March 27, 2012
I slept for a full 12 hours last night. My friend K left yesterday morning after being here in Buenos Aires to visit me for 8 days, so we’ve been running around like crazy, staying out late, and eating tons of yummy and exhausting food. Coffee, cheese, sugar, and red meat are all delicious but digesting them tires out my body!
But here are some photos you can drool over (and a few of the scenery too):
To burn off some of the pounds I’ve packed on these past few weeks, I went to an Aerial Yoga/Silks/Acrobat class, my second. That isht is hard. I can only pull myself about 12 inches off of the ground but once the teacher puts a knot in the fabric it’s much more fun.
After class a friend invited me for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant. The funny thing is that they had chicken noodle soup on the menu. I haven’t seen chicken noodle soup since I got down here 6 months ago, and I was wishing for chicken noodle soup just this morning after I woke up with a scratchy throat and runny nose. Manifest!!!
I spent the rest of the day walking around the city, running errands before I head down to Patagonia – curry powder for my friend down there, stocking up on my favorite soap and cookies, etc. While wandering I was listening to the awesome Guru Singh podcast. Guru Singh is a Kundalini Yoga teacher at Yoga West in Los Angeles; he always starts class with a profound 30 minute lecture that I’ve missed since leaving LA.
In this podcast Guru Singh was talking about how every problem contains the solution.
“What keeps us from this stage [solution/change] is that our challenges, our problems, and our questions identify us.
And we would rather maintain our identity than solve our challenges.
That’s not you being a bad person, that’s you being normal… we have to break that pattern.”
Check out Guru Singh’s tweets here! Yes, he tweets.
March 11, 2012
I know I’ve done a horrible job at sharing Argentina with you via this blog. Not to mention my road trip across the US last summer. I was reviewing some photos and video last night, and there are some beautiful ones. Perhaps someday when I’m bored and have absolutely nothing to do, I will finally disinter those photos and videos for you. But considering the infinitude of interestingness on the interwebs, and immediate access to practically every book known to man on my Kindle, I’m not sure if that’s realistic.
Anyways, as far as Argentina goes at least, I’d like to make it up to you by directing you to my friend’s blog, Go!Dream!Live! No wait, it’s Dream!Go!Live! Which, when delivered to my inbox, I always read as “dreamg olive”. She does what I aspire to do – consistently shares her experience and photos of life in Buenos Aires.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have been writing, lots, every day. I just haven’t been converting any of that into bloggage. I think I just need to get back into the habit of posting, and the only way I’ve successfully made habits for myself is by doing Challenges. But I’ve been focusing on the No Sugar Challenge. One at a time.
So! The No Sugar Challenge!!! On March 13th, in two days, I will have officially and successfully completed 30 days of No Sugar. This is, by a long shot, the longest I have ever gone without eating refined sugar.
What did this lack of sugar do? (And coffee – I didn’t really drink coffee at this time either, as they pretty much go together for me – I can drink coffee black, but here in Buenos Aires coffee means medialunas or cookies, and those were definitely out).
-Skin: My skin cleared up. The acne and little bumps I get, especially on my forehead, have pretty much gone away, and my psoriasis is less red. However, I did up my dairy intake exponentially while not eating sugar, so I continue to have a few pimples around my jawline and my psoriasis didn’t fully clear.
-Energy: I started waking up earlier. 5:30am most days. I love getting up early, and I love not feeling groggy. That could be as much from stopping coffee as from stopping sugar. This past week I’ve been feeling exceptionally exhausted, but I think that’s mostly due to the intensity of the Vipassana course I did last week, and a lot of emotional processing I’ve been doing. And, probably, my body trying to digest all the cheese.
-Weight: I lost a little weight, but not much, due to the large quantities of cheese and organic yogurt (sugar-free) that I’ve been eating. And steak, and pizza… I met a wonderful Dutch girl at Vipassana and during her four days in Buenos Aires I HAD to take her to all the best food spots. Of course. And, um, I bought a beautiful book called Pizzerias de Buenos Aires…
Oh and near the end of the month I also found that amazing raw sugar-free chocolate at Buenos Aires Verde, and a few days ago discovered sugar-free helado at Juaja, my favorite of which is the lemon ginger. YUM!
-Clarity/Mood: I have a lot more clarity when I’m not eating sugar – clarity as to what I want in life, what really makes me happy, insights into myself and others. Last time I gave up alcohol/sugar for a few weeks, a series of events occurred that led to me leaving Los Angeles and moving to Argentina. And this time, a series of events occurred that led to me making plans to move to Patagonia. Anyways there’s increasing research about the drug-like negative effects of sugar on your mood and body, and things react differently with different people. I definitely have a negative reaction to sugar. I’m aware of this. It doesn’t mean I won’t be eating sugar on March 13th – I will! – but I hope that sugar (like alcohol) will become an increasingly rare addition to my diet.
I love not eating sugar. I also love eating sugar. So, that’s that.
And aside from the dairy and sugar-free treats, 70% of my diet this month has been fruits and veggies, so that’s awesome. I’m quite proud that I went a whole month without caving to medialunas or the apple crumble and dulce de leche they had the last day of Vipassana, or the other things that tempted me every day of the last month.
As I was saying at the beginning, my apologies for not having shared more of my journey with you up to this point. I’ll be posting some photos and maybe a video tour of my current home here in BA, and hopefully filling you in on some of the best eateries and cafes (like the very photogenic Bardepan). My 33rd birthday is next week and a friend is flying down from San Francisco; we’ll be revisiting all of my favorite things about BA before heading down to Patagonia.
Love and light and cheese!
February 19, 2012
I’ve been refined sugar-free for six days now!
I’m feeling happier. I think there are two reasons: 1. Sugar causes mood swings and 2. I’m not hating on myself for sugar binging or not acting in integrity with what I want to be: healthy.
The cravings haven’t been too bad. I did eat a lot of dried fruit and nuts the first few days, and I’m eating more dairy than I usually do (which is barely any). But I’m ok with that!
Yesterday I bought some freshly-made organic yogurt and honey from the El Galpon Farmer’s Market in the Chacarita neighborhood of Buenos Aires (the only place I know of where you can get organic stuff in BA…). The yogurt comes in a big beautiful bottle and was delish with the super-dark grainy honey:
Yes, honey’s technically a sugar but, unlike refined sugar, honey’s not toxic to your system, doesn’t cause dramatic blood sugar spikes (it may actually IMPROVE blood sugar control) and has an insane number of health benefits: it’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. You can use it to help heal burns and wounds, you can use it on your face to clear up acne (which I do occassionally). It can help with sore throats, allergies, even weight loss! As I’m reading more about honey the list is getting way too long (athletic performance, free radicals, cholesterol, immune system, anti-cancer…jeez!) so for more info check it here and here and here. (I’m pretty sure all of these are from raw honey, not the honey you by in a regular store, which is probably counterfeit honey from China.*)
Unfortunately, according to one of those honey sites, the answer to the question “How much honey can I eat every day?” is NOT “Eat as much as you can.” Damn.
Even the Bible mentions honey, according to the editors of Wikipedia. Funny honey quote:
“While Jonathan was passing through the woods during the war against the Philistines, he found honey dripping on the ground; he plunged his spear into it, and ate enough to restore his lost strength. He was, however, sentenced to death because he ate honey on a day of abstinence”.
So, this next part has nothing to do with sugar or honey, but… Well, actually, it does, in a roundabout way.
Some of my favorite bits:
“All those paths lead to one answer “we are all one and our only job is to be unconditional love and remember”.
It’s all in the remembering… From broken and alone to whole and complete and part of the whole that is The Uni-verse…
I am broken when I forget and whole and complete when I remember.”
Mollie’s bio led me to google the documentary she produced, May I be Frank, a documentary “exploring the transformations possible through healthy eating and positive thinking”:
Which looks AMAZING.
So, to tie this all together – I’m pretty sure Frank was eating way too much sugar. I haven’t seen the entire movie yet, so maybe honey even played a roll in his transformation.
I think we’d all do a little better with less sugar, more honey!
*If you are getting your honey from Walmart, Target, Cost Plus, Sam’s Club, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, CVS, or individual packets from Smucker’s, McDonalds or KFC, there is a 70-100% chance that it’s not actually honey, as defined by the food industry (containing pollen), and could be watered down with high fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s honey, thank goodness, is legit.
February 13, 2012
I am addicted to sugar. I never felt truly addicted to smoking or alcohol or drugs – none of which I put in my body anymore – but sugar still kicks my ass. Anyone who’s followed my blog these last few years has read about my trails and tribulations with sugar many, many times.
I am also allergic to sugar. It makes my system acidic, causing inflammation, which makes me break out (little tiny pimples all over my face) and contributes to flare-ups of psoriasis. I’ve had psoriasis consistently for almost two years now.
I’ve given up sugar a few times in the past, but never made it longer than a few weeks. I tried again at the beginning of 2012, but after 6 days (during which I felt amazing) I caved and went back to my cycle of sugar binging.
So this time, I’ve decided to place a wager. I’ve bet my friend China Brooks that I can go 30 days without eating refined sugar, starting today. She also is going sugar-free, and if either of us give into temptation during the 30 days, we have to Paypal the other $25. I don’t generally make bets but I’m pretty sure I’m too proud and stubborn to lose one.
Many people are unaware of the truth about sugar – how addictive it is, how toxic it is, and how prevalent it is in processed foods. I’ve experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual gains that come with giving it up. I’ll be exploring these over the next 30 days as I share my experiences and struggles and, hopefully, win my bet.
November 29, 2011
An Aussie friend joined me in giving thanks for our pretty awesome lives here in Buenos Aires. We started with a Fernet at Henri’s in Palermo; Fernet is a signature Argentinian drink, a mix of a strange herbal liquor that vaguely resembles Jagermeister, mixed with Coca Cola. It tastes awful, like nasty cough syrup, when made poorly, but the ones we had at Henri’s were refreshing. And strong.
Around 8pm we wandered over to La Cabrera – okay, actually, we ended up speed walking around Palermo trying to find the place, as neither of us had the address on us and, since La Cabrera is notoriously busy, we were trying to get there right at 8pm to be the first ones on the waiting list. There are two La Cabrera restaurants located on the same block, so we split our chances and put our names down at both to get into whichever could seat us first.
During our wait we had a glass of white wine at cute pizza and pasta joint up the street. This place, called Marcelina and Garcia, is yet another restaurant on the block owned by the same folks as the two La Cabreras. I think their great success is partially due to the tree of lollipops that is presented at the end of each meal:
After about a 45 minute wait we got our table at the larger La Cabrera, out on the sidewalk. It was a beautiful night, perfect for dining outside. After we were seated we noticed that they had more free stuff – champagne for waiting guests. If we’d only noticed sooner…
The service was the most attentive I’ve had in Argentina, where you usually have to raise your hand and wave like an eager child at school in order to get any attention. Our waiter’s name tag said something along the lines of ‘Ahuthaca’. The German women at a nearby table asked him what it meant, and he said translates to ‘Freedom Dove.’
After perusing the menu (and being generally clueless as to what most of it was), Freedom Dove took our order – Ojo di Bife (Rib Eye Steak), Mollejas (Sweetbreads/Cow Thyroids), and Chorizo (Pork Sausage). I’d read that the portions were large at this place, and the entrees come with a bunch of sides, so it’s advisable to order less than you think you need to and share the mountains of meat.
We also ordered a bottle of Malbec, of course; it tasted a bit tight, a bit young, but it mellowed as it aired out and tasted much better once we had some meat in our mouths.
We started with the Chorizo, which was tasty and moist and had a nice snap when you bit into it.
It was good, but my favorite meat of the night was the Mollejas, which tastes like a Pig and a Lobster had a delicious little baby:
Sweetbreads are actually the thyroid glands of cows – and these were some giant thyroids. We squeezed lemon on them and they tasted even better dipped in applesauce (one of our many side dishes).Despite it tasting like a baby lobster pig, with a seafoody texture and a lovely crispness on the outside, we couldn’t finish all three of them. This was due, in part, to the many side dishes, and that we still had to eat a big slab of steak.
I can’t even remember all of the side dishes we had – mashed potatoes, something with zucchini and egg, a salad with a raw egg hidden among the foliage, artichoke hearts, corn tabouleh, pureed pumpkin, and more.
Our Ojo de Bife steak was good, but after the many incredible steaks I’ve had in LA – at CUT, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, BOA, Mastro’s, Lawry’s…* – I wouldn’t say it was the best I’ve ever had. Maybe for the price… I would be paying two to four times more for any of the steakhouses listed above.
It might also be because our first steak, though giant and beautiful, was greyly and disappointingly well done when we cut it open; we’d ordered medium-rare. Our replacement steak was much thinner and definitely gave off the vibe that the cooks were irritated with us. Well, that was my feeling, anyways (I hate sending food back but I refused to have my first Argentine Steak Experience be well-done).
About half way through our meal, I was telling my Aussie friend about the delicious – and free – killer garlic rolls they serve at a restaurant in Venice Beach that I used to work at, when the diner next to me turned to me and exclaimed, “Are you talking about C&O Trattoria???” And I burst out laughing. Celebrating Thanksgiving in Argentina (in a neighborhood called Palermo Hollywood, no less) and I end up sitting next to a couple from Venice Beach. Fueled by wine (and more wine – they insisted on buying another bottle to share with us) we became fast friends and ended up eating and talking until around one in the morning.
For dessert – and, per the usual here in Argentina, it was an amazing dessert – we ordered the Dulce de Leche Crepes with Strawberries and Vanilla Helado. The crepe was jam packed with melty dulce de leche (ie, caramel) and the outside of the crepes had an almost creme-brulee kind of shell to them. Sooooo amazingly, incredibly, stupidly good. I didn’t even want the free lollypop at the end.
I think we paid around 250 pesos each; $62, including wine and tip. I know inflation in Argentina has gone up somewhere around 60%+ in the past few years (or more, since the Argentine government has price fixed Big Macs so they can’t be measured against other countries), but I’m still pretty sure you couldn’t get a meal like this in LA for $62.
So, despite being a bit disappointed by my first Argentine Steak, overall it was a fantastic Thankgiving – filled with new friends and Malbec and dulce de leche and pig-lobster babies.
*Wow. Reviewing this list of amazing steakhouses in LA that I’ve eaten at makes me look like a total foodie whore. Which I am. No wonder I have credit card debt…
November 15, 2011
The jacarandas are blooming here – spurts of vibrant purple; squishy flowers blanketing the sidewalks. Makes me feel at home, like I’m back in LA. A strange LA.
The school uniform for some children is a white knee-length coat. This makes them look like little mad scientists.
When you order a cup of coffee, it comes with a shot of sparkling water and a little cookie (or some kind of candy, candied orange peel, or chocolate). It’s like snack time.
A young fit-looking dog walker passed by the window of my favorite cafe. She had 14 dogs leashed to her. Big dogs – Burmese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Black Labs. A moving mass of fur.
Whenever you leave an apartment building here, you have to have a key to unlock the front doors to get out. Seems dangerous to me.
Walking along residential streets you often come across small booths with windows, about the size of a porta potty. Homeowners on the block hire guards to man these booths and watch over their property. The guards just sit in the booths all day. But at night, the booths are empty…
Breakfast here is coffee and bread – normally a couple of medialunas, mini croissants. Or a combo: today my combo breakfast came with a selection of muffin, pastry, and toast. I had a banana muffin, a chocolate croissant, and two slices of perfectly toasted freshly baked bread, with sour tangy cream cheese and some kind of fruit preserve that I can’t quite make out – passionfruit? It almost tastes like sweet sun-dried tomatoes…
The Argentine diet seems to consist of meat, pastries, and dulce de leche. Yet only 18% are obese, and 50% are overweight – much less than in the US. Is it smaller portions? Periodic skipping of meals? More walking and use of public transportation?
You can sit in a cafe for hours without being bothered, or talked to, or looked at, by a waiter. For them to come over, you must flag them down. Which can be nice, or can be annoying, depending on how much of a hurry you’re in.
September 5, 2011
Though I generally try to eat healthy, wholesome, nourishing foods, most of you know that I am a big-time foodie. Happily, so was my CouchSurfing host in Boulder.
Steve’s favorite place in town is called Pizzeria Locale. I’d say it rivals Mozza in LA. We got a thin-crusted, chewy pizza with burrata, pecorino, and squash blossoms, a beet salad, and butterscotch budino (pudding). Amazingly delicious, all of it.
Sunday morning brunched at Lucille’s, where they’ve been serving up Creole food in Boulder for over 30 years. We started with some delicious Bignets, a New Orleans style donut pastry that’s fluffy and doused in powdered sugar. I got the pralines french toast, which was amazing. Steve’s biscuit looked more like corn bread than a biscuit, and it was tall, dense, moist, puffy and crispy along the top. The local strawberry rhubarb preserves were tangy tasty.
Next time you’re in Boulder, check these spots out!
March 7, 2011
“I had hoped that the USDA would be able to give Americans the clear advice about diet that they deserve,” says Dr. Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, and chair of the Dept. of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. “However, the continued failure to highlight the need to cut back on red meat and limit most dairy products suggests that ‘Big Beef’ and ‘Big Dairy’ retain their strong influence within this department. Might it be time for the USDA to recuse itself because of conflicts of interest and get out of the business of dietary advice?”
Dr. Walter Willet of Harvard on the new US Dietary Guidlines.
Check out our iPhone app Livifi for the TRUTH on what to eat, and a way to make that knowledge into a habit!
September 17, 2010
I just decided: I’m adding Pumpkins to my list of favorite foods.
I think part of the Pumpkin appeal is the seasonality. I know fall is here in So Cal when Starbucks brings back the Pumpkin Spice Latte and IHOP starts flipping Pumpkin Pancakes. If summer has to end, at least I get a consolation prize.
This is my list and opinions of various Pumpkin delights found in the LA area. If you know about some Pumpkin deliciousness that I haven’t mentioned here, let me know where to find it in the comments section and, in the name of research, I will happily go sample it!
Pumpkin Spice Latte: A-
I get it with soy. Nommy creamy goodness. Makes the California autumn seem like autumn. Sometimes, I feel like it could be a little more pumpkinny…I haven’t tried asking for extra pumpkin syrup though. I’m a little afraid that might just make it disgusting.
Pumpkin Scone: A
Not only is this scone moist (for a scone), with good pumpkin flavor, but the icing is perfect. Sweet enough, but not sickeningly so.
Pumpkin Bread: A
Moist, pumpkiny, delish. Pumpkin seeds on top.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin: B+: Incredibly moist. A bit too much with the cream cheese though…I didn’t finish it.
Dominick’s in WeHo:
Pumpkin Rye Whiskey Cocktail: A+
This drink is amazing. A friend heard rumor of it last year, so we stopped in and asked our server about it. He reacted with: “How did you know about the Pumpkin Cocktail???” Apparently he’d just invented it a few days earlier. Word travels fast…anyways, it’s got Pumpkin puree, rye whiskey, nutmeg, and a dollop of whipped cream. I tried to re-create it but it wasn’t quite the same…I might be missing an ingredient or two. I’m not sure when or if they’re offering it this year, but I intend to find out.
Pumpkin Pie Yogurt: A
This stuff is gooood. Extra points for being able to serve yourself the exact amount you want. I’m more of a toppings girl so I get a little bit of yogurt and then (on this flavor) heap on some cheesecake cubes and graham cracker dust. It’s magical.
Bennett’s Ice Cream at the Farmers Market(Grove)
Pumpkin Ice Cream: A+
This place has been churning out good old fashioned ice cream since before you were born. They know what they’re doing. Trust. Serious creamy cinnamony goodness.
Pumpkin Pancake Mix:A
Tested this with a friend, and even though we used rice milk instead of regular milk, they came out delish! Fluffy, pumpkiny, filling. It was made even more amazing by putting Pumpkin Maple Butter on top (see below). I want to try waffles.
Pumpkin Maple Butter: A
Make ANYTHING Pumpkin flavored with this topping! So far I’ve only spread it on Pumpkin Pancakes, though the jar instructs you to heat it up and drizzle it over ice cream. Um, do I really need to be pouring butter on my ice cream? It’s pretty sweet and has a baby food consistency but it definitely accentuate the Pumpkin flavor of our flapjacks.
Pumpkin Pie: A+
One of the best Pumpkin Pies I’ve ever had. It’s fluffy – not as dense as normal Pumpkin Pie – and the graham crust is extra thick and has ginger in it. Nom! Get a scoop of their amazing vanilla bean ice cream and you’re in comfort food heaven.
Kabocha Squash Soup: A
It’s the Japanese equivalent of Pumpkin, so I’ll include it. Plus they sprinkle Pumpkin seeds on top. This place is near my work and this soup is my favorite choice for lunch. It’s nice and thick (not watery) and has caramelized onions, carrots and garlic pureed into it too. NOM!
For future research, I still need to sample the Pumpkin Smoothies at Jamba Juice and Earthbar.
And, I need to hunt for the best of one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Pumpkin dishes: Pumpkin Tortellini with a butter sage sauce. I used to LOVE it a Allegria on PCH in Malibu, but they have since closed. I’m pretty sure I’ve had some bomb-ass Pumpkin Tortellini at Osteria Mozza (my favorite restaurant in LA), but I can’t recall if it was Pumpkin or Butternut Squash…
Speaking of Butternut Squash (which I also love love love), there’s restaurant downtown called Zucca (Italian for … guess what??) that I really must go to. But, um…I just checked online and it looks like their dishes are all made with Butternut Squash, not Pumpkin. What’s up with that?
Tomorrow night I’ll be testing out recipes for Pumpkin Gnocchi and Pumpkin Martinis with the Pumpkin Pancake friend. If the recipes pass our vigorous taste testing, I’ll post them!
Happy Pumpkin loving!