Friday, April 27, 2007

My New Revelation

I have decided to continue my diet FOREVER!!!
I feel great, I think my clothes fit a bit better, and I lost maybe a pound or two.
The thing is, the basic principle behind any detox, or healthy weight loss is to eat less processed food, don't indulge in sweets and no white, refined, unnutritious fillers like white bread etc..

Last night I cheated and had an orange and 5 prawns.
Today I had 3 triskets with brie cheese from treat day.

Tonight, I am making: Turkey Meatloaf with Asparagus which is a little different than my usual cooking extravaganzas that involves cream and short ribs. The recipe is from a Light Cooking book that uses a lot of naturally fat free items like vegetables and herbs for flavor instead of using substitutes like fat-free sour cream etc.. That is why I am not fond of cookbooks like Looney Spoons. The recipes are low fat, but full of processed items like ketchup. I understand that may be good for people who like fast easy food and used to eating hamburgers for dinner.

But for me, I am on a mission to eat healthy unprocessed foods that are delicious. My next step is to try and eat more foods that are environmentally and ethically feasible.

I know, one step at a time....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day 7 (14 days to go)

Breakfast: banana and soy shake

Snack: Curried chicken salad with a brown rice cake

Lunch: Roasted chickpeas and almonds

Snack: Broccoli with hummus

Dinner: Steamed free range chicken with ginger oil (from T&T), carrot sticks with almond yoghurt sauce, self concocted chocolate yoghurt. (I ate this while my family feasted on steak and spaghetti with meatballs) Shows you how much support I get at home. My mother just shakes her head and laughs at me. I retaliate by telling her that she is putting refined, processed and fattening foods in her body. She laughs more.

I took out the 21-day Detox by Nish Joshi which is the book about the diet I am on. Dr. Joshi says that he was raised on a healthy vegetarian diet when he was a kid and never craved Fish and Chips like his British peers. He insists that if one is to follow the diet most of the time, the cravings will vanish eventually. I wonder when that will ever happen to me.

Curried Chicken Salad

-1 cup of cooked shredded chicken breast
-2 tablespoons of yoghurt
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-a bit of chopped cilantro
-salt and pepper

Mix yoghurt, curry powder, cilantro and salt and pepper together until its blended. Mix in shredded chicken. I would add a little raisins to it if I was off this diet.

Bon Appetit!

Day 6 (15 days to go)

Breakfast: banana and soy shake

Snack: celery stick with Cannellini Hummus

Lunch: Trout, spinach and 8-grain rice

Snack/Dinner: Falafel with almond yoghurt sauce, roasted chickpeas, yoghurt with unsweetened dutch cocoa (don't know if I am allowed this), walnuts and honey.

I made Cannellini Hummus which is a basic hummus recipe I have adapted to suit my dietary needs. I made it with Cannellini beans instead of chickpeas because that seems to be all I have been eating, don't you think?!

Cannellini Hummus:

-1 can of cannellini beans with half of the liquid dumped out
-juice of 1 lemon
-3 cloves of garlic
-2 handfuls of chopped cilantro
-1/3 cup olive oil
-2 heaping tablespoons of almond butter
- a bit of salt

Whirl everything in a blender for a few minutes until pureed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Lunch

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with cucumber salad

Lunch: all-u-can-eat sushi

Dinner: falafels and baked trout

Amazingly, I have been sticking to my diet with relative ease except for the no caffeine and no booze thing. I had a lunch date with my friend Tracy to catch up on girl talk and I told her I NEED to eat Japanese food, as that is a no brainer for dining out in my situation. We went to my all time favourite sushi joint, Sushi Garden, but it was closed. So we headed a couple blocks west to Fish-On-Rice for their all you can eat lunch.

I am a little ashamed to admit that I am actually a fan of buffets. I know the quality is usually somewhat lacking, but there is something about being surrounded by food that gives me joy.

Here are the things that I could eat:

-Edamame beans
-Green salad with lemon juice and salt
-Gomae with no dressing
-Salmon sashimi
-Chicken Karage without the skin
-Grilled salmon belly and cheek
-Grilled samma (fish)

I was trying not to break my diet by sprinkling lemon juice and salt on my sashimi and salad instead of using soy sauce and dressing. But then, I thought, what the heck, soy sauce is not going to kill me. I was anticipating the delectable combination of the sweetness of fresh salmon with the saltiness of soy sauce, but to my horror.....I didn't like it.

I thought the soy sauce tasted sweet and masked the taste of the fish. Note to self: the grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nando's Chicken

Breakfast: Banana and Soy shake

Snack: Roasted chickpeas and almonds

Lunch: Spinach Omelette

I was really worried about the weekend, as I do a lot of socializing around food. So tonight, instead of our usual cookoff, Chad and I went for a movie and dinner instead. I had not seen the guy for a while as we had both been quite busy, and he is getting ready to move homes next weekend.
I believe in making lemonade when life hands you lemons. So instead of giving him a sob story about dieting, I enthusiastically suggested we give Nando Chicken a try. Coincidentally, the only time we ever had Nando's chicken was when we went to the Eat Vancouver event where Nando had a booth. Chad was a little surprised at my choice of eatery, but since we are pressed for time to make it to our chosen show, there was no protest.
Nando is like an upscale Kentucky Fried chicken and their menu extends to Chicken kebabs. We are both the go big or go home kind of people, so we ordered a family pack that included 1/2 chicken, 8 wings, 2 kebabs, and 2 sides. I took the garden salad with no dressing, nuts and seeds on the side, and wedges of lemon while Chad had the peri fries.
To our surprise, the chicken was juicy and delicious. Actually, everything tasted quite good. Althought Chad advised me not to get the fries if I ever "get off this silly diet".

We went and watched Sharkwaters. A film I highly recommend, and I will try my very best NEVER to eat shark fin soup again. Seriously, I had no idea shark poaching was such a problem. Besides, shark fin doesn't even taste good. Now, if you asked me to give up something like abalone....

Oh, I may have been fond of Chad in the past, but let me tell you what he did at the movies. HE ATE A HUGE ICE-CREAM blizzard type dessert and asked me three times if I was sure I did not want any. %$*&^#!

Nando's Chicken (various locations)

Taste: 3.5 out of 5. The roast chicken was juicy, but the wings and kebabs were a little lacking.

Presentation: 2 out of 5. It's a chicken joint, what do you expect?!

Creativity: 2 out of 5. Comment same as above.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Day 3 (18 to go)

Breakfast: the usual (banana and soy shake), handful of almonds

Snack: banana and almonds.
And it is treat day today, which means that there is a mountain of delicious yet fattening foods in the staffroom for all to enjoy. I took a banana, which is a surprise, since there rarely is anything unadulterated and unrefined for treats.

Lunch: Leftover Roast Chicken with Spinach and Wild Rice and 1/2 banana.

Snack: Almonds and more almonds

Dinner: Cara's Chicken with brown rice, roasted asparagus and pea shoot salad.

After work today, My coworker Cara and I went to Bosa Foods. It was awesome. We love Bosa Foods, not for its many Italian Imports, but for its CHEAP prices. I got cans of Chickpeas for $0.99 instead of $1.39 at Save-Ons. I also stocked up on Almonds and Roasted Chickpeas for my snacks.

At night, Cara took pity on me and conjured up a recipe that only includes the pitiful set of ingredients I can eat. So we made a delicious meal of Spinach stuffed Chicken. Cara is a true genius. She has cupboards full of ingredients and made a recipe that includes only things I can eat. She kept on asking," Can you have this?"

So here is Cara's Chicken:

-2 chicken breasts (cut in the middle to form a pocket for stuffing)
-2 large handfuls of spinach leaves

-1 Lime
-2 anchovies
-1 teaspoon of capers
-4 tablespoons of olive oils
-salt and pepper

-Combine marinade ingredient in a food processor and reserve 1/2. Marinate the chicken breasts with the other half of the marinade for 15 minutes.
- Puree 1 large handful of Spinach leaves with the reserved marinade.
- Stuff each chicken breast with 3 spinach leaves that is coated with leftover marinade
-Close the pockets with toothpicks
-Spread the Spinach paste on top of the chicken breasts and bake at 350C for 25-30 minutes

It is too delicious for words. And it is not just because I have not had real food for days.
Try it for yourself.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day 2 (19 to go)

Breakfast: banana and soy milk shake and a handful of almonds

Snack: tofu and veggie soup, banana, and handful of almonds
Tony brought in some sinful cinnamon buns from some nice West Van bakery for our snack. Bastard! 1st encounter with temptation and I resisted!!

Lunch: 1/2 chicken breast and tofu and veggie soup

Snack: a banana and handful of almonds

Dinner: spinach sauteed with anchovies and garlic and plain organic yoghurt with honey.
( I sauteed 3 cloves of garlic with 2 anchovy fillet in olive oil until the fillets dissolved. Added 1 whole box of baby organic spinach and sauteed untill the spinach wilted.) It was yummy!
I think anchovies are going to be one of my favorite ingredients from now on, as it adds flavor to dishes that require seasoning from sauces etc. (which I cannot eat during detox).

Exercise: Cardio Kick box class (hellish)

I have this constant headache because of caffeine withdrawal. I don't know if you noticed, but I keep on eating bananas and almonds because I associate them with things like banana cream pie, almond chocolate dacquoise etc.. Apparently, my liver is getting cleansed and my cravings for sugar and caffeine will stop. My question is: when??!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 1 ( 20 to go )

Breakfast: banana and soy milk shake
Snack: organic field greens with 1/2 can salmon
Lunch: Whole grain wild rice mixture with 1/2 can salmon
Snack: Handful of almonds and a red banana ( interesting indeed)
Dinner: A small piece of baked chicken with sage and black sesame salt and a tiny bit of fish and vegetables.

(I put some chicken breasts into a corningware container, and placed 1 sage leaf and sprinkled Black Sesame Salt on each chicken breast. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake it covered for 20 mins. It is like a steamed chicken this way.)

I went to the grocery store after work. That used to be an activity that I loved. But instead of interesting cheeses and exotic olives, I got: bananas, almonds, canned salmon, spinach, cans of beans, sage, basil, chicken. Not too exciting, is it?!

After that, I went for a training session with Alicia at Fitness world. She is hard core and showed me these insane excercises that she expects me to do at least 3 sets of 12-15 each 2 times a week.

I'm scared.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My New Diet

I know, I know, "diet" should not belong to a foodie's vocabulary. But imagine this: after months of eating and drinking with abandon, you step on the scale because finally you have to face the truth. The pants are getting tighter, and the appetite just gets bigger. AGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

So I decided to do something about it. I ate salads and tried to abstain from booze, which in itself is like giving up on happiness. Then, even God gave me a sign to smarten up and loose the tub when I won a free 6 month membership to Fitness World.

The final kicker was last night at yoga when my gym crazed friend pinched my arm and said, "What is you fat % anyways?" As I was lamely explaining to her that I am doing all I can to get the situation under control, a fellow yogi heard, and recommended the Joshi diet. Seriously, I was expecting her to run to my rescue and say the polite "you don't need to lose weight". But she didn't. So that was it, my new detox diet and exercise regime is beginning today.

I am following the Joshi diet, which is a very healthy regiminen of chicken or fish (except tuna), soy products, no dairy except buffalo mozzarella, cottage and ricotta cheese, almonds, no fruits except for bananas, no carbs except for brown rice, veggies except for tomatoes, peppers and avocados, olive oil, and lemon for flavor. Apparently, after dieting like this for 21 days, I would have flushed enough toxins and fat stores out of my body, that I can relax a bit and eat moderate amounts of other foods.

So I am going in with a positive attitude and see it as a challenge for my culinary abilities. I will try to produce yummy food with the limited amount of ingredients I can work with. This is like the ultimate iron chef challenge. Everyday, I will post what I ate during the day and do a weigh-in every week. This is truly an ultimate test of my self control.......

Sumptuous Salads

Since I splurged on a $700 cooking course, I decided to get my money's worth by teaching my friends how to cook. Almost every week, I give my buddy Chad a cooking lesson. We try to make a meal to remember by pairing it with wine and putting garnishes on the food. We chat, we cook, we drink. How great is that?!

We've roasted game hens, grilled halibut cheeks, poached figs etc.. But you know what Chad is most impressed by? My ability to throw things together into "amazing" salads.

I have to say, you take salad to a whole new level when you add in exotic ingredients like Yamaimo (Japanses Mountain Yams) or make dressing with fig jam etc.. Salads are a great way to showcase the ingredients and your talent because the unadulterated ingredients need ingenuity to combine and compliment their flavours.

Here's my latest creation:

Chicken Caper Pepper Salad

Toss together as much or as little of each ingredient to your liking:

- organic field greens
-red or orange pepper sauteed in a bit of olive oil with a tablespoon of capers
-Roasted chicken (leftovers, or store bought) I like to roast 3-4 chicken breasts seasoned with salt pepper and minced garlic and covered with foil at 350C for approximately 20 mins.
- fig viniagrette ( 1/3 balsamic, 2/3 olive oil, fig jam and salt & pepper to taste).

Particularly enjoyable with a light fruity wine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I've heard about Rare, I've read about Rare, so I thought it is about time I tried Rare.
Rare has been the talk of town since last year. Its intimate setting and tasting menus enhance the sophistication to the dining scene in Vancouver. They incorporate little details like amuse bouche and palate cleansers into to their menus. Now, some people may think that is just a bit too chichi, but I love being tickled by little bites of culinary delight.

There is also an a la carte menu, but my dear friend Carm and I both opted for the Seasonal Menu, which costs $45. I think it is a reasonable price since we got a total of 6 items out of that menu. I thought the wine pairing ($40) was too expensive, but the accommodating waitress agreed to do a pairing for $25 with less costly pours.

While you are perusing the menu, the wait staff will start you off with an amuse bouche. We got smoked sablefish on an anchovy laced potatoe salad. It was a good start and tempted my tastebuds. Then we got some warm, moist, crusty bread with herb butter. One thing I always judge a restaurant on is by its bread basket. Score if the bread is warm, double score if the bread is warm and the texture is right. When the basket is filled with cold bread, it usually dampens my appetite because if a restaurant does not pay attention to the first thing it serves the guests, what makes me think that they will put that much thought into my food.

Okay, back to business. We then had the Sweet Pea and Mint custard on a buttermilk cracker. The combination was excellent, although the cracker is a tad stale. Then we moved on to the Baja Scallop served with a caper viniagrette and cauliflower puree laced with truffle oil. It was good but not exceptional. Then we moved onto Rabbit Saddle with proscuitto. Carm and I were both not too fond of this dish as it was not that flavorful. We washed that down with a little shot of hibiscus seltzer and moved on to the main entree. We both opted for the duck instead of the halibut. It was delicious. I think the combination with orange rhubarb was used to convey duck l'orange but I prefer the duck by itself. It was tender and tasty. Between the pre-dessert of Earl Grey Tea Sabayon and Deconstructed Lemon Pie, I prefer the Sabayon. It was served with a Fennel Biscotti that is used to scoop up the delicious creamy Sabayon. The combination of the floral Earl Grey and the licorice undertones of fennel was perfect.

Was it a good dining experience? Yes.
Was it exceptionally remarkable? No.

Taste: 7 out of 10
Creativity: 8 out of 10
Apperance: 8.5 out of 10

Rare Restaurant
1355 Hornby Street, Vancouver

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A Foodie's Day in West Vancouver

With the warm weather coming, what better time to go travelling around our delectable country than the Spring and Summmer? I don't know about you, but when I plan a trip, it usually revolves around eating. Of course, it is even better when the designated restaurants are close to the places I want to visit. I thought it is therefore my obligation, as a Vancouver native, to welcome fellow foodies from around the world to my beautiful homeland with a food friendly itinerary.

Vancouver is well known for its beautiful mountains and ocean, so what better way to sightsee than to head over to West Vancouver and enjoy tourist traps such as the Capilano suspension bridge, Grouse Mountain and Horseshoe Bay?

I would start my morning off with a visit to the Bakehouse in Edgemont Village and have either one of their breakfasts or my favourite, the Pumpkin spice muffin. Then take a little stroll around Edgemont Village as it houses two other noteworthy places: Delaney Coffee and Cobs Bread. I only ever drink Mochas at Delaney because they are simply the best, with the chocolate whip on top.

I suppose you would then head off to Capilano suspension bridge enroute to Grouse Mountain. They are both highly renowned for scenery and walking tours. After all that excercise, I would definitely recommend a casual sushi lunch at Sushi Station. I mean what kind of visit to Vancouver would be complete without lunch at a sushi spot? We have almost as many sushi restaurants as we have Starbucks. If sushi is not your thing, West Vancouver is also known for its Persian and Iranian food. A good place to sample them is a cool little place called Arian, where the nice woman behind the counter would give you little samples of the sauces and patiently tell you what is in each dish.

After lunch, there are several places you may want to visit: Lonsdale Quay, Horseshoe Bay or Lighthouse Park. They are all beautiful spots where you can see the Ocean. In between, you may want to visit the Savary Island Pie Company or Yaas Bakery for a snack.

You have a multitude of choices for dinner. For casual food, you have Mythos (great Greek food). For something hip, you have the Ocean Club Restaurant and Lounge where they serve up cool appies like mini shortrib burgers. And for something special, there is The Salmon House, which serves our famous salmon in one of the most scenic restaurants in the city.

I hope you enjoy Vancouver as much as all the tourists I see milling around our beautiful city!

The Bakehouse 1050 Queens Road, West Vancouver 604-980-5554
Delaney Coffee House various locations
Cobs Bread various locations
Sushi Station Japanese Restaurant 1643 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver 604-990-8897
Arian Food and Bakery Corp 1412 Marine Drive, West Vancouver 604-922-9599
Savary Island Pie Company 1533 Marine Drive, West Vancouver 604-926-4021
Yaas Bakery 1860 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver 604-990-9006
Mythos Greek Taverna 1811 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver 604-984-7411
Ocean Club Restaurant and Lounge 105-100 Park Royal South, West Vancouver 604-926-2326
Salmon House On The Hill 2229 Folkstone Way, West Vancouver, 604-926-3212

Friday, April 6, 2007

Easter Feasting

I think Foodies love the holidays because our hours of seeking goodies, planning menus and practice in cooking finally comes to fruition. This Easter, I will be roasting home brined pork picnic shoulders, asparagus flan and lemon dill orzo. Okay, who am I kidding. I never know what I'll be making until I hit the grocery store and see what inspires me. But one thing I know for sure, we will be having Hot Cross Buns for dessert.

I grew up in Hong Kong in the eighties and attended an International School. We learned all about the Easter Bunny and sang that silly song about hot cross buns. However, I thought this Easter stuff only happened at school because the rest of Hong Kong did not decorate their windows with bunnies and eat chocolate eggs. Hence the fact that I had never came across a hot cross bun until I came to Canada.

Now, I have never been very fond of these cinnamony buns crammed with various dried fruits because I detest currents and raisins. But when the CBC radio was searching for the best hot cross buns in the city, I went on a mission. I realize that people were nominating their favorite bakeries and vouching for their buns. Places like Uprising Bakery, Terra Breads and Savoury Island Pie Company all got honorable mentions.

I looked and pondered, and finally found just the right buns for me. And the winner is......Chocolate Hot Cross Buns from Cobs Breads. The Aussies (a couple of them founded the bakery) are geniuses.

The Chocolate Hot Cross Buns are little delightful treats that are filled with miniature chocolate chips instead of currents. The buns have a bit of cocoa in them to bring out the cinnamon and clove flavours. And it was shown in Wikipedia that Australians came up with the idea probably from the popular association with chocolate at Easter.

Traditionally, hot cross buns are eaten on Good Friday because they are made without eggs or dairy products, so people can eat them during Lent. Though the best way to eat them is to slather them with butter and warmed up in the toaster oven.

So guess what I had for breakfast today?