That was a standing joke between the “Hungry” hubby and me ever since that commercial came out. I used to take it lightly, but it was not sounding too funny lately.
Somehow I managed to gain close to 10 lbs in the past year. That’s a lot on a 5’4” frame. I suspect it started when a constant stream of visitors sailed through my home in the past 18 months and surprise … the start of my food blogging.
This past spring, I went shopping at Banana Republic, and in resignation, bought a size bigger than what I normally wore. Today those pants are kind of snug as I almost pinched my skin pulling the zipper up the sidezip. Ouch! And I cannot blame HH for shrinking them in the dryer either (as I always find the excuse to) because they were dry-cleaned.
Two separate visits from both brothers this past summer which naturally included some food bingeing of some kind, my recent culinary-related trips, and my half-baked efforts of any form of exercise, all contributed to the popping of the merry buttons.
How did I let it come to this? The realization of weight gain did not immediately hit me. It went through the following stages.
First: Denial. This is when I lay blame on the evil object in the utility room known as the “dryer”, for shrinking my clothes. Or, I blame the dinner I had the previous night. “Too much salt,” I’d say. “I’m just bloated.” Hand in hand with this statement, I stare at myself in the bathroom mirror, suck my stomach in, at the same time splaying my hands against my belly to stretch my skin upward. “There, see just a little bloaty!”
Second: My “Next week” excuse. It seems exercise and moderate eating come in weekly blocks. This is when I somewhat admit that a few pounds might have crept up on me. I am also conspicuously ignoring the inanimate gadget in the bathroom known as the scale. After all didn’t they say that it was bad to weigh yourself everyday (I haven’t weighed myself in months by this time). Also, every time something delicious presents itself, I would say “ Hm, I’ll just watch what I eat, next week.” Or, since my lazy ass decides to sleep in rather than work out I would say,” Oh well, I already skipped yesterday, might as well start next week.”
Third: Desperation. “The scale is broken,” I’d whine to HH. I’d insist on buying a new one. Short of shaking me to my senses, HH suggests that maybe it was time to watch what I ate particularly the ice cream bar I’d been eating EVERY night, sometimes after having had dessert already. I would always retort, “Milk is good for me.” At this stage, I would also try three-day “cleansing” diets only to bounce back with a binge afterwards.
Fourth: Acceptance. Finally admitting that what I am experiencing is more than a mere bloat, I decide to take action. After all, 10 lbs appear more than just fluid retention and it couldn’t be muscle because I have not worked out. Crap! 10 lbs of fat! I remember one time when a nutritionist had shown me how a pound of fat looked like.
OMG, I think I’m going to be sick!
But I refuse to say the four-letter word. You know, the one that starts with the letter “D”.
And no way am I going to stop food blogging – at least for now.
I just need to gain some perspective of some sort.
First, a Haagen Daaz bar every night needs to stop. When my brother and his kids (nieces and nephew) were here, I got addicted to those HD ice cream bars – you know – the chocolate ones on a stick further glazed with a crisp chocolate layer. HH suggested having it as a treat once a week (although with all the desserts I’m making, I have no idea why I would crave commercial ice cream – oh well).
Second, watch my rice and pasta intake at night. This is the hardest because I just love rice but I also know that this is what my body cannot metabolize properly thereby turning it quickly into the dreaded belly fat.
So am I going to munch on salad for a while? Well, not exactly.
I’m going to try my old Fried Chicken solution.
What? You must be shaking your head. Is she still in denial?
Seriously, on two separate occasions I lost weight eating Fried Chicken. Twenty years ago, I would eat a piece of fried skin-on chicken breast, a cup of rice and a cup of steamed broccoli for dinner. I lost 10 lbs in about 6 weeks. And then about 8 years ago, I remembered I developed a fondness for Chick-Fil-A nuggets. I would eat the nuggets with a cup of rice each time – no waffle fries of course. The side effect, I lost about 7 lbs. in 4 weeks.
I think the real key here is moderation. Although I think the fat in the fried chicken was what kept me satisfied so I didn’t feel deprived.
Of course, I’m also 40 years old now. You know, the age when they say your metabolism changes and the battle of the bulge begins? So I don’t know if deep-fried chicken will work for me this time – there is only one way to find out. And it does not have to be fried chicken all the time.
So, the game plan will be: to continue eating what I want like fried chicken, steak, duck etc. (although I’m afraid the foie gras, pork belly and crab fat have to take a backseat for a while). But this time I’m going to be aware of my portion sizes (at least until I lose some weight)- maybe a four-ounce size of protein will be reasonable. HH also promised to make me some delicious salads to go with every meal so I will not eat too much rice.
I’ll continue to make desserts on weekends only and I’ll just have a slice – I do need to taste it to make sure it comes out right, yes? But the rest will have to go to the office. Better make them fat instead of me, right? Bwa ha ha…
So in my quest for homemade, weight-losing fried chicken, I tried one from the book Japanese Women don’t get Fat or Old by Naomi Moriyama. In the book, she reinforced what I had always thought about deep-fried food. It’s not any less greasy than something pan-fried or sautéed. You just need to make sure that the temperature of the oil never gets below 350 °F so your food will not allow oil to seep through and instead create that delicious crispy layer typical of fried fares.
Tokyo Fried Chicken
4 chicken breast ( approximately 4-6 ounces each)
3 tbs reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sake
2 tbs mirin
one 2-inch piece fresh ginger
2 cups cooking oil
The amount of the ingredients above had been adjusted because I felt the marinade was too bland. Of course in the book, Miss Moriyama advocates a low-sodium diet.
Grate the ginger over a cheesecloth set over a bowl and squeeze out the ginger juice. You should get around 1 ½ teaspoon.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Combine the soy, sake, mirin and ginger juice and marinate the chicken for at least an hour. (The book said 10-minutes but I felt this was not long enough).
Heat 2 cups of oil in a pan until the temperature reaches 350 °F. If you do not have a thermometer, sprinkle some flour and if it turns brown immediately then your oil is hot enough.
Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and pat dry. Roll them in the potato starch and put the pieces in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. When they are well-browned and cooked, take the chicken out and transfer to a cooling rack set atop a baking sheet (the book said to put on paper towels but I feel that this makes the chicken soggy so I set them atop a cooling rack.)
The chicken might taste bland to some palates, so feel free to experiment with the amounts in the ingredients. That was probably why Miss Moriyama suggested serving this with a dipping of soy sauce because the fried chicken was pretty neutral. I did enjoy dunking this Fried Chicken in soy sauce – maybe a bit too much; I think I ate too much rice! So much for portion control, oh well I’ll just be more mindful next time (notice, I did not say next week).
The crispy edges of the chicken had some hints of sweetness probably from the mirin. The chicken itself –despite its seemingly bland taste- was quite addictive to pop one in after another. That’s the appeal of fried food; it’s hard to go wrong with it. I might also consider using flour instead of potato starch that had annoyingly left some white residue on some chicken pieces.
I served the chicken on top a bed of sautéed spinach sprinkled with fried garlic bits. To make the crunchy garlic bits, cover the minced garlic in enough oil to fry it. Once it gets brown pour it immediately over a strainer so it will stop the cooking. The oil can be used in sautéing the spinach. Garlic done this way gives it a slightly bitter taste but I like the crunchiness of it and it goes so well with steamed or sautéed leafy vegetables.
I will augment my reformed eating habits with some exercise. One particular workout video I like is David Kirsch New York Body Plan. Though not a fan of his diet, I like his workouts. They are not bulk forming but more of firming. After all he is Heidi Klum’s trainer (no I do not have any delusions of ever having her body). Also, HH is going to put me on the Pilates reformer maybe twice a week, to help me with my core stability. For cardio, I have the treadmill or maybe I can just start walking after dinner. That way I can take my mind of the Haagen Daaz ice cream bars!