After a brief hiatus, we are charging forward into Week 4: Mulan Week! This week we are in China and studying all about Chinese culture, foods and fitness all while keeping Mulan herself as the central inspiration for the week.
When the Emperor sends out conscription notices to every family in the face of a looming attack from the Huns, Fa Mulan takes the place of her father, Fa Zhou, who is too old to fight. In an effort to spare her father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and uses the moniker, “Ping” to gain access to the training camp and not only pretends to be a soldier in the Emperor’s army, but eventually becomes one!
With the help of Mushu, a diminutive dragon who was decidedly NOT sent by Mulan’s ancestors to aid her, Mulan manages to find her place in the world in the most unlikely way. She discovers a strength in herself that was not permitted for women at the time. And, in turn, becomes the hero she deserves to be. (And in the meantime she gets the hots for Captain Li Shang, voiced by very American actor, Donny Osmond.)
Mulan is voiced by Chinese actress, Ming-Na Wen (most recently Agent May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), while her singing voice is Lea Salonga (also the voice of Jasmine.)
This is another movie that lives in that happy place for me. I was a freshman in high school when this movie came out and was still very much into Disney movies! So despite it’s flaws, I can easily find it’s virtues. But I can also call a spade a spade and recognize that Disney could have done a lot better to do justice to Chinese culture and representation.
That being said, here’s a look at my meal plan for Mulan Week, which includes a rich assortment of Chinese foods:
-meat (chicken, pork and moderate amounts of red meat)
-Chinese fruits (kiwi, lychee, dragon fruit, pomelo, rambutan, ya pear)
-Chinese vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, water spinach, watercress, pea shoots, bitter melon)
-Other vegetables (broccoli, green beans, carrots, cauliflower)
-soy sauce (use very moderately or swap out regular sauce for a low sodium or light version)
-soup at every meal (the Chinese believe in yin and yang meals that consist of wet and dry foods together)
-white rice (another thing to eat moderately)
A note about switching from a Native American (Pocahontas Week) meal plan to a Chinese (Mulan Week) meal plan. It was a drastic change for my stomach and I tried very hard to ease into the new assortment of foods. I had never tried some of these fruits and vegetables, which was a lot of fun. But it meant that I didn’t know how they would effect me. Just be careful and try things in small amounts and who knows, you might discover some delicious flavors you’ll want to keep eating after Mulan Week is over! I personally loved the Chinese ya pear. It is a fruit I have added to my shopping list permanently!!
There are plenty of other Chinese foods to choose from, this is just the shopping list I was working with. I tried to keep it balanced with the food groups I’d already been working with. Fruit, lots and lots of vegetables, very moderate grains, and meats. The new piece to this week’s equation was the balance of wet foods and dry foods creating the yin/yang meals found in an average Chinese diet. Another interesting fact I found out, the Chinese believe vegetables to be more of a main course item than meat. So a lot of the recipes are veggie centric, which I really enjoyed! Stir-fry was an easy go to for dinners when I wanted something filling and easy to make.