Lovelies, in this interview, we’ll be exploring healthy eating and more specifically, the very publicized and celebrity-endorsed, keto-lifestyle!
Our lovely expert is the talented Mai Tai, a cooking teacher and keto-expert who shares her health and wellness journey with her vibrant online community.
According to Wikipedia, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Eating this way leads your body to go into a state of ketosis, which makes you burn your body fat for energy instead of carbohydrates that come from your food.
It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.
With amazing and helpful tips to start your own journey towards a healthier lifestyle, Mai has a wealth of information that she hopes will encourage you to set some practical goals before the end of the year!
Hello Mai! Please present yourself and share a bit about your current work and projects.
Hi I’m Mai and I love to eat! I am a Vietnamese American living in Southern California. I am married with two kids.
I used to be a special education teacher and an analyst/researcher for a large automotive company. I’m in the process of building a health and wellness company called Courtnee Wellness Companion.
My mission is to help people take their health into their own hands and work on preventing diseases that can be solved with more activity and healthy eating habits. In addition to diet and exercise, I believe emotional health and mindfulness is just as important.
Your mantra is “learn to cook and be empowered”! What inspired your journey into empowerment through the art of cooking?
Learning how to cook was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I learned to cook from other home cooks on Facebook and Instagram. I gained more confidence
As I got better with cooking, my confidence rose.
-Mai of “Cooking with Mai”
I was able to replicate my favorite dishes from my culture and childhood favorites. I shared my cooking with my friends and people on social media. I got people reaching out saying that they like the way I make a recipe so easy that it makes them feel like they can do it themselves.
What was one of the most empowering experiences you’ve had as a woman and cooking teacher so far?
I love that you can be as creative as you want when cooking. Through practice and experience, I learn that you can substitute and swap out ingredients and still maintain the integrity of the dish. To me, cooking is a form of self-expression and you can make it your own. Once you learn the basics of cooking, you will have more confidence tweaking and adapting it to suit your needs.
When I tell my students that you don’t have to use that exact ingredient, or they can leave that out if they don’t have it, they are kind of shocked.
As a novice cook, most people think that if they don’t have all the ingredients called for in a recipe, they can’t make it at all. Any recipe can be customized for your dietary needs, whether you’re low carb, gluten free, vegetarian, or have no restrictions.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Keto and low carb diets and why this could be an option for those wanting to pursue a healthier lifestyle?
According to the Diet Doctors: A keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, higher-fat diet that can help you burn fat more effectively.
The reduction in carb intake puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, where fat, from your diet and from your body, is burned for energy.
To me, being on keto is not that different than what I was eating previously.
I learned to use alternative ingredients, i.e almond flour for all-purpose flour, monk fruit sweetener for sugar, shirataki noodles for regular noodles, etc.
The key to any diet or way of eating is its sustainability. You have to ask yourself if you can see yourself doing this after you’ve reached your weight loss goal.
There are so many resources and excellent keto bloggers that share amazing delicious recipes for free. Whatever your favorite recipe, just type in “Keto” in front and there will be a bunch of things to choose from.
As we head into colder months, where comfort foods and high carb recipes will be all over (think Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday season, etc)- what are some healthy hacks or alternatives you can share?
Well it’s the desserts that gets me when I think about the holidays. I make my own low carb cookies and cakes to bring along. I also have keto chocolates on hand for emergencies. My favorites are Choc Zero, they make some awesome Peanut Butter Cups!
I usually load up my plate with lots of greens and veggies with the meat. Those are typically very filling and lower in carbs.
What are some myths about the Keto lifestyles that you would like to dismiss?
To me, being on keto is eating whole and unprocessed foods.
Myth #1 – It’s hard to be on keto. I thought the same when I started, how could I possibly be happy when I can’t eat bread or desserts? Well it turns out that I was totally wrong because I’ve been able to make some really delicious keto breads and sweet treats. So many great keto cookies and cake recipes!
Check out all my dessert posts on IG! I eat really well and I’ve been able to maintain my weight lost.
Myth #2 – Keto is a fad diet. Keto has been around since the 1920s, it was intended to treat patients with epilepsy. It’s been shown to reduce inflammation, reverse type 2 diabetes, increase energy and aid in weight loss.
I initially started keto to lose weight, I’ve been able to do that, plus I’m seeing the other benefits.
Myth #3 – You eat nothing but fat and meat on keto. According to Perfect Keto, you should be getting about 75% of daily calories from fat, 5% from carbohydrates, and 20% from protein. The fat you eat isn’t just from bacon and butter, there are nutritious fats that come from avocados, olive oil, animal protein and eggs are some examples.
Can you share an easy go-to 1 day meal plan from breakfast to dinner and snacks if allowed for a Keto beginner?
Breakfast: Simple eggs, bacon with sauteed mushrooms and spinach
Lunch: Turkey and cheese rollup
Snack – jicama, cucumbers, cheese, salami
Dinner: Steak salad
To be honest, I don’t really have a set thing I eat everyday. It depends on what I have in the fridge or in the pantry. I like to repurpose my leftovers for my meals. For example, if we had leftover hamburger meat, I’ll break it up and make a nice salad out of that. I can also use the meat and make low carb tacos or pizzas.
What words of advice or encouragement would you have for anyone who might be unsure or even intimidated, but is interested in embarking on a ‘Keto adventure’?
It’s best to start off simple and follow a few trusted keto people on instagram to get ideas.
These are some of my favorite accounts @theketodashians @keto.connect @lowcarbyum @fooddreamer @lowcarbingasian
I would also ease into the lifestyle and try to swap out ingredients.
White sugar with monk-fruit or other natural sweeteners
White rice for cauliflower rice
Canola oil for avocado, coconut oil
Noodles/pasta for shirataki
Starchy veggies like potatoes for broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach.
Thank you for sharing those encouraging words! What’s next on your journey to lovely (your future goals and aspirations)?
Launching Courtnee Wellness Companion in the next few months to help people on their health journey. I will be teaching our clients how to cook healthy meals in a way that is fun and low stress. I’ll continue to empower women like me to keep taking care of themselves each and everyday despite the stresses.
That’s awesome, truly wish you the best! Where can we keep up with you online?
You can find me on Instagram @cookingwithmaitai or visit me on my website www.cookingwithmaitai.com
Thank you for sharing such helpful keto insights and great health tips! We wish you the best on all your future endeavors!
Disclaimer: Everybody is different, so it is highly suggested that you consult your doctor before embarking on any new health journey or adopting any new eating habits.
Hope you all will enjoy this lovely interview with cooking teacher Mai of “Cooking With Mai”! If you did, don’t hesitate to share, comment and subscribe.
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for our next “Lovely Expert” interview!