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World Cuisines: Ethnic and Expat Support Group

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Old 03-24-2011, 12:47 PM   #1
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Lightbulb World Cuisines: Ethnic and Expat Support Group

Indiblue and I thought it would be a good idea to have a support thread for dieters living in other countries and trying to adapt the native cuisine to their WOE, or dieters who simply prefer foods with an ethnic flavor over traditional bland diet foods.

So here it is!

Feel free to share your dieting challenges and successes, and your WOE incorporating ethnic foods.

And, of course, we would love to trade recipes!
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:45 PM   #2
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Default Health Benefits of Coconut

Here is a great article about the health benefits of coconut: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...ppetite02.html It has some tasty looking recipes, too.

Now I can have my Thai curries without feeling guilty about the coconut milk in them.

I am seriously going to have to try coconut oil as an alternative to olive oil for cooking.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:55 PM   #3
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Thanks fiddler for starting this!

Expat dieters have unique challenges: not being able to access foods to which they are accustomed, limited food choice due to seasonal harvesting and import restrictions, lack of (or just plain incorrect) nutritional labeling, absence of health options at restaurants, cultural obligations (eating seconds or thirds to "save face" when a guest in someone's home) etc etc.

There are also MAJOR upsides to living in another country: eating more whole foods, access to a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetable, fewer processed or chemically-altered foods, etc.

This thread aims to provide a chance to discuss those of us living outside our traditional food environments AND those dieters who seek to incorporate world cuisines into their way of eating in a healthy way.

EVERYONE is welcome to jump in- we all have a lot to learn and share about the amazing diversity of cuisines out there!
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:25 PM   #4
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I love coconut!!!
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:46 AM   #5
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Great idea for a thread! We recently moved abroad and I've really been struggling trying to afford the foods that we're used to. Fruit/veggies are just so incredibly expensive here that it's been a real struggle for us. We're going to try some new grocery stores this weekend in the hopes of finding food that's at least affordable.

For the most part we can find foods that we like here but they are sooooo expensive. Sour cream, for instance, was $10 in the local currency (since we're paid in the local currency it's the equivalent of paying $10 for sour cream in the US). About the only thing that I don't like too much are the sweet potatoes here. They're a different color and there's something funny about the taste.

We always ate a pretty good whole foods diet but a lot of that has depended on me being able to find the ingredients that I'm used to (for instance, many cheeses here are expensive and certain veggies and spices too). I've had to revise a number of my recipes for better or worse. I'm curious how long did it take everyone else to adjust to this?
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:59 AM   #6
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running That really, really sucks about fresh fruits/veggies. Are there at least local alternatives you can eat? Re. sweet potatos- they are weird here too (I'm in India)- long and thin and white inside, not nearly as sweet. If those are the ones you have, I think you can use different cooking methods to bring out the flavor. I can't remember off the top of my head which one is the best- perhaps boiling as opposed to baking, makes them more flavorful and less tough.

I haven't had to adjust too terribly much- I just can't make anything with fish/seafood, cheese, or grains other than pasta or rice. I'm pescatarian so that's not too difficult to do, but I really do struggle with getting enough protein. The hardest thing is not having my Whole Foods health foods- nutritional yeast, protein bars, quinoa, flax, greek yogurt, etc. My bf is a carnivore and not getting any beef in the land of the sacred cow has also been hard for him.

Yogurt makes a great substitute for sour cream! I think there are numerous recipes out there for homemade sour cream that involve yogurt + lemon or vinegar, something to that effect.

Do you mind sharing what continent you are on/country you are in? No worries if you don't, just curious
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:11 AM   #7
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We're in Brazil. I've actually been using yogurt a lot as a substitute but I didn't think about adding vinegar or something to make it taste more like sour cream, that's a good idea!

You know, we have the same sweet potatoes and my MIL always boils her so I really wonder if that isn't the best approach? I do miss my sweet potato fries, though!

We normally eat a lot of cheese so that's been really hard for us. Things just don't taste the same (cue Dh complaining about my cooking). I tried to make apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes once here and yikes they were yucky! I think there's something different with even just the flour that I'm having a hard time adjusting too. Unfortunately, the chocolate chip cookies I made once tasted just fine.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:39 AM   #8
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Things just don't taste the same (cue Dh complaining about my cooking). I tried to make apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes once here and yikes they were yucky! I think there's something different with even just the flour that I'm having a hard time adjusting too. Unfortunately, the chocolate chip cookies I made once tasted just fine.
Ahhh I totally hear you. I'll make something to bring to a party or neighbor's house (oatmeal cookies, banana bread), and have to come armed with the usual "I promise it actually tastes better than this... I've made this a million times..." Sugar is the hardest thing- it's very unrefined here and really hard to incorporate into baked goods effectively. I've just had to play around with recipes... some work better than others.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:45 AM   #9
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Ahhh I totally hear you. I'll make something to bring to a party or neighbor's house (oatmeal cookies, banana bread), and have to come armed with the usual "I promise it actually tastes better than this... I've made this a million times..." Sugar is the hardest thing- it's very unrefined here and really hard to incorporate into baked goods effectively. I've just had to play around with recipes... some work better than others.
We actually don't eat sugar so whenever I'm in the US or someone is coming to see us I ask for them to bring blue agave or maple syrup. But we also have the super-refined sugar here too so I can imagine that would be a pain to cook with! I bought a flour shifter and am going to try that out to see if that helps....
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Old 03-25-2011, 10:29 AM   #10
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runningfromfat -- you're in an awesome country, with amazing food! I lived there for many years.

I'm surprised you're having a hard time, but it can be that you're not used to the cuisine and you're trying to eat American foods in an foreign country.

You may have to round up the family and tell them that you guys decided to move to Brazil, so you're going to eat like Brazilians. Sour cream isn't part of the diet there.

There are also places where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that aren't expensive and you'll have to find the farmers markets. Where are you shopping? At Carrefour? Or Pćo de Azucar?

When I lived there, Carrefour had the best prices.

The thing with Brazil is that it's an expensive country compared to the rest of Latin America. The reais is very strong there against the U.S. dollar, so yes, everything is going to be more expensive than in the US.

Food is incredibly cheap in the USA.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:36 AM   #11
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Amazon.com has several Brazilian cookbooks with very tasty-looking recipes. Maybe it would be worth investing in one?
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:39 AM   #12
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I haven't had to adjust too terribly much- I just can't make anything with fish/seafood, cheese, or grains other than pasta or rice. I'm pescatarian so that's not too difficult to do, but I really do struggle with getting enough protein.
Indiblue, don't you have a lot of lentil dishes there to choose from for protein?
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:51 AM   #13
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runningfromfat -- you're in an awesome country, with amazing food! I lived there for many years.

I'm surprised you're having a hard time, but it can be that you're not used to the cuisine and you're trying to eat American foods in an foreign country.

You may have to round up the family and tell them that you guys decided to move to Brazil, so you're going to eat like Brazilians. Sour cream isn't part of the diet there.

There are also places where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that aren't expensive and you'll have to find the farmers markets. Where are you shopping? At Carrefour? Or Pćo de Azucar?

When I lived there, Carrefour had the best prices.

The thing with Brazil is that it's an expensive country compared to the rest of Latin America. The reais is very strong there against the U.S. dollar, so yes, everything is going to be more expensive than in the US.

Food is incredibly cheap in the USA.
Seriously, if you have any tips on good foods to cook here I'm all ears! I have to admit the food that the in-laws perpared I HATED. Like I said it was white rice, black beans and meat day in and day out. And then white bread+ham+cheese for breakfast/dinner + cookies for snacks. Now if you're talking going out to a churrascaria that's a different discussion entirely!

Our closest grocery store is Pao de Azucar (sorry, I have no clue how to do the accents here!) and it charges an arm and a leg for anything (we have two others nearby too that pretty much have the same prices).

This weekend we're going to grab the bus and try either an Extra or Assai that a friend recommend to me so I'm hoping that I can find food that's affordable. It's crazy. Green peppers are something like R$4.99/kg and mushrooms are over R$10 if you buy them fresh! Besides beans (and I still need to pick up a pressure cooker so I have yet to make them) and lettuce I have yet to find any fresh fruits/veggies that aren't going to put us in the poor house. Going out to eat is definitely not an option either because everything close to us ends up being at least R$40-50 for the three of us.
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Started at 240
Onederland 199 (Jan 6, 2010, exactly 2 years after my previous due date!)
Overweight BMI 185 (Aug 3, 2011, one year after joining 3FC!)
Pre-pregnancy weight 175 (Oct 18, 2011)
Called Goal 156

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Last edited by runningfromfat : 03-25-2011 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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Indiblue, don't you have a lot of lentil dishes there to choose from for protein?
Yes, and that is my saving grace! But even if I were to eat a bowlful of chole or daal each day (which I don't because I can't eat the same thing every day, usually have it 2-3 x/week) or other bean-based dish, that's generally no more than 20ish g of protein. I try to drink milk, yogurt, a bit of paneer, eggs, and oatmeal/peanut butter when I can, but it's hard to get more than 40g a day. Sometimes I have access to Keralan or Goan food (which means lots of fish and seafood) but that's not always possible either. I do splurge on cans of tuna at the import grocery store to try to boost my protein when I can, but it's still hard without Greek yogurt, protein bars, high protein pasta, etc.

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Old 03-25-2011, 02:45 PM   #15
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Default Dragonfruit

One of the guys at work brought in a Dragonfruit to share today. Cool looking fruit; very aptly named. I hadn't had it before but I have been wanting to try it since I first saw one.

The edible part has a texture very similar to kiwi (complete with tiny crunchy seeds) but is white instead of green. Rather bland tasting, kind of like mild apple with some banana and pear overtones.

I was glad I tried it, but probably won't go out of my way to get it again.
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