Yoga in Central Park (UES)

If you’re a New Yorker living near Central Park or know someone who does, then listen up! You’ve probably heard the benefits of yoga and the benefits of breathing in the fresh air. What if you can get both at the same time?

I’ll be leading yoga practices from now on in the park! Weather permitting…

Daily practices change, ranging from vigorous vinyasa flow to deep stretch yin yoga. Class duration varies depending on the practice, expect 30 minutes to 1 hour. Click the “Follow” button to get notified via Email of my upcoming class with details.

My yoga journey began 5 years ago. It began as an obsession with getting the postures right and maybe even just surviving until the end without needing to stop and rest. Today, it gives me immense pleasure and peace each time I step onto the mat. I learned so much from my teachers, especially my personal practices with Erin from Five Parks Yoga. I traveled to Costa Rica at the beginning of this year for my first ever Yoga retreat. Not only did I learn to finally do a head-stand, but I also found a new being I want to aspire to become. I want to be someone who is courageous in the face of an obstacle. I want to be able to let go of negativity. I want to help myself and others in the ability to heal. I believe it takes one small step at a time, which was how it started for me.

Now I’ll leave you with some pictures from my retreat and hope it inspires you to join me one day in the near future! Thanks for your support~

Yoga in Central Park Class BEGINS!

I’ll be leading these yoga classes in Central Park starting this week. Below are some high-level details.

When*: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 7:30PM-8:30PM

Where**: Pilgrim Hill (72nd St & 5th ave)

What to Bring: Yoga mat

How to Prep: Highly recommend applying bug spray beforehand

How you’ll know it’s me: I’ll be sitting on a blue yoga mat playing music from a speaker

*Subscribe to get the latest notifications via email or add this calendar to see upcoming events.

**Location is unlikely to change, but if it does, I’ll post it here.

Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 1.33.13 PMTo my new subscribers, a big welcome and thank you!

 

Eating healthy day 18: Chopped Salad

A friend recently asked me, “Did you lose weight?” Yes, in fact, I really did! I can confidently attribute these results to 3 things: eating healthy, cutting calories and building muscles. Yes, it does get boring if I eat the same food day after day, but I never do. There are countless ways to cook a healthy dish and a ton of different flavor combinations. Highly effective are these flavor bombs: scallions, sweet onions, cilantro, wasabi, spicy mustard, daikon, basil, and mint.

Grocery List:

  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • sweet onion
  • cilantro
  • scallion
  • soba noodles
  • spinach & mixed greens

Eating healthy day 17: Canned sardines for that Omega-3

Omega-3 is such a buzz word these days, it’s easy to glaze over the details. An important fact to note is Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat, of which 3 are found in our food. ALA is the first kind, found in leafy plants and plant seeds, think flaxseed, chia, or avocado, (not coconut oil because that’s actually considered a saturated fat) and so forth. Our bodies actually convert these into longer chained EPA and DHA at a pretty inefficient rate. So, it’s more efficient to directly consume EPA and DHA in oily fish like salmon, sardines (bigger bang for the buck), or algae and krill oil. Glossy hair is very attractive, why? Because it’s a sign of health and we’re attracted to our counterparts who look healthy. Omega-3s can help you get that glossy hair from the inside!

Eating healthy day 16: Blueberries are in season!

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are the most nutritious and flavorful ingredients you can use in your cooking. In addition, they’re also less expensive and more readily available. I live in New York, so blueberries are in season starting in July. They are packed with antioxidants without a lot of sugar, which means I can eat as much as I want without feeling guilty.

Eating healthy day 15: Checkpoint

So I’ve been posting these videos of me eating my dinner, which means for 15 days, I followed a diet plan and worked out. Let me reiterate what diet plan and workout regiment is.

Wake up at 7:30AM

Breakfast: 2 cups of green tea

Workout: High intensity training class at the gym during lunch break right before eating

Lunch: 1 meal replacement shake

Dinner: 1 full meal (basically the food in those videos)

Sleep before 11PM

I do this on weekdays only since weekends are spent out and about with friends. Trust me, I wouldn’t keep following this regiment if it didn’t work…

I’ve only recently started to weigh myself. I have this aversion to scales when I “feel” fat, yes, I’m so vain… I can tell you though joining a gym definitely helped with my routine. But even with going to the gym everyday, I was still hovering around 114-118. You could feel my muscles, but not see them since they were covered under a thick layer of fat. It was only after I started following this eating regiment did the pounds start to shed in addition to muscle growth. I weighed in at 109.5 lbs for a second day in a row, but the % fat dropped from 21.6% to 20.9%.

I took a look back at my previous post. At my fittest, I was 105.5 lbs and 18.8% body fat. I really don’t care much about weight, but I really want more muscles! I should figure out a way to really step up my strength training… I should probably just do more yoga.

So at a pace of 1-2% fat loss per month, I should be down to 16% by August… Haha, people usually try to lose the weight before summer, while I do it during summer, only to gain it back again in the winter months… such intense procrastination!! My reward will be those few precious months in September and maybe more trips to the tropics this winter.

 

Eating healthy day 14: Quinoa, corn and broccoli

I went to Trader Joe’s the other day and unexpectedly saw a bag of organic tricolored quinoa and instantly bought it. Following the very simple cooking instructions on the back, boil in water for 10-15 minutes, I succeeded in cooking my very first batch of quinoa. I took out from the freezer, a bag of frozen corn, broccoli and red bell pepper, and tossed half of its content in the pot with the cooked quinoa. I went a bit heavy on the seasoning with crushed black pepper, red chili flakes and olive juice from a jar, but salt would also do. The whole thing took me 20 minutes to make, most of time was actually spent cutting up fruits for my fruit salad. So it just comes to show cooking healthy food can be really fast and easy.

Grocery List:

  • Trader Joe’s organic tricolored quinoa (or any brand you prefer)
  • frozen bag of corn and broccoli
  • assortment of fruits
  • any vegetable dish

Eating healthy day 13: Wontons

Once again, I’m indulging in some homemade goodies thanks to my mama. They are pork and cilantro wontons! Normally you would boil them in a soupy base with ingredients like napa cabbage, seaweed, tomato slices and so forth. I chose the rebel route and ate them like dumplings; with the rest of my dumplings of course. Do I get enough protein, oh hell yes I do!

If you live in NYC, or not, you might have heard of or eaten at White Bear in Flushing. It’s this hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that specializes in wontons and dumplings. I’ve tried their #6 wonton special and it was underwhelming. But seriously who can blame me when you grew up with the best wonton & dumpling chef? I’m so spoiled…

Grocery List:

  • dumplings & wontons (only if you have the patience to make them at home, otherwise, do skip on the frozen store-bought ones since they’re full of healthy fat.)
  • cabbage
  • pickled garlic

Baked cheesy fakeness

Since I started attempting to maintain a vegan diet, I’ve stopped eating cheese. It’s been about 6 months now and I have successfully avoided it thus far. That is all but on a few special occasions. Considering I have so much of it at work and I see it everyday, I feel really proud of my self-control.

My favorite kind of cheese is actually the creamy, gooey kind, like gruyere. But I’d eat any kind. Oh, I do miss pairing cheese with wine, and wine with steak, all of which I choose not to eat for health reasons. But I digress…

Back to the topic on hand, I wanted to share the fact that I’ve made a life-changing discovery. I managed to make a fake version of baked cheese using only vegan ingredients. Wait for it, and it actually tastes like the real deal by my standards. Granted I made a bad version of the original recipe, but I find that I like it nonetheless.

The original recipe calls for:

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 2 TBSP (tablespoon) tapioca starch
  • 2 TSP (teaspoons) apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes (I got mine from Amazon)
  • 2 TSP salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup water

Step 1: Blend the above ingredients until smooth

Step 2: Stir in pan and let it thicken (due to the tapioca starch)

Step 3: Place in a baking container lined with parchment paper (to prevent sticking)

Step 4: Stick several cut slices of garlic and fresh rosemary twigs into the “cheese”, dusk on some black pepper, and drizzle some olive oil on top

Step 5: Bake for 20 minutes in a 365*F oven

If you follow the instructions exactly, you should get a more gooey consistency, like the image up top, than what I made, seen in image below. Over time, I’ll figure out what the right thing to do is and make mine more like the real thing. The good part is, even if you mess up, it still tastes amazingly like real cheese. Those garlic sticks in there are the bomb, I will definitely be adding more of them in there next time.

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Taste is king, but I always emphasize nutrition as well. The fact that it’s made from cashews automatically gives this dish a gold star for healthy fats and more (which you can read about here). Nutritional yeast is packed with protein and fiber. You can get a immune system boost from the garlic and much more benefits (read about them here)! But remember to portion out the right amount so you don’t over-indulge, fat is still going to add calories to your daily intake.

For obvious reasons, try to pair it with a vegetable, like carrots and celery, but if you want to indulge, toast some thinly slice baguette and pop open a bottle of wine. At least you have 1 thing that’s good for you.

Enjoy!

Eating healthy day 12: Eating fast is ok

When I’m starving or short on time, I tend to speed up my eating pace, for obvious reasons. I talk about eating slow so your brain can catch up to your stomach “feeling full”. But if you’re crunched on time because you need to get somewhere, eating slow isn’t an option. In that case, just portion out your food and don’t allow yourself to eat anything else afterwards. I mean, you shouldn’t have time to allocate to additional eating if you’re running somewhere right. The important thing is to still pay attention to the act of eating, don’t multi-task. If you do, it’s very likely you would feel like you didn’t even eat, which is bad.

Grocery List — more of the same as previous days…

Home-grown goldenberries!

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This goldenberry plant I planted a few month ago is taking over my windowsill space and growing berries all over the place. It probably grows a few inches a day. Since I don’t have an outdoor space to plant it, it’s just sprawled on top of my Aerogarden for the time being. Despite all the berries growing big really quickly, I’m still having a hard time preventing them from dropping before they turn yellow. So I’ve just been eating them green. They’re still sweet though, but just living up to their fullest potential.

All my plants are grown in water and coconut husk soil, no soil. This mitigates the number of bugs, which I hate. I’m also growing a lemon plant, but it’s not thriving like this goldenberry plant.

I should probably feed my goldenberry plant more nutrients, but I’ve also have had bad experiences with starving the roots of oxygen, so I need to be very careful with the nutrients I feed it. Some of the leafs are turning dry and yellow, but the majority is fine. The yellow flower in the back is pretty small, but has a recognizable design to it. I get about a fruit per flower.

After some reading, seems like the fruit has similar nutritional benefits as a tomato, anti-inflammatory, controls blood sugar and anti-oxidant rich. Seems like most of them are sold dried in stores, but I prefer eating them by peeling the paper lantern on the outside. Also, beware of dried fruit, since they don’t have the water content to help you feel fuller.

In my experience, it’s really easy to grow and it seems to self-pollenate so I don’t have to do anything but wait for the fruits to ripen. I can definitely get behind plants I can eat right away.

Eating healthy day 11: Leftover Basil Chicken Salad

I love Thai food. I can almost always taste sour, sweet, salty, and spicy in Thai dishes. They also tends to be healthier and richer in flavor. Basil Chicken is a Thai dish stable and it’s seasoned with garlic and chili, my favorites. Since I make it at home, I can control how much spice and sugar go into it. If you’re like me and could only shop at an American supermarket, you probably can’t find the bird eye chili peppers and holy basil the original dish calls for. My substitutes were Thai basil that I grew at home and a habanero pepper. I mistakenly used the whole pepper, big mistake. Hence I had a lot of chicken leftover. So I just tossed a few pieces in with my spinach leafs, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and yellow bell pepper. Luckily I had my berry fruit salad at the end to cool my mouth down from the heat. I still love spicy though!

Grocery List:

  • pre-washed baby spinach leafs (best from Costco)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • thai basil (holy basil if you can get your hands on it)
  • this basil chicken recipe
  • chicken breast
  • bird eye chilis (habanero if you dare or can’t find the Thai chilis)
  • garlic
  • yellow bell pepper

Eating healthy day 10: Whole fish with bones

Americans hate eating anything with tiny bones or seeds in it. Having grown up in China, they were just an unavoidable part of eating. I find myself having the patience for certain foods and none of others. I thank the scientists that genetically engineered seedless watermelons. How can GMO be bad when it enabled seedless watermelon a reality???? Animal bones on the other hand, I don’t mind as long as the dish is packed with flavor. Slow cooked whole fish, good. Dim sum chicken feet, good. Slow braised pork feet, good. I also view it as a sort of a game and practice for my tongue so it’s all good.

Grocery List:

  • fish
  • watermelon chunks
  • cabbage
  • seaweed salad

How to think

I finished 2 books over the weekend, “How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds” by Alan Jacobs and “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. 2 authors who contrast each other as day and night, hold very similar beliefs about how one should think, that is, don’t let dissenting voices of others control one’s thoughts.

One should do what one beliefs is right only after one have done enough thinking regarding the subject. Just because a majority of people in a social circle agrees with something, doesn’t mean it’s right and it doesn’t mean one has to agree. One can disagree in a respectful manner and choose to listen to dissent without letting emotions cloud thinking. If one feels the need to argue, one will initiate it by arguing for the view opposite of oneself’s. Arguments and disagreements aren’t battles to be waged. Blunt honesty shouldn’t be thwarted for the good of group cohesion, but it should be managed appropriately like any efficient tool, in the case that it can cause unwanted effects. Accepting that normal and average is part of a long process that will give one more enjoyment in the long run than temporary pleasure.

These 2 books are worth reading at least once a year, for people young and old. Manson’s book is so refreshing and funny, I really couldn’t put it down. On the other hand, I found Jacobs’ book to be a challenging read because his words weren’t made to convince but to provoke.

Honestly, I don’t feel I’m even beginning to summarize the content, but you don’t have to take my words for it. Do a quick search and you’ll find so many reasons to read them. I borrowed mine from the public library, but if you don’t want to wait, you can buy both on Amazon and own it forever. Either way, don’t give yourself excuses to not read them.

I probably illegally procured these 2 pages from Jacobs’ book, but here is a checklist that can be found at the end of the book. My takeaways

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.56.52 AMScreen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.57.00 AM

Here, I leave you with some quotes from Manson’s book as well.

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

“Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

Subtlety # 2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must first give a fuck about something more important than adversity.

Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about.”

Eating healthy day 9: Chinese “dessert”

I posted before about this traditional Chinese sticky rice ball and how it can be both sweet and salty. I definitely prefer the sweet kind because it just tastes like dessert to me, if you’re using American standards. Chinese people don’t have the tradition of eating “dessert”, it’s more like, since eat the sweets with our meal, it’s just, entree, entree, entree. I also find Chinese “desserts” to be much less sweet and oily, which is much healthier in comparison.

Grocery List:

  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Chinese sticky rice ball
  • cabbage stir fry
  • seaweed

Eating healthy day 8: Fresh salad tossed in balsamic vinegar and evoo

Salad is basically a bunch of ingredients, cooked or raw, tossed together. You can make a healthy salad or the unhealthiest, both are technically “salads”. Want a healthy salad? Skip the vinaigrettes, the croutons, in fact, skip any carbs, skip the cheese, and skip the cold cuts. A really good dressing that’s also flavorful is balsamic vinegar (the good kind), salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. As for vegetables, sky is the limit!

Grocery List:

  • spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • yellow bell pepper
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sale & pepper
  • watermelon
  • fish

Eating healthy day 7: Ready to eat good food

Whether you buy pre-cooked packaged food or cook and pack your own, having them sitting ready to be consumed in your fridge is going to save you every time. We tend to reach for our chips and cookies because we can eat them immediately, no heating or cutting required. If you like eating good food and it’s more readily available than your chips (ASSUMING you don’t buy those chips in the first place), it’s no brainer that you’re going to eat good food. That is cravings aside, which is something to discuss another time.

Grocery List:

  • seaweed salad
  • kimchi
  • home-pickled cucumber
  • olives
  • home-pickled garlic
  • cabbage stir-fry
  • pre-packaged hummus
  • baby carrots mini-pack
  • apricot

Eating healthy day 6: Frozen vegetables (& dumplings) are awesome

A really fast way to throw a vegetable dish together is to incorporate frozen vegetables. In my case, I always keep a variety pack in the freezer, which in this case I tossed with my green cabbage. I also really like purple cabbage, it’s just so easy to wash and cut, almost no work at all. Onion is also great. So toss your frozen veggie mix together and you got a quick dish that tastes good and is good for you. Of course if you have the time and talents to make dumplings, just make a bunch and freeze them.

Remember, it’s also ok to leave food on your plate. You don’t have to force yourself to eat everything just because it’s in front of you. You can always pack it up for later. I’m a huge proponent of NOT WASTING FOOD.

Grocery list:

  • watermelon
  • cabbage
  • frozen vegetable (variety pack – string beans, carrots, broccoli)
  • onion
  • homemade dumplings
  • seaweed salad
  • kimchi
  • olive
  • pickled garlic
  • picked cucumber

 

Eating healthy day 5: Let’s talk meal replacement shakes

I ordered 2 cans of protein power a week ago and they finally got delivered; despite my putting the wrong apartment number on the shipping address. Phew! I started bringing them to work to as my lunch. It averages out to less than $2 a meal! The brand is IdealShape. I highly recommend the Super line because of the added superfoods in there, check out the nutrition labels to see for yourself. So far I’ve only tried the vanilla. It is super delicious and tastes just like a milk shake, with just water mixed in.

Grocery List:

  • IdealShape meal replacement shake (Not part of this meal but highly recommend it for lunch. It gives you energy and yummy taste without the drowsiness.)
  • homemade dumplings (chives, eggs, shrimp)
  • apricot
  • watermelon
  • seaweed salad
  • kimchi
  • home-pickled cucumber
  • olives
  • home-pickled garlic
  • cabbage stir-fry

Eating healthy day 4: Be more open minded

Since it’s the summertime, I like to go for light, refreshing and cold dishes. I’m not about to cook a bunch of dishes and stand in a hot kitchen for an hour. In this scenario, simplicity is key. You really only need to add a bit of salt and lemon juice to bring out the natural taste of food. Take avocado for example, there’s just no other flavor quite like it.

I can’t stress the importance of keeping an open mind. Yes, once we become adults, we’ve become very set in our own preferences. Unfortunately, for those of us not open to trying new foods, we are limiting our options and limiting our sources for micronutrients. I’ll take natural food over supplements any day, food taste way better.

Grocery list:

  • pre-cut watermelon slices
  • golden kiwi
  • seaweed
  • cabbage
  • avocado half
  • pickled cucumber
  • kimchi

Eating healthy day 3: Fruit is my BFF

My favorite fruit, the watermelon, is 92% water and 6% sugar. My best memories of eating watermelon is after a few of hours of activities out in the summer sun and then coming back home sweating and feeling super thirsty. It doesn’t even have to be pre-sliced, it just have to be cold, taken straight out of the fridge. It’s the best fruit to eat in the summertime and the perfect replacement for water.

Eating fresh fruit before a meal can be a substitute for chugging water, both taking up space in your stomach and reducing the amount of food you eat per meal.

Grocery list:

  • pre-cut watermelon slices
  • baby carrots
  • seaweed
  • cabbage
  • avocado half
  • sticky rice ball (“粽子“ in Chinese pronounced “zoon zi”)
  • soba noodles

Eating healthy day 2: A treat from childhood

The highlight of this meal is that homemade sticky rice ball called “粽子“ in Chinese pronounced “zoon zi”. Similar to “年糕“ pronounced “nyann goow” , it’s made from sticky rice, jujube, peanuts, red bean, and just about any dried fruit you can think of, all wrapped in the leaf of a reed plant. Yes, it’s vegan and deliciously homemade!

Grocery list:

  • green olives
  • seaweed salad & dried seaweed
  • bamboo shoots in chili oil
  • cabbage (such an underrated superfood! read this article for more info)
  • kimchi
  • baby carrots
  • sticky rice ball (sweet)

 

Determined to eat healthier – vlog begins

I’m determined to eat healthier and hopefully lead by example in convincing others to do the same! Hence, I’m starting a food eating series called “Eating healthy” where I narrate what I’m eating while describing the taste, texture and nutrition info. I’ll also be incorporating other interesting health-related facts. Ideally, I’ll upload one video a day. Not only because I want to, but because it also makes eating alone feel not so lonely. I really get why people make or watch food eating videos…

My goal is to convince you that eating healthy can be very enjoyable and easy. At the center of eating healthy is variety, which I discussed in this recent post titled “I Looked Up What’s in My Salad“. So my focus is to introduce as many healthy dishes as I can and make a grocery list for you the next time you go to a supermarket.

In this first video, I did my shopping at a Chinese grocery store in Chinatown and picked up the following items:

  • soba noodle
  • seaweed salad
  • dried seaweed
  • bamboo shoots in chili oil
  • cabbage (such an underrated superfood! read this article for more info)
  • Chinese broccoli
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • “罗汉斋“ pronounced “looh han jai” which literally translates to monk food
  • garlic

Stay tuned for more videos and grocery lists~

Some biological and psychological truths about weight loss

Muscles are built from exercising. “At rest, one pound of muscle burns three times as many calories every day just to sustain itself—and a lot of those calories that muscle burns off come from fat’s storage units. Your basal (resting) metabolism accounts for 60 to 70 percent of your overall metabolism.”

Not all food you eat are equal. “Simply digesting food—turning carbs into sugar and turning protein into amino acids—typically burns 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories. Digesting protein burns more calories than digesting carbohydrates or fat—about 25 calories for every 100 consumed. Digesting carbohydrates and fat burns about 10 to 15 calories for every 100 consumed.”

When fat in your body is burned, it turns to carbon dioxide and water. “In order to completely breakdown 22 pounds (10 kg) of human fat, we need to inhale 64 pounds (29 kg) of oxygen (and somewhere along the way, burn 94,000 calories). This reaction produces 62 pounds (28 kg) of CO2 and 24 pounds (11 kg) of water.”

Your obesity fighting superpower is you will. We know that if we want to break an addiction, we should simply stop doing it and avoid scenarios that would tempt us to go back to it. Since we can’t stop eating, it’s not as simple giving up our bad eating habits. Each time to say no to “bad” food, we’re digging into will power. Unfortunately we always have a limited supply of it.

Get creative with eating healthy. As the food landscape change each day, we also need to adapt and change our approach to acquiring, preparing and eating our meals. Food companies don’t always have our best interest in mind. You’re the captain of your ship, so take charge of what you’re putting in your mouth. Find your creative solutions to healthier eating that work for you.

Excerpts are taken from these articles:
https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/how-does-your-body-burn-fat
https://www.sciencealert.com/where-body-fat-ends-up-when-you-lose-weight

Set SMART fitness level goals

You’ve probably heard it before, to the point that it makes your eyes glaze over, but keep reading.

  • SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Limited

It’s a mouthful and I totally understand if it seems really complicated. So let me boil it down for you. The 1 thing you should always ask yourself after you’ve decided on a goal for yourself is:

  • Do I realistically think it’s possible to do this?

Psychology points out, the more times we don’t do something we said we were going to do, the harder it gets to do things we say we’ll do. You can think of it as the “liar liar” phenomenon. Why? Simply because, when someone keeps lying to you, you stop believing anything that person says. Now replace that “someone” with “you”.

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If you don’t trust yourself to answer the “Is it achievable” question, ask someone else for his/her honest opinion.

Say something like…

  • Do you think I can cut out added sugar from my diet for a week?
  • Can I bring myself to the gym for at least 3 days this week?
  • Can I complete a 5K run under 40 minutes by next month?
  • For the next month, I’m going to replace any processed food I crave with a natural, unprocessed food.
  • I’m going to start cooking my own meal 5 times a week.

It’s not by chance all these goals seem to provide

  • Specific details as to what exactly I’ll be doing
  • Measurable details as to whether I would be successful or not (i.e. I cooked 5 meals this week, therefore goal accomplished)
  • Relevant to weight loss through causation
  • Time boxing so it doesn’t feel like I’ll be doing it for eternity

Are you ready to start setting goals?

Okay, begin by setting 1 goal or 2 related goals. You really don’t want to overwhelm yourself with more than 2 to keep track of. Once you’ve achieved success on a goal so many times that the goal no longer feels like a challenge, then it’s time to make a new one. Don’t rush things.

When I look back at the past 4 years of my fitness journey, I’ve succeeded and failed so many times. The times that I did succeed are marked a pivotal decision. Something I’m so proud of and would tell it to anyone that would listen is when I kicked my sweet tooth addiction.

I used to always prefer sweet over any other flavor and I would seek out sweets everyday. My goal was to eliminate any food that had added sugar. It forced me to pay attention to my food and make conscious decisions to swap one unhealthy food with another. I could still eat sweets, as long as they occur naturally in the food. Yes, it was hard in the beginning, but so is trying anything new for the first time. I turned that goal into a habit and it’s just a part of me today. I also found myself not liking anything that is overly sweet. An unexpected outcome was the discovery of good food. Good food should have different flavors and textures.

What fitness goals have you achieved that you’re proud of? If you haven’t, what’s your first SMART goal today?

Thanks for reading and spread the health and wealth!

Results of my 1st attempt at making a vegan protein bar

Here are the results from first recipe combination.

The final “cake” weight 1060g. I followed my original proportions with the exception of adding an addition 100g of erythritol in an attempt to make it tastier prior to baking. By my calculations, there’s an excess of 360g of water in the formula I didn’t account for originally. I had to add extra chickpea liquid because the chickpea refused to blend with the coffee grounds and chia seeds.

The cooking procedure was very straightforward, blend coffee beans until fine, add chia seeds and chickpeas and continue blending. Combine blended mixer with protein booster, “sugar” and combine by hand. Press mixture into cooking pan and bake for 20 minutes at 350*F.

Taste – 2/5 

I cut off a corner piece and tested it. I was surprised by the fact that I didn’t get hit by a truckload of coffee flavor. I also didn’t get a lot of coffee smell as the protein bar was baking, in fact, there was no smell at all. Coffee is the first flavor I taste and a mild sweetness. There was also a subtle aftertaste that reminded me of this Chinese dessert 绿豆糕 (Mung bean cake).

Texture – 3/5 

I was really concerned about its ability to hold together due to a lack of liquid in the dough. I even had to combine the ingredients by hand. However, the surprise was that it was fairly moist and springy. The chia seeds that stayed intact provided an added crunch, which make it quite fun to eat. After a few seconds of chewing, I felt my mouth becoming dry and the food becoming more jello-like. I suspect it’s due to the soluble fiber starting to absorb water and entering into a gel-like state. I would definitely drink something with it.

Presentation – 4/5 

I thought the protein bar looked very normal, not unappetizing at all. It has flakes of coffee ground and chia seeds dotting the surface. It looks like a very healthy snack.

Side effects?

I definitely felt the caffeine. I did some math and I says I ate about 20mg of caffeine in my 30g portion, but somehow it felt like a full cup of coffee. I want to try eating it before and after a workout to test its effects. After I ate the bar, I lost all urges to keep eating. I did also eat dinner right before so I don’t know for sure. I’ll have to test it on an empty stomach.

What would I change?

I wonder if it’s worthwhile trying to update the proportions of ingredients or try something new altogether. I want to try a different flavor because this was very one-dimensional with coffee at its center. I really want to try making a savory version of it.

I would eat it but I don’t think think other people would want to eat it. Try it maybe, but I’m afraid they won’t want to try new batches in the future. I’ll just have to get through the rest of my first batch myself. I cut them up into 18-29g portions and placed them in a ziplock bag in the fridge.

More to come!

 

 

Attempt to Make My Own Protein Bar PART I

We are well into the spring season in NYC and this previous post I made caught my eyes. It’s a good reminder of just how much work it is to eat better. Nowadays, I find myself just eating a lot of calories because I feel hungry. That’s how I know I’m building muscles again. Remember, the more muscles you have, the faster your body burns calories. Your body will alert you of this change via the feeling of hunger. If my goal is just to build muscles, I would be fine to let nature dictate my behavior. However, because I want to build muscles AND lose fat at the same time, I need to restrict my eating. But nobody likes being hungry.

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When I’m hungry, all rationality and resolution go out the window. I’m pretty sure that applies to everyone. If you know that’s you, I have a tip for you. Keep a protein bar and a bottle of water on you at all times! It’s not a miracle and it’s not magic, it’s science.

Here’s how it works. There are 3 key elements that work to eliminate the feeling of hunger: fiber, water and protein. The fiber combines with water and immediately fills up your stomach. The protein provides needed energy and keeps your digestive organs busy, too busy to signal your brain. No signal, no hunger. If you’ve ever tried drinking your hunger away, then you would know it doesn’t work.

I could buy the protein bars, but I know there are unknown things in them that I don’t want getting into my body.  Same goes for protein powder. I know a lot of people turn to them because they’re just so convenient and inexpensive. Also, the idea of making your own protein bar may seem daunting and riddled with failure. Then again, if I want a good outcome, I need to start with a plan.

First, I need to make an ingredient list. Some came from seeing what is put in prepackaged protein powder and are my own.

Recipe v1.0 – Cold Brew Bar

  • Chickpeas (base)
  • Chia seeds (base)
  • Booster
  • Erythritol (sweetness)
  • Coffee ground (taste)

I’m in the midst of collecting my ingredients, which I’ll gather my base from any grocery store, made my purchases on Amazon and plan on getting the coffee grounds from Starbucks when I’m ready to make the bars.

I’m thinking I’ll pressure cook the chickpeas and then throw everything together in a pan to cook out some moisture. Target for the weight of the bar is 60g. Per bar, I would mix:

  • Chickpeas – 10g
  • Chia seeds – 15g
  • Booster – 26g
  • Erythritol – 6g
  • Coffee ground – 3g

Based on that, I did a quick calculation: fat (7.58g), carb (23.49g), protein (17.26g), fiber (15.60g). Since fiber is part of carb total, I should have <10g of starch/sugar. I also lost a few grams of stuff, so give or take total calories per bar to be only around 170kcal per bar. That’s really good! Yes, a little under than half of the ingredients consist of the booster, which drives up the price of the bar. But considering how hard it is to make that at home, it’s worth it. One package of booster can made 20 bars, so it averages out to $1 per bar. Everything else is really cheap, so all good.

I am a little worried about all the ingredients holding together, but hopefully the plant gelatin in aquafaba (chickpea water) and chia seeds will act like good binding agents. Yay, I can’t wait to make it and get a taste!

Stay tuned for Part II to see how they turn out. Enter your email and hit the “Follow” button to the left to receive alerts whenever I make a new post.

Dill & Parsley Restaurant NYC

I want to talk about another favorite healthy fast-bite restaurant of mine in the city—Dill & Parsley. No, I don’t garner enough attention for this post to be sponsored; none of my posts are sponsored for that matter.

When you work in midtown, you have a lot of choices for lunch. Just the other day, I talked about Bocca Bliss as a great go-to for large salads that can sustain me for days. I also gave a tip on healthy eating, which is, “Variety is king. The more diverse in the species of food you’re eating, the healthier you’ll be.” If you don’t know what that means, definitely go read this.

If you take a look at their menu (I grabbed it from their site here), look at the variety of plant species they offer. It can get a bit intimidating to order if it’s your first time, so I’ll break it down for you and give you my order as an example along with some tips.

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I always go with the Bowl (step 1). For value loving people out there like myself, you can load up on all of the Bases (step 2) if you want and I mean ALL of them! I usually go with wheat rice, shepard salad, eggplant + veggies, classic tomato sauce. I’m not going to talk about the other styles because I’m convinced you should get a Bowl.

For Protein (step 3), I have always, always gotten the spicy falafel. Their policy is that it’s always made fresh. I’ve actually seen them ball up the chickpea mixture and cook them. That makes a huge difference in the taste and texture. I firmly believe their mixture has the perfect density—it holds its shape really well, but it immediately falls apart in your mouth when you start to chew. If don’t know what they put in there, but I’ve never tasted anything like it. Lastly, I love that the spice actually has a kick. I can eat spicy so I’m always disappointed when a food is advertised as “spicy” but is really mild in my opinion. If you like spicy, you won’t be disappointed. Since I’ve never tried the other protein options, I can’t vouch for them.

The only disappointment is I can only pick 2 items out of the Spreads, Salads, Veggies section (step 4). I’ve always, always gotten the beet + kale salad and zucchini + dill veggies. I’m really convinced though that you can’t go wrong with any 2. I’ve tired superfood salad, it quite refreshing with the shredded cabbages and diced green apple chunks.

Finally, the Toppings (step 5). You get unlimited toppings so try them all if you want. If you haven’t guessed it, I always, always get the spicy marash. I don’t know what’s in there, but it has all my favorite flavors: spicy, salty, tangy. I’ve had pickled stuff before, too salty and sour for my taste. Very important tip here, get the sauce on the side. Otherwise, they throw the sauce all over your falafel and other stuff that I might not want sauce on.

If I had to guess, in my bowl of wheat rice, shepard salad, eggplant + veggies, classic tomato sauce, spicy falafel, beet + kale salad, and zucchini + dill veggies, topped with spicy marash, there are at least 15 plant species. Talk about efficient healthy eating! I can also taste the care that went into sourcing the raw ingredients. My bowl comes out to $11.25 total! I really can’t think of any other restaurant that can beat the value and the wealth of ingredients.

Like I’ve started to say, spread the wealth and the health by passing this along!

 

Updated Hummus Recipes

Reasons I don’t buy hummus in stores anymore is because it’s SO EASY to make! Here’s a recipe I posted back in 2014! The jalapeno hummus recipe is still solid, but these new additions of ingredients definitely elevates the outcome.

So assuming you follow my previous suggestion of making your own hummus from dried chickpeas, you now have a few cups of cooked hummus to work with. You can also use canned chickpeas, whichever you find more efficient. I’m also a season to taste person, which I also recommend you to do in this case.

Here are your base ingredients that applies to all hummus recipe:

  • Chickpeas
  • Sesame paste or sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic

Beet Sriracha Hummus: Add a can of beets, drained and Sriracha

Spinach Basil Hummus: Add a few handfuls of frozen spinach and fresh basil

I find that garlic adds a lot of flavor to the recipe, so I add at least 1 large clove per cup of cooked hummus. For lemon juice, I buy the pre-squeeze bottle, but fresh is always better and I like to use a lot, 1/2 tablespoon per cup. At the end of the day though, you should go with your preferences and add as much or as little of seasonings as they suit your taste. Just remember, be generous with the salt to highlight flavoring.

I make a lot every time, but hummus stores really well. I just put it in a large container and take some out each day to eat. You can be fancy and buy small containers for convenient grab and go snacks.

I think hummus goes especially well with carrots, but even if you don’t eat them with a vegetable, you are eating vegetables because they’re inside the hummus! Since both beet and spinach don’t have their own taste, you won’t even notice them in there. It’s a great way to add more vegetables to your diet.

I also love making it for any gatherings because it goes so well as a dip. I prefer the beet version because it’s on the sweeter side of savory because of the natural sugar in beets. I’ve had friends say they like the basil spinach because it tastes very refreshing. Which one do you like better?

Please read, comment and share. Spread the wealth and the health all!