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Korean Diet Essentials

Korean Diet Essentials

Clear skin, healthy bodies, graceful aging– we all want what Koreans are having! The Korean diet has gained global popularity with the rise of the Hallyu wave. It relies a lot on simple, minimally processed food and less on fatty and sugary foods.

Let’s dive deeper into how preserving tradition has influenced the Korean diet and how you too can eat healthier by following their ways!

Is the Korean diet healthy?

Yes, it is! A traditional Korean meal consists mainly of bap or cooked rice, kuk or soups and stews, kimchi, and side dishes. Instead of baking or frying food, fermenting, boiling, blanching, seasoning, and pickling are more common methods of cooking.

In terms of portions, there’s high consumption of vegetables, followed by legumes and fish, and low consumption of red meat. Koreans have preserved this tradition for so long that eating healthily comes naturally to them!

Korean Diet Food Essentials

There are a number of ingredients and dishes that can’t go amiss when talking about Korean cuisine. But there’s no need for you to fly across the globe to get your hands on these staple Korean groceries. Most of these are available at your local Asian grocery store or through online Asian marts like Karman Foods!

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1. Kimchi

Kimchi is served in every meal. No buts, no ifs. Whether it’s kimchi made from cabbage, radish, or cucumbers, this fermented side dish completes the Korean dining experience. The gochugaru red pepper powder gives it a mix of smoky and fruity flavors along with its vibrant red color, while the choice of veggies adds a distinctive crunch that elevates the texture of the main dish. It may be pungent but its spicy fermented flavors are easy to love!

As with most Korean dishes, it’s loaded with health benefits too! Since it is fermented, it is an excellent source of probiotics that promotes healthy digestion. It’s also loaded with beta-carotene and other antioxidants that boost one’s immunity.

If you’re a fan of K-entertainment, there’s a big chance that you’ve seen your faves make kimchi from scratch. If they can do it, you can do it too!

Check out our 10-step guide to making your own kimchi here!

2. Korean Banchan

Banchan refers to Korean side dishes. Dining in Korean restaurants is particularly exciting because of the banchan selections alone!

The typical banchan set includes kimchi, stir-fried vegetables, seasoned soybeans, pickled radish, potato salad, dried anchovies, Korean pancake, quail eggs, and more.

Some banchan are also seasonal! Come springtime, all types of bom namul or spring vegetables seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, or Korean fermented pastes are usually served. Filled with nutrients, eating it is a great way to boost one's energy after a tiresome winter!

Since these are served in small saucers, you might be tempted to eat your banchan in one go. However, what you want to do is take it slowly. Take a bite of your rice, followed by a few bites of your chosen banchan, then a bite of your Korean barbeque or entree. This way, you can digest your food properly and allow yourself the time to savor the varied flavors of your banchan set!

3. Soups and Stews with Fermented Pastes

Soups and stews are the heart of Korean cooking. It’s served all year round as a main dish or accompaniment to an entree. Most Korean stews keep the stomach feeling full for long while staying low on calories and high in health benefits.

The secret to a flavorful Korean soup broth is in the fermented paste. For instance, my favorite Korean soup is doenjang jjiggae. By the name itself, this soup uses fermented soybean paste as the soup base and is combined with dried anchovies, white radish, and your choice of other vegetables and protein!

In my own recipe, I add a dash of gochugaru red pepper powder to give the broth a hint of spice underneath the umami bomb of flavors. It’s super easy to cook too– no wonder it’s a local favorite!

Some other Korean soups and stews don’t rely on fermented pastes for taste, just the veggies or protein. There’s seolleongtang or beef bone soup, samgyetang Korean chicken ginseng soup, miyeok-guk beef seaweed soup, and so much more hearty and wholesome dishes for your diet!

Top Korean Fermented Pastes

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4. Mindful snacking

KPOP fans are no strangers to how rigorous the common KPOP diet regimen is. Even so, more Koreans are beginning to view these diets as too restrictive and are finding healthier ways of snacking. Seaweed snacks, rice crackers, and dried fruit top the list of Korean-approved snacks! These are low in calories but still gratifyingly flavorful!

Street foods like tteokboki and hotteok are also popular among the locals. Life is too short to skip dessert! As with many other things, mindfulness and moderation are key. Go ahead and dig in!

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5. Tea over soda

Koreans keep their weight gain at bay without them even noticing it when they drink low-calorie teas over a can of soda. Korean teas like mugicha barley tea are as equally refreshing as your favorite cola, especially when served iced on hot summer days. It’s naturally sweet and loaded with antioxidants too! You can literally sip your way into good health with this beverage.

Weight loss isn’t just about what you eat. Whether you want to try a Korean diet or other weight loss plan, you’ll reap better results when you accept lifestyle changes and build a healthy relationship with food. If the Koreans have enjoyed healthy ways of cooking and eating for hundreds of years and counting, you can do it too!

For all your Korean diet foods and other Asian groceries, shop at Karman Foods!

More Korean Groceries

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