Diet survival tips: Thai food!! : 【タイレストラン版】ダイエット中のフードガイド

Maybe some of you would think that Thai food is always safe when it comes to diet (or safer than Chinese at least). As a Thai, I would really urge you to think again. Each restaurant makes food differently and calories might vary from one to another. However, as the standard way of making some basic menus is quite the same, I wanna share here about the calories behind the most popular Thai dishes in Japan. And you be the judge!

1. Kapao Kai (minced chicken and basil stir-fried with fried-egg) 鶏肉のバジル炒めご飯

I can’t deny: this dish is the most popular, flavorful, and quickest that you can order. Especially, if you go to the place where they make fried-egg in Thai style for you, it will even harder to resist. (Thai style fried-egg is VERY crispy around the edge as the egg is drop into a wok full of lots of oil, as pictured above) The amount of rice might vary but would definitely be more than the average amount we eat in Thailand. Thus, this would add up to the calories unfortunately. Normally, Kapao dish would range between 550 – 630 kcal, but might go up to 750 if you order Oomori in Japan! However, if you look at the components of the dish, it gives you pretty good amount of protein!

How to go about Kapao if you’re on a diet?
1) Use tissue paper to absorb all the oil left on the fried-egg. You’ll wanna pat it dry! If possible, also pat dry the oil around the plate left from the stir-fry
2) Ask for small amount of rice (少な目にする)or ask for a separate dish, then HALF (or more) your rice. What is left on your plate would be what you’ll eat.
3) If cucumber is provided, you can try ask for more. If soup is in the set, drink the soup first so you’ll be full easier; help stop yourself from eating unnecessary calories that could be left behind.

2. Pad-thai (stir-fried noodles with egg/tofu) タイ風やきそば(パッタイ)

Another popular dish that is served in almost all Thai restaurants here. And as Japanese love for noodles is second to none, they usually add more amount of noodles in this Pad-thai dish than is usually served in Thailand. It ranges from 545-600 kcal and can go up to more than that if more noodles. Why are the calories so high? Well, if done in the traditional way, we use a wok and fill it with lots of oil, then go a couple of eggs, tofu, noodles, bean sprout, dried shrimps, etc. and seasonings such as (quite a lot of) sugar, peanuts, a bit of chili, and so on. We usually have several kinds of veggies to eat on the side but those are rare in Japan so the plate usually come out pretty bare here. The way Pad-thai is made here might vary and some may not be as oily as others, but still, you should keep in mind that this menu is one of those with high calories.

How to go about Pad-thai if you’re on a diet?
Sadly, I would just say SKIP it or HALF and SHARE it with your friend. You can order some salad or soup as a side dish and have half of your Pad-thai. (some girls who’re on a diet do that in Thailand)

3. Green curry (chicken) 鶏肉のグリーンカレー

From being a basic menu in Thai cuisine, green curry has ascended into a more international rank: it’s served in most of the cafes in Japan and has so many kinds of variations. However, the authentic one would incorporate real coconut milk, chicken, eggplant, and lots of different herbs. It is generally a healthy menu! And I’d recommend your order this as one bowl of this would be about 240 kcal. Not too bad, right?

How to go about Green Curry if you’re on a diet?
1) Generally it is safe to order green curry. HOWEVER, be mindful of the amount of rice! Because in Japan, soup usually comes in smaller bowl than rice (it goes the opposite in Thailand), so HALF it before you eat. (And put a bit of fish sauce on the rice cuz it tastes sooooo gooddd!!! ><)
2) DON’T DRINK THE SOUP. When you’re done with the meat and veggies and rice, and there’s some soup left, you don’t need to drink all of that. Why? Because although coconut milk receives some halo that it’s good for your health, it is high in saturated fat so the right amount is the key. You might save yourself a hundred calories sans the soup!

4. Kao Man Kai (steamed chicken with oily rice) ゆで鶏のせ炊き込みご飯(カオマンガイ)

This healthy-looking dish needs your attention! The steamed chicken is, YES, healthy. BUT the rice is definitely not good for your diet plan as it is full of oil which gives it the amazing aroma and taste that goes so well with the chicken! One dish ranges from 596 kcal and up. This does not take various sauces into account. Generally, it CAN be a very healthy menu that you want to order. Just keep in mind that if there’s another variation of this, called fried-chicken with oily rice (Kao Man Kai Tod), just ditch it altogether.

How to go about Kao Man Kai if you’re on a diet?
1) Ask for normal white jasmine rice. HALF it if it’s too much. This saves you hundreds of calories so it is a MUST!
2) Ask for more cucumber. More veggies is always good for ya!
3) See if you can get okawari for the soup. Usually it is a special kind of soup that is only served with this menu. You should drink the soup first to start your meal. See if the soup is oily, if not you might ask for the second serving to replace the rice that is if you halved it.

There’re still a lot of menus here that you need to know so I’ll just make a short list of Dos and Donts:
Donts:
– Any kind of fried rice (oil is added to rice so the calories start at 550 kcal upward. Not a good choice. Half it/share it/or ask for smaller portion of rice)
– Dense desserts (such as the pumpkin in coconut syrup (185 kcal) or pumpkin San-ka-ya cake (288 kcal per square!) or dumpling in warm coconut milk (223 kcal)…Just don’t order desserts with coconut milk in it. period. Order something that’s served with ice and have clear soup. Don’t drink the syrup.)
– Anything with stir-fried noodles (usually heavy sugar and oil)
– Anything deep-fried (such as deep-fried spring rolls, shrimp cake/fish cake…though sound healthy, they are just NOT)
– Thai milk tea (the one with orange color. You’ll be drink pure sugar, baby lol)

Dos:
– Noodle dish with clear soup! (Ask to change the noodles to Harusame (the transparent and slim noodles), choose the menu with lots of protein like pork or meat, ask for more toppings if it’s free, ask them to EXCLUDE the crispy-fried garlic as it comes with oil)
– Tom Yum Kung (Yes, the most well-known menu of all time! It’s good for you as it includes so many herbs and chili that helps speed your metabolism. Also the veggies and seafood is diet-friendly. Just be sure NOT to order it with RAMEN. Just have it with jasmine rice. Perfect!)
– FRESH spring rolls (See if the shop puts too much noodles and rice paper or not; try to choose spring rolls with just veggies inside and watch the dipping sauce!)
– Tropical fruits! (just cuz they’re awesome!)

Now enjoy the spice and keep your diet on track!

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My favorite organic restaurant&cafe “From Hand to Mouth” : 「フロハン」というオーガニックのカフェ

Soooooo THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE CAFE OF ALL TIME IN TOKYO!
Whenever I had to go back home for a couple of months, the place I missed the most is this cafe with a funny name “From Hand to Mouth”. In Japanese, this would be soooo long that people shorten it to “Fu-ro-ha-n” or 「フロハン」(for From Hand..).

It’s located a few steps away to Nishi-waseda bus stop (if going by Toei Bus 学02), just at the corner to the west gate of Waseda campus of Waseda University (Yes my own uni!). If you go at lunch time, you might find it hard to find places to sit sometimes as this is one of the most popular hang-out, chatting, afternoon-tea-ing, catch-up-with-old-friend, spending-quality-time-alone place of girls! I hang out here nights and days during my time in uni, brought sooo many friends, ate almost all the dishes on the menu. I went there so much that I am currently at my THIRD membership card. If you are a member, you’ll get 50 yen discount for lunch time and after you complete one line on the card, you either get discount or exchange with something on the menu.

Enough for the advertising (actually no, but I guess you guys want to know now what’s amazing about it), let us go see what food it offers! First up, Lunch….3 main menus. (all for 880 yen – 830 yen for members)
A. Soup lunch: a daily soup filled with veggies and good-for-you protein, a BIG heap of fresh salad and original olive oil dressing, freshly baked on the day bread (which is different daily) and scrambled eggs. Oops! I forgot a piece of fruit (either apple or orange). Can’t ask for more. HEALTHY. CHOICE!

B. Curry lunch: Behold, this is NOT the typical Japanese curry since this is filled with beans and veggies on top of brown rice (with a mix of seeds and different kinds of wheat). A little portion of mango chutney is also placed neatly on one corner. A piece of fruit has its own place to wrap up the meal. This is very suitable for those who are extremely hungry and want something filling but good and hearty for the stomach.

C. Crape lunch: Maybe the most popular of all menus. Made to order crape (buckwheat flour) with 2 different fillings (changed daily too), topped with creamy yogurt dressing and black pepper. One would be Japanese filling and the other is a bit more Western which would definitely incorporate CHEESE!! A big heap of salad!!! and a piece of fruit. Oh goshhh sooooo amazing!

I can’t begin to say…Lunches here are equally tasty and nutritious so it really depends on your mood on the day. The dinner time also has sooo many more menus. My favorite is “Locomoco-don”(ロコモコ丼)890 yen. Two burger pieces made with different kinds of wheat and seeds mixed with minced beef (1/4 of the burger) topped with sweet-sour-tangy sauce (which…I’m telling you…is extremely addictive) together with big heaps of salad and small half-done sunny side-up egg. Nothing will ever win over this dish. I even dreamed about it once. Lol I went there and ordered this menu so often that the owner (who I frequented with) already knew what I were to order. I also changed the menu a little bit by asking for less portion of rice and volume up the salad with balsamic dressing instead of the yogurt dressing.

Check it out here! http://www.cafe-fhtm.com/index.html

From Hand To Mouth

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This is the Lunch set B: Crape lunch

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And….as you can see the bottom left and top right are the curry set, the bottom right is the soup set.

Give this place a try!!! AND YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! EVER!
PS: it is closed on sundays.

Love it!

Japanese version of Atkins Diet:「ばあさまたちにとおなし」という糖質制限ダイエット

I watched this TV program last night about two different approaches of dieting. One is to refrain from carbs and the other is to limit the calorie intake. Doctors who have tried, succeeded, and became to the advocates for either of the methods were invited to the show and discussed the advantages and the right way to proceed on each diet plan. 

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The calorie limitation approach as we know it is that we must eat within certain limited number of calories per day. But in this Japanese version, what’s interesting this that the doctor started by asking patients to find out how many calories to be cut from their normal one-day calorie intake instead of limiting whatever they’re taking to fit the ideal daily calories, which would be a lot harder to do and maintain.

The formula to find out how much calories you should cut from your daily intake to start losing weight is:
Female >> (body fat% – 20) / 60 x 30 x your body weight
Male >> (body fat% – 10) / 70 x 30 x your body weight 

Now let’s talk about the Japanese version of Atkins Diet, that is to cut carbs and anything that includes sugar but free to eat any protein and fat. The doctors kinda said that the merits are that you are not bounded by the numbers and calculation anymore, rather you just have to learn to remember which food has high sugar or carbs. For me, I think it’s a lot more limiting than the calorie count method, which is a lot easier especially in Japan that most products have calories on the labels. 

The Japanese Atkins Diet doctor introduced an easy way to remember which products that are ALLOWED during the diet period:「ばあさまたちにとおなし」or “Ba-a-sa-ma-ta-chi-ni-to-o-na-shi”. The letters represent the foods that you can feel free to combine and mix up according to your imagination lol Let’s go one by one! 

ば:バター; Ba – Butter
あ:アボカド; A – Avocado
さ:さかな; Sa – Fish
ま:マヨネーズ; Ma- Mayonnaise 
た:たまご; Ta – egg
ち:チーズ; Chi – Cheese
に:肉; Ni – Meat
と:とうふ; To – Tofu
お:オリーブオイル; O – Olive oil
な:納豆; Na – Nattou (fermented soybeans)
し:焼酎(しょうちゅう); Shi – Shouchuu or distilled spirit

I found this a bit weird at first and then I tried to understand the logic. The doctor suggested that you can take as much as you want from the items above BUT must be extremely careful not to take any form of carbs, and yes that includes salad dressings of any kind, be it super clear and non-oil stuff. Whenever you need to go to a family restaurant (like Gasto or Saizeria) be sure to order a la carte (単品)plus lots of SMALL side dishes that are all low in carbs (no potato salad whatsoever) and NO RICE. What’s more apart from rice, you cannot take any noodles like udon, soba, and ramen. You must say goodbye to bread, fruity yogurt, and even low-fat milk. Soymilk is said to be better because it contains small amount of carbs compared to low fat or non-fat milk that substitutes the fat with sugar. Fruits and veggies also need to be monitored. For instance, you can’t go eat curry rice though take off the rice because you can’t take potato or carrot, nor the curry roux. Curry is really a no-no meal lol. If you like Katsu-don, you can take off the rice, then cut off one half of the side with breadcrumb and enjoy the other side. That should give you enough satisfaction, the doctor said. If you like to go to Izakaya for drinking, then order the Shouchuu!! You prolly get by the night without taking tons of sugar with you.

There are 3 levels of this approach, though, so don’t be alarmed yet. First is the “super” level meaning you cut carbs from ALL 3 meals. The second is the “Standard” level, meaning you cut carbs only 2 meals, maybe breakfast and dinner as you might need to go out for lunch with your co-workers. The last is the easiest and most convenient level that allows you to cut carbs only one meal a day, usually during dinner. If you wanna see results fast, go with the super. But be prepared because if you are in Japan, a country where RICE is the MAIN thing in each meal, this might require you to totally change the cultural way of eating. 

Although I’m always conscious of calories, I never thought of numbers of carbs before. I used to think that avoiding fat is the safest way; now I changed my mind. I kinda wanna try taking on more protein and healthy fat than carbs and see if this can actually slim down my body. That’s gonna be my challenge for a week! 😉