Food, Food, Food!

I have a super love-hate relationship with food.

All of us need food; for energy, for nutrients, or for comfort.  How nice if we can eat all the nice and yummy foods all to our hearts content.  But the problem with food is that it adds bulk, and yummy foods tend to create all the health problems.  “You are what you eat” cannot describe this better enough.

As a SAHM now, I tried to take it upon myself to prepare home-cooked meals for Dear1, Baby1 and Baby2.  They say home-cooked foods are healthier as you know what you put into the food.  I say, provided you choose to put only wholly organic, wholly unseasoned, and wholly unprocessed foods onto your plates.  Theoretically, this sounds like an awesome healthy plan; practically, you’ve got no idea how tedious this is!

99% of whole foods taste bland without any seasonings. “Is the food nice?” is a very subjective question, and nowadays I find it meaningless to ask this question. If the food is nice, it’s probably because of the ample amount of seasonings used to bring out the flavour; if the food is not nice, it tends to be healthier because less seasonings are used but most people will shun and go “bleh”.  The most depressing role of a SAHM is when you spend efforts to cook up a healthy meal, only to get rated “thumbs down” by Baby1 and Baby2 for blandness.  You only deal with 3 customers day-in-day-out everyday, and only Dear1 is supportive of natural sweetness, so that’s pretty demoralising KPIs.  Letting the kids eat their favourite wonton mee from the market everyday sounds like a more sure-proof way to get them to finish their meals fast, everyday.

To get the kids to appreciate food (or the efforts used in preparing food), we’ve recently started to get them to say thanks at the dining table. The one thing that I like about Korean culture is, they always say thanks.  Thanks to the person who spent efforts to prepare the food, and being appreciative of the food (I mean, how fortunate that we get food, what’s more yummy food on the table; think about the poor people in third world countries).  The kids are just getting the hang of this.  Hopefully this makes them appreciate food + effort more, and don’t waste food.

Recently I’ve also started to teach Baby1 to cook too.  Since young, she likes to play with cooking toys, so instead of playing, let’s do some real cooking!  It’s heartening to see how eager she wants to do all the hands-on work, and the pride on her face when we say thanks to her (only) when she single-handedly prepared her first ever roast pork long bean rice for dinner.  She’s fascinated watching MasterChef Junior too, but I’m not entirely prepared for her to be one yet; can I trust her to handle all the sharp cutting, hot oils and pans, electrical appliances, as well as food hygiene?

You are what you eat.  I know, I should cook more at home, cos it’s really hard to achieve the healthy plate when you eat out.  It’s so convenient to dabao, especially when food is literally available right across the road.  Hawker food tends to be loaded with more carbo and flavourings, so home-cook can better achieve that healthy plate of half fruits and vegetables, one quarter proteins, and one quarter carbo.  PM also says we need to tackle the problem of diabetes, so I guess we really need to change our mindset of eating bowlfuls of rice/ noodles, and exercise more.

– Dear2

 

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Sweet and Salty Unhealthy Comfort Delights

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For some years now, Dear2 and I have been trying to eat healthily, both for ourselves and for our family. But once in a while, we also like to indulge ourselves in some happy food. Therefore, since the quota for happy food is limited, we have to be really selective of our happy food.

No point wasting stomach on lousy food.

These are some of the snacks that we’ve bought recently.

  1. Many years ago, there was a period of time when we would regularly buy 1.5l bottles of Coke from the supermarket. Andbwe found ourselves craving for more Coke when we ran out. It was then that we realized Coke can be addictive. Since then, we have not bought any more Coke for ourselves. Also, since we are trying to lose weight, high sugar drinks such as Coke are avoided. However, we make small exceptions for indulgence, such as when Granny gave us a few cans of Coke leftover from Chinese New Year gatherings.
  2. When I was at my previous job, I used to drink free Milo from the pantry daily. Sometimes, I would even make a Milo dinosaur! Unknowingly, I gained quite a bit of weight and I attribute it to the Milo. But I still enjoy Milo, especially those from the Milo truck. It’s a wonder why Milo truck produces the most consistent Milo. Even MacDonald’s makes lousy Milo at times. Recently, when a fantastic  offer from Nestle online shop came along, 2 cartons (2×24 packets) for $15.50, we just couldn’t resist ordering.
  3. I first started buying Haagen Dazs ice cream from the supermarket when it was selling 2 for $19.90. I love chocolate so naturally I took a pint of Belgium Chocolate. It was heavenly. Since then, we would occasionally try our different flavours of Haagen Dazs, but each one was more disappointing than the last. Even the Haagen Dazs ice cream stick was inferior to Walls Magnum. Well, enough of trying, no point wasting stomach on lousy food. So when a recently NTUC promotion was selling 2 for $19.85, we decided to go straight for Belgium Chocolate x 2.
  4. Salted egg flavoured snacks are all the craze these days. I really enjoyed salted egg, like in double yoke mooncakes. I also fondly remember the salted egg prawns at Whampoa Keng, salted egg crab at Tradehub 21 Kimly Seafood, and 流沙包 from Baker Talent. And I never fail to order a sample of 流沙包 whenever we ate at dim sum restaurants. But it is really high on cholesterol, and I needed to lower mine. Be selective. My colleague recently treated me to some salted egg fish skin and it was rather good. And I heard about salted egg potato chips on the radio. Turns out that they are both made by the same company. So, yesterday, while we were running errands at Ang Mo Kio (we were buying music books for Baby1), we popped by Leban HK Cafe and bought 3 cans of salted egg snacks @ $15 each. Expensive! Yummy!
    The occasional selective indulgence to keep the healthier choice momentum going. :P’

-Dear1

2015 New Year Resolutions

We had a bad end/ rough start to 2014/ 2015, so only managed to review and plan out our 2015 new year resolutions recently.  Who cares, there’s still 11 more months in 2015.

As usual, we reviewed our 2014 resolutions first, before coming out new ones.  Though Dear1 and Dear2 did occasionally bring out the 2014 resolutions to remind ourselves, we failed quite miserably in meeting them at the end of the year.  Nonetheless, they did serve as good reminders for us throughout the year.  :)

As of any NYR, the 2015 new year resolutions should be SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and with a Time.  Here goes:

For Dear2:

– Beauty (take good care of oneself first before you are able to take care of your loved ones): Do daily skin moisturizing and monthly face masks + exfoliation

– Waist: Attain 28″ by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1min)

– Self Improvement: Try cooking new dish every month

– Cook: Master (盆菜 or other dish) for next CNY by next CNY

– Speak slowly, Listen carefully, Smile more

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

– Drive: Do 1 morning routine by end of year

For Dear1:

– Weight: Reach 68kg by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1.5min)

– Self Improvement: Learn 2 programming languages (Python and Julia)

– Temper: Be more tolerant with Baby1 and Baby2

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

For us:

– Family Activities: Out-of-house/ malls activities once a month

– Couple Activities: Just for Dear1 and Dear2 activity/ new experiences bi-monthly or join 1 (dance) class

– Hugs & Kiss: Hug and kiss Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 everyday

– Travel: 1 long and 1 short trip for this year

– Finance: Save more money in this year

– House: Continue to view house

– Friends and Relatives: Have quarterly gatherings with friends/ relatives

– Nutrition: Eat at least 1 fruit every week

– Family Events: Participate in 1 (cycling) event

– Couple Time: Have just Dear1 and Dear2 time every week

A lot of times, when one reviews the new year resolutions at the end of the year, one will be dismayed that the goals might has changed course along the way.  Time does not stand still, and things are constantly evolving.  So take heart if the circumstances do not go as you’ve wished, for these new year resolutions still serve as a reminder to what your goals were one year back.

Happy New Year!

– Dear2

PS: Last year, we had a couple of monthly goals, but 1 year 12 times was quite hard to achieve given our busy schedules.  So we changed some of these to lower frequency.  Nonetheless, these still require conscious tracking, hence we decided to draw up a list and have them displayed on the kitchen fridge!  :)

$3 Lunch @ Raffles Place, where, where?

Dear1 did a tally of our monthly expenses, here’s the approximate breakdown:

Insurance – 5.68%

Fixed Costs (include allowance to parents, transport, food, groceries and telco) – 29.2%

Childcare – 9.6%

Leisure – 2.6%

Car – 11.2%

Savings – 42.0%

The expenses sounds like an under estimate, cos some of the items are estimated.  I don’t think we spend only $100 per month on entertainment/new clothes/restaurants/ang baos for birthdays or weddings/holidays. Also, extraordinary expenses like a new fan for the hot season, recontract for new handphone, replacement for leaking shower head, etc not included.

Insurance is going to go up as I am beefing up our coverage with term insurance, plus getting a whole life plan for Baby2.  And our house…..  We need to have a lot of money for that!

So, here I am racking my brains on how to cut costs.  Childcare, car, these costs will only go up.  One of the ways to save more is to reduce my personal consumption.

Dear1 budgeted $10 per day for my meals, while his own budget is $4 (vast difference because I work in Raffles Place!).   I usually have a $5 soup, plus some afternoon snacks or morning breakfast.  That’s way too spendthrift.  Perhaps I need to walk further to Lau Pa Sat or Golden Shoe for cheaper meals, instead of the super convenient but expensive Arcade.  If I can get lunch at $3 everyday, then that’s only $66 per month, compared to $220 per month now, wow!  Ok, maybe $3 will be pretty tough to find around in Raffles Place, let’s target $3.50 then.  Really have to look at the price tag of every meal.  Perhaps I’ll embark on this project to track the cost of my daily lunch, and the location of all the cheap cheap food.  Hmm…

– Dear2

On Losing Weight

I did it!  I’ve gone from a bigger than XL to a M/L now, keke…  I lost 6 kg in 6 months, now 55kg.  Here’s how.

1)      Eat less.  I try to cut out on rice and have soups-only during lunch.  On days when I don’t feel hungry, I skip breakfast.  I eat only when I feel hungry, and I eat the foods that I like during this time.  For dinner, my plate is only ¼ rice, and a lot of dishes.  I try to avoid bread and biscuits and rice and flour, unless I am hungry.

2)      Eat my favourites. Nope, not raw yucky salads or fibre-ry wholemeals.  I still eat chips and chocolates and fried chicken and milk tea and hot milo, but only when I am hungry (becos I’d skipped breakfast).  So I still can have my favourites but these replace the main meal, as compared to becoming an ADDITIONAL in the stomach.

3)      Have half a cup of coffee.  Or maybe 1/3 cup only.  For many people including myself, coffee is a comfort food, but instead of having the daily full cup, I make 1/3 cup only for myself, which is about enough for me to satisfy the taste buds; any extras will only give nominal satisfaction, so not worth it lah.

4)      Exercise.  Yeah, you still need to exercise to target the right curves.  So I wake up at 6am to do half an hour of hula hoop every weekday morning, or replace with 10 min weights lifting or 5 min sit up if I’m too sleep-deprived to get up on time.  And more recently, I try to jog a few km during Sundays for a thorough work out.

5)      Stay stress free. It’s hard sometimes, but the human willpower collapse easily when you are stressed.  I’ve packed back many many grams because of this, when the will is not strong enough and gives in to more snacks and food and sugar drinks and everything food.

6)      Have a competition with like-minded friends. Yeah, the 6 kg lose in 6 months was documented because we had a competition among a few colleagues. Maybe I’m competitive, or maybe I’m stingy, but I’d really ‘step up’ on my dieting efforts towards the end of the challenge, because I want to look better than them, and because I don’t want to pay the forfeit.

7)      Use a tummy slimming cream.  I bought the Bio essence tummy cream, but I really don’t see/feel any effects of it.  The waist is slimmer now, but I’ll attribute it to the hula hoops. But since money already spent, I’ll definitely finish the (2) tubes.

8)      Don’t finish your food.  It’s wasteful, I know, but for this period of time, losing weight is more important than being environmentally friendly.  So since Mixed Vege Rice, Fish Soup and Soups do not come in ‘pay less for less rice’, I’d stop buying the rice entirely.  For snacks, I’ll keep the rest when satisfaction has been met or hunger satisfied.

55kg was the target that I set for myself earlier this year, so now the next target is 52kg, after which we’ll just have to maintain.  Don’t be complacent yet, I have to tell myself, we still want to look our best, so that we can feel the best constantly.

Gambatte!!

– Dear2

Thank You, Mums and Dads

It’s the time of the year again for eating expensive.

There’s Mother’s Day (this Sunday), Father’s Day (next month), Mother’s Birthday (in June) and Father-in-Law’s Birthday (end of May).  2 parents each for Dear1 and Dear2, plus Dear1’s grandmother, so we have many many festivals to celebrate every year just for the elders (groan….…).

Every year during this season, we will take the respective family out for a restaurant meal, or in recent years, been ‘coerced’ into the meal by our younger but more generous siblings.  After years and years of dining, it has become a dread, cos:

1)      The restaurants are super crowded during the Father’s Day and Mother’s Day peak.  Why can’t everyone just have a sumptuous home cooked meal at home!?

2)      We’re paying expensive amounts for just a meal!?  (I’ll never forget that $400 bill for 6 pax on a Mother’s Birthday celebration.  I don’t even earn that much in a day!!!)

3)      The dining experience is really just pure eating for us.  Occasionally we’ll  chat with the siblings (ermm sorry, the parents just can’t fit into the conversation)

4)      Times 4 meals within a short span of 2 months.  Omg, the BIG hole in the pocket $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

It was with much much reluctance in recent years that Dear1 and I participate in the yearly rituals.

This year however, suddenly my perception changed.  I actually dun mind bringing the Mum out for her yearly reward, and I even proposed to organize the Mother-in-law’s Mother’s Day meal.  Hmm, what got into me….?

It has been a hectic year this past year.  Mum has been taking care of our little newborn Baby2 daily since birth, now already 7 months old, and before that Baby1 until Baby2 came along.  And Mother-in-law is helping to bath and feed Baby1 after childcare every day too, freeing up precious energy for Dear1 and I.

Somehow, the new parents of this generation expect our parents to help out with the kids, perhaps because we ourselves were raised single-handedly by our grannies.  Granny probably cooked and bathed and took care of a few cousins at the same time back then.  But apparently our parents don’t feel the same now.  Childcare centre, nannies, maid, SAHM, relax and enjoy own retirement years – I think our parents really do prefer these than having to stay home all day and babysit.

So, looking at how our own parents sacrificed their ‘happiness’ and be occupied and tired every day from looking after our 2 girls, I think they do deserve a nice treat.  It’s just a meal in that 365 days, but that’s a little way of expressing our thanks to them.

We brought Mum out for dim sum last Sunday already, and are planning for a dinner for Mother-in-law next Sunday (read, avoid the actual DAY!).

Have your made your reservations?

– Dear2

The Less You Try to Eat, The More You Actually Eat

Urgh, it’s so hard to shed those pounds.

When I was in JC, I was too light to donate blood.  The minimum weight was 50kg and I was 48kg at that time.  Those were the days….

After Baby1, I decided not to attempt to lose any weight.  “We’ll be trying for Baby2 anyway, so no point to lose weight now” was my thinking.  Before concieving Baby1, I was around 55kg.  After giving birth to Baby1, my weight continued to pile on silently and I was 60+kg just before conceiving Baby2.  From M to L and even some XLs are even too tight….

Fast forward to present day.  Baby2 is 2.5 month old now, and I am still at 62kg.  I never used to think kgs are hard to shed – aren’t they just numbers?   But my weighing machine is still not giving me the 55 that I want to see, sobz…..

I try to cut down on rice for dinners.  I try to skip breakfast if I’m not feeling hungry in the morning.  I drink more soup and eat vegetables in place of rice so that my stomach will be full.  I drink water/juices/any fluids in the afternoons when I feel hungry.  I go to bed with a growling stomach and tell myself no supper at all.  I drink half a cup of coffee so that I don’t take in an additional half spoon more of sugar.

But I end up having fried chicken for dinner because I have been having such awful meals the past week.  My dinner was durians because I can’t have it as a snack.  I had cheese fries because I need to reward myself.  I reward myself with 3 packs tidbits and 1 cup milk tea again.

It seems that the less I try to eat, the more I actually eat!

Dieting is so hard, it really takes a lot of will power. And after all that suffering, there may not be even any visible effects.

But this time round, I am determined to lose that weight.  I want to be a chio mummy!  Jiayou jiayou jiayou!

– Dear2