Lychees and More

All this writing about my trip to China got me thinking about some of those foods I enjoyed while I was there.  One of those is the sweet and tropical tasting lychee fruit.  As luck would have it, the commissary carries these Chinese treats.  Now, I had enjoyed these prior to China, but they were easy to enjoy while there because they have a tough outside skin that is peeled off, making it one of the only fruits considered safe to eat.

Let me introduce to you the LYCHEE...
They are so tiny and cute.  If you look here you can get a good idea of their size.
So, what is a lychee:
The fruit is covered by a leathery rind or pedicarp which is pink to strawberry-red in color and rough in texture. A greenish-yellow variety is not grown in California at present. Fruit shape is oval, heart-shaped or nearly round, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length. The edible portion or aril is white, translucent, firm and juicy. The flavor is sweet, fragrant and delicious. Inside the aril is a seed that varies considerably in size. The most desirable varieties contain atrophied seeds which are called "chicken tongue". They are very small, up to 1/2 inch in length. Larger seeds vary between 1/2 to 1 inch in length and are plumper than the chicken tongues. There is also a distinction between the lychee that leaks juice when the skin is broken and the "dry and clean" varieties which are more desirable. In some areas lychees tend to be alternate bearers. Fruit splitting is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture levels.

Lychees have been grown in China for more than 2000 years. Get to the fruit by piercing with a fingernail, peeling back half the skin and squeezing out the fruit. There is a single large seed in the middle.

How to Select
Choose lychees with red shells that are heavy for their size. Brown patches indicate sweeter fruit.

How to Store
Refrigerate lychees in a plastic bag for up to 10 days.
Nutrition Benefits
Low in fat, cholesterol free, sodium free, excellent source of vitamin C.

One thing you should know is that these exotic little fruits pack in the vitamin C.  Yes I know I just shared that from the fruits and veggies more matters website, but it really doesn't express just how much vitamin C is here.  For the most part I eat kiwis for my vitamin C, which is another good source.  Many people think citrus when they hear vitamin C, but there are so many other great and exotic sources for the super duper antioxidant vitamin C.  Lychees are a fantastic source.  I looked up the data on and found that 1 piece of fruit contains about 6 calories and 11% of your vitamin C needs for the day.  So, in just 9 lychees you basically have 100% of your vitamin C for the day in only 54 calories...and when you finish eating them you will probably feel as if you just went on a vacation.

So, while it has a tough red outer shell, the inside is a delicate white flesh.
But be careful, there is one dark pit inside.
So, next time you are shopping for produce, check out your seclection of exotic fruits and hopefully you can find some lychees to enjoy.  If your local grocer doesn't carry them, consider checking for an Asian market in your area.

Also as a result of my week long posts on China, I didn't share any of my good eats from last week, so here is one dinner Ryan and I enjoyed mid-week.  I was going for quick and easy, but well balanced and high in flavor.  So, here is what I pulled from the shelves.  Gotta love the Trader Joe's products that I still have.  I am slowly eating through them as I don't want them to ever runn out.  So I went with an Indian (boil in a bag!!!) entree, wild and basmati rice pilaf, and in that plastic bag is the leftover fresh broccoli from last weeks cream of broccoli soup.

Looks good in the picture.  I love Indian food, so I am happy to eat it anytime.

I broke out the rice cooker, which i think I have only used one other time since we moved here.  I am in love with this $12 little machine.  Not only is it a rice cooker, but it has an additional tray for steaming veggies.  But, I forgot how long it takes to steam veggies and so it was ready a few minutes after we actually started eating dinner, but that was ok.
Put in the raw...
and out comes perfectly steamed, still slightly crunchy, not mushy, beautiful broccoli.
The end result was a nice looking and super delicious meal.  Look at that whopping serving of veggies.
Since I had some left over rice, the next day after the gym I was looking for a snack and came up with this idea.  I reheated some rice and then topped it with the rest of my "crab" aka surimi aka pollock imitating a crab aka whatever it is I think it is delicious.
Yesterday we had a Mexican themed dinner to go to and so I offered to make a 6 layer bean dip.  My 7 layer has jalapenos and I decided to skip them as it was a party for all ages and I personally like it with out.  So here is my bean dip line up, starting with the vegetarian refried beans at the bottom, some salsa, guacamole, light sour cream, cheese and black olives.  This is my easy party dish.
Gotta go with the Mexican cheese blend, although I am not quite sure what makes it Mexican other than the color gives it a Mexian American restaurant feel.
Topped with chopped olives...
I love these loaf pans since I prefer to do my dip this way over a 9x9 cake pan.  I can make thicker layers this way and I like the final presentation.
That is it for the eats, but I wanted to leave you with a picture of the moon from last night.  When I first attempted to take this shot the moon was not covered by clouds.  After playing with the settings on the camera, the moon was covered in clouds, but I still like this shot.  Living on an island gives you some of the best sunrise shots and also moon scenes as the sky is not polluted with light and you can see everything, not like in a big city.
QUESTION:  Have you ever tried a lychee?  Do you prefer a sunrise or a sunset view?

Girl's Night Out

By my title you might think I had a girl's night out...but no, the island (and all of the Azores I believe) had a girls night out.  Let me back up to the previous Thursday...Guy's night out.  I did not really have an idea, but then over last weekend Ryan asked me about it.  I still had no idea, and I guess the idea was only guy's were allowed out.  This meant no females could dine in restaurants.  So, then he explained that the next Thursday (the one that just passed) would be Girl's night out.  He wouldn't be able to go out that night, and for me it was a Friday night.

So fast forward to this past Thursday night.  We noticed our dog may have a bladder infection, so we thought we should try to locate a vet or at least go to the pet store to see if they sold the Urinary S/O prescription dog food.  So on Thursday night we headed to Praia.  While the pet store did not have this, they gave us directions to the vet.

We did find the vet, but they only had Urinary S/O for cats, but whatever, we bought it anyway and figured we could come back to the vet if we needed to and have Ginger checked out.  Then we figured since we were out, we should get something to eat for dinner.  And that is when Ryan remember it was Girl's night out.  We wondered if we could find any place to serve us, and Ryan didn't know what to do because soon enough it was all girl's everywhere.  We even saw an older woman out wearing devil horns.  I guess with Guy's night out there were special women there to entertain and we heard on girl's night out there would be special men to entertain...not sure if that is true or what since we didn't go out for it.  But I did see a post, in Portuguese of course, on Facebook that I think said this was across all Azorean islands and it was like a day for girl friends, so basically a Girl's night out...but it is an actual holiday here.  Reminds me of when my Hawaiin friend told me about girl's day and boy's day.

So the packs of girl's were swarming around and we ducked into a cafe that looked like it might close soon.  The owner was more than happy to serve us, and we were glad to be off the street.  So here is how Ryan and I spent Girl's night out.

I had to take a picture of the cute looking condiments.  If you get salad it is always served with oil and vinegar.
My salad was around the outside of my actual dinner.  This was sorta like a casserole.  It was cod fish, potato and cheese.  She let me sample this special before I ordered.  Ryan really liked it too.  It was like chunks of potato with cheese and it had shredded cod fish in it, almost like a tuna noodle casserole, well except with cod and potato.  But it was nice, and not too creamy.
Ryan ordered a hamburger..actually I believe this was named Menu #2!
Couldn't resist dessert as this was a cafe, which specializes more in the sweets than meal type foods.  ryan ordered this.  It was like custardy and eggy, and had almonds. 
I ordered this ridiculously large pastry with chocolate inside.  I only ate 1/2 and I was stuffed.  But I wanted a little chocolate and this was all they had in the chocolate family...they were in the process of cleaning up for the day.
As always...the coffee.
So, I am thankful we were able to find something to eat on the island traditional day for only girl's.

On to some other pictures I have taken over the past week, since I was busy writing all about my trip to China.  Sophia of Burp and Slurp asked me a great question and I thought I would answer it here.  She wanted to know how I remembered so much from my trip since it was a few years ago.  Since I received something like 36 credits of continuing education for my RD portfolio, it almost became like a school project.  My boss gave me some of these days off for my trip as Education days which did not use my vacation time, so it was considered like being at work.  As a result I took a lot of notes and then presented when I returned to work.  So that helped a lot of it stay in my mind since I invested a lot of time in learning while I was there.  Also, I scrap booked when I cam home and although it is in storage, I am a visual learner, so that helped a lot of details stuick in my mind too.  I still have my itinerary here and the photos I do have were named really well to help jog my memory.  There is a lot I did forget and leave out from my 3 weeks there, but this was seriously an unforgettable experience.

Moving right along, so you everyone can get on with their busy busy weekends...My new favorite breakfast...oatmeal, almond butter and strawberries, so yummy!
I took this picture last night of some "exotic" beers we picked up here.  This is the real Budweiser from the Czech (did I spell that right?) Republic, or something along those lines, hmmm...
Oh and we also have a Lambic, but this is Timmerman's brand.  Also here is a Super bock, which is not exotic for here at all, but rather one of their main beers.
Last up is this animal cracker action we have going on at our house.  This is our tin of animal crackers, or shall I say, dog treats, and our dog's tin.  Yep, I may enjoy the animal crackers, but not more than the dog.  She actually things they are dog treats and gets angry when I eat them.  She tries to take them away from me.
So I share with her, since they used to be all hers, but I developed an extreme like for these again.
Oh, and if you are curious about her infection, yes I took her to Angra yesterday and I was pleased with the local vet there.  They gave her some antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory, and in 8 days we will ultrsound to make sure there are no blood clots in her bladder.  She has had that before, so we knew this was probably similar.  So we started treatment and she should be better in no time.

QUESTION:  What is your favorite, or the most unique holiday, you celebrate, either religious or cultural, or anything local to where you live? 

P.S. We have a major flavor undertaking for this weeks FROM SCRATCH meal.  Looks like Sunday will be the day for cooking since we have a work thing to go to tonight, which I have already this morning made a 6 layer bean dip for, and one for us at home of course.

...and then we ended in Shanghai

The last stop on my China tour was in Shanghai.  This is truly an amazing city and I could have stayed here for days.  We did many things, including some shopping in the markets.  I even had to buy an extra suitcase so I could get everything I bought home with me.  I shopped for myself, family and friends and as long as you didn't mind haggling over prices, you could get things at a decent price.  I will say prices were lower if you were Chinese, always...but I didn't mind the prices I paid.
This is outside of a museum.  I loved the architecture in Shanghai.  It is (or maybe was) known as the Paris of the East, and it shows.  I saw major ritzy boutiques, even Loius Vuitton stores.  Fashion galore.  You can even find dress shops to make clothes for you, I just didn't have enough time.
This is at one of the markets.
This was a meat vendor at the market.
Frogs, really?
This is a tapestry, and I love dragons.
This is at the Sea Palace restaurant.
Going to another market.
Street food vendor.
Yes, that is a Starbucks.  They only had 2 there at the time and I went to both and bought t-shirts at both.  Another one I liked in Shanghai was the Hagen Daas, but it wasn't ice cream since they don't do ice cream here, it was ice milk.  But it was still a tasty treat and walking distance from our hotel.
We visited the Children's Palace.  This is a place for children to learn extracirricular activities, like art and dance and even music.  They go to school and then come here for after school lessons.  This was during the summer so I think they had summer programs too for learning and advancing the skills of children.
This is in a classroom.
Ok, here are some of my favorite pictures.  This is in a pharmacy at a hospital in Shanghai.  This is the mixing of herbs to make prescriptions for patients.
Not food...these are prescriptions of herbs to be taken home and most likely boiled for a tea of some sort.
Storage of the herbs.
There's me.  I think I am wondering what the heck, and how can they just toss some things together and have that be medicine.  Definitely not what I am used to.
Here is the meal service in the hospital.  All of us dietitians were dying to snap pictures of this.
Here they are checking off that they are feeding the right patient and I am guessing checking on the right meal too.  Gina asked me yesterday (I think, these days are running together) about sodium and potassium restrictions on dialysis patients, and from what I saw in the dialysis center, no.  They were eating veggies we would not allow in the states due to potassium content.  Hey, at least they were eating rice, right?  I also noticed people on dialysis drinking fluids (no restriction) and eating soup which I imagine was high in sodium, so that was my shock there.  Now in this unit at the hospital, I believe it was a general med/surg floor and I think they may have watched for people who were diabetics, maybe?  Since we had the language barrier, we asked, but I am not sure I may have always fully understood.  So I left a lot up to observations, knowing I may misinterpret something.
Lastly, we went to a tea, a real official tea, before we left the country.  These were our samples.
This is one of my favorites.  I personally do not drink tea, but I bought these for my sister.  These are handbound jasmine buds that bloom when boiled in hot water.  The glass pot gives this unreal effect.
The last thing I did in Shanghai was ride the Maglev (bullet) train.  I do not have a picture, but I got to the airport early, so I got on the train from the airport, rode out of town, and then back to the airport. 

The Shanghai Maglev Train or Shanghai Transrapid (simplified Chinese: 上海磁浮示范运营线; traditional Chinese: 上海磁浮示范運營線; pinyin: Shànghǎi Cífú Shìfàn Yùnyíng Xiàn; literally "Shanghai Magnetic Levitation Demonstration Operation Line") is a magnetic levitation train (maglev) line near Shanghai, China. It is notable for being the first commercial high-speed maglev line in the world—during a test run on November 12, 2003, a Maglev vehicle achieved a Chinese record speed of 501 km/h (311 mph). The journey was designed to connect Shanghai Pudong International Airport quickly to the outskirts of central Shanghai where passengers could interchange or their final desinations in the city centre. Construction of the line began in March 2001 and public service commenced on January 1, 2004.

It was a cool ride.  I know it is actual transportation, but I felt like I was at an amusement park.

Well, that is it for my trip to China, touring as an RD and food professional in their country.  It was an awesome experience and if you ever get the chance to go, I do recommend it.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read along all week about my journeys.  Next week I'll get back to life here in the Azores.

QUESTION:  What is your favorite kind of tea?

GIVEAWAY ALERT:  How about a great giveaway for Larabars from Prevention RD, CLICK HERE!

Have a happy Friday!!!