Brown rice kimbap or “Korean sushi”

Dinner, Korean, Lunch, Recipes, Snacks

Ever been in a food coma? When your body ingests (1) too much food and (2) foods high on the glycemic index, your body releases insulin, triggering a chain reaction of chemicals including melatonin that make you very sleepy… mid day!

Combat such a situation with homemade kimbap made with brown rice – essentially for us Koreans this is a picnic or snack food, and very much resembles sushi. It’s sort of like a “Korean Sushi”. Try out something new this weekend!

Brown rice kimbap or “Korean Sushi”

The below makes about 12 rolls of kimbap. Each ingredient that goes in to the dish takes a bit of time to make, so I generally make a lot, and freeze the ingredients for use later on. I would set aside about 2-3 hours to make the separate ingredients and roll the kimbap.

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Ingredients

  • Bamboo rolling mat
  • White vinegar
  • 6 cups uncooked rice (1/3 white sticky rice, 1/3 brown sweet rice, 1/3 black wild rice)
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Sesame oil
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 7-8 carrots
  • Dozen eggs
  • Pickled Korean radish (bright yellow)
  • Your choice of protein (I used imitation crab meat, but you could use flaked tuna, etc…)
  • Flat seaweed

Instructions

1. Make your individual ingredients.

  • Carrots – Wash, then chop up the carrots into small pieces. Sautee in a non-stick frying pan with no oil for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat, until they are soft.
  • Cucumbers – De-seed the cucumbers, and cut them into thin, length-wise strips. You can keep the seeds, but they don’t go in the kimbap (they will make them very soggy, something you probably don’t want).
  • Eggs – Beat 6 eggs at a time in a bowl, and pour in a non-stick frying pan. When it’s quite formed, flip it over, making sure it’s cooked all the way through. Cut into thin strips after they’ve cooled a bit.
  • Rice – Take 3-4 cups of the cooked rice in a large bowl, and add in 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar.  Mix in a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds.

2. Create your workstation – lay out all of the ingredients on a table.

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3. Take about 1-1.5 cups of rice with a spoon, and carefully spread it throughout the seaweed. Arrange all of the ingredients close to the base of the roll, leaving a bit of rice protruding where you will start rolling.

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4. Begin rolling, pressing down firmly! About halfway through rolling, you could do the remainder with your hands, then reinforce the kimbap with the bamboo roll at the end.

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5. With a thin brush (or you could use your hands too though this gets messy), apply a thin layer of sesame oil to the rolls. It will taste delicious, and prevent them from sticking to each other and breaking. This step is optional.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat until your ingredients are gone.

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Try it out, let me know how it goes! If you have variations / recommendations please send them through!

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The health perils on the road… and how to avoid them

Nutrition & Well-being, Travel

pictographs-hailing-cab-inv

Hi misfits!

Sometimes our lives demand us on travel. If you are a management consultant like I was for a number of years, this means you get on a plane every week for the perpetuity of your project. This week, I’ve been away for a wedding in Canada. Travel usually it means a complete disruption to how you do things normally in your home city, depending on whether you’re heading to a new city, country, or continent and having to establish new healthy habits.

It’s hard to be healthy on the road, between the temptations to skip workouts from jet lag, and eat everything novel – but it is possible by establishing boundaries and different healthy habits.

Here are some tips:

1. Set realistic goals for your week.

Before heading on to travels, get into the mindset of how you will incorporate healthy habits on your time away from the norm. Set workout times in your calendar, and decide to make healthy meal choices.

2. Drink water over soda, or other caloric drinks. 

Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day with water, so you don’t think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Plus, by drinking plenty of fluids you’ll force yourself to listen to nature when it calls – getting you more mobile throughout the day too.

3. Snack on healthy items throughout the day.

When I used to live the Monday to Thursday travel lifestyle, I packed a bag of snacks consisting of hard boiled eggs, fruits, veggies from the hotel buffet lounge each morning. I would munch on these throughout the day, which prevented me from binge eating that lunch, going for a sugary mid-afternoon snack, or eating an uncomfortable amount of food just before bed for dinner after a long workday.

4. Find workout buddies and exercise together in the morning. 

During my consistent travel days, we had a small group of us within the team that would meet each other at the gym and do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts together. Keeping each other accountable, we would get up at 6am each morning and roll down to the gym next door, and out of the four days I was living in a hotel, I would hit the gym three of those days.

5.Make healthier food choices for lunch and dinner.

When you’re traveling, you’ll have to always eat out – which means the cooked food naturally has more salt, sugar, and fat content to make it tastier. Try to get as close to the natural food source as possible – opt for the salad bar, limit fried foods, etc.

6. Moderate, moderate, moderate your portions.

There is always lots of food, and you may want to spend your food allowance or eat more than you’re used to just because it’s there. But remember moderation – you only have one body, it’s pretty sacred and the short-term gain of having something just for the sake of it being tasty isn’t worth it when you’re racked with digestion discomfort later on. 

It is definitely hard to be healthy on the road, but with a healthy mindset, discipline and some planning, it is very doable. You should definitely enjoy yourself too, but too much of a “good thing” ends up not being so great in the long run – so choose to be happy and healthy!

 

Easy to-go breakfast for the week

Breakfast, Recipes

Happy Thursday, misfits!

It’s almost the end of the work week and with the weekend coming in, there’s more time to try out new recipes! Try out this one, which is a breakfast item that freezes really well and is easily packaged in cling wrap or foil. 

No Fuss Pea & Potato Breakfast Frittata

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Ingredients

  • Frozen peas
  • 6-7 eggs (free range is best)
  • 6-7 fingerling potatoes

Instructions:

1. Thinly slice the potatoes and boil in water for ~10 minutes.

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2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. While this is happening, crack the eggs into a bowl and mix!

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3. Mix in the remaining ingredients. I’ve added some smoked fish in here too just because I had some leftover – you could really substitute any vegetable or protein you’d like.

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4. Pour the ingredients into a dishpan. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

 

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5. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

 

 

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How to design quick, impactful workouts

Fitness, Lifestyle

Happy Monday, fellow misfits!

Do you schedule your alarm clock, only to press the snooze button twice, then wake up in a panic as you’ve slept in for 30 minutes? As a person that schedules my workouts in the morning, I usually feel a pang of guilt as I’ve scheduled an hour workout but now there’s only half that time. The thing is, sleep is also a very important part of recovery, and your overall health. If you’re short for time, instead of cutting down on essential pieces of your life besides exercise – try to make your exercise regimen more efficient. 

In honour of starting a new job this week, I thought a post on getting in quick, impactful workouts would be fitting – as I’m sure I’ll be increasing the frequency of these.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a very effective, efficient method of training when you’re short for time. It involves (as it says) intervals with sprints on timers, that will increase your heart rate giving you a cardio workout at the same time as working on muscular endurance. You can design your own HIIT workout and put it into effect easily – all you need is a timer (you could use the Interval Timer on the iPhone or Workout Timer on Android) and a set of 5-10 exercises you’d like to do. Plus, you could do the workout anywhere, indoors, outdoors (such as on a mountain), with or without equipment.

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Depending on your fitness level, there will be variation in:

1. Duration of each exercise set (30 seconds is easier, 60 seconds significantly more difficult)

2. How heavy your weights are (depending on the exercise)

3. How long is your rest period in between sets (~10 seconds or none)

4. How many sets you do (2-3)

5. How many exercises you want to do (5-10)

For instance, a sample HIIT workout for a beginner could like:

Rotate through each exercise below, 30 seconds per exercise, with a 10 second break in between each exercise. Complete 2-3 sets. (~10 minutes if doing 3 sets)

  • Squats (no weights)
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Tricep dips

If you don’t feel like designing your own workout, there are tons of resources out there with free workouts, including a website devoted to HIIT workouts as well as examples on Pinterest, YouTube, etc.

Looks like time constraints are no longer an excuse… happy training this week!

Part 4 – Healthy Recipe #4 for your busy week

Dairy free, Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian

Welcome to part 4 of healthy, cost-conscious, portable recipe series. Here’s another delicious, healthy snack to munch on – also great for post-workout snacking! If you are allergic to peanuts, try another type of nut butter such as cashew, almond, etc!

PB Granola Oat Bar 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/4cup pumpkin seeds (or other toppings you enjoy, I sometimes also top with dark chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Instructions

1. Set the oven to 325F.

2. Lightly oil an 8×8 pan with oil (pick your type), making sure you get all of the sides too.

3. In a microwave safe bowl, add honey, coconut oil and peanut butter. Microwave for 30-50 seconds, stir until mixture gets runny and peanut butter completely melted in. Mix in vanilla extract to the wet ingredients.

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4. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients including the oats, cinnamon and raisins.

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5. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry, and mix together.

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6. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press down with a spatula or other apparatus you see fit, and bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until lightly brown.

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7. The finished result should look like this! Once you take the bars out of the oven, press down again and let it cool.

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8. Cut the oat bars into 16 slices and enjoy! Each bar is approximately 150 calories.

Guide to physical fitness this week

Fitness

It’s another Monday! Previous to getting too much further into your busy week of work, try to set aside 5 minutes of time to plan out your workouts this week.

Here are a few tips to consider when planning:

1. Make it dead simple for you to do your workouts. For instance, if you’re working out the next morning first thing before work, get all of your workout gear laid out and ready to go, along with water bottle. If you’re working out in the evening, get your gym bag, pre/post workout snack all packed and ready to go so it’s easy to grab in the AM.

2. Try to schedule your workouts in the morning, rather than in the evening. Speaking from experience as a management consultant, if I miss my morning workout, the evening usually turns into a work-a-thon, or I become ravenously hungry during dinner hours, and the evening workout just doesn’t happen.

3. 15-20 minutes of a high intensity weight training session is better than NO workout. Even if you get up late, just go!

4. Look at doing 2-3 sessions of cardio and 2-3 sessions of weight training per week. For cardio, depending on what your levels are at, a short run that’s 20-30 minutes is manageable during the week while a longer run (~1 hour) during the weekend is one method. For weight training, focus on training all major muscle groups, particularly focusing on your shoulders, legs and core strength if you’re short for time.

5. If you’re very short for time, 2-3 times per week of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to keep your cardio and strength up. There’s lots of examples of workouts online, check out this one on Shape.

Have fun training!

Part 3 – Healthy recipe #3 for your work week

Recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian

Welcome to part 3 of healthy, cost-conscious, portable recipes to try out. This week, here’s a delicious, healthy snack to munch on.

Salt & Vinegar Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • Chickpeas (2.5 cups canned or 1 cup dry)
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Instructions

1. If the chickpeas are unsoaked, take the dry chickpeas and soak for 8 hours.

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2. Boil the chickpeas with 1/2 cup of white vinegar until chickpeas are soft (10-15 minutes). To accelerate the process, I’ve used a pressure cooker instead.

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3. Strain the chickpeas.

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4. Mix the olive oil, remaining white vinegar and salt together in a bowl.

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5. Spread the chickpeas on a cookie sheet, and pour the mixture over them. Bake in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes. You may hear some of the chickpeas “pop”, these will be crisp!

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Here’s the finished result! Take them in little ziploc or snack bags. These are high in protein, low in fat and will tide your hunger pangs over.

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Part 2 – Healthy recipe #2 for your work week

Dinner, Lunch, Nutrition & Well-being, Recipes

As I mentioned in my last post, welcome to part 2 of healthy, cost-conscious, portable recipes to try out!

Spicy vegetarian chili

Vegetarian chili with homemade goat yogurt

Prep Time: ~15 minutes (or soak the beans 8 hours in advance if you don’t like to use canned beans)
Cook Time: ~10 minutes (+30 minutes on a timer)
Total Time: ~1 hour

For ingredients, you could really add any type of beans you like, as well as other veggies you love! Or, realistically you could input veggies you have left over in your fridge – it’s a great way to use them up while getting a highly varied, better tasting chili.

Ingredients:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño or red chili pepper, seeded, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
2 tbsp chipotle chili powder (or more for spicier chili)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups water
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 (15-oz) can red kidney beans, drained
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
6 oz pepper Jack cheese, shredded

Preparation:
1. Add the olive oil and onions to a pot, and place over medium heat. Saute the onions until they are translucent.

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2. Add the garlic, jalapeño, red bell pepper, oregano, chipotle, cumin, and chili powder. Cook stirring for 3 minutes.

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3. Add the tomato sauce, or make your own! If you have a blender, it’s very easy to do. I took 6-7 tomatoes, and mixed it with the 4 cups of water in my Vitamix blender. You could use a food processor as well, it will work just as well!

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4. Add in the remaining ingredients (water, if you didn’t make your own tomato paste), beans and veggies you like.

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5. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and at this stage, set a timer for 30 minutes while your chili stews and you go enjoy doing something else.

6. Serve in bowls with your desired toppings. Chives, goat yogurt, or shredded cheese are all great options! 

Part 1 – Easy meal planning for your week

Nutrition & Well-being, Recipes

One of the ways I stay healthy and trim is to plan out my week’s eating and exercise regimen in advance on the weekend. I make recipes that I could easily portion into batches, freeze and take in pieces during the week. Depending on how ambitious I feel, I make all of my snacks (e.g. granola bars, kale chips, etc.) as well as my meals. 

Try out one of these recipes for your week today! 

1. Vegan red lentil and sweet potato soup 

It’s winter … and a soup is just perfect on a cold day. Lentils are a great source of protein which will keep you full long after your meal without a food coma. Also, feel free to modify the veggies in the recipe. This time, I also added mushrooms just because I really love them. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp paprika powder
1 diced large onion
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 minced cloves garlic
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes
1 diced (stemmed, seeded) red bell pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups rinsed red lentils
6 cups water

How

1. Chop all veggies

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2. Lightly heat the olive oil in a large pot over low-medium heat.

3. Add cook cumin, turmeric and curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.

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4. Add onion with a few pinches salt, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes.

5. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes.

6. Add sweet potatoes and bell pepper and cook 1 minute. Add other veggies you may like, such as carrots, and mushrooms.

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7. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

8. Season with salt and pepper to your liking!

A tip: invest in some good stainless steel or hardy containers of different sizes. I batch mine up by size for soups to bring in to work, and also freeze in larger portions and thaw when needed.

Simple tips to healthy eating

Lifestyle, Nutrition & Well-being

In this post, I want to share some quick, easy tips to eat well without it being a hassle. Here are some easy tips to get you started:

1. Learn to really listen to your body. Eat slower, and stop when you are beginning to get full. Save the rest for later.

2. Eat more frequently, it’s better to snack on smaller meals 5-6 times per day rather than the three large meals (you ARE eating breakfast, right?)

3. Try to make each meal a composition of slow carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. E.g. A hearty lentil soup, apple with raw nuts, fish and salad, etc.

4. Eat a small something before and after you work out.

  • Pre-workout: something easy to digest and carbohydrate rich, like a smoothie about a half hour before
  • Post-workout: immediately or within the hour, have a protein and carbohydrate rich snack like a protein granola bar

5. Don’t think you need to cut out everything that’s delicious, but limit consumption of treats (e.g. a slice of cake, coke, etc.) to once day per week.

6. Limit eating processed foods, and foods with high sugar and salt content.

7. Don’t forget your fluids – keep your water bottle around and drink throughout the day as you get thirsty.