Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Magnesium Profile!

Magnesium (Mg) is considered to be the "anti-stress" mineral. It relaxes, can eliminate tension and pain, aids in the absorption of calcium and can promote a good night's sleep.

While it is not considered to be a trace mineral, deficiencies are still possible, as magnesium adsorption is decreased when a diet is high in fat, meat, alcohol, caffeine and sugar. As is the case with most minerals, there are a few tell-tale signs of a deficiency, such as irritability, insomnia, muscle twitching, high blood pressure, and so on.

Why is magnesium on my mind? Well, it can also help cure certain types of monthly pains--so this has become personal for me as well (who can guess what I am pretending to be secretive about?).

Magnesium is abundant in many foods such as the dark green veggies, nuts, seeds, cacao, whole grains, and legumes. It is considered to be the "anti-stress" mineral because it is a natural relaxant that relaxes both skeletal and smooth muscles in blood vessels and in our gastrointestinal tract. It's also used as a natural remedy for those with high blood pressure since it dilates blood vessels.

It is often used as a natural sleep-aid, especially for those with racing/anxious thoughts that come right when the lights are off. It doesn't have the standard 'drowsy-for-days' morning hangover like many sleeping pills do, but I have found I get some pretty intense dreams from it that sometimes wake me up anyways--maybe a result of sleeping too deeply. But 80% of the times I have taken it for sleep purposes have ended with a deep sleep and a well rested Lena who doesn't remember if it was Japanese hornets or earwigs attacking her in her sleep again.

And ladies, when many of you crave chocolate during your special demon time of the month, it can actually be your body trying to make you consume magnesium, which is found in high amounts in cacao. It can really reduce the intensity and pain associated with cramps--just aim for dark or raw chocolate, as getting a milk-chocolate sugar-filled candy bar is counter-effective--not only because a lot of the magnesium content is lost during processing, but also because as mentioned above, sugar decreases magnesium absorption.

So for the anxious, the nervous, those who have trouble relaxing before sleeping, as well as those with high blood pressure--always consider incorporating some magnesium-rich foods before taking pills with 80 side-effects, when all your body really needs is to correct a possible deficiency.

While it's magnesium-rich spinach time in Armenia again, I also crave chocolate, and chocolate > spinach every damn time.
This could be you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegan Fest'14 in Armenia!

I was in Turkey last year right when a friend let me know there was the first Vegan Fest taking place in Yerevan. I couldn't believe my timing, but had enough friends going that at least I would know how it went afterwards.

Apparently there were a lot of apples going around as "vegan food", which is nice, but fell short of course.

This year I realized I would be there for Vegan Fest and as I was translating their event description from Armenian-English for the Facebook page, became very excited as it seemed a lot better organized with many different organizations taking part and there would also be vegan food beyond some fruit.

There was no set schedule, but DiNGO Animal Lovers would be there with dogs available for adoption, Street Workout Armenia would show off their skills, there would be lessons on slack lining by Step Slackliners, a performance of breakdancing, Bicycle + NGO would be there and give free lessons on biking, soaps and other products that were vegan, local and free of animal testing would be available, there would be open yoga classes as well as musical performances. There would also be a few tables dedicated to providing vegan food, including a contest for the best dish. There was mention of a free market I was super excited about since I organized many in Canada, but I did not end up seeing that there.

The motto was "Ընտրիր կյանքը", which is "Choose Life".
Here are some pictures of the second Vegan Fest in Yerevan by Allegra Garabedian (you may notice I am biased towards DiNGO):
I swear the amount of initially scared children who then fell in love with the dogs after confirming they did not bite was heartwarming. 
This was my highlight - nothing else compared to this cutie pie dog eating my ear.
Anahit has already adopted two street dogs, and this dog was making it very difficult to not make that number three.
Breakdancing begins - a bunch of youngsters showed off their skills!
Slack lining lessons - I didn't try this but thought about it a few times before being distracted by the dogs.
Some of the remaining food I forgot to eat!
The event could not be complete without some Einstein quotes translated into Armenian. I thought the guy said I could keep this but was awkwardly mistaken and pretended to be cool about it. Stiff upper lip.
There were a bunch of musical performances and talks from vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodists as well. Compared with what I heard about last year's event, this one seemed to be a great step forward and I hope to see it continue and participate in it as well next year!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The 'Thank You' Post!

It's been over a year since The Traveling Chamelian began, with 53 total posts, so it's time to say thank you to the people who are responsible for it actually existing, which, surprisingly, doesn't include me.

So, here we go...

Thank you Laura Tachdjian, sister from another mister (jokes...kind of), for giving me the idea, somehow convincing me I would be good at it, and being annoyingly good with marketing and creativity where I can't take credit for any of your ideas. She gave me the idea back in the summer of 2013 and kept pestering me with questions like "did you start yet?" to the point it eventually got into my head that I needed to start this blog. Thank you for being annoyingly thoughtful only the way a sister could.
Bub trying to tell Laura she's adopted
Thank you to Sarah Reid, expert blogger of What Smells So Good, where she has way too many delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes. I sent Sarah so many questions so she was on the receiving end of all my anxiety and nervousness and she answered all my questions, with great feedback and suggestions, and I hope you know how helpful and encouraging you were! Thank you.

Thank you to Araz Hajjar, who I sent an idea to not thinking much of it, with unreasonable expectations ("can you make the chameleon do a kissy face AND wink?") and she somehow delivered exactly what I wanted in the design, minus the kissy face, which I am very happy for. Thank you!!

Thank you to Arpine Kozmanyan, my "work" partner in the summer it all began. Arpine and I both did not have normal office jobs, so she would come over in the humidity of the summer, we would sit on my bed and work together. But that work for Arpine ended up being answering all my questions, editing the layout of my blog, and doing it all with amazing red curly hair I still dream about cutting off and making a wig with. Those dreams come less often now, but my gratitude still remains strong - thank you so much my babooshka! Can't wait to be an annoying nene with you.
"Leave me alone", she said. "No", I said.
Thank you Gohar Khachatryan, for being the "go-to" person for everything, and especially for all her encouragement and her convincing me our travel stories were funny enough to include, and basically turning what would have been just a nutrition blog to a travel AND nutrition blog. Also for traveling with me, testing recipes with me, and laughing at my jokes even when they were only kind of funny.
Also for being so cute of course
Thank you to Allegra Garabedian, for reading over everything and always being my official English expert, even though I still think how I pronounce "intestine" is the Canadian way, and not actually incorrect. Thank you also for taking all the pretty pictures, and if I ever forget to credit, you can always tell which pictures are Allegra's since they are actually nice and not blurry like mine. Thank the warlord Astghik I never wanted to be a photographer.
Allegra laughing while I slowly die on the inside
Thank you to Khatchig Mouradian for being the best editor on the planet. His kind words, encouragement, and ideas really made me want to continue writing and he also helped me understand how to write an article VS blog post (remember by original draft haha :).

Thank you to my platonic German wifey, Mona, aka my German manager. Thank you for reminding me to actually do things off my to-do list, for making me smoothies while I worked, for being filled with good ideas for my blog and for being my partner-in-crime! I had German-efficiency withdrawal symptoms when you left ;)
Mona enjoying an Armenian coffee "to go"
It was just this year that I decided to finally be consistent with my blog and aim to update every Wednesday. My original idea was to write whenever I felt like it, but since I am an inconsistent person with thighs of steel, that would mean updating 4x one week and not writing for three months after and thinking this "worked".

This blog is a way for me to channel my excessive talking into writing, which is good for me, and I think everyone around me--especially my poor room mates. It also encourages me to actually document stuff I find interesting so I can share with those reading.

I love seeing what countries people are reading from, and always wondering how that one person in Lithuania found out about my blog, and slowly dying on the inside from curiosity. I love receiving e-mails from people around the world--whether they be about meeting, having suggestions, questions, or just saying hello.

It also encouraged me to get a twitter account, which I never thought I would do. But I stopped updating it about one month in. Some things never change.

So a big thank you to everyone I mentioned above, as well as to everyone who takes the time to read my blog and those who get in touch with me as well.

I am ALWAYS open to suggestions, so please keep e-mailing and letting me know your thoughts!

-Bacheegs from Hayastan! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Georgian Vacation Round 2: Day 5 or "Return Stopover" Part 2/2

We arrived to Tbilisi shortly after and the beer had made the ride all the more enjoyable. I fell asleep in an awkward position and woke up realizing my underwear was in full bloom, but buzz=not feeling too embarrassed. The driver was clearly trying to ask my sister if she and I (but I assume mostly her) would join him for another beer but she somehow got out of that with hand movements and being polite. 

My sister and I head back to the hostel Gohar, her, and I had initially stayed at, only to find out it was all booked. We decided to try the hostel right across the street, by the little Armenian restaurant, and they had two rooms available, so we booked the cheaper one that actually had a much nicer view. We decided to go for a final walk around the city, and dropped by the Armenian restaurant to see if we could come in the morning for a quick coffee. The woman confirmed and we headed out. It wasn't too late but the mashootka ride was taking its toll for sure. We walked for about an hour and a half and headed home to shower and sleep. We noted this, of course:
Who knew smashing patriarchy could be so easy?
We called our Armenian taxi man Arthur and he agreed to pick us up in the morning to take us to the mashootka stop. He then expressed his frustration with us not calling him right away so we could stay with him. He asked us to see if we could get out of the hostel so he could pick us up and his wife could meet us as well - we had already paid but as usual, Armenians have got your back.

We wake up feeling nice and rested, and leave to head to the Armenian restaurant. We order two coffees and drink it with the door open and with a cute huge dog sticking his nose inside but never coming in. My sister and I chat while trying to take in the last bits of the city in and finally ask for the cheque. We thank the wonderful family, tell them we will come back next time we're in the city, and see Arthur outside waiting. He chats with the restaurant-owners and we are on our way, while he gives us some tidbits about Tbilisi before we get to his car:
We arrive to the mashootka stop and when trying to give Arthur the money he refuses and tells us "amot a" (it is shameful). He again tells us that next time we come we must call him right away and arrange to stay in his home. We thank him and get into the mashootka heading to Yerevan. I sit in the front which I am of course annoyingly excited about (A FULL WINDOW TO MYSELF) and my sister sits in the back by a nene who feeds her chocolate and asks her if she will listen to what her future husband says (oh dear). The driver is grumpy and a little cold, but when Paul Baghdadlian is blasted on his mix CD, I can't help but sing along and he turns it up (perhaps to drown me out) and I feel that we begin to bond. 

When we arrive to the Armenian border, while waiting for everyone to get back on the mashootka, the driver asks me if I like Georgia. I say yes and that it is a very beautiful and interesting country, and he goes into full-patriot mode telling me how much better Armenia is, and that even though he lives in Georgia, Armenia will always be his home. I feel the need to interrupt him to tell him that just because I like Georgia, that doesn't mean I do not appreciate Armenia, and he calms down a bit and tells us some history tidbits he knows. Much better, and it was a pleasant and drama-free ride all the way back to our house.

See you next year, Georgia.