Sunday, December 27, 2015

Healthy Tips For Weight Loss in the New Year

It's that time of year again. The decorations are up, Santa is out, and holiday parties are in full swing. Unfortunately, holiday parties ultimately put us at risk to put on holiday pounds. You might be resolving to go on a diet pretty soon. If so, here are five essential principals that you can follow so you can get the most out of your New Years Resolution: 

1. Optimize

Before you start any diet, make sure that you optimize your nutrition. Ensure that you get all your essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fats. One way you can optimize your nutrition is to pay attention to Dr. Joel Furhman's Aggregate Nutrition Density Index (ANDI) score, which grades foods based on their nutrient density. Another simple way to optimize your nutrition is to avoid processed foods and eat exclusively non-starchy plants and protein, as I advise in The Ping Pong Diet approach to sustainable weight loss.   

2. Volumize 

Another sound principal for weight loss and healthy living is to purposefully eat satiating amounts of foods that are low in energy density, such as non-starchy vegetables. Dr. Barbara Rolls demonstrated that fullness is a function of food volume, not caloric density. In one study, women instructed to incorporate satisfying amounts of low energy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and soups, reported less hunger and lost 33% more weight at six months compared to women who were counseled only to reduce their fat intake. A large salad is a great way to fill up without filling out!

3. Harmonize

No diet will work in the long run if it makes you hungry. Starving yourself and skipping meals is a surefire way to get yourself into trouble. Instead of eating out of balance, harmonize your eating so it controls your hunger. A good strategy is to eat frequently enough to stay ahead of hunger rather than eating in response to hunger. Eating approximately five times per day was a successful strategy employed by weight loss maintainers in the National Weight Control Registry.

4. Liberalize

Your body weight is made up of both fat and lean body mass. Healthy weight loss gets rid of excess fat, while preserving lean body mass. Liberalizing protein intake is an important means of getting in essential amino acids and maintaining healthy muscle. In order to maintain weight, you need to eat 0.7-1 milligrams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. In order to promote weight loss and maintain muscle during the process of weight loss, you need to eat approximately 1.5-2 times that amount. Animal meat is a complete source of protein and a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, which is why I recommend five servings per day in The Ping Pong Diet

5. Minimize

While you can lose weight by reducing calories alone, most successful dietary strategies also minimize intake of high glycemic carbohydrates. Restricting carbohydrate intake to 100 grams and less has been shown to enhance weight loss, reduce hunger, improve adherence, and improve metabolic derangements. In The Ping Pong Diet, I recommend cutting out all sources of carbohydrates except non-starchy vegetables that contain five grams or less of carbohydrates per one cup serving.  

Try this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. It will help you to optimize, volumize, harmonize, liberalize, and minimize, all in one tasty bite. Happy New Year!

Bell EA et al. Energy density of foods affects energy intake in normal-weight women. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:412-20.

Ello-Martin JA et al. Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1465-77.

Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO. A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;66:239–246

Steelman GM, Westman EC. Obesity: Evaluation and Treatment Essentials. 2010.

Hession M et al. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. 2008. Obesity reviews 10:36-50.

Volek JS & Feinman RD. Carbohydrate restriction improves the features of metabolic syndrome. Nutr & Metab. 2005;2(31):1-17.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Wrap Rap : How to Make a Healthy Seaweed Hand Roll For Kids

My dad is one of the hardest guys to shop for. It isn't because he is picky or hard to please. He's simply much too practical to appreciate a gift for its sentimental value. Even when I try to get him very practical gifts, he doesn't seem to find a use for them. One year, we bought him a classic white tennis polo and matching shorts because he was such a tennis enthusiast. He failed to see the utility as he already owned several pairs of shirts and shorts. Another year, I bought him an electric telescoping chainsaw so he could electrically prune to his heart's content. He decided he already had a manual tree trimming device, so he suggested I keep the chainsaw for myself.

I've learned that it doesn't pay to try to surprise my dad with a gift. Rather than surprise my dad with an object, it is better to surprise him with experiences. For instance, I took my dad to his first Major League Baseball game when we watched the Washington Nationals play. Another great memory was going to watch the U.S. Open and Citi Open tennis tournament together.

This Christmas, I decided to treat my dad (and myself) to his first Redskins game. After living in DC for twenty-eight years, I figured it was about time he saw them in action. We went to their final home game of the regular season, where they matched up against the Buffalo Bills. Despite struggling with consistency all yearlong, I was really impressed with their performance against the Bills. Kirk cousins threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another. Each time they scored, I cheered along with my dad, slapped fives with the strangers seated next to us, and joined in singing their fight song. I was thrilled that the Skins one and kept their playoff hopes alive, but I was really happy that I could share a novel experience with my dad.

Do you have someone who is hard to surprise? Instead of gifting a gift, consider gifting an experience. Try making them a spicy shrimp nori hand roll. I'm sure they'll find it a surprisingly tasty experience!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Cocoa Rubbed Sous Vide Pork Loin For Kids

One of my earliest movie memories is watching Star Wars with my family. The basic theme of good versus evil is an easy theme to get behind whether you are an adult or a child. I remember cheering along with my dad when the rebels blew up the death star and saved the day. 

I really liked the hidden surprises within the Star Wars series as well. Despite his diminutive stature, Yoda exhibited impressive command of the force. I was in complete shock when I learned that Leia was Luke's twin sister. And of course, the biggest surprise was learning that Darth Vader was Luke's father. 

One of the fun things about cooking is discovering surprising ways to use old ingredients. For instance, in American cooking, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg are commonly served up in sweet dishes like chocolate cake or pumpkin pie. However, some ethnic cuisines make use of these flavor profiles in savory dishes like Moroccan Carrot sticks

Recently, my friend Julian, introduced me to a novel way to use cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a dry rub to make cocoa rubbed sous vide pork loin. If you don't have a sous vide machine, you could rub the spices onto the pork loin, pan-sear it, then roast it instead. Give it a try. And may the force be with you!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How to Motivate Kids to Eat Healthy - Make Motivational Moroccan Carrot Sticks

My mother never spanked me. Not once. She did however, hit me once. Well, it was really more of a slap on the wrist. After I had misbehaved yet again, she screamed at me and told me to hold my hands out, with my palms faced downward. Sullen and confused, I obeyed. Then, with one swift strike, she slapped me on the back of my outstretched hands.

Raising kids is tough work. You have to be a parent, friend, consultant, disciplinarian, psychologist, and behaviorist all in one. No one really teaches you how to be a good parent, so you end up recalling a lot of what your own parents did. 

Certainly, you can motivate your kids through negative reinforcement. But punishing them by taking food away or using food in a punitive way can set up unhealthy associations with food. Negative reinforcement, while initially effective, also tends to be less and less effective with time.

Rather than carrying a big stick, I advocate using the power of positive reinforcement to help your kids develop healthy eating habits. Using carrots to incentivize your kids builds self esteem and healthful eating habits at the same time. A popular message for childhood obesity prevention is the 5-2-1-0 campaign, which advocates five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, and zero sugary beverages per day. 

The 5-2-1-0 campaign is a great foundation for obesity prevention. However, it doesn't go far enough to treat our existing child obesity crisis. In order to actively treat our obese kids and help them develop the kinds of behaviors that effectively induce weight loss, I created my own 5-2-1-0 rule for obesity treatment:

5 Servings of Protein

Children afflicted with obesity should strive for five servings of protein per day. In order to maintain weight, we need to eat 0.7-1 mg of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. In order to promote weight loss and maintain muscle during the process of weight loss, we need to eat approximately 1.5-2 times that amount. Good sources of protein include animal meat, eggs, plain greek yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, and nuts. 

2 Weeks of Exposure

Helping your kids adopt healthy eating patterns takes time. It may take two weeks of exposure to a new food before a child eventually accepts it. Additionally, it may take up to one month of reinforcement to adopt a new habit altogether. For instance, one study demonstrated that repeated dietary exposure to green beans in infants ultimately resulted in greater consumption of green beans. 

1 Big Reward

Kids and adults alike need to be motivated to change their behavior. It can be helpful to set up a reward system. Create a sticker chart that helps your child keep track of their daily protein intake over the course of two weeks. At the end of the two week period, reward your child with a non-food based incentive such as a new toy or a fun activity. 

0 Added Sugar

In addition to setting up daily protein goals for your child, it is critical to teach them the harms of added sugar. Foods with added sugar, such as processed food and sugary beverages,  are particularly high in glycemic index and have a strong association with obesity. One study found that the risk of childhood obesity increases by sixty percent for each additional daily serving of sugary beverages in middle-school children. Teach your children to look for added sugar like high fructose corn syrup on nutrition labels and make your household a zero added sugar domicile.  

I never resented my mom for that slap on my wrist. Perhaps it's because I knew I deserved to be punished for being such a brat. Or perhaps it's because a slap on the wrist doesn't hurt all that much. Mainly, it's because that one incident paled in comparison to the overwhelming majority of acts of love my mom showered me with. But you don't' have to choose between a carrot and a stick. Try this recipe for motivational 
Moroccan Carrot SticksThese healthful sticks are both the incentive and the reward!


Steeelman GM, Westman EC. Obesity: Evaluation and Treatment Essentials. 2010.

Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet 2001; 357:505–08.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How to Cook Healthy Whole Grains For Kids : Farro

Congratulations are in order. I've experienced some personal growth. My mom stayed over my place the other night to watch the kids so Cassie and I could go out. The next morning, I figured I would show my appreciation by cooking my mom breakfast. I decided to introduce her to quinoa and make her a mushroom quinoa risotto.

I knew it would take some time for the quinoa to absorb the chicken broth and soften, so I made every effort to wake up early. Of course, my mom woke up just as I was starting to cook. I knew she wouldn't want me to go though any trouble, so I tried to hurry the process along.

That was the first problem. You can't rush risotto. It takes time for grains to absorb hot broth, whether you're using rice or some other kind of grain like quinoa. Whole grains take even longer to soften up due to their tough fibrous exterior. The second problem was it's never easy to introduce my parents to new food. As supportive as they are, it is especially difficult to change their food tastes. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I made the risotto and placed a sunny side up egg on top. I like my egg yolk runny, but I knew my mom would like hers cooked through because she is afraid of eating anything raw. I served our breakfast and carried on conversation like normal. I ate a spoonful. Oh no. I didn't cook it long enough. The quinoa was crunchy. My mom does not like to chew her food. Did she notice? Maybe she didn't notice. After all, she doesn't know what quinoa is supposed to taste like, let alone quinoa risotto. I took a sidelong glance at her bowl. It was barely touched.

I decided not to get upset. This was a huge moment of personal growth for me. I used to be very sensitive about my cooking. And of course, I am very sensitive about my mother's opinion. But you know what? Home cooked dishes don't always come out perfectly, but they're always made out of love. At the end of breakfast, I stole one more glance at my mom's bowl. She actually ate the whole thing, undercooked quinoa and all. Next time I'm gonna try making her this farro risotto with pear, prosciutto, and sage!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to Make a Healthy Stuffing Recipe For Kids on Thanksgiving Day

My grandmother recently passed away. She lived to be 100 years old. In the final years of her life, she developed dementia. When I visited her last year, she had no idea who I was. Even after relatives repeatedly reintroduced me, she'd point towards my general direction and say in Taiwanese, "Who's that guy?" However, even at 100 years old, seated in a wheelchair, and with obvious dementia, to me she was wise, dignified, and strong. The pictures above were taken from that trip to Taiwan last year. It was the kids' first trip to Taiwan, and their only meeting they would have with their great grandmother.

I didn't know my grandmother very well. As a kid, I just thought she was old and rich. Whenever she would visit from Taiwan, she would pinch my cheeks and give me a red envelope with cash. I would try to speak to her in broken Taiwanese, but inevitably my communication would break down into a series of polite smiles. In college, I visited Taiwan and stayed with her on some weekends. I would try to be a good grandson and wash dishes, but she would complain that I didn't know what I was doing.

When Cassie was pregnant with Colin, my mom said she would like to help us out, but we were in New Jersey at the time and she was in Maryland. Cassie and I talked things over and we decided to pack our bags. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we've ever made. My mom has been there for my kids ever since the beginning. Because of this, Colin and Caiyla have developed a very close relationship with their grandmother, a kind of bond that admittedly, I never developed with my own grandmother.

It is all too easy to take these kinds of relationships for granted. Loss of family members or family holidays like Thanksgiving are good opportunities to pause, reflect, and be thankful for the family we have in our lives. Thanksgiving is also a great chance to invite family over and cook for them. Try making your family this paleo Thanksgiving stuffing. I'm sure grandmothers and grandkids alike will love it!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How to Make Cripsy Chicken Legs in a Cast Iron Skillet For Kids

Becoming a competent home chef for your kids is easier than you might think. You don't have to buy a ton of expensive equipment to make healthy and delicious meals for your kids. Instead of buying up every new kitchen gadget, stick to versatile tools that you can use again and again for multiple meals.

One of my favorite kitchen tools is the cast iron skillet. If you can pick one up (literally), it will help you cook delicious food both on the stovetop and in the oven. Once properly seasoned, the surface of a cast iron skillet can be made non-stick and easy to clean. Although cast iron skillets take longer to heat up, once hot, they contain more thermal energy than other pans at the same temperature. As such, cast iron skillets are great for giving your proteins a nice hard sear. A hard sear gives the surface of your protein texture and adds a lot of flavor through the mallard reaction.

If you are new to cast iron cooking, one easy dish you can try is this recipe for one pan crispy chicken legs. You'll be surprised what you can do with your legs.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to Make Healthier Low Glycemic Bread For Kids : Sourdough Muffins

"I don't like it." Another one of my food experiments is met with frustration and failure. You see, I only publish the winners on my YouTube channel, and not the many, many failures. One of the refreshing things about kids is their brutal honesty. You can see their immediate reactions plainly on their faces. And most toddlers have yet to learn the fine art of politeness.

So even before Colin said he didn't like my cauliflower "buns", I had already surmised as much on his face. For better or for worse, my children are my guinea pigs for my low carb and low glycemic index cooking. I am always looking for healthier substitutions for otherwise high glycemic starches. One of the most challenging searches is the quest to find a reasonably tasting low glycemic bread. In my search, I have attempted to substitute the carbohydrates of wheat flour with cauliflower or eggs. The results are often disappointing, often tasting more eggy than breadlike.

One way to lower the glycemic index of bread and make it more healthful is to make real sourdough bread from a starter culture. A starter culture is a mixture of flour and water that contains a colony of microorganisms including wild yeast and bacteria known as lactobacilli. As such, sourdough bread is made from real live food. This is the way bread used to be made, and is really the only kind of bread that can be considered true bread. Most of the processed bread on store shelves are dead, bread-like substances.

When kids or adults get their hands on a good piece of bread, they can have trouble stopping. What is more, a typical bread loaf pan makes such a large loaf of bread that it is difficult to exercise reasonable portion control. One fun way to bake sourdough bread for your kids is to make sourdough muffins. Start with a basic sourdough starter, then use this recipe for sourdough muffins (I omitted the sugar), and split the dough up and bake it in a muffin tin pan.  This recipe makes tasty, healthy bread, in reasonable portions that your kids will love!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

How to Make Bloody Eyeball Eggs on Halloween For Kids


I can still feel the wedgie of my extra small thermal underwear pants riding up under my Mickey Mouse costume. Several sizes too small, the cuffs of my thermal undershirt ended halfway up my forearms, making the costume I recycled from the previous year feel especially tight on me. Coming from a balmy island like Taiwan, this cool Autumn holiday of ghouls and goblins must have felt especially foreign to my parents. And yet, knowing how much it meant to me, they slipped on their winter jackets, pulled out their flashlights, and trudged down the neighborhood streets with me.

Having no peripheral vision and distracted by the sound of my own hot breath against the inside of my mask, I held on tightly to my mom's hand as she led me from house to house. "Trick or treat!" I exclaimed as I held out my plastic Jack-o-lantern. The excitement of going door to door and being handed a small package was more thrilling than the package itself. When we returned home, my brother and I would line up all our pieces of candy and categorize them accordingly.

Nowadays, Halloween is a bit of a conundrum for me. Obviously, its premise is antithetical to my low glycemic lifestyle. But Halloween doesn't have to be about the candy. When I think back on my fondest childhood memories of Halloween, the experience of Halloween was far more memorable than the confections.

For my kids, I want them to experience the joy of dancing around in their costumes, pretending to be Spiderman and Minnie Mouse. I want them to experience the thrill of going out at night and going door to door. I want them to appreciate the shared ritual of a collective community. And of course, I want them to feel the pinch of the wedgie formed by their tight thermal underwear.

You don't have to make Halloween about the candy. Bring some Halloween fun into your house with these "bloody eyeball" eggs. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

How to Make Healthy Baby Bok Choy Chips in the Oven For Kids


Did you know our sense of smell, sight, touch, and sound contribute more to the pleasure of eating than our sense of taste? As much as 80% of our sense of taste comes from the olfactory receptors in our nose. Human teeth are exquisitely sensitive, able to detect a grain of sand or grit 10 microns in diameter.

One of the reasons people like potato chips is because they make a pleasing crunchy noise when chewed. Mary Roach, author of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, notes that the audible crunch of crispy foods comes from their inherent brittle facture: a sudden, high-speed crack. In order to get this noise, you need crack speeds of 300 meters per second. Roach writes, "The crunch of a chip is a tiny sonic boom inside your mouth."

Roach suggests that we like crunchy food because historically, crispness equaled freshness. Compared to a crunchy apple, a mushy apple is decidedly less fresh. However, while processed food like a six month old bag of Cheetos stays crunchy, it is certainly not fresh. Instead of giving your kids food-like products that have been on the shelf for months, why not make your own fresh chips?

You can make your own chips from fresh produce like eggplants. I have also tried king oyster mushroom chips and kale chips. Baby bok choy chips are especially tasty. Each leaf can be peeled off into a conveniently sized chip, and the dark green leafy parts nicely crisp up in the oven.  


Roach, Mary. 2013. Gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How to Eat Like a Caveman : Paleo Pot Roast & Mashed Cauliflower for Kids

When I listen to my adult patients, I can often commiserate with many common barriers that affect the nutritional quality of their diet. Themes include being overworked, having a lot of stress, and feeling tired all the time. For many well-intentioned adults, it is hard to prioritize eating healthfully in the modern age. 

However, my heart really aches when I hear some of the stories that my pediatric patients relate. Many American kids today are starving for real nutrition and being poisoned by processed foods. Parents' work is so consuming that they really have no idea what their kids are eating. As a result, kids are often left to fend for themselves. Many kids skip breakfast. Still others eat breakfast and lunch for free at school. While special nutritional programs for indigent families are well intentioned, they are actually part of the problem.   

The other day, I was speaking to a pair of young sisters, each afflicted with morbid obesity. At the ages of eight and ten, they already manifested health problems due to their weight, including elevations in cholesterol and blood sugar. I asked them what they ate for breakfast. They said that they usually skipped, but if they made it to school they delighted in eating Bosco sticks. I didn't know what a Bosco stick was, so I asked. A Bosco stick is essentially a pizza rolled into a breadstick. I asked them what they ate for lunch. The reply was cheese pizza, usually washed down with chocolate milk. Halfway through their day, these kids had yet to have any real nutrition. 

Today's kids are more familiar with manmade products like Bosco sticks than they are real food like plants and protein. The diets of so many kids is so devoid of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, it's no wonder that some require supplements like Flintstones vitamins. The irony is instead of taking Flintstone sugar pills, kids today would be much better off if they simply ate their vitamins and minerals from real food, like we used to do when we were cavemen. In the following video, I take a page right out of history and show you how to make a Paleo pot roast that your kids will love. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to Make a Healthy Breakfast Egg Sandwich For Kids - A Truly Happy Meal


The other day, my kids came back from a visit to Old MacDonald's farm. They were excited to tell me about how much fun they had. I listened eagerly to their musings. First, they were greeted by a jolly figure with a beatific smile. Then, they waited in line for the main attraction. Each of them were handed a box called a Happy Meal with a toy...hey wait a minute! What kind of farm was this?!?

My face fell. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a crumpled up brown bag featuring the villainous golden arches I have come to hate. McDonald's is uniquely ubiquitous in our environment and our culture. It starts early. My mom used to bring me to McDonald's when I was a kid as a rare "special treat." I even have old photos of myself celebrating my birthday at McDonald's, clown and all. 

Kids are routinely assaulted by McDonald's commercials. McDonald's spent $963 million in 2011, which is the most by any restaurant brand. In fact, McDonald's accounts for one-sixth of all money spent on restaurant advertising.  

This is what parents are up against. Fortunately, there are trends that the tide is turning. Children's hospitals across America are finally starting to close their doors to McDonald's franchises. And, sales at the restaurant giant have been declining over the past three years. 

I hope these positive trends continue. Instead of golden fries, I hope kids will choose green veggies. Instead of opting for an egg McMuffin sandwich, I hope kids will choose to eat the eggs and hold the muffin. One day, instead of kids asking their parents to go to McDonald's, I hope they will ask to see Old MacDonald's farm--a farm to table restaurant where kids can learn where their food comes from and have a truly happy meal. 


Sunday, October 4, 2015

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy - Super Food Pop For Super Eaters

Sometimes I get frustrated when my kids don't do what I tell them to do. Alright, I always get frustrated when my kids won't do as they are told. And then I realized, if something always frustrates me, perhaps I need to try another method. I was watching Super Why with my kids the other day, and it dawned on me that I've been going about things all wrong.

If you've ever seen shows like Super Why, Blues Clues, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, then you know that the premise is to ask the viewer a direct question. I recently read that computer animated cartoons do not actually improve kids' language acquisition. Apparently, those kind of programs are generally much too passive. On the other hand, programs that engage kids by asking them direct questions seem to involve kids better. I enjoy watching my kids not only respond out loud to these programs, but get excited when they answer the questions correctly.

One of the problems with traditional medical practices is the idea that the medical expert should be doing all the advising. With all the expert advice being doled out, sometimes the patient's thoughts can get lost in the process. When it comes to helping someone adopt healthful habits, asking is a better strategy than telling. I learn a lot from my patients and gain a lot of insight into their personal situation when I remind myself to ask, rather than tell.

You can help your kids eat better by asking them. What foods are good for them and what foods are bad for them? Which healthier option would they be willing to try? What new foods are they wiling to try? Would they be interested in going grocery shopping or cooking with you? Would they try making and eating a Super Pop? If you ask your kids, you might just be surprised what answers you get.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Healthy Grilled Thai Chicken Recipe

Grilled Thai Chicken

  • 2 lbs Chicken Breast
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Chopped Cilantro
  1. Marinate Chicken in fish sauce, curry powder, canola oil, and black pepper overnight.                                                                  
  2. Grill Breasts till cooked through, or dice up and stir-fry.
  3. Top with chopped cilantro.
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How to Cook Healthy Grilled Thai Chicken For Kids : From Your "Celebrity" Chef


"Doctor Ko!" shouts a voice in the crowd, one weekend while I was out with my family. This is the burden of notoriety that comes from being a minor celebrity. As a blogger, vlogger, and author, I am flooded with weekly comments from my aunt as well as random posts from people attempting to advertise their own blog or product. I always laugh when I see someone else trying to use my feeble web traffic to promote themselves. Nonetheless, I remain wholly committed to the twenty-six followers of my blog and to my ever enlarging YouTube community. My channel now has a following that is measured in three--count them--three digits! As Donald Trump would say, that's not braggadocio, that's just the facts.

Occasionally, my celebrity opens up exclusive doors of opportunity that aren't accessible to the general public. For instance, when I proposed a talk at Gum Spring library, the librarian said, "Well, we recently had Dr. Neal Barnard and that was a great talk. I suppose we could have you come talk as well." You see, it pays to be part of an exclusive club of medical celebrities.

Recently, my children's daycare, the Falls Church Mclean Children's Center, contacted me to perform at their annual fundraiser. I am indebted to the excellent care that this center's teachers give to my kids. In fact, I was all set to sign my family up for their 1K walk, but then I realized that I would be the only one walking. I pictured myself listening to Colin whine the whole way while I carried an additional thirty pounds of dead weight. Instead, I opted to volunteer my services to sing and promote wellness.

I was actually kind of excited to perform for the kids. I figured I could feature some of my most popular dishes from my blog. I cheerfully asked, "How many people do you expect?"
"We expect about three hundred people," came the reply. Oh. Well, I usually cook for less people than that. No matter. I figured I would cook up my greatest hits like the best broccoli of your life, cauliflower mac n' cheese, Thai grilled chicken, coconut quinoa, and nutritional yeast popcorn. Everyone would get exactly one spear of broccoli, one spear of cauliflower, a bite of chicken, a spoonful of quinoa, and a kernel of popcorn.

In the end, thanks to help from Cassie and several volunteers, I was able to sample all of these dishes. It was a fun time and for a minute there, I felt like a celebrity chef catering for a big foodie event. I want to thank Falls Church Mclean Children's Center for putting on a great fundraiser and giving me an opportunity to give back to the community.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How to Make Healthy Energy Bars With No Added Sugar For Kids


If I had to give myself a grade for parenting, it would be, "Needs Improvement." This may surprise you since I am an absolute delight with my kids on my YouTube videos. That's the power of editing. I was listening to an NPR interview of Sonia Manzano, who played "Maria" on Sesame Street for forty-four years. When asked how similar Sonia is to the iconic character she played, she said that Maria is the more patient, caring, and better version of herself.

One of the reasons I enjoy doing videos is that "Doctor Chris Ko" represents the better version of the kind of parent I strive to be. In actuality, I struggle mightily to be a good parent. I fight to control my temper on a daily basis. I have to constantly remind myself to work on my communication style. And, I have regular exercises in patience building. If only I could edit out all the mistakes I've made as a parent.

I recently read a couple of books by Martin Seligman, a noted psychologist who discovered learned helplessness and founded the positive psychology movement. From Dr. Seligman, I learned that I had a bad habit of calling Colin a "Bad boy" when he misbehaved. Such labeling can have a negative effect on the way he thinks about himself. Instead, now I try to be specific about calling the behavior bad, not the boy.

I also recently started playing "Dreamland" with Colin, a bedtime ritual espoused by Dr. Seligman. During this nightly game, I ask Colin what was bad and good about his day. Last night, Colin said that one bad thing was when he didn't share a toy with his sister, Cailya. He went on to describe how he felt in that situation, how he walked away to calm himself down, and how he was later able to return to the situation. I was surprised and impressed with the insight he expressed. Afterward, he said that he would dream about how good it feels to listen to me and his mom. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how this story turns out.

In an effort to become the dad I want to be, I decided to channel one of my role models growing up...Mr. Fred Rogers. Always patient and always kind, Mr. Rogers believed in the unique potential of each and every child. In this video, I invite you to join me in Dr. Ko's neighborhood, a positive food environment where kids can thrive eating 3-ingredient energy bars with no added sugar.

Friday, September 11, 2015

How to Make a Quick and Healthy Microwave Steamed Egg Breakfast For Your Kids


I wake up feeling unusually well rested. Through the window, I see the beautiful glow of the morning sun. Oh no. I'm late! I've just been snookered by the AM/PM button. I frantically rush into Cailya's room and immediately start barking out orders. She responds with a yawn and a drawn out arm stretch. I run into the boy's room in a hot panic. He gives me a blank stare, then scratches his butt.

After significant effort, I am finally able to wrangle them out of bed. I brush their hair and teeth and get them dressed. I plead with them to go potty. Little miss does some heavy negotiating. She doesn't listen to me, but she eventually listens to Yoda when he promises her a special treat. Colin refuses to go altogether, only to later scream, "Pee pee!  I need to go pee pee!" when he gets downstairs.

I rush to get their breakfast started. Given the time constraints, I decide to whip up my famous one minute twenty-four second steamed egg in the microwave. One egg, one-quarter cup water, one teaspoon of soy sauce, and one minute twenty-four seconds later, a perfectly steamed egg is ready for breakfast. Cailya demands to eat her egg on the floor like a dog, but at least she eats it. Thankfully, Colin quickly gulps down his egg. I take a big sigh of relief. We survived the morning!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How to Cook Steamed Chilean Sea Bass Fish in the Microwave for Kids

I recently took my dad to see the Citi Open tennis tournament, held on August 8th. In mandarin, August 8th is pronounced, "Ba ba", which also sounds like the word for "Father." Thus, the tennis tournament served as a convenient father's day gift for the old man. We ended up seeing a very entertaining match between John Isner and Steve Johnson that went the distance, with Isner taking the third set in a tie-breacker. And while the tie-breaker was enjoyable, I particularly enjoyed giving my dad a break.

My dad is the most hardworking man I know. He works tirelessly for his patients as a busy cardiologist, volunteers his little free time for various Taiwanese associations, and even helps out around the house. And while his dedication to his work and community is inspiring, it is this last service that impresses me the most.

It is almost unheard of for a Taiwanese male from my dad's generation to help out around the house. I didn't realize this while growing up, because my only perspective of male societal norms was my dad. My dad regularly helps wash dishes, tidies around the house, and takes care of the yard. No one asks him to do these things and no one thanks him. He just does them. And in doing these simple household chores, he has taught me the value of hard work, egalitarianism, and marital bliss.

However, one thing my dad has never been particularly drawn to is cooking. To give him credit, he does try when left to his own devices. Once, I saw him cook ramen in a pot. He knows how to fry up breakfast sausages. And of course, he can use the microwave. One dish that impressed my dad with the simple touch of a button was this steamed Chilean sea bass. I dedicate it to all the hardworking dads out there.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How to Make Lightly Sweetened Gluten-Free Raspberry Lava Cake for Kids

We just watched Pixar's latest film, Inside Out. I really enjoyed this flick, but it was a bit emotionally draining for Colin. After being glued to the screen for the entire movie, he immediately started bawling when it ended. Unfortunately, his young mind was still too immature to comprehend the final resolution; all of his emotions came inside out.

To the contrary, as a grown man, I was able to exercise complete control over my emotions throughout the movie. I was however, unable to hold myself together during the short film that preceded the main feature. Lava was such a powerful love story about two volcanoes that I found myself tearing up half way through the short.

Of course, upon seeing a short called Lava, I had no choice but to create a digital short of my own experience making a healthy lava cake. I will admit that "healthy dessert" is a bit of an oxymoron. However, I have determined that there are indeed "healthier" desserts.  Here is my criterion for healthier desserts:

  1. Employs significantly less sweetener than other fully sweetened versions
  2. Makes use of fruit for natural sweetness
  3. Substitutes healthier low glycemic flours (like almond flour) for wheat flour
  4. Substitutes plant based fats for saturated fat
After scouring  many different recipes for lava cakes, I found this recipe for paleo molten chocolate lava cake. I collected all the ingredients and boasted to my kids about a special dessert I was making for them. After all, I don't regularly give them dessert. I followed the recipe, splitting the batter up into four ramekins. After ten minutes of baking, the cakes still appeared undercooked, so I baked them for two minutes longer. Then, I inverted the ramekins and out plopped four very shallow chocolate cakes. I cut into them, then stood back to watch the molten chocolate lava flow. The only problem was nothing oozed out. Dry as a bone. Nada. Everyone can go home now. These volcanoes are extinct.

On my second attempt, I combined the above recipe with another recipe for raspberry lava cake. I used the same basic recipe for the cake, but I split the batter into only two ramekins, aiming for a thicker cake to ensure that the center would not get overcooked. Additionally, instead of a chocolate center, I filled the center with mashed up raspberries to mimic lava. Finally, I took these cakes out of the oven at precisely ten minutes. I served these healthier raspberry lava cakes to the kids and this is how they turned out:

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Make Gluten-Free Zucchini Hushpuppies for Kids, Babies, and Toddlers


While on a weekend getaway to the Massanutten Resort, we caught a show by a performer named John Cassidy. Magician, comedian, and world record holding balloon artist, John Cassidy put on an entertaining show that captivated young and old alike.  

Thin and wiry with bug-like eyes, Cassidy was a nervous bundle of energy. Somehow, his blend of enthusiasm and awkwardness put the audience at ease and set a humorous tone to his act. After telling a few jokes, he proceeded to perform his magic act.

Being toddlers, Colin and Cailya were easily fooled. Being a sophisticated mind, I on the other hand, was AMAZED! At the end of the show, he surprised all the kids with their own gigantic balloon sculptures, so that no kid left empty-handed. 

You can be a magician in the kitchen as well. Be creative and use your illusory powers to disguise vegetables in ways that your kids won't immediately recognize. For instance, I took on the seemingly impossible mission of getting my kids to eat green vegetables. Transforming zucchini into tasty zucchini hushpuppies is one magic trick that will surprise and delight your kids. I modified this recipe by using oats to make my zucchini hushpuppies gluten-free.

Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Make Healthy Flourless Enchilada Zucchini Boats For the Family


The other weekend, we went to the Massanutten Resort for a mini vacation. Well, I suppose it would be hard to classify it as a vacation since we put in three hours of work listening to a time share presentation.

We arrived promptly at 8:30 am for our "continental" breakfast, which consisted of bagels and donuts--scant pickings for a low glycemic proponent like myself. 

Every guest was paired off with their own personal tour guide. I scanned the room. "How many of these other fine folks are just here for the free stay?" I wondered.  "Furthermore, how many other two doctor families are there in this crowd?"

A pleasant young lady called our name and introduced herself. We exchanged pleasantries and sat down for our carb load. After breakfast, we headed out on a tour of the facilities. Our guide had very thoughtfully equipped her car with seats for Colin and Cailya. Great. The only problem was Cailya was in the middle of potty training without pull-ups. Buckle up folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

Our guide continued on with small talk. As she casually drove us around, I could see furtive looks on Cassie's face in the rearview mirror. Here and there, our guide would insert interesting tidbits about the property, purposefully taking us to some of the resort's more scenic spots. I nodded along, all the while thinking, "This property is enormous. Hold, bladder, hold!"

We visited Massanutten's amazing indoor and outdoor waterpark, stopped over at one of their timeshare properties, and finally, returned back to the tour center for the final hard sell. In the end, thanks to frequent pit stops along the way, Cailya didn't have any accidents in our guide's car.

Although we didn't end up buying a timeshare, I do remember one particularly strong pitch our guide made. She said that her richest childhood memories were the vacation experiences she shared with her family.

After the timeshare presentation, we ate some delicious smoked barbecue and spent a wonderful afternoon floating down a lazy river in the waterpark. Mini vacations like this remind me to truly value the experiences I share with my family and cherish the memories we make together. While I love to prepare healthy food, the greatest joy comes from sharing that healthy bounty with my family.  For instance, try making these healthy zucchini boats for your family. Not only will you be giving them something healthy to eat, but you'll be creating a family memory as well. After all, I know I will always remember the amazing bladder hold of 2015 with great fondness.

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