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Saturday, May 31, 2014

A New Day....

Everyday is a new day. Despite the same routine, meeting same people, going to the same places, today is not yesterday, nor last week, nor last year. Today is full of possibilities and today is also full of burden from the past.

I have not written for almost half a year, nor have I read any book at the same time. I have a lot of excuses to justify my non-action, but why bother. I got too distracted with worldly temptations at my finger tips.

Well, I'm back. For now. For today, at least.

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When missing from this blog the author can be found on Tumblr or Instagram.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Motivation (or the Lack Thereof) and Bunch of Photo Re-posts


Kale & Fig Salad (Repost from my Tumblr)

As always, I would like to describe my schedule as crazy busy. With work, workout, and housework fill a large chunk of my time, twenty-four hours a day and two weekend per week don’t seem enough. So, my language skills—writing skills, specifically— have gone rather blunt. Oh well… would anyone notice? Would anyone care? Would it matter?

To stay relevant within my busy *cough* lazy *cough* lifestyle,  I would have to brach out to other social media. More importantly,  a platform that allows me to share my thoughts at whim (without having to think them through or make sense of the head or the tail).


Breakfast food: Omelet, Smoked Salmon, and Sautéed Mushroom + Spinach (Repost from my Tumblr)

Twitter is the number one choice for broadcasting incomplete thoughts and blame it on the enforced character limit. Naturally, I joined the bandwagon. But I am easily overwhelmed by all the tweets out there. By the time I have read all the tweets from the people that I follow, I would have forgotten what I wanted to say in the first place. It is too flitting for me with people tweeting and replying to tweets at record breaking time. It’s a nice space to know the newest gossips or breaking news, but that’s about it. I miss having my own space like when I am on blogger. But, I don’t have time to compose a full blog post. Remember, I am sooo busy. It also feels odd to write a one liner in Blogger. So, what do I do? 

This is where Tumblr tied everything together.

Sliced Flank Steak served with Pureed Cauliflower and Sautéed Kale

I can write as little or as long as I want on Tumblr. Typically I would use Tumblr to log my daily workout activity and post pictures that I have taken using my phone. These photos that I have included in this entry are reposts from my Tumblr. See? I am not that lazy. I still post stuff regularly. But instead of paragraphs,  I would only include one-liners. One thing that somehow kept me going in the Tumblr-sphere is the reblog functionality which allows me to “curate” interesting stuff I found on Tumblr and put it on my page. Yay, laziness booster.

I actually don’t remember why I first joined Tumblr, but it took me awhile before I was actually active on there.  My first impression of Tumblr is that it seems very juvenile—it still feels that way. But that was before I remember how much of a teenager the girl inside of me. I found a place where I can indulge in my Broadway obsession and adoring over Sutton Foster and Jonathan Groff.  Tumblr had also introduced me to the BBC series—“Sherlock.” It’s one of the best show I’ve seen and I would have never thought of watching it if not for Sherlock’s GIFs flooding in my dashboard. I still don’t think I would watch “Dr. Who” though.

Seared Salmon served with Roasted Squash+Carrots and Steamed Asparagus (Repost from my Tumblr)


As for Instagram, I’ve avoided the application for so long. I just didn’t see the point of it, you add filter to the photos and share them on other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc)? I just didn’t see the point of joining it. I mean I can post the photo directly and I already have other photo editor applications. But that all changed a couple weeks ago. Why? Because of a chance to win $500 gift card. All I had to do to be considered for the competition is to post a photo with the appropriate hashtag on Instagram. And just like that, I joined Instagram. But no, I am not that lucky. Since I already joined Instagram I figured I might as well make a full use of it. So, I will try to post more photos on Instagram—mostly pictures of food. And most likely, the post will be shared on Tumblr too. So, we’ll see where this goes. Or maybe I’d be too busy for Tumblr and Intagram too?



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When not writing on this blog, I can be found at the following places:


But to be honest, I spend just as much time on Hulu and Netflix. Ooops.


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p.s. To those celebrating “ Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hari Raya (Eid) 2013

Chocolate & Nuts Cookies (Knocked-Off London Almond), Pineapple Cookies (Tart Nenas), Rocky Road Cups.

It is that time of the year again. One of my favorite holidays—Hari Raya—came upon us. Come to think of it, all of the holidays are my favorite. But this has to be one on the top. This year Hari Raya fell on Thursday. But I had been busy in the kitchen from the previous week. I was making one type of cookie per day. 

This year, I made Chocolate Chip cookies (not pictured), Chocolate & Nuts Cookies, Tart Nenas, Rocky Road Cups, and Kuih Tiram. Chocolate & Nut Cookie is actually my version of a popular cookie called “Almond London or London Almond.” I had to rename mine because my version doesn’t have any almonds and has no relation to London. Instead of almonds, I filled the cookies with hazelnuts and topped them with pecans. As for the Tart Nenas (Pineapple Cookies) & Kuih Tiram, I stayed faithful to the traditional recipes. And the Rocky Roads… I only created those to get rid of old cereals. Everything taste better when covered in chocolate, right? 

Kuih Tiram/Lidah Buaya

I spent my Wednesday and early Thursday morning making savory dishes for the big day. I managed to make one of the Hari Raya dishes that I’ve been craving for the past ten years—Semur Ayam/Ayam Masak Kicap (Chicken Braised in Spicy Soy Sauce).  On top of that, I also made Lodeh, Sambal Kacang, Beef Rendang, Pulut Kuning, and Nasi Impit. Those were standard Hari Raya fanfare in Malaysia, oldie but goodie.

And now I have leftovers to last a few weeks ;-) Selamat Hari Raya (Happy Eid)!

Top from left: Lodeh (Vegetable Curry), Sambal Kacang (Spicy Nut Sauce), Pulut Kuning (Yellow Sticky Rice)
Bottom from left: Semur Ayam/Ayam Masak Kicap (Chicken braised in Spiced Soy Sauce), Rendang Daging (Dry Beef Curry), Nasi Impit (Compressed Rice Cube)


Recipes Inspirations:
Almond London from Secubit Garam (in Malay)
Pineapple Tarts from Lily Wai Sek Hong
Pineapple Tart with Cream Cheese Dough
Rocky Road from Joy of Baking
How to Make Rendang from Serious Eats
Beef Rendang from Fine Cooking.com
Lodeh from MyResipi.com - (in Malay)
Sambal Kacang from My Kitchen Diary - (in Malay)
Semur Ayam from MyResipi (in Malay)
Nasi Impit from MyResipi (in Malay)
Tumeric Rice/Pulut Kuning using Microwave from Table for Two…or More
Various Methods of Cooking Sticky Rice from Thai Table


Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Attempt at Clean Eating


Seared Salmon topped with Nectarine Tomato Salsa, served with Pureed Cauliflower and Roasted Brussels Sprout

I'm still not a fan of carrots for snacking, so I just stopped snacking. The only time I snack now is after working out. Or while preparing dinner. Ooops. My snacking habit came under control thanks to  the Whole30 program.

Whole30 program is basically a nutritional reset for thirty days. In a nutshell, you would cut sugar (including honey, maple syrup, agave, and stevia), grains, legumes, dairy, and some additives (sulfites, carrageenan, and msg) for thirty days--no cheating. On top of that, you would strive for 3 meals per day, and snacking is discouraged. You may add extra meal for pre/post workout as needed. Otherwise, you would try to adjust your meal to make you fuller longer, that means not skimming on fat. But here's a catch, you should not use approved ingredients to make junk food. So, no cauliflower pizza, no zucchini brownies, no paleo banana bread, and yes, no fruit smoothies.

So, why did I decide to torture myself like this? Well, as mentioned before, I have a problem with snacking (or eating non stop). This is the only program out there that I found that discourage snacking. And it also it allows coconut milk. So, I figured what the heck, it's only for thirty days; if I don't like I can resume to my old eating habit after the thirty days is over. That's how it all began.

Well, the thirty days has been over for almost two weeks now. Surprisingly, the program really helps me with my snacking. I no longer get the intense craving in the morning or at 3pm. The biggest change I did to my meal is to include vegetables for every breakfast, on top of protein and fat. But no fruits for breakfast to ensure no sugar mid morning. I try to eat fruits after working out or as part of lunch or dinner.

What I did not expect from the Whole30 program is how my digestive system felt so much better. I no longer have heartburn or acid reflux. I also have moderate gas, previously I have really bad gas that was boderline embarassing. It felt as if my digestive system is recovering from a bad wound. It is still recovering, that's why after two weeks I am still very slow to introduce non-approved food. 

I actually had a few bad reactions when I introduced non-approved food. When I had cheeses in my salad and omelet last week, my tummy just started to grumble. It felt like how I used to feel all the time, so now I know I have sensitivities to dairy. I never thought I did, but now I know. I won't include it daily like I used to, maybe just once a week at most. I also found out that I  have uncontrollable gas when I eat bread. Dang...

So, what do I eat? Actually very similar to what I used to eat, with more vegetables, and without added sugar, legumes, dairy, and grains. For recipes that called for sugar, I would use fruit instead. I had the best Sambal Kacang (Peanut Sauce) without peanuts and sugar. Instead I used almond butter, cashews, and nectarines, on top of the usual spices. It was really, really good that I had to freeze most of them right away so that I did not eat all of them. Other Malaysian dishes that I made includes Rendang, Masak Lemak, and Kari. Instead of rice, I would eat this dish with Yucca/Cassava/Ubi Kayu, or Butternut Squash, or just more vegetables. It's rather hard to overeat on vegetables compared to rice. 

Other than Malaysian dishes, I make a lot of Roasted Chicken, Steak, or Seared Fish. And always eat them with vegetables (and some fruits) covering half of the plate. Incorporating fruits with regular meal ensure that I don't overeat them. i also try to have at least two types of vegetables at each meal, but it's kinda hard, especially for breakfast. For breakfast, I tend to have 2 eggs, half of avocado, and some vegetable (usually one tomato on a regular  weekday). I am nuts for avocado. Since it is mostly fat, albeit the good fat, I try to limit it to just half of an avocado per day. As for lunch, it is usually leftover dinner, or mixed salad with some proteins like eggs, tuna, or leftover meat. Yes, you heard it right, I started to eat more salad too. Once a week is still a lot more that what I used to eat before. And guess what? Peanut-free Sambal Kacang makes a great salad dressing.

Well, this has been a great experience. My tummy really appreciates it :) 

If you would like to know more about the program, please see the links provided at the end of this post. Before I go, here are variations of my favorite breakfast and post-workout meal.



Links:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Confession of an Overeater

Sauteed Greens topped with Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg


I love food. I mean I really really love food. My tastebud is non-discrimatory—it likes Malaysian, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, and yes, American too. I eat when I am happy, when I am sad, when I am busy, and when I am bored. Food gives me pleasure like no other. I would spend most of my waking moment either thinking about it or enjoying it. Obviously, it shows. Literally.

While it is all good right now, I am not getting any younger. My love for food could cost my health, my relationship, my life. So, I need to reevaluate my relationship with food. I know I can never feel guilty about eating, but I now try to be mindful of what I am eating. This is easier said than done. Duh…

When I started to be mindful of what I am eating, I realized just how out of control my eating habit was. I had to have food all the time. I had breakfast at 8am, a snack (or you can call it a second breakfast) at 10am, lunch at noon or 1pm, snack at 3pm, another snack before or while preparing dinner, actual dinner at 6pm or 7pm, and another snack or two after dinner. I never had a break from eating. It made me cranky, and I mean the Incredible Hulk level cranky, when I don’t have food for an extended time. It scared the shit out of me—and everyone else too. I am a full-grown woman, not a two-year old toddler, why couldn’t I hold my food a little longer?

So, I discussed about my incontrollable appetite with my doctor in my last annual visit. I was hopping she would prescribe me an appetite suppressant, but of course not. She didn’t want to prescribe anything unless she knows my eating habit. She wanted me to see her every month with my food journal first. Every month is too much, so I decided to see her only every other month.

After two visits, she still hasn’t prescribed me any appetite-suprressant, instead she told me to eat at least 4 cups of vegetables and 3 cups of fruits every day (on top of cutting cutting carbs and fried foods). You might be saying “I could have told you that.” Yup. Exactly what I thought too. She also suggested that I prepare a lot vegetable soups and cut-up vegetables; so if I ever feel hungry outside of the regular mealtime, I could just eat those. For someone whose definition of “healthy snacks” include Chocolate Biscotti or Granola Bar, subbing them with carrot sticks is very hard. It is not impossible. Just very very hard.

For the past couple of months, I tried to control my snacking habit. For instance, I would eat fruits instead of sugary processed food from the vending machine. Instead of shoving my hand in the cereal box when the afternoon hunger pang strikes, I reluctantly grab some carrot sticks. To make the carrot sticks more palatable, I  would wrapped them with anchovies and cheese, or dipped them in Ranch dressing. I know it’s not that healthy with the dips, but I do try to limit the dips as little as possible. And you have to admit, carrots with Ranch dressing are still much better than cookies and candy bars (which I try to limit to once a week now, if possible).

Now that I have my snacking somewhat under control, I will try to tackle regular meals next. I have a problem with portion control, namely that my hunger receptor is totally screwed up. Last Friday I ate one half of a pie at one seating. While rationally, I know that I am filled or full, my irrational side doesn’t seem satisfied until I am way over stuffed. And currently, this irrational side holds the reigns over me. So, what you would call filled, I call it hunger; what you would call slight hunger is what I call gimme-ice-cream-right-now-or-I-will-kill-you. I realize that I don’t know what real hunger is—the non-pyschological version of real hunger—my body is telling me that I am starving when I actually have a lot of stored energy (in form of fat cells all over my body)—how can I believe my own self? So, right now I am in the process of recalibrating my messed-up hunger receptor. It will be a long journey, but I know it will help me to enjoy the food that I love without it killing me.

This is not a goodbye. This is a celebration. Instead of being the drugs to my addition, I will respect the food that I eat. I will eat better. For me, and for the world.

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p.s. While I haven’t been active here, I have been posting a lot on tumblr. It is a snarky fitness blog, documenting my daily workouts and rants about exercising and clean eating. If you are interested to follow, please check it out at http://thesilverliningssaga.tumblr.com. A word of warning: it is raw, not thought-out, and plain boring most of the time. But, if you have a tumblr—especially fitness tumblr—please let me know too. Hopefully we can motivate each other, even in a self-deprecating way.