Sawadee ka from Koh Samui!

We are now in Koh Samui, Thailand…It took 4 flights and over 24 hours of travel to get here and boy was it worth it!  I still can’t believe how well I ate on the journey considering we were such a captive audience and didn’t have many food choices other than what the airplane gave us and the snacks I brought (I’m compiling a list to post for those who asked!).  Here’s a look at a few of my plane meals on Singapore Air -

2 different salads, a fruit cup, and random side of bread and crackers (Please note – I never eat bread on a plane because I have seen how they warm them up. They put the bread in a big plastic bag and put it in the microwave. Eeeek! Not to mention, the bread is usually always highly processed)

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This meal had to be my favorite – I love the inclusion of broccoli!

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My husband always gets the hindu vegetarian meal – he’s not a raw fanatic like me. I usually end up stealing some bites of his food. This time I took his spicy chickpeas and added them to my raw salad. It was delicious!

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For dessert on the plane – Singapore Air has habit of passing out ice cream, which is AMAZING if you love ice cream, NOT amazing if you are trying to avoid additives. This time they gave us a chocolate ice cream bar that had all sorts of codes for additives and colorings … not a fan!

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When we finally got to Koh Samui – our hotel car was waiting for us to take us to the resort,  ready with refreshing cold towels and water.

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We are incredibly lucky to be staying at the Four Seasons here in Koh Samui. Words cannot describe how beautiful and exotic this place is. When we checked in, we were presented with dragon fruit lychee cocktails. I was in heaven! I could have drank 10 of these little cups – especially after feeling dehydrated after our long journey.

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Our villa for the week is so perfect. spacious, private and secluded. And a little scary I later found out at night.

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We have our own private pool…Five seconds and counting after the bellman left, we were in it!

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After enjoying the dip, we took a long deserved nap to combat some of the jet lag.  When we woke up, it was time to meet up with the person we flew across the globe to see, my best friend Nicole.  She is getting her yoga certification here in Koh Samui (check out her blog).  We went down to the beach bar to grab a drink while we waited for her… The ambience was spectacular. I need to work on my night time photos to capture the moment better.

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At the beach bar, I had the “clean sweep” on the juice menu. Nicole shortly arrived after we ordered. I think we hugged for over a minute… so happy to see her. She had the “honey watermelon tonic”, which I also tasted. I am definitely going to be ordering that sometime during our stay.

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I feel so happy and grateful to be here in Thailand with my best friend and my husband – two of my favorite people in the whole world.

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Later we went for a Thai dinner at Lan Tania – the main restaurant at the Four Seasons Koh Samui. We started with a spicy dip and these crudités. Does anyone have any idea what this is?

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Followed by a few appetizers of rice paper rolls and spring rolls…

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And my favorite – green papaya salad (so spicy!) with grilled prawns. I haven’t had shrimp in a long time. I actually try to limit it in my diet, because of the levels of toxins that can be found in shrimp. These were very tasty and I’m glad I tried them.

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For dinner, Nicole and I shared a very comforting and light wok style vegetables with fresh brown rice.

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The meal was not complete without dessert.  We ordered the chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream.  We shared it, but I think I ate most of it :)

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After dinner, the trip back to our villa was a little frightening. Because the resort is built right in the middle of a jungle – you can’t help but see (and hear!) the crazy size bugs, critters, frogs, lizards, bats (yes bats!) everywhere on the property. One huge bug the size of a lemon flew right into Nicole after dinner. Poor thing, we both screamed and then saw a bat fly out from underneath our deck into the jungle. This was after a frog jumped on Nicole while she was attempting to use the beautiful designed but scary outdoor restroom at the restaurant. My family and friends who know me best, know this – I have a irrational fear of frogs…meaning I hyperventilate and run as fast as I can in the opposite direction, screaming at the top of my lungs if I see one. Needless to say, I won’t be using that outdoor restroom EVER again.

Our trip has only just begun, lots of more eats and adventures to come – hope you enjoy the ride!

Sa yan sa wa. (Good Night)

Food Babe

Chick-fil-A, Suitcase Goodies, and Exotic Fruit

Before I head to the airport today to go to a land far far away…I wanted to share three things with you.

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1. My latest food investigation on 100 days of Real Food is a doozy. Have you read it yet?  It’s gone kinda viral. I spent most of my Saturday last weekend at Chick-fil-A, interviewing people for this post. It was an eye opening experiment and one that I hope you enjoy reading and commenting on. If more people spread this information and comment about this – who knows it might cause Chick-fil-A to react in the same fashion that Yoforia did when I wrote about them. Could you imagine how impactful it would be if Chick-fil-A decided to eliminate the questionable ingredients from their food?! Maybe other fast food restaurants would listen up too and follow suit.
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Why Do Parents Take Their Kids To Chick-fil-A?

Long before I became the Food Babe I used to be addicted to Chick-fil-A. I remember the first time I tasted it – it was at the mall when I was very little and they used to have the free samples. There was a lady walking around outside of the store with hot, fresh pieces of newly fried chicken on little toothpicks. It was free so of course my parents let me try it. The smell alone was intoxicating, not to mention the taste. What continued for many years was countless meals of Chick-fil-A during my childhood followed by almost daily consumption in college. Thinking about it now, even though I haven’t had it in what seems like a decade…I still know what a Chick-fil-A sandwich smells and tastes like.

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This is why I chose the mall to begin my latest food investigation. A lot of people who generally don’t eat fast food still eat Chick-fil-A. A lot of people say “I only take my kids to Chick-fil-A once in a while.” Countless moms and dads take their kids to Chick-fil-A, thinking it’s better than other fast food places. When I first wrote the post Chick-Fil-A or Chemical-Fil-A? last summer, so many of my closest friends and family members were downright shocked at the list and type of ingredients Chick-fil-A uses – which are similar to big chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Back in the day, restaurants were not required to list ingredients, there was no google, and we were all pretty much kept in the dark about what was in our food. Now that times are different, and most of the information is readily available at our fingertips and in most stores themselves, I wanted to know how many parents have actually looked at the ingredients in Chick-fil-A. So I asked.

I started off the questioning with “Why did you bring your family to Chick-fil-A today?” I interviewed 30 families in total between a mall based Chick-fil-A and a popular standalone store.

These were the top three (food related) answers.
1. “My kids asked for it.” The information I am about to share may make you think twice about giving in to their requests. kids meal - food babe

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One of the main ingredients of Chick-Fil-A’s nuggets (regular and the new grilled ones) which is listed twice is Monosodium Glutamate, a.k.a. MSG. The amount of MSG that food companies can put in your food is not regulated. MSG is an excitotoxin that can excite brain cells to death. MSG can cause adverse reactions in some people including “skin rashes, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, asthma, heart irregularities, depression and even seizures.”
As a follow up question, it was natural for me to ask the parents who first introduced their child to Chick-fil-A. The answer was always pointed back at them. The parents introduced Chick-fil-A to their children. Which reminds of me of one of Lisa’s older posts – Kids eat processed food because parents give it them. I couldn’t agree more with Lisa’s thoughts here. “Young children have to rely on their parents to provide good food for them.” You have to admit, parents have a lot of control over what their children eat whether they take on this responsibility or not.

2. “It’s better quality and tastes fresh.” It may taste good, but I have to question whether adding MSG to meat from conventional chickens that are sometimes given antibiotics is quality? If you look at a typical Chick-fil-A sandwich to see what keeps it “fresh” you’ll find close to 100 ingredients, 18 of them being different types of preservatives.

I wonder if these preservatives could keep a Chick-fil-A sandwich pretty much intact the same way it kept a Big Mac intact for 30 days exposed to air, illustrated by Morgan Spurlock’s experiment with McDonald’s during the movie Super Size Me?

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The FDA allows food companies to add these preservatives in limited quantities. However, they do not prohibit combining different food items together. For example, let’s take TBHQ which stands for “Tertiary Butylhydroquinone.” TBHQ is a chemical made from butane and can only be used at a rate of 0.02 percent of the total oil in a product. This ingredient is listed twice, once in the chicken and once in the bun. It’s easy to see how the typical American diet can result in one big whopping dose of preservatives in a given day. Chick-fil-A abides by the required FDA limits, but limiting TBHQ to a certain percentage is the same logic the FDA used when allowing a product to still contain 0.5 grams of transfat and be labeled “transfat free.” Fresh, as you can see, can be a chemically derived illusion.

3. (Many versions of…) “If I turn in the toy from the kid’s meal I can get an ice cream cone that my kid loves and I don’t have to deal with all these annoying toys everywhere in my house.” Having less toys may sound better, but check out what’s in Chick-fil-A’s “Icedream.” This little treat has all sorts of processed sugar, transfat, caramel coloring, and artificial food coloring x 2. Since when did you need to color vanilla ice cream white? I couldn’t find out exactly what kind of caramel colors Chick-fil-A sources, but the caramel colors that some fast food chains use in soda is linked to cancer. California recently added caramel coloring to a list of carcinogens that caused soda manufacturers to reformulate their ingredients to avoid a cancer warning label on their product.

After speaking to these families, I ended each conversation with one last question. I asked “Have you ever reviewed the ingredients listed in the Chick-fil-A nutrition guide?” No one had. Not even one family out of the 30 that I interviewed. I tried to hand out as many guides as possible but only a handful of families accepted them. How many of these families would think eating MSG, TBHQ, artificial colors, and caramel coloring is just fine? I made it a point to approach each family with an open heart and kindness, but when I was done for the day, the whole exercise left me sad, depleted and reminded me that we have a lot more work to do in this country to educate people about real food.

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I want to leave you with something you can make the next time you have a craving or your kid “asks”. Here is a REAL FOOD organic recipe that tastes like Chick-fil-A so you can truly provide fresh to your family. Enjoy :)