Thursday 11 July 2024

SOULed OUT Ampang @ The Linc KL

I was very kwai (obedient) throughout Chinese New Year (as it was during the early days of my restrictive diet), refraining from all sweet stuff, cookies, crispy snacks (other than prawn/fish crackers :P), kuih kapit, bak kwa, pineapple tarts and the works, including Mandarin oranges.

So, on an invitation from my sister-in-law, I had my one and only (proper) cheat meal (during the last CNY) at restaurant + bar, SOULed OUT Ampang @ The Linc KL.  It was a beautiful evening, so we chose to dine al fresco taking in the breezy evening and scenic views outdoors in this modern and charming venue.  But as night fell, do note that it can get quite dark and maybe not so suitable for dining but certainly gives off that intimate charm for drinks, snacks and conversation but can also be a buzzing atmosphere from watching sports or music on the big screen.

SOULed OUT with branches in Desa Sri Hartamas, Nexus Bangsar South and Pavilion Bukit Jalil in KL (plus outlets in Genting Highlands and Kota Kinabalu) turns 27 this year (wow, since 1996!).  They serve an array of international cuisine and local classics which includes western (a bit of Spanish & Mexican too), Asian (with Japanese, Indonesian & Thai influences) and local favourites (of Indian, Malay & Chinese flavours).

We started our dinner, when the horizon was still bright, with a dish that's suited for our climate, a very refreshing Tropical Tango Salad @ RM28.  When the salad has such a colourful presentation, it's a win already.  This is a salad of pineapple, orange, dried cranberries, mango, avocado, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, red & green coral leaves and spinach leaves tossed in a honey & lime dressing.  I would say that the salad was more unique (in terms of ingredients like beetroot, avocado and cranberries) in an appetite-indusing light dressing (rather than the usual leaves overly tossed in a thick dressing).  I liked that they use a lot more fruits which I absolutely adore (something I've not be able to have due to my restrictive diet).

Next to arrive was the ultimate crowd pleaser pizza of Mushrooms All The Way @ RM28 filled with earthy and juicy portobello, button and shiitake mushrooms together with briny and delicate oysters (though I can't remember biting into one...hehe).  My brother-in-law mentioned that my choice of a mushroom pizza was the right call coz its familiar and comforting flavour is always a hit.

This was followed by another familiar dish of Seafood Aglio Olio @ RM46 which presented itself with al dente spaghetti cooked with garlic and chilli flakes (the heat was rather subtle though, wished there was more for a spicier effect) together with fair-sized juicy prawns, tender mussels, fresh squid rings served with a piece of crispy, garlicky baguette.  I thought the pasta was quite ordinary though the seafood was fresh.

From their local favourites, my sister-in-law ordered the Railway Mutton Curry @ RM38 which she had enjoyed before.  The mutton curry was slow cooked in a blend of spices, dried chillies, curry leaves and coconut milk till super tender and delicious.  It was served with sides of curried chickpeas, cauliflower, naan and crispy papadum.  Both my husband and I were in agreement that it was the best dish of the night (and that says a lot coming from me, someone who doesn't fancy mutton).  I thought they would be more capable with western dishes (from the name of the place) but it turns out they've got a very capable chef who can cook Indian cuisine rather well (which was a surprise).

We also got an extra order of Plain Naan @ RM6 (to mop up the mutton curry) though it was accompanied by a dip of dhall curry itself.

We completed our meal with the final dish of Chicken Pot Pie @ RM30 which had tender chunks of chicken along with mushrooms, garden fresh vegetables of carrots, peas and onions encased in a flaky, golden brown pastry.

Breaking into the flaky, crispy crust of the pie, I was greeted with a hot filling of tender chicken chunks and softened vegetables in a creamy sauce that mimicked the taste of a chunky mushroom soup.  Sorry for the not-so-clear photo as evening turned to night as we were tucking into this dish that arrived last at our table.

I got myself a fresh juice of Green Apple @ RM13 (the safest choice and my first juice since I went on a restrictive diet).  As night fell, the servers will come round to light the candles on your table.  That's why I say it gives off that intimate vibe ideal for couples on a date...hehe.  It's especially great for those who like to dine al fresco (that's why you see a fair bit of expatriates dining here).

My Personal Opinion

In the end, my cheat meal was well worth the calories (of carbs and probably a wee bit of sugar in the cooking) that I was! ;)  I would single out the mutton curry as the standout dish of the evening.

Seeing that they have quite a lot of Indian dishes on their menu like Malabar fish curry, classic butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, achari grilled eggplant, prawn varuval, vegetable pakoras, mamak mee goreng and lamb shank biryani (this one is specially for a certain lamb lover who adores this dish) among others, I guess their expertise in cooking Indian cuisine is not a coincidence.

Their menu is quite extensive and their western menu is pretty impressive too with dishes like open-faced beef wellington, all sorts of steaks (from ribeye to chateaubriand to Angus tomahawk), naked burger (that's, perfect for me!) and lamb shank again (take note lamb lovers!).

A dish that caught my eye from the Asian section was their fried beef noodles as it came with a 'so lip smacking!' symbol (which means highly recommended lah) for I love a good beef hor fun.  When I do revisit, I will surely want to explore some of these dishes further.

SOULed OUT Ampang
G-12-AF Ground Floor The Linc
360 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 016-655 7622

Friday 28 June 2024

What (outside food) can I eat while on a restrictive diet?

In my previous posts, I mentioned about going on a restrictive diet that limit carbs and sugar...but I can't follow western meal plans since we don't eat an appetiser (usually salads) and a main dish on a daily basis. So, I resorted to homecooked meals (following an Asian type of diet or what a Malaysian Chinese would normally eat) for most of my meals.

I already cook two meals a day on most weekdays (sometimes just one on days when I'm too lazy, tired or busy), so breakfast is certainly a meal that I wouldn't want to cook too.  On very rare occasions would I cook a low-carb western breakfast like this Beef Bacon, Mushrooms, Egg & Bell Peppers.

So, for breakfast, I eat out!  What then do I eat for breakfast while on a restrictive diet?  Well, I still eat a carb-loaded breakfast unfortunately!  I eat noodles and that's because there's really nothing else to eat.  All our breakfast choices are high in carbs like a plate/bowl of noodles, nasi lemak, roti canai, porridge or bread.  The only less-carb breakfast I can think of is soft-boiled eggs but I can't eat that on a daily basis.

For breakfast, most of us would either have some sort of noodles, nasi lemak, roti canai or eggs and toast which are very common breakfast meals.  Well, nasi lemak is out of the question since there's so much rice involved + the spicy-sweet sambal would have been cooked with lots of sugar.  Roti canai is also a no-no too since it's all bread.  Soft-boiled eggs is the only choice but then I can't very well pair the toasted bread with kaya and butter now, can I? >.<

So, the only available option would still be a bowl of noodles.  But the first difference I make is to ask for less noodles.  I'd ask for half the normal portion, some hawkers will do it, some won't bother and some end up giving you more than half still, so I just make sure I eat less myself and leave some unfinished if I'm given too much.

#1 - Noodles

Even though I'm still having noodles for breakfast daily, I do make subtle sacrifices differences to the way I eat.....the first is to ask for half the noodles.  Most shops however, like the regular one I go to for Prawn Mee, would hesitate to give only half portion of noodles (they'll give you less but probably a little bit more than half) so that the (scarce) liew can stand up in the bowl of noodles and not tenggelam into the bowl and make the liew look even more scarce. >.<  It took him a while before he finally gave me a smaller portion as he was afraid I'd complain if it's too little but I reassured him that I'd never complain not enough, only complain if there's too!

As for the Pork Noodles stall, his portion of noodles is not that big to begin with, so less noodles was fine (you can see the liew is practically sinking into the soup due to lesser noodles).  Of course, you can always ask for add-on ingredients for a fuller meal but I didn't need to once I got used to the smaller portions.

Another variation of pork noodles is this Sam Kan Chong Noodles.  I used to eat the dry-style but recently switched to the soup version as it has given me one of my best readings for noodles (in the lower end of the permissible range) todate.  This stall's portion of noodles is already quite little to start with, so with me asking for lesser noodles, you can see just how small the portion is.

The second difference I make is to choose the soup version over dry-style as I reckon that dry-style noodles will have more seasonings in their sauces.  Even though Wantan Mee is usually eaten dry-style, I've to opt for the soup version.  Not only that but I also go for shredded chicken + wantan instead of char siew (rather obvious since char siew is loaded with sugar to get them really caramelised).

If I want to have char siew with my wantan mee, these days I go looking for those more pinkish-type char siew aka char siew with as little caramelisation as possible....haiz! :'(  So I eat this "type" of Dry Wantan Mee for breakfast these days.

The choice of soup over dry-style is just what I think is the better option since tests from 2 different wantan mee places yielded similar results, the readings for dry style is always higher (a lot more actually) than soup. Ya, these days I tend to conduct "tests" of places I eat in...that way I'll know for sure which shops/stalls uses the least MSG/sugar in the preparation of their food.  From these tests, I learned that my favourite (neighbourhood) wantan mee stall isn't one that I should visit often as the results turned out to be higher (both dry and soup) than another wantan mee place in my taman (haiz).

Another breakfast choice is Fish Head Noodles and this one has been "test approved".  I was hesitant at first since it has evaporated milk (even though it's unsweetened unlike condensed milk, it still contains carbs and naturally occuring sugars) but my fears were put to rest since my blood glucose reading was fine after eating.

I'm also eating Curry Mee as you know it's one of my favourite noodles to eat.  Again, I opt for chicken instead of caramelised char siew.  Poached chicken is my favourite but not every place offers it.  The curry is predominantly savoury but you do get sweetness from the coconut milk (though santan is said to be low GL food). @_@  Results from tests done on curry mee are varied (from mid-range to beyond the range), so it's a noodle with inconclusive findings (need more testing) but (so far) the ones with a more pronounced santan taste tend to have a higher reading.

Another noodle I like to eat for breakfast is Fish Ball Noodles.  The soup base of fish ball noodles is also clear (like wantan mee soup) and most offers a slightly sweetish taste (probably MSG is involved), so have to be mindful as well.

Kai Si Hor Fun, as you know, is among my top 3 favourite noodles and one (unfortunately or surprisingly) I've not gotten round to test yet.  Maybe I'm afraid of what the findings will be since the soup base is usually sweetish.  Hopefully the sweetness comes from the prawns and prawn shells...and not something else. >_<

Char Kway Teow
is a noodle dish liked by many and I'm no exception.  This CKT has given me mixed results too, one beyond the range allowed and one in the mid-range, so more tests need to be taken.  This is one noodle I don't even ask for less noodles as the portion of noodles is usually small and, at times, not even enough to satisfy my hunger that I've to add on a fried egg.

In the end, if we can't run away from having noodles (since it's a staple for breakfast or lunch), the best I can do is to ask for less noodles (or pass the extra noodles to my spouse if he happens to be eating with me).  I'd also go for the soup version (but try not to drink too much of it) instead of dry but ultimately it's down to how much seasonings (especially MSG and sugar) each stall/shop puts in their soup base and sauces.

#2 - Roasted Meat Rice

When it comes to Roasted Chicken Rice, the way I go about it is to tapau just the chicken (roasted or poached) and cook my own basmathi rice.  This resulted in a very good sugar reading and that's down to choosing chicken in my opinion.  If it's not convenient to cook your own rice, then the next best thing is to go for white rice (half portion/small rice) instead of oiled rice.

I once had Siu Yuk Rice (not with homecooked rice) and the reading was not where it should be at all.  This is not conclusive, however, since I've done only one test.

As for Char Siew Rice, I think everyone knows the answer to that! :)  That's like a distant memory for me!  I've to give up this...and I've eaten it only once (and by that, I mean those well caramelised ones, the pinkish ones don't count!) in the past 6 months! T_T

But not all is lost as I recently found out that there can be chicken rice shops that meet my criteria (where I can eat the oiled rice...and I ate full portion too, mind you!) like this Poached Chicken Rice....and was pleasantly surprised (and encouraged) by the mid-range reading.

#3 - Yong Tau Foo Chee Cheong Fun

Yong Tau Foo (YTF) Chee Cheong Fun (CCF) combo is definitely well suited for my restrictive diet...just make sure you take only one piece of CCF and have it with (savoury) curry instead of teem cheong (sweet sauce).

is just vegetables + fish or meat paste, so this is something I rely on regularly when I don't cook.  I have this with homecooked rice and it fulfills my definition of a balanced meal with carbs, protein and vegetable (+ it also has been test approved)! :D

#4 - Pork Innards Soup & Bak Kut Teh

Go crazy with Pork Innards Soup (if you fancy innards) or bak kut teh since they're basically meat-based. Drink less of the soup (if possible lah), otherwise find one that's not too heavy with seasoning.  Between the two, I prefer the pork innards soup since the soup base is peppery.  I usually tapau this when I don't cook and eat it with homecooked rice.

#5 - Fried Noodles

Fried Noodles
like Fried Hokkien Mee, Cantonese-Style Yin Yong, Singapore Fried Meehoon, Braised Yee Mee, Moonlight Kway Teow and the like are all my favourites but it's something I need to eat less of (T_T) since it's all carbs due to the large portion of noodles.  One possible way to enjoy this still is to eat it with family (or more diners) at a dai chow place that offers not only dishes but fried noodles as well.  This way I can eat less noodles and bulk up my meal with other dai chow dishes (like stir-fried vegetables, egg, tofu or meat).  If I absolutely must have noodles, my choice would be Fried Meehoon or Fried Glass Noodles (toong fun) as the sugar readings tend to be better compared to other noodles.

#6 - Dim Sum

Yes, Dim Sum is a good choice for a low sugar breakfast but you stiill need to make the right choices...steamed items are always excellent choices (but forego those steamed in a sweet/sour sauce) and you can have a field day with the fried items too.  Try not to go for (or eat only a little of) lo mai gai (glutinous rice chicken), steamed char siew buns, Hong Kong chee cheong fun, porridge or any sweet pastries (of course).

#7 - Nasi Lemak

One of my top favourites for breakfast is Nasi Lemak which I've to give up almost entirely (I've only had it twice in the last 6 months).  It's very obvious why this is in the forbidden list coz you tend to go overboard with the rice when it comes to eating it with sotong/kerang sambal or rendang beef/chicken and you top it with even more sambal (as Malay sambal is almost always sweet-based).

The funny thing is when I have Chinese Nasi Lemak (even with rendang chicken or pork), the reading is well within range (mid-range even) as opposed to the readings with Malay Nasi Lemak (which is on the higher end of the range or out of the range!).  That tells me it's all down to the sambal, that's why Chinese-made sambal is more savoury and never as sweet as those sambal cooked by Malay vendors...but also not as nice! :D

#8 - Malay Food or Nasi Campur

Seeing how nasi lemak affects sugar levels, it's safe to say Malay Food (which I absolutely love) is something that should be avoided or eaten less of coz it always involves lots of rice and sweetish sambal (practically everything is cooked in some kind of sambal)...which makes me wonder how the Malays cope with managing their sugar levels since their daily meals almost always involves sambal (and all kinds of kuih muih).

I will still eat Nasi Campur ocassionally by controlling the rice portion and making smart choices.  I go for stuff cooked in a (fresh) chilli paste instead of something cooked in sauce-like sambal (like this fried ikan keli) or something fried (like fried chicken or fish...yes, you heard me right, I've given up so much that I think I'm entitled to some fried, omelette or salted egg and vegetables not cooked in sambal.

#9 - Indian Food

Similarly, Indian Food (like Malay food) should also be eaten sparingly since banana leaf rice will tempt you to load on the rice but, at least, the curries are savoury, not sweet.  This banana leaf rice is one of our go-to dinner venues where I can partake in their all-you-can-eat vegetables but limit my rice (but still a little bit more than my usual 1/2 bowl lah). ^_~

#10 - Chinese Food or Dai Chow/Chap Fan

Chinese Food
is what I (and my family) eat the most often and again, like Malay nasi campur, I just have to make the right choices at dai chow and chap fan places by staying away from anything that's cooked in a sweetish sauce like sweet/sour, marmite, salted egg, butter milk, assam, lemon, etc.  Funny thing is, there are still some ignorant people who thinks that controlling sugar intake is merely abstaining from desserts, pastries and all...but continues to partake in savoury food (carbs) that's cooked in a sweet or sour sauce.  

#11 - Western Food

It's not surprising to find out that Western Food is well suited for a low-carb/low-sugar diet though my homecooked version still achieved a better reading than one eaten outside.  The main component of a typical western meal is protein concentrated (be it a beef, chicken, pork or lamb) with small sides of potato (usually fries), salad (usually coleslaw) and bread.  Just go easy on the bread and potatoes when eating out (or pass the extras to your someone).  These days I eat western food more regularly than I used to.

#12 - Japanese Food

Japanese Food
is another top choice for me when dining out since their food is much more subtle in taste and not heavy on sauces.  The only two things I've to be mindful of is mentai and teriyaki.  Choose options like tempura, cawanmushi, salt grilled fish like salmon, saba or sanma, kaarage, sashimi, yakiniku, yakitori, tonkatsu, even sushi (just not too many pieces, I keep to 2 plates or 4 pcs).  As you can see, Japanese offers a lot more variety, so it's no surprise that Japanese and western are now my preferred choices when dining out.

#13 - Korean Food

Korean Food
like a Korean BBQ (test approved too!) is also very suitable as a low-carb meal since it's practically mostly meat that you'll be consuming.  I just try to omit the ramen (or eat a little if I've to) and be selective of the banchans that I can eat.  Most of them are fine since they're kimchi-based, the only two I needed to avoid/eat less of were the pickled radish and sweetish nuts.

#14 - Thai Food

Thai Food
isn't a cuisine I eat often though I do enjoy it for its tart flavours...and for that very reason, it's something I've to eat sparingly since Thai food is known for its flavours of salty, spicy, sour and sweet.  That means sugar features regularly in their food to balance those flavours (especially the sourish flavours).

#15 - Snacks

?  What snacks?  I've to give them up entirely!  I was very kwai over cookies, no kuih kapit, no pineapple tarts, no crabstick crackers, no nothing! T_T  I didn't even eat one single piece of bak kwa, not even a Mandarin orange.  The only snack I've not given up is prawn/fish crackers.  I think I'm entitled to one since I've given up so many already, don't you? ;D  The other snacks I have at home are plain cream crackers (these are almost sugar-free, they taste more buttery) and vegetable crackers (the latter is for times when my sugar is too low and I need some carb intake fast).    

#16 - Fruits

I've also given up eating fruits because of the naturally occuring sugars in them even though my doctor never told me to.  He only made a reference to go for fruits that are hard (aiyah, all the fruits I love are soft like mango, grapes, watermelon, banana, ciku, pineapple, etc.).  So, which fruits are hard then?  Very few, I can only think of apple and guava.  This is the first time I've heard of such referencing.  Some health websites list berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries & blackberries) as low GI...but aren't these fruits soft (and sweet)?  Some even list grapes as low GI.

So, what is what leh?  If we were to google what fruits are high or low GI, we get very conflicting information (for example, one website will say certain fruits have low GI but another will tell you the opposite)...haiz. I've only eaten fruits twice in these past 6 months, guava and rose apple, but hope to re-introduce them back into my diet in small portions because of the fibre content and range of essential nutrients they provide.

#17 - Drinks (Specifically Coffee)

Sugary drinks are a definite no-no (I've given up carbonated drinks a long time ago), even fruit juices without the addition of sugar (eating whole fruits is better than having fruit juices).  If you must, I guess apple juice would be the best bet.  I've also given up coffee altogether since my doctor says it's better for me to drink tea in teh-o kosong.  If there's one thing I don't like to's tea (teh tarik excluded!).  If I must, I could drink kopi-o kosong but black coffee I can only drink it less sweet but not without any sugar. I'd rather have Chinese tea or green tea, which is now my drink of choice, besides barley-ping kosong (and these drinks are what you see in the background of my bowl of noodles now)...unlike previous photos which have a kopi-o-ping, teh tarik ais or iced white coffee lurking in the! >.<

When we're subjected to a diet...any diet....there's always a craving for something we can't eat whilst on that diet (usually carbs...and sugary stuff lah).  There's no such thing as not having a craving.  The only way we don't feed that craving is we resist all temptation to indulge in that (but we're only human to fall into temptation).  So, it's only right to have some days off and have a cheat eat every now and then.

These days I do blood glucose tests rather frequently (my doctor wants to see at least 2 readings a week) though I do more than that but I also can't do finger pricking on a daily basis (otherwise I'll end up with sore fingers!).  I've to give him a combination of readings...2 fasting readings and 2 after-meal readings (taken after breakfast, lunch and dinner respectively) for a total of 8 readings a month.  For the uninitiated, although the permissible range for blood glucose levels is 4.2 - 6.1 (for fasting) and 4.4 - 8.0 (for after meals), you're expected to score at the lower end of the range if you're not suffering from high blood sugar (or aren't diabetic) coz anything towards the higher range is considered pre-diabetic already.

These tests will take time but slowly and surely, I will know eventually which food (and which stalls/shops) is suitable and good for me by offering me lower glucose levels.  That's the only way to ensure the food doesn't cause unneccessary sugar spikes.  These days, the food I eat is not only determined by (good) tastes but also by the use of less MSG and sugar in their cooking.

There's no denying that homecooked food gives the lowest blood sugar readings (at lower end of the range) but it's not possible to cook all meals as I'll get bored with my own cooking + it doesn't taste as good as eating out, so outside food still have to feature in my diet.  Ultimately, outside food does yield higher readings (usually middle of the range) but some are in the higher range while some were beyond the range (!)...those that obviously don't use "real" ingredients to make their sauces and soup base but resort to MSG-laden stock cubes to flavour their food.  I just have to be conscientious to make the right choices and pick the right stalls/shops.

Since embarking on this diet change (along with other measures), my blood glucose level has come down to 5.1 (fasting) from a high of 11.3 (scary, isn't it?).  Not only have my sugar levels improved significantly, I've also lost a total of 6 kg in 6 months (which is a bonus!...2 kg each in the first 2 months and 1 kg each the following 2 months).  The weight loss is slow but I've maintained that weight for the last 2 months (most importantly, I didn't pack back the kilos).  Hopefully, the weight loss will continue even if it's at a slow pace.

As for my blood glucose levels, it's now at its best since 12 years ago and I've only been on this restrictive diet for 6 months.  Ultimately, weight loss and exercise can improve your blood sugar readings (but not significant enough) coz what we put into our mouths do matter...and this has given me the encouragement to continue this way as changes to our diet clearly works.

Monday 3 June 2024

What do I eat on a restrictive diet?

So, what do I eat...can eat.....or should eat....while on a restrictive diet?  Let's start with the most obvious...the best and most suitable food if one has health conditions or wants to eat's one that's homecooked coz that would put you in control of what you eat and, more importantly, what you put into the cooking of your food.  Outside food, as we all know, is heavy on sauces and seasonings which usually contains too much salt, sugar and/or MSG! >.<

In the hope of bringing down my carb and sugar levels quickly, I turned to homecooked meals for the majority of my daily food hoping for fast results.  I've always championed a balanced diet but some of these food pyramids (in the past) or what a typical healthy plate should look like are just too detailed to follow let alone remember.

So my doctor drew me a simple healthy plate which is easy to follow (which incidentally I've been following for years but obviously not hard enough).  This ultimate healthy eating plate is simply made up of one quarter protein, one quarter carbs and one half vegetables and fruits (the QQH concept), so I use this sample healthy plate as a guide (but with small deviations).

Simply adhering to the QQH concept is not enough...the size of the plate matters too!  It's no point following the QQH principle when you use a
big ass plate, is it? ;D  Well, I got myself the perfect plate (more like a Zebra food container) for the purpose.  I actually bought this container (which measures about 10 inches) earlier to tapau food (chap fan specifically) only to realise it was too shallow (made worse when the cover closes inwards), so it turned into the perfect plate to use at home for portion control instead.

There are many diet plans online which one can follow but they mainly cater to western palates, so it isn't something I can follow based on my Chinese way of eating.  A typical Asian meal consists of rice with dishes which makes up the bulk of our daily meals, so I took it on to cook two meals on most days but one on some days.  So, here's a look at some of the healthy plates I've cooked in the past few months.

Minced Pork Patty, Omelette & Stir-Fried Lettuce
.  The key to all my homecooked meals is that it has to be simple cooking since I've to do it on a daily basis.

Silken Tofu
with Garlic & Soy, Minced Meat Omelette & Stir-Fried Lettuce
.  I must have a bit of carbs (rice) at every meal.  My rice portion is about half a bowl (or around 4 - 5 tbsps) which is less than a quarter cup of uncooked rice (which I steam in individual bowls).

As for the type of rice, I was advised by my doctor to eat long grain rice like basmathi (he said not to take Siam or fragrant rice/beras wangi/hiong mai).  Of course you can also eat brown rice (if you can take it...I can't, I tried before).  I was also recommended to eat Indian rice (this is a direct translation from Cantonese, don't know what it's actually called).  I tried that too but couldn't eat it on a long term basis.

Basmathi rice, on the other hand, I liked immediately as it's so easy to take coz it tastes good.  I've been eating Bird of Paradise brand for a long time (it was fragrant and then Siam rice before), so I stuck with the same brand.  It's more costly (at double the price) but since I eat less, the higher price is acceptable.  Even when I don't cook and
tapau from the chap fan stall, I'd still boil my own rice whenever possible.  When I rince the rice, I find that the water runs clear and is not as cloudy indicating lesser starch probably.

Prawns in Dark Soy, Omelette & Stir-Fried Dragon Chives (
Ching Loong Choy)
.  To limit sugar, I had to stay away from proteins cooked with sauces like sweet and sour, marmite, lemon, salted egg, assam, Thai sweet chilli, etc. as these would definitely contain sugar to balance out the salty or sour flavours.  The only sauce I do take (since most proteins are cooked in some kind of sauce) is soy and curry (at least these sauces are savoury-based but, of course, there's still a bit of sugar in them but not as much as the other sauces).

Kau Yue (Tenggiri), Fried Egg & Stir-Fried Po Choy
.  If the portion of protein is small, I'd usually add on an egg as extra protein to bulk up the meal.  I prefer that since it gives me a bit more variety.

Braised Chicken + Mushrooms, Salted Fish & Stir-Fried Spinach (
Po Choy)
.  When it comes to vegetables, stir-fried or ching chow is now my best friend.  Fried simply with garlic, it's the healthiest option.  At home, I choose to cook and eat just a few types of vegetables, those that are the easiest and fastest to cook (with as little plucking and prep as like po choy, dragon chives, lettuce and cucumber.

Stir-Fried Prawns with Dragon Chives & Stir-Fried Cucumber with Egg
.  Sometimes, just two dishes would be enough if they're in bigger portions.

Steamed Minced Pork + Egg & Stir-Fried
Po Choy
.  Besides stir-fried dishes (usually vegetables), steamed dishes is my other best friend.  I eat a lot of these two types of dishes nowadays at home...and even at chap fan stalls.

Fried Fish Paste with Cabbage
.  Some days, even one dish is enough.  I'd cook just a one-dish meal if the portion is substantial.  I like to use pre-bought fish paste (from the wet market) and just shallow fry them into small patties, apportion them and leave it in the freezer for use later (as the required protein) to fry with any vegetable of choice.  Super convenient not to mention delicious.

Pork Slices Soup with Hairy Gourd, Dried Prawns & Goji Berries
.  This one has meat, vegetables and soup all-in-one! ;)  Super easy to prepare too and especially good on cold rainy evenings.

Minced Meat Omelette
.  This is a meal with no carbs (and by that I mean no rice or bread).  Of course, there's still a little carbs in everything.  I ate just this once but since learned my lesson...must include a little carbs at every meal (I'll tell you the story some other time).

Poached Chicken & Stir-Fried 
Po Choy
.  On some days, I simplify my cooking even further by just buying the protein (like poached chicken) and add on a veggie.

Pork Innards Pepper Soup.  And on days when I don't feel like cooking at all, I can get this for convenience.  I'm eating like a carnivore these days....except I eat it with some rice (and add on more spring onions).

Yong Tau Foo
in Soup
.  Another ideal buy for a low-carb diet is Yong Tau Foo which I can simply reheat for later (and add on lots of yin sai).  Eat it on its own (like the pork innards soup) or with some rice.  I cracked some black pepper over it but realised the coarse black pepper is not fine enough so most of it tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl (and you end up not tasting the pepper, so it's back to white pepper, now I know why it works only in thick western soups)! ;D

Roasted Chicken Leg, Honey Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans
.  Of course, instead of mixed rice, you can also include some western-type meals into your daily meal plans...and the easiest (and cheapest) to do at home is chicken.  Like rice with dishes, it's also a balanced meal of protein, carbs and veggies.

Roasted Chicken Wings, Potatoes, Broccoli & Buttered Bun
.  Without rice, potatoes and bread became my carb component.  Some of you might be wondering....isn't potato and bread considered high GI/GL food.  It is if you eat a portion more than you should.  I took tests after these meals and my sugar levels were not only within range but good, so I was reassured that eating a small portion of carbs isn't all that threatening.  I did not have bread for the first 4 months of my restrictive diet but have since introduced it back in small portions occasionally.

Roasted Chicken Wings, (Orange) Sweet Potatoes & Rose Apple Slices
.  The same with fruits which I omitted totally from my diet (of my own choosing) since fruits contain natural sugar (this rose apple was my first in 4 months).  I've tested my blood sugar after these meals and find the readings within range even with potatoes and fruits (the key is portion control).

In addition to strategically pairing food (such as pairing carbs with fibre, fat and proteins to help lower blood sugar spikes), it seems strategically sequencing food (such as eating veggies first, followed by proteins and carbs last) also helps to minimise blood sugar peaks.  Not sure if it actually works but doing this with an Asian-type meal is almost impossible.  How to eat your rice last lah (with no more!)? :O  It's more feasible with a western-type meal certainly but still I'd rather enjoy my meal eating a bit of this and a bit of that (I'm someone who appreciates variety).

In my restrictive diet, I've to be very selective of the dishes I choose to cook and the dishes I get from chap fan stalls by refraining from food with sugar-laden sauces.  Eating this way can be difficult unless you cook your own meals as almost everything we get outside is either coated or cooked in some kind of sauce (which is usually sweetish in nature)...but I've been extremely encouraged by how much my sugar readings have improved since going on this (partial) homecooked diet.  There's no denying that homecooked meals give me the best blood glucose readings (based on readings taken 2 hours after eating which are always in the lower end of the desired range).

But (I can hear some of you 'saying' already) eating just homecooked food is so boring...and it is, I agree 100%.  Although I've to be very careful with what I eat, that doesn't mean I can't eat outside food altogether. I just have to make the right choices.  I'll show you what outside food I could still enjoy (and how I went about it) in my next post.

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