Wednesday, October 20, 2010


One of the hardest things for me in China so far is finding a healthy balance of food groups. Before I came out here.. almost four months ago... I was doing an incredible job thanks to a certain someone as far as eating very healthy- lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, big spinach salads and wraps, smoked turkey and grilled chicken. Makes me drool just thinking about it! In Shanghai it has been incredibly difficult for me to find this same Farmer's Market fresh variety of foods. The past few months I go in spurts of eating a lot and then not being hungry ever and having to remember to eat thanks to co-workers.
This for me has been one of the biggest difficulties I have had to face here so far, and know many others with the same frustration. The food is quite delicious for the most part- don't get me wrong- but eating boiled, soggy vegetables, oil, grease, salt and MSG laden food with a side of starch (aka rice or noodles), that can't be good.

Eating out is much easier and oftentimes cheaper than making food. I always have a loaf of whole wheat bread in my cupboard however, along with peanut butter, oats and munchies: crackers,
cookies and dried hawthorne berries/ sweet potatoes. The refrigerator is quite empty as well:
strawberry jam, a few apples every once in a while, block of cheese and if i recently was grocery shopping some green peppers and lettuce mix to make salads. Typically my salads are bought at the convenient store just outside the apartment.

Typical lunch/dinner:
This is a bowl of lamian noodles ordered from downstairs. Hand-pulled noodles with a light sauce and a few veggies and a bit of beef thrown in. Delicious but again, cooked vegetables and an oily MSG laden sauce.

If motivated a typical lunch can be:

So it is possible to eat healthier, there's just a lot more effort than what I'm used to. But as far as fresh fruits and vegetables, the ones in the store make me wary, it is however my only option for now...

I recently found a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Shanghai. I am very excited about this find, but have yet to make my first order from it. It's super easy, order online from a list of 10 fruits/ vegetables and pick which 7 or so you want. Then they will deliver it to your door weekly- all for 99RMB... $14! You have to sign up for a 3 month minimum, but these veggies are grown organically at a farm just a few miles outside the city. Definitely will keep you updated and see how it turns out and document more of my journey along the way to finding fresh food and crunchy vegetables. And yes, this motivation was spawned by a silly yet fascinating food documentary "Food Matters." Got ten minutes in and was already feeling guilty about what I was eating and realized I need to make a change. Oh well, it's always nice to have good intentions towards better eating habits.
If interested info regarding Shanghai CSA can be found at:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day in the Life of... English teacher in Shanghai..

Alarm goes off. Its finally is starting to cool off, so I sleep with my window opened just a crack. This allows me to wake up to traffic, horns and lots of them as everyone scrambles into taxis and buses lazily make their way through the intersection nearly missing pedestrians, bikers and mopeds.
Check my e-mail, (advertisements from Walgreens, Shutterfly, Overstock and other American on-line stores that don't have reasonable shipping rates or not available in China, Runner's world "how to keep motivated", and a travel site telling me the top cities to travel to..) open Skype- good morning world, I'm ready to chat!

Begin with a morning stretch before a breakfast staple: bowl of oats with a spoonful of peanut butter and some honey! After the microwave is finished heating up this piping bowl of goodness, I head back to my room and plop down at my laptop to Skype with my mom.

I watch an episode of Arrested Development after a nice chat with mom, am tempted to watch the latest of Glee... that will have to wait for later. Debate going for a run but then after looking at all the traffic from my window decide not now. Instead it is time for the big decision of the day: what to wear. I open both closets and after about 10 minutes finally get the right combination of autumn, layers and boot appropriate look together (not always so picky, some days are just yoga pants and a sweater).

The bowl of oats earlier wasn't quite enough, already ready for a snack! I head down to the convenient store for some yogurt with fruit chunks. Delicious.

Some more Skyping and chatting with friends from back home on the computer. It really helps to be connected to everyone- keeps me updated as to what's going on and helps me to cope with being so far away!

Grab some lunch with my roommate before I have to head to work. A delicious Japanese restaurant just outside our complex- their lunch special is fantastic: grilled pork on rice, udon (hot or cold), tea, coffee and cabbage salad. Mmmm

Finally begin the bike into work. It was pretty nice out so biking was a good option- although it is about 7 miles and will be chilly and dark on the way home tonight..

My assistant teacher helps me to order some food as I will be hungry after classes! We decide on fried rice from the local lamian noodle place. The best handmade noodles you will ever have. Class starts at 3 so I prep my room for all three of my classes.

Done for the day! I finish up the other half of my rice and head down to my bike where I make my way back.

Text from a friend asking if I want to go out... hmm.... maybe... I have to recoup from the day first.

Decide to go out- it is ladies night after all with free champagne. I'll take it easy but just one glass is tempting enough!

Hop a cab with my roomie as he also enjoys ladies nights'.. Meet up with friends at the bar but it is packed.

Leaving so soon? Yes. It was way to busy and as fun as it is to meet new people, I'm exhausted and being shoulder to shoulder with strangers is the last thing I want tonight.

After a shower, it's time to finally catch up on Glee via Hulu. I grab a snack of dried sweet potato and climb into bed with my computer.

Read a few pages in my book "The Woman Warrior"- short stories about women in China and what they overcame. Unfortunately I can't get too far as my eyes are closing and mind fading. Goodnight Shanghai.....

All in all- it's pretty chill. I'm learning so much everyday from living abroad and working alongside local Chinese. This evening my teaching assistant helped me buy some chestnuts from the street vendor off his bike. I had been passing them everyday the last few weeks and when I asked her about it she went to help me. Never had chestnuts before- delicious! Apparently they are really good with meat, I look forward to trying it!

Another new autumn street food I have been seeing is sweet potatoes. The vendors cook them in the skin in this vat and you just eat it peeling as you go. They smell fantastic and I am also looking forward to tasting that treat. So many experiences. I will have more pictures posted as soon as it isn't rainy and I can take the camera out!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

China's National Holiday


Serene, green and full of life. Although I was unable to explore much of this vibrant country, we had a taste of a little bit of everything:

emerald waters,

fishing villages,

caves, monkeys,

city celebrations,

street life,

museums and astounding views.

The people were very friendly and always smiling. They seem to lead simple lives but are so thankful for what they have. It really is incredible to see. Seeing this makes me look forward to leaving the craziness of Shanghai and being able to explore more of the countryside/ villages throughout Southeast Asia.

Traveling also just makes me want to do more. I have an endless list of places to visit, hopefully someday will be able to take a few months to begin checking this list off.