Tonight I ordered a plate of fries…

French Fries... a.k.a. "NastySticks"
French Fries… a.k.a. “NastySticks”

… and I didn’t eat any of them. I couldn’t do it.

Initially I just thought, “Oh, it’s just a little unhealthy, not a big deal. And I miss Western food, so I can afford to eat this junk, just for now, while I’m here in Asia.” (That’s a convenient rationalization.) Anyway, I ordered them. $60 NTD, around $2 USD for a plate of comfort.

Then I heard them dunking the fries in the oil. Heard the sizzle and pops of the hot grease doing… whatever it does to raw starch.

And that’s the moment that I realized, “… oh shit. I just ordered a plate of acrylamide. Cancer. Fuck. Shit. Damn. Ass. Hell. What do I do? I just ordered this, I can’t not eat it, not now! Plus, the manager might think I’m being rude, and I definitely want to save face, I mean, this is Asia.

Then another realization. What the heck am I thinking? I’m literally risking cancer just to save face? And with people that just happen to work in this southern Taiwan city that I’ll never see again in my life? Well, once I put it that way, it’s a really simple decision.

And I can’t eat acrylamide. I can’t risk getting cancer just in order to save face, that’s ridiculous. If I’d have eaten that nasty, oily, greasy plate of fries, I’d’ve felt like a hypocrite. I mean, I’ve been going around telling people how specific starches in potatoes, when subjected to high heat becomes acrylamide, which is linked to cancer. Plus, they’re just unhealthy as just about anything.

Whenever I think hard about what I really want to do in life, it usually comes back around to a couple of things: 1) Science & innovation, and 2) a healthy Raw-vegan lifestyle. How could I actually consider coaching people to better health when I myself eat crap like French Fries? It just didn’t sit well with me.

So, all this went on in my head as I sat and stared at those crispy, oily, browned fried tuber sticks in front of me. They just looked… nasty. I broke one open, just looked at how the fibers fell apart. At how oily it was & how the whole thing had undergone some chemical reaction in that deep fryer that created some things which were really horrible for my body. I couldn’t eat them. So I just walked out of the restaurant.

It was a vegan restaurant, and I believe that’s a good thing for the world and for our health in general. But it wasn’t healthy vegan, and served one of the most unhealthy things imaginable. Honestly, now that I think about it, I’d rather be eating healthy baked salmon fillets than to eat those nastysticks. (Note: French fries shall forthwith be referred to as “NastySticks”). But I won’t do that, for ethical reasons.

That’s the thing with the raw vegan lifestyle — it’s mostly focused on health, and people who choose that diet and lifestyle seem to be a lot more educated about health and nutritional requirements than people who are just vegan, for whatever reasons.


Photo by Daniel Go

Least-Expensive Fruit Stands in Taipei

A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City
A Fruit Stand in the area of Dalongdong Temple, Taipei City

Being vegan who likes to eat raw whenever possible, I eat a lot of fruit.

Of course, Taipei doesn’t have too many raw food cafes (any?), but it does have a lot of fruit to offer. tropical fruits and the same “regular” fruits that we get at home (my favorite is dragonfruit — 火龍果).

But I can get expensive to eat a lot of fruit, and even in Taipei, fruits aren’t exactly cheap (not like in Thailand anyway). So I started to make a mental note of all the least-expensive places to buy fruit in Taipei. I don’t like to use the word “cheap”, because of connotations of low-quality, and the fruit is the same quality pretty much wherever you buy it here.

Here’s one just next to Longshan Temple:

https://goo.gl/maps/MdJRfuvPjd62

Address:
No. 1, Lane 224, Xichang St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108

This one was the 2nd-lowest prices I’ve found. The lowest? Here, by the Dalongdong & Confucius temples:

https://goo.gl/maps/dndXBTXm7DC2

Address:
Lane 259, Dalong St, Datong District
Taipei City, Taiwan 103

To determine the expenses, I’ve used a simple test: the red dragonfruit test. The lower the price of red dragonfruit, the lower the price. Most of the fruit prices follow suit I believe, but the red dragon fruits (aka pitayas) I know for sure.

DIY hand-roasted coffee

Or… “that one time I hand-roasted coffee on the stove…”.

A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by Jeff Goins’ post on how he basically “created” a coffee company in 48 hours. Since his site and email list are kinda aggressive on the marketing side, I’m not going to link to it. You can find it via Google if you want. (Jeff, if you’re reading this, no offense intended. And don’t hesitate to get in touch for ideas on how your marketing could be improved.)

Anyway, this is the video that he linked to, and I watched it myself. You can see that it’s so simple to roast your own green coffee by hand on the stove, if you happen to have some green coffee beans on hand. Which I did. 😉

Since I don’t have a copper pan, I used a wok instead, which transfers heat really well. Here are some images from the roasting process:

A couple minutes after starting
A couple minutes after starting
Getting yellow/brown
Getting yellow/brown
Now we're between light brown and dark brown
Now we’re between light brown and dark brown
About midway
About midway
Mostly dark
Mostly dark
Finished - Roasted!
Finished – Roasted!
Green vs Brown Coffee Beans
Green vs Brown Coffee Beans

Since we don’t have a coffee/spice grinder, I just used the Vitamix to grind it. It worked perfectly. The texture of the grind is about the same as the Gevalia ground coffee that you can purchase at many grocery stores.

It seems like so many things that we think are “complicated” or just “too hard” really aren’t. Not that anyone really thinks much about roasting coffee themselves.

I know what I used to think. Spending thousands of dollars on equipment. Probably a small building to house the roaster. Spending hundreds of dollars just having green coffee shipped in 100 LB bags. All that, just to be able to play at roasting coffee.

But that’s not the case at all. You can probably buy green coffee at your local coffee roastery, for the price of roasted coffee and some strange looks when you ask for it green.

As for the taste… it’s surprisingly good! It’s actually similar in taste to the Gevalia coffee that I mentioned earlier, as well. If you’re into trying new things, I recommend at least giving it a try.

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute

Living Light logo

I never thought I’d actually fulfill the dream of going to culinary school, especially after adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle. But fast-forward to now and… here I am! I’m currently attending the Associate Chef and Instructor Training program at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, California.

It’s only been two weeks, but it’s been an amazing ride thus far. I’ve learned far more than I even thought possible, and still have two weeks left to go (one of which is dedicated to desserts!).

I’m even considering staying on another month to obtain the Raw Gourmet Chef certification and learn even more about recipe development, ethnic flavours, raw fusion, catering and even more about raw pastry arts.

It’s a very fast-paced, intense program which has kept my colleagues and me very busy for most of our entire time here. Yesterday was our first day off in two weeks! But it’s been a good busy-ness, and it should let up a lot after next week. Our group is also getting to know each other pretty well, and new friendships are being formed, which is always a good thing.

But enough talk, let’s get to the pictures!

My team and I made this Living Lasagna this week. Delicious and has the texture of real lasagna!
My team and I made this Living Lasagna this week. Delicious and has the texture of real lasagna!
Lemon tartlet that we made in class. We learned to style them especially for photography.
Lemon tartlet that we made in class. We learned to style them especially for photography.
Raw Dolmas with Zucchini Rice
Raw Dolmas with Zucchini Rice
I made these raw collard wraps at home
I made these raw collard wraps at home

And this one’s not exactly related to Living Light, but it is a part of my time here… my first king boletes ever!

I found my first king boletes  yesterday with some native Fort Braggians!
I found my first king boletes yesterday with some native Fort Braggians!

So that’s a short summary of what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. It’s been difficult being without my wife, but it’s also the start of a time in my life which I’ll never forget. I’ll try and put up some pictures of my colleagues and I soon, if I can get around to it.

Hardly Raw – Day 20

I’m tired of writing/editing in HTML, so I’ll probably move to a markdown-based blogging software in the near future. Here is some of the food that I remembered to log. It’s hardly raw anymore, but at least I’m still eating some salads every day.

Vegetarians in general get a reputation for eating only salads, and I’m not sure why. But raw, leafy greens are a great source of tons of nutrients, like iron. I didn’t eat many during my first year of veganism. I’m convinced of the benefits of leafy greens, so I doubt I’ll quit eating them anytime soon. I really should start eating more raw beets.

update (2013-10-05): Umm… yeah, I’m done with this (daily reporting of nutrition/exercise stats). It stopped being fun after about the first 10 days or so. It was a nice experiment, and I’m glad that Brittany and I are still incorporating more raw foods into our diet. I feel a lot better, but again, that might just be in my head.

nutrition

  • English breakfast tea w/hemp mylk
  • 1 Brazil nut
  • oats
  • coffee
  • 1 large apple
  • hot pot
  • the standard mixed greens salad
  • Lady Grey tea w/4 ginger biscuits & some hemp mylk
  • creamy tomato soup
  • vegan red velvet cupcake
  • some kombucha

physical activity

None.

Mostly Raw – Day 19

nutrition

  • 1 Brazil nut
  • Irish breakfast tea w/splash of vanilla soy milk
  • rolled oats, flame raisins, coconut palm sugar, slivered blanched almonds, raw cacao nibs
  • coffee with a splash of vanilla soy milk
  • 1 large apple
  • mixed greens salad with vegan Parmesan cheeze and walnuts/pecans and some kind of vinaigrette
  • hot pot
  • Lady Grey tea with splash of vanilla soy milk and 4 ginger biscuits

physical activity

?

Mostly Raw – Day 18

nutrition

  • 1 Brazil nut
  • English breakfast tea w/splash of almond milk
  • rolled oats, flame raisins, coconut palm sugar, raw sprouted almonds, raw cacao nibs, raw hulled buckwheat
  • coffee with a splash of vanilla soy milk
  • 1 large banana
  • red and green seedless grapes (it was the only kind available)
  • some apple slices
  • mixed-greens salad with pecans and walnuts, milled flax seed, vegan Parmesan cheeze and some vinaigrette
  • 1 cup hot chocolate
  • too much nasty fried vegan food from a vegan restaurant
  • 1 Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest beer
  • Lady Grey tea w/splash of soy milk

physical activity

None.

Mostly Raw – Day 17

nutrition

  • Irish breakfast tea w/splash of almond milk
  • kale, banana, blueberry & raspberry smoothie
  • 1 Brazil nut
  • vegan breakfast burrito w/Field Roast vegan sausage, tofu and Daiya pepperjack cheeze (and other cooked vegetables)
  • coffee with a splash of almond milk
  • cashew carrot ginger soup
  • mixed greens salad with
  • 1 cup of Yerba Mate
  • some Raw-Tella (this is a raw vegan version of Nutella that my wife made)
  • 1 cup hot chocolate
  • mixed-greens salad with pecans and walnuts, milled flax seed, vegan Parmesan cheeze and some vinaigrette
  • pear
  • mango
  • raw tomatoes
  • strawberry soy yogurtkale, banana, blueberry & raspberry smoothie

physical activity

Push-ups and stretches.

Mostly Raw – Day 16

My wife said I should go anorexic today, because I have to write too much for this.

nutrition

  • English breakfast tea w/splash of hazelnut & almond milk
  • kale, banana, blueberry, raspberry smoothie
  • 1 Brazil nut
  • vegan Rösti potatoes at Mint Tea restaurant
  • mint tea
  • coffee with mulling spices and a splash of soymilk
  • cashew carrot ginger soup
  • 1 large banana
  • some Raw-Tella (this is a raw vegan version of Nutella that my wife made)
  • 1 cup hot chocolate
  • 1 Blue Moon pumpkin harvest beer
  • mixed-greens salad with pecans, milled flax seed, vegan Parmesan cheeze and some vinaigrette
  • Lady Grey tea w/splash of almond milk
  • kale, banana smoothie
  • one medjool date
  • mango coconut yogurt

physical activity

None.

Mostly Raw – Day 15

nutrition

  • Irish breakfast tea w/splash of almond milk
  • rolled oats, flame raisins, coconut palm sugar, raw sprouted almonds, raw cacao nibs, raw hulled buckwheat
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 large apple
  • coffee with splash of soy milk
  • Thai green curry w/brown rice
  • vegan bird’s nest w/fake chicken and veggies at Vegetarian Restaurant in Portland
  • spring rolls
  • superfruit kombucha

physical activity

None again. 🙁