New Year with the Roosters

A farmer at work in the fields

How many of us have gone on holiday and come back feeling drained, requiring a vacation from our vacation?  Or have felt less healthy than before we left?  If you can often say yes, then maybe it’s time to go on a healthy retreat.

This Chinese New Year, I went on vacation with a tour group called M2adventure Shanghai.  I was looking for a chance to get away from the bright lights, the pollution and the concrete jungle for a few days.  I figured a technology detox, and a WeChat detox, was also in order.  My CNY adventure to a tiny (and I mean tiny) mountain village near Taizhou city in Zhejiang province was just what I needed.

View of a Chinese mountain village

My group of intrepid explorers (!) arrived at the base of a mountain where we disembarked from our comfortable bus.  We then had to climb 2-3 hours to make it to the village as it is not accessible by car.  There was no-one selling anything along the trail and during our ascent we saw no-one but the people in our group.  The mountain air was clean and fresh; I saw more stars than I had ever seen in my whole life.  We spent our days hiking and exploring nature.  We relaxed at night by talking, singing (and dancing!) around a bonfire.

I must of course tell you about the food!  It was fresh, organic and harvested straight from the mountain.  The farm technology consisted of little more than an ox.  Everything tasted better than the food I have had anywhere in China (except for Chongming Island).  The food was light with minimal spices and oils but still big on flavor.  Some of the meals featured a little too much salt for my tastes but otherwise it was very healthy.  We were served around 12 different types of veggies alone at every evening meal!  I attended a dumpling and tofu making class and even watched an 80 year old lady collect root vegetables from the top of a waterfall!  Our Chinese hosts seemed driven to feed all of us constantly, as if we would never eat again.  We stuffed our faces at every meal but the hiking meant that we needed these extra calories.  Our hosts had their own beehives, providing a fresh source of beautiful honey.  The village also had loads of cows, pigs, and tons of chickens.  It was great spending the Chinese New Year of the Rooster surrounded by roosters!

Fresh vegetables in the countryside

All in all it was a great chance to really see China and return to Shanghai refreshed and happy to be back to civilization.  Do you think a trip like this isn’t for you because of kids or because of fitness levels?  Not true! M2adventure, and other Shanghai based tour groups, have trips suitable for bringing the kids along.  They can also cater to different fitness levels.  The trips are also very good value.  They range from around 800 to 1500 RMB for the budget savvy.  Please be warned that luxury accommodations are not part of the package for the tours.  Just to give you an idea, our group had to poop sitting on a log in a “bathroom” with no door, next to a cow!  You are sure to make lots of memories and come home with some interesting stories.

Until the next time, Eat Well Shanghai!  😉  – Jessica W.

Taking the Vegan Challenge

 

Are you up to the challenge?
Are you up to the challenge?

Starting this February 11th 2017, with a launch party at Happy Buddha, the Shanghai “21 day vegan challenge” begins! (see link at the end of the post.)  For anyone who has wanted to try a vegan diet, Happy Buddha, Saucepan, Veggie Lovers and Veggie Dorm have joined forces with VeganFiesta to create this great event!  If you are inclined to drool over a delicious cheese board or juicy steak, unsure of how you will find the willpower not to eat them, you are sure to find lots of support from fellow challenge members.  There are also activities every day from cooking classes to workouts.  Too tired to make your own vegan food?  Then order a vegan meal from one of the multiple partners at a discount or buy a week long meal plan from Better Bentos.  I will be trying this challenge; although I can’t promise I’ll make it through to the end!  I will be contributing to the challenge by giving a nutrition class at Hunter Gatherer on the evening of February 23rd.  The class will focus on healthy vegan eating patterns, to ensure those participating get all of their proper nutrients.
I have heard some debate over whether or not vegans can get all the nutrients they need.  They absolutely can if they eat the right plant sources.  B12 is an exception but it can be obtained through fortified foods or nutritional yeast, check out this great vegetarian resource here.  Vegetarians and vegans tend to have an overall lower cancer rate than the general population as well as a lower BMI.  Conversely, just because someone is vegan does not automatically mean they are eating healthy.  Sugars, oils and certain processed “junk foods” can be vegan.  So remember, no matter what diet you choose, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is best for optimal health.
Until the next time, wishing you and your family good fortune in this New Year of the Rooster!

Eat Well Shanghai! – Jessica W.

Link to 21 Day Vegan Challenge

Neither Fish nor Fowl

Hey all you meat eaters October is Vegetarian month !

There are plenty of reasons to eat a plant based based diet and it appears that the health benefits from such a lifestyle are no longer in doubt.

As recently as September, a landmark study on vegetarianism/veganism was presented at the annual Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference.  This study followed thousands of Seventh Day Adventist (vegetarians) over 30 years and concluded , in a nutshell ( sorry I couldn’t resist), ” that the kinds of foods frequently consumed in vegetarian diets — fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes — can reduce a person’s risk for diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, control body mass index and waist size, and boost brain health. ”  For more information:  http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/1011/eat-vegetarian-live-longer.aspx

Life is flexible and while you may not want to throw out the turkey with the gravy, adopting a weekly intake that includes meatless meals will not only open you up to a whole new world of tastes but just may make you smarter!

There is no  better place  to be a vegetarian then here in Shanghai. Starting with the Shanghai Veggie Club, they welcome all eaters , meat and non-meat to their popular  monthly events at local vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Check out their veggie friendly website at www.shanghaivegetarians.com

Want to try a local place on your own?  Shanghai has many great vegetarian eateries and it seems like I hear of a new one opening up every week.  Here is a very brief list to get you started:

KUSH                                                                                                                                                                                                             98 YanPing Road, near XinZha Road

Qimin  Organic Hot Pot                                                                                                                                                                              47 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Kechara Tea House                                                                                                                                                                               G113, Block 28,  570 Huaihai Xi Lu,  near Hongqiao Lu  淮海西路570号28号楼G113,  近虹桥路

Anna Maya                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Taojiang Lu, 桃江路3号

Juju Tree Vegetarian Lifestyle                                                                                                                                                                258 Fengxian Lu, 奉贤路258号 ( plus two other locations)

Brother 7  Vegan Restaurant                                                                                                                                                                    Taiwan Zone, B2, SML Plaza, 618 Xujiahui Road

And I will finish with a  veggie recipe that will brighten up any fall table:

Homestyle Squash and Pinto Beans  Serves 4

Ingredients: 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper, 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup sliced yellow squash (1/2-inch thick), 1 cup sliced zucchini (1/2-inch thick), 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, 1 can pinto beans, drained, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, 3 fresh thyme sprigs

Directions:  Heat broth in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, jalapeno, and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in squash and zucchini and sauté 2 minutes. Add corn, beans, tomatoes and their liquid, and thyme. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard thyme. Serve over brown rice.    *Recipe from Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D.

Eat Well,Live Well, Have fun !