My tips to guilt-free eating

My tips to guilt-free eating

Now, I’m sure we are all dying to know the secret to achieve guilt-free eating because seriously, who is not struggling with it? At least, everyone I know does…

I have personally struggled with it my whole life, in fact, more than the average person would, due to my extreme tendencies. It has led me to much emotional distress in the past. But before this becomes a sob story, there’s a silver lining to it!

It took me a long time (all through my schooling years and adulthood) to get to where I am today with food and at a place where I’m comfortable around food; not overthinking my choices or guilt-stricken after I thought I made a “bad” choice.

But before I go rambling on about all the craziness that goes on in my head, let’s drill into the topic of the day:

“How can we all eat whatever we like and not feel guilty about our choices, especially when they are deemed “sinful” or “unhealthy”?

Everyone’s unique and different in their own ways, so there’s no one size that fits all. This is something that has worked well for me so I thought I would share it with you.

Tip #1: The 80:20 Lifestyle

80:20 is something I live by that I believe is not restrictive and definitely sustainable. It basically means eating wholesome food 80% of the time and the other 20% you let loose and have whatever you fancy. Don’t get me wrong, you do not need to be weighing out this ratio to the tee because that’ll just be stressful (and that’s not the point, eating healthy should not be stressful!). Here’s how I typically do it;

I would cook more at home and eat out less. For my schedule, it would normally be lunches and dinners at home on weekdays and dine out on the weekends. I love making nourishing meals (my recipes) with wholesome ingredients. So when I dine out, I’ll just order whatever I fancy; if it’s burger and fries on that day, then burger and fries it is!

Since I’ve started adopting this, I enjoy my food guilt-free. I do not have thoughts of wanting to work out more or eating less the next day just because I’ve overindulged that night. When I noticed myself feeling that way, I knew I had broken free from my unhealthy relationship with food.

Tip #2: Set your mind to 👉 “It’s about what you eat, not what you can’t eat”

With all these elimination diets going around (you know those that preaches no carbs, no fats, no sugar….), I personally think it’s more important to focus on what you are nourishing your body instead of what you want to eliminate from your plate.

I mean, eating well is just all about eating your greens, proteins, fats, and carbs from whole food. Since when has it become so complicated? #eatrealfood guys, that’s all you need to remember about eating well.

My take on balanced eating and having a healthy relationship with food is if I’m nourishing my body well enough on a daily basis, what’s an indulgent chocolate cake going to do with it… Our body is so wonderfully created to do amazing things (such as cleansing and detoxing); it is smarter than we think! So, go ahead and enjoy your cake; at the same time make sure to also nourish your body with lots of good stuff and real food.

Enjoy your food, nourish your body, have a good week ahead guys! And remember to always love, share, encourage, listen and give 😘

Lots of love,


Soon everyone can enjoy Judy’s Hakka lei cha

Soon everyone can enjoy Judy’s Hakka lei cha

When Judy Yap decided that she wanted the world to taste her Hakka lei cha, her entrepreneurial husband, Barry Tan, decided to do something about it.

But instead of a massive launch, the couple started their little “experiment” together by setting up a simple stall at the Centrepoint Hawker Centre in Bandar Utama.

Yap’s affinity towards lei cha is understandable, as she had been helping out at her sister’s stall selling vegetables in the Taman Tun Dr Ismail wet market. Coupled with a strong desire to share the secrets of healthy living, she was naturally attracted to the idea of promoting the lei cha.

Yap and her husband didn’t do a lot of promotion, except to inform her regular customers at the wet market about it, yet she rarely finds herself in want of customers.

“It is the support of our customers that we have been able to sustain our business. We are also able to maintain the quality of our lei cha through their feedback from time to time.”

One particular customer brought his father to try out the lei cha. Pleased with what he had tasted, the elderly gentleman asked to take a selfie with Judy’s brother, who was at looking after the stall at the time.

“The uncle told us that he would try to do something to promote our lei cha and make sure that we could remain in business for a long time. We were very touched by his kind gesture.”

Another customer of hers had never liked lei cha, but after her friend took her to Yap’s stall in Centrepoint, she had all the zeal of a convert.

“After that, she just fell in love with the lei cha. She and her family would eat lui cha at least once a week.”

Yet another customer told her that despite knowing about the lei cha stall, she had never tried it until some classmates who were organising a get-together suggested that they all met up there.

“This customer came to the TTDI wet market to tell me that even her friends were already talking about our lei cha. It really surprises me that the response has been very good. With that, I am further encouraged to expand the lui cha business.”

Just last week, the couple started their second venture at The Starling in Damansara Utama. Subject for another review in the future, but it is nevertheless interesting to see how the couple’s business has evolved from just a simple lei cha stall since they started in December 2016.

From my last article on lei cha, I realised that patrons are naturally drawn to this healthy herbal concoction, probably due to its lack of availability.

This is perhaps why when I was scanning all the food stalls at the Centrepoint Hawker Centre, I was naturally drawn to the lei cha stall there.

Yap says that she prepares the main part of the dish, the herbal broth, by herself, only letting her workers do the serving. “In that way, we have a better quality control over our lei cha so that we do not disappoint our regular patrons.”

When asked if she and her husband are thinking of eventually franchising the lei cha, she smiles widely. “Yes, if there are people who are interested, we can do it,” she said.

But Tan is more upfront. “Yes, we do have that in the works,” he said. “We plan to start more outlets throughout the country when we get young entrepreneurs willing to venture into it. With the current economic conditions, people need a business model that can work.”

Seeing the responses to my article on the lei cha as part of Voiz’ Healthy Food Trail, I have no doubts whatsoever that it will.

For other restaurants in the Healthy Food Trail, click here and here.


Yap’s lei cha hawker stall is located at at the hawker centre in Centrepoint Bandar Utama, No 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Tel: +6016 227 5679
Business hours: 10am – 9pm
Google Map: Search for Centrepoint Bandar Utama
Waze location: Waze for Centrepoint Bandar Utama

Joo Tiang’s Penang curry mee has no right to be this good

Joo Tiang’s Penang curry mee has no right to be this good

Fancy this: a bowl of Penang curry mee for just RM4 – and not in a small town, but in the Klang Valley!

There’s only one catch. Because it’s so good, you have to get to the Lim Sisters coffee shop before 10.30am, or all of Khaw Joo Tiang’s Penang prawn mee and curry mee may be sold out.

Khaw, who goes by the nickname “Leng Ma” (pretty mother), serves the Penang curry mee with a spoonful of chilli sambal mixed into white coconut broth. It also comes with brown squid, blood cubes and cockles.

Portions aren’t the biggest, but it’s enough to give most people a hearty breakfast. Or if you’re craving for more, you could opt to add additional noodles, only for an additional 50 sen.

According to Khaw’s son, Vincent Ng, they have maintained the low prices for a long time.

“The stall has been operating even before I was born. We have tried to maintain the prices for some time now. It is the volume that helps to sustain the business.”

Even better is the fact that unlike some hawkers, Khaw still does the cooking herself, waking up at 4am in the morning to prepare the special broth.

Hailing from Butterworth, Khaw and her husband started selling Penang curry mee in the 1970s. They made the trip to Petaling Jaya in the 1980s, selling only prawn mee, before setting up shop in Subang Jaya.

Now, her stall is located in Lim Sisters, Taman Sri Bintang, right next to SJK (C) Kepong 3. But have your GPS at the ready, because finding the shop would be difficult otherwise.

Ng, who also goes by “Ah Hong,” helps his mother at the stall six days a week. And it looks like the help is appreciated, because the stall appears to be the busiest in Lim Sisters, with waiting times of up to 20 minutes on busier days.

“Despite the prices, my Mom still tries to maintain the quality of the curry mee to satisfy the taste buds of her regular customers.”

Some may be put off by the general ambience of Lim Sisters, which tends to become as crowded as any other famous coffee shop in the Klang Valley. But just one taste of the curry mee will drown out the din of the crowd.

Besides curry mee and prawn mee, Khaw’s stall also serves Penang loh mee.

Lim Sisters coffee shop is located at 1 & 3, Jalan 3/36, Taman Sri Bintang, 52100 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: +6012-663 1319
Business hours: 7am – 5pm (every day except Mondays)
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Simply irresistible green curry at Yum Yum Thai

Simply irresistible green curry at Yum Yum Thai

Thai green curry to me is what Penang curry mee or beef rendang are to some people. I need not say anything else – I simply love it!

And as it is not too spicy, even children get to enjoy it. I almost regret not listening to a piece of advice I received long ago: when you find something delicious, tell no one about it, so you can quietly enjoy it yourself!

I recalled these words as my nine-year-old son and I had to compete for the bowl of green curry the moment it was served in Yum Yum Thai, as if we had starved for weeks, if not months. We are both in love with the taste of the green curry they serve in this restaurant, which is located in Casa Tropicana, Petaling Jaya.

My romance with green curry goes back a long way. I always order it anytime I walk into a Thai restaurant; therefore, when restaurant owner, Marcia Lau Saunders suggested that I gave it a try, I was delighted.

Even when we were living in Maputo, Mozambique, the green curry we found there was something that brought us some sanity, being among only a handful of Asians in a country where almost everyone speaks Portuguese.

When we were there, green curry was always something we looked forward to, being the closest thing we could get to satisfy our Asian taste buds.

And so, after a lifetime of eating green curry, I have to admit that to date, I haven’t tasted anything better than Yum Yum Thai’s irresistible green curry.

The ingredients, according to Lau, are all imported from Thailand. Even the chefs, Ying and Mee, are from Chiang Rai.

“We import basil leaves, aubergines and coconut milk from Thailand. This may bring up the cost a bit, but for the authentic Thai taste, it is worth it.”

“The style of cooking is Northern Thai. The food we serve here is therefore authentic Northern Thai cuisine.”

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted by the waitress Mila, who will greet you with the customary “Sawasdee Kap” (for men) and “Sawasdee kah” (if you are a woman).

Besides the green curry, I also recommend to try their signature dish, moo ping (grilled pork skewers) and pineapple fried rice. Both aren’t very spicy, and are very suitable for children.

My only regret is that we came with only one adult and two children, meaning that we could hardly run down Yum Yum Thai’s menu.

If you are planning to go Thai this weekend, try Yum Yum Thai where you can also enjoy the soothing Thai music playing in the background.

Restoran YumYum Real Thai Food is located at B-0-3A, Block B, Casa Tropicana, No. 5, Jalan Persiaran Tropicana, PJU 3, 47410 Petaling Jaya

Tel: 011-3386 9417
Business hours: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM (Mon and Wed)
11am – 10pm (Thurs-Sun)
Closed: Tuesdays

No hiding from Yi Yan if you’re seeking chee chap chuk

No hiding from Yi Yan if you’re seeking chee chap chuk

When a customer called up to ask for the direction to Restoran Yi Yan, 61-year-old Fan Kin Lin responded in Cantonese that his restaurant is Chuk Yi Yan.

The customer answered, “No, I am bringing my wife to try out your porridge, not to play hide-and-seek.”

The customer had a good laugh when he and his family finally arrived at the restaurant and learned how the name “Chuk Yi Yan” came about from Fan.

“In Chinese, Chuk Yi Yan means playing Hide and Seek, and the name Yi Yan was picked because Chuk is the closest sound to the word, ‘porridge’ in Cantonese. Apart from that, there is no other special meaning to it. It was meant to help customers remember our name better.”

The restaurant has been in business since 2010. In the past eight years, we have eaten in the restaurant on numerous occasions, as we find it is convenient for the children to spend their time reading books in the Mini Oasis library located just above the restaurant.

Kin Lin, or “Auntie” as we are fond of calling her, is friendly enough to have a good chat with occasionally. This is something to which a friend of mine, James Pang can also testify, having travelled all the way from Petaling Jaya to taste the food here.

Although she wakes up as early as 4am to prepare the porridge, Kin Lin is still energetic even by 9pm at night. When James flatters her by saying that she still looks young for her age, Kin Lin smiles sheepishly.

On top of her friendliness, James also agrees with me that Yi Yan’s minced pork porridge “stands out from the rest.”

“Although it is common, I strongly recommend it. Really sedap!”

Kin Lin, who hails from Rahang, Negeri Sembilan, has a long history in the food business, having sold noodles from as young as 12 years old.

Their specialty here is a wide variety of porridges, with the chee chap chuk being a bestseller.

According to James, the porridge is neither too watery nor too thick. “It’s just nice and really silky smooth,” he said, adding that these days, there are not many people who can still cook such good porridge anymore.

James, who hardly eats duck meat anywhere else, even recommends Yi Yan’s smoked duck, calling it exceptional.

His wife Priscilla Lee also enjoyed all the food she was served. Besides the chee chap chuk and the smoked duck, she listed her third favourite dish as the lor pan mee.

I couldn’t agree more. The lor pan mee is a unique dish that would be hard to seek anywhere else.

We’ve all heard of Ulu Yam lor mee, but this one uses pan mee, which gets my thumbs-up. It tastes even better when you add in some vinegar.

Their kids, Jayden and Jonathan, also fell in love with the fried pan mee, and the many kinds of porridge on offer.

Yi Yan also makes lovely vinegar pork trotters, which has a little taste of Bentong ginger.

Restoran Yi Yan is located at Jalan Medan Putra 1, Bandar Sri Menjalara, 52200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6279 0186
Business hours: 9am – 10.30pm
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Athanor, where everything turns into gold

Athanor, where everything turns into gold

The food in Athanor is simply great.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, it isn’t. Any refutations until you get to try the cuisine and pastries in the restaurant run by Sunway University’s School of Hospitality will be purely academic

I would even recommend this place to chefs who are already in the industry and looking for new ideas, as this is the place where people carry out a lot of research and put their thinking hats on to come up with fresh ideas.

Hoteliers and restauranteurs hoping to hire new student talents will also be able to spot suitable candidates for their outlets.

For other members of the public, this is the place for some fine dining at a fraction of the price. I am truly glad that Sunway University has finally set up the restaurant to allow us to savour some of its best cuisine and pastries.

The name Athanor comes from the Arabic “at-tannur,” which means the baker’s oven. In ancient times, the alchemists used this special furnace to maintain a uniform and durable temperature in their laboratories.

The name conjures the image of a kitchen where perspiration eventually yields cuisine and pastries one can only dream of, food good enough to inspire other chefs in the industry.

Each semester, Athanor’s head chef, Patrick Siau Chi Yin, and his team of award-winning chefs whip up a new menu, each more mesmerising than the last.

I made this suggestion a few years ago, and Athanor is now strategically located at the sixth floor of Sunway University, which overlooks the scenic lagoon.

When I was invited to try their latest offering, I was pleased to taste the roast lamb rack, which comes with my favourite pumpkin puree, and some vegetables, herbs crumble and lamb jus.

The portion may be small to the average Malaysian, but considering this is fine dining, the set menu at RM30 is a small fraction of what you would pay in other restaurants.

The other sets that you can pick from the menu include either the duck confit with Idaho potato croquette (which taste different due to volcanic soil in America’s northwest), vegetables and green chili sauce; the pan-fried Norwegian salmon with Idaho potato croquette, vegetables and spicy pineapple sauce; chicken roulade, served with pumpkin puree, vegetables and red wine sauce; or vongole pasta, which is linguine cooked with clams and white wine sauce.

Two cuisines that you must try or at least share out with friends are the beef patty, which also comes with Idaho potatoes and the chef’s mushroom soup, which uses shimeji mushrooms and sour cream. Both have my thumbs up!

I have always loved mushroom soup, and it tastes almost the same everywhere. But Athanor’s mushroom soup is truly unusual with unique tastes, just like the beef patty.

If you still have room after the main course, I strongly recommend trying out the exotic log chocolate mousse with passionfruit ganache and ice cream. If you are a chocolate lover, this pastry has a rich chocolatey taste that will give you the oomph the moment you taste it, leaving you with a greater craving for more!

And yes, for the ice cream scoop that comes with the exotic log and other pastries, ask for their Earl Grey premium ice cream. Unlike most other commercial ice creams, theirs is homemade and it has a silky smooth texture to it, as it melts immediately in the mouth.

Trust me, you just have to close your eyes, take a mouthful of it and you will simply love the ice-cream!

The other pastries that you can try out are the chef’s pavlova with stewed pineapple cubes, mint jelly, jasmine passion sauce and ice cream; green tea cake with green tea mousse, red beans, wild berries sauce and ice cream; beehive churros with caramelised pineapple, wild berries sauce and ice cream; and the vanilla flavoured crème brûlée which come with wild berries.

And, because Chinese New Year is just round the corner, Siau has prepared his version of Yee Sang. This is something that you can enjoy, especially the homemade sauce that is again truly unique.

Athanor, which is open to the public, is run by Sunway University’s School of Hospitality. It is located on Level 6, in the west wing of the Sunway University building. The university is accessible using the BRT Sunway Line. You can also park in the multilevel basement carpark in front of the university.

For reservations, contact Maggie at 03 7491 7235 or [email protected]

Tel: 03 7491 8622 ext. 7235.
Business hours: 12pm – 2pm, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only.
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