Homemade Onion Pancakes… Now With Less Junk!

by PenRei

I have a problem.

I LOVE green onion pancakes. They are SO delicious! I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. I usually buy them frozen from T&T since they’re easy to fry up when you have a strong craving or just need to eat something and soon. There is one major problem: at 13.5% of my daily fat intake, 22% of salt, and a whopping 414 calories each, well… let’s just say they don’t like me back. But still, I must believe that somewhere out there is a solution to this conundrum: continue occasionally eating onion pancakes without sacrificing my health and figure.

The answer was so obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found it earlier: make them from scratch! After all, once upon a time, they didn’t come from the frozen section of the grocery store, but from your Chinese mother’s hands in the kitchen. It was time that I continued my love for green onion pancakes without compromising my figure.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 3-4 stalks of long green onions
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (if you’d like to add flavour, but it’s not necessary)
 
Mix the salt and flour into a large bowl.
 
 
Add the hot water two tablespoons at a time while mixing.
 
 
Mix until it becomes a dough. Drop the spoon! It’s time to get your hands dirty. Knead that dough!
 
 
Once the dough is soft and even (leave no clumps of flour behind!), ball it up, place it in the bowl, and cover it with a damp towel. Let it sit between 30 minutes to 1 hour.
 
 
Separate the dough into lime-sized balls. I was able to make 10 with my dough.
 
 

Roll out the dough as flat as possible. It’s very thick, so be prepared to use those arms muscles (which I don’t have). A rolling pin comes in really handy here!

Sprinkle on the green onions (and sesame seeds if desired). Squish the green onions into the dough to lodge them into place and squeeze out some of its juices to help seep it into the dough while cooking.

 
 

Roll back up into a ball.

For maximum tasting experience, repeat the last two steps. Roll out, sprinkle green onions, squish in, roll into ball.

Flatten out your pancake! The thinner the better (about 4 inches across)! That thick dough can be mighty difficult to cook all the way through if you leave it too thick.

Cook! With olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Flip occasionally.

 
 

Cook until both sides are slightly golden and solid.

Are you ready now? It’s time to eat!

Consensus?

 
 

HOORAY! That is one stamp of approval I can trust!

So, to recap what we talked about at the top, the frozen onion pancakes I buy at T&T have 414 calories each, while the homemade version only has 130 calories. Surprisingly, even though the homemade ones are smaller, they are MUCH more filling than the store bought ones. Success! Less calories for more hunger satisfaction! I brought one as a snack to work this week and it kept me surprisingly full for 3 hours before lunchtime.

As an added bonus, I know everything that went into my food, versus questioning half of the ingredients on the package. Preservative free!

GREEN ONION PANCAKES RULE!!!

 

Why I Get Fat Over the Holidays

by PenRei

There are many reasons why people tend to gain weight over the holidays. For most people, it’s because they over-eat so much delicious holiday food. As much as this is part of the reason for me, I found that there was a deeper level.

Ever since I can remember, I love to cook. I just don’t like to cook for myself. What’s the point of putting so much effort into cooking a meal if it’s only for you? I’m generally happy if I can fit my 4 basic food groups in and have leftovers for lunch. Safe to say, living along is not the greatest motivator to be lean-mean-cooking-machine. I do, however, like to go big if I have a friend over. It suddenly becomes fun! I believe that food always tastes better when you have someone to share it with.

About two years ago, after a lengthy conversation with someone about how grapes and pies are amazing, I found myself with little to do on a Sunday afternoon. Out of nowhere, I decided to put my hands hard at work towards making a grape pie. It turned out to be quite good, although better cold or room temperature than hot. It took a surprisingly long time, due to peeling every single grape carefully whilst watching the anime Samurai 7. During the pie making process that took the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening, I found myself to be strangely calm.

Time went by and I discovered that making pies was a really great way for me to release stress. Yes, running has always been a good way, but when it’s -40 celsius, your lungs freeze from taking in so many deep breaths. When it’s 40 celsius (104 Farenheit), with humidity, you’re basically dehydrating yourself and possibly bringing on heat stroke instead of relieving stress. Sure, I could solve this problem by running at the gym, but it’s SO BORING! If I’m not running in a ravine or a nature trail, I feel like I’m back in middle school in track and field as I lagged behind with the other nerds while the sporty kids whizzed by, occasionally overlapping us, as our teacher yelled to push through the pain.

All right, this is starting to get off track. While I made pies at home and fed them to my friends at work, it occured to me that cooking can not only be fun, but a good way to help deal with stress. To each their own, right?

Now, when the holidays come around, it’s only natural that some families have certain members who become a bit more controlling, nervous, or perfectionist than usual. This is something that I don’t deal with very well, especially since Christmas’ are the only vacations I’ve known for the last 6 years. For me, a vacation is not about running errands between cooking and cleaning… but that’s what Christmas time is like. So, whenever I start to feel the annoyance bubbling inside, the only thing that truly calms me is cooking food. I’m not talking about any food, I mean the whole Christmas meal, pies, sweets, stuffed artichoke, stuffed duck, you name it. It’s the type of cooking that takes time, patience, and a wallet to make.

So, the more that certain annoyances come up, the more I cook, and the more I cook, the more everybody eats. It gets to the point where we find ourselves eating not because we’re hungry, but so that the food doesn’t go bad… and because it’s delicious.

Back in Toronto, my fridge is near empty about 90% of the time. The reason being that I am only one person and I have taken to buying my groceries in small quantities on a daily basis for freshness and to reduce waste with expired foods. This means that I can’t really eat out of boredom. If I’m bored and want to eat, I have to go out to buy a snack, and let’s face it, you only do that when you’re at work. When I’m at my parent’s home, with a fridge full of delicious foods, I eat when I’m bored. What a nasty habit!

So, why do I get fat over the holidays?

  • Families stress people out over the holidays, so I overcook
  • By overcooking, the family can end up overeating
  • I overeat one step further out of boredom

I try to make myself feel better by using the treadmill at home to exercise. But let’s be honest! The 500 calories I burn every two days on that treadmill are nowhere near the 400 million calories I probably ingest a day. At this point, those treadmill runs are just there so I don’t feel so guilty.

Once I get back to Toronto, my habit of eating out of boredom will stop, and I will only be cooking enough to feed myself, and not expand my stomach. Lastly, I bought some winter running gear on Saturday, so until it hits -40 celsius, I’m going to run instead of bake pies.

Care to share why the holiday season can be a difficult time for you to control your weight?