THE TINIEST THAI

Portion sizes / Choose consciously / Keep going (Week 4 of 12 on The Tiniest Thai diet)

A third of the way into my 12 weeks - and three main takeouts (not the curry or Chinese kind!) this week:

1. Portion sizes

I'm greedy. Or rather, I was greedy. And I hate waste (especially food waste) so I'll tend to eat pretty much what's there. 

Best example is probably rice.  As it's non-wheat and it's gluten-free, I tend to think of rice as just 'healthy'. Which it is of course, but ... I was eating way too much of it.  For me, it's a little like pasta, where you just don't trust that the measured amount is going to be enough so you throw in more (and it's too much but you just eat it all). 

So I've been measuring what looks like a TINY portion of uncooked rice at around 20g ... but cooked it gives me my own decided portion size of two tablespoons (and a little leftover that I throw away or keep for another time). 

And ... it's ENOUGH. Learning ENOUGH has been brilliant for me.

(This sounds really bad to admit, but I will admit that, since measuring and following my Thai-style diet, I've actually noticed how much I'm saving on shopping and how much longer things are lasting).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet rice portion sizes
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet rice portion sizes
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet rice portion sizes

2. Choosing consciously.

Oh this is a big one.  I've been working on it and it's finally sort of clicking into gear for me.

Ok, so the other morning, I was off on the train to a client meeting early and wandering around looking for something for breakfast ... I really wanted a bacon sandwich.  But, I spent five minutes thinking it through.  

And my reasoning was, 'yes, of course have one ... IF you're really going to enjoy it'.  

And, honestly, I couldn't say that would be true.  It would be a bit of a rubbish one from a train station outlet and I'd eat it quickly whilst standing and ... I knew that - today at least - I'd regret having it. 

Another day, when I'm going to love and enjoy it, sure! But today, I went and got a black coffee and a 'protein pot' from M&S and some mango too. And felt good.

3. Keep going.

In the past, I know I've done this.  So there's a dinner out with friends, or a family lunch, or a client do ... or something ... and you have incredible, delicious choices in front of you. 

You can do what I used to do - and what I suspect a lot of us do - and just throw total caution to the winds!

'Well, what can I do? I might as well have everything that's here!' And not just that, but afterwards, 'oh well, I've 'ruined' today now - might as well keep eating!'.

But .... it's life.  And it's also good food and a great time having a social happy time.

I'm proud of myself that I'm learning to do two things - firstly, choose kind of wisely. I say kind of because no, I can't resist chips. But I can resist dessert, and I can choose food that's going to nurture me as well as delight my taste buds. 

And secondly, so what? It was good, it was fun, it's life. But get straight back on with choosing consciously what's good for your body and - if you're trying to lose weight - what's going to help achieve that. Straight away, that same day/evening - just make a good choice. 

Enjoy what you've had (mindful conscious choosing - and then get right back on with choosing what's going to get results).

Some favourites from Week 4

Iced coffee made with almond milk

So good.  Make an espresso or small, strong coffee.  Tip into the blender along with a handful of ice cubes, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a mug of almond milk and blend. One of my favourites!

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet iced coffee almond milk
 

On-the-go breakfast / brunch / lunch

These 'protein pots' from M&S are delicious - and surprisingly filling.  My favourite is this salmon one with edamame and a wasabi dressing.

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet M&S protein pot
 

Omelettes

Two eggs, beaten in a bowl for each omelette.  One an Arabic omelette with herbs and one a Thai omelette with a little soy sauce, cooked chicken and served with fish sauce and sliced chillies.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet omelette
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet omelette

A super-simple-supper of steamed fish

Steamed in a parcel or cooked in a remoska with chillies, garlic, lime juice a little sugar and spring onions.  Delicious.

Here's the recipe.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet steamed chilli fish
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet steamed chilli fish

Simple squid or chicken stir fry

Again, very simple and utterly delish!

I love to keep a packet of frozen squid (and other seafood actually) in the freezer and it defrosts so fast and you can make all sorts of good things. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet squid stir fry
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet squid stir fry

I'll be back to share Week 5 soon!

PS. I lost 1 lb this week. That's fine. I also ate well, and ate out a couple of times. Sometimes it'll be faster and sometimes slower - and I was all about a gentle mindset this week and not pushing myself.



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4 Pounds Lost + Doubt Overcome: The Tiniest Thai Weight-loss Diet Week 3 of 12

Week 3 (of a planned 12) was a harder one than the previous two have been. Harder than I was expecting - at the start anyway.

Doubt crept in.

It tested me a bit but then ... my big takeaway (not a curry one either - ha!) from this week was to ... JUST KEEP GOING 

When you're not seeing results, when you start wondering what the point is, when you feel like 'giving up' (although going back to how you were eating before was clearly not the best for your health). 

I'm learning to focus on the outcome I want, the result I want and - even when it feels like it's not happening - to TRUST and BELIEVE and to KEEP GOING.

So, I started the week having put on a pound.

And I knew that was going to happen at some point, as I'm weighing daily, and I KNOW it's just a number, just a fact and that my tracking that is helping me but still ... I did feel disappointed.

And then ...

BEING GIVEN SANDWICHES FOR LUNCH

It wasn't helped by the fact I had a lunch meeting the next day with sandwiches provided - and I'm not eating sandwiches on my Thai-style diet. 

But what can you do?

LIFE is still going to be there and throwing things at you - so what I've decided to do is NOT do what I've done previously, and just think 'oh well, if I can't do it then! I might as well have ALL the sandwiches, AND the cakes while I'm at it!'.

I'm just trying to do what I can, the best I can, and not give myself a hard time about it.

So I had three little quarter sandwiches and chose chicken and salad (the mayo was out of my control) rather than cheese or ham. And I said no to the pastries and the sausage rolls. I did have a handful of crisps (because crisps are my total downfall and because I love them) but I said no to the cake and ate grapes instead. I did ok.

I can't beat myself up about this - this is a huge one for me to learn a middle ground rather than being so all or nothing.

And then - on Thursday, I weighed myself first thing and ... I was 2 pounds lighter! 

YES!

 So, so happy. Feel vindicated that what's important is to keep going, just keep going and make conscious choices whenever you can.

DINNER PARTY FOOD

And on Friday I had friends for dinner, to my monthly Tiniest Thai Salon where we talked about creativity and poetry and all sorts of good things. I was worrying about what to cook (well, what I would eat really) but then made a menu that no-one would even know was 'diet' food.

We had a tom yum goong hot sour soup with prawns to start. Tom yum probably USES more calories to eat it than it contains!

Just don't even worry about this one - it's a goodie.

Then a Thai-style roast chicken served with rice (I had only a spoon or two of this) and a Thai-inspired salad (which doesn't have any oil at all in the dressing - and I skimped on the sugar that my own recipe includes).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet roast chicken and som tam

I also put out a home-made sweet chilli sauce (which looks impressive but is super-easy) as it goes perfectly with the chicken - but I was careful to only have a teaspoon myself.

But you know what? That teaspoon was actually the perfect amount now I'm being mindful and not sloshing it in without thinking.

For dessert I made a fruit salad with mango, melon, kiwi and apple - served with a sugar/salt/chilli dip

MY FAVOURITE THINGS TO EAT THIS WEEK

Breakfasts ...

Usually fruit and/or eggs. 

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet eggs
 

Papaya with squeezed fresh lime is so delicious - and two hard boiled eggs with some salt and pepper or a drop of soy sauce are packed with protein and keep me full until lunch.

Lunchtime ...

I made a really easy salad at lunch at work by taking in some chicken I'd cooked at home on the griddle the night before - with salt and pepper and ground cumin plus just ONE teaspoon of oil.

I mixed the diced cooked chicken with cucumber and spring onions and a little sliced red chilli and lots of lime juice - then spooned this mixture into little gem lettuce leaves.

It makes such a difference to me spending a little time making my food look really appetising!

 Sunshine coloured fruit for pud - mango and melon.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet

Dinnertime ...

This was a good dinner. And the preparation time is really quick - I soaked a few dried porcini mushrooms in water whilst pottering around getting the other ingredients together - they probably soaked for 10-15 minutes. 

Then I just put fillets of sea bass in the remoska (I absolutely LOVE my little remoska oven - it does the best roast chicken - but you could make foil parcels and put them in a conventional oven to steam and bake inside the foil) and added:

- the porcini mushrooms, taken from the water (keep the water!) and sliced (removing any tough stalks)

- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce mixed with the mushroom water and 1 teaspoon sugar

- 1 rasher of bacon, diced

- 2 spring onions, sliced

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai steamed seabass
 

Cook for about 20 minutes or until done.  I served it with a little rice (2 tablespoons of cooked rice is my own diet portion) and some stir fried green vegetables with chilli, garlic and a little soy sauce.

And this was a good dinner too. 

I had sausages in the freezer and I hate waste so diet or no diet I was going to use them!

So I made a little cut in the sausage and squeezed the meat out of the casing. Two per person.

I mixed the meat with a splash of soy sauce, a little garam masala and some flour and rolled them into little meatball shapes.

I browned them in the pan (using the spray oil) then added diced celery and garlic and stock.  When cooked I added a splash of red wine vinegar and a good pinch of dried chilli flakes and we had them with rice noodles (and a veg stir fry as I had some vegetables that needed using!).

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet sausage meatballs
 

Yes, it was a harder week at the start but I kept going - and started seeing results!



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2 lbs lost / 4 things learnt: Tiniest Thai weight-loss diet wk 2 of 12

Wow, what a difference a week makes!

This Monday morning was almost tears of happiness - and feeling just pretty euphoric actually.

Not just that the number on the scales is going down, but that I'm feeling in control and that feeling of having taken action on something. 

This week I lost 2 lbs.

And I learnt 4 main things:

 1. Accountability is HUGE!

I mentioned this last week, but it's so true.  Because I've announced and told everyone I want to lose weight AND because I'm blogging my results, it's definitely given me a bit more resolve than I might have otherwise had.  

2. The small things matter.

I've made a few small changes that are making a big difference.  

* No milk in my coffee or tea - I'm having a couple of black coffees a day (with a teaspoon of sugar in each) and maybe one green tea with mint. But no milk.

* No peanuts!

Peanuts are delish of course, and very very more-ish and I can't stop picking at them if there's a packet in the cupboard. But they're incredibly full of fat and not good, nut-fat, healthy-heart-fat either, being a vegetable not a nut.

So for that crunch in my salads and stir fries, I'm toasting a few flaked almonds instead.

* I'm also using an oil spray for cooking rather than sloshing the oil in without thinking. I have to turn the garlic and chillies quickly and often before even 30 seconds is up I have to add a little slosh of water, but this seemingly tiny change is having a big impact.

3. I feel a little lighter and that makes exercise seem easier.  

I'm feeling really motivated about measuring my steps daily and aiming for 12k.  

To be honest I often struggle to reach 10k, which I know is what we're all supposed to achieve daily for just good health rather than weight loss, but it's the difference in my mindset I'm proud of - and I'm really interested in and looking for ways to naturally increase my steps.

4. Decluttering.

Woo-hoo! Didn't expect this! I love a bit of decluttering and the drive kicked in this week - firstly, to declutter my food cupboards and get those out of date herbs out of there and the ancient baking bits and pieces I've never ever used.  Time to clear that stale energy from the kitchen!

And having done that ... well, I moved on to my bathroom cupboard and wardrobe ... I can't WAIT 'til I can declutter all my 'fat' clothes and be building up a gorgeous capsule wardrobe of happy weight clothes.

This week's favourite recipes:

Lunches ...

* 2 poppadums cooked in the microwave at work (literally seconds) or brought in ready cooked.  

Topped with a little cottage cheese, a little mango chutney, chopped cucumber, spring onion, red chilli and coriander leaves.

* a great green salad with mixed salad leaves and avocado + a dressing of lime juice.

Spending a little time making my food look pretty also makes me appreciate and savour it more.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet lunch
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai avocado salad

Dinners ...  

I'm more likely to add a little carbohydrate to dinner - some rice noodles or a couple of tablespoons of plain boiled basmati rice.

I've made a version of a seafood pad krapow stir fry (using spray oil) and had some really good salads using the salad base of this steak salad but topped with griddled chicken or seafood.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet squid krapow
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai dinners

I have to confess there were some treats around this week at work too - but one of the BIG things for me is just learning not to be 'all or nothing'. 

So - yes, I did have a very small slice to taste the delicious cake that my colleague and friend (and baker extraordinaire) Jackie brought in for someone's birthday (deconstructed Snickers cake - you think I could refuse, even with my zero-sweet-tooth?!).

But I didn't have a huge slice, and that's one of the things I'm learning - I'm not trying to deprive myself here, but I am wanting to lose weight - so i'm always looking to the result, to the outcome, but in a way that's going to work for me.



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10 things making me happy right now

1. The sun's shining and that always makes this sun-worshipper a little bit lighter, brighter, happier, more energised.  Soaking up some rays feels like re-charging my batteries with goodness. 

The sun is shining and ... this song's therefore in my head.

2. I'm also feeling actually lighter through losing weight on the Tiniest Thai weight-loss diet.  Week 4 of 12 starts tomorrow, I'm 8lbs lighter and looking forward to sharing the eating plan when I've finished working through it myself.

In the meantime, here's what I learnt during Week 1.

3. Iced coffee.  I love it.  Black with one sugar, lots of ice clinking in the glass. I don't know why but it makes me feel a little bit French and a little bit chic. And I'm not going to question that, just enjoy it! 

4. Poetry.  The first Tiniest Thai Salon was held on Friday evening and it was so much fun getting to talk about favourite poems and hear other people's.  We had a lot of love for Michael Rosen as a huge formative influence for a few of us and our love of language.  He might be a children's poet - but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy his stuff too.  

My friend Rhys had 'Keith's Cupboard' as his favourite Michael Rosen poem - it's a few poems down on this.  

Next Salon date to be announced soon - the next one we'll be chatting about creativity and how you find, channel, enjoy yours.

5. Som tam.  I LOVE som tam.  Addicted to it. Hot, crunchy, sour, refreshing - my favourite salad.  And it doesn't matter if you can't get green papaya or green mango - it's (almost) as good using courgette, carrots, and green pepper - all sliced very thin.  

Here's my version. I'm using a few toasted hazelnuts instead of peanuts (which are a vegetable and therefore not heathy good nut fats) while on my diet and having it with some griddled chicken.

6. Being outdoors.  This time of year is just so spectacularly beautiful and I'm so lucky to have a very beautiful park nearby.  I was there this morning early and just noticing the conkers appearing on the trees, the lushness of the different greens everywhere, the white flowers, the birdsong. 

Really do feel very lucky to be outdoors walking the dog and noticing the seasons changing and nature doing it's thing. 

7. I'm still really happy about having been accepted as a Huffington Post blogger! Even though I've only had one piece published so far (there's another currently with them awaiting publication) it makes me smile every time I think about it.  

8. Adventures ahead. Travel is one of the things that makes me feel most alive. If I had to choose I'd pick experiences over 'things' any day and I have so many memories of incredible experiences.

This year I've planned lots of mini-adventures so there's never too long in between them.  

The next is a few days in Spain in a few weeks and I'm already excited - especially to be going back to the exact village I went to when I was 18 (it was my first flight too!).  I'm going back with the same friend I went with that first time, so we're going to be revisiting some old memories as well as making new ones.

Can't wait.

9. Family, friends, love. Of course. Goes without saying, but then not to say it doesn't feel right either! Just had a long chat on the phone with one of my sisters and that ALWAYS makes me happy.

10. Ooh, so the last one is this.  A tom yum soup. Hadn't made it for ages but it's a great one for the Tiniest Thai diet and I'd forgotten how incredibly easy it is to make and how incredibly delicious.

Here's my recipe - do try it!

What's making you happy right now?



The Tiniest Thai diet for weight loss: week 1 of 12

This is quite a scary one for me.  

I've known for ages that I've been putting on weight (of course) - and ... I've been putting my head in the sand about it.  Thinking that somehow it'll just stop and somehow I'll 'lose weight' and somehow just drop those pounds and be back to my happy weight.

Well, guess what? Sticking your head in the sand doesn't work ... and last weekend, after a weekend of eating huge bowls of pasta in some sort of pasta trance, I woke up on the Monday morning incredibly bloated and uncomfortable and downright unhappy.

But it seems, that was the point that enough was enough.

I did it. I got the scales out and stood on them and found I was back to the heaviest weight I have ever been.

It was soul-destroying. Crushing. I was tearful and scared that it was out of my control and full of self-loathing. 

And I also decided to do something about it. 

It's ridiculous! I KNOW about food! And about nutrition.  I talk about it and help people with it.  I KNOW what to do, which makes it even harder to understand why I'm sabotaging myself like this. 

So, I weighed myself and I decided to there and then start using my knowledge of food and nutrition and especially Thai food to develop my own weight loss diet.  

I mean, when you think of Thai people you don't exactly think of overweight people.  You think of beautiful, healthy people with clear skin and shiny hair - of sunshine, beaches, fruit and smiles.

I cook Thai food to share recipes here and for my supperclub - it's just that I haven't worked on a healthy, happy way of eating for weight loss.  But it lends itself so naturally towards that too as I've written previously.

Week 1 then.  I made it up as I went along. 

I lost 4 lbs (mainly because I started from a starting point of totally bloated from the Weekend of Pasta). 

Here's 5 key things I learnt from Week 1

1. It's all about your mindset. 

When I woke up to what was happening to my body and was upset about it, I finally admitted to myself how it was making me feel.  It was making me scared and upset. The first point is to take action. Be honest with yourself and vow to take action. 

When you're ready to do this, you're ready. No point forcing yourself if the mindset isn't there - you'll only be fighting with - and lying to - yourself.

2. Action, any action.

Yep, any action, no matter how small.  I started noting down (just on Google Keep on my phone) every single thing I ate and drank. 

And I noticed where I was guessing or cheating - for instance on top of his biscuits I always give my dog a very little roast chicken (from a pack I buy for him from the supermarket) and I realised that every single day I was eating a slice of roast chicken too.  

I was having a sugar in my morning tea, when I'm very happy to have tea without sugar. 

I was choosing a banana a day from the fruit at work rather than having an apple. 

Make every single tiny change - yes, they do matter, yes they do add up (even when you think they wont').

3. Pay attention.

I was upset with myself for having put the weight on and letting it get to this point without catching it before and earlier.  Well, this is a mindset one for me for sure - I'm great in a crisis, in fact I LOVE a crisis, but just sort of normal life discipline, less good.  It's going to be one for me to work on when I'm back to my happy weight to make sure it doesn't go on again. 

I know all the general diet advice is not to weigh yourself every day but to do it once a week but hey, this is MY diet plan and having seen what happens when I DON'T pay frequent attention, then right now for a few weeks I am going to micro-manage the hell out of this. 

I am weighing myself every single morning and making a note of it. And yes I know that some days I might go up a pound and I KNOW that I'm really only measuring once a week BUT the discipline of every day is working for me.

I'm also keeping a note of everything I eat and drink.  You know, it's just a fact, you're recording facts, this stuff doesn't come with any intrinsic WORTH attached to it. 

What's the phrase?  'Where attention goes, energy flows'.

And I WANT that attention and energy on my weight and my food and my diet right now.

4. Don't hide from the emotions.

I admit it, I felt horrible that first day. Honestly, sick of myself, full of self-loathing and disbelief that I could be so stupid. Why I seemingly had no will power.  Why I was doing this to myself.

Ok, don't hide from the emotions - and of course the emotions around our self-image and weight can be intense.  Feel them, yes, but then we have to find a way to release them.

It's not good, it's not kind to talk to yourself like that - I know I wouldn't speak to a friend feeling the same like this.

So let it go however that works for you.  You could journal about it. Meditate on it.

I also use EFT - emotional freedom technique - 'tapping'.  I tapped a lot that first day and I've been tapping on these feelings ever since.  It's another odd one, because I tap frequently, but I've never done it on my feelings about my weight before.

(At the end of the 12 weeks developing this eating plan, I'll be adding more information and videos to tap to, but in the meantime, just look on YouTube as there are lots of fab EFT people with videos there).

5. Measure it out

I don't mean weigh everything, I just mean be mindful.  

I used to slosh oil in the pan to stir fry in a very cavalier way - somehow thinking it wouldn't make a difference.  In fact it made about 200 calories every meal a difference.  I'd eat a huge portion of rice without thinking, but cutting it down to a smaller one - well, I am more than as satisfied, in fact more so as I'm comfortably fed rather than uncomfortably full.

Try having a little less. 

I've been having half a chicken breast for instance rather than a whole one, and again, like the rice portion, it's fine.  More than fine. It's enough.  

And 'enough' is that elusive amount that when shovelling quantities of food in mindlessly, you don't hear the whisper of 'enough'. 

Here's some of my favourite things I made this week

Well, I made a really good kao tom (rice soup) for brunch - it will also make an excellent lunch or dinner.  I made sure I used just a tablespoon of cooked rice and a very small piece of chicken (perhaps 1/3 of a breast).  And I measured out 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes at the end for the flavour.

Sticking with eggs, I've also been boiling eggs in the evening to take two hard boiled eggs with me in the morning for breakfast when I get to work.  They're really good with some salt and pepper or a little soy sauce (or a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce) and really keep you filled up until lunch.

And my favourite steak salad.  I've had it with griddled chicken too which was very good.

The Tiniest Thai diet Rachel Redlaw rice soup
The Tiniest Thai diet Rachel Redlaw eggs
The Tiniest Thai diet Rachel Redlaw steak salad

Oh and snacks-wise? 

I've been making an effort to have interesting fruit in the house! And I take the time to peel the kiwi fruit, slice the fresh pineapple, core and chop the apple ... and have them with a very little of a delicious sugar/salt/chilli dip.

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet fruit and dip
 

There's something about taking the time to prepare the food and enjoy it that's just luxurious, and it sends a great big message to your subconscious that you are WORTH this gorgeous fruit and to have it beautifully prepared for you to enjoy.

I know there'll be ups and downs along the way over the next 12 weeks, but I'm feeling really happy to have started - and actually enjoying it too!

When I've finished the 12 weeks, I'll be creating The Tiniest Thai diet as a 12-week programme to share.

UPDATE: 1 JAN 2017. I'm now on Week 37!! I've lost 40 pounds and am feeling like ME again - and happy in my skin.

And The Tiniest Thai diet IS now an 8-week programme - here's all the info if you'd like to join the Thai Diet Revolution!


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5 reasons to eat Thai-style for weight loss

A belated Happy New Year - well, a belated Happy Songkram!

Songkram is Thai New Year, which is on 13 April each year, but has the celebrations continuing on 14 and 15 April too, with the famous water festival as well as naturally a time to reflect on transformation and change.

It’s made me think about my own new year’s resolutions made back in January — or intentions perhaps rather than resolutions, which just sounds a bit more positive and like things I actually want to achieve and do or become.

Mine included wanting to feel lighter and more energised and yes, to lose some weight. And with Songkram, inspiration (finally) struck.

I write about, develop and share recipes for Thai food. After years ago spending a lot of time n Thailand, including a time living there, I love the food and cook (and eat) it most of the time.

It’s happy, healthy food.

I also cook and host my monthly supperclub, The Tiniest Thai in London, held in my flat — so I’m always thinking about food and menus, and there’s always something in development, something I’m cooking or something I’m cooking to blog about and share.

It’s good food, healthy food, but I do eat a bit too much of it and it’s starting to show.

Inspiration struck — and... of course!

Why I haven’t thought of this before I don’t know.

A Thai diet is a perfect way of eating for those of us looking to drop a few pounds.

Yes, I’ll cut down on some of the recipe development a little and be a bit more mindful about the amount of oil I use to stir-fry and, in fact, cut down on stir fries.

There’s 5 very good reasons why eating Thai-style is going to help my new focus on healthy weight-loss - without weighing food, counting calories or cutting out food groups.

I’m starting today ... and I’ll be reporting back ...

Here’s my 5 areas of focus

1. A lot of Thai food is so flavourful that you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied and also, and importantly, it’s not dependent on fats for the flavour.

With lime juice and fish sauce and chillies, the food is vibrant and tasty without the need for oil I’m going to be trying lots of hot and hour salads, and steamed fish with tons of flavour, served with rice.

Rachel Redlaw Larb Thai spicy salad The Tiniest Thai

2. Ah, rice.

Rice is the staple of Thai cooking. Even the words for eating, for having a meal, ‘gin kao’ means literally ‘eat rice’. Rice is more easily digestible than wheat carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, and suitable for those on a gluten-free diet. Cooked rice has a lot of water in it too, which fills you up. The only thing is to be a little bit careful with portion sizes — it’s easy (well, I find it so) to eat too much rice when you only need a handful (your handful, yes!).

3. Snacks! There is food everywhere in Thailand, in shops and restaurants, street cafes and stalls and food sellers walking past you all time time with sliced fruits and hard boiled eggs. This has made me realise just how easy it is in that environment to snack healthily — when there’s so much choice of beautiful fruits ready prepared particularly.

I’m going to be making sure I’ve got interesting fruit and salad vegetables prepared to snack on during the day — oh and hard boiled eggs too — perfect with a little salt and pepper or dipped in a little soy sauce (at around 85 calories per egg).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest thai fruit Thai salt sugar chilli dip

4. The way of eating is to share. So, no big plate heaped with food. A bowl of rice and several smaller dishes for everyone to try — and it’s considered rude (naturally) to take a huge portion. So you’ll have a couple of spoonfuls of rice and then try a little of the other dishes.Communal eating means you also generally eat slower which gives you to time to feel full.

It’s easy to eat like this even if you’re cooking for just one or two — put the rice in a bowl and make a couple of smaller dishes, perhaps a salad and a stir fry (going easy on the oil). Anything left can be eaten at the next meal (or even for breakfast — I love that the Thai way of eating means you can eat anything for breakfast, not just ‘breakfast’ foods).

5. There’s no dairy, really. I love cheese so much that I have to be really careful about buying it — basically, if it’s in the fridge, there I am slicing off tiny piece after tiny piece until... oh it’s gone. I have no self control when it comes to cheese. I love a sprinkling of feta on things but if I’m honest, I don’t eat just the sprinkling. If I’m at home, I’d be going back to break off a piece more. No temptation on the Thai diet — because there won’t be any cheese to be tempted with!

I’ll be going back through my own archive of recipes (as I’m putting down the development of new ones for a while) and making sure I reduce the oil where possible to make some delicious Thai food for my weight loss diet.

Oh and with a little bit more mindfulness on portion sizes too.

A Thai friend once told me, “eat spicy, get small”!

I’m putting her theory to the test now.

And a very happy - and late - new year!



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17 reasons to eat a Thai-style diet

1. A Thai diet is rice-based rather than wheat-based, so is naturally good for gluten-free diets (you'll need to use gluten-free soy sauce and stock cubes though) and those looking to cut down on eating wheat. 

2. Chillies make you happy ... your body reacts to the spiciness by releasing natural endorphins that just feel good. 

3. You can eat what you want for breakfast! No more having to stick to so-called 'breakfast foods'. Have rice, have soup, have stir-fry, have fruit - whatever you like.

4. It's super-quick to cook - most dishes just minutes to make.  Yes, you need to prepare the ingredients, but it's still pretty fast.

5. It cures hangovers! Try a super spicy pad krapow stir fry the morning after. Honestly, trust me, try it. Put a fried egg on top for extra protein if it's really bad.

6. It's a way of eating that ensures you get most nutritional value from your food - stir frying at a high temperature keeps the goodness in.

7. A Thai-style way of eating means delicious snacking too: a hard boiled egg dipped in soy sauce: some slices of pineapple with a salt, sugar and dried chilli-flake mix; sour green mango (or green apple) with chillies and fish sauce; chicken stir fried with garlic on little gem lettuce leaves.

8. These are salads you'll really want to eat :) No to limp lettuce and soggy tomato and yes to hot, sour, spicy salads with a kick - these meals in themselves are super tasty AND very rarely use oil or fats, just lime, fish sauce, sugar and chillies.

9. No specialist ingredients needed - if you can get hold of chillies, limes, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and rice you'll be able to cook a huge variety of dishes.

* You can download my 9 Tiniest Thai storecupboard essentials here (if you don't have it already!).  It's a helpful little free ebook :) 

10. It boosts your metabolism - yup, those spicy, salty flavours - your body loves them and it moves a bit quicker for them.  (Yeah, ok, I'm no twig, but then think of ALL THE RECIPE TESTING I have to do heehee).

11. So many ingredients in Thai cooking have amazing health properties - get them without even thinking when you're regularly eating chillies, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and more.

12. It's incredibly tasty! Thai cooking is all about balancing the four key flavours of salty (fish sauce), sour (limes), sweet (sugar) and spicy (chillies). It has BIG flavours.

13. It's easy to eat your five a day (or more) when you're eating predominantly fresh foods.

14. Chillies kill off colds. They kill off pathogens (ie viruses) - just eat a little more Thai-style and you'll be getting a dose. Try this stir-fried pork with chilli and garlic.

15.  There are a couple of Thai dishes that I think are the ultimate comfort foods ... the softness of the rice, the sunshine of the flavours, the warm hug of it.  Need comfort food? Try pad Thai or a fried rice (kao pad). 

16. Under the weather with a cold or tummy pain or just feeling down? A kao tom - rice soup -will sort you out.

17. Thai food is happy and healthy food.  It's fresh, fast, full of flavour and makes you happy.

 

Try moving to a Thai-style way of eating for health and happiness.


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Citrus sugar body scrub

Every time I make a body scrub I wonder why I ever run out of them!  They are unbelievably easy to make and honestly, SO good to use.

Better than ones you buy, that's for sure - and they actually take less time to make than going to the shops. And of course, you know exactly what's in the products you're putting on your skin.

The one I made today is a Thai-influenced citrus-scented sugar scrub. 

For the sugar element use white granulated sugar for a softer scrub and raw/ Demerera sugar for a coarser scrub.  (Don't use brown sugar as it's basically white sugar with molasses and molasses won't be nice on your skin!).

I like quite a coarse body scrub so I'm making mine with half white and half Demerara - change the ratio as you like of course.

Please do note that this scrub is much too abrasive for use on your face or delicate decolletage and go very very easy on your tummy if you try it there.  

It's great for the upper arms, bum, thighs, knees and feet though! 

OK, let's do it. 

Find a jar - of any sort, but of course it's nice to have a Kilner or something that looks pretty in the bathroom - and yes, thoroughly wash and dry it first.

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub
 

Get your ingredients together: 

Raw sugar / demerera sugar

White sugar

Coconut oil, or sweet almond oil - or even a light olive oil (NOT a vegetable cooking oil!) 

I've got my favourite fractionated coconut oil from doTerra. 

Essential oils - your choice really ...

I've used doTerra oils and combined Wild Orange, Lime and Lemongrass.  Use what you have and if you don't have any essential oils well, firstly, why not?! And secondly, some vanilla or almond extract would be lovely too if you have either of those in the cupboard.

I put equal quantities of the brown and white sugars into the jar (I used 7 dessert spoonfuls of each) and mix well (with a spoon or, um, a chopstick).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub

Then pour in the oil gradually and stirring so you can see the texture - you can always take a pinch out and test it on your arm to see what it feels like. I added 2 dessertspoons.

Stir until it's well combined.

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub
 

Then add your essential oils - I had two drops each of Wild Orange, Lemongrass and Lime essential oils from doTerra.  I do recommend doTerra as they are very pure oils so you get the health benefits as well as the fragrance benefits, and they're not synthetic).

And stir again! That's kind of it really - although I realised that I needed a little more oil so added another spoonful and stirred.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub

When you want to use it, just make sure you're in the bath or shower and use on wet skin - it is too abrasive to put on dry skin. 

Take a small handful at a time and exfoliate then rinse off completely in the water.

I forgot how lovely it smells and how soft it makes your skin ... hope you like this one and do let me know if you try it and what fragrances you use.

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai Life sugar body scrub
 


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