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Day 17: Cocido de Sol

Several weeks ago, my Japanese friend invited me to go grocery shopping with her. Her German friend has a gluten sensitivity and had asked for her help translating labels in hopes of finding some gluten-free foods at the local grocery store. They were going together the following day and she thought I might like to join them. I wasn’t working that day, so I jumped at the chance of finding new things I could cook with or eat. With her help, I found a lot of great stuff. It was a great morning.

After shopping, she suggested we all grab some lunch. Japanese malls have an endless amount of dining options. Between the food court and all of the different restaurants available, my friend assumed we would be able to find a safe place for me to eat. One by one, she approached a staff member from each restaurant and asked to see their allergy menu*. One by one they happily handed it to her. And, one by one she quickly realized everything had gluten in it (with the exception of steamed rice).

After the fourth or fifth restaurant, she finally gave up, apologizing profusely. I assured her there was nothing to apologize for; that’s just what living with celiac disease is like.

A couple of weeks ago, that same friend messaged me – she’d found a restaurant nearby with gluten free options: Cocido de Sol in Machida. It’s not a gluten-free restaurant, so there’s a risk of cross-contamination, but many of the menu items are naturally gluten free and the chef had told assured her I could eat there. We made plans to go last Sunday, and I have to say, the place did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations.

The owner (who also happens to be the sole chef) went above and beyond to ensure I had plenty of options to choose from, and the staff was great about asking questions and explaining potential issues with dishes that might contain gluten or dairy.

When it came time to order, we chose a bunch of different appetizers and my husband and friends ordered a couple of paellas to share. I ordered the streak plate because the paella broth had gluten in it. As the food cans out, each dish seemed better then the last. Everything was delicious! We ate so much that by the time the paellas came out, we were all stuffed. My husband and friends weren’t sure they’d be able to eat it.

As the server handed out fresh bowls and silverware for the paella, I was surprised when he handed me one. I reminded him I couldn’t eat it, assuming he’d forgotten, but he assured me I could. It turned out the chef had wanted me to be able to eat the paella with my husband and friends, so he had modified the recipe to make it gluten free.

I was floored. To be honest, at that moment, I was so surprised, I don’t think I reacted as well as I should have. This may sound dumb, but I actually felt sort of embarrassed that he’d gone through so much trouble. The restaurant was packed with people and he was cooking everything by himself. I felt like a burden, and I was so full I wasn’t even sure I could eat another bite. But, what else could I do? I couldn’t be rude. I had to try it, so I did. And man, it was so good! It blew every other dish out of the water. Despite feeling like my stomach was about to burst, I refilled my bowl at least two more times.

By the time we paid our check and left, the initial embarrassment had faded away and the enormity of the chef’s kindness had finally set in. The fact that he had gone to so much trouble just so I could enjoy the paella with everyone else at the table meant so much to me. I said thank you to him the best I could in the little bit of Japanese I know, but I still left feeling like I failed to adequately express just how grateful I was for everything he did for me that night.

I fully intend to return to his restaurant soon and recommend it to everyone I know. Again, it’s not a gluten-free restaurant, so there is a risk of cross-contamination, but I felt like the chef and his staff did everything possible to minimize that. It’s definitely a place to check out if you find yourself in Machida craving some Mediterranean/Spanish food (or even if you’re not).

*Random thought: I had no clue before that day that most larger restaurants have allergy menus. You just have to ask to see them.

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Day 1: I’m back at it

The little kid and I were on our own this weekend. It’s been raining non-stop for days, so we didn’t do much of anything yesterday – it was a much-needed lazy day after a very busy work week.

That being said, as great as cuddling up on the couch to watch movies on a rainy day can be, doing it for a full weekend can be a bit much. Especially when your cuddle partner is a very energetic toddler. He barely made it through yesterday. Little kid needed to get out of the house today.

I am not a fan of going out in the rain. Gloomy, rainy days put me in a mood, so trying to find a place to go to that little kid would enjoy (and I wouldn’t hate), was a challenge. I really didn’t want to drive into Tokyo, but when push came to shove, I bit the bullet and off we went.

Our first stop: Where is a Dog, a gluten-free restaurant in Shinjuku. I’d read they have gluten-free bagels that are actually good, so it was at the top of my list of places to try. I didn’t have a bagel for lunch, but I did enjoy this delicious green curry with rice.

The little kid had the pizza toast, but mostly he just ate both of our desserts.

We had a great lunch. The food was delicious, and the staff was awesome. They were so nice! The menu is in both Japanese and English, and dairy-free and vegan dishes are clearly labeled, so that was super convenient. They also have a pretty big selection (compared to other places in Japan) of gluten-free adult beverages and gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan desserts. I’m definitely going back to try their gluten-free and dairy-free waffles.

As far as the bagels I’d read so much about, I bought a couple of frozen ones to take home and reheat for breakfast tomorrow. I’m pretty excited about it.

After lunch, we stopped at the Korean grocery store to pick up some bones for broth, then made our way to the aquarium to see fish. There are quite a few aquariums to choose from in Tokyo, but we decided to check out the Maxell Aqua Park.

If you’ve lived in Japan or spent enough time in Tokyo, you may already know that heading to a nice aquarium in a large shopping mall (that houses other entertainment options like an IMAX theater and bowling alley) on a rainy holiday weekend, is a terrible decision. It was so unbelievably crowded. But, it really is a cool place and little kid had a great time. We will definitely be going back in the future with the rest of the family (on a non-holiday weekday).

I’d hoped to get most of the day’s steps knocked out at the aquarium, but that didn’t happen. It felt like I walked a lot, but it seems my Garmin disagrees. So yeah, just in case you were wondering, I had to resort to pacing around my house to get all of my steps in. And me being me, I waited until the last possible hour to do it. It’s like subconsciously I’m purposely setting myself up for an adrenaline-fueled race against the clock to get my steps in. Then I wonder why I can fall asleep afterwards.

Oh, I almost forgot: I decided on those other goals. Most of them are already on my goal tracking spreadsheet that I printed after my last Bod Pod in June, so I’m thinking it would be ok to try and hit all of them. But, I’m only going to prioritize one at a time. This week, it’ll be all about getting these steps in every day – preferably before dinner.

Day 1: What’s the 15,000 Step Challenge and why am I doing it?

Earlier this year, I read an article that claimed 15,000 steps a day was the new 10,000 steps a day. If you hadn’t already heard, taking 10,000 steps a day is recommended for general health, but upping that daily step total to 15,000 can get you well on your way to weight loss.

I remembered this tidbit when I turned 37 last month. I was visiting family for a few weeks before my birthday, and like many people, I felt the need to take a look at my life and do a self-assessment of sorts when the big day rolled around (what? You don’t do that?). I’d been gaining weight steadily since my first kid, and finally, late last year after having kid #2, I’d managed to put a stop to it – without really even trying (that hard). I just made a couple of small changes here and there, and over the course of the six or seven months, the weight came off. I lost about 20 lbs. Yeah, it was a painstakingly slow process, but it was a successful one. More importantly, I’d kept the weight off.

Until I went on vacation that is. Without noticing what I was doing, I fell right back into my old, bad habits. Suddenly, my clothes started to feel a bit snug, and I when I stepped onto my mother’s bathroom scale, I saw it: I’d already regained 5 of the almost 20 lbs I’d lost. I knew I had to do something quick to get back on track. Otherwise, I’d end up right back where I started last year. That’s when the decision was made: I would walk 15,000 steps a day every day for one year beginning on my 37th birthday and ending on my 38th birthday next year. Oh, and I would blog about it to stay motivated.

Great idea, right? I sure thought so. 

Unfortunately, my birthday came and went. Life happened. I didn’t get around to starting the blog, and although I tried to walk 15,000 steps on some days, I wasn’t exactly successful. Truthfully, I forgot all about it most of the time, so it’s no surprise that almost a month later, here I am, still carrying around the weight I regained on vacation and then some.

It’s never too late to make a change though, and the best time to start is now. So, starting today, I am challenging myself to walk 15,000 steps every day for a year – and to blog about it. Wish me luck, or better yet, join me! I’ve read* that sometimes, all it takes is changing one habit to change your life. This challenge could change yours; I really hope it changes mine.

Current step total: 4,156

* The book I read this in is called, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. It’s a great read, I highly recommend it.

 

 

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