A Simple Guide into eating Healthy, Budgeting & Surviving in a busy, corporate, Mega-City


Monday, 19 June 2017


An inexpensive and healthy way to prep your favorite Korean Comfort Bowl for a whole work week. With the recipe, buying tips and presentation advice. 

This is my first attempt to actually post a recipe here in my blog. I’ve done bento-making posts before and a bunch of reviews of different places/restaurants/cafes but when I decided to go monochrome and make this space all art + photography, I took down most of my content from three years worth or WORDPRESS life. It sucked real hard since I thought once I deleted all the content it would just be inside this imaginary WP Trashbin and I can always come back to it later. But I found out that WP didn’t have that function and once you delete it, you really throw it away like, forever.

So, healthy eating. There are a lot of really good food bloggers out there and I follow a good number of them. I love food and I really enjoy cooking. Either from recipes from the Food Channel, online or something like “winging it”. Now, you might think, this is a really weird place to put in food recipes and stuff — like, why?
I’m over-weight. There. I said it. It’s really hard to really say it especially write it. It’s like my whole being hasn’t been internalizing this fact and I’m actually at a point where things are getting pretty bad. Two weeks ago, I made this impulsive and yet overwhelming commitment to really start working out — properly. Like, no fufu running and buying dumbells and yoga — none of that half-hearted shi- okay? Like, for real. I joined a trial at a Boxing gym in JLT and after the trial, I paid the membership fee for the month.
I will just give you some context if you’re not from Dubai. This is a city of convenience like you can load your metro card with your phone in seconds and you’re pretty safe over here. You can get your groceries or even just a pack of cigarettes delivered to your front door or office door even if it’s 45°C outside.  This convenience is really handy but for most people, it could be a double-edged sword.
You can get very lazy because whatever you lack on your pantry you can just dial the nearest grocery and even if you’re just ordering a carton of milk, they WILL deliver it.
Fast-food culture is killing us and when it comes to food, Dubai will not back down to the portions, quality, and efficiency. All restaurants even family restaurants and most places with a sit-down service will be offering a delivery service that is possible through your smartphone/mobile phone. Not just pizza but like full-on restaurants will deliver your food within an hour. If you’re a lazy person like me, you will probably have twinkly eyes when you scroll through an endless restaurant list when it’s like 3 AM and you’re starving and you’re cozied up on Netflix.
And for my friends and colleagues who are living and working here in this mega city, eating healthy is just not an option. It’s either they don’t have the time, they don’t have enough money to spend on healthy, organic and free-range resources or they just simply don’t want to or don’t know how to cook. I want to really push that aside and I always talk to people about how I make my food and how I enjoy eating veggies and all the healthy stuff. But still, I am overweight. But I’m working on it. This post is going to be one of the few things I’ve set for myself to change my body, change my health and change my life.
I believed Erwan Heussaff when he mentioned in his video that weight loss starts in the kitchen. I believe in Erwan and I’ve been following him for quite a while but it’s really only now that I’m realizing that I need to ACT. For nobody else but for myself.
So I decided to post this recipe along with guides Where to buy your food, How to cook your food and How it can last for the whole working week. I hope this recipe can help young working females (and males) to get into the healthy habit of prepping you own healthy meals at home and getting out of the
(unhealthy) Dubai Food Culture.
Note: This recipe does not include the famous and delicious Gochujang or red chili paste commonly serves on top of a classic Korean Bibimbap recipe. This is a lighter and healthier version and the recipe makes up to 4 lunch box servings (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)  that you can use throughout the busy week.
You will need:
400 grams Ground Beef  (14.53 AED = 3.96$ USD =  438 ¥)
SAVING TIP: (Carrefour usually give you “Family Discounts” and stuff like that. I usually go for the meat with the green packaging (Organic) and I usually opt for New Zealand or Australian Beef). 
4 pieces of Large Carrots (around 0.64 grams)
Diced or Ribboned (3 AED = 0.82¢  = 91 ¥)
SAVING TIP: If you shop in Carrefour like most people in Dubai and like me, you’ll find that on some days of the week (days may vary depending on location) you have sales on vegetables like CarrotsPotatoesBroccoli and Lettuce. So, what I usually do is once these pantry staples are on sale, we get a lot of them and cook them in batches. This way you’ll still retain the freshness and vitamins in the vegetables and you’ll save multiple trips to the shop in a week.
Carrots can offer different vitamins and minerals for the body and it’s really the fiber that you want since fiber = good digestive health. Carrots are also really good at keeping the blood sugar stable so you’ll feel less hungry for longer.
I did not slice the carrots in the conventional way because I want them to be extra thin so they can cook faster since if you’re working in Dubai, you probably don’t have so much time waiting for a bunch of carrots to cook lol (Presentation and Time Saving! YEAH!)

Half of a whole Zucchini – Juliened   – 1 Zucchini   (7.56 AED = 2.06 $ USD = 228¥ ) 
SAVING TIPBuying one zucchini is more than enough if you’re cooking for the week. I used half of the Zucchini and stored the other half in the fridge using cling foil to keep it fresh. 
Bell Peppers (Yellow and Orange for presentation purposes)
*You can also add sauteed KangKong (Almaya and Westzone Supermarkets should have these every sunday; but again, days may vary depending on location.)
3 tbsp of Olive Oil
4 cloves of Garlic (either smashed or sliced neatly if you have time; either way theflavour will be phenomenal)
1 medium Onion (You can use any onion you like)
Kosher Salt (if you’re feeling fancy) or regular salt 
*You can add chili flakes if you like your food a little bit hot
BROWN RICE (I used Daawat Brown Rice. 1KG is about 17.50 but for this recipe I used two cups of rice with 3.5 cups of water)
Heat up a large pan or wok and cook the ground beef. The thing with beef is that it contains a lot of water so you need to let all the water evaporate first. Cook it thoroughly and one it’s cooked and all the water is gone, you can add your oil, onions, and garlic. Sauté and cook the beef evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste and let your beef cook.
You can add soy sauce if you want the real Asian touch but just remember to use low-sodium soy sauce.
In a separate pan, cook the vegetables separately. The trick is to cook the light-coloured vegetables first (Bell Peppers) and then cook the dark ones last (zucchini or kangkong/swamp cabbage or river spinach). I use a non-stick pan so half a tablespoon of olive oil will go a long way.
Once your meat is cooked as well as your vegetables and rice, you can start filling in your lunch boxes. I filled 4 glass lunch boxes (also from Carrefour) for this recipe. You set up your lunchbox as you would with the traditional bibimbap. You can put the rice as the bed for all your other ingredients, then top the rice with the vegetables in alternate colours. I put the Orange Carrots first, then the meat, then the Zucchini and then the yellow Bell Peppers. You can add gochujang on top to makes your Bibimbap more authentic but if you like fresh flavours and something light, you can leave it as it is.
More or less you’ll spend about 35-45 AED on this meal excluding the things you might already have on your pantry. It will probably add to the cost if you decide to go for the optional things but it won’t go up to as much as 70-80 AED.
Now, if you compute that; I’m no math expert but this is pretty basic.
If you will buy from a famous convenient store for lunch:
Sandwich – around 12 AED
Cola/Juice – 1.50 AED or 3 AED (for fruit juice)
Crisps – 2.5 AED for a small bag
Estimated Total: 18-22 AED depending on your brand preference. 
22 AED x 5 DAYS in a week = 110 AED for lunch
Since you’re eating junk food and not really anything that gives you good calories or sustenance, you’re bound to grab more unhealthy things off the shelves, order something from a local cafeteria and end up spending more than 100 AED for lunch for the week. Some people order something worth 25 AED or more every single day. Unfortunately, not everyone can spend so much like that. In a month, you’ll be spending around 500 AED on ordered lunches alone. What about breakfast? or Dinner?
Okay. Healthy Korean Bibimbap = 45 AED Max on 4 lunch boxes. These are filled to the brim and quite heavy.
45 x 4 weeks in a month (excluding weekend lunches) = 180 AED (rough estimation)
Buy 1/4 kG of RAW ALMONDS = 7.90 AED = 2$ USD  = 238¥ 
A handful of these will keep you filled and active for a few hours. Stop the snickers. Get some raw almonds. These are healthy fats and good protein and fibers. 1/4 KG lasts about 3 days for me.
WATER. WATER. WATER. WATER. Or sometimes, tea is okay. But seriously guys, WATER.
I usually get some Dark Chocolate to reward myself after eating really well for the week. You can also accompany it with your almonds. You can also add some dried fruit and dates but you have to keep these things at a minimum as they still contain a lot of sugar.
SO I think my post is now too long for anyone to actually finish or pay attention to. I will be uploading more simple recipes with buying and saving tips and probably I will be aiding my posts with videos just so there’s not too much text >.<
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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