The Beauty of Taiwan's North-East Coast

In Taipei we rented a car and drove down Taiwan's East coast. This side of Taiwan is the least populated and also said to be the most beautiful. From my trip last year where we did the coast by train I knew that this coastline is absolutely breathtaking! So I was super excited to go by car and be able to drive even closer to the sea as well as do as many (coffee) stops as we wanted.

We visited the the old mining town Jiufen which literally is located in the middle of a beautiful lush mountainous landscape. The town went into sharp decline when mining was discontinued which might be why the Jiufen we found was almost like a ghost town. According to the official tourism Jiufen never really turned into a real ghost town as some had feared only because of its charming streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean which make it a popular visit for both Taiwanese and foreign tourists like us.

From here we stopped at Bitou Cape's paved footpath which gives access to the most picturesque views of the Taiwanese sea and sky. After a beautiful walk we stopped for a swim at Fulong Beach, found a yummy seafood place to each lunch (sashimi is big in Taiwan, probably due to the Japanese influence on the country's history) and ended up in a beach town for another night market (must-do in Taiwan) and a big sleep!

Next Stop: Hualien and the famous Taroko Gorge

 

Blogger-Meet-Up at the Vegetarian Haven: Pure & Whole

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Threads & Ginger - a Shanghai based blog giving tales and tips which you will love if you love Style & Travel (and yes we do, don't we?).

To share some Experiences, Ideas as well as Shanghai Stories I met up with the editor of T&G at one of Shanghai's most delicious and innovative healthy eateries: Pure & Whole. This place is such a living proof that Vegetarian does not have to rime with Boring!

I never know what to choose at this place and all their dishes seem to have been developed by someone with a similar mindset as mine: Think Colors, Think Raw, Think Flavors, Think Freshness, Think Toppings, Think Dips... Think healthy nutritiously naturally plant-based yumminess! And then just say Yes Please, Xie Xie Ni and await a party of flavors in your mouth.

Pure & Whole have three locations in Shanghai: Shanghai Centre, Yanping Road and one at the Kerry Parkside in Pudong. A fourth location in Gubei is planned to be opened next month

I feel like sharing at least half of Pure & Whole's menu with you here on Shanghaihabits buuuut I'll skip that and just give you these 12 Reasons to go: Brocamole, Mushroom Pate, Sicilian Pesto, Black Bean Hummus, Eggplant Dip, Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut dip, Kale Guacamole, Avocado & White Bean Dip, Beetroot Hummus, Green Pea Dip, Spinach Artichoke Hummus, Roasted Egg Plant Pesto

Prices are super reasonable at Pure & Whole and you easy get a good lunch for under RMB 100. They also have lots of fresh Juices & Shakes

Lentils & Coconut milk soup

Jungle Salad with Falafel

Wild Rice & Pumpkin salad


Good Food should always go hand in hand with Good Company! With the Aussie editor from Threads & Ginger a couple of hours quickly flew by at Pure & Whole and I'm already looking forward reading Cidonie's next post as well as seeing her again...at Pure & Whole!

Threads & Ginger

Cidonie Richards is the editor of the blog Threads & Ginger. She is a stylist, fashion editor, writer and now a Shanghai local who shares the tales of her adventures and research as she uncovers some of the best places to shop, stay and play around Shanghai and other travel destinations, whilst giving a few style tips along the way.

Make sure to check out her inspiring blog and her recent interview with me here.

A Saturday Session at PURE YOGA

In July this year the 6th Best Of Shanghai Awards took place in order to celebrate the city's best offerings for all sorts of categories. One of these categories was yoga and as I wrote in an earlier post about the best Healthy Choices in our city Pure Yoga was voted the best yoga center in Shanghai. Therefore I just had to check it out.

On the top of the IAPM shopping mall on Huaihai lu/Shaanxi nan lu over-viewing Shanghai's French Concession you find Pure Yoga.

Pure Yoga is dedicated to serving the yoga community in Asia and beyond. We currently have a network of yoga studios across Asia, with prime locations in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei. Our reach went global with the opening of Pure Yoga in New York - a collaborative venture with Equinox, one of the leading fitness brands in the US.
— Pure Yoga

I have a few friends who are members at Pure Yoga and they speak highly of this modern yoga studio. Still, I was a little bit skeptic about this center because of the fact that it is located in one of the greatest commercial shopping malls I've ever come across (and which happens to be my neighbor). You see, I'm so much into simplicity of life and this life philosophy is such a good combo with yoga and the old Indian principles behind.

So Pure Yoga in all its fanciness - can it really embrace the principles of traditional Yoga and capture the true essence?

I must say Pure Yoga really surprised me. As I walked through Saturday-busyness and over-consumerism in the IAPM mall and into Pure Yoga, it was like entering a different world. I immediately felt like taking a rest in their lounge area, enjoying a tea while overlooking my current home-area from the panorama windows or joining the tired yoga practitioners who took a nap in the rest-area. But my class was just about to begin so I went to studio 2 and chose a mat.

Then Adam happened. Adam is a yogi from the US who is currently in Shanghai to teach yoga and to share his passion for the philosophy behind. It's fair to say that his positive vibes, confident voice and peace of mind had my + my 15 yoga classmates' attention for all 70 minutes of this Vinyasa class. We practiced bakasanas or crow pose and he tried to teach us "how to fly". Afterwards I practiced a little bit by myself. I wanna fly.

2 hours flew by in the Shanghai Pure Yoga studio and then it was my time to be super Chinese and take a nap in their rest area.

Let's have a try

Pure Yoga is a pretty expensive center but from what I know their pricing is pretty transparent so at least you know you're not being ripped off just because you are a foreigner (or bad at negotiating). I believe their memberships are around 10.000/year... Yes it ain't cheap but if you're in Shanghai for a fixed period why not invest in yourself and leave Shanghai as a little yoga or at least being much more flexible, much more healthy and much more happy (it's yoga it's magic!). A center like Pure Yoga with its fanciness and amazing environment will certainly motivate you to come to class!

For now, do your body & your mind a favor and book a trial class through their website. A drop-in class is RMB300 but a trial is free!

Apple Cider Vinegar As An Internal & External Health Tonic

We all know that An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away, right? Well, here's another one you might not be aware of: A shot of Apple Cider Vinegar a day or even a shot before each meal is known to be one of the best cleanses for your body as well as one of the best health boosting habits! 

I have previous shared how I use this natural goodness as a magical remedy for cleaning my yoga mat or rinsing my veggies. Here I'm going to share with you which ACV you should use as a natural supplement to your diet in order to improve and heal your health, boost your energy and potentially start shining on the inside as well as the outside.

It is very important that you drink the right kind of ACV in order to obtain any of the desired health benefits. The right kind is the real kind: Organic, Raw, Unfiltered ACV which contains the "mother" of vinegar. You can find many ACV on the shelves with different labels and fancy adjectives but not to worry you can easily recognize the right one as the liquid is not transparent but kind of foggy and brown'ish. My good friend and food expert Lou (known in Shanghai as Loueatsmore) has always recommended me to use BRAGG's Apple Cider Vinegar and I recently went to the amazing Sprout Lifestyle in Surpass Course 570 Yongjia lu to pick up a bottle (approx. RMB 70). 

The list of benefits provided by this drink is long and to mention the most important (in my opinion) ACV is known to: 

  • Improve digestion (why I like it before meals)
  • Prevent constipation (why I like it in the early mornings before breakfast)
  • Strengthen your immune system (why I like it hot in the winter)
  • Get rid of bad breath (which you can almost feel when you sip on it)
  • Detoxify your system (why I really like it as a daily detox after a toxic weekend)
  • Be anti-bacterial and anti-funcal (why I love it as a supplement when I live in dirty Shanghai)

If you want to read more about the research behind and ACV's additional benefits just hit google and use your common sense to find valid sources (which might not be personal blogs like this written by an Apple Cider Vinegar FAN). Or just head down to Sprout Lifestyle, grab a bottle and try for yourself. I was convinced about this historic elixir after the first sip!

Directions

Mix 1 tablespoon of ACV in a cup of hot water and sip on it. I love the flavor but if you don't try to add some honey.  

Aceto di Mele was around RMB 20 in O'le and I use it for cleaning. The bottle in the middle  was a bit more due to an "organic" label but as the ACV liquid is see-through it's clearly not raw and unfiltered. I currently use this for cleaning fruits & veggies but I would use the cheaper one for this as well. The BRAGG's to the right is famous for being the "real" Apple Cider Vinegar containing the "mother" of vinegar and this is the one I drink. 

Some weeks I use APV as a daily detox and drink it as the first thing in the morning. I swear I can feel a difference. I like it so much that I sometimes have it later in the day when I feel like something to sip on - don't overdo it though.  

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High Protein Hummus

With Shanghai's fast paced life and metropol'ish lifestyle there is nothing better than getting together with good friends at someone's home. No crowds, no queues, no hazzle, no noise. 

To night I'm meeting some of my favorite Shanghai girls to catch-up and discuss the life as being Young Professionals in Shanghai (aaaand probably a few other things as well).

Being a vegetarian is such a good "excuse" for bringing some of my favorite food to dinners: Salad & Hummus Dip!

To night's Hummus version is a Protein Rich Hummus - oh so yummy, oh so filling & oh so healthy. 

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas ready-to-eat (approx. 250 g drained weight)

1/2 can of lentils ready-to-eat (approx. 150 g drained weight)

2 cloves of garlic

15 almonds slightly roasted on a dry pan

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of water

A dash of fresh lemon

A dash of tabasco or some fresh chili

Seasoning

Directions

Mix in a blender or food-processor but don't add all liquids at once. Add more if necessary. You can decide the olive oil/water proportion yourself. Some prefer only oil.  

Blend & enjoy as a meat-replacement in a salad or as a sandwich spread  

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Solution for Cleaner, Healthier & Safer Greens

Before I moved to China I rarely gave a lot of thoughts to food safety. In Denmark I would choose organic if the price and availability were reasonable and I would buy local whenever possible. I love the thought of eating Danish fruits & veggies.

Still, I would classify my attitude towards organic, local and safer products as "comfortable". Thus if it were convenient for me I would get it, if not I would choose imported or cheaper products. 

When it comes to cleaning my fruits & veggies the story is the same. Yes, I would always wash my apple and soak my baby spinach. But rinse, scrub or use anything else but water to clean it have never crossed my mind. 

Then China happened.

Being a vegetarian, a salad-lover and a smoothie-addict I consume a looooot of fruits & veggies every day. So when I discovered the local Chinese Veggie Markets with good prices and good selections (as oppose to the outrageous priced international supermarkets) I was a very happy rabbit: Buying local & saving money. Every weekend my boyfriend and I would do a mission to the market and get bags and bags of greens, yellows, reds, pinks and more greens for the forthcoming week. We did sometimes talk about the safety and cleanness of everything but we are not too fuzz about things in general. I mean we all eat out in Shanghai so often and believing that any eatery here can use anything but the cheapest to stay competitive would be a naive belief (in my opinion). Still I often found myself with a wondering taste in my mouth thinking about how many pesticides and how much hidden dirt from Chinese soil I had just consumed. 

Then I heard about Apple Cider Vinegar Solution as a natural remedy to properly clean all kinds of fruits and veggies (I have previously used it as a natural and efficient way to clean my yoga mat and other gym tools which you can read about here).

I made a google search and lots of articles and food blogs popped up with great proof that there is something to this natural miracle solution. Tiffany from "Don't waste the Crumbs" have a great post showing actual pictures of the dirt-left-overs from Strawberries soaked in ACV solution - check it here - it speaks for itself. 

Commiting to Apple Cider Vinegar Solution

My philosophy is that it's very possible to live healthy in Shanghai. It just demands a few things like planning, research & commitment. So after realizing that there is a way to feel better about buying and consuming local here in Shanghai I decided to commit to following this way and soak all my fruits & greens in Apple Cider Vinegar Solution.  

  • Apple Cider Vinegar Solution: Apple Cider Vinegar can be bought in most International Supermarkets here and I've both seen and used non-organic which cost around RMB 20 - 30/bottle. Organic is around RMB 70. I use approximately 1/10 Apple Cider Vinegar and 9/10 water mixed in a big bowl. I soak fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the solution (I find that stirring is effective) and dry them in a clean kitchen towel.    
  • Fruits: Most of the time I will wash fruits as soon as I bring them home so that when I'm craving an apple it will be ready to eat. I will clean watermelon, grape fruits & avocados in the solution even though I don't eat the peel or the shell. Why? Because if you think about it these fruits' outer layer will be all over your hands and chopping board when you are preparing them.
  • Veggies: I normally clean my veggies when I'm preparing a salad or something else where I plan to use them - I find it too difficult to dry properly when I'm not using them straight away and you don't want to put cleaned fruits or veggies back in the refrigerator before they are dry.      

But, what about on the inside?

The next question is what about these fruits and veggies on the inside and all the cra* from the polluted Chinese soil they might have absorbed and grown from? That is a really good question and I can't say I'm not concerned. But, I am a realist not an idealist and this might be why I as a healthy lifestyle addict can still live in this place without being too frustrated or paranoid. 

I myself is currently looking into safer options than the Local Veggie Markets. I'm doing research and talking to people from the healthy & "safer food scene" in Shanghai in order to figure out if other options like buying through online suppliers (i) is affordable/reasonable (ii) has proof that it's actually safer and healthier. The polluted soil is the same I would say but of course if we can avoid additional chemicals and pesticides at least that is one step in the right directions, don't you think so?

Subscribe and I will make sure to keep you updated with whatever I come across during my search: 

I would love to hear from anyone with opinions, inside information or healthy & safe tips! Let's help each other with Healthier Habits!