Splendor in Saipan

Embracing the Health and Beauty of the CNMI

He’s Made Progress!


Just a personal little journal to help motivate myself…

Dear hubby has managed to drop down not one, but TWO belt notches in the time we’ve been here!!  Where is my weight loss??  I exercise several times a week, have salads, and fruits!  So why is my weight not moving?  You can’t out-train a bad diet.  As in, no matter how much I move, and how many good things I eat, if I am still eating too much bad food, the weight is not going to go away.

I must confess, he has been much better about adopting to smaller portion sizes, and I think that is the big trick.  Especially at night, when my night craves kick in.  It is so hard for me to want to be healthy at night.  I can eat perfectly all day long, but when 8pm rolls around, I want pizza and cookies and fatty foods!  And I have been letting myself have them almost every single night since we got here.

My goal is to find a healthier alternative.  If I feel I MUST eat something, it will be something healthier!  I have been keeping some frozen vegetables mixed with buckwheat noodles in the fridge; I also can easily enjoy fresh fruit when we have it so I will go buy more; and I used to enjoy sipping on tea at night instead of eating food, so I will try to begin that habit again as well.

It’s a fine line between being jealous of someone, and being inspired by them!  I don’t want to be negatively jealous towards my husband, so it is time to let him inspire me to health!


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Inspired Papay Boat Recipe

After the fun PSS Cook-Off, I was inspired to make my own papaya boat meal!

We were given GIANT papaya from a friend, and they just worked wonderfully!  These are all the ingredients needed:

Inspired Papaya Boat
1/2 large papaya
bananas to fill (approx 4-6, depending on size)
1/4c raisins
2 Tbs flax seeds
juice of 1/2 lime
optional: any add-ins you like, such as other fruits, avocado, or 1 Tbs of shredded coconut

I took one big papaya, cut it lengthwise, and scraped out the seeds, then slice the bananas to fill:

Sprinkle raisins on top:

Then sprinkle on some of the healthy omega-rich flax seeds:

Then squeeze on the juice of half a lime:

And then add any extra things you like!  A nice sprig of mint would be a pretty garnish, but all I had was leaf lettuce…

And dig in with a spoon!

This is nice and light, though large and filling.  Usually we share it, so it’s two servings.  If we want a heartier meal, we add a 1/2 to 1 diced avocado for some healthy fats and vitamins!

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Great Running App!

I found this fun little phone app called Map My Run.

It loads on your Android phone, and then will record your run!  As long as you can be found via the GPS (make sure you turn it on – Yes, even in Saipan, it can get your location and track you) it will record where you run, how long you run, and what your average pace is!  It says it will even track your elevation, but seeing as I have been running on the flat paths of American Memorial Park, I cannot say for sure how accurate it is.

I have been running through the AMP, and loving seeing my time slowly get longer and longer as I go farther and farther!  And I have also watched my pace creep up from a mere 5.1 mph to 5.6mph in just a few weeks!  This little bugger is motivation for me to push myself more.  It’s exciting seeing your progress.

And then you can share your routes with others who may be looking from ideas in your area, post in on Facebook for your friends to see and cheer you on, or just log it for yourself to watch your improvements.

It also has the ability to track your nutrition in take, but I have not played with that feature much yet, but it looks like it could do quite a bit.  It gives you a calorie goal for the day, keeps track of how many calories you burn during your recorded run, and also helps you aim for healthy water intake. 

You can switch between English and Metric units, depending what you are familiar with; make a personal profile with your goals and statistics.

The only downside I have found is that it means I have to keep my phone with me on my run.  And since I don’t have a special zippered pocket or harness or anything for it, it means I carry the phone in my hand.  This is bad because I don’t like the radiation from cell phones (small amounts, yes, but they’re still there!) and my hand gets all sweaty and makes me fear dropping the phone!

It looks like they also have apps for MapMy… Walk, Ride, Hike, and Fitness.

No, I am not receiving any benefit from this company to promote their product.  Heck, it’s free!  I just wanted to share a fun little tool I have enjoyed  🙂

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PSS Student Healthy Recipe Cook-Off

Today was a morning filled with fun in the sun and free food!

The Public School Systems held a contest: students had to create healthy recipes, using local foods.  And once the judges sampled each, everyone got to try the foods!

So we got up this morning, drove to the beautiful Pacific Island Club, and spent several hours sampling salsas, dips, fruit cups, grilled fruit, tofu stir-fry, papaya boats, and more!  (There were also meat-based recipes, which my husband enjoyed quite a bit!  But as a vegetarian, I opted out of those.)

I was blown away by some of the foods and presentation.  Kids from ages 5 to 17 were involved.  And the ones I talked to all said how much fun they had with this project, and what a nice break it was to do some hands-on work instead of burying their noses in books.  I asked two adorable little 7-year old girls, who made a Banana Protein Shake (banana + milk + tofu) if they had learned about protein in school, and knew why they needed it.  I could barely hear their answer because of their timidity, but they got impish little smiles on their faces, nodded, and tried to tell me about protein and muscles.

These are some of the pictures from the competition.  I am so glad most of the tables included the recipes – all of these foods were GOOD!  But my personal favorites?  Three way tie: Pumpkin oatmeal, Purple Potatoes with Mango Salsa, and Banana Trifle.

But congratulations to all the students!  An amazing job, amazing food, and a beautiful day for it all.  Thanks for sharing these local treasures!

The amazing tofu stir-fry table

Amazing display of the purple mashed potato with mango salsa. I could eat this stuff all day!

Adorable chefs from Dan Dan with their grilled fruit

Beautiful Papaya Boat with homemade yogurt

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Precious Commodity

Water is the only drink for a wise man.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Water: an essential nutrient, yet one we often forget.

And one that, thankfully, is not too hard to come by, even in Saipan!

But in some places, it is a little different here than back in the states.  Some places have flowing water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Some places only get running water 4 hours each morning and they use that time to fill thousand-gallon tanks of water to utilize throughout the day; and other places use nothing but collected rain water.

And none of it is drinkable.

So why do I say it’s not too hard to come by?  Deliveries!

There are little businesses dotting the main road here that will sell you a 5-gallon jug of water.  You can then place this in a dispenser or use a hand pump to drink it.  Or, we just manually pour it in to a large pitcher that we keep in the fridge.  We like our water cold!  Hey, it’s always 80°F here!  And we don’t get a good breeze in our apartment.  So cold water is a must!

Twice a week, if we haven’t gotten out to a local stand, water can be delivered to our doorstep, for a $2.50 fee.  So those mornings you can peek out the door and see the good little bottles lined like good little soldiers.

How wonderfully convenient!

Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine)

Considering the cost of everything else here including utilities, I am surprised that drinking water is not more expensive.  We use roughly one jug per week, and if we pick it up ourselves, it’s only $1.50 per 5-gallon jug.  I suppose this does not include the cost of utility water that we still use from the tap for basic things like showering, flushing toilets, and doing dishes.

I am reminded of the Diamond-Water Paradox for the Western world: the irony that life-sustaining, healing, NEEDED water is taken for granted and cheap because it is currently found in abundance; yet a relatively useless rock that has been deemed beautiful and desirable by society can run you thousands of dollars.

I hope that water continues to be affordable!  I know there are some interesting documentaries and reports reminding us that water is not unlimited.  Our filtration systems only do so much (did you know you’re likely drinking Splenda sweetener and Prozac in even your “filtered” waters??  Here and in the states!)  So, to get all “Freaky Tree Hugger” on ya: take care of our resources!  Use water wisely; if you use dishwashers or laundry machines, make sure they’re full loads; don’t let water run needlessly for washing or brushing teeth.  It may sound gross, but here where utilities run higher, we have talked about adopting the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” policy!  You really start to rethink your use of resources when they are more limited.

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Fast Food, Island Style

It’s no secret that my husband and I were huge fast food fans back in the states.  One of the selling points of our last apartment was the Taco Bell adjacent to the building.  He loved to boast, “There’s a Taco Bell in my back yard!”  And boy, did we go there a lot!

So before moving to Saipan, dear hubby vowed that this would be the time we made the life changes we so desired – NO Taco Bell for the entire time we’re here!!

…Sadly, that resolution did not last.  Within three days, he was pulling in to their parking lot, and ordering up some comfort food.

But that was then, and this is now!

Now that we’ve settled in more, and he’s found his comfort zone again, we are happily exploring new restaurants, new shops, and new culture.  And that includes the sweet little produce stores along Middle Road.  As we were driving around house-hunting, we felt our stomachs gurgle, and decided to go for some splendidly healthy “fast food” alternatives!

One stop, 3 minutes, and $6 later, we were both enjoying the fresh fruits of the island!  We got 3 apples, a bundle of our favorite little finger bananas, a few easy-to-peel tangerines, and ice cold coconut water.  So good, so fresh, and honestly, quite filling without weighing us down or causing that drowsy “food coma” we get after a heavy meal.  Instead, we were able to get on with our day and keep moving!

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Splendor in Saipan

Year after year of trying to be healthy – and junk food always gets in the way!  We live in a “Food Toxic” world, where fast food and cheap foods are more convenient than real food.

It’s so easy to make excuses as to why we’re not taking care of ourselves.

But on a tropical island where fresh produce grows likes weeds… it’s time to end the excuses!  It’s time to take action, take a stand, and change your life 🙂

My husband and I just moved to Saipan from the mainland, where we kept trying to get into a natural living style.  We want to eat real food, cut out the junk and caffeine, and get outdoors!

The first few weeks have been hectic as we get settled in, and so we have been eating out far too much, and relying on a lot of simple, fake foods.  Peanut butter and jelly has been a common dinner, as have Pop Tarts.  I keep wondering why we eat that way when we’ve already been giving bundles and bundles of bananas, and a box of Pop Tarts ($4) is far less filling than a large salad made from local produce from the market!  I can get a bag of Kang Kong for $1, a huge mound of mung beans and an onion for less than $1, and I can just squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it for about fifty cents.

So we finally got around to prepping our first home-cooked meal!

We went to the Tuesday night market and bought a bag of chopped veggies, which we washed and then chopped even smaller:

This had squash, long beans, eggplant, okra, and bitter melon.  Healthy healthy healthy!

Then we put about 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of Italian dressing into a pot (just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot):

Added the veggies, with some baby carrots we had:

Stir it, and let it simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.  Stir every few minutes:

Then, voila!  Once the veggies are soft but not too mushy, spoon it out into a bowl!

Season with pepper or Italian herbs as needed.

This is a great side dish, or you could add some cooked beans to make it a hearty meal.  Kidney beans would add a nice bold red color, or the rich flavor of lentils could be a great touch.  (Or, if you’re a meat eater, perhaps a little fresh fish or skinned chicken.)  We enjoyed it simply as the vegetables, as we found the starchy squash and carrots in there to be filling enough for a light dinner.

Italian Island Veggie Dish
Serves 2; Time: 30 minutes

1 bag local vegetables ($1)
1/4c Italian dressing (bottle was $6, serving in this recipe costs $0.50)
10 baby carrots (approx $0.10 or less)

Total Cost: $0.80 per serving.

Nutritional Information here.

This is our first try with bitter melon.  Wow, does it have a strong taste!!  I am not sure how much I like that vegetable, but I definitely want to find ways to enjoy eating it!  It is one Splendid veggie!  This little guy is great for reducing the aging process in our body.  Too much sugar in the system leads to damage and inflammation in our bodies, which leads to wrinkles.  Bitter melon helps with blood sugar control, thanks to the powerful compounds charantin and polypeptide-P!  Supposedly, bitter melon will also help lessen your urge to eat sweets.  So double awesome – helps you not want sugar, and then, helps control any sugar you do have!

Maybe we can try slicing it thinly into salads, or juicing it.  Knowing it’s for good health helps me enjoy this Splendid food!

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