Treasure Fleet

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it: a simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

How does a ruler project his might to the world without waging world war? He sends a fleet of ships, filled with trade goods, ambassadors, and soldiers, on a voyage of diplomatic shock and awe. By 1405, the Ming Dynasty had been ruling for 40 years. Zhu Di, the Yong Le Emperor, was new to the throne and eager to show his power. He had been turning neighboring kingdoms into vassal states, so now he turned to the world. The emperor appointed his childhood friend Zheng He as admiral of the fleet. Over 300 Treasure Ships were built of a size and richness never before seen. Their charge was to sail the seas, seeking new lands and visiting the ‘known world.’ The first voyage departed in July, from the then-capital of Nanjing. Sailing down the coast, the fleet visited Vietnam, Thailand, Java, and India. At each port, gifts were exchanged with local rulers and trade agreements were struck. An exchange of ambassadors sealed the deal. Sometimes, if the area was in turmoil, the fleet would fight for one side to establish a friendly leader in power. Pirates were subdued, opening sea lanes for travel. The voyage was so successful, that further trips occurred in 1407, 1409, 1414, 1417, 1421, and lastly 1431. This maritime version of the Silk Road caused trade to flourish in and out of China, as well as an exchange of scientific and cultural knowledge. China became an international power player. Due to the cost of the fleets, conservative government bureaucrats opposed them. At last, the death of the emperor, pressure from the Mongols, and a new fiscally conservative ruler ended the voyages of the Treasure Fleet. How interesting that today’s China seeks to make friends and extend influence around the world with its Belt and Road Initiative. History does repeat itself.

Thailand was a port of call for the Treasure Fleet in 1405, so we will enjoy a Thai-inspired meal at breakfast. For dinner, a favorite meal of the Chinese back home: Spring Rolls.

Thai Bake: 133 calories 5 g fat 3 g fiber 8 g protein 14.6 g carbs 106 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages.  PB GF  Low in calories yet high in flavor, this delicious bake will start your morning with a bang.

1 two-oz egg ½ clove garlic 1/3 cup scallions, sliced ½ cup cooked spinach ½ tsp fish sauce dash Sriracha 2 oz applesauce -OR- ½ cup blueberries  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Mince or press the garlic. Squeeze then chop the spinach. Combine the vegetables with the fish sauce and hot sauce, then whisk in the egg. Pour into a lightly-oiled baking dish and bake at 350 F. for 12-15 minutes. Serve with the sliced apples and beverages of your choice.

Shrimp Spring Rolls: Each roll = 88 calories  2 g fat 1 g fiber 7 g protein 8.4 g carbs 33 mg Calcium PB   Spring rolls are always a treat for Chinese New Year, representing luck. The Spring Roll wrappers look like 8” disks of opaque plastic, but after soaking for 10-15 seconds in water, they become clear and very pliable. If you are not accustomed to wrapping spring rolls or egg rolls, you might want to practice using wonton wrappers which are easier to manipulate. TIP: This recipe makes six [6] spring rolls. One serving could be 2 or 3 rolls. 

6 oz raw shrimp, cut in half across the body 4 oz carrot, peeled and sliced into thin coins or cut as julienne 4 oz green cabbage 1 oz chopped green onion 1 Tbsp soy sauce 1 tsp olive oil 6 eight-inch Spring Roll wrappers   per person: 2 oz broccoli, steamed Sriracha

Chop and prepare all the ingredients and put them in small dishes near the stove-top. Heat a cast iron skillet or wok until hot and add the oil. When it is hot, add the carrot and cabbage. Stirfry for 3 minutes on heat high enough to keep the vegetables sizzling. If the pan becomes dry, add some water.  This is supposed to be a no-no in stir-frying, but we are cutting down on oil, OK?Add the shrimp and stir-fry about 1 minute, until it is cooked. Add the scallion and soy sauce. Stir-fry a bit longer until all is mixed and warm. Take off the heat. Remove the cooked mixture to a bowl. [if you want to, run it briefly through the food processor. This step is optional but it can make the mixture easier to roll.] Wipe out the pan and put a mere film of oil on it. Turn on the heat to medium-low.

Put a pie plate of warm water on the counter. Add one of the spring roll wrappers. When it is clear [no longer than 20 seconds], remove it and lay it flat on a dish towel. Spoon 1/6 of the mixture onto the wrapper. Roll up a bit, then fold in the sides, then finish rolling. Put the roll in the warm pan. Repeat with the other rolls. In the pan, turn the rolls until they are warm and slightly browned. Stirfry or steam the broccoli separately.

Serve with a dollop of hot sauce for dipping.

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