Tag Archives: no sugar added

My 5 Favorite Healthy Snacks

4 Jun

Whenever people learn that I don’t eat sugar, not any, not even a drop, it is often met with faces of horror or disbelief.  “What do you eat” they often ask.  In truth, while inconvenient at times, it’s not difficult to eat a simple, healthy diet.  Living in Korea does complicate things further with language challenges and most Korean foods being tucked with a hearty amount of sugar.  But the benefits and improvements of how I feel without sugar definitely outweigh the inconvenience.

I am like anyone else – I still love to snack!  It’s important to have things I love to eat so I don’t feel denied. For me, snacking is something that requires no fuss. Nothing fancy, no big preparations. As more and more people are choosing a sugar-free healthy eating lifestyle, I thought I would share my favorite munchies.  Here are my top five healthy gluten-free, sugar-free snacks.  With the help of Iherb.com, they are accessible no matter where you are in the world!peanut butter and apples

1.  Peanut Butter and Apples
This is my go-to favorite snack, so simple and healthy.  I use only natural peanut butter with no-sugar added.  My top pick is Arrowhead Mills Organic Creamy Peanut Butter.  It is delicious, smooth and creamy, and not a drop of sugar added.  You can find this peanut butter in many health food stores as well as iherb.com.

kale krunchies2.  Kale Krunchies from Lydia’s Organics, Herb de Provence flavor
This crispy treat is a great way to go when you have the munchies for something crunchy.  The Herb de Provence flavor is very inviting.  I often use it as an addition to a simple, quick lunch or to fight off the evening munchies.  It’s also a good way to get some veggies on the go if you are traveling or someplace where you don’t have access to healthy food choices. Delicious!NOW-Foods-Real-Food-Dry-Roasted-Macadamia-Nuts-Salted-733739070197

3.  Macadamia nuts
Oh, my favorite of the nut family.  In the 90’s romance film, It Could Happen to You, the first thing she buys when she wins a million dollars is Macadamia Nuts.  True luxury!  I find when I eat these I feel like I am getting an unexpected treat.  Surely I must have done something good to deserve something so yummy.  A great late afternoon snack to get you through until dinner time.  I order NOW brand from iherb.com.

beanitos4. Beanitos
This is my solution to my snack chip cravings.  It is a great alternative to corn or potato chips.  The ingredients are simply black beans and rice.  They can be purchased at most US grocery stores or at iherb.com. They are delicious on their own, but also great for dipping in humus or guacamole.  Yumm!

5.  Fresh fruit and Greek Yogurtyogurt and kiwi
As ice cream for me is a thing of the past, this is truly a refreshing and satisfying treat.  It is so simple, just a dollop of yogurt and fruit of your choice.  I often like bananas or kiwi.  It’s important to choose a greek yogurt with no sugar added. Here in South Korea I order from a company in Seoul that makes their own fresh and delivers it to my door.  If you are curious, you can find them at www.medfoodinkorea.com.

If you are new to iherb.com and would like to save up to $10 on your first order, use coupon code STG569 or click here for more information.

What about you?  What are you favorite healthy snacks?  It’s always great to learn about more healthy, sugar-free snacking!

Featured photo, a sneak peak at the rice farm in the “backyard” of my current home, Gyeonggi English Village in Paju, South Korea.

Sweet Potato Muffins and the Chicken Dance

20 Apr

It’s been a full week for me here in South Korea.  My activities have crossed the spectrum from baking Apple Sweet Potato muffins to doing the Chicken Dance with young Korean children.  I even took a little time to stop by Severance Hospital in Seoul and get my ankle x-rayed… and no, my ankle, still sore after falling down some stairs in France nearly a year ago, thankfully isn’t broken.

Let’s start with the Apple Sweet Potato muffins.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know my search continues for yummy satisfying food with no sugar added.  Refined sugar is definitely not an option for me, but sometimes too much sweet from fruit and honey does me no good as well.  So I adapted a recipe I found recently and baked a muffin with only apples and sweet potatoes for sweetener (no honey or other sweetener added).  Here is the recipe I used:

2 cups almond flour1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded sweet potato
1 cup shredded apple

I combined all of the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) and then all the wet ingredients (vanilla, eggs, oil, yogurt).  Next I combined them both and finally added in the uncooked shredded sweet potato and apple.

I baked them at about 350 degrees F (that’s about 175 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes.

The results were satisfying flavorful muffins with just a touch of sweet.  They were especially tasty with a little butter or with a smear of creamy organic peanut butter (no sugar added!)  If I were to make any changes to the recipe, I might try a little less Greek yogurt as when finished the muffins were a little wet.  I also would liked to have added some nutmeg, but didn’t have any on hand. But just the same, they were a moist and satisfying treat.  Hurray!

And what’s next… yes of course.. the chicken dance!  Who can forget.  Why was I dancing the chicken dance you may ask?  The simple answer is… it’s part of my job.  On the weekends, when we’re not teaching middle school students, we teach fun classes that are open to the public at English Village.  One of our weekend lessons is called Dance Party.  It’s pretty simple… we dance and lead the Korean visitors in a variety of fun and well-known dances.  YMCA, Disco, the Hustle and… the Chicken Dance!  Often our guests are little children who enjoy dressing up in our costumes and doing a little dancing.  Sometimes we get older students… like today.  We had a visiting quartet of early twenty-somethings who put our dancing to shame.  It only took a few dances for my co-worker/dance partner to suggest…” I think they’re professional dancers…”  and…as it turns out…indeed they were.

As I mentioned, earlier this week I took a little sojourn into neighboring Seoul to visit the doctor at the local Severance Hospital.  I learned they have an international clinic from a colleague here at English Village.  It was a welcoming first-class experience all the way.  The hospital itself  had a professional, open and inviting feel.  It didn’t feel really like… a hospital. When I arrived at the clinic I was greeted by friendly English-speaking staff who quickly and easily assisted me with my needs… which was to make sure the my ankle wasn’t broken.  I speedily received an x-ray and soon after I learned, happily, it is not.  After my appointment was complete, I made a stop by the Smoothie King located in the food court inside the hospital. Next I was delighted to find a health food store in the hospital.  I did a little browsing and discovered one of my favorite American brands – Amy’s organic foods.  This is the first time I have seen this brand since I left the States.  They only had a few items, all pizzas, looking somewhat misplaced in the freezer section tossed next to items that were unidentifiable to me.  And what did I do, you may ask?  I bought one of each… yes three different types of frozen pizzas.  What can I say, there is nothing like some good old-fashioned “healthy junk food” for a little comfort like home.  I spent more money on them then I care to say, then made my trek back to the land of Paju.

Earlier, en route to the hospital I encountered what in America we might begrudgingly call a busy intersection.  In South Korea these sticky situations are handled with a little finesse courtesy of the traffic director.  Pictured below in a cowboy hat, the local traffic director displayed an almost choreographed array of moves and ushered traffic with some style and flair.

Well, my laid back day of work is coming to a close…. a real treat today after the past few busy weeks.  Tomorrow is  Sunday, my day of rest, and then once again a new week will unfold.

Spring continues to tempt us with a few days of weather in the 60s this week. But even so, I can’t quite declare it Spring weather even though April continues to fade away.  There are, however, some blossoms showing their face in the surrounding Korean hills among the still barren and dead trees of winter.

Good-bye for now from my world and life in S. Korea.  Feel free to write. It’s always good to hear from you!

A Taste of the Sweet Life

31 Mar

It’s a quiet weekend here at English Village in Paju, South Korea.  It’s Easter Sunday and as I am at work today… and in South Korea…its presence constantly escapes me. I am working my last weekend shift of a two month rotation. It is nearly April in Paju and I am still wearing my long winter coat and scarf.  I am longing for the days when Spring has fully arrived but I am reminded that the heat and humidity of Paju summers are not far behind… and then there’s monsoon season.

Lately conversations can turn to the threats of war from North Korea.  While teachers, myself included, are paying attention to North Korea’s headline making threats and actions, there seems to be a sense of concern but not a feeling of panic or urgency. Recently one of our head teachers at English Village, a Korean man, addressed the issue at a staff meeting.  He wants to help keep us informed and he shared his belief that North Korea is simply reacting and offering threats as is their history in the past.  So for now, I suppose I am like many other English teachers in Korea and South Koreans – paying attention to the situation, but also not getting lost in the fear of it.

Work this weekend is pretty simple for me.  The weekend teaching staff at English Village tends to any special camps or students visiting for the weekend as well as the general visiting public.  The last few weekends, today included, I have been teaching an English game for the general visiting public called “Compound Words”.  It is a simple game.  There are two pictures and each picture represents one word of a compound word.  The first team to guess the correct compound word gets a point and the team with the most correct answers wins.  I have found that children and adults alike enjoy it.  They stay for about 20 or 30 minutes or so and laugh and play and guess.  Sometimes the parents help the children answer in English and… sometimes the children help the parents.  It’s amazing to me sometimes to see a very young reserved Korean child come up with a correct answer much to my and often their parent’s surprise.

Last night I took my first try at gluten-free baking in my new to me Korean toaster/convection oven.  As I can’t eat refined sugar and do my best to stay away from gluten, but still love sweets… my last few months surrounded by the candy, sweets and baked goods among English Village staff and students has been challenging.  Finally an opportunity to make something a little sweet for me.  What was on the menu?  Brownies!  It couldn’t have been easier!  With a base of almond flour and sweetened with honey, they turned out sweet, moist and chocolatey.  Just what the doctor ordered!  Here is the recipe!

Earlier this week on my day off I made my way into Seoul.  The mission?  Yoga!  I have been practicing yoga both independently and in classes for over 8 years.  It has become a mainstay in my life and a practice I use to feel at home no matter where I am in the world.  After being in South Korea for over three months, I have found just a handful of yoga studios in Seoul that offer classes in English.  Much of the yoga in this area is what’s known as Hot Yoga, a series of yoga postures done in a heated room.  This type of yoga has not been my practice and does not appeal to me… and so the search continues for a yoga class.

After some persistent google searching and communicating with a studio via email, I finally decided to make the trek to a class this past week in Seoul.  Door to door it was about a two-hour journey.  The commute was longer than I expected and I arrived about 5 minutes late for class.  When I finally arrived I found a Korean teacher with a class full of Korean students.  I was surprised because I sought out this studio and class particularly because they offer classes in English.  Irregardless I made my way in and laid out my mat as I heard the Korean instruction.  The teacher was very friendly and asked me if I spoke Korean.  I shook my head no.  I thought perhaps I could make the best of it. “Perhaps I could follow along?” I asked hesitantly.  The kind teacher looked at me with a less than optimistic look.  She suggested I try another class taught by one of their English teachers.  Respectfully, I rolled up my mat and left the studio.  And so the search for yoga continues.

I am grateful to have my own personal practice of yoga that I can take with me no matter where I am.  Even here in English Village I have had the opportunity to share some basic yoga with the other English teachers.  I was even invited to create a simple yoga lesson that can be done with Korean students in classes at English Village.  Its a Powerpoint guided lesson that has a series of videos showing simple yoga moves that can easily be done in the classroom.  I received some positive feedback on it from a fellow teacher who tried it in his class.  They had some extra time and felt the students needed some physical activity.  He said the yoga lessons met the needs of something physical for the students without getting them too “excited”.  After the class he said they were in a better place to sit down and participate in the rest of the lesson.  That’s great!

And so as this day comes into full play, I find myself in unconventional Easter surroundings.  I will spend my Easter in South Korea teaching young and old alike about compound words.  And later tonight, a little sweet treat and a restful evening as I prepare for the busy work week ahead.  It’s a good Easter in my new surroundings, appreciating the little things that make life sweet.

How about you?  How did you spend your Easter Sunday?  Any sweet memories or recipes to share?

Top Photo – a taste of the sweet life.  Gluten-free honey sweetened brownies prepared in home-sweet-home in Paju City, South Korea.