Eating whole foods – all or nothing?

Today is the day!

Two weeks ago a dear, dear woman loaded down her carryon luggage to bring me two mangos from her front yard. I know, you’re thinking – go to the store and buy a mango, you cheapskate! Trust me when I tell you that even the most amazing mango that one can buy in the San Francisco Bay Area pales in comparison to the ones that I grew up with… hence the smuggling.

And today one of them was finally ripe enough to eat. I could barely cut it open fast enough. Okay enough about mangos – you don’t have to feign excitement over my gustatory happiness.





For new vegans and some not-so-new vegans it can be a challenge to consistently integrate enough unprocessed whole foods into what we eat on a daily basis. For that matter it can be challenging for vegetarians, pescatarians, and people with omnivorous diets of various types. Convenience foods are becoming a huge market. There are myriad other reasons that one might have a limited daily relationship with fresh fruits and veggies but I won’t go into it at length here. (Incidentally, food access issues unfortunately exist all over the place. I won’t be taking up this particular barrier & social justice issue here.)

If revamping your dietary habits to include more whole food based stuff (technical term) is a goal, there’s an app that I’ve been trying out that may be of interest to you. It’s been available for a couple of years and is called Pact (formerly GymPact); it is based on an economic idea that individuals are more motivated by retaining money than by earning money.

One of the new ‘pacts’ that’s available is a nutritional one. If, say, you’d like to try to eat an additional  fruit/vegetable a day or five more per week you can make a two-part commitment for 7 days.

1. Set a target number of fruits/veggies to eat (incidentally the system won’t track more than 5/day).

2. Agree to a fine if you don’t reach the goal you’ve set (you can set a range is $5-50, and $5 is the default) for every fruit/veggie of the goal that is missed.

In order to get credit & track what you’ve eaten, launch the app and take a pic of what you’re eating (tough break if you finished it already); it gets approved or voted down by other Pact users based on whether you took a pic of your companion animal and tried to pass them off as kimchi or an apple.

At the end of the week, those who reach their goal are paid out by the users who didn’t do so. Don’t expect a monetary windfall. Last week by meeting my veggie pact, I made $.63. (Payout occurs once you accrue $10 or more. It can be withdrawn using Paypal.) However, I stood to pay out $10 for each missed veggie or fruit. There are additional pacts that you can take part in if so inclined – a gym pact and a food log pact. Each wee one can choose to set a new pact or or set your account to take a break.

If you like the idea of an accountability partner when trying to change habits but don’t want to go it on your own or involve your friends and/or you’re a bit of an app-o-phile like me, you may like Pact. What I enjoy about this option is that it’s possible to make gradual changes in eating habits. As a trainer, a more stepwise approach is what I tend to suggest particuarly when folks are already trying to build new habit with regard to being active. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and though we may wish it were otherwise, sometimes the ‘best new thing in the world’ doesn’t happen overnight.

For anyone who has used Pact or starts to use it, I’d love to hear about your experience with it.


Lunch at Cha-Ya

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!

Agadashi tofu in the foreground; Sea vegetable salad in the background. Both were delicious!


One of the things we love about living in San Francisco is the vast array of tasty vegan food options. Even restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian generally have a few interesting looking items or are happy to modify their non-vegan offerings.

That said, it’s  still nice to go to a restaurant and know that you can order absolutely anything on the entire menu.

One of our go-to vegan restaurants in San Francisco is Cha-Ya.  We stopped by for lunch recently after our weekly .retool. business meeting.

Here’s what we ordered:

Agedashi Tofu – deep-fried tofu in a special sauce, garnished with kaiware, green onion, grated daikon, ginger, and nori.

Sea Vegetable Salad – a variety of marine vegetables including seasoned hijiki served with a creamy sesame dressing.

Cha-Ya Delight – brown rice bowl. seasoned organic brown rice topped with carrots, kabocha, broccoli, cauliflower, shiitake, lotus root, zucchini, snap peas, snow peas, atsuage tofu, hijiki, pickled burdock and daikon, broccolini, and kaiware.

Their menu is huge, so we like to get one or two dishes we know and love and then experiment with a new option.  The new option this time around was the Agedashi Tofu. It quickly became one of our favorites – the special sauce is quite tasty and the mix of seaweed, onion, ginger, and daikon was just about perfect.  We’ll definitely be ordering this one again.

The Cha-Ya Delight was awesome, too. The vegetables were super-fresh as always and the seasoned brown rice was nice and savory without overpowering the vegetables. There are two of most vegetables in the bowl, so if you’re sharing and you want some of everything, you have to be a little careful when dividing the servings.

The Sea Vegetable Salad was refreshing and complemented the other dishes quite nicely.

We’ll be back soon!