Consumption With A Conscience

Last weekend, Andrés and I watched the documentary Fed Up as per recommendation of one of the most fabulous people on the planet, Lynne (ex)VB.

Fed Up is on Netflix, and I am passing on the recommendation. It really opened our eyes as to the quantity of sugar we consume daily versus what’s actually recommended as well as what happens in your body after your consume sugar. Just an FYI, it’s not great news. And consequently, not such great news for my relationship with Coke Zero. I won’t be the bearer of all the bad news, just watch it.

Besides replacing soda with water at all meals and drinking coffee with no added sugar/sweetener, I have started spending a significantly greater amount of time in the kitchen. Since moving to Chile nearly 3 years ago, I have recycled the same 4 or 5 recipes week after week, and as you may be able to see from this sad statistic, I’m not great at introducing diversity into our family meals (also a fierce creature of habit). My poor husband had grown used to chicken enchiladas, chicken tortilla soup, tacos, spaghetti and stir fry.

So, beginning in early June, I started trying some new recipes and found out that spices other than salt exist. I have now also discovered that the smell of cilantro takes me to my happy place.

My new go-to site is Budget Bytes, as she has tons of great recipes that also contemplate price.

I have made the following from her website (CAA – Curry Addicts Anonymous):

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach:Curried-Chickpeas-with-Spinach-bowl

Yellow Jasmine Rice:Yellow Rice side

Chana Saag:Chana Saag aboveI made the Chana Saag with lentils as we didn’t have any chickpeas, still very good. The evaporated milk was a little weird to dump into our dinner, but it mixed with everything else nicely. I read people have also substituted coconut milk with evaporated milk. I would try this again and add chicken.

This is my other favorite, I make it at least once a week:

Mexican Tomato Rice and Beansfc71iy049-02_xlgI’ve turned up the spice and added an additional jalapeño, and also included a chopped onion to the garlic and jalapeño, just because who doesn’t like a little extra onion breath, right?

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find everything (especially spices) that recipes require in Chile, simply because not everything is available, or the selection is limited. So, when I find a recipe that doesn’t use too many ingredients and all of the ingredients are available at the supermarket (at a reasonable price), it feels like I’ve hit the comida jackpot. Hence why I’ve repeated the same 5 recipes for 3 years.

The documentary does make a good point. It states that some people say that cooking at home is more expensive than eating out, but they show that it is usually to the contrary. Andrés and I would spend the equivalent of $30.00 for one dinner of sushi, but I have spent the same amount at the grocery store for at least 2 nights of dinner + leftovers. I have spent much more this month at the grocery store, but significantly less on takeout.

My next challenge is how to separate and cook a smaller portion of what I’m preparing for Joaquin, as most of what I’m cooking is pretty spicy and not so toddler-friendly.

My friends at Fitness Blender always tell me to eat real food and avoid processed “food”, and so far my greatest accomplishment is 1 week off soda. The last time I didn’t have soda for such a long period of time was probably 15 years ago. Talk about an abusive relationship.

Eating Healthier, Saving Moolah, Moving Forward

I need to first say that TODAY is my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday to you, Dad. You provided me with a lifetime example of what I needed to look for in a husband and how a dad should care for and love his children. When I was younger, I thought that my dad is how all dads are, and as my naivety faded as I got older, I saw that I am really on top of really blessed because there really are not THAT many dads who are as wonderful as mine.

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#tbt to 2014. Only one of them looks like they have aged since last year.

Same goes for you too, Mom…who, no fooling, celebrated her birthday on the 1st.

...same goes for this 2014 photo.

…same goes for this 2014 photo.

Next week: shout out to Aunt Pooj whose birfday is on the 15th. She’s your reminder that your taxes are due.

I loved her rather aggressively as a small child.

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In mid-March I did a 5-day challenge with Fitness Blender and it kicked my arse. In between that, I have been exercising for 30-60 minutes 5 or 6 times a day since early February. However, I have not really seen any numerical differences on the scale and my pants fit the same as before…a.k.a. not well. I do feel stronger (I can do five push-ups straight through instead of suffering through one) and in much better shape, but honestly, I’m tired of feeling lumpy and much larger than the size I’ve been almost my entire adult life.

I’m freely admitting that my diet sucks. I am totally addicted to candy lattes (my current version of ‘coffee’) that probably have ungodly amounts of sugar in them but I’m in denial so I refuse to look it up. I don’t even want to know because I know it’s bad. But hey, I order it with fat free milk so of course I can throw down 24oz. a day and think I’ll see my body magically decrease in size. Reality: I am probably only burning half of one of those lattes in an exercise session, because as I so sadly read, I am likely overestimating calories burned during exercise and underestimating caloric intake. It’s so hard, because caramel lattes bring me to my happy place at work…and Starbucks’s in Chile are popping up faster than tulips in the spring.

I also have another large problem, and that would be portion control. I eat one piece of something filled with butter and sugar and think, oh hey, what’s one more…which spirals into five more.

Third,  I will go out to eat and think, ‘well, I never come here, so I might as well get the most awesome thing on the menu’. But I end up doing that more than once a week to different restaurants because I ‘never go to that restaurant,” and I end up eating the junkiest junk on the menu at more than one place more than once a week.

And finally, I love food. I have a hard time saying no. It’s pretty easy for me to say no to some things, but food is not one of them.

However, I have realized in the past 8 weeks that pure exercise is not gonna cut it. Literally. I have to make small goals for myself. Instead of 5 sugar-infused liquid beverages per week, ideally 1 either on Monday or Friday to either help me face the week or celebrate that the week is over. Instead of choosing the most exotic thing on the menu, actively look for a good choice that won’t leave me hungry for that burger I didn’t order. I can’t do dieting. I can’t do non-processed foods. I can’t do non-sugar, non-fat, non-dairy. Sorry I’m not sorry. So, I’ll just have to do less of what I really like (burgers and lattes) and more of what I’ll tolerate (salads and vegetables).

I will also tell you a thing about eating in this country: it’s hard not to eat crap. A lot of their foods are processed and full of weird stuff. Kids birthday parties and family get-togethers are packed with soda, chips and cubes of sugar disguised as candy. You don’t want to be the weird, rude foreigner that chews on celery and carrots they brought along with them and say no to your sister-in-law’s homemade lemon cake. You eat that lemon cake with a smile on your face.

On the flipside, their fruits and vegetables are a-plenty and much cheaper than in the USA. This is good for Joaquin, a raging banana and strawberry addict, and good for his mom who puts the not-so-good-quality fruit in a blender for a smoothie.

Andrés and I are also in an attempt to not be like madmen with our checking accounts and be “fiscally responsible adults”. We’re planning a fairly big life change in 2016, and in general, life-changes require money. We are actually already pretty fiscally responsible. We’re not in debt, we don’t spend more than we have and we have savings. We’re just trying to get that pile of savings a few feet…erm…inches…higher by the end of the year. And maybe that means the end to “Sushi Tuesdays” and the start of “Sushi Once a Month”. Boo-hoo. Saving and eating better doesn’t mean you can’t have the things you like, you just have to have less of them. Novel concepts guys.

Mid-March we sent in step 1 of 1,098,921 for Andrés’ US residency application (what most Americans know as a ‘green card’). You’re not a citizen, but it’s the next best thing (paying taxes, fun). The giant binder of information on ‘why my foreigner husband is good enough to live and work in your country’ was sent to a random address of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Chicago. They let us know that they got it and just as soon as it arrived in Chicago, it was shipped off to California. Why they can’t do everything in one place with one organization of the government, I don’t know. Once the Californians deem him good enough, they send it to a completely different government entity called the National Visa Service (NVS) and they have to deem him good enough and rich enough and healthy enough and tall enough and skinny enough and physically fit enough and smart enough to come to our country. Maybe I made a few of those up, but the list really similar to that.

Once two government entities find him good enough, they let the US Embassy in Santiago know he’s a stand-up guy and we get a notification to go to an in-person interview, but not before Andrés is medically examined by a consular approved doctor saying he’s good enough. Then Sr. Consular Officer interviews Andrés and makes sure he’s good enough. If we get through that, they give us a package to bring to the immigration officer that checks us at the point of entry at the airport and tells Andrés if he’s good enough to finally enter the USA as a resident.

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD MY HUSBAND IS GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER MY STUPID COUNTRY WHY DO FIFTY PEOPLE NEED TO TELL HIM HE’S GOOD ENOUGH AND TREAT LEGAL IMMIGRANTS LIKE THEY WANT TO BREAK THE LAW. FIX WHAT’S BROKEN. FIX YOUR SYSTEM.

Oh, and the whole process from applying abroad costs over $1,000.

Super.

It involves a lot of waiting, a lot of steps, and a lot of patience. We’re hanging tight in Chile until things pan out and trust that God has everything under control. He always does, doesn’t He.

On an end note, our 1+ year old has taken to talking to himself. He is fluent in babble.