Saturday, July 31, 2010

July Bento Days (4)

I finally got the 4 tier tiffin box from Target and was excited to use it today for a family picnic outing. As we had to drive about 3 hours to get to our themed park destination, I figured that we wouldn't waste time dining in a restaurant and miss out an hour having fun at the park with the kids instead. I had never packed this amount of food and a little prep the night before is essential to give me efficiency in the morning. My family really enjoyed the food and I am ready to do it again for the next trip!

Sushi Rice with Furikake and Nori. Very quick to make with rice moulds and to prevent them sticking to each other in a compact space, I placed them each in mini aluminum cupcake liners. Rice vinegar was added to the rice prior to shaping into balls which acts both as flavoring and preservative agent. There are many information about bacteria developing on cooked rice if they are left at room temperature for too long and must be refrigerated immediately. I grew up with rice and I am not sure on how true or harmful is it about this info, but the Japanese recipes that I have did recommend adding rice vinegar and salt to the sushi rice as preservative.

Oven baked chicken strips. I used chicken breast meat and sliced them thin, marinated in cooking oil, Dijon mustard, pepper and some dried herbs overnight. I coated them in Panko and baked them at 400F for 35 mins. While they are baking, all I needed to do was make the sushi rice balls and packed them. The chicken strips must be cooled before packing to avoid condensation and getting soggy. I like using Panko better than usual breadcrumbs as it tastes lighter and because of its coarser texture, it actually coats better and evenly.

Boiled corn, hard boiled eggs and sliced tomato. All these can be done overnight and stored in the fridge. The last box contained whole plums and peaches. The contents were enough to feed 3 adults and 2 kids! Bento Lesson: You can be frugal and healthy if you want to! :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Diet & Exercise (Pt.2)

When comes to weight loss, how much is enough? Is it ever enough or forever not enough? I am in that limbo now as I feel that I cannot stop losing and always wanting to see the numbers drop on the weighing scale.

Almost completing my 7 months of intense exercise regime on the treadmill with reduced food amount intake, my initial target of 20lbs had been reached and now I am going for a maximum of 15lbs more. Despite my gung-ho attitude, I admit that when I first started, I feared that I will give up and set out to disappoint again. Between the exercise and diet, the former was excruciating to live with in the first few months and pushing the momentum from a mere 100 Kcals at the slow pace of 2.8 miles per hour to a 300 Kcals walk at a higher pace of 3.5 miles per hour nearly made my heart pop out of my body! Literally speaking, there is really no pain , no loss in terms of exercise. And now able to do 500 Kcals at the faster pace of 4.5 miles per hour, there is nothing I fear anymore. It is amazing how a transformation in one's body size can also trigger a change of perception of things in the mind. When I compared my old photos and my real image now, I wondered how did I do it and now I really believe that we can take charge on how our body becomes and it took me all these years to realize that I was so in denial then!

These days, I frown everytime I hear a comment that a dress is cute and one should buy it. Hey, yes the dress is cute, but on an overweight body, it won't serve its purpose. I will never ever laugh at fat people since I have been one before but I cannot help thinking on how uncomfortable it is to move around with all the excess bulge and feel thankful that I realized in time before getting to the stage of obesity.

So, what is my next plan? When I reached my first plateau effect last month at my 18lbs mark, I nearly give up. It took a whole 3 weeks to recharge again and convince my body that I still need to gather my inner strength to go on losing. The body has a life of its own, and as they say, it has a memory and exercise and diet patterns needed to be changed in order to jolt the muscles and awake them to work again. Sounds very Frankenstein but very true! What I did was  increased the exercise amount and changed to a diet higher in protein of salmon and occasional chicken meat with high intake of fruits and vegetables. I hate fad diets and cannot seem to follow any and instead of following blindly on other people's plans, I went and figured out on what to eat and how to exercise. As Jillian Michaels said, all you need to do is to convince yourself to do it with intensive workout and eat well. And counting calories is the best method! And now the pounds are disappearing again. And I am planning to increase to 700 Kcal loss per day as I am pretty comfortable at the 500 Kcals stage now. The idea is to pump up the heart rate and feel the effect of muscles tension everywhere.

Someone asked me if I will live like this for the rest of my life, giving up on good food indulgence and making every bite a calorie counting moment! To me, this is a lifestyle change that I am adapting to for the rest of my life and sure I can indulge if I want to, but being more selective rather than acting on greediness and the glutton appetite for every morsels and tit bits can be workable. Buffets will be erased from my kind of eating and quality really matters more than quantity. And skipping today's exercise means I have to do double  tomorrow. That is my motivation to get on the treadmill everyday.

New batch of food that I find helpful: canned salmon in spinach wrap with baby tomatoes; grapefruit and pears. Steamed Broccoli and whole wheat bread. And powdered drinks of a mixture of black rice and black sesame seeds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July Bento Days (3)

Summer vacation and all I want to do in the kitchen is making Bento lunches for my kids. The possibilities of designs and colors are just endless and I am always happy when making them. I didn't grow up with home packed lunches and possibly, that was one of the reason that I was an overweight kid and teenage throughout the years from all the canteen food. Eating healthy is my mission now and it only takes determination and some passion to encourage my kids from young to stay healthy and eat the right food and the Bento boxes are a great helper! Making and doing lunch has never been this much fun!

Just a simple bento of Pork & Basil Patties with steamed Broccoli, peas and corn. I made the usual Japanese omelette and placed the nori sheet on top before rolling it up to cook completely in the pan. I love to collect mini punches from my local craft store and small accents from cut out nori saves me time and makes any plain Bento looks interesting!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July Bento Days (2)

After a whole month of excitement and disappointment, the quest for the World Cup in the soccer world will finally end today! Throughout the whole month, I have learned to watch the game and although I am still half fluent in the rules and kicks of the games, what I most enjoyed from this World cup was how all the underdog teams have outperformed and made the whole game very interesting and a thrill to watch! The big teams with their famous players didn't performed as well as predicted and it was actually very fun to see the fans reactions to their teams performances with funny painted faces, complete with banners and the hate love relationship with the Vuvuzela horns!

Since I made the starter Bento when the game first started in early June, today I made the Finals Bento for Curry and the kids to enjoy before the game! No doubt I support Spain and Curry supports Holland. I had to print out the Spain's flag from my kids learning websites as I couldn't find any in the market and incidentally, it is bigger than the store bought Holland flag, which in a way represents the majority support for Spain in this household and also most of my cousins and friends all over the world! Yes, the biggest sport in the world and today will be the day that all human beings sit in front of their TV sets simultaneously, regardless of time difference and screaming and shouting together for scored and missed goals! Now, that is what I called the Human Spirit! Enjoy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July Bento Days (1)

Thanks Irene for these 2 new Bento Boxes.  These were last minute Bento lunches that I threw together and not very neat nor imaginative! When the weather is hot, even my kids don't have much appetite for food and so these 2 smaller bento boxes are just the right portions. I used left over pan fried chicken and made the omelette with added peas.

The cut outs for these Bento didn't turn out nicely and I think I have to really practise more with my Bento tools. My goal over this summer is to improve my Bento and look at more Bento sites from Japan. The Japanese fish roll called chikuwa is fun to eat and stuffed with other ingredients, it adds color and complete the empty spots in the box. I noticed that I have always insisted on using and decorating rice balls instead of just using cut outs and stick them to the rice itself and perhaps I should move on to other options of decorating my Bento. To a better Bento!