Posts in Nomz
Further revelations about the food that I like to shove into my face-hole

Okay. Remember the Sometimes Sweet Clean-Eating Challenge?? So I did it. (Kind of). I did a WEEK (six days minus three hours) of sugar free! And it was both more torturous and less awful than I had expected it to be.

 

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Here’s what I did. No white sugar. No added sugar at all, in fact. No potatoes. No white rice. No white bread. Fruit got a pass. So did milk products. And wine. Obvs. 

 

Here’s where I cheated: Nomming jam on day one, breakfast one. A little potato action on day five. Because Mr. Chef cooked dinner. And I didn’t want to be rude. And I didn't always make hippie fairy dust bread. Because my kid decided that it was disgusting. So. Well. Whatever. We're working on the recipe. 

 

 

While I needed a little bit of time to say good-bye to my raspberry jam on Monday morning, after that, things were pretty easy in the cravings department. I had an open bar of 70 % chocolate sitting on my shelf in plain view the whole week, and I totally didn’t even eat any. Or really feel like eating any. I was just like, whatever, chocolate. Live and let live. No bigs. 

 

I was only drawn into the vortex of sweet craving when I was having an exceptionally bad day, and okay, I cheated a bit by eating chips, because it was that or jump through the phone and strangle Mr. Chef because he was home late, through no fault of his own and so crunch crunch crunch nom. But that’s potatoes are not sugar, so it doesn’t count. Kind of. Whatever. This is my blog so I can fool myself as much as I’d like. Cognitive dissonance and I are besties.

 

Anyway, bottom line, the cravings weren't so bad. And when I pined for sweetness, after a meal, a cup of something hot would typically fix me right up.

 

What was terrible was the sugar withdrawal. You guys. Face punching is more pleasurable. And I eat a pretty healthy diet, generally; very little of what I consume is processed; I never buy cookies, or candy or much of anything fun. It’s all yoghurt and veggies and fruit and okay, lots of 70% Lindt. So I thought I’d get a pass on the ol’ sug withdrawal. 

 

Nope.

 

Sore throat. Lethargy. Bedtime by, like, 8. A feeling at 4 PM on day three like I was either coming down with bird flu or dying. 

 

That alone was enough to convince me that my sugar habit, as slight as it is, needs a boot right out my front door.

 

But not before I shoved my face full of cake today. And had a very LARGE sip of a milk shake. And three fries. And a mini bundt cake. Okay, two (but one was a broken one and was missing a piece and a bit crumbly so it had way fewer calories, you know?!?!?!) Whatever. It was my husband's birthday.

 

So, I’m not going to go all ninja on sugar or anything. It's kind of unavoidable in Asia. But I’m continuing to be no white sugar at home. No added sweeteners till mid-Month. Then a two-week reprieve while I do some gallivanting, before returning to my regimen when I'm back at home. I’ll gradually add in agave and maple syrup and other hippie fairy tinctures. Because, come on. One has to live a little. 

 

So, that’s what’s going on in my tummy. Riveting. Right? Thought so.

 

The end. 

 

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Public Boobies (I hate them)

I’m going to say something a little controversial here: I hate breastfeeding in public. There, I said it. But let me back up a bit. I hate public nursing as a thing I have to do. I fully support other people and their public boobies.

I love breastfeeding in general. It is natural, and healthy, and bla bla benefits for the baby bla. Stella is 14months old, and still nursing like a champ. But I really love breastfeeding because IT ISFREEEEEEEEEEE! And I’m loath to spend money on something (i.e. formula) when there is a better, cheaper (freer) option. Second reason I love breastfeeding: it is the lazyman’s way. Wash bottles and mix formula? Punch me in the throat because I’d like that better. Third reason I like breastfeeding: I eat like a hungry trucker man, and still don’t gain weight. And now that I’m back in Japan where snack options are few and less delicious (oh, falafel chips...*sigh*), I’m actually having trouble maintaining my weight. You can hate me. It is okay.

But still. I hate breastfeeding in public. Not because I think that it is gross, or sexual or anything weird. I mean, since having a child, my shame-o-meter is pretty much set to zero. It is just that stories like this have me convinced that when I do nurse my baby in public everyone is looking at me, and thinking boobies, gross. 

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Wut. That's the best I got. 'Memeber how I don't like doing it in public?

The fact that I live in Japan (which is admittedly pretty breastfeeding friendly), and am a tall white woman who already attracts enough negative bumbling foreigner attention, compounds the anxiety (as in, what is normal practice re. boobies in Japan? Will I be that weird foreigner if I nurse here? OMG, crying baby....what do I dooooooo?) Still, I nurse in public. Because what else could I do? I like to leave my house. My daughter wants to nurse ALL THE TIME, so. I nurse in public. Let me count the ways:

 

  • On the airplane (it’s pretty much boob in mouth about 70 percent of the seated time)
  • In the car while moving with the baby still strapped safely in her car seat. (I am also a contortionist, in case you didn’t know)
  • On a train
  • In a boat. While driving. In torrential rain
  • In many a restaurant, where I may or may not have dropped ramen on my girl’s head
  • In the middle of my german lesson, about a million times
  • Walking down the street, baby in mei tai
  • In the park with a seven-day-old baby (this particular nursing session was interrupted by two Japanese grandmothers who walked right over to me, lifted my nursing cover so that they could more easily admire the cuteness that is a foreign baby. That was not awkward AT ALL)

So, yes, I hate nursing in public. But I do it any way. Because the benefits outweigh my anxiety. And, truth be told, the worst thing that has ever happened re. feeding in public has been an awkward “avert eyes...boobies...omg..don’t look!) More often people smile kindly. And I’m glad of that, for it means that acceptance of public boobies is the norm and public-nursing-phobic a-holes are the exception.  

***

 

 

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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

 

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About My Child's Eating Habits

Brace yourselves for the most boring "Moooooooommyyyyyyy Blog" post of all time. But with life so idyllic up here in Northern Ontario, I don't have much to complain about and therefore the creative juices are not flowing very fast. I could brag about the sun, and the lake, and the loons, and the wakeboarding, and the baby swimming, and the saunas, and the familyfuntimes, but I'm doing that enough as it is on Twitter. So, I'll spare you the tedium. 

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Sharing a kiwi on the deck with her new BFF / human jungle gym.

Until Stella was about 11 months old, she had no interest in food. I, crunchy granola type-A perfectionist mother that I am, had grand ambitions for baby-led weaning, but she was / is a real gag n' barf champion, so it wasn't right for us. She needed purees.

So I was spooning gourmet home-made purees into her very unreceptive firmly clamped shut mouth (shut, that is, unless she was gagging and barfing up my glorious concoctions). I was certain that in addition to failing at baby sleep, I was also failing brilliantly at baby feeding. I was happy if Stella would eat one teaspoon of food. A miracle would be a tablespoon. Throughout the course of a whole day. Even at 11 months old.

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Requsit naked baby spagetti face shot. I iz creative. 

And then one day my mum, against my omg-I-must-do-everything-exactly-by-the-baby-book rules, gave Stella some very garlicky and lightly salted guacamole. And Stella ate that shit up.

Since then, Stella eats for the following things with reckless abandon: 

  • Home-made (super garilcky) hummus 
  • Chickpea soup (with mad amounts of garlic) 
  • Curried lentils (and a spicy curry at that)
  • Green curry chicken
  • Baingan Bharta (curried eggplant)
  • Goats Cheese
  • Braised lamb shank and swiss chard
  • Dark chocolate (Wut. She's Swiss. Of course I feed her chocolate*)

It is totally weird. I do not understand her eating habits. Except that perhaps, maybe, she should have been born in India. But I am totally sure that her eating adventurousness is directly related to my mumsicle awesomeness. My parenting is absolutely responsible for her taste buds.

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Stella's two new BFFs. There's the geriatric fat white rocket on the left. And ol' deaf n' arthritic on the right. Although deaf n' arthritic is still swift enough to snatch up a slice of toast out of a hand that drooped just a bit too low. And yes, that is a Saveur magazine on the floor, because I want you all to know just how casually awesome and gourmet we are. 

And, one final point: a baby with garlic breath is just so unnatural. 

*Okay, okay, whatever, judgy moms. I gave her a piece smaller than a pea. Twice. But now she has chocolate radar, and screams eeeEEEEEEEEhhhhhhh! the moment she sees me eating some. 

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Free Dairy! Dairy Free Ice Cream!

Pregnancy and childbearing take a toll on a woman's body. This we all know. Giving life means getting repaid in extra pounds, stretch marks, and mom boobs. But of the many gifts my girl has given me, a superbad case of lactose intolerance has got to be the worst. I mean I'm married to a chef!  A Swiss Chef! Cheese! Fondue! Raclette! Chocolate! Oh my gawd, the PAIN!!!!

Soon after Stella was born, maybe six or eight weeks in, we clued in to the fact that she had a dairy allergy. So, as a breastfeeding mother, I diligently gave up milk, youghurt, cheese, and much to my dismay, ice cream. (I also gave up soy. And nuts. And a million things. This is apropos of nothing, I'm just telling you so you'll know how devoted I am to my baby, and be all like, wow, she's really an awesome mum.) We soon discovered that Stella was super sensitive to any trace amounts of dairy at all, which meant giving up most processed and / or convenience foods. So, for about eight months, I had no exposure to dairy proteins whatsoever. 

Then a couple of months ago, in a fit of cheesy yearning, I ate a small sliver of cheese, and within forty-five minutes was in the throes of one of THE MOST barfy nights of my life. And thus, I now face the prospect of being forever dairy-free. Oh god. 

Anyway, like I was saying, ice cream was like the most painful dairy product to part with. But, MR. CHEF TO THE RESCUE! He ordered a little ice cream maker from Amazon. Nothing elaborate. Just a little something like this. And now dairy-free ice cream is MIIIIIIIIINNNNNNE!

Here's how we do it:

Improvisational Diary-Free Coconut Ice Cream For Nursing Mothers and And Anyone Who Loves Ice Cream But Can't Eat Fun Stuff. 

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • chopped fruit - about 1.5 cups, maybe more maybe less
  • a few squeezes of honey to taste
  • Some additional flavourings (i.e. cardamom, cinnamon, or perhaps vanilla)

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, heat until fruit is soft. Blend with a immersion blender until concoction is the consistency of a smoothie.

Pour everything into the ice cream maker that was chillin in the freezer. Then, and this we learned the hard way, start cranking immediately. It's done when it looks done. After 5 or 10 minutes. 

I'm partial to coconut milk + a little rice milk + mangoes + cardamom.

Also delicious is coconut milk + cocoa powder (2 or 3 tablespoons) + shredded coconut.

Some other ideas:

  • Coconut milk + banana + 70 % chocolate pieces.
  • Coconut milk + strawberries.
  • Coconut milk + toasted coconut + rum.
  • Coconut milk + pineapple.
  • Coconut milk + lychee.
  • Coconut milk + vanilla bean + caramelized banana.

 

I think you get the idea: coconut + tropical fruit = delicious.

 

Oh, and I TOTALLY thought of all of these ideas by myself, I did NOT consult a professional chef. Nope. I totally did not. (Um, okay, I did. This whole post was Mr. Chef's idea.)

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Show Me Expensive Fruit

Hey, everybody! Expensive fruit season is back! (But really, the question is did it ever actually leave?)

I know, I know, clueless foreigner making fun of 100 dollar square watermelons and 12 000 dollar cantaloupes is hilarious (where hilarious = totally done to death), but I was cruising around my local department store food section in search of cilantro and coconut milk (these staples of my diet are not readily available, sadly), and saw a display of NEW! EXPENSIVE! FRUIT! and couldn't help snapping a few pictures, and in the process collecting some disdainful and disapproving looks from fabulous passers-by and stock boys alike.

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HEYYyyyyyy! I'm a $135 mango, and I prolly taste about as good as my 3 dollar cousin! 

I do not understand the price-politics of the Japanese grocery store. There's the thing with the bonkers-expensive fruit, we know that. (For the uninitiated, the expensive fruit is intended to be given as a gift, to a boss or a respected family member, or someone to whom you owe a great debt of gratitude, or perhaps a friend who is sick in the hospital. A gift of expensive fruit garners a certain amount of thanks and respect because, hey, EXPENSIVE! and also, they generally come from EXPENSIVE department stores, which are brand names, and therefore EXPENSIVE and awesome.) But then there are also staples, like rice for example, that just cost. so. much. money. I bought 500 grams of brown rice today, for about 9 USD, and it was no specialsuperhealthyorganicmacrobiotic rice, just the crappiest, cheapest kind in the crappy cheap Wal-mart derivative grocery store where I do most of my shopping because I'm cheap.  Compare that with a similarly sized box in the US, at 3 USD. 

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Mangos- A bargain at $64!

 So, I know that Japan has all sorts of rules and regulations set up designed to protect its economy. I also know that it still sees itself very much as an agricultural country, and therefore has a certain collective emotional investment in propping up its farmers. Also, the farmers are apparently a fairly powerful political force, and as such, politicians are keenly aware of farmers' interests, and happy to keep food prices protected.

There is also the idea that Japanese people prefer to buy local; they see their own produce as being superior to imports (and given the problems that their biggest neighbour is facing in the food safety department, could you really blame them?) But what about Taiwan? Or Australia? 


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77 dollar cherries! Too delicious to even eat!

 

And then there's the idea that it's better to buy locally - you know, for the environment and everything. This I totally don't buy. If you see the amount of packaging that goes into Japanese foodstuffs, you'd be amazed: individually wrapped apples; bubble wrap for every bottle you buy; special plastic bags to keep the rain off your paper bags. Environment-shimiroment.

IMG_0757 Two peaches for 15 dollars! At that price, I'll take 100!

 

Normal people just don't make buckets of money in Japan. For example, a friend of mine recently hired a trilingual secretary for about 12 USD / hour. And that's considered a pretty high wage. Rent is crazy expensive. So, how do people afford to eat?

I, for one, am not too sure. My fruit purchases are limited to bananas. Because of my aforementionedcheapskatedness.  

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This melon costs 193 dollars because it is filled with unicorn horn dust.

And this concludes my random, ill-educated, sleep-deprived foray into Japanese agricultural economic policy.  

 ***

Amended to add:

I just got out of bed to add a link to Budget Trouble because they're the ones hosting Show Me Japan, and I didn't think that I'd get into heaven if I forgot to link properly, so you know. Rapture.

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Bad Journalism

I came across this gem of an article entitled Japanese Families’ nutritional values pay dearly for ‘progress’  in the Japan Times, via Surviving Japan blogger Ashley’s twitter feed (@survivingjapan). Can I just say that such a piece of sexist and one-sided drivel is published in a national paper as News?

Roger Pulvers argues, in essence, that Japanese kids are getting fat, and it is the fault of their lazy mothers who would rather read celebrity gossip on the internet than cook food for their kids. These lazy mothers, reports Pulvers, buy dinner at 7/11 and Lawsons, and nary a stray vegetable crosses the threshold resulting in Japanese kids becoming spoiled, constipated little fatsos.  

Pulvers draws his ridiculous conclusions from an obviously inflammatory book published in Japanese called It’s My Kitchen and I’ll Do What I like in It. The author, Nobuko Iwamura, interviewed hundreds of women and photographed their cooking for one week. The results, according to Pulvers, were gut-wrenching, and indicative of a “national emergency graver than the ones potentially posed by North Korean Missiles, Chinese submarines, and Australian whaling ships!” [emphasis mine] What???????

Pulvers places the blame for this “national crisis” squarely on the shoulders of women. Lazy mothers who would rather “get by” with minimal effort than feed their kids healthful dinners. 

This is absurd. Sure there are fat Japanese kids. And I imagine that it is true that people are eating fewer fresh vegetables and fruits, but to call this a National crisis graver than the threat posed by Korean missiles, is just stupid and alarmist. And to blame a poor national diet on lazy women is just misogyny, pure and simple. 

Has he never stopped to consider the factors that might drive people to rely on convenience foods? Price, for one, is a driver. A bag of two carrots costs over one dollar in my local  Japanese supermarket. Compare that to a five-pound bag of carrots costing a couple bucks in America. Also, the time burden imposed on women, and mothers in particular, is almost insupportable. Mothers spend almost all of their time caring for the family: ferrying kids to school and back; daily trips to the supermarket; innumerable special days at school that require their attendance; mandatory participation in the PTA and neighborhood community groups. All of this, plus the day-to-day tasks that are part of keeping a house running. And fathers are no help - they’re off to work early in the morning, and don’t return till late in the evening, and wouldn’t lift a finger if they had time, anyway. These demands conspire to keep mothers out of the workforce and time-poor. It’s no wonder that they are increasingly relying on dinners chez 7/11.

In conclusion, Pulvers is a douche, and this article is a sexist piece of crap. The end. 

 

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Eat Your Greens

 

Warning: Boring and banal baby-related post ahead!


With that disclaimer out of the way, I bring you this thrilling piece of news: I introduced green vegetables to my daughter's diet!

I must confess that I was unreasonably anxious about this monumental step. I am a food-snob (an incredibly picky, unadventurous food-snob, but a food-snob nonetheless). My husband is a chef. Naturally I was wracked with subconscious worry that my baby girl would reject non-sweet, non-root veg and thus foreshadow a future that included nothing but white bread, cries of ewwww, gross! and hamburger helper dinners served at 5:30 pm. A nightmare scenario.

Somehow, deep in the recesses of my brain, I had equated accepting green vegetables with the development of an adventurous palate. So I stalled, hoping to avoid facing my whitebread doom. For a good three months. 

And then I came across this post on my go-to cooking blog, and somehow was fortified with the courage to try to introduce leafy greens. And, ridiculously, I was not aware of the anxiety I was carrying around until moments before the big green veg reveal. 

As I gingerly scooped a quarter teaspoon of spinach-yam puree onto Stella's baby spoon, I found myself holding my breath, stomach in knots. Would she spit out the green puree? Would she turn her head away in the baby equivalent of "ewwww, gross!"?


Nope. Stella grabbed the spoon, examined the contents with her fore finger and thumb, and then shoved the whole mess into her mouth. And loved it. She then proceeded to eat two bowls full of the stuff. Which is amazing, because on a normal day I am lucky to get two spoonfuls of anything into her mouth. Yea! She likes it! She WILL BE a good eater!* I'll have a three year-old who noms curry, eats tripe, and loves sushi!**

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And now, because I bragged about my daughter's adventurous palate, the universe is laughing at me, for I am sure that I have just doomed myself to a childhood full of food-related power struggles.


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*I am completely aware of the fact that what my kid eats now will have no bearing on what she'll accept at age three.

**You won't get a piece of sushi anywhere NEAR these lips. I once ate tripe. By accident. Almost died after. (Not really) Hell, you can barely get me to eat broccoli without gagging. 

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Thirty-Three

We celebrated this handsome devil's birthday over the weekend:

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Pancakes and bacon for breakfast - cooked by Mr. Chef while I slept in (?!) followed by family wanderings around the city.

Stella was making some major strides (!) in the mobility department. 

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Of course she is wearing a cute dress! One cannot celebrate a birthday without a cute dress!

 

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 Gratuitous cute baby picture 

 

Striploin roast for dinner. I offered to cook. Mr. Chef said, "No, I don't mind."

"Its your birthday. I'll cook."

"No really, I'll do it. You made the cake."

"I can't let you cook dinner on your birthday," I said. 

"I insist. I'll do it. I want to."

Well, I guess someone wanted to ensure that we eat well on his birthday. 

 

The boyz were happy about that decision - more treats for them.

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IMG_4497 Forbidden nomz! 

At least there was cake - my contribution to the birthday celebrations. Chocolate bean cake. Which is delicious. And gluten free. And dairy free. And so heathy you can eat it for breakfast. I should know.

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Healthy nomz. 

 

It was a wonderful day celebrating a wonderful man. 


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A Foreigner in a Foreign Land

Life as a foreigner in a foreign land can be truly wonderful, full of adventure, awe, surprises, delight, and inspiration. It can also be incredibly confounding. Like playing a guessing game where every question is rhetorical and you'll never get a clear "yes" or "no."    

When talking to people I find myself questioning whether the message I received was the one which was intended to be communicated. Did that "yes, maybe" mean yes, maybe, or did it actually mean "HELLS NO!"? What, exactly, did he intend to signify when he sucked air though the side of his teeth and paused after I asked a question? Did that laugh and sideways glance mean, "Oh boy, you're funny" or was it more of a, "Oh my GOD, this is so uncomfortable! Doesn't that barbaric foreigner know she just stepped on a minefield of taboos there?"

I'm sure that this is true wherever expats might find themselves, but I feel that this sense of bewilderment is especially strong as a foreigner living in Asia. Especially when you are fresh off the boat, and don't yet have a feel for the rhythms of language in your new country. Quite often hilarity (or, in my case, bat-shit-crazy hormone-soaked, tear-streaked tragedy) ensues.  

Like last year. Around this time, actually. I was both newly arrived and newly pregnant, hormonal and homesick. A bad combination. Craving a taste of home and armed with a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, I planned to comfort myself by revisiting tastes of my childhood. All I needed was a carton of milk.

Off I trundled, to the grocery store. Inspecting all the different varieties of milk available to me, but unable to read the labels, I resorted to a decision-making process that has served me well in the past: choose the one with the prettiest package. Ooooooh, this one has happy cows on a mountain pasture! Its just like Switzerland! This one is the milk for me!

Returning home, and ready to indulge my pregnancy cravings, I poured the milk into the pot thinking, hmmm...it's a little thick. But that's okay.  I'm sure it's just because the cows who made it were extra happy. Or perhaps its Jersey milk. Happy-mountain-cow extra-thick Jersey milk. Delicious.

Upon tasting, however, I realized just how wrong I was. The soup was sour and completely inedible. For my milk was actually yoghurt. Down the drain went the soup, along with my dreams.

What I lost in food-based mood stabilizers, I gained in perspective: I now feel just a little closer to understanding what it must be like to be illiterate.

 

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