By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
I am on a diet.
I feel like I say that a lot. Actually, you can probably figure out how old I am by the number of times I say I’m on a diet every year. It’s like counting the rings in the cross section of a tree.
Ah, you can see here this ring in 2007 that he was back on a diet, but if you look closely, he falls off the wagon here after going to an “all you can eat” pizza place and you don’t see another ring until late 2008, which we unfortunately refer to as the “pasta-zoic” era.
So yes, I’m back on a diet. This time, I’m on the low carb diet. It’s not Atkins, the caveman diet, or the Mediterranean diet. If I recall, my diet is called the “If it looks good and is full of flavor, it’s absolutely not allowed” diet.
The problem I’m having with this low carb diet, being Asian, is that it’s not that easy counting calories or carbs when you’re eating Chinese food. Before you say it, I know that I could live to be 100 if I just decided to eat nothing but bok choy and tofu. Wait, Bok Choy and Tofu? Aren’t they an Asian hip hop group?
And yes, I know eating fried rice or noodles is loaded with carbs, so those are off the list. Setting aside the idea that a life without fried rice or noodles leaves very few reasons left for living, I have tried my best to figure out what is OK to eat.
It’s not as easy as you think.
Take lotus root for example. I like lotus root. My wife Maya knows how to cook them with some pork that is just out of this world. But is lotus root high in carbs? It’s a root, right? Well, carrots are a root and they’re low in carbs, but so is a potato, which is high in carbs. So, which is it?
Of course, I’m sure a bunch of you are on your smartphones right now looking up lotus root carbs. Don’t worry — I’ve done it for you.
According to Google, raw lotus root has 1.4 carbs per every 0.3 ounces. That’s your answer, right? That’s the problem — I have no idea. Why are they specifying “raw” lotus root? I’ve never eaten a raw lotus root. I haven’t been in a situation where I’m swimming in a pond, come across a lily pad, and start gnawing on the lotus root underneath. I eat them cooked.
So what happens to the carb count when you cook a lotus root? I can’t find that information at all. Does the carb count skyrocket to 10? Does it drop to zero? Why would the carb count change based on whether you cooked it or not? And if the answer is that it doesn’t, then why even specify that you’re measuring “raw” lotus roots?
These are the questions I have, and that’s just for one vegetable!
Then I read that lotus root is loaded with starch, but low on the glycemic index. Wait, what? So, what they’re saying is that the lotus root, while it may have a lot of starch, which until now I thought meant it was high in carbs, has a low glycemic score, meaning that it doesn’t raise your blood sugar quickly, which is a good thing.
Well, if that’s the case, I need to find a lot of starchy foods with low glycemic scores. Let’s see…
- Donuts! Nope
- Pizza! Not that either.
- Hash browns! Shoot.
- Donuts! I just wanted to check again to be doubly sure…
Apparently, lotus root is one vegetable that I like that works for my diet.
So tonight, I’ll be having roasted lotus root, covered in a delectable sauce of pureed lotus root, accompanied by mashed lotus root, sitting on a medley of sautéed lotus root.
And for tomorrow, Bok Choy and Tofu.
Wayne can be reached at email@example.com.