Honey, does this make me look fat?


You betcha!

            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

Potato starch

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.)

Cooking Notes:

     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.

Exercise Notes:

     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!

26 thoughts on “Honey, does this make me look fat?

  1. oh I can so relate and it's the exact 10 lbs on me …. (hey, like to swap?). Fried chicken sounds good, and I want that book, or no, I want to be a Japanese woman! Mind not just any woman, the one that doesn't get fat or old. Yes, I'll settle for that.
    Hang in there!

  2. I can relate to all that you've written. Unfortunately for me, since moving to Sydney, due to the changing seasons, I have become accustomed to the winter bulge (see how quickly I blamed something other than me? lol). Spring is here, so I really should cut back on comfort food and get my body bikini ready. Not that i would wear a bikini, but you know what I mean 😉

  3. I never miss ordering this fried chicken whenever I go to izakaya restaurant. In Tokyo, this chicken is easily available…there are stalls by the road side that sell this…yum.

  4. Ahh Sis.. boy do I know what you are going through.. oy! the excuses come so easily, don't they? Ugh.

    My wish for you is complete success – and by that, I don't mean I hope you lose a ton of weight – I just hope you find a happy middle ground where you feel good and not tortured about what you eat.

    I firmly believe that portion control is the key – I think if you deprive yourself of what you want then you won't succeed. Now, I just wish I could follow my own advice!!!

    Best of luck to you =) Always remember, I think you are simply beautiful regardless of tighter pants or not.


  5. Hi Baking Soda – I think swapping we'll end up with the same problem – funny. Yes, I did remind myself this morning that I am not procastinating on my workout.
    Hi Peabody – If I don't look at the funny side of my stages it could be downright depressing. But yes, the fried chicken tastes good!
    Nora – why do you think I want to lose weight before winter…I could gain an extra 5 lbs during the holidays alone …
    Lydia- if it works this time maybe I can write a book about it "Eat Fried chicken lose weight" . You think it'll be a bestseller? 🙂
    Anh – doesn't sound delicious!
    Bee- is that why there are a lot of skinny Japanese women…must be the fried chicken , huh!
    big boys oven – it does sound like an ideal diet , doesn't it. I'll let you know how it works.
    Thanks Sis, for your words of encouragement! Don't worry I'd tried them all those yucky diets including those yucky protein shakes. This time it will be honest to goodness food and portion control.

  6. I love the way you wrote this entry. It's so hilarious and totally hits the spot! I just cleaned out my wardrobe and realised wayyy too many shirts & dresses not fitting me anymore. Unfortunately, I've not reached the Acceptance stage just yet, so I blame it on the clothes miraculously shrinking :p

    Btw I'd love to jump on the fried chicken diet bandwagon anytime!

  7. Oh, I so know what you are talking about!! I tried the D-word, but it doesn't work when you really like food. I have stopped eating within 3 hours of when I go to bed, and I have found that has been really helping with me.

    This chicken recipe looks really wonderful, though! I'll go for a fried-chicken diet!!

  8. You and I must be blogging sisters. I too have gained 10 lbs.

    and guess what…I made Asian fried chicken too – but tossed with chopped chili, scallions, garlic and butter.

    I guess the butter isn't really diet food.

  9. Very good post and I agree with your fried chicken hypothosis… When I go home to Atlanta, I eat everything fried and I always come home thinner…I don't get it but I'm not going to change it.I just lost 10 pounds on the Fat Flush Plan-it's like an atkins type diet-very easy to follow for 10 pounds. Also, try high heat sauteing with rice oil-smoke point 490 and your food does not come out greasy!!

  10. Veronica, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I hear myself in everything you said and did not say 🙂 I practise moderation, sometimes it gets too tempting though but I'm keeping at it. I'm not too concerned about being a particular dress size, I just want to be healthy and be able to move about alot.

  11. Ah, Veron – it is so hard when one loves to cook! I try to make the retro cakes for office events – if I'm lucky I only get one piece and there are no leftovers, but I've had the satisfaction of feeding an army! I will be interested to hear how things go on the fried chicken regimen!

  12. I've heard tell of the Freshman 10 pounds, reportedly gained by Freshmen unused to the school cooking. I can testify that I have the Darng Baker 10 pounds, gained by a baker unused to so many things made with butter, sugar, and whipping cream. Veron, you have my respect for owning up to the gain and my support for losing it. You have inspired me, too. Not sure the fried chicken thing would work for me, but the salad every night with smaller portions might. Good luck to 'ya!

  13. Ugh, I don't like to bring this up Veron but shouldn't that late sentence about the ice cream bars be a little different. I mean are you really going to replace your mind with an ice cream bar?
    I would so love for the fried chicken to work! I'll stay tuned. In the mean time my problem is bread. I'm baking everyday!

  14. ovenhaven – I'll keep everyone posted on my progress. As if fate would have it, the current issue of F&W has a Thomas Keller Fried chicken. It's a sign!
    Yes Deborah – the D word is so hard especially when your a foodie. I eat dinner around 6pm..but then I'm craving sugar at 8pm.
    Jaden – butter could be diet food! I think if you have a little of it then it will reduce cravings. I don't have a problem with full fat anything , I think my issue is moderation as in no more crispified fat trimmings of rib-eye steak – at least until I make some progress.
    Thanks Helen – can't wait for you to come visit me and we start cooking and you can show me a thing or two of how your remain so (annoyingly) skinny 🙂 despite being surrounded by sweets. And you are most welcome to my HD ice cream bars!
    Thanks Ellen for your insight into my theory on fat. I believe it's not as evil as everyone make it sound. I really need to get myself some rice oil.
    Thanks Cynthia – glad you enjoyed the post. good for you about moderation…I'm almost there!It's not about being a certain dress size. But it's the changing too much of the dress size – some of my favorite clothes don't fit and I have to buy new ones that are not necessarily my type…it can get kinda pricey.
    I know T.W. – food and my expanding waistline (sigh). Anyway, I'm timing my dessert making so I can immediately take it to the office!
    Thanks Elle – I still let you know if the fried chicken diet works. I love the salad my hubby makes, I just need some form of protein to go with it.
    Hi Noah – lucky you. Well people trust Tony Bourdain , and Thomas Keller and Patrick O' Connell are skinny, so I think people do trust skinny chefs.
    Hi Tanna – oops, typo thanks.Need to fix that later…don't get me started about bread. I love my bread too! I think toasting it a little makes it less calorific? Or is this wishful thinking.

  15. My blog is definitely doing me in, I never used to make this many desserts, but now the blog gives me an excuse to make them. And now that I've started I can't stop cause I like to bake/cook and then it means I have to eat what I make, and clearly, blog about it too…

  16. very enjoyable read and the chicken looks scrumptious.
    btw, why do people sometimes say that something 'looks too good to eat'? good-looking food has never discouraged me from devouring it. that's probably why i also had to move up a dress size recently…

  17. Oh Veron! I hear ya girl! I still what I like to refer to as my "happy chubs" — the weight I gained when I got married (due to blissful newlywed eating)…but it's been more than a year and it must come off! Sigh…I know where you are at sweetie…good luck and I know you can do it! Portion control is key! 🙂 And what a great fried chicken!

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