Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trying To Eat Healthy

So what's the food like in Cambodia? Some times I get this question and its quite interesting to figure out what to say. In the supermarkets we get lots of western products but the prices are a bit exhorbitant so one is always looking for the local comparative. I guess its the difference between buying a brand name product or its private label version. So for example, a box of cereal back home maybe about $3.00 to $5.00 in Canada but here you are looking at starting prices around US$6.00 to US$8.00 and higher. In fact any western type products are more expensive which makes sense since most of it is imported. If you have a craving for potato chips a bag of Fritos or Lays---yes you can get those here if you want to pay the price which is about US$4.00 upward. This is one way to curb any unhealthy junk food eating practices!

If you like vegetables, you can get a lot of Chinese or Asian vegetables here cheaply but one has to make sure you wash it quite thoroughly. When I first arrived one of my missionary friends got me a ceramic water filter/purifier. This way you can use water from the tap and as it goes through a ceramic filter, use you can use it to wash vegetables, rice and even drink it. I also use it to brush my teeth. Its quite handy to have and is a must for anyone living in Cambodia.
Rabbit Ceramic Water Filter/Purifer

Anyway with the weather being so hot in the high 90s with the humidity, I find I am eating less and drinking more as you need to stay hydrated even if you are sitting in an air condition room! Cambodia has a way of making you lose weight so its great as I don't need to go to a gym. I just walk and with it being so hot, my appetite has shrunk. Perhaps its a sign of getting old. I hear old people eat less! :-)

At any rate, in an effort to eat a bit more healthy I discovered that our local supermarket is selling brown rice and now that I have discovered how easy it is to use a rice cooker, I decided to try my hand at making some brown rice.  However, in cleaning the brown rice, I have noticed a lot of little black bugs ---perhaps they are ants or from that kind of insect family. It is a pain picking out these little creatures when you are cleaning the rice so I decided to just cook it as is after I had plucked a few out. I figured a little protein didn't hurt. One could suggest their black hue looks like black pepper in the rice:-). Actually there is a phrase among the missionary circles that says ''Lord where you lead me I will follow, what you give me to eat I will swallow.'' That's a great mindset when you are living in places like Cambodia. One must be open to experimenting with foods and insects:-). One of our NGO friends once said that ''you know you have lived in Cambodia when you eat food with ants still crawling around in it.'' I laughed because that is so true. Ants are our little pests as some how they have the innate ability to sniff out the food if its left on the counter. A few months ago, I experienced the truth of what that fellow NGO resident had said when I had bought a popular Vietnamese dish call Ban Xeo. Over here it is known as Ban Chao. It basically is an omelette that has beansprouts and meat in it and you wrap it in a lettuce leaf with mint leaves and dip it into a fish sauce. Its really quite tasty and on hot days its very light and healthy to eat. So one evening I left it briefly on the counter for an hour as I was not quite hungry, but within that time frame the ants had swarmed around the inside of the styrofoam container. I was not happy so I quickly dusted as many of them off that were visible to my naked eye and then I thought, I would teach them a lesson. I put the entire omelette into the microwave and nuked them!!! And yes, I ate the Ban Xeo and assumed that whatever little ants had gotten into the omelette would be just added protein. I'm still alive and no worse for eating this extra protein!

So the moral of this story is that eating healthy here is possible with a few little ants to go along as an a la carte appetizer! Now that I am coming up to my 8 months here, its time for my second round of de-worming medication. Probably quite timely given what I am consuming! Praise God for continuing to keep me healthy in the midst of my own creative cooking and eating!


  1. way to go Lisa... But remember that you have to keep the muscles strong! You should do some exercises in the air conditioning..! I`ll be coming soon and we can work on a routine! yippy! Can`t wait to see you my friend.

  2. Check out my latest post! :) I listed your organization under resources! and I actually interviewed Nia and she is in the mini video documentary I made!

    god bless always