I started blogging in 2005 with this blog (now retired) and then wrote a book about how to lose weight and get back in your skinny jeans through tiny actions. I also wrote another book about the death of my corporate career, and how a health crisis led me to my life purpose work.
Noshtopia is an eater’s blog. I like to eat and take pictures of food on my iPhone. Here is a small gallery of some my most popular photos on social networks. I’m particularly obsessed with photographing food I find at farmers markets because I think vegetables and fruit are Mother Nature’s sexy creations.
Every photo you see on Noshtopia was taken on an iPhone starting the year the iPhone 3 came out up til now in 2013 with the iPhone 5.
I’m not a chef or a nutritionist or declared foodie. I’m a reformed SAD eater (Standard American Diet of fast and overly processed foods.) I’m just someone like you who has to figure out everyday what to eat and doesn’t have the desire or time to hang out in the kitchen and make things from scratch like Martha or Julia. I also have the added bonus of food allergies and other food-related health issues, but we’ll get more into that in a moment. If you’re on a special diet because of health issues, you have found a tribe member. I feel you!
I like to share knowledge. Everything on Noshtopia is things that I have learned in my own journey to better health. I am not formally trained or certified in anything related to food or health. I'm just very curious and passionate about food and holistic health because of my own health issues. If there is anything you are unsure of, please consult with your personal medical professionals or trained culinary experts.
80/20 plant-based eating style which is essentially 80% vegan with 20% meat and seafood. I eat a lot of vegan foods mainly because I am allergic to dairy and eggs, and I've come to love eating vegetables thus the farmers market obsession. I'm also gluten-little attempting to go gluten-free in 2013. I avoid GMO foods as much as humanly possible and eat as much organic as I can get my hands on without breaking my wallet. I do my best to be a conscious eater.
I can promise you that you will not see celery sticks or boiled bland chicken here because no one needs to see more diet food.
And happily, you will see such delights like hamburgers, pizza, beer, brownies and hot fudge sundaes on this blog because hello, healthy does not mean Stepford perfect. Besides, perfect is as boring as watching paint dry. There is no cheating or denial here because there are ways to have your kale and quinoa and eat your chocolate chip cookies too.
We are going to think outside of the baby carrot.
My style of cooking is assembly. I still have no idea what it means to chiffonade. I have no patience for prep work so to me the salad bar is also known as the “pre-cut vegetable bar.” I often toss things in a wok, stir-fry it up, and throw it on a plate with pre-made brown rice or Quinoa I got at the Whole Foods hot foods bar. I do eat foods from boxes, in shrink wrap, and frozen bags, and every week I do eat out at some chain or local restaurant. I can eat at a 5-star place, a hole in the wall or a food truck. If you invite me to your house, I’m there with some wine.
I’m also an emotional eater. I eat when I’m sad, happy, bored, or fill-in-the-blank with an emotion. And even though I have food allergies, I’ll sometimes eat those banned foods because those self-destructive feelings kick in or I’ve reached some point of hating feeling left out. Of course, it’s not right and I should know better. But realistically, I’m human, not a perfectionist, and often I fail at eating “right.” I strive to eat better versus right.
Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at addressing my feelings than numbing those unwanted feelings with food. I’m better at feeding myself emotionally and spiritually first so I don’t compensate with glazed donuts or pizza. Healthier eating to me addresses our feelings as well as the actual foods we eat so in this blog, you will see things that feed spirit and soul as well as stomach.
Some of the topics covered in Noshtopia include:
- Random pictures of food. Often I see something tasty looking and I’ll post it for no other reason than I think it’s cool looking.
- Recipes (only because I make stuff up and people always ask for a recipe. My recipes are not exact science FYI.)
- Snack ideas
- Meatless Monday ideas
- How to get fun and creative with vegetables because that’s everyone’s problem - eating more vegetables.
- Healing properties of food
- Ways to eat healthier on the go like at restaurant chains, at work, or traveling.
- Product raves. I don't do your typical food product reviews, and never do negative reviews. I like to rave about food brands that I love to eat. I only talk about brands that I eat or use myself.
So, here’s a little back story
One day after years of battling the bulge and getting diagnosed with food allergies to dairy and eggs plus dealing with an array of other food-related health issues, I decided that healthier eating had to be more fun than baby carrots and boiled bland chicken. I asked myself, “When does dieting stop and it just becomes eating?” Life is too short to deprive ourselves of flavor and tastiness.
Three out of my four grandparents, and my mother has Type II Diabetes. Dad had colon cancer. Heart disease runs on both sides of the family. I have suffered from various skin, stomach, and intestinal issues because of food. Even mild depression was linked to the SAD diet I was eating before. At one point, I had a pill box to manage all the meds I was on. A naturopathic doctor got me off all those pills simply with a change in diet much like what happened to the people featured in the movie "Forks Over Knives." I became a believer. Food was the cause of my dis-ease, and food was the cure to that dis-ease.
I am allergic or sensitive to almost a dozen foods which includes some beans and nuts but my biggest issue is allergy to dairy and eggs. Sheep milk is okay. Goat is not. In 2010, I went gluten-little, and in 2013, I'm attempting to go 100% gluten-free because I'm finding that my body is now reacting to gluten although I have no allergy or are celiac. I feel better with less gluten in my diet plus if forces me to get more creative with food which I love.
My body cannot stand anything artificial or most commercial food additives like artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, food dyes, preservatives, and the sodiums - nitrate, nitrite, sulfite. I'm even reactive to some natural additives like maltodextrin and the gums like guar and xanthan. I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market mainly because they do not carry any food that contain these additives. I love natural food stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts and Trader Joe's because I feel normal in these stores. There is no "special" food aisle for me. I know many people can relate to that.
I couldn’t find a food program or diet that fit my dietary needs. I’ve always been a misfit, so the food dilemma came as no surprise. I started eating mostly vegan because of the dairy and egg allergies, but could not go 100% because I’m Filipino and love my fish sauce and pork adobo too much. Plus, I’m a runner, and my body needed some level of animal protein. I’m allergic to some beans and nuts as well so I couldn’t get all my protein needs from plants.
I used made up names like Carnegan (carnivorous eating vegan), Seagan (seafood eating vegan), Meat-Little, and Plants til dawn, following Mark Bittman’s “vegan til 6” strategy. Eventually, I came up with the 80/20 plant-based eating style that allows for my healthiness needs with the glee of fun and flexibility. But now in 2013, I'm going with the term Flexitarian mainly because it's a better descriptor than saying 80/20 plant-based eating.
Going Flexitarian, I dropped 40 pounds, got back in my skinny jeans, and have stayed in those jeans for over 5 years in 2013. Plus, my immune system is strong. My skin is brighter and looks younger than my driver license age, and I enjoy food again. I just eat. Dieting is a thing of the past. It wasn’t until I got off the junk foods did I realize that I had a junkie relationship with food.
I believe that one way or another you are going to pay for your health either via the fork or via the hospital. I'd rather eat my way to better health and be preventative (in a fun way) than be reactive and have to take pharmaceuticals (in a not so fun way.) It’s the Farmacy versus Pharmacy philosophy of Hipocrates, “Let food be thy medicine.” Farm instead of pharma is my motto!
My entire world shifted when I changed my food. I firmly believe in the concept of "Eating Wellness” as a way to help us have healthier mind, body, and spirit.
But I get it. Changing the eating habits is hard and it costs time and money so my intention with Noshtopia is to help inspire you along your journey and help you find joy and pleasure in healthier eating and to hopefully meet more people in the same boat because eating does bring people together and is more fun with others. You are not alone!
Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy Noshtopia and discover more vibrant ways of eating healthier!