Lose Weight and Save Money by Switching to an Asian Diet


Ron's Blog

My friend told me a joke the other day: “Have you heard obesity in America has hit a plateau? Yeah, we’ve gotten as fat as we can possibly get!” Not so funny, huh? My friend weighs over 300 lbs.

The other alarming trend – and this is no joke – the rate of poverty is also on the rise. The latest statistic I read is 1 out 7 Americans lives at or below poverty level. And there’s certainly a lot more of us struggling to make ends meet.

How can this be? Wouldn’t you think if so many of us are just scraping by, there would be a lot more skinny Americans? It can’t be just lack of exercise. Something else must be going on. My guess is that we are eating the wrong things in the wrong way.

Here are some steps to help you take control of your…

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How to Lose Weight and Save Money with an Asian Diet


My friend told me a joke the other day: “Have you heard obesity in America has hit a plateau? Yeah, we’ve gotten as fat as we can possibly get!” Not so funny, huh? My friend weighs over 300 lbs.

Chinglish Movie Poster
Chinglish Movie Poster

The other alarming trend – and this is no joke – the rate of poverty is also on the rise. The latest statistic I read is 1 out 7 Americans lives at or below poverty level. And there’s certainly a lot more of us struggling to make ends meet.

How can this be? Wouldn’t you think if so many of us are just scraping by, there would be a lot more skinny Americans? It can’t be just lack of exercise. Something else must be going on. My guess is that we are eating the wrong things in the wrong way.

Here are some steps to help you take control of your food budget, weight and health by switching (slowly) to an Asian Diet.

Step 1
Drink iced tea instead of soda. You can sweeten the tea naturally with fresh fruit. Green tea also has fat-burning properties. For more on this, see my article How to Lose Weight with Green Tea.

Step 2
Learn the art of stir-fry. Use little slices of meat to complement the vegetables. You’ll be surprised at the flavors you can get out of meat scraps, bits of fat and even bones! Check out my article, How to be a Stir-Fry Hero.

Step 3
Learn how to eat with chopsticks. It’s a fun way to make yourself take small bites and slow down while eating.

Step 4
Purchase a bamboo steamer and use it. Vegetables retain more nutrients when they are steamed.

Step 5
Plant a vegetable garden. You can even grow vegetables indoors in the wintertime.

Step 6
Learn how to sprout beans and seeds. Use them in salads and other dishes.

Step 7
You don’t have to stop eating potatoes; after all, they’re cheap and nutritious. Try substituting rice, noodles or pasta for a change of pace.

Step 8
The number 8 is lucky in China. So, good luck and good fortune to you! If you want to learn more about cooking Asian food, see my article on How to Cook Chinese Style.

How to Be a Stir Fry Hero


Man at Wok
Man at Wok
How to Make Chinese Stir Fry and Be a Stir-fry Hero

If you’ve fallen into the rut of turning on the stove and opening the ‘fridge to see what’s for dinner, then mastering the art of stir-fry may be just the thing you need to snap out of it! No time to check e-mails or answer the phone when the heat’s on, but you may find yourself eating better, losing weight, saving money and taking bows with this delightful Oriental cooking style. Here are the basic steps.

Step 1

Being fresh is a good thing. Every chef knows the tastiest dishes begin with the freshest ingredients. Head for the produce aisle of your store or, better yet, your backyard garden. In a pinch you can rely on frozen, but it’s just not the same.

Step 2

Be prepared. It’s not only the Boy Scout motto, it also applies in the Asian kitchen. The basic tools are a Chinese knife (cleaver), one or two cutting blocks or boards, and an assortment of dishes to hold the prepared ingredients. Cut all of your ingredients into bite-size bits; try to make the pieces uniform. Have fun experimenting with different ways of slicing up each item. This is an art form all by itself.

Step 3

Several basic seasonings and spices are mainstays of stir-fry cooking. They are salt, ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili. Speaking of chili, did you know in America we have only four “tastes” whereas the Chinese traditionally have five? That’s right: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and HOT! (Don’t even get me started on “umami!”)

Step 4

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Once all your ingredients are prepared, take a deep breath and get cooking! You’ll need a wok, but you can also use a flat-bottom pan while you’re learning. You’ll also need a spatula for stirring. There are other utensils you can acquire later. These include long-handled forks, strainers and ladles.

Put the wok on the stove and turn it on high. Pour a little oil into the pan and watch for it to start to ripple with the heat. Toss in your densest ingredients first because they take the longest to cook. You’ll learn how to judge which ingredients take longer than others.

Step 5

Although the Asian diet is probably more healthful than the standard American diet, chances are your family may object to radical changes at suppertime. So, try a few simple recipes at first. There are lots of recipes, videos and tips on the Internet to help you get started.

Step 6

If you are interested in learning more about the Asian diet, check out my article on How to Lose Weight and Save Money with an Asian Diet.

Tips and warnings:

Most Asian cooks use vegetable or peanut oil. And they probably use too much at a time. Try switching to olive oil for health and flavor reasons. Some people use teflon pans for cooking, which further reduces the amount of oil you need.

High cooking temperature helps preserve vitamins and minerals in fresh food, but also increases the chance of a nasty burn. Be careful!

Free the Glutens!


Note: This article was begun nearly two months ago as I was en route to China. I will recount my exploits and attempt to explain my temporary absence from the Blogosphere in my next post.

Pop Quiz!

Glutens are:
A. an up-and-coming punk rock accordion band.
B. the oppressed citizens of Glutonia.
C. a protein composite in foods processed from wheat and other grains.
D. all of the above.
E. none of the above.

Easy, huh? Everybody knows Glutonia became an independent state following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Duh.

This week I’m in Portland. The one on the Left Coast. I am mooching off my offspring while I wait for my return flight to China. I feel I have a right to do this because (A.) I am their father and (B.) I am a Portlander by birth.

Portlanders are, uh, a quirky people. As my future son-in-law says, “Portlanders are like a bunch of kindergarteners whose mother allowed them to pick out their own wardrobes for the day.” You can take the Portlander out of Portland, but you can’t take the Portland out of the Portlander. I wear my Portlanderishness proudly wherever I wander.

On this particular trip I’ve managed to pick up two new food buzz phrases: agave syrup and gluten-free baking. I was already familiar with agave for different reasons. If you don’t know already, it’s a vital ingredient in the production of Tequila. Which is a vital ingredient in the production of many Country and Western ballads, both in the writing and the singing thereof.

Agave syrup, or nectar is sweeter than honey (I feel a song coming on) and a popular alternative to sugar or honey, especially in Vegan diets. It’s not as thick as honey and will dissolve easily in cold beverages such as iced tea.

The nutrition label on a popular brand of agave nectar indicates 60 calories in a serving size of 21 grams. It also indicates 5 per cent of the daily value of carbohydrates and 4 per cent of dietary fiber based on a 2000 calorie diet. Thank you, Mr. Science.

In the evolution of our civilization (such as it is) a key turning point was when some guy (or girl) realized plants come from seeds. Which meant that he or she could finally settle down and stop his or her wandering ways.

Development of agriculture led to the science of plant breeding and domestication and refinement of cereal grains. As with any advancement, there is a down side. Celiac disease is one example. Celiac disease is the result of an intolerance to gluten present in grains such as wheat and barley. It is estimated that as many as 1 out of every 22 people is a potential celiac sufferer.

Here are a couple of links to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten

How to Lose Weight and Save Money by Switching to an Asian Diet


My friend told me a joke the other day: “Have you heard obesity in America has hit a plateau? Yeah, we’ve gotten as fat as we can possibly get!” Not so funny, huh? My friend weighs over 300 lbs.

The other alarming trend – and this is no joke – the rate of poverty is also on the rise. The latest statistic I read is 1 out 7 Americans lives at or below poverty level. And there’s certainly a lot more of us struggling to make ends meet.

How can this be? Wouldn’t you think if so many of us are just scraping by, there would be a lot more skinny Americans? It can’t be just lack of exercise. Something else must be going on. My guess is that we are eating the wrong things in the wrong way.

Baby Steps: Mashed Taters and Chopsticks!

Here are some steps to help you take control of your food budget, weight and health by switching (slowly) to an Asian Diet.

Step 1
Drink iced tea instead of soda. You can sweeten the tea naturally with fresh fruit. Green tea also has fat-burning properties.

Step 2
Learn the art of stir-fry. Use little slices of meat to complement the vegetables. You’ll be surprised at the flavors you can get out of meat scraps, bits of fat and even bones!

Step 3
Learn how to eat with chopsticks. It’s a fun way to make yourself take small bites and slow down while eating.

Step 4
Purchase a bamboo steamer and use it. Vegetables retain more nutrients when they are steamed.

Step 5
Plant a vegetable garden. You can even grow vegetables indoors in the wintertime.

Step 6
Learn how to sprout beans and seeds. Use them in salads and other dishes.

Step 7
You don’t have to stop eating potatoes; after all, they’re cheap and nutritious. Try substituting rice, noodles or pasta for a change of pace.

Step 8
The number 8 is lucky in China. So, good luck and good fortune to you! If you want to learn more about cooking Asian food, check out some of my other articles in the Cuisine, Chinese Cooking category.

How to Make Chinese Fried Rice


In Chinese households the leftover rice from the night before is never thrown out. It’s “recycled” by frying with egg, vegetables and bits of meat. Once you have the basic technique down, experiment with different ingredients. Most Chinese families have at least one electric rice cooker. Don’t worry if you don’t have one. Use a cooking pot and the triple rinse method.

Step 1

Yangzhou Fried Rice

Triple rinse method. Measure your rice into a cooking pot. Usually one cup of dry rice will yield enough for two people. Triple rinse under cold tap water, pouring off the excess water each time. Even if the package says not to rinse, do it anyway. You don’t want “sticky rice” and it also brings good luck!

Step 2
Pour off the excess rinse water and then add two cups of cold water for every cup of uncooked rice.

Step 3
Put the pot on to boil. You should stir it once or twice to be sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. However, once it starts to boil, don’t stir; all you need to do is let it boil for about a minute and then turn the unit off. Cover it and go check your email!

Step 4
Usually, fresh is best. But with fried rice that’s not the case. You need to be sure the moisture is out of the rice, so let it sit for a while. You can even put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 5
The secret to perfect fried rice is that you stir-fry all the ingredients separately and then at the last minute stir-fry them all together! Some Chinese cooks add a little soy sauce to give the rice a golden brown appearance.

Step 6
To make egg-fried rice you can either scramble the eggs first or fry them and slice into bite size strips.

Step 7
The list of ingredients you can stir-fry with your rice is limited only by your imagination. The most famous stir-fry rice recipe is probably Yangzhou Fried Rice which features bits of roast pork, prawns, scallions and peas.

Step 8
The number 8 is lucky in China because it is “ba” which sounds like “fa” – which is Chinese for good fortune. So, good luck and good fortune to you.