Sunday, November 21, 2010 much for my overly-eager hope of posting everyday :)

As much as veganism is incredibly important to me, I've realized that I'm not really a "foodie" at all. Yes, I absolutely enjoy food; however, I never really crave any exciting dishes to whip up. I frequently do experience Korean food cravings, which I suppose I am lazy about cooking. Yet, my excuse is that after a loooong day of teaching (and then filled with studying, various classes, etc. of my own), the last thing that ignites any interest is cooking.

What vegan foods have filled me since my last posting on Tuesday?? The same exact ones that filled me the previous week. I know, I know... borrrrring. I can not keep filling my blog with food posts about sweet potatoes, chestnuts, apples/pears, and my spinach/broccoli combo for the rest of the month.

However, Saturday night I was able to include a few things that aren't on my current rotation list.

The amazing day began with my yoga classes (obviously I don't practice at Tom & Tom's... look up)!!

Then I treated myself to getting my hair/make-up done (something I NEVER do.. AND one of the women who works here decided that she is my friend. Therefore, I received absolutely royal treatment at a ridiculously low cost!!).
* pic*

Finally I was whisked away to the COEX Intercontinental Hotel for a splendid three hours at an all you can drink/eat wine buffet. I will be honest and say that I used to enjoy wine (probably a little too much...hehe); however, now.. I really don't enjoy drinking at all (especially when I had first learned that MANY wines are NOT VEGAN!! I shall dedicate this for a later post...) (1). The company and atmosphere were both particularly lovely, but after only drinking a little over two glasses... I experienced the WORST day long headache.

I had prematurely decided that there wouldn't be any vegan options available, but I was proved very wrong!

There is always water, right? ha. I remember when I had only lived in Seoul for a couple of months... there were MANY meals of just water, rice, and soy sauce. It makes me smile when I think about my early days here (but...I also wince a little at how quickly the time has raced by). I CONSTANTLY get asked the question of, "Is it hard to be vegan in Korea?"...

My answer? Not at all. Surely it is hard if you *have* to eat things like veganized junk food, "food" that has been designed to act like and/or to taste similarly meat. Yet, if you simply take the time to learn about the food and culture, it is incredibly easy to enjoy the AMAZING cuisine offered.

(Note: The pic of my water bottle is EMPTY! I downed this 2L BEFORE even having a sip of wine, and I STILL was plagued by a headache...geesh. Full-out grandma-ness.)

I munched on these for the entire three hours (hmm...maybe I got a headache because all that I consumed were veggies dipped in samjjang (a delicious sauce/paste/dip(?) that is quite savory)...

Finally the evening had whittled itself down to the remaining 30 min, or AKA as fillyourglassesASAPdrinkandrefillpileonthefood time. Our group then ventured to a singing room, and little miss Grandma Patty took off early so that I could catch the subway home (I have not one, but TWO good excuses for being a Grandma: I had to meet my boss and a co-worker EARLY for coffee, AND I had a yoga class). Saturday night success?? Yes.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A little overdue

Better late than never, right? :)

At the end of July during my summer break (geesh..almost four months overdue), my superawesomefantabulistic co-worker and I decided to head to Jeju-do (an exquisite island off of South Korea-only an hour's flight from Seoul!). We only stayed a few days, but it was the perfect excursion to recharge our well worn and slightly burned out teaching batteries.

So what does this have to do with Vegan Mofo?

Yeon Wu Nae

I am definitely not an expert foodie (hence my frequent meals of sweet potatoes or fruit...); however, I've been fortunate to experience a wealth of vegan friendly food in Korea. This place was absolutely the best vegetarian proclaimed restaurant that I've been to so far!

Honestly, in trying to rate a restaurant, so many of the reasons that I will enjoy a specific place is based on the experience as a whole. The entire experience of Yeon Wu Nae? Amazing, the end.

After the flight and an extended bus ride, Taylor and I were ridiculously hungry. I had read of this restaurant while trying to do a little planning for our trip, and through randomly bumbling about town, he and I found ourselves somehow magically poofed at it's doorstep.

I attribute it to Korean magic. Everything from the rustically simplistic decor down to the last bites of our meal couldn't have been better.

I even loved all of the cups and bowls!

We each decided to each go with one of our usual favorites, bi bim bap, and then we added an order of Nok Cha (green tea) Sujaebi to share. Taylor also ordered padjeon (kind of like a pancake, and usually brimming with some type of squirmy seafood and veggies), but I let him enjoy that on his own since I had more than enough food that I was about to inhale.

Nok Cha Sujaebi is a soup that is made from green tea noodles. The broth is a smooth, creamy, and comforting blend made from perilla seed powder. I wish I could describe the taste... all I can say about it is that it was excellent.

According to most Koreans, I eat my bi bim bap strangely. In Korean, bi bim means to mix (or at least something similar to that), but I don't always like to mix it all up! I enjoy the individual tastes of the many vegetables that can be included... There have been SO many occasions where K-friends, restaurant owners, or even other customers will try to steal my chopsticks and mix my bi bim bap for me!! :)

(If you are unfamiliar with Korean food, bi bim bap is usually served with a fried egg nestled on top of the veggies and rice. One of the first things I learned how to say in Korean was please take out the egg...)

Taylor and I had coconuts stapled in our brains before we had even left Seoul. Since we were heading to an island...visions of palm trees covered in coconuts danced in our imaginations. We quickly grew determined to find and consume them.

On our second day, we spent an awesome afternoon of hiking, followed by heading south to check out a few waterfalls. Upon our arrival, we were greeted warmly greeted:

After being revived from the fresh coconut juice, Taylor smashed our coconuts in half (1), and like cavemen, we dug out the "meat"(2). I don't even remember the last time that I had coconut, but it was INCREDIBLE.

(1) Have you ever tried to smash a coconut? Prepare yourself for a mini-workout.
(2) I couldn't resist...

Monday, November 15, 2010

My students are awesome.
And sometimes... their parents are awesome, too.
Today when my kindergarten class finished,
Dinosaur's (yes, I really have a student named Dinosaur) mother
brought me a
sweet potato.
this week is only going to get
better and better..

I feel so blessed to be living in such abundance...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Bunch of BS

Sooo...I took a little hiatus from blogging daily...

BUT... I've still been writing waaay more than I have EVER done in the past. Therefore, I feel good about my posting frequency :).

This weekend, I felt like I didn't have any down time... except on Friday night when I came home from school and absolutely crashed!! I love when you lay your head on your pillow, and sleep immediately finds you.

On Saturday night and Sunday night, I made my current favorite salad...which I have affectionately named:

A Bunch of BS.

It is a broccoli/spinach I think the name is fitting :)

(I apologize for the icky pictures-my good camera was void of a charged battery AND my apartment has awesome fluorescent lighting...)

-As much spinach as you can stuff yourself with
-As much broccoli as your tummy is hungry for
-Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
-Cumin, to taste
-Korean chilli-powder powder, to taste (it is called gochu-garu
-A pinch of minced garlic

This salad is ridiculously easy to make, and it is
great for people who want something super healthy,
super fast!

-Wash the broccoli and spinach
-Chop away into desired bite-size chunks
-Mix in the desired amount of minced garlic
(I do recommend going easy on the garlic as it can
take away from the taste of the balsamic...)
-Sprinkle in the desired amount Korean
chilli-powder and toss
-Sprinkle in the desired amount of cumin
and toss
-Top the salad with the desired amount of
Balsamic Vinegar and toss
-Enjoy a spicy, tangy, bunch of bs!!

Mmm.... just thinking about it makes my mouth water!! Maybe it will be tonight's dinner as well...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A little bit of homesickness...

This morning while enjoying a sturdy cup of freshly pressed coffee, I came across a Mofo-er who is blogging about her vegan traveling adventures.

Hungry Vegan Traveler

Her latest post smacked me in the face with a heavy helping of homesickness...

While she is venturing on a road-trip 'round the states, one of her recent posts is about stopping in Nashville. Normally I am not too affected from being homesick; however, when it does hit me, my heart feels as though it has been stung by a bee.

For almost two years I have happily lived on the little peninsula of South Korea. Being in Asia has completely transformed me. This entire blog could even be solely dedicated to my Asian transformation; however, this month it has pledged to be vegan.

Nashville is not my hometown; I was born a mid-westerner from the great state of Ohio. Yet after a year of trying to transition out of the college lifestyle, I was lead south.

I do not intend on making Music City my home ever again, but it will always hold a little real estate in my heart.

(I can't seem to write anything without being long winded...)


I became vegan when I was living in Nashville.

While being away from home, I first experienced cravings for certain foods that I have been unable to have while being here. Now, I rarely (if at all..) miss anything. When I lived stateside, I worked for Whole Foods and had unlimited access to the newest and trendiest "vegan" food available. My diet practically subsisted from Lara Bars, fresh wheatgrass shots, any kind of locally roasted coffee I desired, creative and conveniently available raw food delights, a wide assortment of raw nuts, and other veganized junk food (which now..I can't even believe I consumed so much of. gross).

At first, I wanted Chipotle (well...maybe sometimes I still think about Chipotle..hehe), a peanut-butter cookie Lara Bar, one of Tom's (*sigh* a Whole Foods juice bar juicer and produce chopper aficionado) smoothies, or a PM (local restaurant) veggie burger.

Now? My tummy craves sweet potatoes, acorn squash, spinach mixed simply with red pepper and balsamic vinegar, K-bean-sprout soup (kong na-mul guk), Bi bim bap (veggies mixed with rice), Spicy bean-paste soup (dwenjjung jiggae), super-sticky, multi-grained rice, fresh fruits, and a hot cup of barley tea.

Until today...

Little Miss Happy V Traveler wrote about a few streets and restaurants that kindled warm memories. She included a few newcomers since I've lived there, but I can clearly picture the streets that they sit on...and all of the happy hearts surrounding them.

Amidst the wide collection of restaurants offering anything from gourmet cupcakes to fried oreos to legendary pancakes, there are a handful of places that make the Nash quite vegan friendly.

One place happens to be a small square of Heaven...

I've never been a big fan of ice cream, BUT.. I LOVE POPSICLES!!!!!!!

Fresh fruit crushed and blended into an icy delicacy on a stick? Yes, please (1)

Pineapple was my fav (on a rotation of course...).

"Yes I guarantee, things are sweeter in Tennessee..."

At least, I feel that that lyric holds true when concerning the likes of popsicles.

(1) I know I've been such a photo thief. BUT.. this pics are not from other bloggers. They are from Nashville publications so by swiping them, I think I am just promoting a Nashville business (excuses..excuses...). Although since I have been an excellent little blogger (blogging away every day...I'm so proud of myself), I have been motivated to start carrying my camera with me. More pictures on the way...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

However, I am well-experienced in accepting defeat in the Battle of the Broken French Press. It was a hard walk home, but I'm pleased to say that my recovery has left me better off.

I know, I know... Vegan Mofo is supposed to be about a month of FOOD, but since my monthly menu is proving to be quite mundane, I'm trying to be a little creative. If you are reading my blog, I'm assuming that you are an advocate for the vegan lifestyle (or..perhaps just enjoy food). The majority of vegans whom I have interacted with are damn good cooks; damn good cooks like gadgets, right?

My recent gadget purchase resulted from an initial bad buy.

The Bonjour Unbreakable
Three-cup French Press

Result: FAIL!

I only purchased this little guy out of convenience. Plugging in an order of deliciously magical Yerba Mate tea from Guayaki (which I will blog about later...), I viewed the option to buy this French Press thinking it would save me time and a little money.

Yes, he did his job well for about two months: happily providing pressed coffee or tea every morning. Until... he decided to quit without providing any sort of a notice.

Mr. Unbreakable broke my coffee-pressin' heart.

The spontaneous break-up had nothing to do with the glass carafe but the actual press. Without any extra stress or nagging, a primary piece from the inside plastic holder chipped off. Writing that it was a "chip" is really just sugar-coating that he became completely useless.

It was a sad morning.

A very sad, uncaffeinated morning(1)...
(On a side note, being the savvy ESL teacher that I am (ha!)...I am curious if the word uncaffeinated is grammatically ok to use in this context. It is my understanding that the word decaffeinated is referring to the actual extracting of caffeine. But.. it doesn't sound right because I can't-correctly speaking- extract caffeine from the morning, just the coffee itself. Therefore the prefix un, meaning the opposite of something, seems to be a better choice. Please... I would LOVE to be corrected. I can't find a well-supported answer.)

The rebound that is turning into Mr. Longterm:

The Bodum Kenya Coffee French Press

Unfortunately, I am a notorious impulse buyer. I was in a coffee shop, locked eyes with this attractive fellow, and somehow ended up taking him home for the night. The following morning, he made me breakfast.

I fell in love.

If you happen to be a French pressing fanatic such as me, I definitely recommend Bodum products. I should have known better (based on stellar reviews from caffeine-junky friends) and initially purchased from the Bodum company. The pot (so far..) hasn't allowed for any grind shenanigans to sneak their way into the drinkable portion of the pressed coffee, and it seems quite sturdy in comparison with the Bonjour.

If this blog entry makes a difference in even one person's potential uncaffeinated (ugh..decaffeinated??) morning, I feel that this blog entry has truly served its purpose.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Apple-Cider Vinegar

Through blogging everyday, I have starkly realized that my veganhood is as culinarily interesting as a university engineering student. It isn't that I was unaware of my simple, quick, and convenient eating style, I just never fully scrutinized what I ate-just what it was made up of.

I do love food, but I am more so fascinated with how such small, daily choices can largely impact our world, body, heart, and mind. Therefore every time that I eat, I sincerely make an attempt to really listen to my body and hear what it is truly craving.

For example: I'll be teaching a class and suddenly I'll get blindsided by an overpowering craving for grapefruit.

Yes, grapefruit.

Hmm... my body is probably saying, "You need to protect your lil' vegan ass from these germ-shellacked kiddos. More vitamin C puuuhhhleeezzzz..."

Often I'll view some pretty intoxicating vegan food porn, and while it usually appeals to my eyes or briefly my stomach, I usually don't feel any lasting craving towards it (I think this could also apply to many other cravings in life...).

In light of my boring palate, today's blog is dedicated to a vegan product that I consume constantly:


Alone, I think this stuff tastes like how an unwashed hiking sock would smell...sickening. However, mixed with fresh juice, honey, or other fruit-vinegar-ish type liquids (which is how I take it), it has an addicting slightly sweet, sour-apple flavor.

There are many companies that sell ACV, but I use the Braggs' brand. If you can purchase it from a store, it is quite inexpensive. However, I have to get mine shipped here through a special vitamin company.

According to the Braggs (Naturopathic doctors and loooong time health crusaders), ACV contains a wealth of nutritional benefits.

You can check out a little video and extra info here:

Before moving to Korea, I worked at Whole Foods. At the cash register, I would frequently see bouncy, glowing, shiny, happy people purchasing ACV by the gallon. Since I'm nosy, I would always ask if the promised health benefits were fulfilled. EVERY customer was always eager to share his or her personal, life changing testimonial with me.

At that time, I was still skeptical of any "magic potion" and tried to focus my diet on strictly raw foods (although, Braggs' vinegar claims to be raw...). It wasn't until almost a year ago when a friend recommended that I tried it for my frustratingly blemish-prone skin. I wish that I could write that it is the best skin clearing agent available, but I've only noticed a little improvement (but.. better than nothing, right??).

I primarily take it for its internal healing properties.

Everyday I must stand before a well-conditioned and finely tuned fleet of highly-powered, small children. These little tanks bombard me with the utmost sophisticated ammunition: boogers.
The naturally occurring Malic Acid in the vinegar gives it anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-child properties. Despite my increasing insomnia, I have (*crossing fingers and knocking on wood*) been able to fend off sickness like a champion.

ACV is also supposed to help increase flexibility and strength in joints and tendons. In high-school, I had a minor knee accident, (perhaps one day I'll write of the heroic and fantastical tale...) and I try in any way that I can to give my left knee a little extra help.

(Also, I have an ardent desire to one day teach yoga and continue rock-climbing.... the joints must stay happy)

I definitely recommend this product. If for some reason you are unhappy with your purchase, you can use it topically on your scalp, skin, or to even clean with!