Chickpea Burger Patty with Tahini Sauce

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Colleen’s Chickpea Burgers with Tahini Sauce Colleen writes: Inspired by falafel, my version is much healthier since it forgoes the deep-frying typical of this Middle Eastern staple. Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)    Serves: 8 Ingredients 1 15-ounce can … Continue reading

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Why I’m Participating in The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues Busan 2012

Violence takes many forms. It may manifest itself as psychological abuse, becoming fear, shame or hopelessness in the victim. It can be physical like a cut or bruise, a broken bone or debilitating mutilation of the body. And it’s happening to Women. All over the World. Right Now.

This is why I decided to participate in The Vagina Monologues.

Violence against women had been highlighted in the Korea media recently. The country has been outraged at the police’s absurdly slow response to a 28-year-old murder victim’s 112 call, which detailed the exact location she was held and raped, but failed to result in her rescue. Closer to home come reports of foreign brides being beaten or killed by their husbands while the community fail to intervene. Why do we accept this?

In South Korea, the 2009 UN reported rate of rape was 17.7 per 100,000 compared to Japan’s mere 1.2 and America’s significant 28.6.  Korea’s statistics are relativity small you say? Well, in my opinion hundreds if not thousands of cases go unreported. As anyone who has lived here for a few years can tell you, in Korean society woman and men are not treated equally. An expression of this inequality is evident in the courts pitifully light sentencing in rape cases or how in 2008 a 16 year-old-girl was returned to the custody of the household that had been raping her for 7 years.

Would you go through the ordeal of convincing police of your story and reliving the entire nightmare only to be told that he used “not enough violence to constitute rape”? The acceptance of rape and violence against women in South Korea is abhorrent. And other countries are no different.

In 1998, writer of the now infamous Vagina Monologues, Eva Ensler with the help of others, established V-Day a not-for-profit movement that endeavors to stop violence against women by working with women’s anti-violence organizations, and by continuing to perform the controversial Vagina Monologues.

Participate in this weekend events to help stop the violence against women… because we’re over it!

Busan’s 3rd Annual production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues at the Vinyl Underground

Saturday April 28th @ 7pm
Sunday April 29th @ 2pm
Sunday April 29th @ 7pm

Directed and produced by Jen Sotham and April Simpson. All proceeds from the show will go to the Women of Haiti (10%) and the Saegil Welfare Corporation/ Busan Woman’s Shelter (90%).

Thank you Jessica Steele and Jessica Drew for the beautiful photographs.

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Things I Like Thursday – Infographics

These cool graphic representations of data are a sneaky way to absorb information in a visually appealing fashion. Fun to follow, they take your eyes on a journey of color and data. And the information is sharp, snappy and super simplistic. I can imagine that I’m a sophisticated barcode reader that reads Dostoyevsky in a millisecond, or a cyborg from the future who accumulates information via a neck implant and drinks coffee.

In short, they’re fun. These are my favourite:

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UPDATE: Starbucks’ Soy Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino is NOT Vegan

Starbucks to eliminate Cochineal Extract

Recall the uproar last month? When customers discovered that Starbucks were using ground bugs as a colorant in their strawberry frappuccinos? Well good news. As a result of this outrage Starbucks have been forced to eliminate cochineal insects from their drinks. Making Soy Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino Vegan again!

President of Starbucks US, Cliff Burrows, released a statement yesterday confirming the move away from using cochineal insects in Starbucks’ menu;

“As I first shared on March 29, we’ve learned that we fell short of your expectations by using natural cochineal extract as a colorant in four food and two beverage offerings in the United States. Our commitment to you, our customers, is to serve the highest quality products available. As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better.”

Don’t you love how Burrows says ‘natural cochineal extract‘ which is PR speak for cochineal insects.

He continues, “After a thorough, yet fastidious, evaluation, I am pleased to report that we are reformulating the affected products to assure the highest quality possible. Our expectation is to be fully transitioned to lycopene, a natural, tomato-based extract, in the strawberry sauce (base) used in our Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® blended beverage and Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Likewise, we are transitioning away from the use of cochineal extract in our food offerings which currently contain it (Raspberry Swirl Cake, Birthday Cake Pop, Mini Donut with pink icing, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie).”

He then outlines the companies intention to eliminate ground cochineal bugs by the end of June across the U.S. What this means for those of us living outside the U.S is uncertain but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Things I Like Thursday – Cherry Blossoms

Things I Like Thursday – Cherry Blossoms

If you’re living in South Korea or Japan, you have probably already seen these fantastical and demure trees welcoming the Spring with flowers of pink and white. As I grew up in New Zealand, I still marvel at them every year for the one week they appear in April. And by the looks of the traffic and throngs of people, I’m not alone.

Japan, Fukuoka 2011

 Simply beautiful.  That’s all. 

I hope you have a beautiful Spring where ever you are. 

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Shopping {Vegan} in Busan – Soy Milk

Shopping {Vegan} in Busan – Soy Milk

There are a range of soy milks in South Korea and fortunately they’re not hard to find. Most convenience stores and corner shops will carry at least one variety, but if you’re looking for the best here are my recommendations.

Soymilk from Maeil comes in a liter package at 650 kcal. It’s low in sugar, keeps for years and does not need to be stored in the refrigerator, making it perfect for the eminent zombie attack. It’s a little thick and creamy as I’ve come to expect from most nut and bean milks. I use it for mousse cakes, creamy sauces or in a hot chocolate. But I’ve recently discovered it’s not vegan!

You can find Maeil soymilk in most supermarkets (Emart, Homeplus) and privately owned mini markets for 1,500 ~ 2,500 won.

UPDATE: Maeil contains small amounts of D3 (extracted from sheeps wool-lanolin)  Boo!

But my favourite is the soymilk from Pulmone.

There’s no added sugar, it’s comparatively low in calories and it pours, tastes and bakes like cow’s milk. It’s the best substitute for cow’s milk that I’ve ever come across. Even my vegetarian friends can’t tell the difference. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator. I simply love this milk; My only qualm is the with plastic packaging.

You can find Pulmone’s soymilk in supermarkets large and small. But I have yet to see any in a convenience store (7-11, Family Mart) or in a mom and pop owned mart.  It costs between 1,500- 2,700 won.

The reason I share this information with you is that sometimes sneaky brands will actually put cows milk into the soy milk products. This goes for ‘soy yogurt’ and other soy products too. They advertise that the product contains soy, not that it is pure soy without traces of cows milk.

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Fruit Roll-Ups

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These were a favourite of mine as a kid and even as an adult I find myself craving something sweet by mid-afternoon. However, this recipe is far healthier and simpler than those childhood treats. For starters it has only two … Continue reading

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Things I Like Thursday – Thai Massage

Things I Like Thursday – Thai Massage

Some days you deserve to be pampered. I used to turn to high sugar foods or a stiff drink when I was stressed out. I’m not saying that I’m a saint, but when I have the money and can spare an hour, which isn’t often, I treat myself to a Thai Massage.

It’s 60 minutes of bliss. After a week of running and strength training, a deep tissue massage and tiger balm is meet with groans of pain and pleasure. Call me a masochist but I like my massages to bruise.

They are fairly authentic massages, performed by Thai women. Including the back twist, neck crack and full body stroll down your back. Where they differ is the price. They are a far cry from the massages I would get every-other day while in Thailand.  They’re not 180 baht more like 50,000won (US$50).

It’s not cheap but sometimes you’re worth it. Or at least your girlfriends are, and if you shout one a massage you should not feel guilty about joining.

You can read more about it prices and locations @ BusanHaps

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What’s Your Nitrogen Footprint?

By now we are all aware of GHGs and carbon emissions, you may even be familiar with the Kyoto protocol and carbon trading, but have you given a thought to your nitrogen footprint?

‘If carbon and climate change seem to top the public agenda, consider that nitrogen pollution affects both, while also causing air and water pollution that reduces life expectancy and threatens biodiversity,’ writes Mark Sutton in Distilling Nitrogen Science.

Nitrogen makes up 78% of the Earth’s atmosphere, so how can we have too much? Our growing population’s demand for energy and food are to blame, especially the production of meat. Humans add artificial nitrogen to soil during farming and release it into the atmosphere when burning fossil fuels. The environment is unable to process all this excess nitrogen and it’s effects are most unpleasant.

Large quantities of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the environment help form acid rain, contribute to global warming and hamper the growth of new plants. NOx can combine with other pollutants in the environment to form toxic chemicals. The effects on animals, including humans, include nausea, irritated eyes, visual impairment, fluid forming in the lungs as well as other respirator problems. All pretty uncool.

In his piece, Sutton states that ‘the European Nitrogen Assessment shows that only 15 per cent of the nitrogen in crop harvests goes to feed people – with the rest feeding the European livestock herd. At the same time, the average European citizen eats 70 per cent more protein than is needed for a healthy diet.’ Certainly one method to cut your nitrogen output is to eliminate animal products from your diet.

Nitrogen Footprint Calculator 


You can use this clever nitrogen footprint calculator  to discover how your lifestyle emits nitrogen. It uses information about your food and energy use to work out your nitrogen footprint and allows you to directly compare it to the U.S, German and Dutch averages.

Pictured above are my results

The left hand shows the average American citizen, the right an average German and the centre is my result. You can see that the red shows the nitrogen emitted from my food consumption 19 kg, low compared to a German average of 21kg and very low compared to  an American 30kg. Where I fail is in the category of ‘transportation’ (5 kg). This is an honest account of  my international traveling (having flown around the world more than twice) which drops my average to second. Food for thought.

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Starbucks’ Soy Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino is NOT Vegan

I’m not one for fancy over-priced drinks. But it’s still nice to know that if I want a treat, one is available. I hadn’t tried the Starbucks’ Soy Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino and will certainly not be drinking it after discovering its ingredients in this article.

listed under ingredients you will find cochineal extract. It sounds like a natural product, perhaps extracted from a tree or a root; but in fact, cochineal extract is a red dye made out of dried and crushed female cochineal insects. According to PETA it can take as many as 70,000 cochineal insects to produce 1 pound of red dye. Here’s a nifty visual of the cochineal from Wikipedia.

Don’t know about you but I’ll stick with a soy cappuccino thanks.

You can sign a petition asking Starbucks to stop using bugs in their strawberry flavored drinks here.

UPDATE: April 20th Starbucks have promised to reformulate their recipe. 

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