Walking, Sharing and Picnicking – New Mantra for Staying Healthy and Fit during Travel

Summer is at full swing!  Some of you are just about to leave to well-deserved vacation.  Lucky you!

When traveling, staying healthy and fit often becomes an issue.

As an avid world traveler and foodie, here are my top 3 tips to minimize health issues when traveling:

1. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and walk as much as possible.  By exploring (even commuting to and from "work") the city by foot, you can feel the city, know what’s going on, and keep fit without going to the gym or building in something "special". A lot of people in Asia and Europe stay fit just by walking a lot, and not by "exercising" per se. 

2. We tend to overeat when we travel… all these unique foods looks great, don’t they?  So when going to restaurants, order a variety of dishes and share with others.  That way you can try a larger variety of foods and flavors and eat smaller amounts of each dish – resulting in better balance, higher satisfaction and lower calories.  Make sure to include lots of varieties – especially salads and vegetable dishes – not all meat! In a country like France where they have a great "Plat du Jour", resist the urge to order one per person. Order one, split the appetizer and dessert, and order one extra main (or appetizer) from the regular menu.  Then you can pick anything you want, without overeating. (In case of over-indulgence both food and alcohol, Alka Seltzer works well.  Take one dosage immediately after you realized your over-indulgence, and another in the morning, if you still do not feel better.)

3. For lunch and special events…  Buy a variety of local produce and tasty tidbits at local markets (if farmer’s markets are not open, supermarkets are a good alternative too.) By not eating at a restaurant you can save time, money and your figure… This is also a great opportunity to give a needed rest to your stomach and mind, enjoy good weather with locals at the park, concert, etc. You will have a better sense of place: how locals live and eat, how much things cost, etc.

Bonus tip: If possible, rent an apartment and cook by yourself from time to time. Get a cookbook of local cuisine, and take advantage of the local markets. This will definitely enhance your travel experience and keep more money in your wallet – with the bonus benefit of keeping off those extra pounds. Even if you just make yourself breakfast everyday, it’ll save a ton of money, and you can make friends at the bakery! The best part is that you can re-create and enjoy your tasty memory once you come home — over and over!

By following these simple suggestions, you can maximize your travel experience, stay physically healthy and fit, and maintain mental and financial well-being.

Happy Traveling!


Healthy Habits in Decline? How do we eat more vegetables… easily, without becoming a vegetarian?

According to New York Times article by Roni Caryn Rabin, titled “Bad Habits Asserting Themselves”, healthy habits are on the decline, and only 24% of adults between 40 and 74 in US eats recommended 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, compared with 42% in ‘88. The majority of that 24% are either vegetarians or vegans, which probably increased quite a bit between ‘88 and ‘06.  You may think this is only for older adults, but who knows the number for those who are younger than 40? Could it be even worse?

This study, lead by Dr. Dana E. King, a professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston was done on 7000 adults between 40 and 74, because they are at greatest risk for heart disease.

In that article, Dr. King stated, “I worry that some people are taking medication instead of following a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “You take a pill and say, ‘I’ll eat whatever I want, and my doctor says my cholesterol is fine.’ Your pill may be lowering your cholesterol, but it’s not doing the other 100 things that proper eating and exercise do for you.”

Yeah, I worry about that too… for my fellow American friends.

One thing that surprises me ever since I moved here is that people seem to take vitamins and supplements, but their vegetable and fruit intake is really small, especially compared with people in Japan.  Even watching cooking shows, I notice the majority of the recipes on TV and in magazines are meat and carbohydrate recipes, and of course desserts.  Unless they are targeted to vegetarians.  Is there any happy medium in this country?

As food is my passion, I cannot give up meat, fish or dairy… or carbs, vegetables, or fruits for that matter (and the occasional fried food.)  I believe in a balanced diet, and eat everything in moderation.

Fruits are easier. So how can you incorporate more vegetables in your everyday diet?

From time to time, try to make a dish that showcases vegetables as the stars, and use meat as a condiment. And keep things like sautéed mirepoix to add to any dish.

The easiest thing to do is to do the prep work in larger batches, so that you have them ready to go.  One thing I found difficult about vegetables is that they require more cleaning, trimming and preparation. Since it takes virtually the same amount of time to do the prepping, it makes sense to do it  all at one time… Then they are ready to go… for lunch, snack or dinner, so it’s much easier to increase your vegetable intake.

I’ll share the recipe for a delicious stuffed vegetable dish my the next post… Here’s the photo to whet your appetite!

So stay tuned… Or click subscribe to “Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard” via email, on the top right, right below the photo of the red pots, so that you will receive it in your mailbox when it’s posted.

stuffed veggies

From top middle: yellow pepper, zucchini, squash blossom, tomato, and eggplant, stuffed with various toppings.

Top 10 Reason Why You Should Practice Kitchen Wizardry.

Ever wonder why I promote cooking like a Kitchen Wizard? Here are the top 10 reasons why…

1. You’ll save time in the kitchen, Big time! That means you gain time outside of kitchen!

2. You’ll save money by buying bulk and taking advantage of sales.

3. You’ll reduce waste. How many of you have ever had some moldy or limp vegetables in your fridge? You won’t have them any more!

4. You’ll eat healthier. The variety and number of dishes you serve will increase. When you have healthy alternatives ready to go, you tend to use/eat it. On the other hand, when you have whole vegetables in your crisper, they tend to be forgotten. And we tend to reach for something more convenient – often processed food in a box or bag.

5. Less dishes! My husband has been more willing to do dishes! Bonus!

6. You’ll get compliments from your family. You can get dinner on the table faster, so your family is happier! Yay!

7. You will be sure to get compliments from your family and friends. The variety of recipes you can create will sure to impress them. (Many won’t even be able to tell it’s been repurposed!)

8. You’ll become a better cook. More efficient and effective, and you can cook without a recipe. It’s a lot of fun!

9. You’ll reduce stress. See all of the above.

10. You’ll feel better about yourself.