack for tomorrow. WOO HOO FRANCE HERE WE COME!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Raw pasta and cookies.

I am SO happy I now have a food processor! I have a blender and sometimes use it to make soups and dips, but mainly smoothies. Its was always a little challenging making thicker paste things. A blender is deep with short blades, so more useful for a liquid substance.
Now I can do a lot more things with a food processor!
I knew exactly what I was going to make the first time I used the food processor...Zucchini Pasta Marinara. The key thing was that it as going to be 100% raw, vegan and gluten free.

Instead of wheat pasta - raw zucchini! With a peeler, I peeled the zucchini into long strips to resemble regular pasta. So much easier and faster then boiling water and cooking pasta!

For the Marinara sauce I used:
Sun-dried tomatoes(soaked in water for 30min), regular tomatoes, red-bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, dried basil and oregano and a dash of salt.
Threw it all in the food processor. Processed for just a few seconds.


And WALA! A beautiful and tasty Marinara sauce.


Spooned some over my shredded zucchini and now to eat!


OMG! Best pasta ever! I was really blown away by how tasty the sauce is and since this was my first time to have zucchini raw like this I was quite impressed with that as well. The texture was just right and since zucchini is a little bit bland (just like regular pasta) the flavorful sauce made everything come together perfectly! The sauce alone is really the best tomato sauce and I'm really looking forward to Motozo trying this since he loves pasta.

The meal didn't stop there! Earlier in the afternoon I made raw cookies using only 3 ingredients. Sesame, maple syrup and shredded coconut.
I saw this recipe on youtube and thought, "How easy!"

First, in my mill, I ground up the sesame seeds into a flour texture.


Added the maple syrup. This is where I screwed up the recipe. It actually called for 2 teaspoons of honey, but since I don't eat honey (not vegan) I decided to use maple syrup. I accidentally misread tsp as tbsp. So I put in 2 tablespoons of the syrup. OOPS! You can see that I do a lot of cooking yeah? haha
They turned out a little wet, but still fine.


Divided the mixture into 4s. I love how this recipe is only for 4 small cookies. Makes it easier to prevent over eating.
Rolled them each in shredded coconut and left them in the freezer for a good 2 hours. They hardened real nicely, but didn't freeze and turned out lovely! Maybe a little on the sweet side, so I'll diffidently have to make these again with the right measurements!


This turned out to be a very successful raw meal and I'm so excited about trying out more raw recipes.
Lilia, you mentioned that Maxim got into raw for a little bit. Any good recipes to share?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Amelie!

Yay, I have another niece! Born August 17th 2010 at 1:43AM.
Isn't she gorgeous! Shamelessly stole this from Lils blog.


Lilia is the first FEMALE among us siblings to become a parent! . I got very emotional when Nina called to tell me the details of Amelie's birth. It suddenly was so overwhelming and wonderful! Its hard to describe, but while Nina and I were talking over the phone I started remembering how Lilia and I were years and years ago. It really does still feel like yesterday though, Lilia being the popular beautiful girl, Lilia always being the caring older sister who always seemed to have energy and a smile on her face.
I remember even talking about what we thought about giving birth. Most of it being on the lines of...."Imagine this thing coming out of there. Thats got to hurt like ----!" or "I don't think I'd want my husband to be there during the delivery. All that blood is kind of a turn off I'd think!" hahaha.
And now, here Lilia is.... a mother! I still haven't been able to talk to her on skype, and I'm absolutely dying to see her carrying Amelie! I really don't know why, but its so amazing that my sister is a mother now!

I've yet to meet you in person Amelie. But I love you dearly! Damn, I'm getting all emotional again just typing this. I don't know whats wrong with me. Amelie, you've made me into mush!

Maxim and Lilia, huge congratulations! I wish I could hug you guys and be there in person to hear how the delivery went. I'm sure Grandma Tania is over the moon as well!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another green smoothy

The desire for a green smoothie hit this morning. I usually really enjoy an apple and banana for the crunch factor, but today I don't feel like chewing just yet.
I whipped up this smoothie real quick and it was so satisfying and delicious! YAY for fresh raw foods!
Recently, I've actually started feeling a little guilty over my cup of coffee in the morning and recently another one in the noon....and even today after having such a healthy drink I still wanted my coffee and fought with myself for a few minutes before caving in and allowing myself a cup.
I know studies show that coffee has health properties, so coffee in moderation is really alright. But this Raw Diet thing that I've been studying about is starting to get to me.....I'm not sure I can give up coffee just yet (I LOVE coffee!), but we'll see....

Anyway, to the glorious smoothie. I blended:
1 frozen banana
1 peeled kiwi
2 large hand fulls of fresh spinach
1 teaspoon of hempseed
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
approx 1/2 cup of water to help blend everything(it turned out pretty thick)

I took photos of the breakdown process of banana and kiwi etc but the photos didn't turn out so well :(
So, starting from the blended fruits and vegetables and showing here the hemp and chia seeds.


The end result. Look how green!


I'm considering getting myself a proper camera so I can shoot better photos. Recommendations please!

I heard last night that Lilia is in contraction mode.....I've been keeping my phone near by in-case I get a call about her going into labor or delivering the baby. So far...silence! The suspense is killing me! I can't wait for my 2nd niece to arrive....tanoshimi!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Updates from here and there.

Nothing too special happened on my end. Busy working every day and planning our trip to France. Moto and I spent almost the entire Sunday researching and booking hotels, wine tours, etc. We're in the crunch stage as we leave next week Thursday and we still have a few loose ends. Wine tours are particularly hard to book online. It seems we may have to pick up a guidebook when we arrive in France and make some calls there for the wine tours since we haven't been able to do so well from this side of the world :(
Planning a 2 week trip that has us traveling and changing hotels almost every night has been quite an ordeal and I was the most crankiest yesterday then I've ever been!
But we both are really looking forward to the trip as we haven't been on an overseas holiday together since our honeymoon in December. Of course, the trip to NY and Toronto last month was a holiday for me, but Motozo was working so were looking forward to traveling together again.

Last weekend when I visited family in Sagamihara, Dad gave me a grand tour of his beautiful and well kept garden! He has chili peppers, cucumbers, LOTS of tomatoes and blueberries, shisho leaves, mint, and rosemary. We ate tomatoes and blueberries freshly picked and they were delicious!

video

mmm.....yum yum!




Dad pulled up some mint for me to plant at home.
Mr Mint, was planted at home with lots of love! Please don't die on me plant! I don't have much of a green thumb, but both dad and Nina assure me that mint grows like a weed and doesn't need much maintenance. I do hope so, as I haven't been very successful in keeping my blueberry plant alive.

















At work I've been teaching kid yoga twice a week. We've been doing lots of partner yoga which they love, but their favorite time is savasana (Corpse Pose). Look how content they are to lay down. Today we did savasana for 5mins! So proud of them!
It helps that we do yoga at the end of a 4 hour program (involving arts/crafts, story, gym or park, lunch etc) so by that time they are tired and willingly lay down.


This is my last week of teaching Summer School at the gym so I'm trying to enjoy it as much as possible. These 3 kids are delightful though and I will miss them!

I'm looking forward to Wed because my food processor will arrive! I can't wait to use it and make lots of yummy things! I've been getting into theRaw Food Diet and a key appliances to making delicious raw food is a food processor. I hope to make something good enough to post here. Until then.......

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I love my little niece, Kanon!

LOTS of photos! Sorry, the photos turn out to be quite a mess in the end!


I went down to Sagamihara last Sunday to visit Jesse/Rumi and their new born baby, Kanon!
First thought that came to mind was "She's so pretty for a new born baby!" haha. Its ok for me to think this because even Mom mentioned that for a new born she looked exceptionally good!
I spent the next couple of hours ooing and ahing over her and hearing in detail of how the delivery went. I am so impressed with how healthy and genki Rumi looked! She's a strong and amazing women! The poor thing was at the hospital for almost all night by herself when a nurse told everyone but Rumi to go home because Rumi didn't look like she'd go into labor in the next few hours. Ironically, as soon as everyone left the hospital her contractions got stronger and she spent the hours rubbing her own back. Thankfully, her mother showed up at 8AM and took care of her until Jesse and the rest of the gang showed up. The delivery itself went by pretty fast, but painful (no kidding!) she said.
Proud father Jesse also expressed how tired he was and didn't seem like he got enough sleep when he went back home. But he was there for the delivery and he had such a lovely expression on his face when he told me how it was when Kanon was born, down to how she cried and all. So sweet! He's always concerned about her. At one point, I was carrying her and she started crying (she was hungry, I didn't do anything to make her cry, I swear!) he'd immediately wanted to hold her to comfort her. And look how happy she is in his arms! Kanon is one hungry hungry baby, she apparently drinks Rumi dry and is still so hungry they have to feed her baby formula. She drank this bottle in just a couple of minutes. She's a fast eater!


Everyone is so into her, she gets SO much attention! Even if she's wide a wake, she seems quite content to just lie in her own bed and doesn't need to be carried around unless she's hungry. But we all couldn't help but carry her anyway.



She's especially content with Nana and Jiji. She started getting a little fussy, no doubt from the excessive attention, when the poor dear just wanted to sleep and she found being cradled under dad's chin most comforting. Look, she's comfortable enough to sleep with her mouth wide open! haha


Of course, I had to take lots of photos of her long feet and hands. Kanon might be a tall one. Both Rumi and Jesse are on the slightly taller side for Japanese/half Japanese....we'll have to see how Kanon turns out. It'll be so interesting!




Check out her chicken legs below haha. We only tease you Kanon, because we adore you!


For the occasion I baked a vegan very chocolate cake at home and brought it with me. It turned out well and I wish I had a larger cake tin! Cutting, what to me is a regular size cake, into 16 pieces suddenly turns into a too small of a cake.
I wasn't doing such a good job photographing the cake to show its yummiest, so Nina helped me out by grabbing a few mint leaves from the back yard and what a difference a small green garnish can do!














MMMMMM....Chocolate cake!

video

And I'll end this post with a short video of Kanon.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Using Juicer and Blender = lots of dishes, but satisfying meal!

Sorry for the double food post. I'm getting into taking photos of my food and talking about it hehe :)

Today I didn't really feel like having my usual fruits for breakfast. Actually, I didn't even want to have my coffee (and its 5pm now and I still haven't had coffee today! WOW!)
This heat is getting to me I think. I hate how hot it's been and it seriously feels like the hottest Summer ever in Tokyo! I've started getting up at 5AM now to get a run in before it gets too hot, but even at 5 in the morning I'll be sweating after just 5 minutes. The state of my clothes when I finish my run is quite disturbing. I must make a beeline to the shower or else I'll drip sweat everywhere. Sorry, that image is not the best, but my point is that its been HOT here and this morning my appetite was affected because of it. I didn't feel like eating, but I knew I needed to after running.
I have a fridge full of fresh vegetables so I decided to make a green juice.
This lovely juicer was given as a wedding gift by parents and I love it! The only thing is that it takes time to wash so I use it maybe once a month, but I'm going to try using it more this Summer.

Juicing is a great way to get in lots of veggies and/or fruits easily. Juice is also easier to digest so its a great way to get nutrition into the system.
For the longest time I've thought about going on a juice diet to detox, but at home there's just too much temptation to eat other tings so a juice fast from home doesn't seem likely at the moment. One day I'll have to go to a spa to do a juice fast.

Anyway, for the juice I used lots of organic lettuce leaves(not sure what type they are), spinach and a green apple to add sweetness to the juice. I also wanted to add lemon, but the last one I had sadly was also going bad so I had to do without it.

Plopped them into the juicer and out came this beautiful green colored juice.
I originally was just going to drink it like that, but decided I wanted to add more stuff to my juice.
Out came the blender and hemp protein. On the side it shows the residue from the vegetables and apple. I usually save the "garbage" and use it somehow since it's still editable.


Added one scoop of hemp protein.


One teaspoon of ground flaxseed.


Blended blended!


And tada! Perfect breakfast! Delicious, light and lasted me until lunch time.


Had a lot of dishes to wash, but it was really worth it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Failed Zucchini sauce - zannen!

I want to start trying out new recipes. Whenever I/we cook we seem to stick to almost the same things each time. Tofu/bean/veggie stir fries and/or cold salads with rice or some sort of grain. Now that its Summer I like having real simple meals, mainly raw veggies and I've cut my consumption of tofu down. I used to always add it to veggies as my source of protein, but recently I've become a bit turned off by the bad rep tofu is getting. A lot of the soy that we eat is genetically modified and contains a high amount of pesticides. Here's an article that explains better then I could why soy may not be all that healthy for us. Is Soy Healthy
I still buy organic soy milk and enjoy edamame, but I don't consider it as my staple of protein any more.
Anyway, I'm veering off topic of my original post so, back to that.

I want to try a new recipe or some sort each week (we'll see if that's possible) to change up our current dinners at home. And perhaps along the way I'm hoping my cooking will also improve.
Motozo and my eating style is quite different. I like a lot of my meals to be raw, give me a cold salad and I'm happy. But Motozo likes his food warm, cooked and flavorful. Not that I don't like cooked foods, but more so in Winter.
So tonight I tried a dinner to please us both.
I made a raw vegan sauce to go over quinoa and cooked vegetables. It basically was a zucchini sauce over zucchini. In theory it looked real good and easy. I found the sauce recipe online and magically had all the ingredients already on hand. I was even able to use the coconut milk that I bought a while back on a spur of the moment and never knew what to do with it.

When trying out a new recipe I usually stick to the exact measured ingredients. Even though I know fully well that my stomach and taste buds dislike raw garlic (cooked is ok) I used the 2 cloves that the recipe called for. That was a BIG mistake! I should have used 1 clove, tasted it and adjusted the taste from there. Anyway, the sauce came out WAY too garlicky for my liking, so I had to adjust the taste with balsamic vinegar, more coconut milk and more raw zucchini. I was able to make the taste eatable for my standards. But could not taste the zucchini at all! Thus the small amount of sauce over the red quinoa and vegetables.


Luckily, Motozo didn't find it too garlicky and seemed to have enjoyed it more then I. I enjoyed the dessert peaches and a couple glasses of Sparkling Wine.

We toasted to Rumi and Jesse's first born child Kanon, then we toasted to ourselves (hell, why not!), then to Lilia and Maxim's soon to be born child.

So the dinner wasn't a complete failure. It was healthy and unintentionally almost fat free (which turns out to be good for me to help counter balance all the nuts I snack on throughout the day - too much!)
Ok, my stomach has not felt well since and I don't think I want to eat any garlic for the next couple of days, but I'm interested in making this sauce again because in theory it sounds like it should taste good. I now know that I need to adjust the amount of garlic from the start.
But before that I need to figure out how I can use up the heap of leftover garlic sauce...maybe I'll make it into a soup and add carrots or something.
Anyway, it was fun to use my blender to make the sauce and I think I'm going to try using my blender and juicer more this summer.....mmmm, I'm thinking banana ice-cream now. Time to pop a few bananas in the freezer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to the world Kanon-chan!


I've become an Aunt again! This time to a little girl named Kanon.
Kanon surprised us all when she decided to come exactly on her due date! No one thought it would be on time (when is the baby ever on time eh!?), but she obviously had her own little plan and wasn't going to deter from the original schedule.
I've yet to see her in person or even a photo of her (I will post one as soon as I get one sent to me), but when Rumi and baby get discharged from the hospital on Sat I plan to make a trip to see them on Sun and I'll take lots of photos then!
I can't wait to meet her!

I hear Mom and Child are doing very well, of course tired, but healthy. Daddy Jesse is also exhausted as he was up from 1AM then took Rumi to the hospital around 3AM and Kanon arrived around noon today. Otsukaresama everyone!

Happy Birthday Kanon!