Drink + Eat Like a Modern Day Wildwoman: Probiotic Superbrews + Eats

This Modern Day Wildwoman gets her buzz on via fermented beverages.

Of the probiotic and cultured type, naturally.

These probiotic powerhouses burst forth a wealth of health benefits such as aiding detoxification, tipping our bodies towards acid/alkaline balance, and containing beneficial bacteria which our enhance our digestion and increase general feelings of well-being.

You may have heard of probiotic brews. Kombucha and kefir drinks are standard at health food stores around the Unites States, abroad, and now even at certain chain grocers (at least here in progressive California). If you haven’t noticed a special brew in the cold case, you’ve certainly tried, and undoubtedly benefitted from, a probiotic beverage or food unknowingly while dining. Perhaps a Japanese Miso soup, or Korean Kimchi has touched your lips?

You could say my fermentation exploration started in college when I used ‘mealpoints’ at UC San Diego’s Earl’s Place, the on-campus co-op, to buy my first kombucha. To my co-ed delight, ‘bucha left me slightly buzzed in between cram sessions at Geisel Library

English: Geisel Library, UCSD

Geisel Library, UCSD
Named after a writer named Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss!
(Wikipedia)

But really, this ride began with kimchi, the fermented spicy cabbage dish for which South Korea is famous.

Indeed it did…and in the land of Kimchi, nonetheless.

Kimchi

Kimchi (korea.net)

In 2010, I embarked on a one-year journey to South Korea, adding ‘English as a Second Language Kindergarten Teacher’ to my already…um…varied? exciting? ADD?… resume.

Admin at a Malibu holistic wellness center, beach camp counselor, editorial, PR, television, and talent agency intern, model, actor, fine dining hostess…preschool teacher to cute Korean kiddos all before the age of 24? Okay!

I’d never felt so healthy as I did that year. On top of daily kimchi-munching, I began brewing kombucha, a fermented tea, nurturing my first batches from my lil’ apartment with no windows (aka the Yoga Cocoon). The brewlove was inspired by Aimee, a free-spirit and dear friend who now organizes Project Hope Art in Haiti.

One sticky July afternoon, a special circle of chingus, or friends in Korean, gathered at Aimee’s community garden spot at the edge of Seoul for her going-away party.

The Garden Party July 2010

The Garden Party
July 2010

‘Who’s to be handed down the brew?’ was a hot question on our well-stocked table full of every vegetable you could think of: lettuce leaves, radishes, cabbage, seaweed, fresh and kimchi’d alike, and magguli (rice wine, another fermentation) -filled table. (Thank you, Seoul Community Garden ajjimas and ajjashis, or Korean elder folk, for providing such abundance in our chingu’s honor).

‘Not too fret’, answered Aimee. One chingu would receive the master brew and mushroom. From that master mushroom, if we kept it well fed with black tea and sugar, top layers may be ripped off and shared with friends who could then start their own brew. The rest of the afternoon is a bit blurry with much soju, magguli, and ukulele sing-alongs flowing. A few days later, Aimee sent us future brewmasters a link via facebook with precise brewing instructions. Although Aimee left only a month later, her legacy lived on as the rest of us chingus who were sticking around for a while carried on the kombucha batch and delved deeper into additional fermentation methods.

We got so into the craft of fermentation that we held fermentation tasting parties with blind-taste contests. Only a week after my own departure, a “Fermentation Celebration” was held, organized by the aforementioned chingus, where all thing fermented were celebrated by us foreigners…yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Caucasian attempts at alcohol and kimchi-making, cheese, you name it.

In my humble, but well-read and personally tested, Beach Girl Abroad and Modern Day Wildwoman opinion, fermented foods and drinks absolutely contribute to a healthy body and a happy state of mind. Did you know most of our serotonin, the body’s ‘happy hormone’, is produced in our gut, not our brain? With the help of beneficial bacteria in our tummies, our bodies produce a healthy dose of serotonin.

 

Peace, love, namaste, happiness!

Beach Girl Abroad 

Capturing Your Essence: Asian Superfood Soup

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Continuing to channel the good juju cultivated during my stay in Asia, I’ve created another Asian dish. Superfood veggies such as red cabbage, chard, and kale make up the bulk of this soup. Dried black fungi are a cancer-fighting superfood well-known in Chinese Medicine. Fermented Miso gives a little protein, satisfying umami taste, and healthy probiotics. Avocado and toasted sesame oil add omega-3 fats for a happy brain, and a whole egg adds additional satisfying protein and choline for brain health.

You’ll need:

1 cup dried black fungi (find at Asian market)
1 egg
2 cups-ish Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup-ish Kale, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 avocado
4 tbsp miso
1.5 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Bring water to a boil, add chopped veggies (including dried black fungi) and let veggies cook until tender.

Add egg, allow to boil until egg looks cooked through (can leave whole or break it up in pieces).

Turn stove off. Add miso and sesame oil to pot and stir. Serve in bowls, add avocado to top of soup.

To your health! 🙂

Capturing Your Essence: Dubu Kimchee

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The past few weeks I’ve been seriously missing Asia. The landscape, the people, the inability to understand the conversations going on around me, the 24-hour markets, the endless hours wandering the streets exploring, the freedom

Recalling how healthy and energetic I felt, actually preferring Asian food at times (oh, and getting sick of it plenty, too…kimchi and I had a love/hate relationship), I looked up the nearest Asian market in Oxnard and proceeded to stock up.

A wise friend and Naturopath commented that subconsciously, I’m beginning to channel the essence of myself that I happened to find in Asia. The free spirited me.

A cartful of tofu (Korea calls it ‘dubu’), kimchi, gochujang (Korean Chili Paste), and ‘gim’ (seasoned seaweed), I came home and made a Dubu Kimchi meal on the stove.  How? Sautee kimchee and tofu, add some sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, add in some gim, and you have yourself a healthy meal of fermented vegetables and quality vegetarian protein.  Yum!

Also in the cart from East Asia? Dried Black Fungi (aka Anti-Cancer MEDICINE in Chinese Medical Wisdom) and dried wakame (a type of seaweed, good for the female system) to add to soups, and an enormous tub of Miso. I didn’t stop at Korean goodies, either. Capturing my essence, of course, I foraged flavors of Thailand and India (a land I’ve yet to explore, but have a feeling I will find some of my future ‘essence’), as well. Panang Curry Paste, Coconut Milk, Curry Powder, Tumeric…warming spices that  which Mother Ayurveda would highly approve. Next blog!

Be. Here. Now.

“This is the reason I’m back here. Now, I get it.”

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I’d left so much of myself here. I’m tied here. My past is here,

the happiness and the pain.

And I’d irresponsibly left it in a storeroom.

I’d traveled here and there, and everywhere, all the while

out of sight, didn’t necessarily mean out of mind.

Sifting through the storage unit, I was dutifully listening to the wonderful Hay House Radio App (download it, it’s free!), when opening a random box stopped me in my tracks. Opening this box was like opening a box of treasure.

I kid you not, gold light seemed to spill out upon opening my cardboard box of treasure…

It seemed I’d stumbled on a box of “me”.

Who I was before all of ‘this’, before the gypsy travelling, the yoga trainings and teachings (when I packed this box, most likely in a hurry before hopping a plane to Seoul, I’d recently become a devotee of Bikram, but didn’t even know what a Sutra was, knew I loved the chanting music played at Bryan Kest Power Yoga but no idea this devotional chanting is named ‘Kirtan’, and thought Ayurveda was some kind of mystical shampoo)…

The energy of the box encompassed “me” before travelling, just an early twenty something from California who loved collecting bikinis and laying out on the beach, exploring the Santa Monica and Channel Islands Farmer’s Markets, spending a day wine tasting in Downtown Ventura or Paso Robles, refurbishing furniture from thrift stores into Beach and Shabby Chic and listening to Classic Rock, dayhiking in Malibu…a young and somewhat naiive me… a ‘me’ before a massive love and heartbreak which would rock me to the core. The aforementioned which was the very impetus to make me question who I am, my reactions, how I relate to the world, get back to my roots and what makes me tick, and most importantly, teach me how it feels to be human and love. Love and the sheer pain of losing it–and I would never take this feeling back for the world. Anyways…I digress…the treasure box…

Although none of my friends would remotely call me a simple person, I have to say, this box encompassed a simpler time. Even my signature vanilla perfume was at the top of the box, along with a framed tear out from an inspiring book which quoted, “Every Day is a Good Day“.

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Treasure Box.

I had to revisit. Remember who I was. Remember how present, or not present, I was in each chapter of my life. This “letting go” couldn’t have happened in Hawaii, Asia, or elsewhere. I realize that now, it’s time to fully be here and live my life. The message is loud and clear. It’s come from so many sources all along. I’m heeding the advice now.

Live my life. Be here now. Be fully present where I am now.

And today, it’s letting go of my past by clearing out what’s mine in the store room. Old photographs, knick knacks, clothing, stuff. Most things are neutral, others bring joy, and some hold painful memories. Especially satisfying is getting rid of these things that leave even an inkling of an ‘ick’ feeling; keeping little scraps of things that give a ‘good’ feeling and select photos worth adding to the scrapbook reminds me how connection and love make the world go ’round (even when I feel like disconnecting for a bit to go in introvert mode).

Oh, and definitely keeping a few bikinis 😉

Hosting a yard sale this weekend, wish me luck!

Remember, out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind, whether subconsiously or conciously.

What have you not let go of, and how may it be affecting you? I want hear all about it! Leave comments below.

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Missing Swan Class…

I told them “do reallllly well so that when Elisa Teacher misses you, she can watch you sing and feel your love all the way in America forever and ever”…
 
And the time has come, that, yes, I watch the little munchkins and feel a yearn in my heart for Swan class (and South Korea 2010, dear dear chingus (friends) met in Seoul and now scattered over the globe, and kimchi.
 
~Swan Class performs, “How Sweet it is (to be Loved by You)”, February 2011~

And I’m Home.

After a sweet So Long Seoul of a send off…
the Seoul amigas sending me off with one last night at the magkuelli bar.  Will miss the crew ❤
 
I’m back in California now.
 
 
Life is sweet so far.
the girls.
 
and I LOVE my Mom.

There just so happens to be a new outdoor yoga group meetingat the beach park near my house (and I’ll be helping out subbing once in a while…wooo! 🙂
I’d forgotten how beautiful everything is here.  

Getting a driver’s license again, car, insurance, is a pain in the butt.  But very worth it to have a life here in the USA.

Life is good.

The lessons of last year are all falling into place.  

I learned I can make myself happy anywhere in the world.  

And I have a whole new appreciation for home.  

Next adventure: Hawaii in August for some more yogi education.  

Prob won’t blog much with the day to day, but will check in here and there.  I deleted this thing for a bit but put it back up because of such nice feedback from family and friends.  Plus, it’s a good reminder of the journey, and a great way to stay updated with all my abroad friends met in Korea and Thailand 🙂

xoxo
Beach Girl at Home

Wrapping up the Week! Pay Attention to Your Yoga, Pay Attention to Your Life

Alright, much better day yesterday, and today is Friday! Yay!


Celebrated my co-teacher’s birthday yesterday by bringing in a little chocolate birthday cake from Paris Baguette, a chain of pastry shops here in Seoul. On top of the cake, I placed candles that said  
“<3 YOU”, and totally surprised her with the cake, candles, and the kids singing “Happy Birthday” to her.  She was actually touched! It was adorable, “Elisa, I’m so touch-ed”, she leaned over and said to me in her even more adorable Korean accent. It was a special moment, and I love happy surprises.

chocolate cake from paris b.  (totally copy/pasted from the net as i’m too lazy to upload pics as of late…)
My patience was better yesterday with the kids.  I had a good night’s rest and was careful with how much sugar I ate all day. I’m noticing that lack of *quality* sleep (it doesn’t really matter if I get 8, as long as the hours are quality), and/or too much sugar really put me in a “mood”.  It’s pretty easy to get too much sugar here at preschool with all the cakes (see above, which is a daily thing as kids have birthday parties all the time) going around.  Plus the stress that can come with teaching 20 kids sometimes leaves you reaching for chocolate.
I read a great quote the other day, from star yoga teacher Erich Schiffman’s book. To paraphrase:
“Pay attention to your yoga, pay attention to your life.  Both will become more interesting.”
 
So what did I learn this week by paying a bit more attention?
In yoga: My hamstrings are tighter than ever despite teaching 3 classes a week and doing my own lil’ morning and bedtime routines..  solution? Stay longer in forward bends as to not shock the muscles.
*It’s hard for me to get to bed after teaching evening classes.  Possible solution: How are you teaching this class?  Crap!  Elisa…stop running it like an AM class. Bring the energy down a notch. Enter “moon salutations” and knock off the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) and backbends.  Chill out.  
In life: 
*unquality sleep + sugar = moods.  Solution: Do things to get better sleep. I stumbled on a book called “The Well-Rested Woman”, and have started taking tips from that, like creating a bedtime routine.  Focus on protein and veggies.  Do I really need sugary soymilk, chocolate, and cakes that are conveniently lying around?
*Tuesday night late evening tea parties at my place with awesome friends are pretty amazing, and being around positive people sometimes can boost my energy like nothing else. Wish i’d done this more throughout the past year! But hey, maybe all that solo time was a good thing, too. 
 
Yay for random rambles…Happppy Friday!

Lunar New Year: How I Spent My Stay-cation…

So I feel really boring.  This whole city life/30 degrees as-a-day-time-high thing is turning me into an indoor girl (as much as i’m fighting it with walks, hikes, etc whenever i can fit it in).

2.5 weeks to home.  So excited to get back to California and the beach.

Korea just celebrated Lunar New Year.

I had 5 days in a row off of “stay-cation”.  I made a list of all the Korean festivities I wanted to attend, museums to possibly visit, shopping to do…then…

I didn’t even leave my neighborhood.  

after nearly a year of the commute from hell, I stayed away from any buses and subways, and didn’t leave my ‘hood.  I watched hours of Grey’s Anatomy, a few movies, (and even a few episodes of Oprah), went on four hikes around Namsan Mountain (short walk from my place), made a few meals with friends, taught a yoga class at the local muay thai gym (AKA my saving grace during this final month!), and just plain rested.  There was even one day I didn’t leave my apartment.

I’ve been too apathetic to upload pictures.  (Sorry.  Basically it’s cold, some snow on the ground, I look the same (maybe a slight whiter shade of pale), and the sun is out most days which is cool.)

Loving teaching yoga.

Over the whole watching 4 year olds all day thing.  my patience is wearing pretty thin with that whole deal, 
(ask me again tomorrow, maybe you’ll hear a different story.  sometimes I love the preschool job.  and of course I’ll miss the kiddos, but man, 20 of them all day long…exhausting…)

ready to go home…

treinte y cinco dias hasta…(35 days until…)

35 day countdown!


and it’s already bikini, flipflops, short shorts weather back home in California (yes, in January…this is NOT normal, the weather is so laughing at me right now).  It’s about 25 degrees as a high in seoul, about 4 or 5 as a low.  


I’m forcing myself to not be lazy, get outside, get fresh air…bundle up and take walks…teaching yoga as a nice warming flow rather than a slowish class…of course, in the vain fear that my body will turn to mush within the next 5 weeks and I will, heaven forbid, disappoint my 50 or so swimsuits, surfboard, and eternal springtime California wardrobe waiting in storage, that all have patiently waited for me the past year.  Past year! It’s been a year, holy crap.  


Seoul, it’s been fun, it’ll be bittersweet…but I must bid you adeiu shortly.  


Dad wrote: 
there is a special ticket, for a special seat, on a special plane, waiting to take you home.

Beautiful as You Feel

I’ve found a way to make teaching really, really fun for me…and as a result of my newfound excitement for teaching, I’m pretty sure the kids are having a lot more fun during my lessons!  
What is it…drumroll please…



eschewing the annoying, high pitched kidsong cd’s and incorporating my own soundtrack to teach the lil guys life lessons!


For “character education” this week, I taught the kiddos an old Carole King song, “Beautiful”, 


“You’ve got to wake up every morning, 
with a smile on your face and show the world, 
all the love in your heart….
people gonna treat you better, you’ll see yes you will… 
you’re beautiful as you feel” 🙂 


had my iPod on shuffle and it randomly came on the same morning of character education lesson…how’s dat for synchronicity!!


And…Last week learning about houses, I played a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, “Our House”.  Both “lessons” were complete with arm movements and a dance…something I prob wouldnt have thought of even 2 months ago.  Hilarious.  And good morals in those songs!




Looks like my Swans are going to get an education on American classic rock and folk music!