Food matters!

Posted on Jan 14 in: Food and nutrition, My life - 3 Comments »

This post was originally written on Friday, but is finally posted now, sorry about that.

Hope you all have had a nice weekend. We really did! Desmond’s team won the football match 3-2 and he even scored the first goal. Then we went biking – almost five hours on a tandem bike! In the rain! Haha! We even had a small accident. The rain made it slippery, so in a turn the bike slipped and we both crashed to the ground with the bike on top. Luckily we did not go very fast, so we only got some wounds.

On Sunday we were both very tired from Saturday’s adventures, so we had a more lazy day. We started off with a great dim sum brunch with Desmond’s family. Then we just did some shopping, ate more, read newspapers etc.

Here comes the originally post:

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As a new years gift I have written a book summary for you (actually I wrote it for Desmond, but thought everyone will benefit from reading it, so I will share it with all of you) – of the book “Food Matters. A Guide to Conscious Eating”, by Mark Bittman. For more facts, week menu suggestions and many recipes, you have to either buy the book, or, like me, look for it in a library.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! :D

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A summary of

”FOOD MATTERS. A Guide to Conscious Eating”

By Mark Bittman

If I told you that a simple lifestyle choice could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming, I imagine you’d be intrigued. If I also told you that this change would be easier and more pleasant than any diet you’ve ever tried, would take less time and effort than your exercise routine, and would require no sacrifice, I would think you’d want to read more.

When you do, you’ll find an explanation of the links among diet, health, the environment in general and climate change in particular and you’ll see how you can make a difference. And while you‘re doing your part to heal the planet you’ll improve your health and spend less at the checkout counter. And yes: This is for real.

The industrialization of food production was one development that – though positive at first – is now exacting intolerable costs. Industrialized meat production has contributed to climate change and stimulated a fundamental change in our diets that has contributed to us being overweight, even obese, and more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and perhaps even cancer.

Climate change is no longer a theory, and humans will suffer mightily if it isn’t reversed. Most people know this. Less well known is the role that raising livestock plays in this: global livestock production is responsible for about one fifth of all greenhouse gases – more than transportation. Equally certain are that many lifestyle syndromes and diseases are the direct or indirect result of eating too many animal products. Our demand for meat and dairy – not our need, our want – causes us to consume way more calories, protein and fat than are good for us.

It doesn’t have to continue: by simply changing what we eat we can have an immediate impact on our own health and a very real effect on global warming – and the environment, and animal cruelty, and food prices. That’s the guiding principle behind Food Matters, and it’s really very simple: eat less meat and junk food, eat more vegetables and whole grains.

For our own sakes as well as for the sake of the earth, we need to change the way we eat. But we can continue to eat well – better, in fact. In the long run, we can make food more important, not less, and save ourselves and our planet (and some money) by doing so.

Rethinking Consumption

Could improved health for people and planet be as simple as eating fewer animals, and less junk food and super-refined carbohydrates?

Yes. Of course health benefits for individuals would vary, and the effect on the planet would not necessarily be dramatic (as everyone knows, large adjustments in energy use are essential), but it would be a real step forward, and perhaps the most important one that can be taken by individuals, with no government intervention.

A New World of Meat Eaters

We might love meat, we might benefit from eating it in moderate quantities, but we don’t need to eat meat to live. And most independent experts believe that consuming it at our current levels is bad for us. And our consumption is headed in the wrong direction. Livestock, globally, is the fastest-growing sector of agriculture. The people in many developed countries consume an average of about half a pound of meat per day. The Chinese now eat twice as much as they did a decade ago.

We currently raise 60 billion animals each year for food – ten animals for every human on earth. The projection is that just to sustain current consumption levels (and consumption is increasing, so this is conservative), by 2050 we’ll be raising 120 billion animals a year.

That number would require using more land for agriculture than exists. Even if we could find the space (or technology) to meet the demand, the number also assumes that the atmosphere, land, and oceans could tolerate it. The effect would be cumulative, like credit card debt: a year of animal consumption at this rate requires a year and two months’ worth of resources.

It’s Not Just Meat

There’s another aspect to this problem, one that many experts believe affects our health even more dramatically than meat. And though it’s been overshadowed by livestock in the realm of ecological damage, it’s equally alarming. That is the world of junk food, over-refined carbohydrates, and highly processed oils – foods that make up an astonishingly large part of our diet.

The term “junk food” means different things to different people. Potato chips. Shakes. Candy. Doughnuts. Double cheeseburgers. Chicken nuggets. White bread. For the most part, these foods contain far more calories than are justified by their nutrient levels. In part, this is because they’re largely made from corn, in the form of a sugar called high fructose syrup;  soy in the form of extracted protein or oil; or refined wheat – white flour – all processed to the point where they’re nutritionally worthless or even damaging.

The Environmental Impact of Overconsumption

Even the most conscientious agriculture has some environmental impact, and though much food production yields greenhouse gases, raising livestock has a much higher potential for global warming than crop farming. For example: To produce one calorie of corn takes 2.2 calories of fossil fuel. For beef the number is 40: it requires 40 calories to produce one calorie of beef protein. Another way to put it is that eating a typical family-of-four steak dinner is the rough equivalent, energy-wise, of driving in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home.

To give you an idea of how much more energy goes into junk food than comes out, consider that a 12-ounce can of diet soda – containing just 1 calorie – requires 2,200 calories to produce, about 70 percent of which is in production of the aluminium can.

Overproduction drives overconsumption, which in turn is bad for our bodies and the environment – but these negative effects, can be diminished by more moderate consumption, which in turn will eventually lead to lower production.

The choice is obvious: To reduce our impact on the environment, we should depend on foods that require little or no processing, packaging, or transportation, and those that efficiently convert the energy required to raise them into nutritional calories to sustain human beings. And as you might have guessed, that means we should be increasing our reliance on whole foods, mostly plants.

A Brief History of Overconsumption

Cheap Soy and Cheap Corn Yield Cheap Meat (And Cheap Lives)

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with corn or soy; whole cultures have relied on each as their main source of nourishment. But in the US, and increasingly around the world, an overwhelming proportion of farmland is devoted to growing these two crops, not for us to eat directly (the most commonly grown varieties are not fit for human consumption), but to feed to animals or convert to oil or sugar. So dominant have these crops become (wheat, rice and cotton are the other giants), that America no longer grows enough edible fruits and vegetables for everyone to eat our own government’s recommended five servings a day. Were we all to do so, we’d be dependent on imported vegetables!

More than 50 percent of the corn grown in this country is being fed to animals; of the remainder, most finds its way into junk food (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup), corn oil, and ethanol.

The story of soy is similarly dismal: Nearly 60 percent finds its way into processed food; the rest is used to make soy oil and animal feed (globally 90 percent of soy meal is fed to animals). This makes it easy to understand why more than 1 billion people around the world are overweight. (The trendy term for this phenomenon is “globesity”.)

Even more distressing is the sheer waste of feeding corn and soy to animal and using it to produce junk food. There are nearly a billion chronically hungry people on our planet, and we have the means – the food, even – to nourish them. If we simply shifted resources to growing crops that fed people directly, we’d go a long way toward resolving many issues of health, agriculture, and the environment.

Soy, Corn, and American Farmland

Furthermore, cows were never meant to eat soy or corn; the digestive system of cows developed to eat grasses. But you cannot possibly raise as many cattle as are sold on pasture, or as many pigs in sties, or as many chickens in yards, so producers had to figure out another, more “efficient” way to raise these animals. That way is confinement: sometimes in pastures, sometimes in cages, sometimes in concrete, almost always with soy and corn as feed. (It’s actually even worse. Although chickens, pigs, and cows are herbivores, naturally foraging for plant food, we’ve turned them into carnivores, often supplementing their grain with ground-up animal parts.)

The combination of crowded living conditions and unnatural feed makes the animals vulnerable to disease, so they’re often given subtherapeutic antibiotic treatment to keep them just healthy enough to survive, put on weight, and get to market – fast. Feeding animals antibiotics increases antibiotic resistance in humans, and though the food and Drug Administration (FDA) says hormones do humans no harm, other people believe the jury is still out on this one. In fact, unless you’re one of the people making millions or billions of dollars from this system, it’s all bad.

Production of meat will not decrease as long as it’s profitable, so we need to reduce it, and we can do so only by reducing demand. (Production would be less profitable with stricter laws and law enforcement, and with lower subsidies for corn and soy, but the federal government, no matter who’s running it, shows no inclination to move in that direction.)

Sane Eating

The realization of just how straightforwardly and even easily we can make things right – at least a great deal for ourselves, and to some extent for one another – was the driving force behind my decision to change the way I ate. The more I understood about the relationship between human and environmental health, the more I felt a need to act.

Equally important, though, since I was unwilling to give up one of life’s basic pleasures, was that I saw a way to introduce a much better diet into my own life without much sacrifice.

At first, I simply eliminated as much junk food and overrefined carbs as I could, along with a sizable percentage of animal products. All this turned out to be easy enough, for a couple of reasons. One, when I did allow myself to eat meat, or dairy, eggs, sugar, or bread made from white flour (usually at dinner), I ate whatever I wanted, and as much of it as I wanted. And two, I started to lose weight, quite quickly – a big boost of positive reinforcement. Clearly, the diet was helping me; I lost weight and saw my cholesterol and blood sugar improve dramatically

So. Welcome to Food Matters: a not very new (but for most Americans novel) way of eating that’s personally healthy and globally sane but not deprivation-based, faddist, or elitist. No calorie counting, and no strictly forbidden foods: just a few quite specific recommendations that you can adapt to your own style.

Sane Eating Simplified

Here’s the summary: Eat less meat, and fewer animal products in general. Eat fewer refined carbohydrates, like white bread, cookies, white rice, and pretzels. Eat way less junk food: soda, chips, snack food, candy, and so on. And eat far more vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains – as much as you can. If you followed those general rules and read no farther, you’d be doing yourself and the earth a favour. The principles are simple: deny nothing, enjoy everything, but eat plants first and most.

You can go from here to there a number of different ways. You can opt out of two servings of meat a week, or of all but two servings of meat a week. You can eat an apple (or three) instead of potato chips this afternoon. You can start the day with oatmeal instead of bacon and eggs, and so on. You’ll find many substitutions, ideas for specific eating styles, and recipes, starting on page 111.

What Works for Me

I eat about one-third as much meat, dairy, and even fish, as I did a couple of years ago. I eat very little in the way of refined carbohydrates. (However, when there’s good white bread on the table at dinner I attack it, and I still eat pasta a couple of times a week.) I eat almost no junk food – by which I mean fast food, candy bars, snack food, and the like – though I allow myself the classic combo of cheeseburger, fries, and Coke every couple of months. I eat probably three or four times as many plants as I ever did, and my guess is that 70 percent or so of my calories come from non-animal sources.

As months of this style of eating turned into years, I found myself front-loading even the grand meals with vegetables, and becoming less interested in the heavier meat dishes that followed. This is an important point: My food choices have changed, even when I go out, and they reflect my mood more than what was surely a habit of focusing on meat, with simple carbs in second place. That balance has shifted. I don’t want to downplay how much of a change this has been for me, but at the same time I want to stress that it’s been nearly painless.

How to Eat Like Food Matters

The Essential Food Matters Pantry

Grains – These are mostly whole, and include rice, cornmeal, and whole grain flours.

Beans – Like grains, buy an assortment of beans (dried and canned, beans, peas and lentils).

Olive Oil – Extra virgin, in almost every case.

Other oils – You’ll need something more neutral for cooking Asian-style dishes or pan frying at high heat, for example rapeseed, peanut or sunflower oil.

Staple vegetables and fruits – These range from much used seasonings, like onions and garlic; to frozen vegetables like spinach and peas; to fresh vegetables, which you have to purchase at least a couple of times a week.

Fresh herbs – almost all herbs, especially parsley, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro, are great to have around.

Spices – As big an assortment as your space and budget allows.

Vinegar – I think sherry vinegar is the most versatile and best for the money; balsamic, of course, is more popular, but sweeter.

Soy sauce – look for brands that contain no more than soy, wheat, salt, water, and bacteria.

Dried fruit and nuts – For snacking and for cooking.

Meat, dairy and cheese – Bacon for seasoning. Parmesan cheese, lasts forever; grated over almost any salad or pasta dish, is just a killer. Butter, as an occasional alternative to oil in cooking or flavouring, a real pleasure. Eggs, possibly the most useful of all animal products.

Canned tomatoes – Couldn’t be simpler. Avoid those with additives.

Sweeteners – Sugar is unavoidable and of course fine in moderation. But maple syrup and honey are in a way more useful, since they deliver more flavour along with sweetness.

Baking soda, baking powder, instant yeast – especially if you’re into baking.

The Advanced Food Matters Pantry

Dried Mushrooms – especially porcini (cèpes) and shitakes.

Capers – packed in vinegar or salt.

Miso – Truly one of the world’s great ingredients; instantly adds depth to soups and stews, and you can use it to make quick sauces and dressings simply by adding water.

Anchovies – packed in olive oil: best bought in resalable glass jars rather than cans.

Sesame oil – The roasted kind, sold in all Asian markets. No better ways way to finish a stir-fry.

Sea greens – Especially hizki, konbu (kelp), and nori (laver).

Coconut milk – Easily made fresh, but far more convenient when canned. Light is an acceptable option in almost every case.

Silken tofu – The kind in the box keeps for months in the pantry. It’s a handy substitute for sour cream or other thickeners, and it is also nice slipped into a soup or tossed with Asian noodles and vegetables.

Disclamier: The above piece was summarized from Mark Bittman’s book “Food Matters. A Guide to Conscious Eating”, and all credits go to him. It is a great book, so go get it!

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I have not been writing here for a while, but I hope you all still have had a great start of the new year! :P

The thing is that I have been thinking about whether I want to continue having this blog or not. I am still not hundred percent sure, but I think I will close it down. One of the reasons are health related; I have some troublesome arms that are not very fond of computers. Well, I will probably come back with my final decision soon.

Another news, I am going home to Norway very soon, next Tuesday morning I will be back. I have very mixed feelings about this! Of course it will be great to be with friends and family again, work and feel useful, and ski and enjoy beautiful Norway. But going back to having a Skype relationship with Desmond, after seeing him every day for three months, I do not exactly look forward to..

But, since I only have 90 days travel insurance, and I have a 80 % (++) position in my old job (as a personal assistant for a girl with cerebral palsy), waiting for me, I guess it is most reasonable to go home.

I will definitely not spend much of my last week in Singapore in front of the computer, so do not expect any updates here.

This weekend’s plans so far is to watch Desmond play a football match tomorrow at 11, then we will go biking along the east coast, from south to north, and back. I am very excited. On Sunday we are going to eat dim sum with Desmond’s parents and brother, and of course have our weekly Norwegian class.

I wish you all a great weekend! :D


GOD JUL! :D

Posted on Dec 24 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 12 Comments »

Merry Christmas. Feliz Navidad. Fröhliche Weinachten. Boas Festas. God jul!

I wish me and Desmond was sleeping now, and in a few hours waking up in my hometown Hafslo. Snow covered landscape outside. House heated up by the fire place. All my family there. House full of delicious cakes, candy, bread and other Christmas food. But, I am in Singapore. And it has already been morning for a few hours, and the morning is just like any other morning. Except of the Christmas yogurt I made for myself for breakfast: Yoghurt naturell with chopped nuts, dark chocolate, “pepperkake” and cinnamon :)

This will be the first Christmas that I am away from my family… It is hard, but my alternative Christmas celebration really is the third (the second best would be that my family came to Asia and celebrated together with us) best alternative! This afternoon me and Desmond is flying to Bali :) :) We will stay there for three nights. Hopefully we will be able to try some surfing again. Except from one ice cold hour in Norway in easter, we have not been surfing for a year… so I really can not wait!

In two hours I have to be packed and ready for Bali and dressed and ready for a lunch at Desmond’s office, so I better get started.

I wish you all a merry, merry Christmas. I really hope you will have a great celebration today, and some nice days to come. Eat and enjoy yourself with family and friends. And be active and enjoy the snow if you are so lucky to have that outside.

GOD JUL! :D

The nicest spot in Singapore!?

Posted on Nov 30 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 8 Comments »

Early in the morning on Saturday we headed to the north east of Singapore – far away from busy Orchard Road and the Business District – to the island Pulau Ubin. This island is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, and one of the last areas that has been preserved from urban development. There is only about 100 persons living there today.

“Pulau Ubin’s wooden house villages and wooden jetties, relaxed inhabitants, rich and preserved wildlife, abandoned quarries and plantations, and untouched nature make it the last witness of the old “kampong”  Singapore that existed before modern industrial times and large-scale urban development” (Wikipedia).

To get to Pulau Ubin we took two different buses, taxi and a boat, and it probably took us about one and a half hours to get there, and it was totally worth it! First we went to one of the bike rental shops there, and got ourselves some good bikes for 8 SGD for each bike for the whole day. Then, after a plate of noodles with seafood, we were ready to explore Pulau Ubin. We first went to the east to Chek Jawa. There it was a very nice boardwalk and a 20 metres high tower with a panoramic view. At some points there we could see  the coast of both Malaysia and Singapore.

After having explored the east and north side of the island, we biked back to the south were the bike shops and the few restaurants and shops on the island are. There we filled up with some energy (soy milk and peanuts), and then headed to the west of Pulau Ubin. There we biked past the only hotel at the island, Celestial Resort, and then continued further to a mountain biking park. The longest of the routes there are about 8 km. Since we had already biked a lot that day, and we did not have so much time, we did a shorter route. It was a lot of fun, and I really want to go back and try the rest of the park!

After a small, but steep hill we ended up with what I am pretty sure is the nicest view in Singapore!? There were no people around just then – and it was quiet, fresh and beautiful…

Unfortunately the small lake on the picture actually is an old  quarry, so it is not allowed to swim there. And if we just turned around and looked to the other side; busy, high rise building-Singapore was not far away. So we did not look the other way, and just enjoyed the view, the fresher air and the silence…

Then we biked back to have dinner before we left the island. We sat down at at table with a nice sea view, and ordered steamed fish with soy sauce flavoured with garlic and ginger, rice and spicy sweet potato leaves. We were very hungry after a very active day – and luckily the food we ordered was delicious and the portions big.

Back in Changi village, where the boat terminal is, we went for a walk on the beach and then enjoyed some really nice fried bananas. A really great day! Even though it was only a day trip it felt like we had been on holiday. I can’t wait to run away to Pulau Ubin again!

2000 metres in my new speedo!

Posted on Nov 26 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 7 Comments »

Oh yeah, yesterday I bought my first speedo swimwear, and it looks more or less like this, just that mine is white. So after two days without any exercise, today I was very ready to set a new personal record; to swim 2000 metres. Surprisingly it really was not any problem at all, and I am very satisfied with myself. Though, I probably should mention that it took me an hour to finish (including a toilet break after the first 1000 m), impressed? :P

Except for the pool session I have spent the day inside, not doing anything special. Just showering, washing clothes, reading newspapers, checking some things in the internet and eating a good lunch. My first lunch dish was guacamole, a crisp bread and a carrot. But since I was still hungry I also had a portion of oat porridge. My first oat porridge in Singapore! So it really was time for it now, since I back home in Norway eat it almost every day.

My oat porridge was made with milk, oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, raisins and some dried cranberries.

And I served it with more cinnamon ( I love cinnamon!) and fresh mango. A real tasty and healthy lunch! :)

Today I have actually been in Singapore for a month; I have to say that these weeks have gone very fast, as always ;) Because of this I had planned a little sum up of my impression and experience of Singapore compared to my expectations and so forth. But looking at the time, I can see that this is not happening today, I have to go and catch the bus soon, I am meeting Desmond for dinner at 7.45 pm. I had also planned to send some mails today, since I finally have got some mail addresses. You see I can not activate my facebook account again, I do not know what has happened. Also, my student mail address is not working anymore. And then I have gotten myself a gmail account instead of my old hotmail. So now that I have some more addresses I look forward to have more contact and hear how you my friends are doing. But since I had a very inefficient day, you have to wait to Monday before anyone start receiving any mails.

Not so much has happened this week. On Thursday I went to The Ministry of Manpower to hear about my possibilities to work here in Singapore. It seems like if I find someone that wants to hire me I probably can get a work permit. But a future employer must apply for my work permit and this is a little troublesome process, and it will take 4-6 weeks to get to know if I get it or not, and also companies can not hire as many foreigners as they want to. So I have to find someone that wants to hire me even though it gives them some extra paper work, and who has not filled up their quota for foreigners, and then I have to wait for 4-6 weeks before I get the work permit and can start working. And since I, after one month of holiday here, have started to feel a little bored and a need to be useful, I today have been looking at different volunteering possibilities. I have to look some more, and hopefully i can find something meaningful to do soon.

Yesterday I went to the National Museum of Singapore, which was very interesting. No, now time is running out here, so i have to stop writing and go the bus. Tomorrow we are going to Pulau Ubin, a trip I really look forward to! Hopefully the weather will be nice. It has been raining a lot the last days. Especially yesterday. I was stuck in the museum for almost two hours after I was done there, because it was raining heavily and I did not have an umbrella.

Have a very nice weekend everyone! :)

New exciting, nice and tasty adventures!

Last Wednesday we packed down water, a sports drink, apples, dried nuts and fruits, and peanut butter sandwiches, and went for a hike in the MacRitchie Nature Reserve here in Singapore. It was my first time there, and I really enjoyed the day! There are  five different trails to choose from, varying in length from 3 to 11 km, and the highlight (at least for people that are not afraid of heights) is the HSBC TreeTop Walk. It is a 250 m long suspension bridge, that from its 25 m high position gives you (if you dare to look) a bird’s eye view of the plants and animals.

Unfortunately both me and my boyfriend are very afraid of heights, so we walked very fast over the bridge while trying not to look down… Even how afraid I was, I think I would like to do it again though, because it was exciting and I think I probably will be less scared next time, maybe :P Anyway, I definitely recommend going there. Most of the walking is in the shade because of all the trees, so it is not so warm. And it gives you a green, refreshing and nice break away from the city. Friends and family, come visit me and I will bring you there! We saw a lot of monkeys too :)

On Thursday I borrowed Desmond’s bike and biked over to Bukit Timah Nature reserve. I parked the bike there and went for a run to the summit (Bukit Timah – highest point in Singapore). The trail I took (Dairy Farm loop) is like this narrow jungle road and partly stairs, and I was very afraid of meeting a snake. I also noticed that when alone I am afraid of the normally small and cute monkeys too. Well, I did it. And it was a very very nice (and hard) workout. The nature reserves MacRitchie and Bukit Timah definitely make it a little easier to be a nature lover “stuck” in crowded big city Singapore!

Except from this my exercise last week was swimming. I have never been in a pool several times a week before, more like twice a year, and I have now learnt the hard way that chlorine does not exactly make your hair shine. I am therefore now the owner of a swim cap. I really had never thought that would happen, but hopefully it will rescue my hair, and it has already made swimming more fun, because I think I can feel the hydrodynamic effect :P Maybe I will go for 2000 m soon…

On Saturday me and Desmond decided to cook for the first time while I have been here. Not because it is cheaper than going out and buy, because it is not, we just wanted to cook. At home in Norway I cook dinner almost every day, so it was really nice to finally do it again. I love to go to a good supermarket and buy a lot of nice and fresh ingredients and then take my time cooking. So after probably almost an hour in the supermarket we ended up with this: white button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, red cabbage, rocket salad, fresh basil, smoked salmon, lemon, garlic, onion, wholegrain fusilli, organic pesto genovese, multigrain bread, macadamia oil, black pepper, garbanzo beans, papaya, and then I finally found my grounded cinnamon.

This shopping basket contained many ingredients which have been transported very far, normally I try to be more conscious about buying locally produced products. At least when we have the option between a locally produced product and the same product coming from far away, I think we should try picking the local one. Living in Singapore now I would buy mango from Malaysia, and not one that has been transported all the way from Latin America.

Happily we left the supermarket and went home to cook. The menu ended up being toasted bread with garlic, oil, rocket salad and smoked salmon.

Pasta with mushrooms, onion, garbanzobeans, pesto and extra garlic and fresh basil.

And a salad with rocket, red cabbage, carrots and salt and pepper roasted chopped almonds, topped with some macadamia oil and lemon juice. For dessert we had papaya and ice cream.

Another highlight last week was Desmond’s second Norwegian class. He was a very good student, and 45 minutes went too fast, so we have decided to have 60 minutes classes from now on. Yesterday’s highlight was the Night Safari we went to at night. It was very nice and exciting, and we had a lot of fun there! My favourites were the recycling otters in the Creatures of the Night show. Three otters separating cans, bottles and paper cups into different garbage buckets – so cute!

There were also all these big animals like giraffes, elephants, tigers, lions, bears, buffaloes, hippos, rhinos etc., and there were bats, owls, turtles, snakes, spiders, tapirs, leopards, hyenas, yes many many different animals. Even some I had not heard about, like mouse-deer and flying squirrel. The dark night setting in the middle of the forest and open-zoo concept makes it exciting both walking around and taking the tram. Because they mostly use concealed moats instead of cages and glass walls, it feels like the animals are walking freely around. When we saw the hyenas we were standing there in the dark forest, no people around just then, and two hungry-looking hyenas standing kind of close to us, staring angrily at us. There was only this moat separating them from us, and the moat really did not look very challenging to cross.

In general I do not like zoos very much. I do not like the idea of keeping animals captured just for us human beings to be entertained. Still, as it says on the Night Safari’s webpage; “modern zoos have an important role to play in conservation. They help protect, preserve and restore wildlife and their habitats. Through education and outreach programmes, zoos also play a vital role in public education and raising awareness.” Knowing this, and seeing that the animals were walking freely around in areas designed after their natural habitats, I managed to really enjoy the park.

We bought a two in one ticket, which means that we paid 42 SGD (193 NOK) for tickets to both the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo. The two tickets have to be used within a month, so we will also go to the Singapore Zoo soon. Then we might take some pictures too. Yesterday it was not allowed to use flash, because nocturnal animals are sensitive to bright lights, and it was too dark without it. At least with the camera we had and our skills.

I also planned to tell you about last weeks tasty new adventures – there were quite a few: tapioca with coconut cream, roti prata, carrot cake, green tea ice-cream with red bean sauce and rice balls, barbecued stingray and tahu goreng. But now I have been sitting in front of the computer for too long, so I will save it for another day.

Have a nice day! :)

From sunshine to lightning…

Posted on Nov 16 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 7 Comments »

Today we woke up to a nice and sunny day. When I was swimming a few hours ago it was hot and sunny. But the weather for sure changes quickly here in Singapore. Now it’s raining heavily outside my window. There is also very frequent thunder and lightning… which I always have found a little scary… So when I finish blogging I don’t think I will spend more time alone here on the 17th floor, I’ll head out.

Now, you might ask yourself why I want to go out in the rain.  Haha, the thing is, I can go to the mall or go to the bus if I want, without getting wet! This I discovered last weekend, when it also rained a lot. You can get around many places without getting wet here in Singapore which i find both amazing and amusing. They are definitely used to a lot of rain here. If I want to take the bus or go the mall, I just walk along the pavement which has a roof, cross the road by the pedestrian bridge which also has a roof and then walk into the bus or the mall. No doubt that this is a well planned and organized country.

So, what has happened and what has been consumed since last post? On Saturday we went for a short swim in the morning. It was the first time I went together with Desmond, so then I got some useful advice about my technique, which I have been trying to practice yesterday and today. Then I watched Desmond play a football match, and he managed to not get a red card this time, but his team still lost. It is fun to watch them play, but also a little hard to just sit there and watch – I want to play!

Saturday evening we had dinner with some of Desmond’s friends. I had chili crab for my second time (I also had it my first evening here), and it was very good. You eat it with your hands, so it is very messy (at least for a beginner like me), but that’s totally fine. I love eating with my hands, and it’s nice that it takes some time. We also had butter crab (which was not my favourite), rice, cereal prawns, very spicy and delicious leafy green vegetables, and some other dishes. I also really like how they here usually share many different dishes, it is so much more fun than ordering one dish each, you get to taste so much more different food.

After the dinner Desmond thought I wanted dessert (he was right!), and took me to a place called Awfully Chocolate. There we shared (10% for him and 90%  for me) a piece of their super stacked chocolate cake and a scoop of ice cream. I am very hard to really impress when it comes to chocolate cakes, and I was not hundred per cent pleased with this one either, it was good, but nothing special.  The ice cream on the other hand was surprisingly good. It actually reminded me very much about my favourite ice cream, Mövenpick swiss chocolate. Next time I’ll skip the cake, and have two scoops of ice cream instead.

On Sunday our plan was to go for a hike in the MacRitchie Reservoir, but because of rain we skipped it, and instead took the bus downtown somewhere (I’m not sure where we were). We had a very good and cheap Indian lunch at a food court – garlic naan, plain naan, fish curry and a chickpea dish.

Usually you want to sit inside in the air condition, but since this was a rainy and cold (maybe 25 degrees) day, we sat outside. There we had a nice view of the hotel Marina Bay Sands, the business district (where Desmond’s office is) and the Esplanade.

After the lunch we went down to the Esplanade, which is a cultural centre that includes a concert hall, a theatre, a library etc. In the library they have some movie rooms for rent, it costs 6 SGD per hour. So you can borrow a movie, book the room and have a private cinema for up to four persons. When I found the Norwegian movie “Salmer fra kjøkkenet” (“Kitchen Stories”), we decided that to be last week’s Norwegian class. So we booked the room and watched the movie, and Desmond got a nice and soft start on his Norwegian course. They had a lot of movies, so that’s definitely an activity we can do again. It’s both cheaper and more comfortable than going to the cinema. It was a perfect activity on a rainy Sunday. The movie is worth seeing by the way.

For dinner on Sunday we had sushi. My first sushi in Singapore. Probably the best sushi I have ever had, and definitely the most exciting sushi menu I have seen. We ordered prawn and mango maki, soft shell crab maki, miso soup with vegetables, salmon and avocado temaki and tuna nigiri. There was also complementary green tea. I cannot wait to go back!

Tomorrow is a public holiday, because of the Muslim festival Hari Raya Haji. Singapore has public holidays for all the major religions (Christian, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism). Isn’t that great? Anyway, our plan tomorrow is to wake up early, bring a lot of food, water and sunscreen, and go hiking in the MacRitchie reservoir. But if this weather continues, we have to see…

Have a nice day! :)

CHEESE SLICER IN SINGAPORE

Posted on Nov 12 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 4 Comments »

I found it! A cheese slicer! So my breakfast yesterday was two wholegrain crisp breads from Ikea with sliced Norwegian brown cheese :D

If anyone is ever looking for a cheese slicer in Singapore; I bought mine at the supermarket Cold Storage, at sixth or fifth avenue or something. After a not so good dinner at Pizza Da Donato we went to this Supermarket to look for cinnamon. We could only find the whole cinnamon, so my search for cinnamon powder is continuing. The purchase of the cheese slicer had to be celebrated, so we went to buy ice cream at a place called Venezia. Two flavours – raspberry and dark chocolate – both delicious, and perfect together. They had so many flavours I wanted to try: mango, cherry, chocolate mint, macadamia nuts etc. So it is possible that we have to go back sometime..

So except from eating, looking for food and food equipment, thinking about what to eat, reading recipes, looking at restaurant menus and reviews, taking picture of food and blogging about food, what do I do? :P

Well, this week hasn’t been very adventurous. Yesterday was a normal day where i didn’t go on any sight-seeing. As usually I woke up with Desmond around 7.30 am. He starts work at 9.30, but has to leave for the bus at around 8.20. And then I usually don’t see him again before in the evening, around 7-8 pm. After he left I sat down with my crisp breads with brown cheese and the newspaper.

Around 9.30 I went for a swim, and swam 1100 metres. Then I showered, washed clothes and had a second breakfast, this time banana, muesli and cottage cheese. After that I sat in front of the computer the rest of the day, I had a lunch break, but that was it. I was reading news, looking for jobs, writing my resume etc. There is always so many things to check and read. Hopefully, later today I will send my first job application in Singapore.

Yesterday, I didn’t meet Desmond before around 8.30 in the evening. He was stuck in traffic on the way home. We went to the food court at the mall nearby and had a cheap and good dinner. I had yong tau foo. A soup dish where you choose the ingredients you want. So I picked different vegetables, beancurd, seaweed,  fishballs, and some other fish thing. They quickly boil it for you. And then they either put it in the soup, or you can get it like me: one bowl of noodles, one with soup, one with the different ingredients, and chili sauce and sweet sauce. I’ll take a picture of this dish next time. It’s good! We also shared a popiah, a big springroll, which I hadn’t tasted before, It was also very good. Then our plan was to go for a run, but it was getting late and we were very full, so we skipped it.

Something I was very excited about, was the German Film Festival 2010. It started on Wednesday and will last until next Sunday. So I was very disappointed when Desmond told me that most of the tickets are sold out. We planned to see a festival movie tonight, but then I guess we instead have to find a movie in the cinema. Any film recommendations anyone?

Tomorrow Desmond is having his first Norwegian class, 45 minutes with me. So I think I should start preparing for that.

Have a nice week-end everyone!! :D


FIRST PICTURES FROM SINGAPORE!

Posted on Nov 10 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 7 Comments »

MY FIRST WEEK HERE IN SINGAPORE I TOOK A FEW PHOTOS. UNFORTUNATELY THE QUALITY IS NOT VERY GOOD, BUT THAT’S ALL I HAVE FOR NOW.

This is the view from Desmond’s room in the apartment at the 17th floor, where I’am sitting and writing now. Amazing view, or what?:P

In one of those buildings am I living now. The blue you see at the end of the small lake is a pool. It’s part of the community sports center, and just opened in September. So I just take the elevator down 17 floors, walk about 200 meters, pay about 8 Norwegian kroner or something (I don’t remember, because I just pay with my EZ Link card, which i’ll tell you more about another time), and there I can jump into this 50 meters long pool. There are even some sun beds there, so I could tan all day if I wanted too. To go there and swim is a really nice start of the day, and I think my swimming skills already has improved a lot, last week I swam 1500 meters doing the up and down thing with my head :)

Singapore is very green, being such a big city. Almost everywhere along the road there are trees, and all these bridges for pedestrians are decorated with flowers.

These signs are in the small park just behind where we live. Singapore is also a very clean city. There are strict fines for littering, and chewing gum is banned in the country. I have by the way not seen any monkeys in that park yet.

My second evening in Singapore me and Desmond shared these two Indonesian dishes. The first one is a fried whole fish with fried tofu, chili sauce and rice. The second dish is gado gado, an Indonesian salad (vegetables, tofu, boiled potatoes, boiled egg) with a peanut sauce dressing. Both very good, but a little too sweet.

The day after we had fish head curry at Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant. As you see on the picture it’s a big fish head in a curry sauce, and it was really really good. The food was served on banana leafs. And we got briyani rice, papadams and two different vegetable dishes. It was so good, absolutely one of the best meals I’ve had here so far.

My first Friday in Singapore I went to Little India. I was so hungry when I arrived that I went straight to eat. I sat down at an Indian vegetarian restaurant, Komala Vilas, and ordered masala dosai and a carrot juice. When I was walking out of the restaurant the car above drove by, with Norwegian fish. The Norwegian salmon is everywhere; at the supermarkets and I’ve seen it in menus both in Singapore and Malaysia. After the lunch I kind of planned to look around in the area, but then it was so warm…:p So i decided to explore more another time, and headed to Orchard Road and the air-conditioned malls. That was my first time there too, so I got to see some new places that day.

My first Sunday in Singapore me and Desmond went to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I was very happy to find out that we stay very close to this big nature reserve, that includes the country’s highest point, the hill  Bukit Timah which stands at an altitude of 163,63 meters. From where we live to the entrance of the park is only about a ten minutes bike ride. We biked over there. Since we only have one bike we parked it by the entrance, and walked around instead. There is a nice mountain bike route around there which I want to try another time. While we were walking we also saw some people doing climbing. It was very nice to walk around there in the forest and be away from the city. On our way we met some monkeys that were not shy at all, and in a lake we saw these tortoises and colourful fishes. At the end of the trip we walked up the hill to the highest point. It was a nice walk, and it’s good to know that there are some hills here in Singapore!

I was very happy about spending the whole day with Desmond and  being physical active outdoors in  nature – a perfect Sunday!!! :D

That’s all the pictures i have for now.

As I mentioned we were going to Ikea yesterday. First time I have been to Ikea in another country, it looked all the same, they just had some more extra local alternatives in the cafe in addition to the normal food. I think there are better places to try out local dishes, so I had salmon and Desmond had meatballs.

Disappointedly i didn’t find any cheese-slicer. Do they sell it in Norway?? Or don’t the Swedish want to sell our excellent invention?? Well, I couldn’t leave empty handed. So I bought a package of wholegrain crispbreads (“knekkebrød”) and some tradidional Norwegian (and swedish I guess) christmas cookies (“peparkake”), so now I’m ready for December :)

In the newspaper today it said that we should be prepared for heavy rainfall and thunder in the afternoons/evenings five to seven days a week the two coming weeks.. Well, at least it is warm!! ;) How’s the weather where you are?

That’s it for today. I have to get ready to meet my hardworking man for dinner soon.

Enjoy life, everybody!


WEEKEND TRIP TO MALAYSIA :)

Posted on Nov 08 in: My life, Singapore, Travel - 3 Comments »

LAST FRIDAY WAS AN OFFICIAL HOLIDAY HERE IN SINGAPORE, BECAUSE OF THE HINDU FESTIVAL DEEPAVALI. SO ME AND DESMOND DECIDED TO SPEND THE LONG WEEKEND IN MELAKA IN MALAYSIA.  ONE OF DESMOND’S FRIENDS WAS GOING TO VISIT HIS GIRLFRIEND IN MELAKA, SO WE GOT A RIDE WITH HIM. WE HAD SOME REALLY NICE DAYS UP THERE! UNFORTUNATELY WE FORGOT TO TAKE PHOTOS.. SORRY!!

We left around 8 am Friday morning, but didn’t reach Melaka before around 2 pm. Since it was a holiday both in Singapore and Malaysia there was a lot of traffic, so we were stuck in traffic for a few hours. Luckily Desmond’s friend brought the card game Monopoly Deal, so we were entertained :)

We drove straight to where the girlfriend of Desmond’s friend lives. Her mum had prepared a meal for us, so we were so lucky and could sit down and enjoy tea, fruits (delicious honey pear), and different local foods (some coconut sweets, sweet potato doughnuts etc.). Then the family’s driver drove me and Desmond to our hotel, Aldy Hotel. We relaxed a little in our room before Desmond’s friend, his girlfriend and her sister picked us up and we  went to eat Indian food. After dinner we walked a little in the very busy Jonker Walk Night Market, which were full of different stalls. We ended the evening with having the traditional dessert, cendol. A very sweet shaved ice dessert, with many different ingredients (coconut milk, red beans, palm sugar, pieces of jelly etc.). There is so many new things to try her, both in Singapore and in Malaysia, so everyday is an food adventure for a food-lover like me :)

On Saturday me and Desmond rented bikes, and biked up along the coast. We didn’t see anything especially beautiful or interesting on our trip, but it was still great! Biking is such a nice way to look around – you get to see a lot and be physical active at the same time. We were gone for 3-4 hours (I’m not sure), and it was a really nice trip. Back at the hotel we relaxed in the roof top jacuzzi for a while.

At 5 pm Desmond’s friend and his girlfriend picked us up to get a massage. We all booked a 60 minutes full body thai massage, which only costed 60 Malaysian Ringit (about 120 Norwegian kroner!!!). I had only had a massage once before, that was a 30 minutes massage on surfing holiday in Marocco. In the beginning I was thinking: “Wow, this is great, so comfortable, if I were rich I would do it all the time” and so on.. After a while, when the Thai woman’s elbows were going crazy at my back and neck I was thinking: “This is horrible, should I ask her to stop? I will seriously never do this again! Paying for such extreme pain..” But it felt really good afterwards, and I’ll definitely do it again sometime!!

After the massage we went to have a Peranakan dinner, and the food was really really good, so i was happy happy happy :) After dinner we again entertained ourselves with the game Monopoly Deal. And i also had a Skype-date with my nephew, my niece, my sister  and my dad. If anyone else want a skype-date, just tell me!! It’s free of charge and you’re guaranteed a good time ;)

Yesterday we had a very relaxed morning, or actually a very relaxed day. We just ate good food again, with the highlight being a truly delicious laksa, walked around in the city, and treated ourselves with a 20 minutes fish reflexology. We went past this signboard saying fish spa, and had to check it out. For 15 Malayisan Ringit (about 30 Norwegian Kroner) we could put our feet in a pool full of small fishes, and then the fishes nibbled off dead skin. It was a little scary to put the feet in, then it was very ticklish when they first started nibbling, but after a while it was just relaxing and nice. So I would definitely like to try it again.

We then met Desmond’s friend and his girlfriend for dinner, and drove back to Singapore after that. Luckily the traffic was much better this time, and the trip took us a couple of hours less. So now I am back in Singapore with many good memories and mental pictures ♥

Thank YOU for commenting on my last blog post!!! :)

I am sorry that I disappoint you with another post without pictures. I don’t have a camera anymore, since it’s swimming somewhere along Ghana’s coast. So I was supposed to bring my dad’s camera, since Desmond’s camera is not working very well, but I forgot it in Norway. But I actually have taken a few pictures in Singapore with Desmond’s camera, even though the colours become a bit strange, so I’ll try to post them one of the coming days. And we will try to fix Desmond’s camera or buy a new one. So don’t give up on me :P

Now I will try to write my CV in English, before I’m meeting Desmond for dinner later. Tomorrow morning we will probably go to Ikea, because Desmond has to buy some things for his office. And I am going to look for a cheese slicer (“ostehøvel”), so we hopefully can slice the 500 g of brown cheese I brought from Norway.

That’s all for today! Have a nice day, everyone :)

BLOG COMEBACK!!! Now from Singapore :)

Posted on Nov 01 in: About the blog, My life, Singapore - 11 Comments »

I see that my last post was posted the 24th of April, has it really been so long??:P I am sorry, everybody!! More importantly; I am back, and now reporting from Singapore :)

A lot have of course happened since the last update in April, but the very short version of the last 6 months is like this: In the beginning of June I finished my bachelor degree in public nutrition. The title of my bachelor thesis was “Food and Meals in the Activity School. Survey of Foods, Drinks and Food Practices in the Activity School in Oslo”. It was a very interesting topic, so I really had a good time working on it. Then it was summer holiday. Which was great. It included some work, but more relaxing and quality time with my loved ones. My plan kind of was to do my masters, starting in the end of August, but then I decided to postpone it a year, and instead follow my heart and go to Singapore ♥

So the last two months I have been working and saving money, and spent time with friends and family. And last Tuesday, a week ago, I arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore. Here I am now living with my boyfriend Desmond and his family. I don’t know how long I will stay here. We just have to see how things turn out. I can’t be on holiday in Singapore forever, so if I’m going to stay for long I have to find a job, and I have no idea about how easy or hard that will be. Well, for now I’m on holiday, exploring and getting to know Singapore, and I’ll keep you updated on life here :)