Taiwan Eats – Vegetarian Food in Taipei

image3-1Hello from Taipei!

As is the case on a visit to Taiwan, I’ve been eating all the food.

After the first week here I thought I was going to balloon into Augustus Gloop such was the frequency and gluttony of our indulgence, but it turns out that after a month here I’ve learnt the secret to staying trim on a Taiwanese diet… window shopping! As is the case in most of Asia, consumerism is rife and we seem to hop from one department store to the next on a daily basis. My iPhone tells me I’ve been easily clocking up 10,000 steps a day without even trying. Surely that calls for calories…

Here’s what’s been on the menu and in my mouth.

Western Vegetarian Food at Mia Cucina

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Though Taiwan does vegetarian food well, its traditional style is fried, salty and same-y. I was craving fresh and raw and Mia Cucina did not disappoint. We ordered two salads, corn soup, portobello mushrooms, a cheese toastie and a flatbread to share between four of us. The perfect meal on a rainy Taipei day. I suggest you order more and take home the leftovers.

Location: No.48 Dexing West Road, Shilin District, Taipei 111. 111士林區德行西路48號

Coconut Chia Pudding at Cafe by Juicy Diary

 

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Regrettably I had already eaten breakfast when we hit up Cafe by Juicy Diary but that didn’t stop me from ordering this chia pudding with seasonal fruit for elevenses. The owners hail from San Francisco and they bring fresh cold pressed juices and Instagram-worthy healthy eats to the Da’an district. My fellow diners had avocado and egg on toast and a brunch bagel. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu here.

Location: No. 2, Lane 14, Siwei Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106. 台北市大安區四維路14巷2號一樓

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I Looked and I Found.

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What a precious day today was.

After feeling utter despondency after yesterday’s election result I decided to look for signs of hope, positivity, strength and kindness. Took G for a walk first thing and passed a nondescript building with a Buddhist sculpture inside. I asked my Mother in Law what it was and she said the local temple had collapsed in an earthquake so this was their temporary location.

A monk saw us looking in and invited us in for tea. What happened next blows my mind…

3 nuns who spoke great English and showed us around. We were then invited back for lunch with the head of the Monastery. The kindest, sweetest soul. She told me that she’d been praying for a foreigner to drop by and practice her English with and was happy the Gods had answered her prayers.

There are no foreigners in this town so though she was educated in America she cannot use her language skills. And there we were. And practice she did. And then we ate a delicious vegetarian feast. And I found hope, positivity, strength and kindness.

It exists all over the world, we just have to believe in it.

This post originally appeared on Instagram. You can find me on Insta here.

Because My Dog Was Once a Refugee, Too.

We made it to Taiwan for the extended holiday. Yesterday I attended my Mother in Law’s English class at the local town hall as the VIP guest (cringe!). The topic of the day was dogs. Naturally, I was in my element.

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3 days in to our trip and I’m already having withdrawal symptoms from my pup – I now know what his separation anxiety feels like.

The withdrawal manifests itself by staring longingly at other fluffy white dogs on the street, my brain tricking me that it might be Sunny, fantasising about taking one of the street dogs home with me, and launching into verbal diarrhea anytime someone asks about my pooch. So that’s what happened yesterday in class.

My darling Mother in Law also launched into a full blown soliloquy at one point about Sunny and explained how we came to adopt him. Cue the best English mistake ever:

“Sunny is from the shelter. Before, he was a refugee.”

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The UK has the Lowest Rate of Breastfeeding in the World. (This one thing could help.)

There was much to-do last year when world breastfeeding rates were published in the media and the UK ranked as the lowest in the world.

Here are some of the figures released:

  • As of 2010, 81% of babies in the UK were breastfed at birth
  • At three months, the number of mothers in the UK breastfeeding exclusively was 17% and at four months, it was 12%
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at six months remains at around 1%
  • After one year, 0.5% of UK women is still doing any degree of breastfeeding. This compares with 23% in Germany, 56% in Brazil and 99% in Senegal

As you can see, it seems that the issue is not that women don’t want or try to breastfeed – there is a huge percentage starting off with breast. But the continuation rate for breastfeeding is shockingly low.

I’m currently on an extended trip to Taiwan – I’m here for about three months here in total where my baby will be 4-7 months – and I was amazed to learn how good the breastfeeding rates are here.

Rates in Taiwan:

  • In 2016, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months was 45.5%
  • This is above the global average of 38% and just short of the WHO’s 2025 goal of 50%.

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What has driven this high breastfeeding rate?

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Inhale, Exhale

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glennon-doyle-meltonNew favourite obsession: The words of Glennon Doyle Melton. What a wise (and hilarious) egg this lady is. I’m late to the party but glad I made it anyway.

I’m currently reading Carry On, Warrior, listening to her story on the Beautiful Writers podcast, watching her on Marie Forleo and pre-ordering her latest book.

I’ve told all my closest go-to girls that they must devour the above content A.S.A.P so that we can jointly digest and discuss. Already three of them have THANKED me for the introduction. They’re as hooked on her words as I am.

Pure class and the sanest words about love + being a woman + grace + realness this side of Venus. Thanks Glennon!

Go read her site now!

 

Sisters & Happiness

Today I had lunch with two sisters. One is a (my) yoga teacher, one a doctor, they were born 22 months apart. What a special honour! It reminded me that there is an energy and spirit between sisters that can’t be matched.

I ADORE my relationship with my younger sister. I love our conversation; the details of our daily lives, thoughts, emotions and relationships – often seemingly pointless to an outsider but so incrediblsisters-cactusy important to us.

I love our dynamic; no judgement whatsoever, even when one of us is acting good-crazy or bad-crazy.

I love our memories; our childhood habits & idiosyncrasies, our family holidays, our first-everythings.

I love our honesty; we’d both no doubt look and act like a hot mess without the tough love we direct at one another to course-correct bad decisions and cheer on the good ones.

I love that we share the same parents. That sounds dumb in writing, but who else can understand the intricacies of the most important relationships of our lives?

There was a study released several years ago that says sisters make you happier, more optimistic and “better at coping with life’s problems”. The theory is that the open communication sisters have is good for our emotional health.

Side note: after living with my sister for 3 months this summer I had to be careful when socialising with other people – we’d spent so much time together speaking SO openly and intimately that I became used to that level of conversation. Most inappropriate in the majority of social situations 🙂

I love you sis! There’s no one I’d rather share my chocolate cake with…

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Pep ❤

And We’re Off to Taiwan!

… For what my Mum is calling “the extended holiday”.

Tearing her apart from her first grandson for 3 months is the equivalent of pulling a coffee addict away from a Delonghi espresso maker (#lifegoal to own one of these). But she’s coming around to the idea that G will have plenty of time with his paternal grandparents, exposure to Mandarin at a really young age and it’s an exciting opportunity for Brandon to be living and working in Taiwan for a short stint, the country he left when he was 18.

taiwan-654398_640Excited, apprehensive, a wee bit overwhelmed… are the emotions I switch between on a weekly (ok, hourly) basis. Mostly though, I’m accepting that this is just another interesting chapter in our rather random story. It will be the 4th country and 5th move since B and I met 8 years ago. Why not add another pin to the map?

And quite honestly, I adore Taiwan. I’ve been there twice on holibobs, and it’s a fine place for a vacation. It’s a hidden gem that is largely undiscovered by many British holiday goers, so if you don’t know much about the place except that there’s a bunch of electronics made there, then you certainly aren’t alone. Here are a few things you might like to know.

  • It Has Fantastic Food. Let’s start with its biggest selling point. Taiwan is a foodie’s heaven. The island has an interesting history that has resulted in a diverse and high quality array of culinary offerings. As well as being colonised by both the Dutch and the Japanese in the past, in 1949, after losing control of mainland China, the Republic Of China government withdrew to Taiwan – and took all of the best chefs with them. So you might say that some of the best Chinese food is in Taiwan!

    The Taiwanese LIVE to eat. My in laws talk about lunch at breakfast and dinner at lunch. The traditional greeting in Taiwan is not “how are you?” but “have you eaten?”. Forget Italy; Elizabeth Gilbert should have toured Taiwan for the ‘EAT’ section of Eat, Pray, Love. I think I gain 10 pounds just thinking about the food on offer here.

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Is an “Almost” Pain-free Birth Possible? Yes.

Like many women, I’m fascinated by reading and hearing others’ birth experiences. I want to know all the juicy details and absorb every second from the very beginning to the very  end.

However, whilst I’ve listened or read a gazillion negative ones, I’ve only ever heard three positive ones in my 30+ years on this earth. JUST. THREE. POSITIVE. ONES. (One was from my next day neighbour who told me she popped out her four kids “like peas”. That was a new one.)

positiveI’ve also watched far too many dramatic episodes of One Born Every Minute  and gawd do I wish I could erase those from memory. I’m adding my story to the mix to hopefully encourage any anxious mums-to-be, or anyone hoping to have children at any point, that giving birth doesn’t need to be feared – labour can and should be a beautiful thing.

It’s not always going to be of course, and complications are very real and sometimes uncontrollable, but there is a very real possibility that your experience could be a good one and you should know that.

*Spoiler alert*: mine was.

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Hygge Bedroom Design in Pink & Grey

A year ago I had a crazy idea to paint our bedroom walls pink. Hubby was very obliging, trusting, as always, my “vision”. My vision was actually stolen from Pinterest, more specifically a board that had lots of grey, pink and copper inspiration on it.

Pinterest also taught me that it’s not just any old pink, it’s got a fancy name; Dusty Pink. Sometimes it’s called Blush. Whatever you call it, I adore it.

The problem is, I’ve despised those sickly pink walls ever since the paint dried. Against our grey duvet set the whole thing looked worn and drab. I’ve been meaning to sharpen up the room ever since, but you know, baby. (That excuse wearing thin yet?)

Finally, a whole 12 months later, I’ve found the time and energy to get the room to a place I’m happy with. With just a few accessories, the result is warm, cosy and – as my sister announced when she last walked in – Hygge. OMG, the holy grail of design or what?

I’m chuffed! Just in time for winter. And almost Pinterest worthy…

What are your top Hygge bedroom accessories?

Pinterest sources above: here, here & here.  

Becoming a Yoga Teacher (200hr YTT) – Choosing a programme in the UK

So this came in the post today!

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A letter of acceptance for my application to Camyoga’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. I’m soooooo excited!

Why I’ve Decided to Take the Leap

I’ve been dreaming of doing my YTT forever. I started playing around with yoga when I first moved to Japan 10 years ago. Over the next couple of years I found myself practicing almost daily. I’ve been hooked ever since, attending classes in California, Seattle, here in Cambridge and always when I travel – my favourite view was from this class in Queenstown, New Zealand:

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Cambridge vs. Bali?!

I’m not sure why but my YTT dream saw me attending an intensive training programme somewhere in Asia. Probably because I’m a complete Asia-phile and something about training closer to its Eastern roots appealed to me. So when I had a baby this summer, my dream seemed rather distant. I couldn’t imagine leaving him for 2-3 weeks anytime soon, so I pushed the thought to the back of my head.

And then hubby dropped the bombshell that we’d be moving to Taiwan with his work for 3 months this autumn. “Ooooooh”, said a little voice inside of me. “Perhaps I can do my YTT there while my Mother in Law babysits?” Cue frantic Google searches.

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