Monday, November 14, 2011

Over It - Atkins Phase 2,3,4, I'm Out The Door!

I regret to announce that I'm over this whole Atkins diet. I have not lost a single pound for over 3 weeks despite following the program religiously and upping my exercise. Patience is not my forte! BUT, its not like I've completely given up and having buffets everyday. I've just decided that being on such a strict regime with no results for three weeks was just too stressful. So now that I have relaxed and started introducing a bit more fruit and veg portions, I've lost 1lb. I know I'm too focused on the lbs but I'm still inches away from fitting back into my old jeans. I don't know how else to monitor the weight loss. Sigh... Meanwhile, i've outgrown my recent pair of fat jeans. Woohoo! They are too loose to wear now! Yay! 

My friend P was inspired by my Atkins regime and she recently dropped 5kg in 3 weeks. She didn't even follow it religiously. She ate lots of meat and way much more than recommended limit for cheese. And zero exercise. So there you go, everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you. The important thing is, we try. I have tried and yes it does give results super fast and that is great for boosting morale. The other thing is, my skin texture improved. Amazing. Sugar really is bad for the skin. The drawbacks of this diet for me is that it has screwed up my menstrual cycle and I have trouble going to the toilet. Seriously I really need to eat LOTS of veg to keep myself regular. Perhaps that was over-sharing a little but you need to know that so take some psyllium husk every morning. It kinda helps but nothing beats fresh vegetables. 

Pan-fried fish with avocado & tomato salsa and salad - super satisfying!

So my last two weeks of Atkins, and then blood test to find out if/how Atkins has affected my insides.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Atkins; Phase Two minus One, Week 4

I'm not sure what happened but the weight loss stalled. Perhaps I moved too quickly onto O.W.L. My weight just wasn't shifting despite following the diet exactly. I still exercised 3-4 times a week and ate my 20g of carbs + 5g of new foods from O.W.L. I decided maybe it was the melon? So I've stopped eating that and I cut back on the strawberries too. Instead of having it everyday as a snack, I'm having it every other day. In the last 3 days, I'm finally back on track with a 2lb weight loss. Weight loss to date is 14lbs. I guess I need to stick on Induction a bit longer as this weight loss is more stubborn than my mother. 

On Wednesday I had severe sugar cravings. I haven't felt this way at all throughout the pass 3 weeks. I very nearly caved. I even contemplated diabetic chocolate! I must've stood at the aisle staring and reading all the labels for a good 10 minutes. Finally, Hunky came to the rescue and reminded me that 1) diabetic chocolate sucks and 2) I'd only be cheating myself. Such a supportive husband! The next morning, the feeling was gone. Wow, I came so close to giving up. Sigh, I really, really do miss my sugar. Last night, I did have one chocolate covered almond. It came all the way from Spain! I felt incredibly guilty but Hunky (again) reminded me that this is a long term thing and I shouldn't be so hard on myself for eating one miserable chocolate almond. So instead of feeling bad, I went for a jog this morning. 

Lunch - grilled chicken salad with avocado, ham & balsamic dressing

Thanks everybody for the encouragement. Its a constant battle with my inner sugar demon. Its only been 4 weeks but it feels more like 4 months. 4 more weeks to go! I think I'm going to have to up my exercise too. Will keep you posted!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atkins: Phase Two - O.W.L

I made it! Its been 17 days since I started Atkins and I'm still alive! I thought I'd just dieeeh from sugar and carb deprivation. Drama much? So now I am in the second phase of Atkins which is Ongoing Weight Loss or OWL for short. Like Harry Potter but not quite as magical. Sigh. So this week, I can up my carb intake by a whole 5g! Woohoo. You know I am being sarcastic right? Whats 5g? Basically 1/2 cup of strawberries. I know, sounds really lame huh? But I've been so deprived that I am ever so grateful for that sweet, sweet taste of strawberries! I can also eat raspberries and blueberries but who can bloody afford those here? My other fruit choices are rockmelon and honeydew which fantastic! It has a great sugary hit and I thought I wouldn't be able to stop myself from eating more but surprisingly, I managed to stay satisfied with that tiny portion (half cup) of rockmelon.

On the scales, it has been impressive. 11lbs to date but I don't really feel it. My clothes feel more or less the same. Okay, maybe I can breathe a little better in them but more importantly, I can breathe a little better when I'm exercising! Scary, my poor heart must've been working so hard. Breakfast remains a challenge. I've been having omelettes. Cheese and tomato, plain cheese, cheese and mushroom, mushroom and chicken, etc... Sigh. I've had soft boiled eggs several times just for a change. This morning I had scrambled eggs and sauteed mushrooms. Super rich as I used 1/4 cup of cream for the eggs. Very satisfying. I think I might go buy some bacon for breakfast this weekend. Yum. 

My afternoon snack! Grilled chicken with homemade mayo, hard boiled egg (white) and alfalfa sprouts

So my challenge now is slowly adding different foods from the carb ladder. I'm suppose to go slowly, adding 5g of carbs each week while monitoring my weight loss. If I continue to lose weight, then I can keep adding til I find my limit. This is going to be a battle for me because I am so impatient. I guess it would help once I'm able to have a bigger variety of foods to select from. Until then, lovely glorious pieces of fruit!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Atkins; Phase One - Induction

I have been on a diet for the past two weeks. It came to a point where I was just feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. And I can’t even say its baby weight because I put it on after I gave birth. I made the mistake of eating like I was still breastfeeding except I wasn’t. So all those naughty calories just stuck and BAM! Suddenly I had put on 7kgs! I was 3kgs from my baby weight when Her Madesty was 3 months old. How could I have let this happen? Instead of losing 3kgs, now I have to lose 10kgs! Sob! So, it was time for drastic measures. No, I couldn’t “just cut down on the food'. If I could just control my eating habits, I wouldn’t have found myself in this predicament in the first place.

I did a little shopping around on the net for diets. There are so many out there but the two that shows consistent results have got to be Atkins and Dukan. My friend is on the Dukan diet and she swears by it. Its quite similar to the Atkins philosophy but I think it is less severe in terms of its variety but its also less tasty as it doesn’t allow for any oil or fats. So with that in mind, I embarked on the first phase of Atkins; Phase One - Induction. A grueling 2 weeks of protein and total net carbs of 20g. I soon discovered how little 20g of carbs are! Anything vaguely fun and tasty naturally has more carbs. I can eat cups and cups of lettuce and that would be fine. But ¼ cup of pumpkin and I’ve already used up ¼ my daily net carb. Do you know how little ¼ cup of pumpkin is? Its tear-jerkingly little! I also look back and think that I must've had 1000g of carbs a day previously. 

I needed to do this diet because I really had to break my bad habit of snacking. Its pretty bad as I'm so use to eating a little here and a little there. I can't blame it all on work either. So since I can’t have sugar and carbs anymore so why bother snacking right? The first three days I really missed my sugary snacks and resorted to snacking on beetroot. Beetroot! Is this what you skinny ass people do? Snack on beetroot? Its so sad.

Atkins definitely gives you results but its not without controversy. After all, eating so much meat and practically zero carbs can’t be good for you. I read about Atkins being bad for your kidneys and cholesterol. So I decided to test it for myself. I did a blood test 4 days into my diet. My cholesterol, as expected, was over the healthy limit. I was relieved to find that it was only my LDL (bad cholesterol) that was elevated. My HDL (good cholesterol) was well within the norm as was my Triglyceride levels. My kidney and liver function were good. And the only thing that showed the symptoms of Atkins was found in my urine sample. Ketones. (Lifted from Wiki - Ketones are metabolic end-products of fatty acid metabolism. In healthy individuals, ketones are formed in the liver and are completely metabolized so that only negligible amounts appear in the urine. However, when carbohydrates are unavailable or unable to be used as an energy source, fat becomes the predominant body fuel instead of carbohydrates and excessive amounts of ketones are formed as a metabolic byproduct. Higher levels of ketones in the urine indicate that the body is using fat as the major source of energy.) So the good news was, my body was beginning to burn fat but the bad news was, I was dehydrated. I swear I drink close to 4 litres of water a day but I’m constantly parched.

Homemade fishballs with chicken broth, choy sum and spicy chili sauce.

There is a misconception that you can have as much fat and protein as you like. They encourage a sensible amount of good fats and only about 170-220g of protein each meal. So while technically I can eat a whole turkey for lunch, its probably not a good idea. I am conscious of what all this protein might be doing to my body so I try to eat mainly fish followed by chicken and hardly any beef and pork. Do I feel hungry? Honestly, no because protein really fills me up. The only thing is, I still really miss my sugar. I dream about having chocolate cake. Sigh. And the only sugar substitute allowed is Splenda. I bought a packet and it sucks!! I’ve never bothered with artificial sweeteners so maybe that’s why I think its gross. It sucks so bad that I don’t bother putting it in my coffee anymore. The taste is not even close to sugar and the taste stays in my mouth for hours. Gross. It’s amazing how everything taste so amazing once you start appreciating the simple things again. I had grilled salmon with fennel salad and it just tasted soooo good. The salmon tasted so sweet and the fennel really packed a punch in terms of flavour. I was totally satisfied because everything was just so tasty. 

That’s the thing about Atkins. You really have to spend time planning your menu and buying good quality produce. And that’s why Atkins is a very expensive diet! I’ve more than doubled my weekly grocery budget. For me, if I was going to do this, I would do it right. I've followed the diet exactly. Which makes life a little harder but its so worth it. I can still go out to eat but at selected restaurants where I know I can have lean proteins. Japanese is always good. I just have sashimi and some teppanyaki. I know it would be easy to reach for the quick options like sausages and canned meats but I just don't want to go down that road. That would be like replacing one bad habit with another. Having said that, I did have a couple of sausages and chicken wings at a friend's barbecue over the weekend. See, its still a pretty sociable diet. Oh, but I guess it would be a big turn-off for drinkers as you can't have any alcohol at all during these two weeks. 

Today is the last day of my two week induction on Atkins. I’ve lost 9lbs. That’s a little over 4kgs. (I switched my digital scale to lbs because its more fun seeing the pounds come off!). I’m almost halfway to my goal. I think it probably helps that I’m fitting in some form of exercise at least 3 times a week. I’m ready to move on to Phase 2 of Atkins: Ongoing Weight Loss. I get to introduce some fruit! Yay! 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Quest for the perfect Victoria Sponge

Its often said the best things in life are a slice of victoria sponge with a cup of earl grey. Or something like that. I love a good sponge. Its the perfect balance of cake. Light, fun but with some depth unlike its airy fair-weather friend the chiffon. Mind you, I love a good pandan chiffon too. Sigh, what can I say? I just love cakes! So anyway, my sister requested for a Victoria Sponge cake for her birthday and being the good sister that I am, I made her one! When it comes to all things English, there can only one guru to turn to and thats Delia of course. She even has illustrations of 4 different sponges that have slight variations in the recipe. Studying her all-in-one recipe, I had serious doubts it would work. Gasp! Yes, I doubted Delia! Forgive me D! I'll never question you again. It just sounded too simple. So of course I went for the harder one even though she specifically said the all-in-one "is the best sponge of all". Me stupid yes. I tried the classic and honestly not worth the effort. Not that its so complicated but the all-in-one is amazingly idiot-proof. Trust me, I'm an idiot.

Don't expect a sponge like the ones in local bakeries here. This is a full-bodied PG13 version. 

Delia Smith's All-in-One Sponge
110g self raising flour + 1 tsp baking powder
110g butter (or margarine) at room temperature
110g caster sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 drops vanilla essence

To finish: icing sugar, jam, lemon curd or fresh cream

Pre-heat oven to 170C and line 2 x 7" round tins with greaseproof paper

1) Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Sift from good height to give the flour a good airing
2) Simply add all the other ingredient into the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. If the mixture doesn't drop off a wooden spoon easily, add 1-2 tbls hot water to loosen.
3) Divide between the 2 tins and bake for 30 mins ( I found I only needed 20 mins in my oven)
4) Pop it out of the tins and cool on a wire rack the moment they come out of the oven. (Yes, its freaking hot to handle but don't question Delia!). Peel of the paper carefully.
5) Once cooled, spread generously with jam and freshly whipped cream. Y-U-M-M-Y!

6) If you want more depth to the cake, increase mixture to 175g of flour, sugar (I only use 110g) and butter and use 3 eggs. Allow extra 5-10mins cooking time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lazy, Hazy Sunday

Just when I thought the worst of the haze was over, I wake up to a thick blanket of smog hovering the usually beautiful KL skyline. Sigh... Its been a long time since my last post. Who has time to blog these days? Besides, its not like I've had much opportunity to dine out these days. So I guess I'm writing because Her Madesty has gone out to Gran's and I did manage to eat at a few new places recently. But, I'm not going to write about that today. Instead, I'll just say "Hello" with breakfast this morning.

Jamie Oliver's pancakes with bacon & maple syrup. This picture was actually taken a while back. This morning we had it with back bacon which just didn't taste quite as nice. Its a great pancake recipe and soooo easy. Love it!

3 eggs, separated
115g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
pinch salt
140ml milk

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks and set aside. Combine all the other ingredients together. Fold in 1/4 of egg whites into mixture to loosen in. Then fold in remainder of egg whites. Heat non-stick pan on medium heat and pour 1 ladle full of pancake mixture in. Wait until bubbles start to appear on surface before flipping over. Voila! Makes 5 x 5" (diameter) pancakes.

Happy Sunday everybody!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Porky Pizzas at 101 Express

Thin crust pizza with REAL salami!
With shopping malls sprouting faster than fungus in this country, the older malls fade away into the dusty background of our minds. Gone were the heydays of Ampang Park, Yow Chuan Plaza and Lot 10. Nobody wants to wander in their dark and gloomy corridors anymore. Well, Lot 10 has had a revamp but theres still something quite gloomy about the place. One dusty old shopping mall is still buzzing with youthful energy and thats my favourite, Sungei Wang Plaza. This place is great! You can buy almost anything here! Its been a while since I've been and I'm happy to see that its still crazy busy on a weekday. However, I am very sad that HK Noodle House is no longer there. Replaced by Snow freaking Flake?! Com'onnnn! Anyway I digress. So I hear about this pizza place with porky toppings and I think, "Finally!". After all, 90% of the people in there are Chinese! How come its taken this long eh? Oh well, better late than never.

101 Express is a small kiosk located just inside the Sungei Wang entrance of the skybridge that links Lot 10 and Sg Wang together. Its a takeaway place with several bar stools for dining at the counter. Its not a big menu but I always believe in quality over quantity anyway. We tried the salami pizza, siew yoke & capsicum and the bacon & egg pizza. Sis ordered a soft drink and asked for ice but they didn't have any. We didn't have to wait very long at all. Soon our pizzas literally came out of the oven and onto our plates. Love the thin crust and the assortment of porky toppings! My favourite was the bacon & egg. Generous bacon bits and a barely set egg yolk. Yum! How can you go wrong with that combination really. Pizzas cost RM16 each and can feed two or one hungry person. I'd like to go back and try the nam yue pizza. Should be quite interesting. Chinese cheese?

101 Express - 1st Floor Sungai Wang Plaza (same floor as Esquire Kitchen). Tel 0162038747

Monday, February 28, 2011

Levain Boulangerie Pattisserie

When my mum first told me about this bakery I thought she was trying to tell me that it was Lavender. I couldn't help it because she kept saying "La something. La wane...La wen..." She had brought back an assortment of buns and she was telling us how busy and packed to the brim the bakery was. After tasting their little pizzas, I decided to go check it out. What a dumb idea to go after lunch because the place was just heaving with office people. I can't believe its an actual stand alone bungalow right next to Fukuya on Jalan Delima. The moment I stepped inside my first thought was "Ipoh"! Firstly the twee decor but more importantly, the hordes of Chinese people! Never have I seen such a big gathering of Chinese people in 1) a bakery and 2) a porkless bakery!

This place is huge! There is the bakery to the left when you walk in and the rest of it is dining area that extends upstairs. I was disappointed that they didn't have much left on offer at the bakery. Or rather nothing that interest me. I saw people crowding around the chocolate log bread. A striped log of soft white bread with streaks of chocolate. It just tastes like you've been too stingy with the chocolate spread. They have a maple flavoured one too which I'm sure is probably more exciting. I like the mini pizzas which are crisp and not doughy like at most bakeries. And the mushroom cheese bun is yummy as is the cream cheese danish. We sat down to have a coffee and I must say, the coffee is better than a lot of restaurants I have been to in KL. I also sampled their macarons which must be the cheapest in town. (They are RM3.60 a piece if you buy 1-3 and he price drops to RM3.00 each when you buy more than 10). There is a reason why they are cheap too. They weren't bad per se. The texture is nice and its a little on the sweet side but they don't use real fruit to flavour their macarons. I particularly enjoyed the junky taste of the orange macaron with its orange essence because I love my orange creams! The colours are rather vivid in various neon shades.

I don't mean to sound like I'm slagging the place off because I do like some of their stuff but honestly I don't get what the big deal is. The bread here is just like every other bakery in KL. Yes, they have some more exciting flavours on offer such as the mentaiko baguette but at the end of the day, its still soft fluffy sweet white bread.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

F by Buffalo Kitchen

Yes, the name of the restaurant is F. Like most people, Hunky and I read it as just Buffalo Kitchen. I was anticipating the opening of this restaurant as the black hoarding looked like it was going to deliver something sexy and unique. Boy was I wrong. With the arrival of Bean, dining out is rare opportunity which Hunky and I cherish. So one Sat afternoon, with Bean safely snoozing at my mother-in-law's, we headed to Bangsar for lunch. Hunky wanted to try Plan B but unfortunately they were full and I refused to queue. Queue for Plan B? You must be joking. So we headed to F instead. The upside on being on the first floor is the natural light flowing in from the windows. I guess the drawback would be the lack of traffic. An open kitchen greets you when first walk in. The cake display looked promising while the smell of coffee was intoxicating and that was a plus for me. We weren't sure what to expect judging from the appearance from the restaurant. The menu was a mishmash of japanese infused "western" food. I must say, absolutely nothing appealed to me while reading the menu. And the one thing that I was veering towards was unavailable. So I settled for a seared tuna salad and tenderloin steak while Hunky ordered soft shell crab and risotto. We settled into our surroundings and according to the information that was printed on the place mat, F prides themselves on serving simple, healthy and quality food.

We were given some bread and fifteen minutes later my salad arrived. Fresh mixed leaves with slices of seared tuna in a miso dressing. It was pretty good as the tuna was nicely done and the miso was a nice balance of sweet and salty. However, I was done eating my salad before Hunky's starter arrived. His soft shell crab done "two ways" consisted of two pergedil-looking cakes and a small piece of deep fried soft shell crab. Again, they were pleasant enough. Like I said earlier, it really was like pergedil as it was more potato and spices than anything. My sesame steak was a total miss. It came with some lotus root and fennel salad. The taste just didn't gel together for me. The sauce was really bland and the fennel salad was way too tart for the steak. Hunky's salmon was straight foward without any hint of japanesy influence. It was a nice and creamy risotto with a firm bite to the rice. Overall it was an average dining experience but we won't be returning anytime soon. Not because it was bad but because we just don't like the fusion, non-descript menu.

F by Buffalo Kitchen is located above Chawan in Bangsar.
69-1 Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, KL. Tel 03 22011710

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

Looking back, 2010 in food shots. Left to right from top:

1. Towards the end of my pregnancy I had serious cravings for ice kacang. This was from my favourite cheap and cheerful restaurant Suka at One Residency (Jalan Nagasari).
2. Succuling pig in Ipoh - my parent's hometown and pure evil to the waistline
3. You know I can't resist fried beehoon! This one was from a teochew restaurant along Jalan Pahang. Eventhough it looks rather anaemic but its very delicious and aromatic thanks copious amounts of salted fish and pork lard.
4. My all time favourite tiramisu cake from Alexis but alas, 2010 marked the year of a definite downturn in quality. I hereby announce I will no longer be eating this cake anymore after several very disappointing visits in 2010.
5. The best ramen I've had in a long time! Marutama Ramen in Fahrenheit 88. O-M-G! Have you ever tasted anything so buttery?! Its like butter broth. Farck! How can it go wrong really?!
6. Strolling along the aisles in Selfridges, Hunky and I spotted Baconnaise! Sounds wrong but you know you get in there with a spoon.
7. Red velvet cake - this decade's tiramisu?
8. The magical world of Heston Blumenthal. The most unforgettable meal of 2010.
9. Pregnancy cravings once more at The Daily Grind. Chicken maryland! Fried chicken with onion gravy, grilled bananas, coleslaw and cornbread. Is that a complete meal of what?!
10. Lots of baking done in 2010 - will I have time now that the bun is out of the oven?
11. Roast pork at Yut Kee - love my weekend brunches here.
12. My last holiday for a looong time I think. "Chan village noodles" in Shenzen. Moreish! Who needs to shop when you can eat all day?!

Wow! I know I say this every year but really, 2010 really went by in a flash. It was made even more apparent because I was pregnant. I remember the denial and shock when I first found out and the next thing I knew I was waddling and peeing every 15 minutes and then pop! Welcome baby! Seriously, I want to apply the brakes because I want to savour every minute which seems to fly by like nanoseconds. And here I am, the last day of confinement (wheeee!) and baby is almost a month old. 2010 was a ride. It was fun, a little scary for the fainthearted (me) and exciting. I really truly feel blessed. I am so thankful for my friends who have provided me with laughter and comfort. For my husband who makes me laugh and makes me feel safe, gorgeous, loved and adored (thank you for not running away during the hormonal days!). For my family who irritate the hell out of me sometimes but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Heres to 2011! Wishing all of us a year of discovery, peace, friendship, deliciousness, love and laughter! Happy new year!