Strawless Saturday

One concern that has crossed our minds time and again is the amount of plastic and other waste that is inevitably generated whenever we go out to eat. While opting to ‘dine in’ instead of taking out our food ‘to go’ saves a great deal in terms of plastic bags, paper cartons and other packaging, there are still other ways that plastic is unnecessarily used in restaurants, cafes, and other establishments. One example is the use of plastic straws, to the point that these plastic tubes seem like de rigeur garnishing to one’s iced tea and fruit juice.

 

It was estimated by National Geographic that 500 million straws are used each day in America alone. Although plastic straws are only a small portion of the plastic debris generated each day around the world, they pose their own form of danger especially to marine life. Oftentimes plastic straws are not recycled and thus end up recklessly discarded in places such as our waterways. When plastic straws make their way to the ocean, they can end up being ingested by turtles, fish, and even birds who mistake these for food. Plastic straws can also entangle animals, making them suffer painful injuries or even maiming them for life. Since plastic straws do not decompose easily, they can stay in our oceans indefinitely.

 

This is why we at Team Glasses practice what we have nicknamed “Strawless Saturday”, which is basically not using plastic straws when we dine out. Sometimes it is just as simple as asking the wait staff to refrain from giving us straws in our drinks. Of course, this practice isn’t limited only to weekends; even on our weekday or after school jaunts we eschew straws too.

 

At first it was not easy to start our Strawless Saturdays. Reaching for a straw had become part of our muscle memory, and it took a little reminding for us to learn to do otherwise. However, we soon got used to sipping our drinks the old-fashioned way, setting the straws aside altogether.

 

Nevertheless, we know that there are some people who, for health or hygiene reasons, insist on using straws in their drinks. Thankfully, alternatives to plastic straws are now becoming hip and available, such as metal straws. These durable and reusable straws are safe for culinary use, and are as easy to carry around as personal cutlery. Some restaurants we’ve visited such as Bucky’s and Wild Poppy are also regularly using metal straws for their beverages and desserts.

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Note the metal straw

Metal straws can be ordered online from stores such as Sip PH, or services such as Lazada. This little step can go a long way in keeping our oceans safe, not only for humans but for all creatures that live in it!  

Featured image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org

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Reflections and a cheat sheet for Buffet

Chinese buffet2.jpg

Photo by: Spenser195; Disclaimer: No edits / CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Around five years ago, going out to all-you-can-eat buffets was a treat, especially when buffets became a trend here in Manila. With my lanky frame, I would shock people with how much food I can put down in one go. Be it sushi rolls, sauteed garlic shrimp, or plates of rice, desserts and the like, I would make each trip worth it by taking on heaps of food and come out on top.

However, after I was diagnosed with heartburn, buffets weren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. In fact, it felt like a waste to bring me along. I simply wasn’t able to eat the same amount of food as I used to.

From then on, I had to change my lifestyle. Instead of gobbling things down in one go, I would chew slowly and thoroughly. Instead of taking on spicier foods and eating bird-eye chili whole, I removed these from my diet. I incorporated probiotics with my everyday meals. And most especially, I had to watch the volume of the food I eat. Less is more.

But recently, when my uncle came home for a short visit here in the Philippines and brought us to a well-known buffet place, I had a realization and came up with some tips for dealing with heartburn at a buffet.

 

Grilled beef steak in Cala Pí, Mallorca, Spain

By JIP (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Heartburn is not the end of good quantity of food.

Initially, I thought it would be the end of mine. For more than a year, I felt I had to struggle with what kinds of food I can eat, even with the Team Glasses Food Blog project Kat and I have. Buffets felt like a waste of money, since I ate less than half of what I could scarf down back then. I even had to note down trigger foods, and rewire my brain to process my food on what seemed to be an agonizingly slow pace.

Eventually, I hit my stride with some help from Kat, and life has been relatively close to my old foodie normal. Heartburn eventually became something that wasn’t as big a monster as I put it out to be.

 

Friedchicken

DougsTech at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Stay away from the fried stuff.

Buffets, being a business still aiming to get a profit, have their ways and means in squeezing money out from us. One of them is serving deep fried food, such as tempura or breaded fried chicken.

Aside from getting you full as soon as possible, the oil which coats these types of food are a pain to deal with. The combination of oil and the breading is harder to digest. In turn, this leads to the acid shooting up quickly to compensate.

 

Sunday Roast Rib of Beef

Photo By: Roderick Eime (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rodeime/15768155194/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Roasted meat is your friend.

If you’re like me and still like some meat along with your salad, sushi rolls, and other viands, go with roasted meat. Be it beef, fish, lamb, or chicken, the oils aren’t as saturated and you’d still get to enjoy the protein feast without the worry of burping uncontrollably.

 

Greek salad from supermarket

By Gesalbte (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Go easy on the dressing.

The point of salad is to enjoy a light appetizer to ease you in before a large meal. Drowning it in salad dressing is counterintuitive. Use those sparingly, or replace it with some grated hard cheese or feta if they have it, or maybe some salt and pepper, or alternatively, olive oil. Maybe you can even do without and just use greens along with the meat to form another good plate.

The dressing normally used in buffets is meant to be heavy in the first place. The same mechanics apply from No. 2.

 

  • Remember that a buffet is a marathon, not a race, your training matters.

Lastly, always remember that tackling a buffet is a marathon, not a race. It doesn’t matter who eats more at the get go, since the goal is enjoying the different viands at your own leisurely pace. Combine this mindset with keeping away from your trigger foods, the tips I’ve given above, and chewing your food slowly, and you should be set up for getting the most out of your time at the buffet.

Now go have fun with your next buffet and let us know what you think in the comments below!