Lately, I've made it a goal to start eating clean and healthy weekday dinners. I admit that cooking for myself is not the most exciting pastime, and so it was natural that I ended up putting very little effort into my meals and consequently ate a lot of junk food. I have to admit that doing this didn't make me feel the best, and probably even escalated the amount of stress and anxiety I was feeling on a daily basis. The amount of sugar I was eating left me feeling tired yet antsy all the time. So, in an attempt to start taking care of my physical and mental health, I've started waking up early to go to the gym and to eat more healthy, non-processed foods. This decision wasn't necessarily to lose weight (I'm lucky that I'm still young and have a fast metabolism). It was more geared towards making me a happier and more positive person. I can tell you that I felt 10 times more energized going to work after exercising in the morning. Of course, during weekends, I'll still treat myself to a Tonkotsu ramen or even some Korean fried chicken. But on weekdays, when I need to be at the top of my game and to feel confident, I'm really trying to improve my emotional health through exercising and avoiding sugary and processed foods.
One of the first Korean dishes I was introduced to was bibimbap. I had the normal cold version at a Korean church and later learned about dolsot bibimbap (the one in the hot stone bowl) from going to Korean restaurants with friends. I loved putting loads of gochujang (sweet, spicy paste) in my bibimbap and mixing it around with the sunny-side up egg. It was so satisfying. But bibimbap can also get a bit heavy with amount of white rice that's in the dish, which you might not even notice when mixing it around with the other ingredients. The portion given at restaurants for this dish can also be quite big.
In my version, I took out the rice completely and added in edamame and avocados to replace the carbs with protein. I took out the bulgogi and replaced it with imitation crab meat—which is insanely delicious and is only 80 calories per 3 ounces. Then, I swapped out the fried egg for a soft boiled egg. On top, I took out the gochujang for its high sugar and salt content and replaced it with a small drizzle of sesame oil and freshly cracked black pepper. I guess the only ingredient that ended up staying was the kimchi. On the side, for some banchan (side dishes), I steamed a small block of tofu and drizzled it with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.
Healthyish "Bibimbap" calories
IngredientsFor the "Bibimbap"
- Half an avocado
- ½ cup Edamame
- 1 oz Imitation Crab
- A few pieces of Kimchi
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Black Pepper
- Sesame Seeds
- ¼ a block of soft tofu
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
Takes , Makes 1 serving.
- Put the edamame and tofu into two separate bowls and bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the two bowls into the boiling water and steam the edamame and tofu for 5 minutes.
- Chop up half an avocado into small bite-sized cubes.
- Layer the edamame, avocado, imitation crab, and kimchi into a bowl. Lightly drizzle with sesame oil.
- For the soft-boiled egg on top: put an egg into boiling water for around 6 minutes and then immediately submerge the egg into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Peel the egg carefully, slice it into halves, and layer it on top of the ingredients in the bowl.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.
- For the tofu side dish, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar and drizzle on top of the steamed tofu.
This dish super is easy to make and requires very minimal cooking (all you need to do is steam the edamame and tofu, and soft-boil an egg!). Since you're only boiling/steaming the ingredients, your clean-up will super simple as well. See? Eating healthy doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of time cooking at all!
Eating healthy also doesn't mean cutting out all of your favorite foods. There are loads of delicious ingredients that also contain numerous health benefits—avocados are my favorite, haven't you noticed? There's no one simple solution for everyone to eat healthy, so find your own favorite healthy ingredients, and start getting creative!