For the forth post in the ‘minimalist menu Monday’ series, we have an encounter with the powerful Nina Yau, author of ‘castles in the air‘. Nina recently quit her day job and is now ready for adventure!  A few weeks ago, she moved to Taipei, Taiwan and who knows what’s in store for her… Today, she shares with us her insights on eating, the minimalist way.

If you’re a minimalist eater yourself and care to be featured in one of the upcoming Monday posts, please feel free to e-mail me. I’ll send you the questionnaire and you’ll be good to go! *Note that you do not need a blog or website to be featured!* Any requests may be sent to

A little about yourself / your site:

I’m Nina Yau, a writer, author, traveler, minimalist, wanderlust, free-spirited and fiercely independent woman currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. I quit my corporate day job in November 2010 to do what I love, not what I hate. But these are all just things about me. Titles. Who I am cannot be contained in just a few words of our finite English language. But alas, it’s hard to contain the magnetic abstractions of life in words, is it not?

My blog, Castles in the Air, is about the myriad facets of the human dynamic and radical minimalism. And at its core, it’s me. Naked, raw, unadulterated, unashamed and unapologetic. Why? Because the world — and me — deserves nothing less than that.

What does a typical day-menu look like for you?

Coffee and water in the morning or whenever I wake up. My first meal will usually be grilled or steamed vegetables, some meat or protein (like chicken, fish or tofu), some rice. My second meal is about the same (unless I go out for dinner) and I usually have small snacks here and there. Like a bowl of organic oats and honey granola cereal with a cup or two of hot Jasmine green tea. Yes, these CAN go together.

I eat when I’m hungry and don’t particularly like following any strict dietary regimens or schedules. Life’s meant to be enjoyed, and subsequently, food is included as well. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re a slave to it. And I thought slavery was abolished!

How big are your portions?

Sometimes, they are massive! When I’m incredibly hungry (and I get like that probably 25% of the time), I’ll eat a LOT. But other times, I won’t be hungry at all and won’t eat for an entire day, which is normal for me. It’s like I’m on intermittent fasting, which I do participate in weekly where I won’t eat anything at all for a period of time. There’s nothing wrong with that; our complex bodies can easily adapt to such changes.

And since I travel a lot and find myself on the road, plane or boat (or maybe a camel or two), I need to remain flexible. Sometimes I won’t have access to any food for a long time; other times, it is in abundance. I just go with it. Thankfully, no food allergies and picky eating habits deter me from eating my heart out.

Have you always been eating this way?

Absolutely not! When I was an adolescent, I would eat an entire family-sized bag of Doritos Cool Ranch and 3 cans of Sprite or Coke every day after school while plopping myself in front of the TV to watch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson’s Creek. Or play GoldenEye 007 on N64. It was sick and disgusting the way I ate back then!

In retrospect, I’m glad I pigged out like that when I was young because now I know what it feels like to treat our bodies with such disrespect and disregard for the health and wellness of our entire physical and mental being. With subtle and gradual changes over the years and integrating active sports and healthy activities in my life, I’m able to completely and wholeheartedly transform my body — and my life — for the better.

Do you ever eat fast food?

Yes, once in a long, long while and that’s usually because that’s the last option there is. Otherwise, I hardly eat fast food and it’s because I care about what I put into my body. Enough that I will avoid the overly greasy, fried and oiled up foods that run rampant (almost) anywhere you go in the world.

Plus, it makes me feel sick if I eat those types of food. That’s my body telling me to stop that nonsense! So I listen.

Is your diet ever a problem at social events?

No, since I don’t limit myself at social outings. If I’m trying to detox or fast, then yes, I won’t eat anything and just drink water, tea or coffee for a period of time. Other than that, I’m fine and have never encountered any problems while out at social events.

Favorite & forbidden ingredients in a bullet list:
(the following are both favorite AND forbidden!)

  • I’m a huge sucker for chips, salsa and guacamole. Oh man, is it good! I will eat the entire bag, basket, bucket, can, jar, whatever it comes in. So please get this away from me!
  • I can eat tons of sushi and love it. It’s one of my favorite foods but I can certainly overindulge in it.
  • A really, really good pizza with fresh vegetables on thin crust paired with a pitcher of ice cold root beer. My favorite: Barnaby’s Pizza in Chicago with Goose Island Root Beer. I will eat the entire pizza and drink the entire pitcher of root beer myself and have done it many times before.
  • French fries! And none of these super thin oil-infused pathetic sticks of potato. I’m talking the real delicious kinds, where you can actually grasp your mouth around it and chomp down. I just ate a whole plate full of it and felt sick afterwards but while I was eating the fries, it was pure potato-y bliss.

And lastly, do you have a picture of one of your recent meals?

This picture of ceviche, a popular seafood dish in Central and South America, was taken while I pigged out in Santiago, Chile. SO GOOD (and light and healthy)!