Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Post: Weight Loss Tips from Crostini and Chianti


When I came across Crostini and Chianti a blog about good food and weight loss, I couldn't resist asking for a guest post, Greg has lost a staggering 125 lb and kept it of for 4 years. I have been a dietitian for over 9 years and know the struggles folks have with weight it is often such a battle. His story is inspirational, he has wonderful tips and is a great person

Rebecca asked me to write a guest blog about weight loss tips. Before I go into that I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself so you can see why I am qualified to write this guest blog. I am will be 49 years old on Monday. On my 45th birthday I decided that my life was about to change, so I might as well make the change for the better. The company I had been working at for the last 12 years decided to outsource my department. I went from the newbie to managing the department and had 27 people reporting to me. My day typically began at 5:30 AM and went until 11:00 PM. The job was IT related so I sat in front if a computer all day long.

My weight went up to 311 pounds; my blood pressure was so high that when I went into the doctor’s office for a physical the doctor called for a portable EKG machine to decide if they should admit me to the hospital. I ate a bottle of Tums every couple of weeks in addition to the prescription to Zantac the doctor prescribed for my stomach issues. My dad had passed away but before he did he was diagnosed with diabetes and my brother was also diagnosed with diabetes. In short I am not sure what was keeping my body from having some kind of malfunction, I was a heart attack/diabetes/ulcer waiting to happen.

As I was trying to decide what to do with my life since my job was about to be terminated, I decided to take a good look at my whole life and decided I was heading for disaster. My wife and kids deserved better than that. I started researching diets but was not fond of any of the diets I found. They all seemed to be based on somebody else making money off from me getting skinny. I talked to my doctor at my annual physical and she told me that I did not need to go on a diet. I needed to get a new lifestyle. I needed to change just about every aspect of my health. So I switched gears and started a new approach to my “diet”. I went out to the government’s food pyramid site and started studying what I needed to do. In January I started my life style change.

In a nutshell I lost 75 pounds the first year and 50 pounds the second year. The third I have been working on toning up and have actually put on about 15 pounds but it is muscle not fat. I haven't been on the medication for my stomach issues in a year. The I took 2 medications for my blood pressure, I am completely off one of them and the other one I take 1 pill once a day instead of twice a day. I am hoping that I will be able to come off the blood pressure medication completely when I go for my physical in November.

Now that I have bored you, I will tell you the stuff you wanted to hear to begin with. I may say a few things that will surprise you. Remember if you are going to lose weight you should consult a doctor not me, I have no medical training, nutritional training or initials of any kind after my name.

I don't like the word diet; anything that starts with the word die is just too intimidating. I usually use lifestyle change, even though that is very cliché it is what you need to do if you are going to lose a lot of weight. If you have a better phrase please let me know but Chocolate Deprived, Calorie Deficient and Feed Me I am Starving have already been tried and weren't found to be very inspiring.

Go for the Goal! The first thing that I recommend is setting goals. In the past I have set out to lose 25 pounds and always made that goal, then a year later I was back at the original weight plus some additional weight. This time I did not set a goal for total weight that I wanted to lose, other than to lose as much weight as possible. Instead I set smaller goals like to lose 8 pounds this month or 1 pound this week. Little goals give you more victories and more victories inspire you to keep going. If you meet a monthly goal reward yourself a new book, CD, workout clothes, a piece of chocolate whatever will make you happy. Losing weight is about you and what you really want, if you do it for someone else the weight will come back. Remember it is considered safe to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You may lose more weight in the beginning but eventually it will even out.

Write on. Track everything that you can. Write down what you eat, how many calories it has, when you eat it and how you were feeling when you ate it. Yes how you were feeling, you will probably see a pattern in your eating fairly quickly, something that you might not have realized before. You will notice that you eat when you are bored, when you are angry, when you are by yourself or when you are with a specific person. Then you can use that information to avoid those triggers. Also keep an exercise log. Track how long you ran, how many repetitions you did of each exercise, how many calories you burned. There are many online sites that will allow you to input a food or exercise and find out about calories burned or consumed.

Size Matters. Before you start your lifestyle change weigh yourself and keep weighing yourself at a regular interval weekly, daily once a month. I started out daily to keep myself on track but after I lost the weight I only check weekly now. Your body weight will fluctuate naturally influenced by the food you eat (salty foods will make you retain weight) etc. so don’t panic if you gain a pound but ate correctly. Besides weighing yourself measure your neck, each arm around the bicep, your waist and each of your thighs. Track these measurements weekly. You may have a week where you don’t lose weight but you may drop inches. I suggest measuring each arm and leg because they may lose inches at different rates. The more ways you monitor your body the more chances you have for victories and victories keep you inspired and on track.

Play with your food! I know your mom told you not to do this but it is important. In order to lose weight you will cut back on the fats you eat. Fat adds flavor to food. If your new food has no flavor you won’t stick to your diet. So you have to replace the flavor from the fat. Add spices, herbs, lemon or try low fat versions of foods but find someway to get flavor into your food. By the way some no fat foods add a lot of chemicals to get rid of the fat; you may be better off going with low fat or small quantities of the full fat versions.

Eat More Meals. This sounds weird, but it works. By eating your 3 regular meals and then sticking in mini meals between breakfast and lunch and then another between lunch and dinner your metabolism does not slow down. The extra meals are not real meals but healthy snacks. Examples of the extra meals could be a piece of cheese and a piece of fruit, nuts and dried fruit, etc.

Don’t Trust Your Loved Ones. The people that will gain the most by you succeeding will be the ones who will tempt you the most. Here try a bite, Aunt Martha won’t let anybody turn down her Death by Chocolate Triple Fudge Cake, One piece won’t hurt you, Try it you’ll like it. You will hear them all, how you react will determine your lifestyle success. That does not mean you have to turn everything down, it just means you have to learn to take bites not pieces, how to eat less and how to eat better at other meals if you know you are going to be tempted at another meal. It has been proven that when people get a craving for a specific food the first bite is the one that counts the most in satisfying them and by the 5th bite the craving is completely gone. Learn to satisfy the craving without indulging. That's right I am saying you can eat the foods that tempt you, just don't do it daily and plan to eat less at the meal before and after if you need to make up the calories. I believe in eat everything in moderation. Diets that restrict foods are usually diets that eventually fail and diets themselves usually have a beginning and an end. Lifestyle changes are a way to deal with what you eat everyday and last a lifetime.

The Dreaded Plateau. Everyone will eventually hit a plateau, when people tell me they are at one I always say congratulations. A plateau is your body realizing what you are doing. Your body is programmed to protect itself and if you start losing too much weight it will go into protection mode to preserve itself and start storing calories. You need to change your exercise plan and/or diet when you get to the plateau. Run further or longer, lift the weights for more repetitions or lift heavier weights, change something about your diet, but change what you are doing. In a couple of weeks you should have it figured out.

Make sure you measure up. Learn portion sizes. Practice serving correct portion sizes. Use measuring cups, scales etc. but learn the right amounts to eat. After a while you will get so you can estimate by looking at the food, but in the beginning measure the portions out. Portion control is one of the main reasons diets fail.

The next section is a few thought that I have about current food trends.

100 Calorie Packs. Did you ever notice that nothing healthy comes in 100 calorie packs? Do you know why that is? 100 calories if carrots would be approximately 1 pound, it would last you a week! It has been proven that people who eat the 100 calorie packs tend to eat more because they view 100 calories as a small amount, so it is ok to eat more. If you can hold yourself to 1 pack then use the 100 Calorie Packs to satisfy your craving.

But Wait That’s Not All. This is the new trend in food. Take something that is not healthy for you and add something good to it. For example sugary cereals with fiber added or soda with vitamins added. Adding something good for you to something that is not good for you does not make the bad thing good for you. Besides that, do you really want fish oil added to your milk so you can get Omega 3 fatty acids?

Wow amazing

Introducing: My Foodpedia

This is a new government site, where you can get the calorie value for thousands of foods, its very handy if you are trying to lose weight and want to work out how many calories you are taking in a day. It also allows you to compare foods, I feel though it would have been nicer to have more nutrients, protein and fiber listed.

I like this site better as it gives you a full nutritional breakdown:

What do you think, have you ever used sites like these?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natures Pride Bread and a Rainbow

Natures Pride all natural bread send us two loaves of bread to try through foodbuzz, which is very nice of them. I made a very simple sandwich with ham, cheese, lettuce, cucumber and tomato, overall very good, healthy, high in fiber and soft. It cuts up really well for little Jasmine size pieces as well. I would say this is a great bread to have in the freezer or for making sandwiches, to be honest though I am a sucker for fresh whole foods or fresh market crusty whole grain breads when they are still warm LOL

Oh and this was a rainbow I saw yesterday from the car, in fact during the thunderstorms I must have seen 3-4 beautiful. I was taught as a kid that rainbows mean that God keeps his Promises thats so true he is the one person we can always count on.

What do rainbows mean to you? are you looking for the pot of gold at the end!

On an important note:
We are blessed to see rainbows after a storm, please pray for the folks in the Philippines that are badly affected by the flooding and consider donating
I love world vision so donated here


Monday, September 28, 2009

Cod Cakes with Mashed Sweet Potato and Roasted Fennel

I got fennel in my farm box this week and wasn't sure what to do with it, I knew it goes well with fish so I made fish cakes. To add more color and of course nutrients I made mashed sweet potato and carrot.

Fish cakes:


  • one tablespoon of old bay seasoning
  • 3 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 lb cod
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 a chopped spring onion
  1. Mix cod with all the above ingredients
  2. Make patties and lightly saute in olive oil for about 7 min on each side.
  1. slice the fennel, drizzle with salt and pepper, balamic vinegar and olive oil and bake for 15 - 20 minutes.

Overall it was a yummy meal, although I'll confess I wasn't very keen on the fennel, I think its an acquired taste LOL

Anyone got any cool ways of cooking it?

How Much Sun Do We Need for Vitamin D

JUST FOR YOUR INFORMATION, so we all get enough of these much needed vitamin,

This was in the peoples pharmacy in the LA times, we need at least 10-15 min a day of sun exposure a few times a week, to the face and hands of light skinned people. In the winter its harder and dark skin people need more, so a supplement may be needed.
This is the time needed to make 10,000 IU from sun conversion.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guest Post: Cranachan

It is with great pleasure that I bring you a guest post by Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen
I meet her on the UK food bloggers association, she has a lovely blog full of great British food, she lives on a farm in Scotland. This is a traditional Scottish dessert, and as you all know I grew up in Scotland its a great country, rich in history and amazing natural beauty.


Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish culinary traditions because oats are better suited than wheat to the short, wet growing season. Therefore, it became the staple grain of that country. Ancient Scottish Universities had a holiday called Meal Monday, to permit students to return to their farms and collect more oats for food.

Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats: "Agrain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, "Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?"[7]

A common alternative method of cooking oatmeal in Scotland is to soak it overnight in salted water and cook on a low heat in the morning for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.

In Scotland, oatmeal is created by grinding oats into a coarse powder. Various grades are available depending on the thoroughness of the grinding, including Coarse, Pin(head) and Fine oatmeal. The main uses are:

  • Traditional porridge (or "porage")
  • Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal and butter or cream; eaten like porridge but much more filling.
  • Rolled oats, crushed oats, and other "instant" variations are often used for this purpose nowadays, since they are quicker to prepare.
  • Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water which is then strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
  • as an ingredient in baking
  • in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
  • as a stuffing for poultry
  • as a coating for Caboc cheese
  • as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish, skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
  • mixed with sheep's blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding
  • mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep's intestine to make "marag geal"' Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast
  • as a major component of haggis.


Serves 4


  • 3-4oz (75-100g) slightly toasted and sifted oatmeal

  • 10fl oz (300ml) double or whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon malt whisky
  • 6oz (175g) raspberries or blackberries (or a mixture of both)


  1. Whip the cream.
  2. Pour the whisky over the oatmeal and fold the mixture into the cream.
  3. Fold in the fruit reserving a few pieces for decoration.

Serve in glasses chilled.


On a little side note from the comments, Cranachan makes a a great dessert, maybe a bit much with the whiskey for breakfast and why not!! Here's a clip of how to make it as well:

Brew Nerds Winston Salem

I just wanted to take you all to my favorite coffee shop in Winston Salem, Brew Nerds, its locally owned and there are two in the city. It roasts and grinds it's own coffee and makes amazing cappuccinos with lots of foam.
Their smoothies are all natural with fresh frozen fruit and yogurt nothing else, I get them for Jasmine all the time.
Jasmine playing on top of the car, the day before Amma left with Daddy/Appa.
It is very contemporary in design and has outside seating and a fountain, all the kids are adore this!, it also has mist spray great in summer.
The inside the roaster is in the corner oh the smell is divine.

In fact heading there in a little while to meet a friend want to join us?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Idly and Dosa and Fond Memories

The above pictures are some of Amma's (this means Mum in Tamil) my Indian Mum in law's amazing South Indian food, she left yesterday and I miss her so much.
She is a wonderful lady and I am truly blessed to have her as my second mum, even with the language difficulties and occasional cultural misunderstandings we are still like mum and daughter.
First of all I am so grateful that they accepted me as my hubby is the oldest son and they always wanted him to take an arranged marriage. They are so forward thinking and open minded it inspires me.

She is proud of chow and chatter and loved sharing her recipes with us, and also that I am writing from home to stay with Jasmine this is precious to me.
We plan to go the the UK in November, hopefully we can meet again there.

Through her quietness and calming personality I have learned not to get so stressed with small things like maintaining a house to perfection!, thanks Amma

What have you learned lately from your Mum in Law or Mum?

Fructose Tied to Higher Blood Pressure: Study - ABC News

Fructose Tied to Higher Blood Pressure: Study - ABC News

Shared via AddThis

I Just had to share this article, something to bear in mind, when making dietary choices in particular high sugar soda's although the men in the study consumed high doses of fructose it was interesting that it raised blood pressure.
Try to drink more water and have soda as a treat, this will be used to support the soda tax I am sure!, I don't think taxing soda is the answer though, I think we need more reimbursement for dietitians and preventative care so when folks are ready to make lifestyle changes its free for them.

What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Miso Soup and Thanks Asian Food Grocer

My first Miso Soup!

Through the Foodbuzz taste program, the lovely folks at Asian Food Grocer allowed us to go shopping on their site and make something with the purchase. The goodies above are what I got, seaweed, rice cakes, shitake mushrooms, white soybean paste, a monkey bowl for my daughter, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, tofu and pocky for my hubby (we ate a lot of these when we visited Japan!)

My plan was to try my hand at making miso soup a traditional soup in Japan, but when my order came I realized that I forgot to order stock. So I asked Fujimama for advice, she has a fab blog with lots of Japanese food on there.
She send me links to make dashi, but I am blessed to have a Japanese neighbour and she gave me some stock from her recent trip back home, it was in a pack, one tea bag like sachet makes about 3 cups of stock.

So here we go....
  • 3 tablespoon white soybean paste
  • handful of dry seaweed
  • dashi stock
  • tofu
  1. soak the seaweed in a little water and set aside
  2. then make the soup stock but adding the sachet to hot water, make about 4 cups
  3. add to the pan and warm, then remove a little and dissolve about 3 spoon of the miso paste into it, add it back to the pan
  4. then add the tofu to the pan and seaweed and simmer for 5 min, its really that easy.
I added some shitake mushrooms and spinach to mine. Its a good source of protein, and vitamin K.

Food Chart

Jasmines bowl

Enjoy, please share your Japanese recipes I am eager to learn ......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where Are You From?

I got his email today after you heard my accent and it got me thinking...

"I'm so confused now....thought you were British???????????????
You soound SOOOOOOO American on your Appam video and nice to catch a glimpse of you!
:-) Ozoz (Kitchen Butterfly)"

I am a yellow belly, that's what you call a person Born in Lincolnshire England, I am proud to be a Brit and count myself part of the UK's rich heritage. I moved a lot growing up around the UK, doing my high school in Glenrothes Fife in Scotland and University in Aberdeen in the North of Scotland. In school I was often teased for being English, there is a very long history of issues between Scotland and England. My name was Rebecca Johnson in Scotland its spelt Johnstone so I got the nickname Rebecca Johnson no t son!

Anyways when you move a lot growing up your accent takes on a little of everything, and now its getting specks of American mixed in but I am OK with it, I love this country and life is good for our little family.

But I am a Brit in my heart I know this to be true as I hunt down wheatabix and Heinz baked beans and only want British tea, I have satelitte radio in my car and listen to radio one and BBC news, I laugh at British jokes and watch BBC America. I even used to read British history books to Jasmine when she was a newborn!, I must confess I can't find much time now! I get homesick when I hear a British accent or read of food bloggers and their trips to the UK.

I was listening to Radio One today and they got a sample of cheese curry from Japan, the host Scott Mills was calling his co worker at home as she was off work with food poisoning telling her he was saving it for her and playing the catchy music.
Here's an advertisement, it may actually be good, as both are good on their own, but it cracked me up anyways!

So where do you come from and what does it mean to you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making Appam

Here is Amma making Appam, the weather has been cooler here the last few days so the batter didn't ferment properly so even a great cook of over 40 years can sometimes struggle to get things perfect every time. This was so encouraging to me, as I have messed up so many Indian dishes, but now my chapatti for example is much better through trial and error.
As a good chef/cook the key is to never give up.....
My Mum in Law leaves thursday, I will miss her loads, its been a treat to have her around and learn so much about South Indian cooking, and if you know any Indians they love food LOL

Cool Find: Nudo Adopt an Olive Tree

I came accross this company on Foodbuzz, it is such a novel idea I just had to share it with you all, basically you adopt an Olive Tree in Italy and they ship the yummy olive oil to you. We all know how good olive oil is for us, rich in monounsaturated fats known to maintain a healthy lipid profile and reduce heart disease.
Its a great gift idea, a bit pricey though but maybe folks could chip in. I emailed the company for a description, so here it is:

Nudo: Adopt-An-Olive Tree is an amazing gift for the foodie who has everything. Nudo is a family-run co-operative of olive groves dotted around a small hilltop village in the Marche region of Italy, and they offer the unique chance to own a little piece of the Italian countryside.

Instead of just buying olive oil, by adopting a tree, you can choose a specific olive variety, follow the progress of your tree for one year, support the local Italian family farmer who would have otherwise gone out of business, and (literally) taste the reward of your investment.

Olive growing has become more mechanized in recent years, which has led to both soil erosion and bland, mass produced oil. Because of this (and recent issues with lax regulations on olive oil origin), eco-conscious food lovers demand olive oil from small-scale, artisanal farmers. With
Nudo, they know exactly where their oil comes from; right down to the GPS coordinates!

Once you adopt a tree from
Nudo, you or the gift recipient will receive a personalized adoption certificate and information booklet that describes the tree, four 500ml tins of first cold press extra virgin olive oil from the tree in the spring (mid-April), three 250ml tins of infused extra virgin olive oil (i.e. lemon, chile, orange) in the fall, and an open invitation to come and visit, hug or water the tree in person. The adoption and products cost $150.00, making it a thoughtful present or very reasonable group gift.

What are your recent cool foodie finds?

Coconut Green Beans

I love this simple Indian vegetable dish and its so easy to make

  • Green beans can also make it with okra
  • 1/4 red onion
  • a handful of frozen coconut (this is great from Indian stores)
  • salt to taste
  • mustard seeds
  • garlic
  • 2 small green chili's
  • cumin seeds a few
  • a little masala powder
  • a few curry leaves (again from Indian store, its not required though)
  1. cook the green beans and slice, I used a microwave bag yesterday and steamed it very quick to do
  2. heat canola oil and pop mustard seeds with curry leaves and green chili then add onion, garlic, cumin and saute for 5 minutes
  3. after a few minutes add a little salt and masala powder, add green beans and coconut saute for 3 min and its done.
I ate this with kala (black) chana and rice, lovely. Its a great vegetable side dish with any cuisine

Monday, September 21, 2009

Podcasts Help With Weight Loss

A study done by the University of Chapel in a group of overweight people found that those who listened to a podcast with elements of social behavioral therapy, based on the fact some behavior can be changed to be like those we want to be. The study group lost 6.4 lb and one point in BMI and the control group only lost 0.7 lb.
So hopefully we will be able to get hold of the podcast in the near future. Its cool to use modern technologies to help us get healthier.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Guest Post from Butterfly Kitchen

I stumbled upon Ozoz's blog and was reading a post about slurping on noodles and cultural food practices it fascinated me, so she kindly agreed to give us a guest post.
She is Nigerian, living in the Netherlands and has friends from around the globe and has a neat perspective, hope you enjoy, oh and check out the blog its great.
I am always open to guest blogs, as we can learn so much from each other and its awesome to have different voices on chow and chatter, comment if interested LOL

Who am I?

I've always loved food - except for the first 9 years of my life but that's very well behind me now. I am wife to one, mother of three and a full-time worker - a Geologist by trade and Foodie by heart. I love food. Anything to do with it. Eating, talking, scheming and planning, listening, reading, knowing, doing..... Shall I go on? . I love to create food and share it by writing and feeding,not to mention my craze for photography. Put all these together and that's me: Kitchen Butterfly - constantly!

People, places and food: the good, the new and the different??

My son is neither Chinese nor Japanese, and yet he's constantly lifting his bowl to his lips...not to cool his noodles or soup, but mostly to drink up the milk in his cereal bowl. Forget that he's only 2.5 years old, this could be the start of him morphing into a worldly guy - complex, influenced and tempered by the world around him.
And so begins my tale. It was only a few weeks ago that M, my friend was here from the UK. We had a lovely Thai-themed weekend and because she's travelledAsia, she kept feeding me tidbots and weetjes (Dutch for 'little bits of knowledge'). Some of it surprised me and I was keen to find out more; and then came the invitation from Rebecca asking me to do a post on culture and customs.
Now, I'm no anthropologist or sociologist - all I know is from a collection of experiences: mine and others, so please hear me out.
Imagine someone born and brought up in Britain - home to the most 'royal' royals on earth aka country of the 'prim and proper'. Children this side of the Altlantic are raised to be polite, eat silently and adhere to strict table etiquette. Burps and belches are considered uncouth and leaving your cutlery anywhere else but on your plate when you're done is a definite no-no. Imagine a Britico (Nigerian name for a Brit) on holiday in Hong Kong, like my friend M. She's happily sitting at a resturant where local and foreign diners enjoy good food. However, when it comes to expressing thanks, the locals and foreigners do it differently.

A guy behind her gives off a loud BURP, long and hard in demonstration of his pleasure with the food. M is shocked, as is her husband. They blush, cringe, want to run away in absolute shock. For them from the 'West', it is so not polite to do that! To be honest, they're not the only ones who react with shock, most of the Western hemisphere would do the exact same. But understand the culture and consider this mode of 'communication' a different expression of thanks and compliments. Or do you find graciously saying 'Thank you' is a more appropriate means of doing that?

Saying this, you would think all of Asia acted in unison. What's good in Hong Kong is good in Japan? No way. Were you to suddenly belch at the table in Japan, eyes would widen and shocked, astonished faces would confront you, diametrically opposed to the Hong Kongese. Belching, burping and general noisiness at the table are not welcome (except noodle slurping)...and should they occur, a prompt 'Excuse me please' should part-repair some of the damage!

I mean today I was thinking of how we as Nigerians express our delight in a meal. If it is a meal eaten with cutlery, then usually, the result will be an empty plate. Wiped clean. Same in China and Japan. In China, if you leave a small amount of rice in your bowl, you will be given more so to show that you don't want any more rice, finish every grain in your bowl. Also to leave some is regarded as being bad mannered. The assumption is that one displays a lack of respect for the host/cook! Now while there will be no 'bad belle' (bad thoughts) against you in Naija (affectionate term for Nigeria), your host would much prefer the wiped-clean plate - you were hungry, you were fed and you did it justice. Well done!

In most of Europe and the United States, leaving some food on your plate is the way to go when you're done eating. Graceful. Lest your host(ess) feel that the provisions have not been sufficient to satisy, hence a clean plate. So always leave a bit on your plate, no matter how little it may be to show that you were served an appropriate portion and have eaten as much as you can.
Eating with fingers? How acceptable is that. Again, the boundary lines fall in different places. In Naija, when a guest enjoys one of the traditional meals, not only will you find a clean plate but the guest may also 'lick' his fingers clean with such thoroughness that people may jokingly say 'no need to wash the plate or your hands' and that would come from a beaming host but not in China or Japan - this behaviour would be considered uncoth.

I am used to eating with my hands, but I'm also adept at using cutlery...and with chopsticks I could probably manage a whole meal...somewhat long and drawn out (if I don't slurp or raise the bowl to my lips!). In most of Europe, eating with your hands is generally unacceptable except in the case of appetizers, fruit and more; In Japan, chopsticks would do for your sushi but other than the exceptions, the standard is not 'finger-licking'! For me, the Nigerian foods that generally involve hand-eating are certainly in my opinion, more enjoyable to do so than by wielding knives and forks, a fact on which my husband and I disagree.
Now if you're very hungry,second helpings are not at all a big deal in Nigeria, as long as there's food left in the dishes, you're more than welcome to have some. Same in China. You're expected to have at least two bowls of rice at the meal.

As for slurping noodles...that's of course included in the 'noisy doings' I mentioned earlier. Put hot noodles and soup together with rules of engagement and what do you get - slurping sounds! A 'taboo' in the 'West' but in China and Japan - an everyday occurence (though not by all - apparently, the younger generation see it as uncouth.) As noodles and rice play important roles in daily nutrition and are commonly served with chopsticks in bowls with soup or broth, people lift their soup and rice bowls to their mouths to avoid food spills. The reason for the slurping is that people generally begin eating soup and noodles (almost) the minute it is served without waiting (for a prolonged time) for it to cool down. By sucking in air, the noodles cool down and 'improves' the flavor. (In order to cool the soup a bit and to better diffuse the flavor in the mouth, soup is eaten by sipping from a spoon while breathing in.) Permission is also granted to drink up the broth/soup left in the bowl aka Operation D, Operation slurp (first paragraph - story of my son!).
Personally, I can relate to this slurping because I love hot food. Don't ask me if I slurp... because I don't think so :-), most of my hot meals aren't soupy noodles.

And where at the end of a 'western meal', cutlery is paired up and set aside to signal 'the end', in Japan and China, this is not done. Chopsticks are placed on their own stands never over the bowls.

So, there are some many difference in cultures....and all these result in different foods from people with different histories. Of course there are many more differences and similarities than I have touched on here, considering the sheer diversity of people on the planet - be it from how people in Sweden and Switzerland share toasts (by looking each other straight in the eye while toasting) to using only your fingertips to eat North Indian breads. All in all, it is amazing to see how cultures and customs intersect to give us numerous permutations and combinations for every tribe, every race and every country of the world. Of course, there are many sweeping generalisations and while these are not rigorous, must-take steps, it is good to be aware of what goes on...and where. You never know where you'll be headed to next!

What are your own peculiar customs?

What experiences have you had with etiquette and food manners?

Please let us know what you think. Thanks.

References: The Almight Wiki:


We had pancakes for breakie yummy, and i just have to share this clip with you, it is so good,

Enjoy and have a blessed Sunday

Lots of Love

Friday, September 18, 2009


My Mum in law made Idiyappam flour in India for Jasmine, she dried the rice flour to make it for her first granddaughter so sweet of her.
She reconstituted it with water to make a dough then used the special strainer to make the Indian noodles as she calls them! this takes a lot of strength (I remember trying to do it in India unsuccessfully) so hubby was roped in.

It was then steamed. In India it is served with milk and sugar for babies, this is how Jasmine had hers.
I had some with dal, it tastes really good, but a lot of work to make!

What special foods did your Grandma give you?

My British Grandma always gave us chocolate cake and yorkshire puddings, in fact she still does I say smiling


Cool Find: Crispy Apple Chips

I got these chips in wholefoods yesterday, they are all natural Washington State apples cooked to a crisp. very low in sodium, and a nice little snack. They have a great crunch and fresh apple taste. Oh and they are on special for 99 cents!
They are made by a company called Good Health Natural Products from Greensboro NC just down the road from me. They also sell French soaps, every time I have been to the South of France I buy heaps of natural soup, on my last bar now LOL

What is your favourite snack food?

Mine is fruit, especially plums....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tomato Rice

Here's another one of Amma's recipes, I have enjoyed having her here to learn from and I am trying to persuade her to get my sis in law to start a blog in India so when she returns next week, the learning can continue lol
So here it is, very simple a great dish for any meal, good with a boiled egg, chicken, or anything!
We made one for Jasmine with no spice and I scrambled an egg into it for protein!

  • pinch of cumin
  • mustard seeds
  • curry leaves
  • cilantro
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • little ginger
  • oil
  • one spoon masala powder

  1. heat the oil and pop the mustard seeds and cumin
  2. add onion, saute for a few minutes then add ginger and garlic 
  3. add masala powder one teaspoon, and tomatoes and reduce down to a paste
  4. add cooked rice and its done, easy peasy!



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