Welcome to my food blog, CT Side-B. I’ve had “The Culinary Tribune” for many years, but I felt it was time to have a new name to reflect the dietary changes we’ve made the last few years. My husband and I started the 95% plant-based diet in 2012 after watching “Forks over Knives”. Then in July 2017 we switched to the 100% plant-based diet after watching “What the Health”. We’ve been since completely plant-fueled, and this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Who are you?
My name is Reiko. You can call me CT, if you like. I was born in Hiroshima and raised in the suburb of Nagoya, Japan. At age 8 I already knew I wanted to live in America. I can’t really think of any particular reason other than that kind of adventurous spirit was probably in my blood. But movies like “Footloose” and “Dirty Dancing” didn’t hurt (lol). In reality It took several years to make my dream come true. I was a young adult when I finally came to the US.
Where do you live?
Minnesota has been my home the past 18 years. My husband and I currently live in downtown St. Paul, and I absolutely love this city.
Why plant-based diet?
For our health. Scientific studies seem to point to plant-eating for maximizing health benefits and lowering the risk of developing various diseases. I also like the idea that our diet makes sense for the health of our planet as well.
Have you noticed any change since you started the plant-based diet?
Yes! My skin feels and looks the best ever. My cholesterol has lowered, from borderline to normal. I have so much more energy now. My husband has lost over 25 lbs.
What do you eat?
So many things!! Vegetables, beans, lentils, fruits, nuts, seeds, tempeh, tofu… And yes, we do eat bread, pasta, and rice, too. We usually go for darker ones, like whole wheat or multigrain bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Also we always look for a shorter list of ingredients. Often times I just bake bread at home. Tempeh is something I discovered and fell in love with when I started looking for fun plant-based food options. Tofu is nothing new to this Japanese gal. It was simply a part of my family’s regular meals.
Is it hard to be on the plant-based diet?
Yes and no. For me it has been nothing but a fun experience. I’ve been discovering so many tasty new foods and also newly appreciating the foods I had been eating all along. Really, I don’t feel deprived at all.
So then what’s the hard part?
The hardest part is when I have a limited access to plant food. I’ve learned to be extra-prepared when I travel. Bananas have saved my life so many times!
Is it easy for everyone?
I can’t and shouldn’t speak for anyone else other than for myself. But my husband and I approach food a bit differently, probably because we have different culinary paths. In Japan I grew up eating tofu, drinking green tea, and having red “beans” for dessert. On the other hand, my Midwestern husband could have lived on burgers, pizza and soda without a problem. He was exposed to diverse cuisines through his business, but I don’t think he ever ordered sushi himself before we met. Now he enjoys veggie sushi as much as I do. But he does still like to have typical “American” favorites like a grilled cheese, a burger, and of course, pizza. He makes them with non-dairy cheese and “fake” meat, and they seem to satisfy his occasional craving. I really don’t miss these dishes apparently because of the obvious reason.
Are you a vegan?
Well… “Vegan” focuses on the idea that you don’t kill animals. Plant-based diet stresses that we eat plant food. I mostly stay away from processed food even when they are vegan.
What do you drink?
I drink water, green tea, and coffee. I love green tea. Real Japanese tea though. No sugar or honey. As for coffee my husband makes the best cold-brew. I heat it up in a cup; I like my beverages hot. No sugar. No milk. Black. But I was never a regular soda drinker. Those carbonated beverages always made me cry, literally. I’ve never been a milk drinker either. I think I’m lactose-sensitive, because I used to have a stomachache whenever I had a glass of milk. You will find non-dairy milk, such as soy milk, in our fridge because I use them for cooking. But I still don’t have any desire to chug a glass of milk, dairy or not.
Where did you learn to cook?
I have an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Upon the completion of my study, I worked in the kitchen at a French hotel for a few years. Actually, that’s when I realized that I did NOT want a career in restaurants. Don’t get me wrong. The experience was overall positive. I learned a lot and I met wonderful and talented people. But having a career in the food business takes a very special kind of skills and dedication. Love of food is just not enough. So a wish to open my own restaurant was long gone, but I continue to LOVE to cook for family and friends. I would say my attitude toward cooking was strongly influenced by my mother, who is not only a good cook but also an adventurous one. She loves trying new things. She was probably one of the first people who made bagels at home in Japan, decades ago, when most people had no idea what they were! My passion for cooking was encouraged and enhanced by my biggest cheerleader and most honest critique, my husband. Love them both so much.
What do you do when you’re not cooking or eating?
Well, I work full-time. After work I set time aside for a workout. I usually do some kind of cardio (right now in winter in MN, usually stationary jogging in the living room) and strength training. I’ve just recently started incorporating Pilates in my workout. When it’s nice outside I like going for a walk. My other hobbies include piano-playing, guitar-practicing, pottery, Sashiko (a traditional Japanese embroidery), learning languages, and reading, including menu-reading.
My old blog, The Culinary Tribune is found here.