After thirteen years in China I am back in the USA. Yesterday I went to the doctor and there was good news: my blood pressure was one twenty over seventy two. For your reference, here is a chart provided by the American Heart Association. My doctor also recommended cholesterol and diabetes mellitus screening.
When the blood tests came back there was more good news. Sort of. It seems my cholesterol levels are low to normal, but my blood sugar is considered “pre-diabetic.” Must have been that carrot cake I had for breakfast.
For a man crossing the threshold of retirement I consider this to be a relatively good checkup. Such was not the case in 2004 when I boarded a plane bound for Shanghai. I can say with some degree of certainty that my turnaround in health probably has more than a little to do with my diet during those thirteen years.
Here then is a link to a post I wrote a few years back!
Did they have pepperoni pizza in ancient Egypt? Was Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and the seven skinny cows the result of a late night snack, or something more meaningful? Joseph’s take on it was that “interpretations belong to God.” (Genesis 40:8).
We spend a third of our life in slumber. A good part of that time we spend in dreamland. Westerners have a habit of approaching life from a scientific, analytical viewpoint; we’re naturally suspicious of mystic mumbo-jumbo. In contrast, other cultures have no problem jumping in with both feet.
For the sake of balance, let’s just take the position that dreams are interesting… weird, but interesting. Here are some steps you can follow if you want to do your own dream study.
Get a notebook and put it by your bed. This is going to be your dream diary. Since we’ve already agreed that dreams are weird, you should take whatever steps necessary to protect your privacy. Enough said.
Before going to sleep, you should write down a summary of the day’s events. You should also write down anything you’d like to “work on” during the night. You know – string theory, world peace – stuff like that. Or maybe you just need a seven letter word for “rash.”
If you wake up in the middle of the night, note the time and what you were dreaming. You might also like to make a note to fix that leaky faucet.
When you wake in the morning write down everything you can remember about any dreams you may have had. Then call the plumber.
Don’t rush into dream interpretation just yet. You’ll need to get used to this routine and collect sufficient “data.” (Even though I’m taking a light-hearted tone, I think this is actually pretty important stuff.)
There’s a scientific principle that states you cannot observe anything in nature without changing it. In this case, that’s a good thing. You should start to remember more and more of your dream life.
Once you’ve collected a couple of weeks worth of data, it’s time for phase two. Read over what you’ve written. Look for patterns, insights and connections between your dream time and your awake time.
Although there’s a wealth of material available on the subject of dream interpretation, steer clear of it at this point. The question is “what do YOU think your dreams are trying to tell you?”
As much as possible, share your experiences with those who are closest to you. Ask them for ideas. And yes, it’s okay now to go to the Internet, library and (if you must) your local psychic. If you’re really concerned, make an appointment with your doctor.
Tips and warnings
Most of us probably don’t get the quantity or quality of sleep we need. Now is the time to do something about it. Clean your bedroom, put fresh sheets on your bed, flip the mattress. (Not necessarily in that order.)
How much caffeine do you consume in a day? If you think it may be too much, cut it out altogether for a short period and see if that affects your sleep or your dreams.
Diet and exercise have a profound effect on sleep and dreams. I guess you knew that already, huh?
This is enough for one article, so good luck with your study and, of course, sweet dreams!
The other day I was reading something called a “book.” While reading this book, I stumbled across an interesting factoid. (All I have time for anymore-just the factoids, ma’am.) The author was of the opinion that Peking Man was the first hominid to use fire. We know this because we have his left molar in a box somewhere.
Which got me to thinking. If there is a Peking Man, shouldn’t there also be a Peking Woman? I wonder what kind of recipes she has to share? I’m pretty sure Peking Man was too busy at the hunting and gathering office to actually cook.
So I got a copy of the Chinese Telephone Book and started looking. It took a long time as you can well imagine. I did find a listing for Peking Tom, but the number was disconnected.
I searched and searched. But alas, could not find…
My friend told me a joke the other day: “Have you heard obesity in America has hit a plateau? Yeah, we’ve gotten as fat as we can possibly get!” Not so funny, huh? My friend weighs over 300 lbs.
The other alarming trend – and this is no joke – the rate of poverty is also on the rise. The latest statistic I read is 1 out 7 Americans lives at or below poverty level. And there’s certainly a lot more of us struggling to make ends meet.
How can this be? Wouldn’t you think if so many of us are just scraping by, there would be a lot more skinny Americans? It can’t be just lack of exercise. Something else must be going on. My guess is that we are eating the wrong things in the wrong way.
Here are some steps to help you take control of your food budget, weight and health by switching (slowly) to an Asian Diet.
Drink iced tea instead of soda. You can sweeten the tea naturally with fresh fruit. Green tea also has fat-burning properties. For more on this, see my article How to Lose Weight with Green Tea.
Learn the art of stir-fry. Use little slices of meat to complement the vegetables. You’ll be surprised at the flavors you can get out of meat scraps, bits of fat and even bones! Check out my article, How to be a Stir-Fry Hero.
Learn how to eat with chopsticks. It’s a fun way to make yourself take small bites and slow down while eating.
Purchase a bamboo steamer and use it. Vegetables retain more nutrients when they are steamed.
Plant a vegetable garden. You can even grow vegetables indoors in the wintertime.
Learn how to sprout beans and seeds. Use them in salads and other dishes.
You don’t have to stop eating potatoes; after all, they’re cheap and nutritious. Try substituting rice, noodles or pasta for a change of pace.
The number 8 is lucky in China. So, good luck and good fortune to you! If you want to learn more about cooking Asian food, see my article on How to Cook Chinese Style.
My friend Brian and I were both limping on the same leg. What I mean is, HE was limping on HIS right leg and I was limping on MINE. Or maybe it was his left. Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
Brian claims his limp is from an old football injury that occasionally flares. I think he slipped in some buffalo wing sauce during Super Bowl halftime. No, wait. Brian is British. Make that World Cup and malt vinegar. I finally went to a doctor and found out what my problem was. Osteoarthritis. But I am getting ahead of my story.
We hobbled around for about a week and things did not seem to be getting any better. It finally got serious when neither one of us could make it up the stairs of our favorite Chinese Pub (is that an oxymoron?). The pub is in the basement, so we were trying to go home. There might be another reason we couldn’t make it up the stairs. But I digress.
Finally, Brian suggested we get a Chinese Fire Treatment. His ex-girlfriend is part owner of a tea shop on the other side of Guangzhou. Apparently, they do fire treatments in the back room. I know what you’re thinking, but let’s not go there. Actually, that’s what I said to Brian. And I quote, “let’s not go there.”
So the next afternoon Brian picked me up in his Buick. Yes, he drives a car in China. Buicks are very popular here because they are American. But I digress again. Re-digress?
Now, let’s examine the situation, shall we? What my friend and I were heading out to do was get ourselves lit on fire in the back room of his EX-girlfriend’s tea shop. Sound like fun? You betcha.
We arrived at the tea shop without incident. We had the obligatory Gong Fu Tea out front. Then it was time for the fire treatment. Since there were two of us, Brian went in first. Fine with me. Then it was my turn. When I went into the back room, Brian was alive and resting on a narrow massage table with his knee wrapped tightly. He gave me the thumbs up.
Now, all evidence to the contrary, I am not a complete idiot. I did have the foresight to wear shorts instead of long pants. That way, I could keep my pants on and preserve my dignity as I ran flaming out of the building. I must re-digress again. If you are reading this—which I assume you are—and you are British, then I was wearing short trousers, since you people mistakenly think that shorts means underwear.
Anyway, treatment began with some magic Chinese formula—Ben Gay, which is Chinese for “Are you out of your mind?” Actually, it wasn’t Ben Gay, but whatever it was, she slathered it all over my knee. Next, she wrapped my knee in several small towels and let me rest a bit while the magic Chinese formula soaked in.
Now, here is the part where you need to remember the famous quote from George Washington as he stood in the boat crossing the frozen Delaware river at two in the morning. “Kids, don’t try this at home!” Rubbing alcohol. I think that’s what it was. I don’t read Chinese labels so well. She soaked the towels with it and then took one of those long lighters, you know, the kind you use to start your backyard grill. She took one of those and lit the towels on fire.
I didn’t feel anything at first. But then, my knee began to warm up. About the time I was ready to panic, she deftly threw more towels over my flaming knee and the fire went out. After a while, she repeated the entire process. Then she wrapped my knee, towels and all, in plastic wrap. I’m guessing this part of the traditional treatment was added after plastic wrap was invented.
And that was it. Brian and I drank more tea and rested while the heat soaked in. Kind of like using an electric heating pad. Wait a minute… what a great idea!
How to Make Chinese Stir Fry and Be a Stir-fry Hero
If you’ve fallen into the rut of turning on the stove and opening the ‘fridge to see what’s for dinner, then mastering the art of stir-fry may be just the thing you need to snap out of it! No time to check e-mails or answer the phone when the heat’s on, but you may find yourself eating better, losing weight, saving money and taking bows with this delightful Oriental cooking style. Here are the basic steps.
Being fresh is a good thing. Every chef knows the tastiest dishes begin with the freshest ingredients. Head for the produce aisle of your store or, better yet, your backyard garden. In a pinch you can rely on frozen, but it’s just not the same.
Be prepared. It’s not only the Boy Scout motto, it also applies in the Asian kitchen. The basic tools are a Chinese knife (cleaver), one or two cutting blocks or boards, and an assortment of dishes to hold the prepared ingredients. Cut all of your ingredients into bite-size bits; try to make the pieces uniform. Have fun experimenting with different ways of slicing up each item. This is an art form all by itself.
Several basic seasonings and spices are mainstays of stir-fry cooking. They are salt, ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili. Speaking of chili, did you know in America we have only four “tastes” whereas the Chinese traditionally have five? That’s right: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and HOT! (Don’t even get me started on “umami!”)
If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Once all your ingredients are prepared, take a deep breath and get cooking! You’ll need a wok, but you can also use a flat-bottom pan while you’re learning. You’ll also need a spatula for stirring. There are other utensils you can acquire later. These include long-handled forks, strainers and ladles.
Put the wok on the stove and turn it on high. Pour a little oil into the pan and watch for it to start to ripple with the heat. Toss in your densest ingredients first because they take the longest to cook. You’ll learn how to judge which ingredients take longer than others.
Although the Asian diet is probably more healthful than the standard American diet, chances are your family may object to radical changes at suppertime. So, try a few simple recipes at first. There are lots of recipes, videos and tips on the Internet to help you get started.
Most Asian cooks use vegetable or peanut oil. And they probably use too much at a time. Try switching to olive oil for health and flavor reasons. Some people use teflon pans for cooking, which further reduces the amount of oil you need.
High cooking temperature helps preserve vitamins and minerals in fresh food, but also increases the chance of a nasty burn. Be careful!