A Winning Taste of Vietnam

There is something about eating a dish at home, and then getting to enjoy it in its country of origin that is truly delicious. Having the golden opportunity to dine with locals was what made Mirra Fine’s food experiences special and that led to an incredible short film, A Taste of Vietnam…

“I first tried Vietnamese food while living in New York City a few years back. There was a modest Pho shop around the corner from my apartment, and I would stop in twice a week to get my fill of the delicious beef broth, long rice noodles and fresh basil. The dish is beautiful in its simple complexity. On the surface, it appears to be noodle soup, but the herbs create a freshness that offsets the richness of the liquid on which it is floating. The squeeze of a ripe lime adds a subtle sweetness, and the bottles of brown and red sauces lining the table next to you, are the secrets behind the depth and color.

This past January, I found myself in Ho Chi Minh City, sitting at a little plastic table on the bustling street watching a Vietnamese woman dispense homemade pho into large bowls while her daughter served them to the lunch crowd. The whole cooking operation took place in a tiny plastic cart (which was decorated with hanging meat and fresh herbs) that housed the large steaming pot of soup. I watched the man across the table from me pile multiple types of basil onto his broth before taking his first bite. Then, as Daniel (my travel companion) filmed, I dove into my own. The pho was incredible, but the experience of being in Vietnam and eating street food as a hundred motorbikes, buses (and even a couple chickens) sped by, was what put that moment over the edge.

We spent two weeks in Vietnam – traveling from Hanoi to the Mekong Delta – with the purpose of filling our stomachs, and our cameras, with as much as each could take in. The colours and flavours of the country almost will you to capture them in some way, and we did our best: We rode bicycles through the countryside in Hoi An, we met a fisherman who drew pictures of his catch on Danang Beach, and we ate and drank beer with a group of men outside a restaurant in Hanoi who invited us to sit down and partake in the stewed fish cooking right on the table. The fast pace of Vietnam and its people is exhilarating and overwhelming, and the food… the food was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. We tried to capture the whole experience in our short film A Taste of Vietnam, but I encourage you to go see the country for yourself.”

Daniel and Mirra’s A Taste of Vietnam video is up for a Vimeo Festival Award (in the Lyrical Category). Please help them win by voting here. Once you’ve joined Vimeo (it’s easy and free) you can vote once a day, so we urge you to vote often before 30 April, 2012!

Solo in Sydney | Thoughts on Travel and Life

It’s been quite an eventful year so far of being there for new friends and figuring out what’s next. Before the fireworks on NYE, Svenja started feeling a bit ill, and by new year’s day, was doubled over in pain from stomach cramps. She ended up passing out, and we had to call an ambulance to bring her to the hospital. They couldn’t find what was wrong and sent her home even though she was still in pain. The girls were meant to fly to Melbourne that day, and ended up not taking the flight. Instead, we shared a hotel room so Svenja could lay down and try to get some rest. The next day, Michi, Kris and I walked around the city to give Svenja time to rest. They booked a bus to Melbourne, but Svenja was still not feeling great so she ended up getting a flight back to Brisbane and the other girls headed down to Melbourne.

I felt so bad for her – she’s been working so hard to save up and travel before her classes start up again in February, and she wasn’t able to go. She had a good attitude that maybe it happened for a reason, but I know she was still devastated and felt terrible the other girls missed the flight and had to rebook on the bus. For me, I felt bad that there wasn’t much I could do to help. Even though I’ve only known them a week, I feel like we are part of a traveling family and wanted to do more.

Now that I’m on my own again, though, it’s time to figure out what’s next for me. At the moment, I’m looking for a short-term place to rent while I sell my van and decide what I’m going to do after this. My friend Leish is coming to visit for a few weeks, so I’m hoping to have the van sold before then so I don’t have to worry about it. After that, I think I’m going to book a flight to Brisbane to celebrate Michi’s birthday at the end of the month. And then, who knows? My flight back to the states is set for the 31st, and so far I haven’t decided what I’ll do in terms of taking it or trying to change it. I have a lot of things to decide before I figure out whether to continue my travels or head back home.

I am really enjoying being in a different country on my own – every day is a completely different experience from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. Sometimes it can get lonely and I miss my friends and family, but I also know that there is something new to discover around every corner here, and I’m certainly never at a loss for things to do.

Time to head out and get some things done. I hope everyone had an amazing new year’s filled with loved ones and happiness. Take advantage of the start of a new decade to dream big and follow your heart! Cheers!

Organic Green Coffee and Its Health Properties

Coffee is the drink of the gods for many sleepy people in the morning. It gets them going full steam ahead when they would rather go back to bed. What about an alternative to your regular coffee? Have you thought about green coffee?

In this day and age, everyone is discussing how they can help the environment. There is a turn towards more organic foods. Organic products do not use chemical pesticides during the growing process to limit the amount of possible toxins in the food later on. You can have organic brown or black coffee, but green coffee adds a new twist.

Another hot topic is antioxidants. We are prematurely aging due to environmental conditions, the foods we eat and our other lifestyle habits. They produce free radicals that damage internal organs. One way to combat them is with antioxidants.

Organic green coffee contains antioxidants. In fact, some experts say that it contains more antioxidants than the green tea that is so popular these days. The antioxidants neutralize the free radicals and help the body to resist some of the effects of free radicals: disease, wrinkles and other health issues.

This green coffee is also used to boost metabolism and provide energy when you need it most. Two components of green coffee, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, help you burn fat by speeding up your metabolism and also providing an energy burst. Most people drink coffee to get that morning zing, but with the green variety, you get the extra boost to whittle your waistline.

What about your cholesterol levels? You probably didn’t think that your coffee drinking had anything to do with that. With green coffee, there are none of the substances present that help raise your bad cholesterol level.

So how is green coffee made? The process begins like that of brown or black coffee. One important difference that we highlighted above is that there are no chemicals used during the growing and harvesting process.

The coffee is created from raw coffee beans that do not undergo the roasting process. They are washed repeatedly like other coffee beans and dried but that is all. The coffee tastes differently since it isnt roasted but it has many fans that love the flavor and swear by it.

To add to the other health benefits, the lack of pesticides, chemical-containing fertilizers and other artificial enhancers used in processing keeps the coffee bean free of toxins that may be found in other coffees. Thus, there are no impurities in the beans and the resulting green coffee.

Maybe you have never heard of organic green coffee. It is a coffee variety that has many health benefits beyond keeping you awake in the morning. If you are interested, you can find it ground or whole in a variety of places once you know where to look.

Some Related Articles

Diabetes and Hypertension | Health and Fitness For All

Diabetes and hypertension are major health threats to individuals throughout the entire world. The World Health Organization has declared that the largest number of diabetics in the world will be located in India. At this time there are over 17 million individuals who have diabetes in the United States alone. Screening for these two particular disorders are large factors in the early prevention and treatment of illnesses that often results in significant negative medical complications.

In some cases diabetes is not found until the sufferer experiences a complication or it is found during a routine screening blood test. However, because of recent media attention and increased education of the middle-aged population, more individuals recognize the signs and symptoms of this progressive disease. If the disease is not recognized until the latter stages then significant damage can have been done to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart muscle. These complications are costly financially, emotionally and relationally.

Early detection and treatment for diabetes will help improve the control of blood glucose and improve the control of lipids and blood pressure. Researchers have found that individuals who suffer from diabetes have a greater risk of also experiencing hypertension.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another of the major health threats to individuals. Hypertension is the medical term used for high blood pressure which can result from damage to the kidneys, heart, liver and also increases the risk of stroke to the individual.

Individuals who have been known condition of diabetes or hypertension should be routinely screened for the other condition. Unfortunately people who suffer from hypertension are more likely to experience diabetes than those people who don’t experienced hypertension at all.

Screening tests should also be done on individuals who have a family history of diabetes, those who are overweight, those over 45 and those who have known hyperlipidemia, or increased lipids in the blood stream such as cholesterol.

Women who have had a history of gestational diabetes, or the delivery of an infant over 9 pounds, are also at higher risk for diabetes and subsequently hypertension. The screening tests for the use conditions involve a quick dip stick evaluating protein in the urine or a blood pressure measurement. Patients who are spilling protein in their urine have a greater chance of having renal damage which can have resulted from either diabetes or hypertension.

A fasting blood sugar is the standard test for diabetes. This is a simple blood test which is taken after eight hours of complete fasting. Most individuals are told to stop eating after midnight in the blood tests is taken sometime after 8 a.m. the next morning, prior to breakfast, coffee or any other intake. This test is reliable but it does require a follow-up test if it indicates that there is a problem with elevated blood sugar.

A more extensive test to evaluate the diagnosis of diabetes is called the oral glucose tolerance test. During this test the patient is asked to drink a product that contains 75 g of glucose after having fasted for eight hours. Patients should be cautious when drinking this material since many find themselves vomiting after introducing something with this high sugar content into their stomachs after having eaten nothing else.

Blood samples are then taken every half-hour and the urine is also tested every hour. This test is a measurement of the body’s response to a high load of glucose. The results of this test will help the physician determine a diagnosis of diabetes as well as give a good indication of how much insulin or oral hypoglycemic the individual should start with.

If an individual already have the diagnosis of diabetes then a glycosylated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1 C, is drawn to determine the severity of the diabetes over a period of time. This test is usually tested every six months to get an accurate picture of the previous six months of glucose control.

Screening for hypertension is much simpler and involves only doing a blood pressure test while sitting or standing. At the same time the individual may be screened for heart disease that can include a blood test for cholesterol, an EKG and chest x-ray.

These screenings for diabetes and hypertension can successfully be done at health fairs and doctors offices. It is especially important for individuals who have risk factors to understand those factors and how lifestyle choices may help prevent illness.

Some Related Articles