Breakfast at Blue Bar

Buffet breakfasts are usually reserved for holidays – that sort of indulgence is just too tempting for a regular day. When I was younger, I could never seem to help myself when standing in front of a vast selection of food, where everything just looks so good, and you say to yourself, “well, I’ll just try a little bit of everything…”.

I’ve gotten a little better since then. I’ve learned to appreciate quality over quantity of course, but also always try to employ a method to control myself …

Wear a tight dress.

One can never eat too much when wearing a tight dress!

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As a birthday treat for a friend who loves breakfast, I took her to the Blue Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel today for their breakfast buffet. As I live in Hong Kong, I have not had the opportunity to try many breakfast buffets here, and thus cannot testify that it is better than any other. What I can say is that they have a limited but tasteful choice of hot and cold options, as well as a choice of freshly cooked eggs (scrambled, fried, boiled, poached, or an omelette), and coffee/tea is included.

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You can choose from a selection of Asian and Western foods –  a self-serve congee station, prawn dumplings, and fried udon noodles. Or blueberry pancakes with vanilla cream and jam, crispy bacon and pork sausages (the cooked ham had a very funny taste and texture – not my cup of tea).  Some cold cuts and smoked salmon with toast, baguette or English muffins. A selection of cereals, muesli and fruit. And the most glorious selection of pastries – I have never had such a carb-laden buffet breakfast!

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They were all so beautiful and I couldn’t help myself! The almond croissant was not as fluffy as I would have liked. It was not filled with frangipane as they sometimes are (and those are always my favorite), but it was covered in slivered almonds and dusted with icing sugar, making it a nice treat! I only had half of it to make room for the pear tart – the most beautiful pear tart I have tasted (which did have frangipane in it, yay!), moist, not too sweet, with a crumbly pastry. Also on offer was a Gugelhopf – a bundt shaped yeast cake traditionally containing raisins, almonds and cherry brandy, and usually enjoyed with coffee. One day, I’ll try to make it with this recipe.

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The Fun Facts: Carbohydrates & Sugars in Vegetables & Fruits

In the interests of being Bikini Fit, I have been researching the fun facts – they say everyone should have their five a day, but just what am I putting into my body when I eat fruits and vegetables, and are there any vegetables that could be bad? Or rather, let’s say relatively less beneficial. Well, as boring and as tedious as it all is, there were a few things that surprised me, and so I thought I would share it with you.

Prepping for the pain!

Prepping for the pain!

Let me just give you a little background information. The idea of outdoor ‘bootcamp’ training has really gained momentum in Hong Kong over the past few years, whether they are organised and advertised groups such as Bikini Fit, Circuit 25, Hong Kong Bootcamp, or Apefit, to name a few, or one-on-one personal trainers. After spending most of your waking hours in an office, it’s nice to get out into nature and kick about for a change, rather than sweat on a hamster wheel in air conditioning.

I joined the Bikini Fit 4 week mini-program after being recommended by a girlfriend, to:

a) Figure out if I could wake up early every morning before work and get my ass in gear (I can!)
b) See if it would raise my energy levels during the day (It has!)
c) Lose some fat and gain some muscle and more upper body strength (… a work in progress)
d) Look good in my wedding dress!

My goal is not to change my lifestyle and nutrition completely – it would be unrealistic, impossible and let’s face it, really rather miserable. The idea is to be just a little bit better, drink less, exercise more, take more pride in my body, and be more aware about what I put into it.

The Bikini Fit trainers advocate minimal carbs, no sugar, dairy or wheat, and more protein. Oh, and no alcohol (that’s a real toughie, and there has been cheating happening on my part!). However, even if you manage to stay away from bread, pasta and potatoes, you still take in carbohydrates in veggies. So, to make the most of this bootcamp , I put together these tables to try and eat more low-carb vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

I’ve included a column for what I find are suitable levels for a low-carb diet (this is in no way a professional opinion) – I’m hoping that following a low-carb diet will help me to shed some of my body fat percentage, now at 20.6%.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart1 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Chart from the American Council on Exercise, http://www.wikipedia.com

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart2 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart3 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Body fat as a function of age

While I was at it, I also introduced a column to show which fruits and vegetables are acceptable for the Wild Rose Detox (a detox that I do once a year, after new year’s eve), as a easy way to cross-reference both. One thing I have noticed is that the Wild Rose Detox has pretty clear guidelines for acceptable fruit, but not much at all on acceptable vegetables. I therefore assume that all vegetables, apart from the ones that are mentioned in the guidelines, are acceptable.

All of these figures were obtained from Wikipedia, and show values per 100g.

Make of this information what you will, and I hope you find it useful!

 Good Veggies and Not-So-Good Veggies 

Vegetable

Carbohydrates

Protein

Sugar

Fiber

Calories

WRD friendly?

Low-Carb Diet friendly?

Pak Choi †

2.2g

1.5g

1g

13

?

Yes

Lettuce (butterhead)

2.23g

1.35g

0.94g

1.1g

13

?

Yes

Basil

2.65g

3.15g

1.6g

22

?

Yes

Endive †

3.35g

1.25g

3.1g

17

?

Yes

Radishes †

3.4g

0.68g

1.86g

1.6g

16

?

Yes

Olives

3.84g

1.03g

0.54g

3.3g

146

?

Yes

Spinach †

3.6g

2.9g

0.4g

2.2g

23

?

Yes

Asparagus

3.88g

2.2g

1.88g

2.1g

20

?

Yes

Tomato †

3.9g

0.9g

2.6g

1.2g

18

Yes

Yes

Mushrooms (brown)

4.1g

2.5g

27

?

Yes

Cauliflower †

5g

1.9g

1.9g

2g

25

?

Yes

Kale ∆

5.63g

1.9g

1.25g

2g

28

?

Yes

Broccoli †

6.64g

2.82g

1.7g

2.6g

34

?

Yes

Haricot Vert †

6.97g

1.83g

2.7g

31

Acceptable

Yes

Avocado †

8.53g

2g

0.66g

6.7g

160

?

Yes

Brussels Sprouts

8.95g

3.38g

2.2g

3.8g

43

?

Yes

Carrot †

9.6g

0.93g

4.7g

2.8g

41

?

Not really

Beetroot ∆

9.96g

1.68g

7.96g

2g

43

?

No

Butternut Squash

11.69g

1g

2g

45

Yes

No

Leek

14.15g

1.5g

3.9g

1.8g

61

?

No

Green Peas †

14.45g

5.42g

5.67g

5.1g

81

Acceptable

No

Potato *

17.47g

2g

2.2g

77

Yes

No

Parsnip †

18g

1.2g

4.8g

4.9g

75

?

No

Corn kernels †

18.7g

3.27g

6.26g

2

86

?

No

Sweet Potato

20.1g

1.6g

4.2g

3g

86

Yes

In moderation

Lentils (dry weight)

60g

26g

2g

31g

353

Acceptable

Big No

*   Raw, with skin
†   Raw
∆   Cooked

These items in orange are actually technically fruits, but I have included them here for ease of reference. I also added lentils just because I was curious about trying a lentil and cabbage soup recipe … that’s obviously not going to happen now!

 Low-sugar and High-sugar Fruits 

Fruit

Carbohydrates

Sugar

Fiber

Calories

WRD friendly?

Low-Carb Diet friendly?

Coconut water

3.71g

2.61g

1.1g

19

No

All fruits in moderation (limited to 2-3 pieces a day)

Watermelon

7.55

6.2g

0.4g

30

No

Strawberry

7.68g

4.89g

2g

32

Yes

Cantaloupe

8.16g

7.86g

0.9g

34

No

Grapefruit

8.41g

7.31g

1.1g

33

Probably no

Honeydew melon

9.09g

8.12g

0.8g

36

No

Peach

9.54g

8.39g

1.5g

39

Yes

Blackberry

9.61g

4.88g

5.3g

43

Yes

Orange

11.75g

9.35g

2.4g

47

No

Pineapple

13.12g

9.85g

1.4g

50

No

Apple

13.81g

10.39g

2.4g

52

Yes

Blueberry

14.49g

9.96g

2.4g

57

Yes

(Green) Kiwi fruit

14.66g

8.99g

3g

61

Probably yes

Raspberry

14.7g

5.4g

8g

63

Yes

Mango

15g

13.7g

1.6g

60

No

Longan (fresh)

15.14g

1.1g

60

No

Pear

15.23g

9.75g

3.1g

57

Yes

Cherries

16g

12.8g

2.1g

63

Yes

Lychee (fresh)

16.53g

15.23g

1.3g

66

No

Mangosteen

17.91g

1.8g

0.58g

73

No

Grape (red or green)

18.1g

15.48g

0.9g

69

No

Banana

22.84g

12.23g

2.6g

89

No

Coconut flesh

24.23g

6.23g

8g

354

No

33.49g of fat!

Butternut Squash and Sweetcorn Soup

There are plenty of recipes for Pumpkin Soup out there, but I have always sworn by this one from Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Collection as my go to recipe. I love how the sweetcorn blended in with the soup gives it a bit more texture, and how those crispy fresh kernels just pop in between your teeth when you munch down on them. This is the original recipe but I’ve also highlighted where you can make substitutions to make it healthier (it’s quite obvious, really).

Pumpkin soup

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