Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…Food photos and recipes!…

Here’s a favorite meal: bacon-wrapped, hard-boiled egg stuffed meatloaf made with grass-fed ground beef; salads with red romaine (cos), celery, carrot, and homemade salad dressing; sliced cucumber sprinkled with Himalayan salt; steamed green beans and broccolini; oven-roasted zucchini; good-for-gut-bacteria probiotic sauerkraut; and, my favorite occasional treat, low carb flaxseed and almond flour muffins topped with grass-fed organic butter. Who says “low carb” dining isn’t healthy? (The red bottle in the center of the table contains homemade ketchup we put in a  used and washed bottle). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

For many readers, today’s third of five SEO posts may be found to be controversial, again with repetition from past posts, required due to this process as Post #3 of 5 for this purpose.

If you still believe and follow a vegan diet, or the low fat, low or moderate protein, mostly plant-based, high carbohydrate way of eating, this post won’t appeal to your personal beliefs about food. That’s OK. The intent here is not to dismiss or express disdain for any way of eating that may serve you well. Nor do we intend to “convert” any of our readers to our chosen lifestyle of low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Please understand, that today’s post on the low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world has worked for me, for Tom, and for many throughout the world. Over the years we’ve received tremendous positive feedback from readers following a similar path, often requesting tips and recipes which we happily provided and posted. In no manner are we dispensing any medical or health advice. Please seek your own resources for additional information.

How one chooses to eat and to ultimately care for their health is a personal topic, one which we’re sharing here again today based on countless emails we’ve received from readers asking us to reiterate how we are in fact living a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world when so much of the world’s diet consists of high carbohydrates foods including grains, sugars, and starches.

Homemade grain-free pizza crust. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…

It all started in 2011 when I sought treatment from an integrative medicine doctor, a licensed, accredited physician, one who treats the entire body, rather than a part of the body causing an issue. I had been suffering from hereditary auto-immune conditions, including pre-diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, and metabolic syndrome. All of these hereditary inflammatory conditions ultimately led to cardiovascular disease.

Also, these conditions, coupled with a hereditary propensity to advanced spinal stenosis (and subsequent diabetes and heart disease) resulted in constant full-body pain commensurate with my three MRIs illustrating that my skeletal frame was rapidly disintegrating.

Based on these three MRIs, the doctor expected I’d be in a wheelchair in a matter of months. At that time, I was 61 years old, living my life as a disabled person, struggling to stay active with excessive painful exercise, requiring me to retire early. Mainly, I didn’t discuss the degree of pain I was suffering, preferring to avoid eliciting sympathy from family and friends.

With pressure on my nerves throughout my body, the “crumbling vertebrae and other joints,” and other above-mentioned conditions, left me with chronic full-body pain.

One of our favorite recipes: baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves. We tripled the recipe in order to result in four meals, freezing part of it. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

This amazing doctor handed me 20-pages of literature from the renowned Cleveland Clinic as to how a low carb, ketogenic way of eating may reduce my level of pain and symptoms from the above conditions.

As it turned out, a lifetime of eating low-fat, high carbohydrate, low protein, high sugar-grain-starch diet, eventually impacted my cardiovascular system which was firmly in place long before I changed my diet in 2011. Inflammation, ultimately, was the cause. As the surgeon explained, after my triple cardiac bypass surgery in 2019, I’d had heart disease for the prior 20, 30, or 40 years and didn’t know it. By the time I changed to a low carb, keto way of eating in 2011, the damage had been done.

In 2019, the cardiologist explained that those changes I made in 2011 may well have saved my life from a fatal heart attack, as well as years of exercising, which I used as a means to avoid further deterioration of my joints and muscles.

Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway, ready to be wrapped in parchment paper. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

What does a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world look like?

As I read through the 20-page report from the Cleveland Clinic, I wondered how I could possibly follow such a strict way of eating. In my usual way, I sought information online from reliable sources on the controversial low carb/keto diet, which was often used for a number of chronic conditions. Much to my surprise, I found a tremendous number of reputable resources to assist me in my journey. For the sake of expediency, I won’t be listing “how to do a keto diet” here today, other than to list the following foods in general which are allowed, as opposed to those “not allowed.”

1. Animal protein (including eggs): Any form without sauces and spices containing starch, grains, and sugars
2. Vegetables: Any non-starchy vegetables primarily that grow above ground, excluding corn, beans, peas, prepared simply with butter, Himalayan salt, and some spices. No fruit of any type, which is high in sugar, other than a few berries from time to time
3. Dairy (if tolerated): In moderation: Hard cheeses, full-fat cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese. (Yogurt is generally high in sugars and whey protein containing milk sugars).
4. Spices: Mustard, fresh or dried spices without additives; homemade mayonnaise (most mayo includes toxic oils). No store-bought ketchup which is high in sugar
5. Oils: Pure, high-quality olive oil, butter, lard, tallow, bacon fat. (Vegetable oils must be avoided due to high inflammatory effects).

Goal: No more than 20 actual (not “net carbs” often calculated after deducting fiber) grams of carbohydrates per day, easily available for calculation on numerous free online apps.

One of three pans of Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. (We couldn’t find the correct sized tin foil pans to use. Instead, we used three baking pans. But the recipe is best baked in individual serving pans since it tends to fall apart when scooping it out from larger pans). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How and when did we decide we could maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

After three months of eating this way, following the above with relative ease, one morning I awoke and the pain was gone! And I mean GONE! It was only five months later that we decided to forgo life as we knew it to travel the world. Shortly thereafter, Tom embraced this way of eating, losing 40 pounds, 18 kg, while totally recovering from irritable bowel syndrome and restless leg syndrome. In six months he was totally off seven pills a day! But, we wondered, was it conceivable to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

Highly motivated, with the pain still gone for me and weight and illnesses gone for Tom, we were on our way on October 31, 2012, soon to be our eight-year anniversary since we began our journey. Hovering in our minds was the upcoming three months in Italy only 11 months later, the endless restaurant visits, the foods popular in various countries in Europe, the tempting desserts, bread, and flour-laden dishes on cruise ships. How would we do it?

It required a huge commitment from me, more than Tom, who seemed to be able to occasionally vary from our low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world without any major consequences. For me, I was terrified that if I so much as took a bite of a dessert, a flour-thickened sauce, pasta, or bread, I’d immediately revert to my former pain-ridden condition. I avoided anything that didn’t fall within the above parameters.

For three night’s we had mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. There’s also one ball inside each meatball along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Was it easy to shop for and maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

In time, we developed a sensible routine for shopping for our home-cooked meals. Comparable to most home cooks, we created a list in our minds of favorite dishes, shopping for ingredients accordingly. Every country, without exception, sells some form of animal protein such as fish, shellfish, chicken, beef, and pork. (Although, here in India no beef or pork is served, other than bacon).

Every country sells eggs, most often free-range, butter, and non-starchy vegetables. We were always able to purchase quality imported hard cheeses, and other low carb cheeses, although at times, they were expensive. We budgeted accordingly, I suppose the most difficult situation has been in India, where we’re longing for a bun-less burger, a juicy steak, or pork chops, none of which are available due to Hindu religious beliefs. As a result, we continue to eat chicken and on occasion salmon (for me), which is expensive for a tiny portion.

Shopping for groceries was most difficult in Belize where the grocery store offered only frozen, often freezer-burned meats, and again in Fiji, where a wonderful meat market provided many wonderful cuts of meat of all types, but the grocery store with only two aisles had few items we used for preparing our meals including vegetables and spices. Somehow, we always figured it out, never having to sacrifice our chosen low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Recipes for maintaining a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world…

Like many of our readers, we all have a “favorite” recipes list, often a top 10. Years ago, I wrote a post about our favorite top ten LOW CARB recipes which include:

1. Bread-less submarine sandwiches – See the link here for the details and photos.
2. Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf – See the link here for details and photos.
3. Chicken Stuffed Almond Flour Loaves – See the link here for details and photos.
4. Chicken Pot Pies – See the here for details and photos.
5. Meatballs stuffed with Mozzarella with Mushrooms & Sugar-free Marinara – See this link here for details and photos.
6. Pizza – See this link here for the crust to which you add your favorite low carb, sugar-free topping.
7. Taco salad with low carb bowl – See this link here for the bowl to which you add your favorite low carb ingredients
8. Gluten-free hamburgers with low carb buns – See here for our low carb bun recipe to which you add your favorite burgers and vegetables
9. Sunday Roast – See here for our low carb Sunday roast, so popular in the UK, here.
10. Coconut or Almond Flour Battered Fish or Chicken – See here for either option.

These homemade hamburger buns are huge enough to hold a 6 to the 8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion or other items added. They’re delicious! Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world, especially while in lockdown in India during the past six months…

It’s been difficult these past many months in lockdown in India with room service providing all of our meals. We’ve always preferred to eat only two meals per day. On occasion, for health reasons, we’ve chosen intermittent fasting, which is easier for us when we’re living in a holiday home and may need the break the fast with the food we have on-hand. Here, we have nothing available if we felt a “need” to eat something appropriate for breaking the fast.

Indian food, although delicious to me, is not a favorite of Tom’s. And, Indian food is packed with starch, sugar, fruit, and grains, none of which are suitable for my way of eating. At one point, early on, I considered throwing caution to the wind and just dine on the delicious Indian foods.

However, after seeing how I had difficulty walking after eating only their rich red sauces (all without gluten), for several months, I now realize I wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking I’ve done so far, never missing a day, solely with the intent in benefitting my heart health. If the pain made it impossible to walk, I’d only have been damaging my health further. I’ve literally forced myself to walk the past few months.

Our Sunday roast: organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots. I cut the roast open during the last 30 minutes to ensure it was cooked properly. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Now, back to my strict keto diet, forgoing all those carb-laden sauces, eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, I’m finding the walking easier each day. The philosophy of deducting the fiber grams from the total number of grams of carbohydrates has been proven to be a fallacy. I count only the full carb content of carbohydrates and now, I’m gradually improving, more each day.

Hopefully, by the time we leave India, I will be back to fitness and health, in every way.

How you can achieve a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world or when living life anywhere in the world…

At first, when I decided to write on this topic, I considered adding links to the doctors, researchers, and scientists who’ve done extensive research on this way of eating. After thinking about it, I decided with the vast information available online, each of us needs to do our own research to bring us to a point of realization that the low fat, high carb, low protein, highly-processed grains, sugars, and starches may not be for us. One need only looks at the poor health of the citizens of the world and in the US, from following this modality for the past four decades.

A favorite dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad on the side was a perfect meal we both enjoyed. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

There are countless highly reputable resources online you may choose to investigate. It took me years of research to find my way in this life-changing way of eating. If you have difficulty researching, feel free to contact me at the end of any post, in the comments section and I will add some links for all of our readers to see.

Thank you for letting me share this story, once again as we each decide which path works best in extending our lives, the quality of our lives, and the ultimate guilt-free enjoyment of many outstanding foods and meals at home and throughout the world.

____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2019:

Renata, our host,  suggested we pick all the tomatoes and other vegetables we wanted, remaining in the greenhouse For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #189 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Food photos from a Celebrity cruise, Vancouver to Honolulu in 2014…

There was no charge for a piece (or two) of this lovely strawberry cake offered on the cruise. But, none for me with my way of eating. Even Tom passed on this cake.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were on a cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu. For more on this date, please click here.

My mouth was watering when I reviewed today’s photos from a cruise to Hawaii, where we ended up staying for a total of eight months on four of the most popular islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

All of these desserts in the Al Bacio Bar are included in the fare., no purchase necessary.  However, there is a charge for specialty coffees also available in this area. Oddly, Tom wasn’t interested in anything in this case.

In many ways, it seems like yesterday, especially when we spent the Christmas holidays with the kids and grandkids on the Big Island and, the last four months in Kauai, making many new friends and exploring the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross, which during those months, became a daily source of tremendous joy and wonder.

By the time we boarded this cruise in 2014, we’d been on eight prior cruises since beginning our journey and had considerable experience when ordering meals befitting Tom’s picky taste buds and my low carb/keto way of eating. It was hard for me to resist all the beautiful desserts, one of which is shown in today’s main photo. But, never once did I order or select any forbidden desserts, ice cream (or meals) when meandering the various food stations throughout the ship.

Oh, delicious! I ended up ordering a second serving of this fabulous Pistachio Duck Terrine.

With a former sweet tooth, such desserts were difficult to resist, but by this ninth cruise, I had my attraction to such items strictly under control and rarely ever gave it a thought. When others, at a shared table, ordered gooey desserts, either I ordered a fresh cup of tea or if still hungry after a meal of tiny portions, I could order the cheese plate.

In every case when ordering the cheese plate, asking for it to arrive without fruit or crackers, almost invariably it would be placed in front of me with fruit and crackers. After a while, we laughed. I’d remove the items and proceed to enjoy the various imported cheeses.

Tom’s escargot was green due to the use of spinach in the buttery sauce. If I told him the green was spinach, he probably wouldn’t eat it. He did!

Eventually, I stopped ordering it, since the cheese serving was way more than I should eat and it was hard to resist when it was in front of me. I’ve always been a member of the “clean plate club.” Many can surely relate to that, perhaps a by-product of our upbringing when we were required to clean the plate due to the starving children all over the world. Gosh, if leaving untouched food on my plate would feed starving children I would have never cleaned my plate.

For many travelers, cruising is all about the food. Honestly, right now if we boarded a cruise ship, I’d run, not walk, to the buffet to partake in the many items I can eat; eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), smoked salmon with capers, platters of chilled prawns, burgers (minus the bun), grilled fish, unlimited steamed veggies and one of the items I miss the most…a big green salad.

My dinner consisted of salmon and steamed vegetables, which with the addition of a side dish of Hollandaise sauce was fine. I prefer not to eat carrots since they are grown underground and high in sugar content.

We don’t order salads or raw vegetables here in India for fear the produce is washed in tap water which is unsafe to drink in India. Sure, the hotel probably washes it in purified water but it most likely had been sprayed with tap water in processing for distribution to hotels and restaurants. It would only take a few spores of bacteria to throw us into a bacterial infection which is all we’d need now.

We don’t worry about COVID-19 infecting our food that is served to our room twice a day. The cooks live in the hotel as do the servers who deliver it to our room. Also, there’s no definitive research indicating the virus is contracted from food, although under certain circumstances, I’d imagine this is a possibility.

Tom’s dinner of beef cheeks over parsnip puree, carrots, broccoli with demi-glace sauce which he found to be excellent.

That’s why we don’t order takeaway meals from the many restaurants in the area that will deliver to the hotel which is left at the guard gate for patrons to collect. It’s not worth the risk or the bother. Also, for my purposes, we’d have no idea as to ingredients used to prepare our meals, including toxic vegetable oils that we resist. All of our meals are prepared with “real” butter as opposed to margarine and trans-fats used by many dining establishments throughout the world, not just in India.

Even looking at today’s photos of food I can eat, makes my mouth water. Oh, well. Hopefully, this is just temporary. Every day, I think about a plate of home-made food in front of me, sitting at a table with a linen placemat and napkin, and a glass of red wine in a fine wine glass, instead of on a chair in a hotel room with the same meal night after night meal on my lap,

One of our dear readers wrote that lockdown feels like “house arrest” and I agree, but in our case, it feels more like being a teenager and confined to our room for bad behavior. Except, that teenager could go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator filled with tasty options, and select what they found most appealing. Not the case now!

May your day be filled with taste-tempting, hearty, healthy, and delicious meals.

____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2019:

This lamb, covered in dirt after it rained, on the farm in Devon, England, is half the size of the others. Renate and John, our property owners, explained she never grew to full size due to a genetic anomaly. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Recipe request from many readers…More fraud on one of our credit cards…

One of several giraffes we spotted last night when dropping Rita and Gerhard back at the Hornbill house.  The partial moon is shown in the photo. For more, please click here.

After yesterday’s post and mention of our dinner last night, we had many requests for the recipe. I must mention this high fat recipe is only recommended for those on a keto or low carb diet, having converted their bodies from burning sugar for fuel as opposed to consuming sugar inducing foods such as sugar, fruit, wheat and other grains, and starches. (More on this way of eating here).


We both decided to also resume intermittent fasting several days a week to aid in our health as described here which may be highly effective in maintaining health and losing weight. These two means are effective for many health conditions including heart disease as described here in a Harvard study.


(Please keep in mind, we are not providing medical advise nor recommending you eat this way. Please check with your physician before starting any new health regime or diet).


Many, who have been following us all along, may wonder, “If these ways of eating were so effective, how did I end up with cardiovascular disease and the subsequent bypass surgery?”


The doctors in both South Africa and the US explained that I’d had hereditary CVD for 30 or 40 years, long before I started this way of eating. Also, I exercised all of my life. They stated that my low carb diet and exercise most likely prevented me from having a fatal heart attack. 


Also, this way of eating and exercise prevented me from having type 2 diabetes, another hereditary condition. Before I started eating this way my blood sugar was construed as pre-diabetic. Surely, by now I would have been on medication.


Everyone has to make decisions that work best for them, based on many factors including heredity, lifestyle, sleep patterns and stress. When my children were young and I was a single parent with two young sons, owning a stressful business with no child support being paid, my life was exceedingly stressful. 


At that time, I drank caffeinated beverages all day in an attempt to maintain a certain level of energy. This, coupled with my bad genes was highly instrumental in my developing severe cardiovascular disease, although I exercised all of my life and at that time consumed a low calorie, low fat diet.


I began this way of eating in 2011 and there is considerable information here on our site. If you type in ‘”low carb” into the search box on the right side of our home page under the word “Search” located below the advertisers, you find many posts on this topic.


Thus, here the link to the above mentioned recipe which we found at this site many years ago. If you decide to make this, let me know if you love this dish as much as we do.


Today is a busy day, taking care of financial matters. We had another credit card number used fraudulently. That’s two card numbers stolen since we arrived in Arizona. Go figure. This is more fraud than we’ve experienced in any other country. We’re awaiting the new card in the next few days.


May your day be pleasant and fulfilling!

________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2019:

I’ll feed gentle Ms. Bushbuck from my hand, one of few instances in which we do so. For more please click here.

An amazing find for low carb enthusiasts!!! …Heavenly addition to the menu…

These homemade hamburger buns (recipe is shown below) are huge enough to hold a 6 to the 8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion or other items added.  They’re delicious!

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted a new recipe.  In an effort to keep the discussion on cooking and food to a minimum, I purposely avoiding posting many recipes over the past few years when Tom suggested it may be tedious for those who don’t cook much or who enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

As we’ve discovered over these past years of world travel many don’t cook often or, in many cases may simply reheat time-saving prepared foods they may purchase at markets or restaurants to bring home for the evening’s meal.  There are considerable options in this area in most cities.

In more remote areas, cooking becomes necessary with fewer options in the markets and less availability of already prepared meals, unless frozen.  In some parts of the world, frozen meats and vegetables are a staple for those acquiring their foods from the tiny local markets.

It’s important to place the buns far enough apart before baking to ensure they don’t stick together.  We used a huge pan lined with parchment paper.  But a few buns ended up sticking together which we separated with a sharp knife after baking.

For example, when we lived in the remote area of Placencia in Belize, the three or four aisle markets had no fresh meats and few vegetables other than potatoes, onions, and garlic.  At that time, we had no choice other than to buy the frozen meats or eat in restaurants. 

In Belize, purchasing frozen chicken was no issue for us but the beef and pork appeared to have “freezer burn” and we avoided it entirely.  During that period, almost five years ago, we ate lots of canned tuna and home roasted chicken parts.  At times, we had no choice but to purchase canned vegetables.

As time passed along with the many countries in which we lived and cooked, we were easily able to find the ingredients we needed to make many of our favorite dishes. 

Before taking this photo, we’d separated the buns that stuck together with a sharp knife as mentioned in another photo.

However, even in the most populated areas with more traditional large grocery stores, at times, we’ve had difficulty finding specialty items such as Italian sausage, seasonings, coconut flour, Himalayan salt, and others. 

Now that we’re in Nevada, cooking many of our favorites for us and Richard most nights, perhaps dining out a few times each week, there’s is literally nothing I can’t find either at Smith’s or Whole Foods in Henderson, a short distance from Richard’s home.

Yesterday, we planned to make organic turkey burgers and grass fed meat burgers without buns, using lettuce to wrap the burgers with bacon, tomatoes, purple onion, guacamole and low carb ketchup, easy to find here.

Since Richard also consumes a low carb diet, is very slim and fit, working out six days a week after work, our low carb meals have suited him just fine.  Of course, some of the more labor intense meals, although delicious, don’t appeal to him as a possible choice to cook on his own once we’re gone.

Apple Cider Vinegar “With the Mother” I used in the recipe (the full unstrained texture of the cider) is a very healthful product and may be used for many health conditions according to many proponents of this product.

In an attempt to make the burgers more appealing, yesterday I searched the Internet for a new hamburger bun recipe.  In the past six years of my low carb, grain, starch, and sugar-free diet, I’d yet to find the perfect homemade hamburger bun.

Alas, my research paid off and I found a recipe from this site from one of the most world renowned low carb doctors, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt MD, who has the largest low carb site in the world which may be found here.  I’ve followed his site for years and have found many useful suggestions and recipes that have helped us maintain a ketogenic diet explained here.

When I typed into a search box, “low carb hamburger buns” many of the others I unsuccessfully tried in the past popped up.  But, when I discovered an entry at Dr. Eenfeldt’s site, it sounded as if it was worth a try.  Thus, I give all the credit to his years of hard work to send the low carb message out to the world working with some of the top low carb experts and recipe designers worldwide.

One of the ingredients listed here baffled me and while at Smith’s I was unable to find it.  As a result, I headed to Whole Foods and found it with ease.  Here’s a photo of the item:

This fiber rich powder is vital to creating the proper density and structure of the buns.  It may also be used for gastrointestinal regularity, should that be an issue.  Eating the buns made with this product didn’t cause any gastro distress or response.

This morning when I returned to Smiths when we all wanted a repeat of last night’s meal, I actually found the above-pictured item in the pharmacy section of Smith’s near the items listed for gastrointestinal health. 

I bought two bottles, one to leave for Richard to whom I’ve sent the recipe and one more to take with us.  It may be impossible to find this item in most countries. 

The hamburgers buns are absolutely the best we’ve ever tried.  It was absolutely amazing to have a burger in a sturdy enough bun to hold it all together!  Others we’d tried would fall apart when handling. 

Although some don’t mind eating a big burger with a fork and knife, we prefer to eat it in our hand.  These delicious buns made the burger easy to handle and the only difficulty I had was the fact that I’d added a few dollops of guacamole that made the lid slide around when I took a bite.  Next time I’ll slice avocado which should make it easier to handle.

How hard it this recipe to make?  It’s a one bowl recipe, adding all the dry ingredients first and pouring in the wet items and stirring very well by hand until well blended.  Using moist hands it was easy to make the equal sized round balls which I slightly flatted on the parchment paper I placed in a big tin foil pan. 

In all, the prep time was about 6 minutes with the baking time at 350F (177C) around 65 minutes.  The cooking time varies based on your oven.  Make sure the dough is no longer moist in order to stop cooking the buns.  It was easy.

Let the buns cool before slicing with a serrated edge knife and slice evenly.  If there’s any moisture from under baking it in the center of the bun, pop the bun into a toaster for 30 seconds (not the microwave) or into a toaster oven with the inside face up. Ours were done perfectly with no need for this additional step.

Here’s the recipe and our photos:

Low carb hamburger buns – 2 carb grams each bun

Recipe makes 8 buns
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 ml) almond flour (found in most markets and health food stores)
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon ground psyllium husk powder.  (may be found at Whole Foods in vitamin/supplement area, in some markets, and at most health food stores)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (see photo for what I used)
  • 2 ½  cups (300 ml) boiling water
  • 6  egg whiteegg whitesegg whites, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

Instructions are for 4 servings. Pleas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  Line a pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and add this, the vinegar and egg whites to the bowl, while whisking by hand with a fork for about 1 minute.  Don’t overmix the dough, the consistency of the dough should resemble Play-Doh.
  4. Form with moist hands into 8 pieces of bread into a somewhat flattened ball but not too flat.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Make sure to leave enough room between the buns on the baking sheet for them to double in size.
  5. Bake on the lower rack of oven 75 minutes, The buns are done when you hear a hollow sound when tapping the bottom of the buns.  If the cooked dough on the edges is still uncooked, put back into the oven for 5 more minutes.  Let cool before slicing.  May be frozen in sealed zipper bag. Will only take 10 minutes to defrost.

Have a fabulous day and dine well!

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2016:

Lighted front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh while we sailed on the Mekong River in Vietnam.  It was quite an experience.  For more photos, please click here.

Visiting my sister in North Las Vegas…A meaningful and yet sorrowful experience…

The extreme heat creates a cloudy appearance in the desert which may be fog, blowing sand,  clouds and/or smog in the valley.

Visiting my sister Susan (four years my senior) was one of our two reasons for coming to Las Vegas during this period of time in the US, with spending time with son Richard as the other.  We have a few friends and a nephew of Tom’s we’ll also see while here as well.

My dear sister has been lying in bed, unable to walk for the past 12 years, suffering from the same spinal condition I have for which I have no pain after changing my diet in August 2011, almost six years ago.

Once I became pain-free  (after three months on the “diet”) and Tom faced retirement, we decided to travel the world “while we can.”  At any given time, I could awaken one morning and be faced with the return of the excruciating pain affecting what felt like every nerve in my body. 

We hope to dine at this restaurant when they have several options that work well for my way of eating, based on their menu found online.

That is the reason I so diligently follow this low inflammation diet excluding all sugar, fruit, grains, and starches limiting my daily carb allotment to 15 grams, fat to 100 grams and protein to around 65 grams. 

These restrictions leave me eating only grass fed meat (when available), organic free-range chicken and eggs, organic non-starchy vegetables and a small amount of full-fat dairy. 

Tom follows suit with me in this manner of eating when I’m cooking most of our meals, as we’re doing now during this three-week stay in Nevada.  When we dine out, he prefers to indulge in some starches to supplement his meals such as a bun on a burger, fries, and rice included with some dishes. 

In years past, when we visited Henderson, we dined at this popular restaurant and meeting spot, Elephant Bar.

I don’t have the liberty of even taking a bite of such “luxuries” and due to the fact I’m pain-free, I have no desire to taste any items not included in my plan.   In these past six years, I haven’t had so much as a tiny bite of a cookie, cake or fruit.  Why take the risk? 

Unfortunately, my sister has made a choice to continue to find pleasure in food and, in reality, is unable to prepare the sometimes more elaborate dishes that may require time standing in the kitchen chopping and dicing to put together an occasional interesting dish.  She has health care helpers preparing her meals, not professional cooks and they prepare only basic meals.
 
I understand how food can be such an important aspect of one’s life.  As a long time “foodie” I may appreciate that fact all the more.  As a former avid and enthusiastic cook with an attitude (at the time) that “healthy whole grains,” fruits and starches and were good to incorporate into one’s meals.

Years ago, we frequented this popular chain restaurant.  But, with many choices of local establishments, we doubt we’ll return during this visit.

These days, I cringe over how I continued to literally “poison” myself with foods that ultimately caused a rise in blood sugar resulting in an inflammatory response.

This may not be true for everyone.  Our bodies are unique in our response to a variety of foods.  We see healthy individuals able to eat whatever they want, or a diet comparable to that in my “old life” who continue to thrive on a lower fat, high carb, and high sugar diet. 

There’s no benefit in my “preaching” to my sister on how she may be able to find substantial pain relief over the long haul in following this way of eating.  She already knows having tried it for a year to find her pain too, dissipated considerably, if not entirely. 

A stone marker designating the entrance to the Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson, where we’re located at this time.

Yet, with severe damage to her legs and feet from diabetic neuropathy, she was still unable to walk.  This fact would hardly motivate a person to restrict their diet to such a huge extent.  A short time later, she returned to the typical American diet of high carbs and many sugary foods, starches, and grains.  In no time at all, the pain returned. 

Of course, it’s difficult for me to see this lovely woman, a former highly successful business woman of the world, who traveled extensively and played a hand in many exciting business transactions, lying in bed, basically helpless and in pain.

Her beautiful spirit and upbeat demeanor make being with her purely delightful. There are few individuals who could maintain such a positive attitude with her current situation.  Somehow, she revels in the experiences of her long ago past and seems to live vicariously through the joy and excitement of our world travels. 

One of the roads in The District in Green Valley Ranch where there are unique shops and restaurants.

There’s not one iota of sadness or jealousy in her demeanor when she asks many questions of our world travels.  Having owned a major travel agency in her past, she too had an opportunity to travel the world and loves sharing stories of places we’ve mutually visited, only at different times.

On Monday, I visited her for three hours and will head out soon to see her again.  The drive to her home is over 30 miles aways and takes approximately 45 minutes considering some traffic on the freeway. 

Driving all the way on Highway 215 seems to be the best route but is a boring drive through the barren desert with not much in the way of interesting scenery.  But, once I walk in the door to her apartment and see her smiling face, the boring drive is long forgotten and all is right with the world.

May your day be filled with events that make your day feel “right” for YOU!

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2016:

It was very hot and uncomfortable on the long walk to and around this site, The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.  For more photos, please click here.

Happy Easter and Passover for those who celebrate…We’re having guests for Easter dinner!…One week and counting…

Surfers took advantage of the favorable surf.
A long time ago, we decided that making a fuss over holidays wouldn’t make sense while living this nomadic lifestyle.  This made particular sense when many holidays revolve around food, most of which doesn’t fit our way of eating, especially during Easter.


As a result, there are no more long days spent baking and cooking in the kitchen.  We no longer decorate the house, make Easter baskets, decorate and hide Easter eggs or take the time to bake and decorate our former annual bunny rabbit cake.  All of that seems like a lifetime ago.

Sunbathers and swimmers enjoying a sunny day at Manly Beach.

Oddly, we don’t miss any of the work associated with holidays but of course, we miss the interaction with family, the playfulness, and the laughter.  Soon, we’ll be in the midst of all of that!

A day at the beach for school kids.

Over these years of world travel, I’ve lost interest in cooking other than coming up with tasty recipes Tom and I can enjoy in our daily lives.  Even so, I usually only cook two or three times a week when typically I’ll purchase enough of any item to last for three dinners, cooking a fresh batch each day. It works for us.

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. See details here for this wildlife protected area known for snorkeling and hiking.

Besides, most of our meals are appealing enough that we easily look forward to repeats.  We also have to consider that most holiday homes have tiny refrigerators and freezers leaving us with little space for storing much food or for freezing leftovers. 

With no rental cars in some locations, such as here in Fairlight for 40 nights, we’ve attempted to avoid returning to the market any more often than necessary.  Also, we’ve found that cooking for three days actually saves money in the long run.

The sun on the sea created a crystal-like appearance.

Groceries costs are not as low in Australia as in many other parts of the world but, they’re certainly less than we spent in the US five years ago.  It will be interesting and perhaps be shocking when we see food prices when we soon return to the US.

The sea is blue in this part of Australia.  When we lived in Trinity Beach in 2015, near Cairns (pronounced “cans”), the sea was brown and murky in most areas.

Tom and I realized that we won’t be cooking from April 22nd when we board the cruise to North America until sometime in July when we arrive in Nevada where we’ll stay at son Richard‘s home in Henderson. 

Staying with Richard for three weeks, I may cook a few meals each week since at that point it will have been months since I’d done any cooking.  During the six weeks in Minnesota, while staying in a hotel, we won’t have cooked at all with the free breakfast in the hotel and dinners out with family and friends.

Tall trees, many evergreens, line the boulevard along the beach providing plenty of shady areas for those who prefer to stay out of the sun.

On the nights when we don’t have dinner plans in Minnesota, most likely we’ll head to Costco which we hear carries a wide variety of low carb, precooked meals we’ll bring back to our hotel suite.  Once we arrive, we’ll see if the hotel can provide us with a small microwave during our extended stay.

As for tomorrow, which is Easter Sunday, we’ve invited landlord/friend Bob and his long time friend, Eddie.  We’re making a totally low carb, grain and sugar-free meal.  Tomorrow, we’ll take a few photos and post them the following day. 

Rocky shoreline in this area on our way to Shelly Beach.

We send love and best wishes for the health and well-being of all of our family, friends, and readers (whether you celebrate this holiday or not) during this time and always.  

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2016:


As we wound down our time in New Zealand, we posted our favorite photos including me with Miss Jessica.  I was flattered that Trish and Neil named this sweet girl after me when Tom and I attended her birth while they were on holiday.  For more favorite NZ photos and also the final expenses for the three-month stay on the alpaca farm, please click here.

Part 2, the villa’s menu options…Food around the world…

Tom’s plate with Blue Fin tuna made with a tomato, lemongrass sauce, spicy vegetables with a side of coleslaw.

“Bali Sightings on the Beach”

Each day when the tide comes in before noon, the sea is as close as 10 meters to the edge of our pool.  When it recedes, it leaves behind ocean refuse and trash.  Each day but Sunday our pool and landscape guy, Ribud, cleans the beach in front of the house.  Yesterday, (Sunday), we captured these three dogs playing after the tide had gone back out, leaving a muddy play area for dogs.
Yesterday, we enjoyed the quiet Sunday at home with the staff off for the day. I made the bed.  Tom made coffee (as always) and did the dinner dishes.  The only food prep necessary was to make the salad, heat the veggies and fish and we were good to go.  Swimming in the pool and doing research while lounging  in the cabana, out of the scorching sun, has totally entertained us.

My plate with fish and veggies.
Of course, food made fresh that day is always the most desirable.  The precooked tuna was a little dry after we reheated it in the microwave but, we ate it anyway happy to have a good meal without much effort.  I think I’ll become spoiled with the thought of not cooking until July, only reheating a meal for Sundays when the staff is off.

The daily stir fried veggie platter laden with Balinese spices, is a dish we both love.



In a way, the heat, humidity and ants have made cooking less interesting for me over these past years of living on several tropical islands where these three factors are always to be expected.  Add the difficulty of finding some ingredients we use in cooking “our way,” it makes the process even less appealing. 

Each day, the Kataks present us with this itemized list of the cost of the ingredients to make  the meal(s).  The “petrol” at the bottom of the list is the daily cost for fuel for their motorbikes, IDR $10,000, US $.75.  For two meals for both Saturday and Sunday the total cost was IRD $185,000, US $13.87  Unreal, eh?
Over these past many moons of travel we’ve talked to more and more people who prefer not to cook.  Either they’re busy while still working, often with young mouths to feed or, like me, simply have lost interest in spending long periods in the kitchen. 
Dinner menu, Page 1.
Its no wonder prepared meals are readily available in markets, along roadside stands (in many countries) and a wide variety of fast food and other dining establishments to suit the needs of most diners. Unfortunately, such meals aren’t an option for us, other than occasional pre-cooked organic chickens made without wheat, sugar or starch.
Dinner menu, Page 2.
My lack of interest provides me with little excuse not to cook.  Our way of eating requires homemade meals while we’re living in most countries.  I have no excuses.  Always on a mission to spend as little time cooking as possible, when we’re preparing our meals, we have a few dozen options we tend to repeat over and over again.
Dinner menu, Page 3.
Here in the villa in Bali, its not a lot different for the cooks.  In perusing Part 2 of the menu posted today with choices of dinners and desserts, its easy to determine the options suitable for us are few.  As a result, we’ve all been creative in designing the perfect meals.  None of the desserts are adaptable.
Dinner menu, Page 4.
Thank goodness we purchased the mince (ground beef) that Gede picked up in Denpasar this past week or we’d be alternating chicken and fish, night after night.  That could get boring for these two months.  So far, it appears the only fresh fish available is Blue Fin tuna and small prawns.  Perhaps, there will be more variety in time.
Dinner menu, Page 5.
Today, Monday, we devised the menu for the week, although the two Kataks don’t require we do so.  Monday and Tuesday, it will be chicken, veggies, salad; Wednesday and Thursday it will be hamburger patties with bacon, cheese, onion, salad and veggies; Friday and Saturday it will be prawns with veggies and salad; Sunday we’ll have our pre-made leftover ground beef dish which is in the freezer along with sides of veggies and salad. 
Dinner menu, Page 6.
In actuality, we’d be happy to repeat this weekly menu over and over.  As long as the meals are befitting my way of eating, more variety is hardly necessary.  The cooks seem fine with our repeats understanding the degree of limitations.
Dinner menu, Page 7.
There are no restaurants or resorts nearby and if there were, we doubt we’d be able to dine out when most Balinese meals contain lots of carbs, starches and sugar.
Dessert menu, Page 1.
Tom’s sunburned feet are healing and soon we’ll get out to take more varied photos and get more cash.  In the interim, we’re having so much fun watching the activity on the beach in front of us and swimming in the pristine pool, we’re supremely content. 
Dessert menu, Page 2.
During these past few days, we’ve been busy applying for visas for our upcoming Mekong River cruise and booking many flights necessary over the next several months.  With the slow signal, this is a time consuming process.
Dessert menu, Page 3.
Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there.  May your day be filled with love and wonderful surprises. 
_____________________________________
 
Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2015:
View of the drive to the Kilauea Lighthouse in Kauai when it was closed on a Sunday.  For more photos of this popular historic location, please click here.

Drinking wine after all these years…What’s the deal?…Does drinking wine increase inflammation?

The two bottles of New Zealand wine we purchased and savored over this past week, yet to finish both bottles.

Its hard to say what prompted me to want to try drinking wine after almost a two decade hiatus. Many years ago I was told by the medical profession that any form of alcoholic beverages could increase inflammation. 

In hearing this bad news at the time, I totally lost my taste for drinking wine.  Why consume anything that was destructive to my health when almost five years ago I changed my way of eating to exclude all grains, starches and sugars? 

Since that fateful day in August 2011 I haven’t had as much of a taste of any foods included in these food groups and have been relatively pain free from a chronic inflammatory spinal condition that has plague me for almost 30 years. 

My dear elder sister has lain in bed for over 10 years with this same condition with severe muscle wasting and nerve damage from the same hereditary condition that will prevent her from ever walking or being mobile again.

Medical science is not exact.  All I know is that by living in this narrow food bubble, I am pain free and able to travel the world.  For fear of changing that scenario, I’ve also stayed away from wine, fearing that an occasional glass could send me into a tailspin, reversing all the good benefit from this way of eating.

A pretty flower on a walk.

Scientific data changes.  Over the years with the online assistance of Dr. William Davis, who wrote the book, Wheat Belly and many other successful books since that time, he had taught me in personal email communication to test my blood sugar using a glucometer when trying a new food, at one hour and again at two hours. 

If my blood sugar didn’t escalate to any degree after ingesting the single item on an empty stomach, then, most likely that particular food wouldn’t be increasing my levels of inflammation. 

In the beginning of this way of eating I tested 100’s of foods narrowing my options to a relatively short list; grass fed beef, free range chicken and eggs, wild caught fish, full fat dairy (in moderation), nitrate free bacon and organic non starchy vegetables. 

In the interim I’ve completely avoided any processed foods, foods containing chemicals, soy, beans, rice and fruit, all of which can exacerbate inflammation.  For me, this way of eating has worked. 

For Tom, this way of eating has completely eliminated GERD and IBS, chronic conditions from which he suffered for years, now completely gone…gone…gone.

Flowers blooming on the farm.

As a side benefit, weight control is easy as we continue to enjoy delicious meals, neither of us ever gaining weight.  Its only when we’re on a cruise or out to dinner that Tom indulges in his favorites; bread, fries and sweets, often gaining as much as seven or eight pounds on a cruise.  Otherwise, we never have any such items in our temporary homes.

Frequently reading medical studies, (many of which are often skewed by money grubbing sponsors), I’d noticed that drinking wine in moderation, no more than two small glasses a day, may actually be instrumental in reducing inflammation and blood sugar.

Overall, with heredity against me, I’d have full blown type 2 diabetes if I didn’t follow this restrictive low carb way of eating, another inflammatory disease.  My glucose levels escalate on days I may eat too much or too many of the foods I can eat. 

Excess low carbs foods and protein in itself can exacerbate the production of glucose in the blood along with poor insulin management.  This isn’t an “eat all you want” way of eating as many assume. 

Its high fat, low carb, moderate protein way of eating that creates homeostasis (definition: “the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.)”

Lemon tree growing on the farm.  We have a tree outside the front door from which we’ve been picking and using lemons since our arrival.

No doubt, I could go on for hours on this topic but prefer not to be repetitive from many past posts.  If you’d like more information, please email me and I’ll send you a list of easy to read books with information from reliable medical professionals and scientific studies that more clearly define this lifestyle in more detail.  (We don’t sponsor or receive any remuneration from these authors or publishers).

Curious to see if I could drink an occasional glass of wine, two at most on any given day, I recently purchased a new glucometer, test strips and lancets  at a local pharmacy.  (My older glucometer had quit working and the test strips had expired).

I began testing my blood after drinking both red and white wines on an empty stomach on separate days (New Zealand brands, of course) to see what would transpire.

As it turned out, my blood sugar went down after drinking two small glasses.  This phenomenon, not new, is based on the liver being too busy processing the alcohol to pump out more glucose, keeping the blood sugar relatively low when drinking in moderation. 

This response is different for everyone.  Most diabetics cannot drink at all and are advised to completely avoid alcohol. Please check with your medical professional as to what may be acceptable for you

We continue to visit to the pink cockatoo pair on the farm.  They makes lots of noise when they see us.

In any case, when Tom and I shared a glass of wine at “happy hour” a first for us in many years, we couldn’t help but giggle over the enjoyable experience. (Tom rarely drinks at home).

I must admit, I got quite a “buzz” after drinking two 3 ounce (85 gr.) glasses of wine as we languished in the chaise lounges on the deck.  Not surprisingly the red wine affected my ability to sleep well that night when the white had no effect at all.  Both were very dry wines, a Cabernet and a Pinot Grigio.

I’ve missed an occasional glass of wine.  Now that I see no deleterious effect, I feel comfortable trying an occasional glass of white wine with dinner while on cruises and out to dinner.  I’ll avoid the red, which taste I’ve always preferred, for the sake of a good night’s sleep, a common side effect experienced by many red wine drinkers.

There are carbs in wine, approximate 3 grams in a five ounce glass which I’ll factor into my diet on the days I choose to have a glass or two which won’t be that often.

An adorable baby goat tied up at the side of the road in the neighborhood.

Gee…now that I know this I think back to all the wine tasting I’ve missed in our travels.  Obviously, there’s no way to make up “for lost time” nor do I want to.  However, going forward it may be a delightful adjunct to social events and dining in our future travels.

As we toasted each other at our few “happy hours” over this past week, we made eye contact as we were reminded by our friend Sue in Minnesota who always explained we should to make eye contact with the person with whom you’re making a “toast.”  Most certainly, this adds to the festive occasion.

Next time you have a glass a wine (if you so choose and its appropriate for your health) look into the eyes of the person your toasting, saying “Here’s to you!”  We’ll be toasting to all of YOU!

Also, happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate in the South Pacific!

_______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2015:

A year ago today, while my sister was visiting us in Kauai, we found the elusive Hawaiian Monk Seal, lying on the beach at the Napali Coast.  We were so excited to see this amazing creature.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…A look at “real life” in the Fijian Islands, often centered around farming…

Today’s late posting is a result of a poor wifi signal which has made posting photos and line spacing difficult.  We apologize for the delay. 


This duck’s unusual crown caught our attention.  He seemed proud of his facial characteristics.

Once we arrived at Kusma’s house to purchase the eggs, we waited outside taking photos of the various chickens, roosters and ducks wandering about her front yard. 

We weren’t certain if there were more chickens at the back of the house. We preferred not to intrude asking to see more.  We had plenty of chickens gathering around our feet, pecking here and there, seemingly content and busy in their simple chicken lives.

The several roosters began to crow, taking turns at the spotlight.  One in particular appeared to be the “cock of the walk” strutting about with a sense of confidence we’d only seen in lions, not necessarily in chickens.  It was highly entertaining.

Not only were there chickens wandering about the yard, there were also a few ducks.

A dear friend of mine in Minnesota lived five minutes from us.  She had a well equipped chicken coup, kept suitably warm in the frigid winters. When I’d visit she’d holler, “Chickens!” They’d come running, making me howl.  She also had a few adult goats, two sisters, that would sit on our laps while we chatted with cups of coffee in hand.  Even then, I couldn’t get enough of animals, regardless of their species.

Kusma came outside and Ratnesh introduced us.  She spoke a little English but not much.  The overwhelming majority of Indo-Fijians speak Fiji Hindustani, or Fiji Hindi. This language developed out of contact between speakers of different dialects of Hindi/Urdu (one of the native languages of India) and their bosses on the colonial-era sugar plantations.”

She shook our hands with a hint of trepidation, looking at Ratnesh, a relative  whom she knew well, for his approval.  He nodded assuring her we were good.  In as few words as possible, I explained we’d be staying here in the neighborhood of Korovesi, (comparable to a suburb) for a total of three months and would like to buy her eggs regularly, if that was acceptable to her.

The chickens were nibbling on something in this tin bowl.  The contents could certainly be a determining factor if the eggs would be considered organic, although they wouldn’t be “certified” by any means, a process not done here in Savusavu.

As best as I could, I explained that Usi would pick them up for us in the future with the ride too difficult in a vehicle.  We didn’t see any cars or trucks in the yards of the houses in that mountainous difficult-to-reach area.

I kindly asked for four dozen eggs for now, knowing we still had the rough walk back up to the car and Ratnesh insisted he carry them.   We’d brought along the cloth bag we purchased in Kenya that has traveled well, laundering it on occasion and happy its worn so well for a $2 purchase so long ago.  The four dozen eggs fit perfectly into the bag.

She charged us FJD $20, USD $9.20 which translates to FJD $5.00, USD $2.40 a dozen.  Not too bad a price for free range and antibiotic free eggs. She may charge the local less but we were content to pay her whatever she deemed fair.


It looks as if a pair of shorts fell off the clothesline and one of the birds dragged it away from the line.

Whether or not her eggs could have been classified as organic under other circumstances remains to be seen, as described below, for example from the USDA (not necessarily our favorite government entity):

“The label USDA Organic is your best bet when buying chicken or eggs. In terms of chicken, it means that your bird has been fed a vegetarian diet that is also organic and therefore does not include any GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or chemical pesticides.

It also means that the birds must be raised according to organic standards within two days of being born, are not fed any hormones, antibiotics, or drugs, have access to outdoor space, clean drinking water, and be raised “per animal health and welfare standards” according to the USDA.”


The roosters were competing for crowing rights, each taking his turn.

We highly doubt Kusma’s chickens are given hormones, antibiotics or any other types of drugs.  We witnessed the free roaming aspect when we arrived unannounced to a few dozen chickens and several ducks wandering in the front yard.  We noticed a faucet with spring water provided for the chickens and the household.  There’s no city water in the area.  (We’ve had no problems drinking the spring water, although if in town, we’d only drink bottled water).

We also noticed a large tin bucket filled with some type of feed.  We can’t assume the feed in that bucket was non-GMO.  But, pesticides aren’t used in Fiji or, for that matter, in many other parts of the world.  Most free range chickens are fed some type of feed when the immediate surroundings may not provide enough nutrients to produce good eggs.  (Kusma’s yard had been well pecked to the bare soil in spots).

We observed this with feral chickens in Kauai, in the thousands or more, skinny and malnourished living off the land, still able to produce offspring and survive.  Residents we spoke with explained that many have tried catching and cooking them only to find they’re tough and relatively inedible. 

Homes with tin roofs, many worn and old, maintained to the best of the ability of the owners over decades.

Perhaps the bucket a few of the chickens were nibbling from contained Kusma’s leftover food scraps for all we know.  Goodness, when I cook each day, I have enough leftovers to feed that many chickens bits of meat and vegetable scraps.  We didn’t ask.  Many local people don’t have a lot of resources to purchase chicken feed and may easily manage off of what is available in their daily lives or growing under their feet. 

Kusma took the Kenya bag from us, entered the house and several minutes later returning with the four dozen eggs in used crates (which we’ll return) neatly fitting into the bag.  It was heavier than one might expect. 
Taking several photos, eggs in hand, we said goodbye thanking Kusma with a heartfelt “vinaka” (thank you in Fijian) and began the muddy trek back up the hill to the car.  Luckily, Ratnesh has cardboard for floor mats in his car.  We tried getting the mud off our shoes as best as we could on the wet grass, unable to completely do so.
We made it back without slipping or falling and once again were on our way to the village for the rest of our shopping.  The cloud cover had returned and the air was thick with humidity. 
This large pots in the window of the hardware store inspired to stop in to look for a kitchen utensil.
Ratnesh dropped us off at the Farmer’s Market where we could easily scurry about to our favorite vendors finding everything we purchase each time.  Then, we made the short walk across the road to the small grocery store for the balance. 
 


When checking out, I called Ratnesh to pick us up. With disappointment in his voice he explained he wouldn’t be able to pick us up for another 25 minutes.  He was picking up a customer for a ride to the airport.

We’d told him he’s free to take other fares after dropping us off, not asking him to wait for us.  We’d anticipate the shopping would take longer but having gone shopping only four days earlier we needed only a dozen items at the grocer.  Thus, we called him 30 minutes earlier than he’d expected. 

After paying for our food, the clerk told us we could leave our food inside in the trolley inside the AC store while we waited.  The trolleys aren’t allowed outside nor could they make it down the several steps to the street.  Hands free, we stood outside the building for 25 minutes waiting for Ratnesh.

Easily entertained while people watching, the time passed quickly.  I ran across the street to a hardware store while Tom stayed behind.  Would they carry a “turner” (spatula) used for flipping eggs? They had some huge pots in the window as shown in the above photo.  Surely, they must have kitchen wares.

Houses in the surrounding area.

They didn’t have a turner or any other kitchenware and suggested we try the grocery stores which we’d already done without any luck.  There is no kitchen wares type store anywhere in Savusavu.  Why would they when such items are handed down from generation to generation or otherwise shipped when foreigners decide to make Fiji their full or part time residence?  Tourists don’t typically purchase kitchen utensils. 


When Ratnesh returned we head directly to see Helen at Fiji Meats, who was holding two roasted chickens for us after we’d called earlier in the day with the request.  They’re delicious, wheat free and easier to purchase already roasted rather than using the portable atop our kitchen counter, making the house hot on these hot humid days.   

Once back home by 4 pm, I was busy until dinnertime, washing all the veggies and attempting to make room in the tiny refrigerator for everything we’d purchased.  The fridge and freezer are the same size we had in Trinity Beach and many other locations.  I’m getting good at this task, somehow managing to fit everything inside, fresh, washed and ready to prepare.

Yesterday afternoon, I washed the outside of two dozen of Kusma’s eggs in a  bowl of lukewarm water with a little sink soap.  Getting the exterior clean is important when cracking open raw eggs to avoid contamination. 

Taking a better part of the afternoon, I cooked four packages of streaky bacon (10 slices per pack) to make another batch of Tom’s favorite breakfast quiche (crust-less), dicing each slice of bacon into bite sized pieces, hand grating the cheese, dicing and precooking the onions.  Cracking the 24 cleaned eggs, I was pleased not to find a single bad egg.


Unusual marking on this duck gave him the rights for the main photo today.

Baking the egg dish in three batches since I only had the two pans we’d shipped from Australia, the end result was 20 portions which I  always freeze in sandwich bags for three day’s portions, taking out a new bag each three days to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.  Tom has this every morning for breakfast.  Although I love this dish, I’m never hungry in the morning.



With the leftover cooked bacon I’d diced, I made the Ghee, Garlic and Bacon Green Beans with lots of spices.  I’d carefully washed the green beans but when done cooking the dish while placing it into a container, I spotted a worm I’d cooked in the pan while sautéing the beans.  I flicked it away and continued on.  We reheated a batch to have with dinner last night and will do so again tonight. 

I feel like a farm wife in some ways.  Although I don’t clean much, other than after cooking and only hand wash kitchen towels and my underwear, I find myself spending the better part of each afternoon preparing food that may have already been prepared when purchasing it years ago in the US.

The only thing missing from being a real farm wife is the mashed potatoes, homemade bread and of course, the apple pie with hand rolled crust.  I made those in our old lives prior to eating this way.  Instead now, we have mashed cauliflower on occasion, low carb grain free muffins and coconut cookies for dessert.  No complaining here.  Its all good.


For those of our readers disinterested in food, we apologize for this extended period of stories about purchasing and preparing local foods.  For now, we’ll move on to other topics.  Thanks for hanging with us.

For the foodies out there, we often receive comments and support for our discussions about food shopping and prep particularly from those attempting to adopt a more healthy manner of eating.  Thank you all for the positive feedback.

Have a fun filled safe weekend, treasuring every moment.  Its raining again today.  So it goes…life in the tropics. 

___________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, September 27, 2014:

Rough seas and all, the Captain’s Club party aboard the ship carries on as we continued on course to Hawaii.  For more details, please click here.


Part 1…A look at “real life” in the Fijian Islands, often centered around farming…

As we approached this pair atop this table turned away from us while others curiously meandered toward us.

The longer we’ve traveled, the less interest we’ve had in traditional tourist points of interest, other than the often revered scenic beauty at particulars sites and the viewing and photographing wildlife indigenous to the country.

As we shape our “travel personalities” we’ve found a gradual change over time, one in which we’re often unaware until…a scenario is presented to us and we are overwhelmed with a sense of intrigue, compassion and enthusiasm to gain insight into the lives of the true locals, generations of families working hard to survive in an often difficult environment.

So it was yesterday when we stumbled upon such an opportunity when all we wanted was to purchase fresh, free range eggs.  Since our arrival, buying eggs at the market, we’ve found at least two of each dozen to be rotten like we’ve never seen before. Rotten eggs (black on the inside) are most likely caused by bacteria. 

This is the beginning of the dirt road we traveled to Kusma’s house.  Bouncing in the car made it impossible to hold the camera steady.  Thus, a few blurry photos today.

We realize this is a risk when buying free range eggs from a market when we have no idea how or where they’ve come from or how long they’ve been sitting on the shelves.  In asking around, we discovered from our sweet housekeeper Usi, that there’s an egg farm nearby, not necessarily easy to get to. 

Usi suggested we ask Ratnesh to drive us up the mountain to a little village of approximately 60 homes and see Kusma, who’s entire family income is derived from the sale of eggs.  The thought of being able to add even a tiny bit to that income, purchasing her free range, chemical free eggs during our remaining time in Savusavu, only added to our enthusiasm. 

Buying local has been an ongoing objective as we’ve traveled the world, supporting the hard working local farmers and food producers in our desired for chemical free, fresh foods befitting our way of eating.

I’d wished we could stop for photos but Ratnesh had to maintain momentum the higher we climbed.

Yesterday, when the sun peeked out for a short period with a downpour predicted in the afternoon, we called Ratnesh to take us to the egg farm and another trip into town for the Farmer’s Market, grocery and meat market. 

It makes us smile at how little we typically purchase at the grocery store, using yesterday’s purchases as an example; bar soap, paper towels, plastic bags, sponges and sink soap, locally made cultured sour cream (used in making salad dressing), canned coconut cream (without added sugar), real cream from New Zealand for coffee, ground coffee (only one brand available), sea salt (we’re almost finished with our Costco container of Himalayan salt) and Italian spices.  

Many items are simply not available here:  Parmesan cheese or any similar cheese, grated cheese (we grate chunks of “pizza cheese” by hand); cream cheese; onion or garlic powder (used in many of our recipes); fresh mushrooms, romaine lettuce, parchment paper or a metal spatula, to name a few.

There are approximately 60 homes in this area, Ratnesh explained, many of them his relatives.
 
Over 40% of people living in Fiji today are descendants from India:  See below for details:
 

“Most Indo-Fijians are the descendants of indentured laborers brought to Fiji during the nineteenth century by the British. In the system of indentured labor, workers (who had been moved to a new country against their will) were forced to perform a job for little or no pay until they earned enough money to buy their freedom. The system was created to provide cheap workers for British colonies after the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies in 1833.


The first indentured laborers from India arrived in Fiji in 1879 and the indenture system lasted until 1916. Other immigrants from India arrived in Fiji in the early twentieth century, and they opened small shops in the coastal towns. The Indo-Fijians are part of the south Asian diaspora (a community of ethnically related displaced peoples) that includes the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, Trinidad in the Caribbean, Guyana in South America, South Africa, and North America.”


The only produce we’ve purchased at the grocery store has been celery which is unavailable at the Farmer’s Market.  We purchase no meat or frozen products only buying fresh at the other locations.

One might think, reading here, that we’re obsessed with food.  Perhaps, we are. But, a huge part of the lives of locals centers around the production and sale of food products.  Why not embrace these foods into our lives as well, when we can’t eat out much due to my diet and, we love our homemade meals using the products that are available?


The beautiful vegetation we see in our yard extends to all areas.

For us, purchasing and preparing food has become of even a greater interest than years ago when anyone that knew me knew I was a “foodie.”  Just because the types of foods I can eat has changed, my interest and desire remain firmly in place to create great meals providing us with nourishment and pleasure. For most of us, we derive tremendous pleasure from food.  Why not enjoy good food as opposed to unhealthy?

Over these past months, watching Tom continually lose weight, a little each month, eating exactly what I eat with the exception of some vegetables, has only added to our combined interest.  Seeing his belly shrink month after month, only makes me happy in one regard…perhaps he’ll be healthy and around longer. 

Selfishly, I want him around and free of the health problems often associated with belly fat which also indicates fat wrapped around  one’s internal organs.  Also, he seem to like it when his pants fit.  We don’t have the privilege of hauling clothing in various sizes to accommodate a change in waist size (for either of us).

With clothes dryers an unnecessary luxury in third world countries, clotheslines are seen in most yards.

I don’t give a hoot about the “look” of the big belly, its only what it represents that worries me and hearing him huff and puff carrying our bags when he’s also carrying extra poundage on his body is also worrisome as we age.  With the belly gone, his strength and ability to haul the bulk of our heavy bags has only improved.

When Ratnesh arrived and we explained our desire to go to Kusma’s farm for eggs, he hesitated.  We sensed this immediately, quickly explaining if he didn’t want to make that drive, no problem. Usi had offered to bring us Kusma’s eggs next time she walks up the mountain to visit her family who lives nearby.  We knew it was going to be a steep drive on a muddy, pot hole, dirt road, a challenge, based on what Usi had told us.

Ratnesh thought it over and in his desire to please, he insisted it would be OK as long as we didn’t mind bouncing around up the steep and uneven road.  We didn’t mind.  We gave his several opportunities to decline.  He turned them all down and off we went. 

This was the first of many goats we encountered in the area.  The only meat the locals eat is goat, lamb, fish (they catch) and chicken. 

I realize we wrote that the drive up the mountain with Sewak as the steepest road we’ve traveled in a vehicle.  Now, we can add, that the road to Kusma’s home was the most uneven, steep, rutted road we’ve traveled on during these past years. Wow!  The ride in itself was an adventure. 

Sitting in the backseat by myself with Tom in the front with Ratnesh, I practically hung out the window taking photos.  It was impossible for Ratnesh to stop for my photo taking or he’d lose his momentum.  We continued on for some time until finally he parked on a patch of wild grass when we could go no further.

We had no choice to walk up the remainder of the muddy hill to Kusma’s house.  There was no way either of us were going to say we wouldn’t walk up the dangerous balance of the hill when Ratnesh worked so hard getting up the hill. Tom hung onto me most of the way with much younger Ratnesh offering another hand over a  few particularly rough spots. 

Finally, we arrived at Kusma’s house after we navigated down this slippery hill, still wet from all the rain.

I could easily have made it up the hill on my own but we’re extra cautious to avoid me falling, which could topple my delicate spine putting a fast end to our travels.  We easily recall when the steps collapsed under our feet in Belize in 2013.  Click here for that story with photos, if you missed it.

Recalling the hike to the Queen’s Bath in Kauai (click here for the story, if you missed it as well), I knew we could make it.  By far, that was much more treacherous.  This was a “walk in the park” comparatively.  For these young fit Fijians who walk up and down these hills all of their lives, this hike is a normal course of life.

Finally, we arrived, shoes muddy, bodies sweaty and filled with excitement.  The level of excitement we felt wasn’t about eggs.  It was about being in this tucked away village with Fijians who’d spent their lives in this remote area, often living off the land.  Tomorrow, we’ll share the continuation of this story with many more photos including the trip into the village after the visit to the farm.

Its these types of experiences that make all of our travels meaningful and purposeful; the people, their lives, their love of nature and their surroundings and their willingness to share even a tiny piece of it with us.  How did we get so lucky? 

_____________________________________________


Photo from this date one year ago, September 26, 2014:

It was one year ago aboard the Celebrity Soltice, on our way from Vancouver to Honolulu, that we experienced some rough seas. Check out this video.  For more details, please click here.