Ok, so this isn’t really fully a TL;DR on Korean culture and might not be fully relevant to you, but some people might be interested in different food lifestyles in Korea. You can get by eating Korean food just fine. It’s lovely and delicious, but you might be interested in trying a different lifestyle, for different dietary purposes, like our own. We’ve found Korean food to be a bit too…carb-heavy, and that lead to us getting a little softer than usual. We told you that we dropped carbs to lose weight, so here are more of the specifics on how we got by.

We mentioned two key phrases that got us by: Bap Baeh-Jusayo “No rice, please” and “Hwang-Jay Diet-uh” which is…you know, I’m not too sure what hwang-jae means. Diet-uh means diet, that much I know, but Hwang-jae? Not sure. I just learned that phrase and it worked perfectly well when we’re at restaurants and trying to avoid carbs.

We also took a lot more responsibility in preparing our own food, primarily for the low carb purposes, but also because we’re just trying to eat healthier ingredients as well. White sugar and white flour are great tasting, but not all too great for your body. So we started using different sugars like Xylotol, for example. We use a lot of flax seed, chia seeds, coconut flour and coconut oil, almond flour, protein powder, textured vegetable protein, and such. These products aren’t easy to find in Korea, and when we do find some of them, they’re RIDICULOUSLY overpriced. So we order lots of stuff online.

Also, yes, I know there’s lots of debates about what ingredients are good or not. Some ingredients seem healthy, but then one blog will say that they’re not healthy, and another blog will say something else. The point is, we’re trying to avoid foods and ingredients that we know aren’t all too great, you know? So much food is so processed, and you just don’t know how good it is for you. Sure, some people might eat it and be healthy tanks. For us, though, we’re feeling a lot healthier and more energized after taking more control over what we eat and what ingredients go into our foods.

We talked about our spinach smoothie, which is more of a lumpy, and it sounds gross, but we actually REALLY LIKE IT! When Martina was last in Canada, she went to an alternative food course, and learned some cool recipes, the spinach smoothie being one of them:

Healthy Green Breakfast Lumpy


1 whole organic apple chopped (if non-organic peel it first)
1 lemon chopped (peeled but not seeded)
1 large handful of spinach chopped
6 additional leaves of sturdy greens (ex: kale, collard greens)
1 heaping tsp of peeled fresh ginger
3 cups of cold water


1. Dump all of it into the blender and blend on maximum speed until no longer super chunky.
2. Drink it immediately or seal it in an airtight container for one day.
3. Feel like a better person because you drank down a bunch of healthy green slop

Another thing we’ve started doing is something that we heard about a lot before but were too hesitant to try. I think the English word for it is “exercise” or something like that. People go to these rooms called “gyms” and they lift and push heavy things, or they walk on the spot on machines that let them walk without going anywhere. It sounds silly, and we refused to do it for the vast majority of our married life, but over the past couple of months we’ve given in and tried it out. It’s not that bad, you know? We feel like we’re looking better than before, and our bodies are getting somewhat tighter, and we can see and feel muscles that we didn’t know existed before. It’s weird.

After the gym we make protein shakes:

Berry Soymilk Protein Shake (For One Person)


1 (200ml) juice-cartoon of chilled Yonsei Soymilk
1 scoop of unflavoured natural Whey Protien powder (Now Foods)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp raw cacoa powder
2 heaping tbsp berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a mix is fine)

Additional Options:

1 tbsp of honey/sugar (if the smoothie is too dull tasting for you)
2-3 ice cubes to make it less thick
1 banana (very carby but makes it more delicious if you don’t care about carbs)
1/4 cup of cool brewed coffee (adds your morning kick)


1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and stir. Let it sit for 1 minute for the chia seeds to expand.
2. Blend on maximum power! VROOM VROOM!
3. Drink it all. It’s easier to drink it in one shot.
4. Yell at the person next to you “BRO YOU EVEN LIFT?!”

Some of you follow us on Twitter. If you don’t, you should! We do cool things on Twitter, like last night when it was 3AM and we made coconut pancakes. We made a Vine video for it. Here’s our recipe for it:

Low Carb Coconut Pancakes


1/2 cup coconut flour
3 tbsp coconut sugar Xylitol (or normal sugar)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt


6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk (or almond milk if you want)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Additional oil for the pan


1. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and slowly add the melted butter.
3. Add the egg mixture to the coconut flour mixture and stir well to combine. Let it rest for 1 minute until the coconut flour absorbs the liquid.
4.Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and brush with vegetable oil. Most important part: SMALL pancakes or they will fall apart when you flip them! I use about two big tablespoons of batter onto the frying pan and spread into a circle.
5. Cook until bottom is golden brown and top is set around the edges. Flip carefully and continue to cook until second side is golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm in tin foil plate or on baking sheet in oven (170c).
6. Eat them mofos any time of day. It’s better really late at night, when you feel like a crazy person for making pancakes at 3AM.

Ok, last recipe we’re going to share, because this seems like a crazy ass long post about recipes, and I’m sure it’s going to be hella sucky to read. This last recipe here is for pizzas we make on our own, and they’re freaking delicious and we like them more than other pizzas we get. Yes, it could be because our standards of pizza have really degraded from being in Korea for so long, and good pizza is hard to come by here, but I’d like to not think that. This pizza, to us, is delicious, and healthy, so give it a shot!

Low Carb Pizza Crust


1/2 cup flax meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano or Italian spice mix
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs


1. Mix everything but the eggs in a bowl.
2. Add the 2 eggs and stir until a dough forms. I find using my hands are a lot easier to use than a spoon or whisk.
3. Using parchment or a silicon pad on a cookie sheet, flatten the dough to the thickness you want. You can use a cookie roller but you need to grease it. I use my hands to just press and spread it thin.
4. Bake at 350 degree (F) oven for 12 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, add pre-cooked* toppings, and then return to the oven. Use the grill setting until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, 2-5 minutes.
6. Eat that pizza and look at the person next to you and be like “I KNOW RIGHT? THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT SHOULD BE!”

Side Notes:

*I cook chicken breast cubed with eggplant while the crust cooks. I also make homemade tomato sauce with garlic and I drain the excess liquid so the crust doesn’t get soggy. In order of operation I do tomato sauce, shredded cheese, chicken and eggplant and crumbled feta cubes. After the pizza comes out I use the drained liquid and pour it onto since the crust is very crispy and dry.

Ok, that’s it. It’s a lot more information than we thought we’d be sharing about our lives and how we’re trying to live healthier.

  1. Howdy Martina and Simon!

    I have a question relating to eating to eat in Korea. specifically, how easy would it be for someone with wheat and lactose sensitivities/allergies be able to find food or eat out?


  2. Thank you Martina lol im on a diet and I need some healthy sweet stuff lol.. im not too fond about the spinach thingy im a picky child but ill try it….

    By the way i wanted to ask What diets do they use in Korea and how obsessed they are about fitness and losing weight …

  3. I would like to know what are those pouches of like medicine/juice that shown in some dramas that people use to keep the health or manage fertility issues, etc. Are they natural medicine? Are they expensive? Have you ever tried them?

  4. Paleo and gluten-free diets are nonsense. There is nothing wrong with gluten, its just that some people cannot digest it, but if you aren’t gluten sensitive or allergic and can process gluten there is nothing wrong with eating gluten. Eating gluten free will not make you lose weight, its just that you will not be able to eat a lot of high carb foods hence fewer calories and losing weight. Paleo diets are even more ridiculous because our digestive systems have changed so much, trying to eat the way people did that long ago will make you sick. There is nothing superior in health or nutrients in any Paleo diet.

    You don’t need a gimmick to lose weight, just lower your sugar/carb intake to a healthy level (no carb isn’t good for you either), make sure you are getting enough vitamins and protein and do some exercise. The issue is finding filling foods with low carbs and for most people find AFFORDABLE foods. It is more tricky in Korea for sure but hey, seems lots of people are on diets and I’ve heard of diet restaurants that have no rice and sell lots of chicken breast and sweet potatoes with cherry tomatoes-type meals. Don’t know how affordable they are.

    Point is please don’t stress trying to keep to some ridiculous gimmick diet. This is more a general comment because I don’t think Simon and Martina are doing anything wrong, just a general comment about some of these fad diets I see going around.

    • I agree. During the summer, I worked at a place where we sold 100% free range, 100% organic hot dogs with weird toppings. There weren’t any hormones or preservatives, but in order to bind the hot dogs we have to infuse the dogs with gluten. It is still a very healthy hot dog, but it needs the gluten. The buns we sold also had like 1% gluten. 99% was potato flour, but it had to be there.

      The number of people on gluten-free diets got me grouchy. I had some people who were legitimately allergic to gluten and some who weren’t. The one’s who were allergic ate veggie dogs because the vegetarian ones were made of soy. Also, they’d avoid the bread and just have a dog with veggies or chili.

      But the ones who wern’t ate the regular hot dog with the bun…I just couldnt understand that. If you aren’t allergic to gluten, then eat the food. A lot of products have gluten in them. Even soy sauce. Gluten isn’t going to hurt you.

      I learnt from a coworker that gluten sensitivity is really recent. This is mainly because of more junk food and the more junk you eat, the more your system adapts to gluten. If you eat too much junk food that has gluten then yes, your system may have a negative effect, such as digestion issues.

      I had one customer that was Paleo. They said they had a day off from that diet… still don’t understand why… They were healthy looking, but still didn’t understand them…

  5. Hey Martina, i wanted to ask where do you get your goji berries from? I really want to get my hands on some but haven’t been able to find any place that has them.

  6. Hello, I am planning on moving with my fiancee to Korea soon. He is a Korean citizen over there but I am a U.S citizen. We are not entirely sure yet if we are just visiting or if we will just end up staying there. I am currently finishing up my schooling to be a teacher. So I wont be working in Korea unless I have too. So I wont have to apply for a work visa or anything like that. My question is: how long can you stay in Korea on just your passport alone before you have to actually apply for a visa?
    A future Korean Wife.

  7. Hey!!

    Thank you so much for introducing me to the Healthy Green Lumpy! I always wanted to try out a green smoothie type of thing, but never got myself to do it. I always thought they probably tasted horribly gross.

    I was so amazed to try this one and finding out that it does not taste green AT ALL! It tastes like a super yum lemon smoothie. It’s also my first time using ginger and, unless you can handle it, don’t put raw ginger in your mouth! :P Haha.

    Thank you!

  8. Just tried your green breakfast lumpy! It looked gross but was actually really refreshing. Thanks y’all! ^^

  9. Hey guys,
    since you were talking about eating and dieting I wanted to ask if you had any personal experience or knnow someone who tried the “One meal a day” diet? Heard it was kind of a big deal in Korea.

  10. Dear Simon and Martina,

    Are there hotels in Korea? I know it seems like a stupid question but i’ve never heard of hotels in Korea. Like if I were to visit Korea, where would I stay?

  11. Can you post how you make your tomato sauce?

  12. Thank you for the recipes! Where did you end up finding these kinds of recipes from?

  13. Thanks for including recipes in your blog post! I can’t wait to try out the pizza crust. My family loves to cook pizza on the barbeque, so I’m curious to see how this crust will do.

    Do you guys have access to alternative foods like sunflower oil? My nephew is allergic to soy, so my family has swapped to a lot of alternatives for butter, vegetable oil, etc. because of his allergy. Sunflower oil seems to work well for cooking, though I’m unsure as to whether or not it makes the cooking healthier lol.

  14. Have you noticed other differences besides your weight since you started this diet? (like clearer skin, etc)

  15. My question: What do the average Korean think about Koreaboos? What do you think about Koreaboos and people who go like “OPPAR IS AN ANGEL. OPPAR DIDN’T MEAN IT”

  16. Haha, Quinoa and it’s hard to pronounce name. Keen-wah. I laughed when Martina said Kinona.

  17. Simon & Martina,

    Could you recommend some low-carb convenience store drinks here in Korea? Besides mineral water?

  18. I have a question that’s been bothering me ever since I started thinking about teaching English in South Korea. Even in America, I have trouble getting days off from work for non-Christian holidays (Being Jewish, I am forbidden to earn money on days like Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashannah, etc.) I have heard that South Korea is very tolerant toward other religions, but what about when it comes to taking days off from work? Also, do you know anything about the synagogue that was built in Seoul last year?

  19. I have a question that’s been bothering me ever since I started thinking about teaching English in South Korea. Even in America, I have trouble getting days off from work for non-Christian holidays. (Being Jewish, I am forbidden to earn money on days like Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashannah, etc.) I have heard that South Korea is very tolerant toward other religions, but what about when it comes to taking days off from work? Also, do you know anything about the synagogue that was built in Seoul last year?

  20. Oooh, some of these really sound good! Thanks for sharing the recipes, Martina!

  21. Ayo guise! TL;DR question here:
    How viral do viral songs/videos get in Korea? You know, songs like Somebody That I Used To Know, Party Rock Anthem, Call Me Maybe etc etc, and videos like Bed Intruder, Annoying Orange, Harlem Shake, and what not. I’m really curious about it because Korea has this huge internet culture but at the same time it seems like they don’t really get involve with Youtube and stuff. Thanks!!

    Deb from Singapore ^^

  22. Where can I find coconut flour! Also I had no idea about the soy milk having so much sugar! IM changing today, thanks!

  23. Good video and everything, but I was just like “bahahahaha Rob Ford comment”

  24. This is really interesting, thank you for sharing all of the information.
    I agree with you that I think different peoples bodies digest foods differently. Considering my heritage I actually digest rice better than I do other things, so when I was in Korea for my study abroad program I actually wound up losing a lot of weight. I think that also had to do with how much walking I was doing too, but I know the food helped as well. Less fried food and over-processed food as well.
    I definitely want to try some of these recipes y’all posted, especially the pancakes and pizza crust.
    Thank you both so much!

  25. my parents eat a similar veggie smoothie! they call it the glowing green smoothie. I personally think it’s somewhat nasty. ^_^ that’s great you guys are being healthier! I know how hard it is. good job guise!

  26. Wow! First mention of Gluten/wheat free! I am a coeliac so this is a very important topic for me! PLEASE talk about how allergies are dealt with in restaurants and food labels. Would someone dairy or gluten free have a difficult time? All the bloggers talk about vegetarians but never allergy sufferers. Thanks :)

  27. Hey Simon and Martina,

    What do you think about this?:


    Do you think this affects other SM groups as well? Honestly i’m really worried…is it true?


    Laura from Amsterdam

  28. Oh, I have a question for a TL;DR that sort of relates to this: Doctors, Illness, Hospitals, etc.

    Like the lovely Martina, I have a chronic health condition (sniff)… I used to travel and stay in India a lot when I was younger, but now I am finding the health care there is not doing it for my health stuff. My only experience of health care in Korea has been through Kdramas… which is a lot of fancy rich people hospitals… so I am sure not very accurate.

    Also I noticed in Kdramas a lot of times people get rushed off to the HOSPITAL (not the doctor’s office) for things where I would say… “go rest and drink some water” for here… is that all kdrama or do people use hospitals more than N. America (of course you crazy Canadians have nice universal healthcare… unlike us poor pathetic Americans.. sniff sniff). Speaking of that, does Korea have any kind of government provided health services?

    I am wondering though… how comprehensive is Korean health care? When/why/how often do people actually go to the doctor? How is the cost and any government programs? What’s a REAL hospital like inside? (Though hopefully you guyse haven’t had to go to one). What about complimentary care/food/etc? Is that commonly used by “mainstream” docs in addition to throwing some meds at you?

  29. Ok, whoot whoot. Thanks for sharing this. I am currently trying to do what you guyse are already accomplishing (sigh dramatically) but unfortunately my partner in crime is on the TOO think side rather than on the “Let’s diet together!” side… so I am in this alone. Boo hoo. Sadness. But I need encouragement. So it was nice to see your video and what you guyse have been doing/eating.

  30. Thanks for the video Simon and Martina!
    Oh my gosh the rice thing >o< . I don't think me and my dad can go on a diet involving so little rice (or any carbs really), it's to the point that we joke around that the day we run out of rice in our house is the day the world is ending. I think my mom would be happy to get rid of all of that rice though.

  31. YES MARTINA THANK YOU FOR THE RECIPES FINALLY IVE BEEN BEGGING FOR LIKE NEARLY A YEAR SINCE THE OTHER WEIGHT LOSS TLDR. I’ve been drinking alot of “green smoothies” recently and I actually find them quite delicious now xD Use banana (like 1/2 a banana per one large handful of greens) so it’ll basically mask the taste C: DEFINITELY WILL TRY OUT THE PANCAKES. And then I’ll work up the will power to finally start Atkins cuz I’ve been wimping out since I’ve broken it like 2 times already OTL

  32. I heard that bullying is a serious problem in Korean schools, and I was just wondering what did you guys do to deal with that when you were still teaching there?

  33. Ironic that I’m watching this while making crock pot mac ‘n’ cheese. Hehh…

    Thanks for sharing some recipes — the pizza crust sounds great! I’m going to try it for sure, since I’m out of premade crusts anyway.

  34. Dear Martina and Simon

    I assume that in Korea most people are slim and healthy due to their diet (You know eating a lot of healthy things like sea food, fish and sea weed and of course RICEEE –>cause you obviously can´t live without rice) But I would be really interesting to know if poeple in Korea do a lot of sport and if that´s the case what the most popular sports are. Additionally to that it would be great if you could tell us about traditional sports like for example taekwondo. I don´t know if taekwondo is that popular in Korea but here in Austria there are more and more people interested in it.

    -from a fellow NASTY :S) –> that´s a smiley with a moustache ^^

  35. Dear Simon and Martina

    I was wondering, if you haven’t already, I’d you talk about Korea’s trash slash recycling thing. I went to Korea a while ago and our uncle let us stay in an officetel, however, when we were taking out our trash, there were like a thousand bins and we didn’t know where to put just regular trash in, so we put it in a bucket that said TRASH or something like that, but the. The security dude came out and was like no no, don’t put your trash in there and stuff and I didn’t understand the rest so he left and we cried because we didn’t know what to do ( well, we didn’t cry cry, well, my family didn’t, I Didn’t either). So our uncle just said he’ll just take out when we leave so I don’t understand it and I’m sad.
    If you have touched on this topic, please direct me because I am so confused because my family wants us to go back there soon and I just don’t know anymore T.T.

  36. This might be a stupid qustion, but what site does Martina say she gets her ingredients from? I’ve played it back a couple times, and for the life of me can’t quite catch it! Love the post btw, just the boost I needed (getting bored of eating the same old stuff everyday… never did I believe I could be having pizza and not have to feel guilty afterwards!) <3

  37. Oh man, this is a really interesting post, but I must admit I got a bit sidetracked once you mentioned chia seeds. Are the chia seeds that you eat a variation of those that are used for growing fantastic green hair on those clay molds? Ya know, CH-CH-CH-CHIA!

  38. Funny, I was watching the video thinking “Oh there is nothing crazy about what they eat!” But then again I am a big health food nut. I totally understand you guys, eating healthy and working out change the way you think “normal” should feel. There has been plenty of times where I go on a three day junk food craze, and I feel just icky and regretful afterwards. It is like someone hit a slow button.

    I would love to see your recipes! I probably couldn’t do many of them since I am a pescetarian but i still like seeing what people do. (or maybe modify them)

  39. Hello Simon and Martina!
    I just wanna ask, is Korean a hard language to learn? well, im ‘tryna’ learn Korean at der moment but its clearly that im failing. T^T do u have any ~NaStY~ tips or tricks to learning Korean? THANK U~

  40. Dear Simon and Martina,

    I loved reading all the recipes and hearing you guys talk about them, and I love the sound of the coconut pancakes and really want to try them, but does it work with almond flour? I’m just curious since I’m allergic to coconut…. I was hoping that it would turn out just as yummy to do that, and if you guys had tried it?

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