As a child, salads were never the main star of the meal – often sitting forgotten to one side in a bowl of wilted icberg lettuce and tomatoes while we focused on the good stuff. Occasionally a cucumber would sneak in and maybe a carrot or two. We never bought the store made salad dressings, no matter how longingly I looked at them, desperate for a change from what I thought was the never changing, boring as hell lemon-oil-S&P combo.
Salads were dull. And they never filled you up.
When I grew older and started paying attention to my health, I rediscovered salads. It was a quick, easy way to get my daily intake of vegetables and the best part – I could literally do any combination and it would be delicious.
These days, I aim to have a salad at least once a day. Whether it’s as part of my lunch or with dinner – it’s usually the main course along with some other vegetables and my protein/carb source.
I don’t think I need to extol the virtues of the wonderful beings salad beasts are, but if you still not convinced, hear me out:
You can eat as much as you like. Within reason of course. (Not that I know anyone who died of a salad overdose, but you can’t be too careful). Even if you’re not watching your weight, there is a huge amount of volume of salad you can eat that will equal or get close to the same amount calories you would normally have in say, a sandwich. If you are someone (like me!) that is a visual eater, then having a big bowl of salad already makes me half-full. It’s a great meal that doesn’t make you feel heavy after lunch and feel like face planting onto your desk. I try and make sure its a balanced combination of greens, protein and healthy fats (more on this in the next post!)
The options are endless. Whee! I’m a person that gets bored easily. Some people say I have a short attention span, I just try to defend myself spluttering and then usually get distracted. Typically by something shiny. Variety is the spice, someone more famous that I can’t recall said. I’m going to get all funny on you here (and feel free to roll your eyes) but salads are like empty canvases to me. You start with a base of fresh greens and then add colour and texture and taste to your salad with lots of lovely toppings. Pretty much everything and anything goes and it will taste AWESOME. Play around with flavours and textures to paint a pretty picture.
It’s easy baby, yeah! As most of us are time poor and struggle with eating healthy while everything in life just throws itself at you at once, salads are something that I don’t even have to think about. I make my salads usually the night before (or even better when there are LEFTOVERS from dinner!), but I know of people who prep their salads at the start of the week to have their base ready to go. Then you just have to add whatever toppings take your fancy as you go along. The best part to doing this is also the use of LEFTOVERS in salads. Couldn’t finish that chicken you had? Cut it up and toss it in a salad! A spoonful or two of stir fry still hanging around? Toss it in a salad! (You reckon I can get “Toss it in a salad!” made into a legit catchphrase? Would it catch on??). Get creative – BBQ chicken offers an opportunity to go Mexican with some canned black beans, corn kernels, salsa and cheese. Leftover Bolognese sauce is so good on some spinach. Do be wary of storebought salad dressings though – they tend to have a lot of hidden sugars, not-so-great ingredients and unnecessary calories. It’s funny but now the easiest dressing I can make is just one with flaxseed oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, sea salt and cracked pepper. Adding some more simple seasonings can really add some sumthin’ sumthin’ to your bowl of veggies.
Whoa. Check out those colours man. There are not many meals you can say that are as much of a nutrient powerhouse as a salad. The more colourful a salad, the more different types of vegetables (and fruits!) you are getting into your diet. It’s also pretty to look at and again if you are a visual eater, then you will tend to like your food a lot more if it looks nice. Eating salad on a regular basis can even strengthen your immunity. The vitamins and minerals present salad because of the variety of vegetables, protein and good fats can provide you protection against a host of diseases.
The perfect salad, with the right combination of fresh nutritious vegetables, filling protein, fun toppings and healthy fats can really be one of the most healthiest things you can eat. That’s not to say that automatically every salad is healthy – particularly pre-made or from some salad bars. Some toppings aren’t really that great nutritionally wise and that along with the inexplicable drowning of the vegetables most places tend to do with their dressing, it can really rack up the calories and unnecessary amounts of fat and sugar in your diet.
My next post I’ll go into a little more detail about what actually makes a “perfect” healthy salad and give you some tips on how to build one.
Are you a salad eater? If you do, do you eat it first or last to a meal??
My English teacher once told me “What one person could say in three words – you say in ten”. I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I agree that my writing style can be a little long-winded. I can’t help it – I like to describe – I’m fascinated by words and their meanings and take much delight in stringing them together in different combinations to create some semblance of a piece of writing. Also – this blog – it brings out the rambler in me. Everything I would normally say, or more likely think, I just put it down in words.
I ramble at the best of times, babble when I’m nervous, murmur in my sleep and rant when I’m drunk or angry. So – it’s just me
So now that I’m 29, I’m meant to be all mature and wise and grown up yeah?
Fat chance of that.
It’s weird the amount of people that came up to me yesterday that when I told them I was 29, reacted in a way that was quite hilarious.
“You don’t LOOK 29!”
I’m not sure if I’m meant to take that as a compliment to my youthful aging or an insult to my obvious immaturity.
I got the idea from this lovely blog, who has the wonderful notion of writing a letter to your one-year-younger self, explaining with your one-year-older wisdom what they would learn in the upcoming year.
I thought, I’d give this wisdom thing a crack.
So here goes.
Dear 28-year-old Sig,
So…this might get awkward. In fact, it’ll get so awkward that when Evs comes and joins you in your studio apartment in Hong Kong in a few months time, you’ll be cursing the convenience of the bathroom vicinity to the bed and breaking every marriage rule in the book (#54 – if you hear noises and smell smells – you don’t talk about them. Ever. Even after the night out eating spicy Japanese food).
Ok, wait. Let me rewind back – you’re looking horrified.
So, this three month secondment to a far-flung city/country/Special Administrative region will come and go in a blur of colours, food and friends. That moment when you step onto the plane, leaving Evs, your family, your DOGS behind – don’t be ashamed to admit that you might not want to come back.
This trip WILL be the highlight of your year. You will learn that people aren’t really what they seem and learn that you can’t be friends with everyone. Sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and tolerate people.
However, you will also discover that friendship comes in the oddest of all places (By the way – good on you for reaching out to a (haha – literally) virtual stranger and getting out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it.)
While HK’s dazzling lights and blindingly fun social life will ensure you have the best three months of your working life, I think there is a part of you that you will discover is happiest at home. Don’t lose that feeling. It’s what tells you what you love the most.
You will travel. And find a place that makes you fall in love with it as soon as the heat and the monsoon rain and the steaming, sweet coffees and delicious fresh food hits your senses. And don’t laugh at everyone’s mistake of thinking you’re on your honeymoon – take it all in – because this IS a second honeymoon.
Yep, think three times in ONE DAY. I know right?!! I couldn’t believe it either. Phew!
You will also learn more about Evs in those two weeks that will delight you and smile secretly inside (and not because he did that thing you like three times in ONE DAY).
You know what I’m talking about (Ohhh yeah).
And that seed of thought, it will get stronger and stronger. Don’t ignore it. Don’t worry about it – yet. You still have time.
That seed, will actually take two forms and you will make a firm decision on one of them. This year will see you pursue and get onto the path of living it. Don’t be afraid. THIS is what you have been waiting for.
It will be hard, and it won’t be easy. But, have faith – keep strong. BELIEVE in yourself.
You will nearly lose one of your closest friends – by the way – it IS your fault. Be a better friend, Sig.
You will renew your belief in living a healthy life. Have you noticed Sig? That as you get older, those nuggets of wisdom that your father used to say when you were a girl – it makes sense now?
“Early to bed, early to rise – makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”
Wise old Dad.
And yes, like Dad insists – yoga CAN cure everything (Just not your stupid leg – work on those calves coz you WILL keep fucking it up).
Sig, you’re at a point where you have a crossroads looming ahead of you. Only you know which path you will take, only you can make that decision. Think about it, think long and hard about the memories you want to create and the future you want to have.
(And Sig – please get rid of that fugly dress you INSIST is cool. It makes you look twelve. I’m being honest here. Sorry.)
It’s a funny feeling how the moment I step back into work, all my inspiration just disappears. The days seem too long, I don’t feel like I have the energy OR motivation to do anything but come home, park myself on the couch and put my hands down my pants.
You know, like most guys do.
Ok, Ok – that was an unfair jibe. (I’m only retracting that coz Evs will give me an evil stare for implying he does nothing while he actually stands there washing the dishes. Or cooking dinner. Or feeding the dogs.)
One of the biggest things I wanted to take away from living in Hong Kong for those three months was the way of life.
The go-get-‘em ‘tude.
I loved how people would go out when they wanted, did what they wanted and spent their time living instead of making excuses for why they couldn’t do something. Days, nights and weekends were filled with things to do, people to see and alcohol to be drunk.
I want to do that here in Melbourne.
Errr…sans alcohol (my liver protests but it’s so darn yummy. As evidenced by the almost empty bottle of deliciously spicy, honey-sweet port sitting at home).
Yes sure, I now have an average of an hour commute each way.
Well, of course I have to come home and cook dinner and spend my weekends cleaning the house. (Ok FINE. Stop glaring at me Evs. Cook SOME nights.)
And I can’t forget, fitting in working out at least a few times a week while juggling late hours at work, family commitments and a never-ending list of books to read and TV shows to watch.
But that’s life right?
Filled to the brim.
So – here’s my plan.
Start my journey to health properly – this is a huge priority for me for many reasons. I’ll be detailing this in a few upcoming posts to explain what I want to do.
Read more books – this was actually on par for number one priority for me. I tend to read lots of blogs, but my beloved books have fallen to the wayside. I spent some of my best moments in Vietnam just reading and I need books in my life to keep me sane. Since I love to talk about stuff, expect some book reviews your way.
Cook more stuff – this I have been getting interested in since I started taking my health more seriously. So seriously to the point, I am actually considering going back to being vegetarian. Well, for a few days a week at least. Baby steps.
Get my home prettied up – Like most of the world hooked on social media, my latest obsession has been with Pinterest (find me here!). I have so much inspiration that I now need to do something about it.
Get creative – Writing, Drawing, Painting. Favourite pastimes, abandoned due to lack of time and a crippling fear of not being good enough. Time to let go and just be.
There’s nothing like a bit of time away to reassess your life (even if my goals seem sneakily similar to my New Years Resolutions. Sigh.) and figure out a plan.
I HEART plans.
I just never stick to them.
BUT, I hope I can with the help of this blog, get me on track.
I’m excited. And I think Evs is excited too.
There can only be one person in the house with their hands down their pants.
What’s one thing that you have been meaning to do, but keep putting it off??
Given that I will be spending the most of tomorrow on a plane and tonight Evs and I plan to celebrate our last few moments in Vietnam with a Vespa tour of Saigon at night, I’m seizing this time to try and document what I can.
When I arrive in Melbourne in the early hours of Saturday morning, I will have been away for about three and a half months. It seems a lifetime has passed since I first stepped onto the plane headed to Hong Kong – excited and nervous about the possibility that lay before me.
I have missed countless birthdays…
I have practically skipped a season and will arrive with the promise of Spring just around the corner.
“The time will fly and you will be home before you know it” is what people said to me both reassuringly and knowingly.
I didn’t believe them, only focused on the fact that I would be on my own for the longest time ever in my life.
Clearly, I need to listen to people more, because they were right.
It HAS flown.
Hong Kong now almost seems like a dream, surreal, far away.
Did I really do everything I did there? Did I really meet those people?
Vietnam, a country that has captured my heart (and belly!) in the last few weeks, I know is going to join the same fate once I am back on Australian soil.
I’m tempted to throw a tantrum.
But then I remember all I have done here in this wonderful, bustling, amazing country.
Tendrils of excitement are starting to make its way into me as I think how I’ll be back in my home, to my family and friends, in my country.
So I was meant to write this deep and emotional post about how Hong Kong changed my life and I learnt so much yada yada yada. But I suddenly found myself in Hanoi and soaking up every single facet of Vietnam that within mere hours Hong Kong was a distant memory.
I feel bad for not giving the farewell that it deserves, especially since I spent the last three months of my life there.
It’s still strange. I miss HK for the fact that I made some very good friends there. But I had my last day of work on Friday and I left there without even a backward glance. Perhaps I was meant to write the grateful farewell email, but all I could think about was that THIS was IT. I was DONE with HK.
Evs was waiting. My friends were waiting to see me off.
And my holiday was just about to begin.
I can’t deny that HK will always be an experience that I won’t forget. Because I DID learn many things – about myself and what I am capable of. What I want to bring back to my life in Melbourne. That no matter where I am, it’s the people that make it count.
I miss experiencing some of best and memorable moments of my life – whether it be faceplanting for the hundredth time wakeboarding, throwing up all the sangria on my first junk boat trip, rediscovering my love for painting, eating so.much.delicious food or stepping out my element and just living life without a thought to the things I always thought held me back.
HK – I'll miss you
I see myself coming back, but I also know that it’s not the place for me
Maybe it is me, but HK is the perfect place for a short time…however I couldn’t live there. And maybe it is just because I miss my family, my house, my dogs, my routine that I only looked at HK in the light of a temporary home.
And perhaps it’s because I’ve now had the chance to see a different culture, a different part of the world where it feels like time stood still. Evs and I have been delighted with Vietnam in the short time we have been here.
A two hour flight from HK, Evs and I landed yesterday afternoon in Hanoi in the pouring rain. It might have been a mistake to travel in the middle of the monsoon season, but I didn’t care. The hotel car picked us up at the airport, and Evs and I kept grinning at each other as we took in our first glimpses of Vietnam.
I loved it.
Colourful houses lining the streets, with people lazily hanging out on the stone balconies, watching the world go by.
Masses of scooters and motorbikes zipping in and out of the lanes. The sheer amount and variety of things tied to the back of these scooters – I believe there was a even whole chicken coop on the back of one.
The way the rain cast the most glorious picture on the countryside where women wearing the traditional conical hats stood hunched in the rice fields.
The boutique hotel we are staying at in Hanoi is located in the Old Quarter – streets lined with rows and rows of shops selling pretty much anything.
It feels alive.
We were welcomed with the freshest, deliciousest mango drink I have ever had – complete with a curly straw by the smiling hotel staff. Due to our original room being worked on because of some water problems, we were given a smaller room for the night. It was totally fine, since I had been used to living a shoebox apartment for the time I was in HK and Evs and I had plans to go exploring as soon as we could.
As soon as we stepped out, it started raining. And not just raining. Pouring like it had never rained before. Caught unawares, we didn’t know whether to head back to the hotel or just wait, and decided to stay.
We ducked into a nearby store on the corner to escape the downpour and was delighted to see it was an authentic Vietnamese coffee shop. Fans whirred in the heat, a TV in the corner played a bad copy of some American movie that I only recognized a young Lindsay Lohan in. Bottles of water and beer lined the windows and several small tables were set up inside with tiny wooden stools. A handful of people were inside, smoking a cigarette and just watching the traffic go by. Outside a bunch of teenagers sat on stools, empty coconuts with straws sitting on the windowsill and taking photos of themselves.
Coffee seemed like a perfect idea and we had heard so much about the Vietnamese style of coffee. So we ordered two hot coffees and settled ourselves on the tiny stools near the window to wait the rain out.
The coffee came quickly – a tall glass of dark, rich looking liquid with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom. I wasn’t quite sure what the tradition is to drink the coffee, but I took the plunge by mixing the layers together and taking a sip.
It was a sweet, rich, strong heady drink. Pure magic on the tongue.
We watched the light fade and the rain pour down as we drank our coffee. It was a perfect moment and I wanted to stay there forever.
Eventually we made our way back to the hotel and rested for a bit, even getting some time to Skype with Mani and Sam and get updated on how our fur-babies were doing with them. Apparently, they have learnt a few things about our dogs – the most awkward being that they have a little bit of love going on between them.
And they are both boys.
Images aside, we just told them that a spray of cold water usually does the trick and I added to Mani that it works on humans too
One of the most important factors in us choosing Vietnam as a holiday destination was our love for the food. The thoughts of fresh, tasty produce and the flavours meant that we were looking to have a good time. Street food, hole-in-the-wall resturants, fresh fruit – we were planning to eat it all.
Our Lonely Planet guidebook suggested a place about a kilometre or two away from where we were staying and we decided to check it out.
It was surprisingly a bit more classier than what we expected, and we were quickly shown to a seat inside. It was littered with tourists and locals both and we watched in envy as plates of delicious looking meals came past us.
Looking at the menu we wanted to order enough for a small army but kept it decent with a few of the special dishes.
Beef Pho (pronounced as I was told as – fur) was a must, along with the region’s delicacy Bun Cha. We also ordered some shrimp rice paper rolls and a raw mango and seafood salad.
It is here where I must pause.
The food was fan-fucking-tastic.
The noises coming out of my mouth after each bite was enough to make Evs scold me, but I just took another swig of my beer (Good food like this needs beer. I’m not much of a beer drinker with apple cider probably being the closest to the taste to what I can handle, but man it pairs so well. I think it might be growing on me) and took another rice paper roll.
Too full to really move, we rolled back to the hotel, fat and happy, so pleased with our first experiences of this amazing country.
We’re actually off now back to the same restaurant with the aim of trying more of the extensive menu. Today was spent with some amazing kids from Hanoi and tomorrow we are off to Halong Bay for a junk boat mini-trip where we will be staying the night. I need more time to share everything, so hopefully I am not too drunk and full later tonight to recap today.
Oh I love this country.
Ever tried Vietnamese coffee or food?? What’s your favourite moment in a foreign country?