Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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pastelon, yes that’s a food

I’m back from vacation! With a bang. The bang being my head exploding as it re-entered the real world of work, studying and training. After putting most of the pieces back in order I’m here and ready to write!

Although not on my list of upcoming posts, a resolution update has been in store for a while. Now, I know what you’re thinking, here comes an update on my 2014 New Year’s resolutions. I will stop you there my friend. For two of my resolutions for 2013 are as of yet incomplete, so we’ll start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start).

2013 I aimed to find and cook a lasagna recipe Evelina likes as much as I do (also on the famed 25 before 25 list). A challenge because Evelina doesn’t like cheese, a main ingredient in most lasagna recipes. So I searched out a lasagna recipe with very little cheese, and found this one. (Original website still un-re-found, if you know where this is from, lemme know stat!)

I, finally, cooked up some pastelon in July. Here are the step by step instructions so you can make your own:

Ingredients: 1lb ground beef, 1 yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 green pepper, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tsp adobo seasoning, 2 tsp oregano, 2 tsp vinegar, 1 envelope sazón (which does not exist in Sweden, so feel free to use 2 tbs of taco seasoning), 2 bay leaves, 8 green stuffed olives, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 4 plantains, 3 eggs, 2 tbs milk, 2 cups white shredded cheese, vegetable oil, salt to taste

  1. Buy plantains (and all the other ingredients listed above) at your local supermarket. Tip: Refrain from shouting across the produce section in glee when you finally find plantains in Sweden – you will get strange looks.
    IMG_4185
  2. Bring ingredients home (just trying to be clear here).
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. Begin with the ground beef, garlic, onion, green pepper, taco spices (or sazón if you don’t live in Sweden), cilantro & oregano
    IMG_4186
  5. Chop onion, pepper, garlic cilantro & oregano. Place in mixing bowl.
    IMG_4187
  6. Blend with ground beef. Fry the blend in a large frying pan.
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  7. Making sure your plantains are ripe (I allowed about a week for my plantains to ripen – as you see from the first picture they were green upon purchasing them, and mostly yellow & slightly green and brown when I was cooking.) Peel and slice the plantains thinly. Thinly! This is one thing I would have changed from my recipe – thinner slices!
    plantanes
  8. Butter the pan.
    buttered pan
  9. Begin to fry the plantains in vegetable oil. (Canola oil works great too.)
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  10. Add the raisins, tomato sauce, olives & bay leaves to the pan with the ground beef mixture.
    IMG_4189
  11. While frying the plantains and allowing the beef mixture to lightly simmer, whisk the eggs with the milk. An idea I had while cooking was to add cheese to the whisked eggs, but seeing as Evelina is anti-cheese I didn’t do this. Try it out if you do like cheese.
    eggs & milk
  12. Begin layering ground beef and the freshly fried plantains. I ended up with three layers of each, plantains on the top.
    IMG_4197
  13. Top with cheese. Not to beat a dead horse, but I only put a small amount of cheese over the top layer…as you may be able to guess, because Evelina does not enjoy eating cheese. Topping off the dish by pouring in the whisked eggs evenly.
    IMG_4199
  14. Put the lasagna aka pastelon in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, checking on it after 15 to remove when cheese is bubbling and slightly brown.
    IMG_4200
  15. Slice and enjoy!
    IMG_4201

I think this made enough for Evelina and I to eat about three meals each (served with a nice fresh garden salad, of course). So if you’re cooking for six this will work, but you should double the ingredients for a party of 12. This is how math works.

The verdict from Evelina: a fine meal. Little upset my pastalon wasn’t a hit with her, but I really enjoyed it. I hope you try it out!

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not dieting/starting again/stopping/then starting again

This probably sounds like a cliché, or an all too often told story. About people who try different fad diets, only to eventually fail at them, to then try some other diet that’s big right now.

That’s not what I’m here to talk about. And, honestly, without sounding to preachy or as if I’m trying to sell you something, I think I’ve found a few things that work when it comes to dieting.

Side bar: I am seriously not going to try to sell you anything. Seriously. I have no money to gain here. It is also probably important to emphasize that I am not in the field of health and nutrition. I have no background education in the matter. I told you all about how I’m a pre-school teacher. What I can say is that if we listened to the pre-schoolers we’d eat a whole lot of candy and cookies. That stuff is tasty! But, I do try to limit the advice I take from 5 and 6 year olds. (Though at times they are truly inspiring.) I’m rambling, the point here is don’t by anything from me, and take my advice with a grain of salt. Do your own research, and find out what works for you.

PN plate

found here

That being said, I think I’ll say it again. I really do not think there is anything better when it comes to “dieting” than doing your own research and finding what works for you. I want to put dieting in bunny quotes because what I do I don’t actually feel is dieting. Yes I am changing my diet. But ideally I am changing my diet for good. For the forseeable future. My personal goal, when I say I want to get fit (and yes I believe a big part of that is through making conscious decisions about one’s diet), is to find a diet that works for me and the lifestyle I want to lead, forever.

THAT being said, I’m here today to tell you a little about what I have found works for me, and my own personal experience with changing the way I eat (more commonly known as dieting).

Start slowly. I’ve read a million articles online about diets that are guaranteed to work, and just follow these easy 10 steps to a healthier you! (It was a million, I counted.) The problem is, it is almost never that I find all the “steps” in all the different “processes” to be simple. I find the biggest problem with dieting is failing at it. That’s why I choose my own steps. In order for this post to stay at a readable length I’m going to list my top three pieces of advice, or first three steps I took when trying to change my diet.

  1. Make it easy for yourself. I believe that successfully completing your goals sets you up for future success. Therefore, when beginning a new project (any project really) I start as small as possible. Miniscule. I make that first step seem like the easiest thing in the world, that I can definitely accomplish. Then comes the important part, that once I do accomplish my easy first step, I go on and make another step in the right direction. (But again, a very, ridiculously, awesomely easy step.)
    For example: If I want to eat less sugar, first I’ll take a look at what my sugar in take is currently. Let’s say I eat a good amount of sugar every day and want to reduce that. So I’ll first just look at one meal. Every morning I put two tea spoons of sugar in my tea. My super easy step then could be to only add one teaspoon of sugar. I think I can manage that with 100% success, so that’s what I choose to change.
  2. Keep track of what you’re doing. There are a bunch of apps out there, or you can go the old write-it-down-with-pen-and-paper rout. Whatever you do, keep track of what you’re doing and how you feel. If you keep track you will be able to easier tell what is working, and what isn’t. (Hint: this can even be one of your first small changes – make it easy for yourself!)
  3. Be allowed to cheat. They say (by they I mean the internet) that your “diet” will be successful if you follow it 90% of the time. That’s pretty sweet I think. If you eat 6 meals a day for 7 days a week that means you eat 42 meals in a week. That means you only have to follow your diet for about 37 meals. That’s 5 meals/week that you get to eat whatever you want. (Within reason and portion size.) I’m fairly sure if you eat seven pizzas for four meals a week you won’t be getting any fitter, regardless of what you eat the other 37 times.

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How do I know that these steps work? Like I said, I’ve read approximately 1 million articles online regarding changing the way one eats. In the internet wonderland I have found these ideas, and I have tested them myself to see what works best for me.

yummy fruit

found here

To be honest, it hasn’t been a perfect run, as the title of this post would suggest. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Dropped the ball. Let it slide. Whichever idiom you like. That’s why I find it important to have my three steps. When it starts going less well, I can take it back to the basics. Back to what I know works. (And keep track of what hasn’t work, and maybe even ponder why it hasn’t worked.)

I tried to keep this short and sweet, but certainly have more to say on the topic.

Stay tuned.

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lindsey visits

This past weekend my friend Lindsey came to visit! My oh my was I excited. Lindsey is the first friend to come visit Evelina and I from the US at our Eskilstuna abode. (Yes, Ryan came to visit last winter, yes, he is a friend, but first he is a brother. Yes, Katie came to visit us in Linköping, and she will forever hold the award for first North American friend to visit Sweden.)

I suppose Lindsey had it easy, since she technically only came from Denmark where she’s studying for her semester abroad. I mean really technically she came from the US originally, so it still counts. Also, no points were deducted from Katie for having flown to Sweden from Spain.

I can’t help but to break down our weekend as I did Katie’s.

Friday:

12:50: Lindsey landed in Sweden, and promptly bussed it to Stockholm Central Station where she trained it to Eskilstuna. She did all this on her own, and I must say I am greatly impressed. (My own personal difficulties in getting on the correct SL trains is a story for another time.)

14:45: I met Lindsey at Eskilstuna’s Central Station. After which we walked to Evelina’s and my apartment to drop off Lindsey’s things before taking a stroll in to the city.

17:00: Dinner at Papas Tapas. This is my number one favorite restaurant in Eskilstuna. It’s a combination of Spanish and Mexican food, and you almost always need to book a table if you want to eat there. So good.

19:30: The three of us, after returning home for a quick change, went over to a friend’s housewarming party. Don’t worry, I told everyone they had to speak lots of English so Lindsey could follow along. I was pleasantly surprised at the over all English skills at the party. (Just kidding guys, I’ve always know y’all are good at English.) But seriously though, give a Swede a few beverages and the English just starts flowin’.

Saturday:

7:00: Early wake-up call today, because it’s time for Three Kronor Hockey School! Just enough time for a quick breakfast before our ride came to get to the rink.

8:00: Arrival at Smehallen. Last Saturday was the first day of hockey school for this season. Evelina and I are coaching the girls, so our attendance was mandatory. Lindsey stepped up and was a big help on the ice. She asked about a few key Swedish phrases to help her talk to the little ones.

  • Stand up! – “Stå upp!”
  • Walk like Daffy Duck – “Gå som Kalle anka!”
  • Do you need help? – “Behöver du hjälp?”

Now you also know all the phrases necessary to teach a small Swedish child how to skate!

TKS

10:30: Still at the rink, our team’s practice started at 10:30. Lindsey was absolutely up for a go at it on the ice, and it was certainly a success. Evelina’s and my teammates were impressed, and most importantly so were our coaches. Lindsey officially has an invitation to come play in Sweden when she has completed her studies in the US. Seriously, Lindsey, you should come.

12:15: Lunch time. Evelina and I did our best to impress Lindsey by showing her the finest cuisine of Sweden. Just not at this meal time…left overs it was.

14:30: After lunch and a little down time we walked into the city again to look around at the shops. There’s a bit of construction at the main square in Eskilstuna right now, but City Hall is still pretty, and there was a lot to see. We were on a quest for shoes, so we visited all the shoe stores. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for, so we recharged with a little fika. It was necessary.

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate ball

The classic Swedish fika, coffee and a chocolate-ball

16:00: Still on a quest for shoes we walked out to the mall.

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

The walk there was beautiful. Peppered with views of the changing trees. Fall is here!

Where both Lindsey and Evelina were lucky enough to find some fall shoes! Shoes…let’s get some shoes!

18:30: Once the mall closed we joined Evelina’s mother, Maria, back in to town. We had been invited for dinner, so we enjoyed some classic Swedish home cooked food. Followed by apple pie, coffee and tea. You could say it was slightly better than the lunch we had to offer… In fact you probably should say that.

Sunday:

9:00: Wake up call! Although it wasn’t too late of a sleep in, Lindsey and I had gotten train tickets in to Stockholm for Sunday morning, so up and at ’em! After packing up and saying bye to Evelina we took a stroll through some parts of the city we had missed before on our way up to the station.

10:30: Train departs from Eskilstuna Central Station.

11:45: Arrival in Stockholm. We (I) decided we should walk down to the water and take a look at the old part of Stockholm City. It is one of my favorite places in the city, and not something you should miss. When we first left the train station and looked right we got a good view of Stockholm’s City Hall. My fun fact was that they had recently cleaned all the gold on top of the buildings in all of Sweden for the crown princesses’ wedding (other probably factual things I know about the royal family found here). Along the way in to Gamla Stan (the old town) you get a glimpse of Riddarholmskyrkan, which is most known for as a burial-place for kings. (I say “most known for” I mean most known by me, as in it’s the only thing I know about it. More informed people might have other opinions.) On our way in to Gamla Stan we also walked past Riksdagshuset, or the parliament building. (This time we didn’t venture in side.)

Gamla Stan!

Gamla Stan!

There are a ton of cute little shops in Gamla Stan, so we slowly made our way through.

12:45: After exploring Old Town we arrived at Vapiano. Still my favorite Italian place to eat in Stockholm. The Vapiano in Old Town is my favorite of the three in the city because of the location and the atmosphere. This is how excellent and fabulous the food looks:

photo 3 (3)

13:15: Once we had eaten our fill of excellent Italian food we took a stroll down to the water again to loop the other way through the city. Looking across the water we saw Grona Lund, some beautiful boats, and the National Museum.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Another breathtaking fall foliage view.

Stockholm on the water

Turning back up to the city by the Royal Castle, we arrived just in time for the ceremonial changing of the guards.

changing of the guards

After which we made our way through the commercial side of Stockholm and saw all the stores and shopping. Since we weren’t looking for anything in particular we had a nice opportunity to have fika outside Ahlens and people watch.

more fika

We then made our way back to the train station.

14:05: Arrived back at Central Station and went over to the Arlanda Express tracks where Lindsey and I said out good byes. I hope you had an awesome visit to Sweden, Lindsey, come back soon!

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