Sunday, October 19, 2014

Losing Big to Become Small

Having been wearing size 16, 18, 3XL or 4XL for nearly 10 years, I would naturally go straight to the plus size section to buy clothes.  There was even a time I had to go online shopping with One Stop Shop OSP, Avenue or Jessica London since most US sized clothes fit me well. I had more choices when I shop online than to go local department store simply because the average Filipino ladies have small to medium body frames. It is also unfortunate that there are few choices for plus sized ladies when it comes to clothes.  

Few months ago, I decided to take a healthier lifestyle by enrolling at the Cohen Lifestyle Program. It was a big challenge to my discipline and determination.  Following the eating plan, one is guaranteed to lose weight in a healthier manner.  I am on my 7th month and finally reaping the fruits of my labor.

I lost 64 lbs already but I am still 16 lbs away from my target weight.  Although I still need to shed this last difficult pounds away, it feels good to be able to wear small or medium sized clothes at this stage. It has been ages since I am able to wear clothes of this size.  Month on month my clothes sizes changes and this month having been able to wear S/M was all worth the control for cravings.  

Not that I feel less confident when I was bigger but losing the fats made me feel healthier.  I can walk for hours without getting tired easily or having sore feet.  Surprisingly my acid reflux and the joint pains in my hands due to high uric acid stopped.  I pray for more strength to keep on going and make better choices for my body.  Some of the things that became a habit under the lifestyle are the following:
  • Water intake of at least 2 liters a day
  • Spacing of meals is key (5 hours in between major meals)
  • Cooking the healthier way like broiling, steaming or air frying and using canola and olive oil to pan fry food
  • Appreciating vegetables more than ever (eating more greens)
  • Getting enough sleep (at least 6 hours) and going to bed before 10pm
I may have not sweat it out but I lost big time to become small by food discipline and focus.  It not easy but the sacrifices are all worth it.  Choose to be healthy :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pickled Radish: Best Korean Fried Chicken Side Dish

I was doing grocery the other day and chance upon a Korean radish from Landmark Supermarket in Makati.  I grabbed one good size piece and boy am I ready to do that pickled radish.  Here in the Philippines fried chicken is usually paired with gravy or catsup but in South Korea, fried chicken almost always go with pickled radish.

Whenever we visit South Korea, we always order for fried chicken.  Even in HOFs, short for a bar that sells beer and chicken, customer always gets pickled radish on the side.  Surprisingly, the Korean radish does not taste as intimidating as the Philippine radish.  It does not have the strong taste rather it's a tasty version of turnips (singkamas).  

It's quite easy to make you just need Korean radish, white vinegar (the clear one) and sugar.   Just cut the Korean radish in small cubes about 1cm in size.  Mix well a part of vinegar with sugar until you don't see traces of sugar.  Put in a glass container and keep on refrigerator.  It will last for weeks because of the vinegar.   I usually follow 1:1 ratio for all the ingredients to copy that Korean taste but you can adjust based on your liking.  

The radish has to be the Korean variant, otherwise you won't be able to achieve that taste.  I tried using a local radish in the absence of the Korean variant before and it came out too strong.  It has the feel and aftertaste like wasabi.  Pickled radish is sweet and the radish is crunchy.  Goes perfectly well with that Korean fried chicken.  I am yet to discover how to make their version of breaded fried chicken.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Go Nuts About Donuts

I am totally addicted with baking and cooking these days.  Despite the fact that I am on Cohen Lifestyle Program, I continued with this passion.  I guess this becomes my outlet for being under controlled food intake.   I may not be able to eat what I bake in full serving but I get to taste a little bite of each before serving it to my kids.  I used to buy those fancy donuts from Krispy Kreme and J.Co but my kids like sugar raised and cinnamon flavoured ones.  Sugar raised and Cinnamon are simpler donut variants but they are priced just like the fancy ones so  I thought of looking for a recipe that resembles the taste of these famous donuts and make them at home.

I found this recipe that somehow resembles the dough of J.Co donuts. Credits to Baking Bee for the recipe.  Its lighter than the 'heavy' Krispy Kreme (which I also tried using another food hack recipe online). My kids love this donut, its fluffly :-)  I stopped buying them donuts and would make fresh ones when they request.

This donut recipe makes use of yeast.  I must admit I am quite intimidated with this ingredient at first but I guess practice makes perfect.  Since yeast is part of the ingredients, even the instant, fast acting ones requires time for the dough to rise so you need to factor that in preparing this sweet treat.

Dough 1
Bread Flour - 141 g
Instant Yeast - 5 g
Salt - 1.67 g (slightly less than 1/2 Tsp, 1 Tsp salt is approx. 4g)
Water - 100g

Dough 2
Bread Flour - 33 g
Salt - 1.67 g
Milk Powder - 10g
Sugar - 22 g
Eggs - 22 g (1/2 large egg)
Shortening - 21 g


Get ready with Dough 1.  Combine yeast, salt  and  bread flour in a mixing bowl.  Make a hole in the middle (like a donut) where you pour the water in.  Mix in medium speed using paddle of a stand mixer. (the Baking Bee knead the dough by hand and it worked)

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in a warm place for 90 minutes.  Your dough will look like this after:

Combine all ingredients in Dough 2 and knead into a dough. You may want to do this few minutes before Dough 1 is well proofed.   Mix Dough 1 and Dough 2 together, cover and rest for another 15 mins.

Using a roller pin, roll dough on a floured surface to 1 cm thick. Rest 10 Mins.  I read that a perfect dough stretches well.  I guess I got my dough right :-)

Using a donut cutter, cut into shapes, place on grease pan and let rest further 10 minutes.   The dough will rise a bit more as shown below.  Make sure you reserve the holes because its fun to munch them later.  I also used it to test fry. 

Deep fry on low flame till light golden brown. The donuts will expand slightly (puff out) during frying. Cool on wire rack or paper towel to drain out oil. I don't have a wire rack so i used paper towels to cool the donuts.  Toss donuts in a bowl of sugar.  I also made cinnamon sugar by combining 1/4 cup of sugar and 4 teaspoons of cinnamon.  I tossed the holes on the cinnamon sugar.  

I also made my own Alcapone donut but with cream cheese frosting instead of the sweet ones that J.Co offers, finished it off with sliced almonds on top.

I did this recipe over and over, tried in simple glaze and chocolate.  I followed Alton Brown's simple glaze recipe from Food network.  I later on added chocolate from the glaze recipe and had chocolate glazed donuts.

My kids and sister could not resist eating one donut after another.  Thanks to this recipe I get to make fresh donuts at home.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Obese No More!

It's been four months since I started with my weigh loss journey through the Cohen Lifestyle Program.  On April 3, 2014 I made a decision to shed the excess weight that I had for years.  For more than 10 years I just kept on gaining weight.  I tried so many programs from gym enrolment, weight loss program from Marie France to calorie counting and diet supplements.  Nothing worked on me.

I started 206.7 lbs and now I am down to 157 lbs.  My target weight under the program is between 112 to 116 lbs.  I know I am still 40 lbs away from this but I know I am getting there one pound at a time.  I have never been under or within the 150s ever since I gave birth to my eldest.  So as early as now I am so convinced that the Cohen Lifestyle program really works if you stick to the eating plan.

April 3, 2014 and August 7, 2014

All the cooking and food preparations paid off.  Time management and discipline are key elements in entering the program.  You have to follow the prescribed eating plan and truly food becomes your medicine.  From a 3XL or sometimes 4XL I am now down to Large sized clothes, there are even cases where I fit to medium.   I really thought this will never happen in my life.  I really gave up on my weight and accepted the fact I'd be obese until I saw people losing weight from this program.  I started asking people under the program and learned that if I follow the plan then weight lose is a sure thing to happen.  Contrary to the other programs I have been to with no definite plans or process on how to go by day by day, I find it easier to have a set of rules to follow.  Cohen definitely is black and white on what can or cannot be done under the program.  For someone who tried so many things already, having a set of steps and rules to follow that will guarantee weight loss would mean a lot in terms of focus and determination.

I am really glad that I made the decision 4 months ago.  Finally, I can hear people complimenting me on my slimmer look, something I thought was just a dream or wishful thinking.  I am still be overweight but I am OBESE NO MORE :-)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vigan Heritage Homestay

This summer we spent one weekend driving further north.  We are all excited to experience Ilocos and so our day 1 of this summer joy ride started with Vigan as our first stop.  We drove from Malolos to Ilocos through the LEX's with Betsy, our Kia Sportage.  From the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), we went straight and entered the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) until we reached connection to Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway (TPLEX).  TPLEX is still under construction, during that time the last toll exit on service is the Paniqui exit in Tarlac.  This highway stretch is supposed to reach La Union and will surely make our next north escapade faster. 

Believe it or not we relied on the directions from in our navigation. It was later in our Ilocos Sur to Ilocos Norte leg that I discovered Waze is actually a better navigator.  Nevertheless with the distance and Betsy's odometer we safely reached Vigan, Villa Angela Heritage Home our destination. 

I read a lot of good reviews on Villa Angela from TripAdvisor.  Considering the location, price, experience and review, I decided to book one of the few rooms of this villa.  Originally, I booked Cuarto delos Hijos but was later on given the Cuarto delas Hijas as it has its own bathroom.  For Php 2800 a night (off peak rate), our stay at Villa Angela was worth every centavo.  

The room is so big.  The 6 of us (4 adults and 2 kids) easily fit in the bed and we got so much space to move around.  The room is equipped with air-condition, TV and bathroom with hot water.  It's everyone's first time to sleep in vintage canopy beds.  Surprising the bed is sturdy and not as fragile as i thought it would be.  I was afraid it would make that creaking sound whenever the kids are throwing themselves on the bed.

The room comes with a free breakfast for four.  It was a treat to get a taste of original Vigan longganisa in the grand dining table of Villa Angela.  With the fried rice, egg and Vigan vinegar the longganisa was perfect for breakfast.  What makes it more special is the warm Ilocano service.

Villa Angela is strategically located, the back entrance of the house is a short cut to the famous Calle Crisologo.  The Villa allows guests to use this entrance.  Calle Crisologo is a perfect destination to experience Vigan.  Souvenir shops, traditional Ilocano delicacies and restaurants are lined up on this street. 

Despite all these stores we ended up buying our longganisa and basi (Ilocano wine) from Villa Angela. Their prices were quite competitive, it was likewise convenient for us to pick up the goodies the following day on our way back to Malolos.  True to the reviews from TripAdvisor, Villa Angela stay is truly a memorable experience not just for the heritage house but for the warm service that their staff provide.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cohen Style Pizza

When i started with Cohen Lifestyle, despite being an 'able cook' at home, it was hard to prepare meals that are compliant with the the prescription.  Coming from a tasty eating habit, eating food in controlled seasoning is a big change. 

One thing I am very thankful about is having cheese in the eating plan and one of my favorite Cohen compliant food is the vegetable pizza.  It's very simple to make although I wish I can have this everyday, the eating plan limits the use of cheese.

The crust of the pizza is made of the allowed crackers.  I think the Meiji crackers is best as base for pizza but Kavli Thins was equally good plus its bigger than the 2 Meiji crackers put together.

The recipe is simple, I use the following ingredients:
  • onions, green bell pepper, mushroom, garlic and tomato for the veggie allowance
  • dried basil, pepper and salt
  • 2pcs kavli crackers
  • mozarella cheese based on allowance
I simply arrange the veggies on top of the crackers except for the garlic which i slice thinly and set aside. Sprinkle some  dried basil, pepper and salt then cover it with mozarella cheese which I slice thinly to cover the crackers.  Finally the sliced garlic is placed on top of the cheese. It only takes 3-5 minutes to cook this via air fryer or oven toaster. When the mozarella is browned and bubbly its ready.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lifestyle Change: Cooking the Cohen Way

One of the common advices of doctors for diabetic and obese patients is to do a lifestyle change.  I remember when my dad was diagnosed of diabetes, he was advised to change lifestyle which includes abstaining from sugar and choosing the right carbohydrates.  To me, during that time, it is just a diet but now I realized that lifestyle change goes beyond 'diet'.  Its about choices in our daily routine, exactly what Cohenites (referred to people under the Cohen program) are being taught to practice.

Other than the allowed food, the manner of cooking food the Cohen way is a big lifestyle change.  I never got to eat deep fried food since day 1.  Food is either broiled, boiled, grilled or pan fried.  As we are allowed to use herbs and some spices at a very limited amount, i cooked with less salt and pepper. This get me to appreciate the natural taste and flavor of ingredients. 

This is one of my very first Cohen compliant meal -- beef tenderloin in bell pepper and cauliflower. 

I used beef tenderloin in sukiyaki cut for this meal sautéed in garlic and onion.  I had to use extra virgin olive oil spray as use of oil is limited in the plan.  As soon as the meat is browned, small amount of water is poured to deglaze the pan.  Cauliflower is added then bell pepper.  Finally, I seasoned it with little salt and pepper.  

Setting aside the program, this meal is one of the most bland meal i every had.  It was hard to finish the food if you are used to sauces, oils, spices and tasty meals.  But I came up with several reasons to finish my food:
  1. This is a cure to my obesity
  2. There are people who cannot even get to taste tenderloin beef or meat in general
  3. At least I get to eat so i never get hungry
  4. I paid Php60,000 for this program and I will not waste time by not following it
You will never cook the same way before. Suddenly, I had the appreciation for the strong taste of bell pepper, how I can balsamic vinegar became a staple in my cooking and how each spice can help me create a new meal out of the same ingredients.