Atta Ikede

October 31, 2008

War on Corn Syrup

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 8:54 am

I have declared war on corn syrup! High fructose corn syrup, to be specific.

Don’t worry, I’m not becoming one of those annoying health food eaters, but seriously, corn syrup is everywhere in the states. These people don’t seem to use sugar! It’s in bread, yogurt and lots of prepared foods like cookies. Even major pop brands such as coke are mixed with corn syrup here instead of sugar. People here get excited about mexican coke because it’s made with real sugar. I have a friend who works at a startup, and one of the perks at her office is that they order in mexican coke! Hahaha! The second reason for my war on corn syrup is that it just seems pretty wasteful to turn corn into a sugar substitute. There’s a food crisis going on in some countries! Those people could actually be eating the corn! Just at a common sense level, doesn’t it sound fishy that we’re turning corn into sugar? Why don’t we use sugar as sugar, or just use less sugar? Even worse, we’re also turning corn into plastic! The office here buys corn-based biodegradable disposable cups.

My war has been going on for a couple of months now. I haven’t cut out corn syrup entirely yet, and I doubt I can entirely cuz I’m sure restaurants are using it and I can’t see myself giving up the occasional can of coke, but we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll get health benefits from at least greatly reducing my intake of the stuff.

I’ve found that it’s pretty hard to avoid corn syrup. Certainly, my quest to avoid it means that i’m having to cut out a lot of normal brands and products from my purchasing range. I’m trying my best to avoid venturing into the territory of weird organic brands though, cuz many of those products taste kind of gross and it ends up being a waste of money.

For example, I bought a strange brand of graham crackers at Whole Foods because I needed them for a pumpkin pie crust, but the cookies were so tasteless that the crust ended up tasting pretty gross. I still have half a package left and I’m wondering what to do with it…

The fun things about avoiding corn syrup have been that I’m buying a larger variety of foods and discovering delicious food in unlikely places! Did you know that Ikea has several kinds of corn-syrup free cookies? They’re delicious! mm .. i bought hazelnut filled and fruit filled cookies. Yum! They’re made in Europe somewhere. I also started trying out various bakeries. The safeway bakery is a decent bet, though it’s hard to buy things the day they were baked. Overall, Safeway here is definitely not as good as loblaws. (I miss Loblaws … ) Anyway, the supermarkets here do sell mini baguettes and things, so if I buy a small size I’ve found I can finish it before it goes bad. I’ve also tried a few chinese bakeries. I was hesitant at first, but I gave it a try. Those chinese bakeries only seem to carry white bread, but it’s super soft and makes the best toast! So crunchy! I don’t know what ingredients the chinese bakeries use, but their bread does go bad within a few days so I’m willing to bet that it’s natural-ish.

Yup, so overall, I definitely think this is a war I can win. My main concern is to make sure that buying odd brands and healthy products doesn’t greatly increase my food expense, but so far that hasn’t happened. I have Chinatown on my side! Good old Chinatown .. always the place for deals!


Bento style lunch 1 and 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:51 am

I go through a packed lunch craze about once a year. It never lasts .. i always end up reverting back to buying a lunch. The craze has come over me again, and this year, thanks to my eye opening discovery of bento, my packed lunches are prettier than ever before! Continuing to pack a pretty lunch is going to be the only hope for me to keep up with packing lunches here. The office here in SF is close to several delicious lunch options, most of which cost $5 or less. With free drinks and snacks at work, $5 goes a long way and pretty much guarantees a fresh, tasty, healthy lunch.

Here is lunch box 1, eaten October 27 2008:

Lunch box 1

Lunch box 1

The closed container contains left-over pizza. The open container contains carrots, cucumber, green grapes, plain yogurt w/ cranberries on top and some 1000 island dressing.

I cut up the veggies on the evening of Oct 26th and assembled it the morning of the 27th. It took me quite a while to assemble .. cramming the grapes in was pretty tricky. With my first attempt, i only managed to fit in 4 or 5 grapes, leaving a lot of empty space in the box. With my second attempt, I thought to stand the grapes up and that worked much better. Despite spending all this effort to arrange everything, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d be very disappointed when I took it out for lunch – why eat old pizza and a bunch of vegetables when I can get something that I know will be yummy for only $5? I don’t even really like vegetables that much.

Turned out my fears were totally unfounded! The most important thing I had to do at work was remember I had brought a lunch. Once I opened the work fridge and saw the yellow boxes there, and opened the veggie box, it was so orderly, so colourful, and so fresh looking I had to eat it! And it was great! The yogurt w/ cranberries was especially tasty. Yum!

Here is lunch box 2, eaten October 31 2008:

Lunch Box 2

Lunch Box 2

Today’s lunch contains two fruit center cookies from a package purchased at Ikea, a handful of raw almonds, two cups of yogurt & cranberries and a handful of soy beans (visible under the almonds) crammed in between flower shaped rice balls.

About those flower shaped rice balls … The safeway nearest my place is a block further than Japantown, so of course, I stopped in at Ichiban Kan to check out their crazy bento section to see if they had anything fun before going on to buy groceries at safeway. Ichiban Kan had these funny rice molds for a buck. Each rice mold has 3 pieces. The molds come in packages of two. I got the set that has a bear shape (which I will never use) and a flower shape. I figured that for a buck, I could afford to try these out and see if the shapes work out. The flower is pretty nice! The bear shape makes me feel weird just looking at it. Why would I want to eat something in the shape of an animal head?? Weird.

Note: Regarding the photos … The first photo was taken on the countertop in the kitchen using natural light. The second photo was taken on my glass desk using fill in flash. I used my regular Sony camera for both. The iPhone camera is pretty useless when trying to capture detail or working in sub-optimal lighting conditions.

October 22, 2008

Pain ..

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:11 pm

I went to the gym yesterday. My shoulders and triceps are aching right now. In fact it hurts to type. It hurts to touch my arms. it hurts to move my arms!

I was fine yesterday evening. Sigh. It’s always the day after that’s the worst.

If you’ve been to a basic yoga class you’ll know the flow: downward dog, plank, pushup, upward facing dog. Repeat.

How many of those did I do to earn this pain? ten. TEN! Yes. Pathetic, I know!

Speaking of gym pain, the other interesting painful exercise I learned is the “IT band” rolling exercise from pilates class. Whereas the yoga flow one is an excellent workout that I can feel the results of, this IT band exercise seems to be about as useful as a whipping.

How the exercise works is that you lie on your side and put the roller under your hip. Then you roll up and down, allowing the roller to “massage” your leg from your hip to the knee.

It’s horrendously painful! The first time I tried this i was horrified at how painful it was, but the instructor said that the pain is normal and kept cheerfully announcing “30 more seconds! 20 more seconds!” etc.  Some googling revealed she is correct about the pain being normal. Look at this post for example.

The funny thing about this exercise is that every time I go to the gym and see the roller, either during a  pilates class or when i’m doing stretches on my own, I can’t believe my own memory of the pain of the exercise. I always dismiss the memory, thinking “nah .. that was last week! I must have just had a bad day. it’s just a silly foam roller.” Of course, 2 minutes into the exercise I start thinking “ouch”.

Ok, more like “O U C H ! ! ! !”

Sigh. It’s 8:10. Maybe i’ll just go to bed so I can stop moving my arms.

October 5, 2008

Degree Clinical Protection .. cuz you’re so afraid you stink

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 12:45 pm

Ah .. catching up on blogging today. i’ve spent the whole morning at my computer! This is the last one of the day :)


That other “wal” store

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 11:50 am

Have you ever done those puzzle games where you complete the word? In a puzzle context you usually have to pick a word ending that has the right number of characters, but if we play it more generally it’s just fun to see what people’s word associations are.

Spider ___ (i think spider man! Maybe you think spider web or spider bite. Yuck.)

Fruit ___ (I think flan, but maybe you think tree or tart. Mmm .. fruit flan …)

Now let’s try this one:

Wal ___


October 4, 2008

Cute names vs trendy names

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 11:08 am

I watched Eagle Eye last weekend.

There’s a cute kid in the movie –> his name is Sam. He’s like a hostage and his mom has to do things in order to save him.

The kid himself was pretty cute and the cuteness is amplified by several slightly touching moments like when the mom gets a call on her cell and says “oh, it’s the only man in my life i’ve ever loved… my little boy sam”, and all her female friends go “awwww”.


Anyway, I was thinking … would it have been equally cute if the kid had been named Brody, Tripp or Chet? Does “little chet” conjure up the same image as “little sam”? No, I don’t think so.

Here’s my hypothesis: when a kid in the movie has to be the cute character, they have to give him a cute name like Joey, Sam or Billy, but when a kid in the movie has to be the edgy or main character, they can give him more of a trendy name like Brett or Chase.

Cardboard Cutouts

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 11:01 am

Ah .. Julie and PB. Your comments on my last post made me smile and writing this sentence right now made me smile again. Thank you :)

There’s a short story called A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (I’m humming the song right now .. what a great song). This story, and the Nick Adams series by Hemingway have totally burned themselves into my memory. They’re just so .. gripping! I can’t explain it. Months after reading the stories, I find myself remembering story fragments when my life overlaps with that of a character’s. Like when I made pancakes this morning, I thought about Nick Adams making pancakes, and how how he used clean wedges of wood to flip them but I use my trusty Ikea flipper. lol. I know. It sounds a little nuts.

In the Truman Capote story, the main characters buy ingredients to make fruitcakes, as is their christmas tradition. Most of these fruitcakes end up going to strangers they’ve met over the years. A young couple who got lost near their house, the bus driver, etc. Very few fruitcakes go to actual friends and family.

It is fun to chat with strangers sometimes. I’ve met some really interesting people that way, like the Muslim woman I met on a stopover in Vegas. Though she’s a Muslim, she goes to Church! She was trained as a psychiatrist in Pakistan but now makes a living selling handmade handicrafts and greeting cards she decorates with colourful, childish illustrations. It’s so great when you meet somebody who is surprisingly interesting. If I had a habit of making fruitcakes at Christmas, I would mail her one.

One of the disappointing things about living here is that many of the strangers I’ve met here have turned out to be total cardboard cutouts. They are entirely undeserving of a fruitcake.


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