Lunch Prep and my Peri-Peri (Piri-Piri) Chicken Recipe

Since I changed my lifestyle, I have been preparing my lunch as often as I can. I’m not doing this for the hype or purely for training (although this is partly the reason). I’ve been doing this as frequently as I can for the last 2 years.

Here are the top reasons why I prefer to prepare my weekday lunches:

  1. I’m lactose intolerant. Food around my office are mostly served with cheese.
  2. Preparing my own food gives me the freedom to have what I want to eat.
  3. I get to control calories and macros. I’m in an IIFYM diet or some would call it “flexible dieting”.
  4. It’s “grab and go”. I don’t have to worry about what to eat for the rest of the weekday.
  5. I like to cook. Prepping my weekly lunch encourages me to learn new recipes and be creative about it. Cooking is exercise.
  6. I watch TV series, listen to music or audiobook, or dance when I cook. It’s fun!
  7. Cooking gives me a reason to go the go to the grocery. I walk and I carry the bags. These are exercises.
  8. Shopping for grocery is fun too while listening to an audiobook or music.

Looking at this list makes me come to realize more that preparing meals is fun. How we perceive and approach an activity determines the feeling it imparts on us. Regardless of the mood we have when we prepare food, the end result is that we still get to eat it. Might as well turn up that volume and dance to Bang Bang while cutting broccoli.

As a special addition to this post, I’d like to share my “Peri-Peri Spiced Chicken Breast and Vegetables”. I wanted to compress this as much as possible because it’s really easy to make.

Meal Prep Funtime!

Meal Prep Funtime!

Servings: 5

Prep Time: 30 mins cooking; 2 – 1 day marinading.

Macros (per serving):

  • Calories: 213
  • Fats: 11
  • Carbs: 8
  • Protein: 25

Ingredients:

For the vegetables – 

  • 1/2 large onion (I prefer the purple one) chopped to small squares
  • 1 large sweet pepper (really big) chopped to small squares – would probably result to 2 cups
  • 400 gms broccoli florets
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic paste OR 1/2 garlic clove minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking

Heat oil in a deep pan or pot then throw in the onions first. Sprinkle a pinch of salt to caramelize it (a trick I learned). When the onion starts showing brown streaks, add the pepper and garlic paste. Cook until paste is mixed. Make sure you don’t soften the pepper too much. I prefer my vegetables crunchy. Then lastly, add the broccoli. By the way, I buy frozen florets so I usually soften it quickly in boiling water for 2-3 mins. Done! and set aside (or multitask by cooking this while the chicken is still in the oven).

For the chicken – 

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (add more if you want)
  • 5 cloves of garlic OR 1/2 tbsp garlic paste (I personally prefer this)
  • 4 tbsp dark vinegar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 lemon – juiced or squeezed
  • 400-500 gms boneless chicken breast

This is going to be super complicated. So ready?

Mix all spices and rub it over the chicken. Leave it for about 2 hours minimum. I like to leave mine overnight. Here’s another trick I learned on how to keep chicken breast juicy even after microwaving it – pan fry the breasts on each side for about 3-5 minutes then bake them in 400 F for 30 mins.

Cooking part done!

You’re probably on your 12th song in your playlist or in my case, my 3rd Mindy Project episode. Lay out your 5 containers. Slice your chicken to strips and distribute everything evenly on all containers.

Before I end this post, like any true blooded gamer, I always make sure I’m aware of “cheats”. If you just want to watch one episode of your TV show while prepping, buy a peri-peri spice then use it to coat the chicken instead of making your own marinade. Don’t forget to rub olive oil over before doing so. I use Clubhouse or Nando’s Sauce (if I’m lucky enough to find one).

But remember before opting for the cheat: nothing compares to the taste of authentic cooking and the fun that goes with more tasks. Just saying…

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Caramelized Onion and Chard Omelette

STEPH'S PALEO LIFE

Before I begin, I have another disclaimer. I AM NOT A CHEF but I can cook the food I like. I am still learning new recipes and adapting myself into this new lifestyle. I will only share the ones that I’ve made that I’m proud of. They’re not only edible, but they taste pretty darn good. Plus, a lot of people have been asking for them.

If you’ve read my previous post, I have mentioned that I was looking forward to breakfast and that I got a lot of leafy greens I couldn’t juice because my juicer is broken. Sad. At 4am, I woke up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was also hungry so I recounted what I had in my fridge and what I can do with them.

Finally after that senseless prelude, here’s the concoction I brewed – it’s quick and simple and of course…

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Fave Feasts

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote something in my blog. Work has been crazy and by the time I get home, I feel extremely spent (but in a good way). I just happen to get an idea on what I want to write about after browsing through my photos in my phone. I noticed that I had a lot of food pictures. It has been a running joke in this era that the meal ritual starts with taking a photo of your food before saying “grace”. It’s not true for me. I say ‘grace’ first then I take my snapshot.

I’ve been living in Singapore for 2 years and they were really fast years. I love the comfort, the transportation system, my job (ehem… yes, I do), my bed, and the food. I’ve tried lots of delightful meals from the ones I concoct out of the grocery, hawker centers, and fine dining. I’d like to share some food spots I’ve seen myself going back over and over again, and  or wanting to go back for more.

I’m not a cuisine connoisseur. I just let my taste buds lead me. So here are my fave food spots (not in order):

To be honest, the food here is just okay but they have a lot of Mediterranean choices. Plus they have a bar with a selection of 200 beers. I just put my hands on their apple ciders.

Medz Ribeye

Just mediocre but it went really well with apple cider

Of course!

Of course!

The meat here is great however, I think they attract people with their Terminator Challenge. Finish this 1 kg juicy Wagyu burger in 20 minutes and it’s on the house. Considering it’s about 50 SGD+, the effort should be worth it.

1 kg of Wagyu beef - there were days I think I could finish that monster.

1 kg of Wagyu beef – there were days when I think I could finish that monster.

I love breakfast. It’s the best meal of the day. If I could have it with a nice glass of wine at any time, then I’d be giddy. Good thing this restaurant had that in mind because it’s a breakfast all day joint with a nice atmosphere.

Norwegian breakfast

Norwegian breakfast

Stephanie's Sandwich - really... it's called 'Stephanie's Sandwich' (steak)

Stephanie’s Sandwich – really… it’s called ‘Stephanie’s Sandwich’ (steak)

I really don’t recommend eating in Morton’s unless there’s a really really good occasion to spend for. It’s freaking expensive but then like what I said, if there’s a celebration, it would make a good excuse to splurge (perhaps once a year?). Their steaks are really good because the essence of the flavor is in their meat and not on whatever sauce poured on it. I unfortunately don’t have a picture of our steak but here’s the dessert we ordered –  a delicious chocolate pudding.

Chocolate oozes out

Chocolate oozes out

My new favourite coffee shop. I actually never had a favourite coffee shop but this one’s a record breaker. I love their liquor coffee plus the fact that I get smiling bunnies when I order them. Their meat and meals are pretty awesome too.

My bunny :3

My bunny on Kahlua Coffee :3

500gm steak - 2 people finished this (just have to say that)

500gm steak – 2 people finished this (just have to say that)

This is the only place I’ve been in that serves their burgers on a skewer. The truffle fries are nice.

You can actually see that it 'was' a burger

You can actually see that it ‘was’ a burger

Another freaking expensive restaurant. Not because of the food quality per se but because the servings are small for the price. I like the Spanish ambience when we can get a table at the back because we can see Sentosa (with fireworks at night). Their sangrias are wonderful.

Could get me drunk if they weren't so 'effin pricey.

Could get me drunk if they weren’t so ‘effin pricey.

OMG – best ramen in Singapore. I’m going to fight on its behalf for the ‘best ramen’ title (until I can find a better one). Too bad it’s located somewhere away from the central area.

It's also fun to grind those sesame seeds, though not as fun as popping bubble wraps

It’s also fun to grind those sesame seeds, though not as fun as popping bubble wraps

Burgers are my Achilles heel. When I started my new healthy lifestyle, I mourned for my burgers. My separation from it gave me weeks of withdrawals but then, I do make it a point to treat myself from time to time. This burger joint is one of the best and cheapest in Singapore. If only I can find where they are located now (sad panda).

400gm burger vs 200gm burger

400gm burger vs 200gm burger

  • XO Fish Soup (hawker center)

Who would’ve thought I’d recommend fish soup? I hate them but I love this one – perhaps because it’s added with cognac? Yup, an alcoholic soup but don’t let it fool you. It won’t get you drunk and there’s no fishy taste at all. I forgot which hawker center we go to for this. I’ll ask my officemates then I’ll let you know.

This looks so innocent

This looks so innocent

I can write four more paragraphs just talking about how I love these chicken wings. I’ve mentioned it in my previous entry so I think that says it all. Never ever bribe me with this food – because you can. 😉

My first love chicken wings

My first love chicken wings

Just because I’m more watchful over what I eat and the fact that I do more rigorous physical training, doesn’t mean I’ve kicked out the foodie in me. Like what I said before, I love food. I’ll never stop loving food.

There’s a time to enjoy everything and I’ve always believed that when it comes to sustenance, it should be wonderful all the time. No food is bad food – only when consumed too much.

So if you’re on a diet, step out of your routine and give yourself a break at least once a week. Trust me, it can even help you lose more weight. I kid you not.

Belly Belly True Fact

Here’s something I’ve learned as I’m populating my “weight loss” archives. It’s one of the most important facts that linger in my conscience almost everyday. Ready?

Stress = Belly Fat

I know you’re thinking, “there’s nothing new about that. I’ve heard that from somewhere”. No. Really. You gotta listen to this.

I have to confess that I’m a happy person – well I am most of the time – and well I think it’s because of too much exercise. It does make sense that I could be more bouncier (in a figurative sense), because of the endorphins I create through my physical activities. For those who don’t know what this is, endorphins are happy hormones. This awesome free and safe private narcotic is within us and can easily be acquired by just doing a lot of activities. It’s like having weed brownies only, you don’t pack up calories. Don’t ask me how I know this.

I’m not a doctor or some science guru but from the way I see it, and here it goes, the chaotic wingman of endorphins is ‘cortisol‘. It’s like Donkey from Shrek. It helps get the job done but it messes things up most of the time.

He's a buddy but he's a pain in the a** too.

He’s a buddy but he’s a pain in the a** too – just like cortisol

Cortisol is a steroid hormone created by our adrenal glands and triggered by our hypothalamus whenever we are stressed. Hypothalamus is the headquarters of our emotions – this is our emotions’ control center. What cortisol does is that it regulates your blood pressure and immune function and it helps you tap your energy reserves so you could fight off infection. So when the hypothalamus says, “hey body you have a problem so I want you to feel sad and anxious“. Your adrenal gland then hears this and let’s a lot of cortisol zerglings free.

For non SC players... it's like this... ew?

For non SC players… it’s like this… ew?

The thing is, whenever you’re stressed, your body will think that it’s under attack therefore it’ll shut down some areas to prepare for an invasion. When we are chronically stressed, our body will think we’re in constant danger therefore it protects us – which is a good thing in general. Evolution would point it back to our ancestors who needed this physiological reaction because they would stress out on famine or when predators like T-Rexes hunt for them.

So what does cortisol have to do with your belly fat? A lot. Cortisol’s main function is to increase blood sugar- and a very general knowledge in dieting is that the more sugar you have, the more fats you gain. Yeah… that candy bar, or chocolate, or piece of pie you had just bloated you with more fat cells. The worst part of this is that cortisol mainly causes fat deposits to be in your abdominal area. Look at the bellies of financial CEOs or Mafia bosses. They stress out a lot and most of them (or are portrayed to) have big tummies.

I like the Sopranos.

I like the Sopranos.

There are a lot of people who work out and do proper dieting but are having difficulty flattening their bellies. That is because regardless of their efforts, they still lack sleep, they get stressed at work, or probably they’re carrying a lot of emotional baggages. We read plenty of of “how to’s” on getting flat abdomen and we usually get the same advise – doing crunches, going on a diet, do pole dancing, etc. But here are some of what I’d like to contribute and in my opinion, works like magic to lose belly fat:

  • Meditate. I’m not talking about just you crossing legs and humming, “ohmmm” (though that could work). Give yourself a time to just relax and not think about anything. Bask in your existence by listening to your breathing and feeling the air around you. If it helps, imagine inhaling positive things and exhaling negative baggages. I usually do this by representing the positive with cool green air and the negative as the dark and dense air. Whatever floats your boat should work as effectively as what Buddha did.
Meditation is quiet time. It's you just being your own consciousness.

Meditation is quiet time. It’s you just being your own consciousness.

  • Sleep and steal a nap. Sleeping is important and I thought just because Margaret Thatcher survived with just 3 hours of sleep a day, I could do that too. As a gamer before, I didn’t want to waste time by sleeping . Don’t do that. Sleeping is when fats are burned as primary fuel so having enough of it will optimize your fat burning process. Not only that but it relieves you from stress and makes your body feel rested. However, keep in mind that oversleeping will also cause you to gain weight because you become less active. It’s also associated with diabetes and heart problems. I would say an average of 6-8 hours of sleep for adults a day is just right.
  • Bye bye coffee… not really. I’m sad to share this but coffee accelerates cortisol production. Coffee has a lot of other weight loss benefits like giving your metabolism a temporary boost. However it will mostly be a disadvantage if you’ve become dependent on it. People drink coffee because they need a kick in the morning to become active and I was one of those people. I didn’t want belly fat so instead, I opted to just have green tea and almonds to jumpstart my day. They provide the same results. I also drink magnesium supplements before I sleep but please, consult with your doctor or nutritionist before you do this too. (UPDATE) However, coffee is only a problem for people who are chronically stressed. It can actually be healthy as it acts as a diuretic and antioxidant. Just don’t have too much of it or else you’ll get addicted.
I love coffee. But sometimes... love hurts. :(

I love coffee. But sometimes… love hurts. 😦

  • Listen to music and immerse in humor. I have these two drugs when I work and when I jog. Music has a calming effect and funny things pump up endorphin production. They ease tension and both help you breeze through the day. Try it out but just be aware when you start skipping to work. Unless you don’t mind the curious stares, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Evade stress. For people who are especially working, you can’t prevent occupational burdens. Whoever said you can’t dodge stress? Whenever you feel like your boss is poking needles in your brain or that guy behind you is literally throwing paper at you, just stop. Stand up, walk outside and relax, meditate if you can for about 10 mins, or drop everything and go home. I’m serious. Ever since I’ve started treating my job like this, I got better at it and I’ve become more productive. Not only that but I’ve started to love it more. Your work should give you the life you want and if it’s hindering you from improvements, then there’s something wrong with it. I don’t want to sound like a nagger but work is generally easy if you manage your time well.
The grandma is your job and the dog is you. Get out of the car now.

The grandma is your job and the dog is you. Get out of the car now.

  • Be happy. Happiness is the cure for EVERYTHING. If you research about it, you’ll only see positive outcomes with zero side effects. Your days will be brighter, your heart will always feel like it’s in love, and your smile will become infectious. You can achieve this even if your life is filled with drama. Try by being grateful for your blessings. Count up to 10 blessings then get past it when you’re done. You’ll be surprised that you’ll start to feel better. The best part is, you’ll lose your belly fat.

Exercise and dieting are big factors in giving you a flat tummy but they’re not everything. Personally, I would say that those are just about 30% of the solution. The 70% comes from the tips I just shared. I’m a huge proponent of a lifestyle change and I would recommend that over the mechanical “to-do’s” of weight loss. I had a waistline of 34 inches before I decided to take on this new adventure. I now have a 26 inch waistline.

This is a pretty long blog post now but I do hope I’ve been helpful somehow. Just remember that on top of everything, the most effective solution for fat belly reduction is real HAPPINESS.

Here's a toast from me to you. To happiness!

Here’s a toast from me to you. To happiness!

—-

References:

All You Lazy Bones Please Stand Up

How lazy are you exactly? If you rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 with…

  • One (1) as when we think that taking a shower is unholy and yet a necessary evil.
  • Ten (10) as when you wish you had telekinesis so you could use it to mentally manipulate your mouth to chew your food.

I’d say I’d give myself a grade of four (4) – this one is when we think that bending over to pick up a coin from the floor is equivalent to burning 1000 calories. I’m a lazy bone and if I can help it, I’d rather merge with my bed and get buried underneath a fluffy comforter … forever. I’m the queen of procrastination (yes, yes you may bow down before me…).

Regardless of how active we appear to be in front of people, I think we all are lazy.

Even animals know how to be lazy

Even animals know how to be lazy

One time when I was walking home with my friend Jenn, I mentioned to her that I think I may have ADHD. I buzzed around like a lost bee and I can’t seem to stay still. I told her that perhaps it’s because of this gym thing giving me the extra energy to do more things. I got to work out my lazy muscles.

Jenn said, “I’m one big lazy muscle”. I burst out laughing. Humor is best applied when the truth makes it seem ironic.

When we reached home, I told Jenn that I tried waking her up the night before because she slept around for 4 hours straight from when she arrived from work. She told me that the only way I could’ve woken her up is if I placed a bowl of sliced apples in front of her (on the bed). I protested that even if I did that, she’d just open her eyes and stare at the food. She then said, “I probably will but then I can decide on whether I’ll eat it or not,” she shrugged then continued, “If I will choose to eat it, then I’ll get up.”

So imagine if Jenn was a goddess and the people who worshipped her wanted to ask for her aid. They’d have to give her apple offerings and wait if she decides to wake up and claim her gifts. If she does, then good for the tribe – they’d get abundant harvest. If she doesn’t, then they’ll have to find a tree to hold on to so they won’t get blown away by a hurricane.

Jenn the Sleeping Goddess

Jenn the Sleeping Goddess

Okay so my point is (the moral lesson of my senseless storytelling), is that our actions and decisions have equivalent aftermaths – all the time. Outcomes don’t care about whether you were lazy or committed – they just happen. So we should ask ourselves this whenever we are challenged to act upon something: what is the result I want?

Persisting through laziness is easy but is tough at the same time. It’s easy because all you have to do is to well, do it. It’s tough because we’re tormented with the option of doing something else more convenient or comfortable.

Y u smile? Can you relate?

Y u smile? Can you relate?

I’ve decided to go to the gym 4x a week. This human sloth is doing a more dedicated resistance training. You may think I’m rehabilitating myself but no – I’ll always be her majesty, queen procrastinator, Lazy Boneness. However, I’d rather be a persistent lazy bone because I wanna be…

tumblr_m7ra87fUBq1rw2a8zo1_500

sexy on a handstand

Happy Pain?

Look! I got my first gym bruise!

IMG_1741

Looks like I did a badass palm strike – but nope. It was caused by a 2-minute burpee.

I never understood the fulfilment of going through pain. An officemate today told me when he saw me penguin walking along the bridge inside our building, “Your body is telling you it’s in pain. That means you shouldn’t go to the gym”.

Okay so I was extremely sore… all over. I was practically wobbling whenever I leaned forward. But then why do people do this? Why do I do it? We don’t have to second guess to know that doing a full body workout is painful. It is unpleasant. however, if we look past physical limitations, maybe we can figure out the secret to gym fun.

Besides, I don't have any excuse. This guy deserves a victory dance.

This guy has all the excuses to not move but he’s pushing past pain. He got my victory dance.

The day before, the curious little gnat in me approached the female trainer after my session. I asked her what triggered her passion. She told me she has been training for 5 years and she loved the feeling of growing stronger, and for each pain she went through, she knew her body was evolving into something she desired it to be.

I’ve been complaining since I arrived at work about how sore I am and that I felt like I got ran over by a truck. What lightened up my day was what my friend, Tars told me. Here’s my attempt to quote what he said (translated in English):

“The pain is good, huh? That means your body is going through something different. It’s improving.” Tars can sometimes be awesome. I hope his head won’t swell when he reads this.

It hurts on the right spots which means I got ’em lazy muscles to work! I’m just figuring out how I’ll be able to do my squat thrusts in my next gym appointment… tomorrow. :/

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