Monday, March 30, 2015

South and Southeast Asia in 7 Months


What a trip. Bradford and I dreamed and talked about traveling to South and Southeast Asia together since basically the day we met and he couldn't stop talking about the time he'd recently spent in India. He was so passionate and enthusiastic about his time there that it made me want to hop on the next plane there. Well, it took about six years, but we finally did it. In February 2014, we purchased one-way tickets to Bangkok. In April, I quit my job, and in May, we were gone. We visited 8 countries and 86 cities in seven months.

Before leaving, we had a rough idea of where we wanted to go, but that's it. We booked everything as we went, rarely planning things out more than a few days in advance. We decided to stick to South and Southeast Asia for a couple of reasons: (1) this region of the world is so far from America, we knew it would be difficult to get back soon, (2) some of these countries are pretty rough so we wanted to experience them before children, (3) things are CHEAP in this part of the world!

Below are the countries we visited.










And for those really interested, below is a list of all the cities we visited:
(Disclaimer: India is a HUGE beast of a country...we hardly even scratched the surface, believe it or not.)

THAILAND: (Leg 1): Bangkok, Trang, Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Hat Yai, Su Ngai Go Lok
(Leg 2): Hat Yai, Bangkok, Aranyaprathet
(Leg 3): Nong Khai, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Bangkok
(Leg 4): Bangkok, Lopburi, Ayutthaya

MALAYSIA: Kota Bharu, Perhentian Islands, Kuala Lipis, Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown

CAMBODIA: Poipet, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh

VIETNAM: Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi

LAOS: Muang Khoa, Phongsali, Udomxai, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi Neua, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane

INDIA: Chennai, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Rameswaram, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Kollam, Aleppey, Kochi, Mettupalayam, Ooty, Mysore, Sravanabelagola, Shimoga, Hampi, Hospet, Margao, Colva Beach, Arossim Beach, Aurangabad, Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bhavnagar, Shatrunjaya, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Deshnok, Amritsar, McLeod Ganj, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar

NEPAL: Lumbini, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Patan, Nagarkot, Baktapur

SINGAPORE: Singapore

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pico de Gallo

There is something so simple and perfect about pico de gallo. It's essentially three fresh, healthy ingredients blended together with additional spices to create a powerful, flavorful garnish. As a California native, I practically consider Mexican food a food group and find myself eating some form of it almost everyday. This pico de gallo is the perfect dish to add some freshness to those meals. 

Pico de Gallo
Yield: about 3 cups
Total Time: about 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl. For best taste, let sit in the refrigerator (covered) for at least 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!




Chocolate Chip Coconut Energy Bites

Since the arrival of our sweet daughter, schedules and meals have been a little unpredictable at our house. On top of that, I'm nursing which means that my appetite has increased dramatically as my body produces milk. I was very excited when I found this recipe and these little energy balls have proved to be delicious and effective at sustaining my energy levels when I feel like I'm lagging a little. They manage to satiate my hunger when there's no time to eat a full meal. 

Chocolate Chip Coconut Energy Bites
Adapted from I Can Teach My Child
Yield: 24 bites
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, and chocolate chips. Add peanut butter, greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla. Mix well until fully incorporated. Refrigerate mixture for one hour. Remove and form into 1-inch balls. Store in an airtight container (or freezer bag) in the freezer. 

When you're feeling lethargic, pop a bite and energize up!