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Monthly THINKERING: Getting Healthy-errr April 1, 2010

Posted by huymix in Food, Monthly Thinkerings.
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Let’s get physical, physical, I wanna get physical… Aside from my secret love of Olivia Newton John’s classic, I did want to talk about getting healthy. One of the classic problems in North America is this idea of massive obesity and how it’s an epidemic yet there is also an obsession (that you don’t find as much of in the rest of the world, certainly not in Asia) with diet and exercise.

This is not really going to be a review but a set of thoughts around the topic of getting healthy.

Health and Weight

One of the main issues I have with the way health is addressed in North America (I’ll just start saying Canada but I do mean North America) is the equivalence of personal health and weight. First of all, a person is healthy along a spectrum of health, it is not binary. Also, a person’s weight is healthy across a spectrum as well. Neither is binary and where someone exists in the spectrum of either health or weight does not necessarily equate to their position on the other. One area of confusion is the fact that there is a concession on a large scale (nationally or provincially) to use the BMI indicator which does equate health and weight. While it is understandable at a national level that a more practical (even if much more rough and less accurate) measure such as BMI would be acceptable, it’s use has lent credibility to the notion that it will work for an individual person. If you really want to get healthy, stop thinking about the weight it’s not the same thing.

More than some motivation is required

A major hole in any program, be it Atkins, Zone or P90X, is the issue of motivation. To go from a sedentary life to one that is much more active (and would probably need to change food attitudes) requires major motivation. The motivation does not actually have to last long, you need motivation to change attitudes towards food and activity which requires a higher intensity of motivation. This is often the hardest part to get over. The idea that you have to change what you define as normal in both food and activity. Once a new “normal” is set, you can cruise, it’s getting to that new “normal” that is the big problem.


Alright, so by now you might be guessing that I do not advocate any special diet or exercise plan. In fact, I hardly want to say go exercise. What I do advocate is stepping back and looking at the way your life is structured and figuring out how you can turn things you know are good for you (and maybe feel guilty about not doing) into regular parts of your life.

An example

Let’s use myself as an example, I am a big guy (about 90 kilos or 200 lbs and 5’10”) and would be classified as overweight by BMI standards. I don’t care because I am pretty healthy despite what BMI says.  I used to weigh in at 230 lbs back in first year university so things were worse. By no means did I ever consider myself crazy obese or anything (and I don’t really care about that label anyhow) but I wasn’t the fittest fiddle either because I knew I lived a very sedentary life. What happened to change all of that? A few things changed, #1 I got back to Judo. Now I posted about Judo before but I have a childhood link to judo and a club that is great. I never view judo as a means for exercise, and I go very regularly. #2 I decided that vegetables and fruits would become the dominant food group in my regular life. This was much harder than just going to judo as I do love meat but I eat as close to my 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I had to convince myself that this is the normal food that I will eat and after a while it became normal and expected.

Final Thinkering

In order for you or someone you know get healthy in a significant way, they have to be fully convinced that the new healthier way is the new normal way. Otherwise, they will just slip back into the old sedentary way. Address the mind first and the body will follow.

Note: I actually try to meet the food pyramid (it’s tough but it’s a good guide).


Personal Trainer – Cooking March 30, 2010

Posted by huymix in Food, Videogames.
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I actually have the Personal Trainer: Cooking package that is in this post (including the “stylish” pouch). I can recommend that you get Personal Trainer: Cooking (if not the whole package) because:

  • The recipes are actually pretty good. I’ve made brownies, apple crumble and sticky toffee pudding based on the recipe in Personal Trainer: Cooking and they all turned out pretty good.
  • It has recipes, step-by-step instructions, videos, shopping lists and calculator all in one. Anything you would need to know about a particular recipe is contained in the software.
  • It’s funny to reference the recipe to a game. So I’ve given out tons of food based on the software and it’s always fun to say I got the recipe from my DS.

I used Personal Trainer: Cooking to help get me more comfortable in the kitchen and it has really helped out. Normally, recipes do not go into such detail so it’s nice for a novice like me.

Hakka Food March 4, 2010

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As with any type of food, Hakka food can be either well made or terribly made. My own experience has been that there is good quality found in these places and if you have never tried Hakka food the local place where you live probably does a pretty alright job. I like Hakka food because:

  • It reminds me of other Chinese food but with spice! I’m used to pretty spicy food so normally Chinese food is pretty tame. Hakka food brings me a spicy version of the food I already like. That is a major bonus.
  • Volume to dollar is more than enough. I’ve ordered about $25 worth from a restaurant that was for a dinner for 2 and got what I think is equivalent to a dinner for 4. I can eat a lot and at Hakka restaurants, I get beat everytime.
  • Clientele. Perhaps it’s the Bollywood movies that are always playing but the Hakka places I’ve been always have the most diverse group of customers. It’s the only style of restaurant outside of the big chain restaurants that really pulls in all groups.

Normally, if you can’t take spice you would probably avoid Hakka restaurants but I think in Canada these places are pretty aware that the average Canadian cannot handle the normal level of spice and offer as a default the mild version. I almost never do order the mild but I would think that it would be at least as tasty as other comparable Chinese restaurants. If you can find one, give a Hakka restaurant a shot, it’s a nice diversion from the norm.

Note: Crarence normally eats Hakka food because his family is from India (I think) and even he said the local place was authentic. That my friends is called cred. He’s got more than just hardcore NERD-cred.

Spring Rolls (Restaurant) January 5, 2010

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Spring Rolls has not been around for too long but has been gaining steam year over year. Billed as Pan-Asian cuisine, new restaurants seem to be popping up quite quickly and shows no sign of slowing down. My perspective has been formed particularly from the Yonge and Dundas location in the Atrium on Bay in Toronto. So my reasons for not recommending Spring Rolls may not apply to a different location. Having said that, my reasons for not recommending Spring Rolls are:

  • The service is very lacklustre. In almost every respect the service is at best mediocre. Slow turnaround times can sometimes be made up by great service. Since the service is normally not great, the slow turnaround is only exasperated.
  • The food is boring. I’m sorry if it seems wrong to you, because I do know some people who do love Spring Rolls, but I could care less for Spring Rolls food. The Yonge-Dundas area has a lot of better tasting “Pan-asian” restaurants very close by.
  • The food is a bad value proposition. If I tried to recommend a restaurant with boring food with much higher prices than other comparable restaurants in the area, you probably would tell me to take a hike. $5 for 2 spring rolls?? ridiculous.

I think some of my criticism stems from the fact that I’m used to more authentic “Pan-asian” cuisine. Spring Rolls does  appeal to a broader Canadian market which generally moves far from authentic. However, if you find yourself in the Yonge-Dundas area and in the mood for some Asian food, stay away from the packed Spring Rolls and head in any direction and you’ll find something better tasting food, service and prices.

Korean BBQ September 10, 2009

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Like most people, I enjoy going out to eat once in a while. Korean BBQ is one of the last places I’d like to go when I’m hungry.

  • If I’m hungry, I want to eat. I don’t want to fight other people for a space to cook on the tiny grill, wait  as  my sad little piece of meat cooks, eat a mouthful, risne and repeat. I want to EAT, dammnit!
  • The food isn’t particularly tasty – if I’m paying $15-$20 for a meal, it should be yummy. Mildly seasoned meat, rice, and pickled veggies for appetizers doesn’t cut it.
  • I am not a fan of Korean spices/appetizers. My sister came back from Korea and we’ve eaten at a couple of Korean restaurants – I’ve decided Korean flavors are not for me.

To be fair, most of the above applies to hot pot as well. I don’t find cooking as a group particularly fun – going out to eat should be about EATING and not about WORKING. Give me a steak and mash any day.

Gordan Ramsay August 4, 2009

Posted by huymix in Celebrity, Food, Television.
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Gordon RamsayfplusHell's KitchenGordon Ramsay has been around for quite a while and I suppose he’s best known in North America for his reality television show “Hell’s Kitchen”. While the show has its moments, it’s not my type of t.v. show. What I’m really impressed with is Gordon Ramsay. Here’s why:

  • Professional. Part of being a professional is being on top of your field. Once you start losing touch with the changes in the field, you stop being professional. Gordon Ramsay is professional and demands professional level of work from everyone.
  • Cares about value-for-money. While his restaurants serve expensive food, he does care about the value for money being delivered to customers. This is particularly the case on his show “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”. I also think its a bit of an English thing since I heard that term way more on the BBC than I ever hear on Canadian television.
  • Focus’ on food. He knows his food and seems incredibly enthusiastic about food.

A lot of this is conjecture since I’ve never met the man. While I can never definitively say this is how Gordon Ramsay is, I can say the above is what I associate him with. Even if its a false association, its not necessarily a bad thing. My advice is if your watching his show(s) keep the above in mind and you’ll possibly be able to look past all the cursing and appreciate what he stands for.

6 Cracker Challenge July 21, 2009

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CrackersfplusEating Crackers

You may or may not have heard of the 6 Cracker Challenge. If you have, than I hope you agree that the 6 Cracker Challenge is definitely recommendable to people you know. For those of you that do not know what it is here are the details: take 6 regular salted crackers (like the Premium Crackers or whatever brand you like) and you have to eat and swallow 6 of them within 1 minute without the use of any water or liquid. I know it sounds simple and easy, and that’s why you should pitch the idea to everyone you know. There are other reasons for getting your friends to do the “6 Cracker Challenge” and they are:

  • There is generally a significant amount of build up time between when you describe the challenge to when its actually performed. In that time, your friend(s) will argue till they are blue that they can do it. Of course, you know much better than that.
  • Watching the actual challenge is endlessly hilarious. The pinnacle is really when on your friend’s face you can see that there is no way they can actually finish 6 lowly crackers in 1 minute. I call that moment the “Oh shit” moment.
  • There is a lot of fun seeing the 6 Cracker Challenge propagate. Meaning, it’s fun to see the friends you challenged subsequently challenge some of their other friends and then tell you all about it.

This post is really not advocating doing the 6 Cracker Challenge yourself but rather convincing others to do it. Fortunately, it is easy to convince people since 6 crackers seem like nothing. If you don’t believe that it is incredibly difficult then….I challenge YOU to the 6 Cracker Challenge but make sure I can be there to witness it.

Congee Wong April 22, 2009

Posted by crarence in Food.
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Growing up, I’ve always been a fan of congee (or “tsuk,” as we Hakka people like to call it.) It’s essentially a rice porridge made by boiling rice in water or broth until it becomes viscous in texture. At home I like it plain with a little bit of soy sauce, but it goes well with meat and veggies as well. Many people use it as a replacement for rice. I highly recommend the Congee Wong franchise restaurants because:

  • All the food is quite tasty. They have a variety of congee available, plus traditional westernized Chinese foods and side dishes.
  • It’s convenient! There are many locations found across the GTA, and many of these locations are open very late (as most Chinese restaurants are.) Unfortunately, a quick google searched produced no locations outside of the GTA, so sorry to tease you non-Torontonians!
  • It’s well priced. If you were to get a big bowl of congee, a large rice/noodle dish, 3 sides, and drinks (a feast of food for 4 people) it would come to about $40 before tax and tip. That’s pretty good value in my book.

So if you’ve got a hankering for some tasty and relatively inexpensive Chinese food (especially congee,) I would give Congee Wong a try.

China Buffet King February 5, 2009

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China Buffet KingfminusChina Buffet King

This Richmond Hill buffet has delicious food but is not for me because:

  • Too cold, that cold bitter Canadian winter air is not so nice to me (I had to put on my jacket to eat!).
  • Way too loud, this is why I can never go to Pacific Mall because my head would explode.
  • Way too many kids that apparently do not have a fear of me trampling them underfoot.

Food and price are pretty good, service is meh, but the environment killed it for me.