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

Opening a coconut at home

So. Dear2 bought a coconut from NTUC last weekend. Baby1 was taking her afternoon nap and we decided it was time to enjoy a cool refreshing coconut drink. The only problem was that, we don’t know how to open a coconut…

I’ve opened a wild coconut before. That was way back during my NSF days. I remembered it was during the ‘escaping’ phase of our POW (prisoner of war) training. We ‘escaped’ from our captors and found ourselves at a beach, tired and thirsty. We decided to break open a coconut. It was tough. We spent around 30 minutes prying at the coconut with our palm sized jack-knifes and hurling the coconut against jagged rocks. Finally, we cracked an opening and enjoyed our coconut juice.

Well, there’s got to be a better way to open a coconut at home. So I started by carefully chopping away the top of the coconut, hoping to create a hole small enough to put a straw in. After some quick chopping, I’ve only managed to remove the husk and exposing the inner shell.

I spent the next few minutes hacking at the inner shell, hoping to crack it in some way. It was futile. At the same time, I was worried about using excessive strength as I don’t want to injure myself by breaking the kitchen knife.

It wasn’t working. I decided to try piercing at the shell using a butter knife, mainly because a butter knife is thicker and the blade and knife was a whole and not two separate parts, hence less likelihood of an accident. Obviously, it didn’t even make a dent in the shell.

Next, Dear2 suggested using a corkscrew. Ok, I thought. We try it but to no avail. The shell was way too hard for the pointed corkscrew to penetrate.

Then, I went back to the kitchen knife and tried using the point tip to drill a hole in the shell, just enough to insert a straw. It went pretty well. I dug several millimetres into the shell and suddenly, Snap! The knife tip broke and embedded itself in the shell. Oh no.

Meanwhile, Dear2 had begun searching on Youtube for tutorial videos on opening coconuts. She showed me this one.

Wow. It looked easy in the video. And the knife looked sharp. Our kitchen knife surely wasn’t that sharp, but we should try that sideways chopping technique. Maybe that’s the reason why coconuts sold at supermarkets were pre-sliced into such a cylindrical shape. So that we can lay the coconut sideways and chop just like in the video.

I picked up the kitchen knife and went back to the chopping boards. Placing the coconut sideways, I started chopping, mimicking the video. I knew my knife wasn’t as sharp, so I started rotating the coconut to create a weakened rim around the top of the shell where I want the opening to be.

The rim was completed. I peeled away the excess husk and focused my efforts on a particular side of the coconut. I maintained chopping repeatedly at the same spot. After around 20 chops, the knife blade went through. The first opening was made. I checked but it wasn’t enough, yet.

I rotated the coconut slightly and repeated the procedure. It was much easier now that an opening was already made. It was a matter of extending the gap while not losing too much coconut juice. A few more pries and the shell cap came off with a firm tug.

A success! Hooray!

Youtube saved the day. I learnt a new skill. Dear2 had fresh coconut juice. And we created another piece of fond memory in our home. :)

-Dear1