3 Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated

P1040571

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? That’s right, you are probably dehydrated right now as you read this. Chronic dehydration can negatively impact your electrolyte balance and cognitive performance, and it can also contribute to acid reflux, digestive disorders, and other unpleasant conditions. Drink up, everyone! Here are three easy ways to stay hydrated.

1. Set a Goal

How much water should you be drinking? Well, it really depends on the water content of your food and tons of other factors. Even though we don’t all need eight glasses of water per day, I aim for that amount just in case. Besides, staying hydrated actually prevents your body from holding onto water weight and looking bloated, so drinking water has lots of benefits.

I just make a conscious effort every day to get my water in. If you’re into newfangled technology, there are lots of smartphone apps to help you drink more water, like WaterLogged and iDrated.

2. Get a Pretty Water Vessel

P1040569

I used to carry around an old metal water bottle, but I realized I wasn’t drinking much water because it made everything taste metallic and smelled reminiscent of tetanus. Also, an opaque water bottle makes it harder for you to keep track of how much you’re drinking.

This is why I really love my EcoJarz! We recently received a few EcoJarz lids and straws in the mail and couldn’t wait to test ’em out! Basically, EcoJarz lets you turn your Mason jars into really cute reusable water bottles. As you could probably guess from the name, EcoJarz are eco friendly, but the main reason why I love them is because I can keep track of how much water I’m drinking and I can sip everything through a cute reusable straw. I love straws. They’re just fun. And whenever I have lip balm or lipstick on, I love how I don’t end up getting it all over the place when I use straws. I’m rambling. But that’s how much I love EcoJarz.

3. Flavorful Infusions

In a last-ditch attempt to get Audrey to drink more water (she’d been averaging about three cups of fluid per day… yikes!) I started buying super-sweet water flavoring like Dasani Drops and Mio. Even though they helped her stay hydrated, I couldn’t help but wonder about the effect of the iffy ingredients in water flavoring. After all, we all heard about that recent study linking aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose (Equal, Sweet N Low, and Splenda, respectively) to diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders. Apparently these sweeteners might negatively affect our intestinal microbiota, the enigmatic little bacterial critters living in our guts, thus contributing to various diseases. Of course, this doesn’t mean definitively that a little Diet Coke will automatically make you diabetic, but I still don’t like the idea of exposing my children to too much of this stuff.

P1040574

I’ve replaced Audrey’s very berry Crystal Light with real berries and slices of lemon. Sure, it’s not as sickly sweet as the stuff that used to go in her water, but that’s a good thing. It keeps her taste buds from getting too used to ultra-sweet stuff while providing just enough flavor to keep her interested. The best of both worlds.

Hungry Empress on the Big Screen

When I picked Audrey up from school today, she looked sad and tired.  What a horrible day, she said.  I asked her what happened and she told me that they had a really difficult math test. Half the class didn’t finish and many of them cried during and after the test.  I asked if she cried too and she said that she did only because her friends cried.

P1040745

So, it was time to churn some ice cream.  Audrey has a sweet tooth. And the ice cream (and perhaps Mommy’s hugs, too) brightened her right away.  With our healthy ice cream recipes, we can eat it everyday and not worry about weight gain or tooth decay.  As a matter of fact, xylitol is even good for your teeth. 

P1040756

We had Chinese food for dinner.  I only have enough daylight to take the pictures of one of our dishes.

P1040757山药

Chinese Mountain Yam with Sliced Chicken Breast and Celery:

1/2  6 inch long Chinese Mountain Yam (Chinese supermarkets)

1 celery heart

1/2 carrot

1 chicken breast

8 ounces cashew nuts or macadamia nuts

4 slices of peeled ginger

2 tablespoon cooking wine

1 teaspoon of corn starch

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon Sha Cha Jiang or Sha Cha Paste (Chinese supermarkets carry it)

1/2 teaspoon or less of salt

1 to 2 tablespoon canola oil depending on how healthy you want to be

Instruction:

Slice all vegetables into desired similar sized pieces. 

Mix chicken meat, corn starch, wine, oyster sauce and Sha Cha in a small bowl. Marinate for 1 hour.

Heat the wok on high heat, drop in the ginger, when ginger is dry pour in the oil. 

When the ginger is sizzling in the oil, put in the vegetables and stir for about 3 minutes or to desired tenderness. Set aside.

Repeat the same process to stir fry the chicken, but save the marinate.  Set aside.  Cook the marinate until it thickens.  Mix in everything. Mix in the nuts.

P1040762

Dessert is all American apple crisp, but a much healthier one than the traditional recipe.  The girls were excited about going to see The Last Emperor tomorrow and asked me how I got to play the part of the empress.  And I told them well, that’s a long story.

P1040684

P1040690

Baked Apple Crisp (Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, egg free)

Filling

7 apples, peeled, cored, sliced into thin pieces

1/2 cup frozen cranberries

1/4 cup coconut water

3 tbs. xylitol

1 tbs. pure maple syrup

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix together apples, coconut water, 1 tbs. xylitol, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into a pie dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven to sprinkle crumble on top.

Crumble Topping

1 cup almond flour/meal

4 tbs. chopped walnuts

1/3 cup shredded coconut

2 tbs. xylitol

1 tbs. maple syrup

2 tbs. coconut oil

P1040689

Mix together almond flour, pecans, honey and coconut oil in a small bowl until well combined. Take small portions of it into your hands and sprinkle chunks of it onto the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

SCAN0027

I have never been good at auditions.  When I was growing up, modesty and humility were the two qualities that were hammered into me ever since I could remember.  And expressing personal desires was frowned up.  Basically the only thing we were encouraged to express was our desire to serve the people and to devote our lives to the realization of Communism. This kind of mentality was so ingrained in me that it was difficult for me to “sell” myself at auditions.  Growing up I was supposed to negate every compliment or praise given to me.  If someone said that I was pretty, I would immediately say no, no, I am ugly; if someone said that I was smart, I would say no, no, that’s not true.

06-1

It took me at least one year to get used to saying thank you after people complimented me, and another year to honestly express my feelings and desires.  The first time I truly fought for what I wanted was when I auditioned for Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon. It was a lengthy process which lasted several months and involved dozens of call backs and a final screen test with Mickey Rourke.  The part was a sophisticated TV newscaster and I still looked and talked like a FOB from China.  In retrospect, I could see that I was completely wrong for the part but at the time I gave it everything to get the part.  I hired the the most expensive dialogue coach in Hollywood to teach me speak newscaster English.  Every session was $200 for 2 hours while I was working as a receptionist in a Chinese restaurant earning about $5 an hour.  I went for broke but I did not get the part.  Both the director and the casting director were very impressed by my progress not only in my dialogue but also in my acting ability, but in the end I was wrong for the part.  This was the only time that I ever received a huge bouquet of flowers from any director who rejected me.  I felt very dejected, believing all my effort had been a complete waste and hard work meant nothing in this business. 

MCDYEOF EC046

Ariane Koizumi is the actress who won the part in Year of the Dragon

P1020855

Fresh off the boat Joan

Then about a year later, I got a call from Joanna Merlin, the casting director who worked on the Year of the Dragon, and she said, Joan, there is a part that is perfect for you and I want you to meet with the director who is in LA for only a short time.  Can you come?  I said yes, anytime, I will be there.  Joanna said it is still preliminary.  We haven’t started casting, but I have told the director to look no further because I have exactly the person he’s looking for.  That’s how I met Bernardo for the first time, with the highest recommendation from a very reputable casting director who just a year before had combed through all the Asian actresses around the world. The months of work I thought was wasted paid off in a much grander film.  It would take the producer Jeremy Thomas another year to complete the financing , and they did go around the world to cast the film, but Bernardo would always call me whenever he came to LA and we would meet for coffee and chat.  The role was mine the first time Joanna brought me to meet Bernardo.

Bernardo_Bert_Jack_Nicholson_candid

With Bernardo in Jack Nicholson’s house. Jack told me that speaking perfect English has nothing to do with my acting career. I didn’t quite understand what he meant at the time, but I think I do now. Imitating an American accent, however perfect, is not going to change the life experience that makes me who I am; and that entire being is my asset in acting as well as in life.

Last_Emperor

So I told my girls that hard work always pays off.  And that’s when they told me I was boring and left the table.

Piggy Sunday

P1040632

Sunday morning.  Glorious blue sky.  Everyone in the family still slumbered while I drank my tea and looked out the window at the humming birds flitting about my little lemon tree.  I must have been a peasant in my last life.  I always wake at the first light of dawn, which is something I quite enjoy.

P1040577

These muffins are low sugar and low calorie but you will absolutely love them

P1040581

Breakfast muffins inspired by the recipe from minimalistbaker.com

2 eggs

2 medium ripe bananas

3 Tbsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup almond meal (ground from raw almonds)

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp oat flour (ground from GF oats)

I added 1 cup blueberries

Having put the muffins in the oven and the oatmeal on the stove I flipped the page of New York Diaries to Oct. 11th.  “At home all day — writing private letters.” —President George Washington was having another relaxing day 215 years ago today.  It amazes me that our founding father, who arguably has achieved more for America than any other presidents in history seemed to have a life.  Yesterday 215 years ago he was strolling in a Mr. Prince’s fruit garden in Flushing, which he described “The shrubs were trifling, and the flowers not numerous. “ Later on that day he had dinner with Mrs Washington, Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Smith at a tavern.

The world was smaller then, I suppose.  Unlike today’s presidents, he had no global wars to launch, no international media damage to control.  The word China connoted mostly dinnerware and the term Middle East wasn’t invented yet.     

P1040592

This is absolutely the most delicious bread I have ever had

P1040594

Almond flour zucchini bread recipe at the end of blog

As I was reading Washington’s diary, a whimsical idea came to me: why not try something the early settlers of America ate? I couldn’t find much that sound healthy or palatable, but there was an original recipe for Pumpkin from plimoth.org I found quite entertaining.  It was written by John Josselyn,  the author of Two Voyages to New England. 

John Josselyn called this recipe a “standing dish” suggesting that this sort of pumpkin dish was eaten everyday or even at every meal.

“The Ancient New England standing dish.

But the Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire a whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions, not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stew’d enough, it will look like bak’d Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c.) which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh: It provokes Urine extremely and is very windy.”

P1040642

Just for fun, I decided to give it a try, regardless of the warning that “It provokes Urine extremely and is very windy”.  Pumpkins are in season and they make everything golden.  So why not?

Modern version of it, of course, doesn’t take all day:

Trader Joe’s washed, peeled, cut sweet pumpkin, microwave on high with two tablespoon of water for 10 minutes.

Mash with coconut oil, a pinch of salt, 2 1/2 tablespoon xylitol, a little ground ginger and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

The result was interesting, and quite pleasant — tangy, sweet.  Almost a dessert.

P1040639

For the meat eaters in the family, I made carnitas with the recipe below.  Thank God for slow-cooker.  We were so stuck in the Blue Angel traffic that we didn’t get home until dinner time.  And the carnitas was just cooking itself for me.  The aroma of the pork was so enticing that Audrey, who had been vegetarian for over a month, decided that she would allow herself to eat meat on Sundays.

P1040638

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-carnitas/

Angela baked miso tofu for herself.  It’s a simple dish that she has made many times. 

Spread the miso paste on the tofu and baked it at 375 F. 

Sprinkle green onion, sesame seeds and crushed chili on top.

P1040604 P1040605

P1040574

Isn’t she cute?

P1040569

Hydration makes you cuter, I think

P1040571

Thank you EcoJarz for sending us your jar lids! Audrey loves ’em 🙂

Almond Flour Zucchini Bread Ingredients:

2 zucchini (grated and drained)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup oat bran

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon guar gum

3 large eggs

1 purple shallot

1sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme – fresh stems removed and leaves minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven at 350

Grate the zucchinis and leave in a bowl.  Mix in 1/8 teaspoon of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Squeeze the water out of the shredded zucchini.

Saute sliced shallot, chopped rosemary and thyme with olive oil 

Mix dry ingredients, and then in a separate bowl mix all wet ingredients before mixing the dry and wet ingredients.  If the dough feels too dry, add a tablespoon of milk.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Slow Lazy Saturday Again

P1040547

Saturday morning.  Peter went to play golf.  He often plays 9 holes on Saturday mornings before the girls wake up.  That is if he is not on call.  I cooked oatmeal while reading whatever was around.  Since Audrey became a vegetarian, I have been racking my brains to get enough protein in her.  She doesn’t like eggs or cheese, so oatmeal cooked in milk with rice protein or whey protein powder has been an important meal for her.

P1040563

As I stirred the oatmeal, I read this week’s Time Magazine cover story The Truth About Home Cooking.  How fitting!  The best selling food writer Mark Bittman shared his views, experiences and statistics on cooking. 

Nowadays, the internet is clogged with food porn. More and more people say they are concerned about their health and the well-being of the planet, but fewer and fewer people are actually cooking dinners at home.

Bittman wrote: “There’s something peculiar about the our obsession with the business of cuisine.  There are 24/7 TV shows on Food, countless food magazines and more Instagram accounts of impossibly beautiful and exotic dishes than one could count or, frankly, stomach… Making food a performance, as entertaining as that can be from our seats in the grandstand, has had a damaging effect on our relationship to cooking.  In a land of million-dollar kitchens, Himalayan pink salt, dragon fruit, truffle butter and Wagyu skirt steak, most of us feel like outsiders — and as result, we cook less than we ever have.”  He encourages us to take charge of our food and gives us suggestions on how to start cooking again.  “Dinner can be simple: a soup, even one based on frozen vegetables; a piece of meat and a loaf of hearty bread; a chicken that roasts while you make a salad; pasta with vegetables…”

P1040515

照烧鸡面

So, in the spirit of easy and basic home cooking, I made crock pot honey teriyaki chicken based on the recipe from Rasa Malaysia.  The crock pot comes handy when you need to go in and out of the house running errands while the food is cooking.  And today was one of those days for me.

Ingredients:

2 boneless chicken breasts (I will try thigh next time. Dark meat should work better for this)鸡肉

1/8 cup dry sake 日本清酒

1/8 cup mirin 料酒

1/4 cup soy sauce 酱油

3 tablespoons honey 蜂蜜

2 cloves garlic, minced大蒜

2 tablespoons ginger, minced姜

freshly ground black pepper胡椒

1/8 cup water水

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch (I omitted)淀粉

2 stalks green onions, chopped葱

toasted sesame seeds (I omitted this)芝麻

I added some vegetables in the pot.

Put all the ingredients other than the green onion and sesame seeds in the pot and turn it on high.  Go do whatever you want to do and come back in 4 1/2 hours.  Viola! You have your meal!  Simple and delicious.

P1040530

香煎味增豆腐

For the two vegetarians in the house, I made a crispy miso tofu on a bed of spinach and a hearty vegetable lentil soup.

I always buy washed organic baby spinach from Costco.  It is the easiest thing to use in any menu.  I use it for my sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and sauté it for a side dish for many main courses.

I use a teaspoon olive oil, a couple of crushed garlic and a little salt.  You only need to cook the spinach for about 45 seconds.

I use Hodo Soy’s organic firm tofu from Costco.  Spread a thin layer of miso paste on the sliced tofu and sear it dry with a little cooking spray.

P1040528

蔬菜汤

The key to cooking the vegetable soup is to sauté the onion, tomato and carrots with olive oil until they caramelize. Then add vegetable stock, or chicken stock or water.  I usually add whatever vegetable I have at hand. Or soak some beans.  Or, like today, I used lentil.  The soup was perfect for the cool grey autumn day.

P1040561

煎麦片椰丝核桃煮梨子

P1040555

In Mark Bittman’s article there is a simple desert recipe for Skillet Pear Crisp.  It was a something Audrey could easily make and her desert was a smashing success. She even made it healthier by omitting the butter and sugar and using coconut oil and xylitol. By involving the children we instill in them the love and habit of cooking from a young age.  While Angela is the nerd, who studies the details of nutritional value of everything, Audrey enjoys being a hands on cook.

P1040550