Cravings. This morning when I woke up, I was craving fried rice like I had a baby growing inside my belly yearning for major foodage. The good thing about being a home chef is you are able to cook whatever your heart’s desire without too much trouble. Rice, spam, frozen peas, eggs, an onion, some garlic, Sambal Oelek (Indonesian Chili Paste) and Soy Sauce and a wok…I had my fried rice and it was damn good.
All things considered, despite actively dieting since January of 2013, I still eat quite well. Scroll through the pictures of the @timmydafoodie Instagram and you will see just how well we eat at our house. But I digress…
Diets are all about commitment. If you commit to it long enough, it becomes more of a lifestyle choice than deprivation. Calorie-counting, meal preparation and WILL POWER are the trifecta to success when it comes down to cutting down your food intake for a better you.
Let us clear the air, I am no health guru nor am I the one-stop encyclopaedia for cleaner living. I just do me… as you do you, let’s do lunch?
I am, however, someone who researched the benefits of coconut oil and stuck to a diet. Over the past three and a half years, I have lost close to 70 pounds and I hope to lose another 20-30 pounds before reaching my goal weight, but man these last 15-20 pounds have been tough. I have been on a seesaw of 5 pounds up, 2 pounds down, 5 pounds down, 3 pound up and et cetera. (*ahem* since the holidays…)
Aside from this self-made tradition of Sunday morning breakfast in our house, I do the meal-prep for my roommate and I. Together we have collectively lost the weight of a middle-schooler and we are both quite proud of the achievement. I cook and pack meals on Sunday that serve as our lunches (sometimes dinner) for the work week. The main difference between the two of us is he is actively gym-ratting and exercising outside of the downtown commute. I, however, am not.
I have never step foot in gym. No, I lie, I took a gym class in college (…and got a D+ in it… I went to it perhaps a handful of times during the quarter, oops). I walk about 4-6 miles a day during my work week, stair climb, the sparing use of an elliptical at home to compensate for off-days and calorie-count to no end. I cheat on the weekends and then back in the routine by Monday. So there you go, the no-exercise diet dissected.
For me, it is all about the indirect exercising. Park a few rows away and walk further to the office (I do this one quite frequently, I get a good 1.5 miles on each end, weather permitting), drink some extra water to walk a few more trips throughout the day to the washroom, take a few laps around the mall, make your grocery list in a way that you have to constantly go from one side of the store to the other… it works people.
Wait, where was I?
Right, Sunday routine, that’s right…
I meal-prep on Sundays. Sometimes I start early so I have the rest of the day to relax, it just depends on my mood. The cooking is not the hard part. Anyone part of a diet plan knows that getting used to repetition will help you get used… to the diet.
What is hard is the calorie-counting. I hate math, but I work in finance… always fighting with myself, heh. My current diet has me eating a maximum of 2800 calories with the possibility of eating calories back with exercise and activity. I try to keep meals under 700 calories and definitely try to get them under 500. There is a constant balance of trying to find the best foods that keep us full and satisfied while being friendly to our health goals. Why under 700 calories? While breakfast should be heavy as it sets the tone for your day, and dinner should be heavy because it helps you relax and unwind… Lunch should be light. The last thing you need is to come back to work from a heavy lunch feeling like none other than a slug sucking onto life by whatever it can grasp. High-blood sugar joke aside, we need something light enough to keep lethargy from settling in and heavy enough to keep us going for another 4-5 hours.
I use a fitness app on my iPhone to help me accurately estimate how much goes into every meal. We also utilise a food scale for cooked and raw foods for accurate portioning. By the end of the whole process from idea to cooking to packing, the meal is not only portion-sized, it is mathematically dissected to a point that I can just blurt out numbers as to what this and that is worth.
1 cup of cooked Rice – 200 cals… 1/2 a Chicken Breast (4 oz. or 112 g) – 110 cals.
Why is this all important? In order to succeed with a diet that is not exercise-centric, you need to be strict elsewhere. Be aware of your calorie intake so that way you are not regretting anything later. Count what you have eaten so can have that treat after dinner. Calorie count for that piece of fruit that may send you over because you ate a large slice of Turtle Cheesecake for lunch that your co-workers offered you.
Just be more aware how you eat versus what you eat. But if you like cardboard pancakes and milk that taste like water, then by all means… diet in that artificial life-lacking fake food way.
So what was made for lunches?
Coupled with the fried rice, I made a bean sprout stir-fry that has found a home in all parts of Asian cuisine. The formula is the same, Bean Sprouts (Mung or Soy), Tofu, Sesame Oil, Garlic, Onion, Salt and Pepper.
The Filipino version Ginisang Togue (Gih-NEE-Sang Toh-GEH, Sautéed Bean Sprouts with Tofu) adds another ingredient Patis (Fish Sauce). If you are into sprouts or have had it before in other forms than this is a simple addition or side dish to your Asian cooking.
Start by slicing your tofu (Firm or Extra Firm variety) into cubes frying them in oil. You want the edges to brown because tofu is delicate and will break apart otherwise. Tofu takes some patience as it takes a few minutes to brown.
Throw in your chopped onions, garlic, pepper, sesame oil and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add bean sprouts and toss for a minute to cook and coat sprouts. At this point I add about 1-2 tsp of Patis to add salt and savoury flavours to the dish. Alternatively or in addition, soy sauce can be used if fish sauce may be unpalatable or undesired to you.
1-2 lbs of Bean Sprouts (Mung or Soy)
1 pkg of Tofu (Firm or Extra Firm)
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
1-2 tsp of Sesame Oil
1-2 tsp of Patis (Fish Sauce)
Salt & Pepper (To Taste)