Fit Pantry - a Fit Foodie's thoughts, tips and recipe

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thai Curry Quinoa

For non Vegan or Vegetarian option, simply add meat. I recommend using rotisserie chicken chunks or grilled chicken or other cooked meat. Reason? Simple: To save time and you don't have to handle raw meat :)

This quinoa is cooked like risotto, the dish will be semi wet, similar to how you pour curry soup over your rice. If you want it more wet, add 1/4 cup more coconut milk. If you want it dry, cook the quinoa with coconut milk. Personally, I think the coconut milk flavor is more apparent when it is cooked like this below.

Thai Curry Quinoa

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (warm is better)
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (any kind. I personally like shitake)
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup firm tofu - blocks
  • 1/2 cup tomato chunks
  • 1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken (optional)
  • a handful of cilantro - rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk - get the runny kind not thick
  • Coconut oil spray
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • Lemon pepper - to taste
  • Thai Curry spice blend powder - start with 2 tbs, add more if desired

  1. Spray the wok/pan with coconut oil and sauted the onion until they become somewhat translucent - high heat.
  2. Add in mushrooms, celery and zucchini. Toss until the mushroom looks almost cooked.
  3. Add in tofu, tomato and  chicken, coconut milk, sea salt, Thai curry powder and lemon pepper - medium heat.
  4. Mix all ingredient for a minute then add the quinoa and cilantro.
  5. Stir in until the coconut milk is absorbed then turn the heat off.
  6. Garnish with chopped tomato and fresh cilantro/parsley.

Roasting Red Bell Pepper

Do you know? 
Where I was born, Indonesia, we called bell pepper "paprika." Actually in Japan too. Here in US, the term paprika is used to refer to the spice in powdered form. Commonly the red one. 

Roasted paprika has a distinct flavor to it that is somewhat sweet with peppery fragrance. The texture changed too after it's been roasted. It becomes soft, yielding, yet still hold its form. It's quite pleasant to bite into. It makes a gourmet addition to sandwich, salad, soup, stir fry, quinoa dish, etc. for its flavor, color and texture.
I never realized how easy it is to roast paprika. And once I did it, I was hooked. If you were to peek into my fridge now, chances are you will see a container of roasted red paprika ready to use. You can see it as part of the ingredient in my guy-wich :)

It is best to roast a bunch of them paprikas at once, for efficiency sake. Besides you can always store them for use later.

Roasting Red Bell Pepper in an Oven

Total time: 1+ hour
(about 45 min-1 hr to roast, the rest is how quick you peel the skin off :) )

  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wet paper towel or large pot
  • Paring knife
  • Timer
  • Container

  1. Heat up the oven to 450°F and placed the bell pepper on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Put the bell pepper in the oven.  
  2. Turn over the bell peppers to make sure all sides got baked/charred evenly every 10-15 minutes (set the timer). It takes about  3-4 rotations, and each rotation it will take less time to turn them. (15 minutes for the first turn, about 10 minutes for the other turns).
  3. Once all sides are charred or baked, take them out of the oven and immediately cover them with wet towel (I happened to have a steamer handy). The trapped steam will help loosen up the skin and make it easier to peel later.
  4. After the bell peppers cooled down enough for you to handle, take them out one by one and started peeling the skin off. You can use your hand or paring knife. Take out the stem and clean the seeds.
  5. To store them, lay the bell pepper flat in a container. Leave the cover off until they are cooled down. Store it in the fridge. 

The bell pepper will get watery in the container.
It will also get watery as it's baked. That's why we want to line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleaning.
The charrer the better in my opinion :)

Wash and line them up. Nice and plump :)
Into the oven they go. Set timer for every 10-15 min.

About an hour later, all wrinkly and charred.
Into the "steam area" to loosen up the skin.
Takes about 10 minutes or so. You can take one out to test it.
If it's cool enough to handle and the skin should just peel right off
even with your hand.
Pile them in layers and store in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's So Sweet About Them Yams?

Purple Yams Demistified 

(...not really. Just to explain why I boil them)

Ever since I did the Beachbody Ultimate Reset, this purple sweet potato (which in US is called "purple yam" or in Asia is known as "ube") has been my go to snack for pre workout and quick reload after workout. I find it fulfilling and just right to give me the boost before a workout and restore my energy after workout just enough until I got home and get some real meal.

I have been posting it on Instagram and Facebook often enough to raise interest among friends and got them hooked on it. They asked me how I prepared my purple yams, to which I told them I boiled the yams and sometimes, boiled then steam. Second questions immediately came right after "Won't that diminish the nutrients?" Well... hm..., I guess because that's how my family always prepare it? Or, It's troublesome to bake it, plus I like to eat the skin. Not good enough, ya? Ok. Seriously, this is why I boil my sweet potatoes rather than bake them. It's all in the GI (Glycemic Index):

The way you prepare sweet potatoes makes a difference in their GI. The GI of a 150-g sweet potato, boiled with its skin for 30 minutes, is 46. That number rises to 94 if the same sweet potato is baked for 45 minutes. These dramatic differences come from the way the starches in sweet potatoes gelatinize during cooking. Foods that turn viscous, or jelly-like, in your digestive tract have a lower GI because the gelatinous substance slows the release of the nutrients in the food. Baking your sweet potatoes instead of boiling them changes the quality of their starches and transforms this root vegetable from a moderate-GI food to a high GI-food. [...]

And... there is more. We all heard about GI, but not so often about GL (Glycemic Load). Knowing both GI and GL can help you determine what food is right for you, especially if we are talking about diabetic condition.

The glycemic load is a way to take a food's carbohydrate content into account when figuring its impact on blood sugar. The GL considers both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates in a food. A boiled sweet potato has a GL of 11, compared to a GL of 42 for a baked sweet potato. Because the GL doesn't take a food's nutritional content into account when measuring its metabolic effects, it's important to consider the health benefits of the sweet potato's vitamins and phytonutrients when making your food choices. [...]

Ok. So that should answer your question personally as well as scientifically :)

Now lemme finish and enjoy my purple yams.... nomnomnom~

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kale Me Now!

Curly Kale
Dino Kale (Tuscan)

Kale who? It's just the buzz right now among us gym rats. Sounds healthy. In fact, it straight up looks intimidatingly green and healthy! The leaves are deep dark green color, and gee-louise... those leaves are giant! Except of course if you decide to get the labor-inclusive-priced kale in packages.

The first time I tried kale was ... hm.... gosh it was so long ago. All I can recall was it is one tough veggie to eat. I didn't know what to do with it. Back then, I wasn't that into all this healthy stuff. That was a "before" me :)

With my recent acquisition of Vitamix,  a girlfriend came up with this idea that I should start blending some veggie for drinks and offered to make her version for me. Sure why not, I said. And that's when kale hitched its ride into my kitchen and took up residence.

The first juice made for me was quite "strong" or "thick." As for taste, it's refreshing and green. Fresh apple juice definitely lends to the taste acceptance. Since then I have made my own version and tailored it to suit my taste.

Back to kale. There is a variety of kale, but the most common one you find in the grocery stores will be the "Curly Kale" you can tell by the frilly edges of the leaves. Just one leaf almost looks as bushy as a broccoli! Curly kale you see in stores won't necessary be large leaves, I got a medium sized leaves bunch at Fresh & Easy before.

Another one that you might see is the "Dino Kale" ... don't ask me why the name but it does look somewhat jurassic :)  This kale is loooong and narrow, the leaves doesn't have curly edge but the surface is bumpy. Seriously, the official name for this one is "Tuscan Kale". Less interesting, but more romantic, I guess. It has milder/sweeter flavor.

The ones pre-cut in salad packages most of the time are "Flat Kale." I don't have any personal relationship with this green since I gravitate to the more economical versions that hang out in bunches.

Other version of kale are "Purple Kale" & "Red Russion Kale." But no need to go fancy all out and start hunting exotic kale. The Jurrasic Kale is already an adventure enough for me :)

What I like about Dino Kale vs. Curly Kale:
  • The stalk of DK is not as thick and tough as the CK
  • Easy to chop DK because it's just one long leaf
  • Easier to wash
  • Takes less space in the fridge drawer
  • DK leaves are softer, not as tough as the CK
  • I have to cut out the tough stalk of CK before blending - personal preference, with Vitamix you actually don't have to, but I feel it makes smoother juice.

  • Either DK and CK are good for juicing
  • Both are packed with benefits (see below)
  • Either is equally good for veggie soup as the leaves don't get overcooked easy

Source: Discover Kale
The word “superfood” is being used more liberally these days but kale is truly deserving of the title. It is packed with beta-carotene, folate and Vitamin C.

It’s also one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium plus contains vital minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium.

It’s also rich in sulphur phytochemicals which are believed to help protect against certain types of cancer and the phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to reduce the risk of cataracts and a condition called age related macular degeneration which is the major cause of loss of vision in the UK.

Did you know?

  • Kale contains four times more Mg (magnesium) and five times more Ca (calcium) than Brussels sprouts
  • 17 times more Vitamin C than carrots and four times more than spinach
  • Nearly double the magnesium of spring greens
  • More folate than broccoli
  • Seven times more carotene than cabbage
Can't have enough of kale? Read on [...]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Egg Whites Roasted Paprika Sandwich with Green Mayo

If it's avocado season, it's time for green mayo. In California that could be all year long! 

Green mayo is simply ripe avocado that's already soft and spreadable. It's creamy, and rich in good fat. All natural! I already have the roasted paprika and steamed egg whites handy. 
Gotta love food prep. It makes future cooking efficient.

The Sandwich

  • 2 whole wheat/grain toasts
  • 3 egg whites (poached or steamed or pan fried, up to you. Mine is steamed)
  • 1/4 roasted red paprika
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • a handful of spinach
  • himalayan salt
  • lemon pepper or black pepper
  1. Spread the avocado on both toasts. Sprinkle one toast with salt and pepper and set it aside.
  2. Start layering the wich-filling in this order on the non salted toast: egg whites, spinach, paprika.
  3. You may sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the egg whites before the spinach.
  4. Topped with the other toast, and bon apetit!

Result Continue a Week After the Ultimate Reset

I might have a delayed result from the Reset. But most likely, I just do better with more protein. I said this because after I finished the Ultimate Reset, my body fat and weight continue to drop.
Yes, I am talking AFTER the Reset, which translate to I eat like maaaaad! I had sushi night out, egg whites, chicken, my favorite snack popcorners, 85° pastries, tiramisu, ... talk about the revenge of a protein-depraved woman! hahaha .... *ehm*

Anyhooo, I measured myself a week after the reset found the weight still dropping and so did the body fat (by another 0.4%). This morning, I lost another pound. Considering how much I have been eating and snacking here and there, it is rather surprising. Not that I am complaining, mind you, but I rather not look too skinny.

I love veggies and mushrooms and tofu to begin with, unfortunately these don't provide enough protein for the amount of activity I do. So far, I have been doing one workout a day with the exception of yesterday when I had to teach 2 classes. 

Yeah yeah, I could hear some people already say that that is not the point of the Ultimate Reset - i.e. it is a detox vs. weight loss. No matter how you slice it, the two just so happened together. And be honest. The majority who do this program are first and foremost to lose weight. To get rid of extra fat. Me included. I was simply curious and yes, wanted to get rid of the extra layer of fat from the whole month of binging on sweet croissants (Paris Baguette, I still love you but you're too clingy on my hips!).

So back to regular protein intake for me. What's different now is that I eat a lot more veggies, balancing my bad food with good food better. Now time to start pumping up the weights. Because scrawny is not in my vocabulary.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Musing Aloud About Dieting

Many people, me included, failed their diet/detox program because of many reasons. The most common one is FRUSTRATION. The unfamiliar territory of "dieting" makes the program seems too hard and complicated to follow. Once that feeling of utter loss sets in, one would get intimidated, discouraged then left the program. I had experienced that too.

Food is, for the majority, a source of comfort.That fact alone pretty much attributes to why so many of us need to be on a better diet.

Who doesn't want comfort, that warmth in your tummy and euphoria in your mind, really? The thought of restricting this flow of good feeling one is accustomed to is enough to give anyone a pause going on to a diet program.

The key to get over this frustration is to remove the intimidation. Change the unfamiliar to something closer to home and comforting.  Tweak your diet, as supposed to turning your culinary world upside down. Unless your current world consists of twinkies, fast food and chips, well then you need a total overhaul :)   Anyway, while it's good to try something new, especially when it comes to healthy choices, if you normally don't eat kale, then don't force yourself to eat it under the diction of the program (unless you tried and liked it).  If kale is not for you, change it to spinach or other dark leafy veggie. There are plenty alternatives for each healthy stuff out there. Be creative, be curious, ask around, research, … google it!

The Ultimate Reset happens to come with a really good recipes. So there's no excuse, if you don't know what to make, you can select several recipe from the book for each week. And I really do mean only several. Rotate the food. So what if you eat Red Pepper soup 2x in that week? Make extra and have it for dinner 2 days later. If you tried to do different food for each day, you will only overwhelmed yourselves. Not to mention the burden on your wallet and fridge space!

Second common reason is ACCOUNTABILITY. There are two types of accountability: Monetary and Social image/reputation.

Monetary accountability is simply about assigned value. If something is given for free, people tend to put zero value on it. So, for example if you want to follow me in doing this Reset, then get on  program and purchase it. You put a stake in it by attaching a dollar value to it.  It will increase the chance of you following through the program until the end. Make your money worth!

Seriously, what got me is, people would spend hundreds without blinking on some gadgets or shoes, or clothes but for something that could transform their appearances, health and lives they expect it to just come down from the sky for free... No, my friend. You gotta pay for it, work it and earn it. Make it valuable to you.

Now, social image or reputation is about one's ego. Are you a person of your own words? Are you able to stick through a challenge or are you a quitter? This is where peer support comes in play. More specifically, a partner in diet. If possible, find a friend who will do the program together with you. Tag each other each day on what you do/eat. Communicate back and forth. Support each other. BE TOUGH! You are only in this program for 21 days, if you started to give each other a break here and there then you only sabotage that short 3 weeks period. Trust me, you will thank each other that you did.

There are other reasons why people fall off their diet programs, but those two above are what I know for the fact because it happened to me personally.

The truth is I'd most likely not going to complete a diet program if I didn't pay for it. In fact I know for sure I would have fallen off the wagon after day 3 if I didn't just spend $200 on it. I know because I had done that before on other type of program that was free. 

The fact is although it had crossed my mind to do the Ultimate Reset, I wouldn't have taken the action and done it, had it not a friend inquired about it and wanting to do it.

The Ultimate Reset is a cleansing program by Beachbody. The cleansing kit comes with supplements and nutritional guide, explanation on the program, and recipes. The duration of the program is 21 days. Read more about it here [...]

21 Days of Habit Renovation with Beachbody Ultimate Reset

Going through the Ultimate Reset wasn't as hard as I thought. Once I got the gist of the program and with enough planning, it was easy. A little culinary tweak was all I did, not an overhaul of my pantry (view my shopping list » ). For the 3 weeks of the Reset, the fridge's drawers were actually stocked up with vegetables and fruits, as it should have been :)

I was satiated throughout the program, I wasn't cranky (when I got my workout in), I had lots of fun cooking vegan and be creative with quinoa. No problem with my energy level either, in fact I was able to workout almost as hard as my regular days with 2 or 3 workouts in a day at times. "Almost" because I had to leave out weight training. Part of the challenge I thought I would have when starting the program was going through 2 weekends in a row of fitness certification -- Insanity and Body Combat. Again, proper planning, enough food and nutrients got me through both weekends successfully. 

Some questioned about my decision to keep exercising during the Reset. It is true that according to the Ultimate Reset program, I'm not supposed to do any intense workout as the activity put more stress to the body and could inhibit the cleansing process. Do understand that I'm not saying the program is wrong or I don't believe in its science. I think if people can follow the program faithfully to the letter it's great for them and undoubtedly they would reap the full benefit of what it promised. However, knowing what my priorities are and what I need to do, I was not about to postpone my life for a diet program; unless my life was depending on it. I also know what my body can handle and the load of activity it is used to. So, knowing full well that I would bend the rules on this, I modified my exercise routine and compensated the calories intake for the calories burned. You know what? I felt great. In fact, the only time I felt really shitty and low in energy level was on the day I didn't get my workout.

Now then, you'd ask, how does it affect the result?

Regarding the invisible result or what's going on inside my body, I can only state that

I feel lighter, my pipes feel clean, I feel all around great! 

The visible result is reflected in my physical transformation. People could immediately see the difference even at the end of week one. Their words:

You looked trimmer; You lost weight; You looked more toned! Looking great! 

So there. As the result of completing the Ultimate Reset program, I lost 7+ pounds and 6+ inches in only 3 weeks (view my results »).

ultimate reset before after photo
[ View Results ]

21 days went by fast. This blog captures snapshots of my daily meals during the 3 weeks, the workouts I did, additional calories intakes, and a short recap of each day. Except for one or two, you will not see any of the food posted here in the Reset guidebook. Can't blame a cook for making her own meal, now can you? And trust me. The food I made were all healthy and tasty :)

Here's what I like about the Ultimate Reset: 

It is not a diet. It is actually a gradual lifestyle change. 

If you can understand the meal plan and learned it, you will have a take away. But if you just follow it blindly and only see it as a quick weight loss program, then you are missing out big time. 21-days has been proven over and over again as a good time frame to create or change a habit. I still make my meals like I did during week one of the program. Although I now eat out again with friends, I cut back on my snacking. I now become more picky in selecting fresh produce and processed food.

I also like how the program is broken down into 3 simple stages, gradually eases you in to cleaner and leaner diet. The guidebook is easy to follow and easy to read with nice pictures, easy recipes for people who don't know what to cook. It also gives suggestions on how to maintain or follow through with your life after the program.

My take away:

In retrospect, I will not change anything I did if I were to do it over again. I am really satisfied with the result. The way I did the detox, I don't feel inhibited in my daily routine as far as workout goes. It was a bit of a drag not being able to go out and have fun with friends though during that 3 weeks. I thought of ways to stay within the program while going out, such as where to dine and what to eat. Unfortunately, I figured that out AFTER I completed the Reset :P  I discovered cooking vegetarian or vegan meals can be fun and creative. New items now become staple in my pantry - healthy additions like Himalayan Salt, Sea Salt, Coconut Oil, and quinoa. Oh and sweet potato (red, yellow and, my favorite, purple yam).

Personal experience during this program has proven that flat abs is made in the kitchen. I ate really well during the Reset. Might even look too well for people to believe that I was in a "diet". However, the pounds were still dropping and I continued to lose stored fat. Eating the right type of food indeed makes a huge different to my body. One week after the Reset, my weight dropped 0.6 pounds and body fat another 0.4%; and that was while balancing eating out as usual and eating healthy at home.

Would I do this program again? Yes. Would I pay money to complete a diet program? The answer is yes. I experienced first hand that accountability matters. Having a diet-buddy keeps me socially accountable, and adding monetary value as a stake definitely motivate me to follow through the program to the end.

Now here's what I'd tell you to do if you want to be on the Ultimate Reset:

Once you've decided, your first action is to BUY THE PROGRAM. Shell out the cash, put the money where your intention is, and COMMIT. Why??...  I've told you why. It is about accountability, of increasing your chance completing the program and making sure you reap the maximum result (read my Musing Aloud About Dieting )

Second is to find a partner in crime and if possible, someone in your household. Of a friend. Be supportive to each other but be firm. 

And here's how you get the Beachbody Ultimate Reset program: 

Purchase the Ultimate Reset kit via this link, then contact me. I would give you additional support, suggestions and help keeping you accountable. The easiest way would be to find me on Facebook and send me a friend request. If you don't have Facebook, email me and we'll figure out some other method of communication. It's the e-age after all.

Ultimate Reset is a gentle cleansing program by Beachbody. The duration of the program is 21 days. You can read more information on this program here »

Beachbody is the creator of the nation's most popular fitness and weight loss solutions including P90X®, INSANITY®, Brazil Butt Lift®, Slim in 6®, Turbo Jam®, Hip Hop Abs®, Power 90®, Turbo Fire®, Les Mills Combat®, Les Mills Pump®, and Body Beast® among many others. Beachbody® programs combine challenging DVD-based workouts with easy-to-follow diet guidelines, nutritional supplements (including its breakthrough health shake called Shakeology®, (AKA "The Healthiest Meal of the Day®") and the clinically proven 21-day cleanse known as the Ultimate Reset®.

Result is the Sweetest Reward - Ultimate Reset Completed

My Result of 21-days Beachbody Ultimate Reset:

Beachbody Ultimate Reset Result
Gender: Female
Age: 41
Height: 5' 2" - small frame
Start: April 22, 2013
End: May 12, 2013

Total Weight: -7.2 lbs
Body Fat: -0.4%
Total Inches: -7.125"

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week 1
lbs. 110.4 108.8 107.8 106.4 105.8 105.2 106.2
Body fat % 19.2 18.6 19.1 18.7 18.6 18.3 19.6
Week 2
lbs. 106 104.6 105.6 105 106.4 106.2 105.4
Body fat % 19.4 19.6 19.6 19.2 19.1 19.4 18.9
Week 3
lbs. 104 104.4 104.6 104.4 104.2 104 103.2
Body fat % 19 19.2 18.8 19.1 19 19 18.8

Start End
Thigh (R) 21.25" 19.75"
Thigh (L) 21.125" 19.5"
Hip 35.5" 33.5"
Waist 27" 25"

Update: A week after the completion of this Reset program, my weight was stable at 103.2 lbs and my body fat dropped another 0.6%

Thighs are leaner and feel lighter, and I can see more abs definition!

I had started eating out after I finished the Reset, but balancing it with intense daily workout and eating healthy at home.

On weight loss and body fat %
Right from the get go, my weight started dropping practically a pound a day! That was simply from cutting back on frivolous snacking and water retention weight. By the end of week 1, people already noticed the difference in my physique. I looked more toned, they said. The muscles definitions were showing out more now that the fat layer was gone. When you're only 5' 2" losing weight a mere 5 pounds is major deal!

I noticed how the body fat slid down in the beginning of my weight loss, then stabilized, averaging about the same as the original percentage. I know that my protein intake dropped drastically, so I would bet my muscle mass also decreased. However, given the fact that the fat also decreased, the body fat ratio was seemed on an impasse. The body fat went down a notch towards the end, but by then my weight was really low.

The weight loss mainly resulted from watching the diet, what I ate or to be precise, what I didn't snack.  Andy, my husband, was not on the Reset, but he kind of follow what I ate during that 3 weeks. He still ate meat (chicken and pork), eggs, bread and even had cheat days! For the most part, his snacking was also reduced (although not completely), and he ate a lot more veggie and drinking Shakeology, once a day.  In 2 weeks, he lost almost 10 pounds!

So here's my thought on weight loss. It's reflected in what you eat. The quality of food you eat, not necessarily the quantity. Honestly, it is hard to overeat on something healthy. I ate until I was full or no longer hungry each day and I didn't crave more than my stomach could take in. It is true that

once your body is satisfied nutritionally, it won't be hungry.

On food
I have started drinking fresh veggie juice (I called it Green Juice) a couple of weeks prior to the detox. I simply carried on the juicing for my snack. It worked really well and kept me satiated and regular. Green juice has now become a regular part of my daily intake (thanks to Vitamix!)

As I mentioned, I enjoy experimenting with my food. No rice no grain, no problem for me. It's not my staple diet (forget that I'm Asian for a moment here, ok?) so I never missed it. Quinoa was the new star player in the pantry. I cooked it almost every day. On the third week, I found recipe that turned it to a super star level in my cookbook :) (See Cinnaple Berry Quinoa recipe).

Quinoa for lunch, dinner and breakfast. I was mighty pleased that Andy loves it! I cooked usually a one pot meal deal. I didn't make a different meal for him, I simply added rotisserie chicken or egg whites to his plate, while mine stayed only mushroom and tofu.

Plant based protein source, i.e. mushroom, tofu and soymilk are now regular occupants in our fridge. I have to have protein in all my meals. I couldn't risk even more drastic decrease in my protein intake. Good thing I love mushrooms and tofu. Soymilk for me is to cook though, not to drink. I still could not get over having my soymilk sweet and as dessert, if I were to have it just on its own.

More newbies in the pantry are kale and spinach. Kale for Green Juice and spinach for almost anything I cook - salad, soup, juice, or to add to the dumpling soup for Andy.

Spices played a huge role in preparing the meals. On this program, I was striving the best I could for all natural, no processed ingredients. Herb is great natural flavorings for your cooking. It's easy for me because I already have a stock of herbs and mixed spices. A couple I added for the program were Himalayan Salt and Lemon Pepper. If you don't have any in the pantry, you should at least get fresh black pepper, sea/himalayan salt, and lemon pepper, plus one mixed spices - e.g Italian Herbs, Southwestern, Thai Curry, African Smokey Herb, etc. A dash of these magic powder in your cooking is guaranteed to elevate the meal experience to a new sensation!

Impulse buys were Chia seed and Maple Syrup. I saw some recipes in the guidebook that use these, but of course, I should have known, since I don't normally use them, they ended up cluttering my pantry. I will find some use for them of course, but not as much as other cheaper and no less healthy ingredients that I kept replenishing during the detox and until now.

Oh, here's a smart buy: Spray Oil. I got the Coconut Spray Oil from Trader Joe's. It's easy to use and you ended up only use very little oil. The fragrant of the coconut adds to the flavor of the dish you make.

Favorite workout snacks was hands down: Purple Yam. It's not too sweet, and more dense than the other sweet potato kinds (red, yellow or Japanese). I boiled, baked or steamed them and wrapped them up, stored in fridge and ready to grab for pre/post workout snack.

Here's my shopping list for the Reset »

On exercise
I missed the weight workout. I tried doing it on week one, but I could not lift as heavy as before the program started. So I decided to wait on the weight training.

Exercise is definitely a mood picker upper. Nothing like a shot of endorphin to replace the high of comfort food. Andy could attest to this fact. Now, if my mood turns sour all he'd say was, "Go workout, babe :)"

I heard that it is common for people when doing this program, Beachbody Ultimate Reset, to experience mood swings and get cranky. It happened to me once on the day I didn't even workout at all. By snack time I was sluggish, dragging my mood on the floor and really had bad sense of humor.

Not that the food I ate wasn't good or satisfying, it just not enough physical activity to stimulate my muscles, nerves and senses. My body craved the activity level it was used to. Resting days were actually the real challenge during the Reset, not the workouts.

My workouts are all quite intense. For that I allowed extra intake of calories to fuel the workout and to ensure proper muscles recovery. I seriously felt lacking in protein, no matter how much I bumped up mushrooms, tofu and soymilk.

Good thing the Reset lasted only for 3 weeks. I was positive that I was losing some of my muscles, but since I also lost fat, in that short period, the effect was actually looked pretty good. My muscles definitions were more pronounced as the fat layers were shed.

On the result
I'm a happy camper :) I didn't get a full point drop in body fat, but I am ok with that. I didn't know what to expect and how the Reset going to affect my body. Once I went through it, I started to make sense the process and the progress I made. The weight dropped more than I expected though. It was crazy, but I don't intend to drop any lower. Going forward I'm focusing on more weight training and keeping up with the new eating habit. 21-days was a journey that renovated my habit. It gave me a pause and made me learned something new in the kitchen. How to tweak my diet to not only be healthier but to give physical transformation.

A good result is indeed the sweetest reward. Something that I intend to keep and maintain.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lemon Garlic Dressing

I love this simple and easy to make dressing. It has a strong fragrance and bold flavor. Consistency is quite thick, especially after you keep it in the fridge. So while it doesn't yield a lot, you really need only a tiny amount of the dressing and toss the salad good with it - i.e. a teaspoon for a plate of salad. Other than for salad, try it as dipping sauce for roast chicken or pork.

 Lemon Garlic Dressing

Yield: 180 ml
Total time: 11 minutes

  • 1 Lemon - peeled, halved
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (Sriracha)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic - peeled
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) Olive Oil

  1. Place lemon, hot sauce, garlic, paprika, and seasonings into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
  5. Reduce speed to Variable 7 and remove lid plug. While machine is running, slowly pour in oil through lid opening.
  6. Blend for 20 seconds.
If doubling, use 2 lemons, increase hot sauce to 1 teaspoon, paprika to 1 teaspoon, cumin to 1/2 teaspoon, and increase olive oil to 1 cup.

Source: Vitamix website

Sprouted Organic Black Tofu Salad

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 21 - Yes Yes YES!! Last Day of Beachbody Ultimate Reset


  • Workout: Body Combat (1 hour)
  • Post Workout Snack: Purple Yam
  • Lunch: Quinoa with Veggie Stir Fry
  • Snack: Purple Yam
  • Dinner: Thai Curry Quinoa
  • Snack: Kiwi & Japanese Yam with Cinnamon & Almonds


Excitement!!! Yes. The last day of the Ultimate Reset! Again, it went by fast. Early morning workout at 7am, followed by church, then lunch, a massage, snack then dinner. A full day but relaxing. The last leg of the Reset and I wasn't about to go fancy. My weight dropped again this morning, body fat ratio is the stable. Energy level, good. It was just the heat of the day that was dragging!

Starting the day...

Woke up early to get in my workout before church, I rushed out with a purple yam. One hour plus a shower later, armed with one more purple snack, I zoomed out to church. The second purple yam was to hold me up in case I was hungry during the service. It was not bad though, I lasted until I was able to go home and cooked lunch. Nothing fancy, I was showing my cousin how I cook quinoa and I also needed to finish up the week's veggies in the fridge. So, Quinoa with Veggie Stir Fry was it for lunch.

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Dinner was the same, although in this batch I added tomato and use Thai Curry spices. Yummmm!!

[ View post on Facebook ]

And that was it for the Ultimate Reset!.... Wow. It was rather anti climactic to be honest. I stayed up rather late, so I snacked again with kiwi and a small Japanese yam with cinnamon and almonds.

On to..... I guess, to summarize the whole experience :)

Day 20 - It's All a Blur


  • Pre/Post Workout snack: Purple Yam
  • Workout: Teach Turbo Kick (1 hour)
  • Lunch: Black Tofu salad with stir fry Cauli Mushroom
  • Dinner: Quinoa with stir fry veggie
  • Snack: Purple Yam


Weekend was another whirlwind of a day. Ran off to teach Turbo Kick in the morning, had my workout snack/breakfast, lunch, then off to the airport. I was prepared though, I packed up dinner and snack. I wasn't about to loose it just when it's so close to the finish line. I noticed that I could eat a lot of quinoa. Not in a sitting, but if I do eat slowly, between me and Andy, we could finish 1 cup of uncooked quinoa that was made into a meal.  At the airport, Andy bought Orange Chicken and Veggie Chow Mein from Panda Express. Yes there is tons of oil in the chow mein but I was curious nonetheless. I took a tiny bite of the noodles.... and WOW!! Whoa!! Salty, oily, strong taste! It's amazing how my palate becomes even more sensitive over 21 days of eating very lean and clean. Kewl! :)

Starting the day

Breakfast was none existence today. I skipped it to pre and post workout snack. I had a really good strong, high energy class and that pumped me up! Adrenaline still rushing, endorphin flowing, and I felt good.  For lunch, I was finishing the black tofu with my salad, just adding more substance into it i.e. mushrooms and cauliflower.

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Not long after lunch it was time to prepare dinner. Since we were packing it to the airport while waiting for Andy's flight to Singapore that night, I chose to make quinoa.  The way I have been preparing quinoa is as one-pot meal. Very simple and practical. Perfect for "picnic" food. So Quinoa with stir fry veggie and mushrooms, which then Andy could eat as main dish, while he indulge with Orange Chicken on the side (not pictured!).

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We also had purple yam as snack. You know how it is waiting at the airport. Having that and coffee, satisfy our habitual needs to buy snacks.

On to day 21. Told you it was fast....

Day 19 - TGI Last Friday of Ultimate Reset!!


  • Breakfast: Cinnapple Berry Quinoa (with kiwi)
  • Lunch: Lunch was Cilantro Garlic Quinoa with sides of Veggie Stir Fry
  • Snack: Green Juice
  • Workout: Teach Turbo Kick (1.5 hour) + 15 min Body Combat practice
  • Snack: Purple Yam
  • Dinner: Sprouted Organic Black Soybean tofu over bed of Spinach + Garlic Lemon dressing (homemade) & Black Beans


Friday! I decided to take a break from my friends TurboKray class considering I was supposed to "take it easy" with my workout. Plus my back was still bothering me a little so I took all the rest I could. Breakfast was delish. I totally can go on with quinoa and berries as breakfast (that and soft boiled egg whites that is) after this Reset. Nothing much going on except chillin' out with Andy at home the whole afternoon, until time to teach at 6:30p. My back was all right by then, I had plenty of energy, in fact I could not wait to exercise. At the end of the day, all I felt like eating was something small and refreshing. I wasn't that hungry thanks to the post workout snack. My last of the day ended up not being so small after all (packing lots of spinach on my plate), but it was something different and refreshing.

Starting the day...

Excited. It's Friday and I was nearing the end of the Reset. Not that I didn't enjoy the ride, which I do, a lot, it is the sense of accomplishment that's waiting on Sunday. Well, for now, concentrate on the day. Breakfast was sweet success. Adding more soymilk to the breakfast quinoa and using the finally ripened kiwis and strawberries.

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The nice thing about waking up late is lunch time came by fast. Time to do fridge clean up. I thought about doing soup, but the day progressively getting warmer, so I decided on making Veggie Stir Fry and cooked my quinoa with cilantro and garlic. 

I made green juice again to sip throughout the day and prepared Purple Yam for post workout snack. The combination has been working well for me the past 3 weeks now.

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You would think that I need a big dinner after workout so hard these past few days, but on the contrary, I was only feeling something refreshing for meal. May be it's the warm evening, but a simple salad of black tofu and black bean over spinach, drizzled with homemade Lemon Garlic dressings (just half a teaspoon, really) was more than enough. I ate so much spinach that night I could feel them on my teeth.

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Time to hit the sack. On to day 20!.....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 18 - Sweet Quinoa for Breakfast



Back was much better as the day progressed. Still taking it easy although that didn't mean I was about to let the class hanging. Changing the menu of the day, inspired by a recipe on SparkPeople website for quinoa. Yes, still curious about quinoa.
Three more days to the end of the Ultimate Reset, my weight looks stable after losing 6 pounds. Body fat still at the same percentage, but relative to the weight loss, I know I'm losing fat too. I can see it in the mirror.  But I'm holding back and still waiting until the last day of the reset to try on that pair of jeans that has been stored waaaaay back in my closet.

Starting the day...

So excited to try something new in the kitchen. Savory, spicy, now sweet! Quinoa for breakfast, cooked somewhat like we do oatmeal. Enjoying the result.

[ View post on Facebook ] - [ Recipe ]

I don't want to overkill posting the green juice on the blog. Yep, that's the same green color liquid in a shaker cup. Ooooh, different angle... Uh uh. Suffice to say by now you should know what it looks like just by reading the description. Oh and know that's it is healthy and good for you as it is tasty (as green juice goes).

So lunch time came, and no, I don't want to serve quinoa again, and hold off on making soup until I finished this green soup. What I haven't served so far is highlight a stir fry on its own. No sides, no quinoa. Just on its own.Rummaging through the pantry for spices I decided on cumin. Other than adding salt and pepper, something about cumin in this stir fry just didn't need other additional spices. May be a dash of cayenne just for a little heat.

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Dinner. Stocked up with new supply of unsweetened soymilk, I happily made my favorite: mushroom soup! Only this time I ran out of Shitake mushrooms... oh for sheez...  I settled with white mushrooms. Humble white mushrooms don't have the strong earthy flavor of Shitake. So this called for companions in the pot. I figured it was time to start cleaning out the fridge anyway with three more days to the end of the Reset. In all kinds of veggies, except carrots and tomato.

I wish I had more room in my stomach for another bowl, unfortunately I think the reset has shrunk my belly and ability to eat a lot at once.  Andy loved it! Of course, I added chunks of rotisserie chicken to his bowl. Still without the chicken, it's creamy and tasty already. All those vegetables and fibers would make you full and satisfied.

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It was our fault to stay up later than we should. Dinner was more than enough, and we should have been in bed 3 hours ago. Had we not started feeling hungry again we would probably still be up. On to day 19....

Day 17 - Nothing like an Owie to Keep the Appetite Away


  • Breakfast: Veggie Juice
  • Workout: Teaching Turbo Kick (1 hour)
  • Post Workout Snack: Purple Yam
  • Lunch: Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup
  • Snack: Veggie Juice
  • Dinner: Berry Spinach Salad


The day started bright with my favorite class of the week, then BOOM! I felt intense soreness on my lower right back. It could be from several things. First, I might be overusing my body - but I had done worse with no adverse effect. Two, and most likely was from squatting and lifting heavy planter pots the day before - I was doing some mobile gardening and was replanting some herbs and orchids. Third, in a remote possibility of an accumulation of misalignment of my body from compensating during my exercises.

Whatever it is, I normally would hold it and rest. But considering my current routine, I could not let this slide and went for a massage immediately. It was oooooooohhhh.... so good!

By evening, the kinks were almost gone spare for little stiffness. I made quick toss of a salad and just sat back relax in the couch, lifting my legs enjoying dinner over some old flix.

Starting the day...

Like I mentioned, green juice and packed a small purple yam for the road. You see how much we live this groovy colored yam (or sweet potato - I decided to give in and called it "yam" even if it's a misnomer). It's compact, more dense than its cousins, and has that earthy sweetness that just hit the spot!

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I added grated coconut in the juice. If you like having little tease bites in your juice, try it.

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Not really experimenting with lunch, but with my lower back screaming, I simply blended some saved cauliflower stalks with soymilk and made a quick mushroom soup with spinach. This is just a variation of the green cauli soup, only with different type of mushrooms.

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I wanted something refreshing for dinner. Something I could eat slowly and enjoying each bite. If you don't realize yet, I eat my salad with chopsticks. So that works grandly. Chop chop and toss, and I sat deep in the couch picking into the salad mix bowl with chopsticks.

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On to day 18...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vegan Mushroom Soup

Soy-based Soup
The first time I heard about using soymilk as soup base, I was not convinced. I grew up accustomed to the taste of soymilk cold and a bit sweet or as dessert (i.e. hot soft tofu pudding at dim sum). So to imagine it as ingredients for savory dish is rather hard. Until I tried it then it made sense.

Using unsweetened soymilk, the result was a light creamy soup, flavorful even without the addition of extra spices. For people who are used to eat tofu, the soup would be rich enough and this would be a pleasant experience. Even for others who are more used to a heavier taste, they should still be able to taste the soy undertone in the soup.

For this recipe, I'm using regular white mushroom, and a mix of vegetable - what ever I currently have in the fridge (except carrots - it would make the soup too sweet). You can do the same too.  Veggie soup - in all kinds of ways - is always the best fridge clean-out.

Vegan Mushroom Soup

Serve 2
Total time: under 30 minutes

  • *4 cups unsweetened soymilk
  • 5 large white mushrooms - chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower - small florets
  • 1/2 cup onion - diced
  • 1 stalks celery - diced or sliced long at diagonal
  • 1 cup zuchini - chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • a handful of spinach - rough chopped
  • a few sprigs of cilantro - rough chopped or just use the leaves
  • 1 tsp Italian herb
  • Himalayan salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp EVOO or olive oil spray

  1. On medium-high heat, sweat the onions along with cauliflower and mushrooms. Toss around until the mushrooms and cauliflower is semi cooked.
  2. Add celery, zucchini, corn and toss them all for a couple more minutes then pour in soymilk.
  3. Add Italian herb, salt and pepper.
    *Since the amount of salt and pepper is to taste, you can add water or more soymilk if the liquid is not enough.
  4. Bring to boil, then immediately lower the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
  5. When it starts to boil again, add in spinach. Stir until spinach is cooked the turn off heat.
  6. Serve immediately, garnish with cilantro.