PWO Chinese Steamed Buns with Red Bean Paste

Chinese steamed bread with red bean paste

This is a protein-fortified version of one of my favorite Asian snacks: the Chinese steamed bun filled with red bean paste. It uses vanilla gemma (pea) protein isolate (available at a very reasonable price from to boost the protein content of this low-fat, satisfying post-workout snack. Gemma protein forms a fluffy, non-stick paste when mixed with water, and it has a natural bean-like flavor that is very similar to traditional sweetened Chinese red bean paste.

Preparation takes around 4 hours, but you can mass produce several batches of these in one marathon session on a Sunday afternoon and freeze all of your extra buns for future use. They will keep in a sealed plastic bag for several months, and restore very well with re-steaming or microwaving in a damp paper towel for 1 minute per bun.

The dough recipe can be safely doubled without adding any additional yeast, and also tastes great all by itself with no filling as a carb portion. You can also add savory fillings like BBQ pork, chicken, vegetables, etc.

Red Bean + Protein Paste


* 3/4 cup Beans, adzuki, dry (small red beans– hoong dul)
* 5 scoops Protein powder, gemma isolate
* 1/4 cup Sugar, brown, packed, 7.8 oz per cup
* 1 cup Water


1. Wash the beans, cover with cold water, and soak overnight. Drain beans and discard water. Place beans in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, add 3 cups cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour, or until very soft. Monitor the pan to make sure water doesn’t dry up. Drain and discard the water.

2. Place the beans in a food processor and process until smooth. Add brown sugar, water, and gemma protein powder and process until just combined. (If you don’t have a food processor, a potato masher or a blender can be used. Extra water might be needed with a blender.)

3. Divide bean mixture into 10 portions.

Chinese Steamed Bun Dough


* 1 package Yeast, baker’s, dry, active, 1/4 oz per package
* 1/4 cup Flour, wheat, white, all-purpose, enriched
* 1 tsp. Sugar, white, granulated, 1/7 oz per teaspoon
* 1/4 cup Water

* 2 cups Flour, wheat, white, all-purpose, enriched
* 8 packets Splenda (or 3 T. Sugar, white, granulated)
* 1/4 tsp Salt, table, 1/5 oz per teaspoon
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tbsp Oil, vegetable
* 1/2 cup Water
* 1/2 tsp Baking powder, double-acting, straight phosphate, 1/6 oz per teaspoon


1. Mix together yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/4 cup warm water. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
2. Mix in 1/2 cup warm water, flour, salt, baking soda, 6 packets of Splenda (or 2 tablespoons sugar), and vegetable oil. Knead until dough surface is smooth and elastic. Roll over in a greased bowl, and let stand until triple in size, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
3. Punch down dough, and spread out on a floured board. Sprinkle baking powder evenly on surface, and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 2 parts, and place the piece you are not working with in a covered bowl. Divide each half into 5 parts. Shape each part into a ball with smooth surface up and flatten into a round patty about 4.5″ in diameter and 1/2″ thick.
4. Spoon one portion of the bean mixture into the center of each dough circle, then bring up the edges of the dough to the top of the ball of bean paste and pinch them together, leaving a small 1/2″ hole to allow the steam to escape. Put each ball on a wax paper square. Let stand covered until double, about 30 minutes.
5. Bring water to a boil in steamer pot, and reduce heat to medium; the water should still be boiling. Place steam-plate or a dampened cheesecloth or broadcloth on the steamer section of the pot. Transfer as many buns on wax paper as will comfortably fit onto steam-plate leaving 1 to 2 inches between the buns. Cover steamer with lid. Steam buns over boiling water for 15 minutes.
6. REMOVE LID BEFORE you turn off heat, or else water will drip back onto bun surface and produce yellowish “blisters” on bun surfaces. Continue steaming batches of buns until all are cooked.

Servings: 10 buns

Calories: 232 calories
Carbohydrate: 35.8 g
– Fiber: 2.59 g
– Sugar: 8.23 g
Protein: 17.7 g
Fat: 1.9 g

Cheap Eats Recipe #1: Roast Chicken

I’ve been using this method for preparing cheap, roasted whole chicken for the past few months. I vary the seasonings depending on my mood that day, but I *always* brine the chicken ahead of time. It really makes a difference in whether your protein-packed clucker tastes more like a gourmet restaurant entree or a flavorless failure.

  1. BRINE the raw chicken (3.5-5 lbs) in a solution of 1/4 c. salt dissolved in enough cold tap water to cover the bird in a covered container. I usually just do this in a pot with lid. Place in the refrigerator and allow to soak for 3-8 hours.

    (If I’m feeling really lazy, I’ll do this first thing in the morning and tell my husband to throw the bird in the oven when he gets home at 5 PM.)

  2. DRAIN the brining solution away.
  3. PREHEAT your oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. RUB your choice of seasonings over the entire surface of the chicken’s skin. Lemon pepper, salt & pepper, chives, rosemary, cilantro, garlic & red pepper, and commercial steak seasoning are all good choices. Pry up the skin over the breast and work some seasonings in there as well.
  5. PLACE the chicken in a roasting pan or baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes per pound.

Voila! Oven-roasted, superbly-seasoned chicken that will rival anything you can order at a restaurant…all for under $1.00/pound.

New Rules of Lifting for Women Diet Calculator and Workout Logs

Because some of you asked for it (and I was making this for myself anyway after noticing what a major pain in the butt it was last week to hand transcribe all of the Stage 2 workouts from The New Rules of Lifting for Women book to the blank photocopied workout log sheet), I present to you my brand new New Rules of Lifting for Women Diet Calculator and Workout Log spreadsheet for Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, and/or OpenOffice!

This spreadsheet includes a nutrition calculator based on the NROLFW nutrition plan by Cassandra Forsythe. Enter your age, weight, and height, and it will calculate your body mass index, resting metabolic rate, NROLFW activity multipliers, and the NROLFW suggested calories and macronutrient targets for both maintenance and fat loss at a deficit of 300 calories per day.

Also included are printable workout log sheets for all seven stages of workouts in NROLFW with exercises, page number references, sets, reps, and rest intervals already pre-populated for your convenience. I’ve also included tables to log your interval cardio sessions and bodyweight matrix workouts in the appropriate stages.

Save yourself a lot of tedious pen and paper calculations and confusing blank workout log filling and just download and print my spreadsheet instead.

Hey, you might as well take advantage of my OCD tendencies, right?


It’s come to my attention that one of the authors of the book has objected to the posting of the full NROLFW workout logs in the past since the workouts are one of the main reasons to purchase the book. Because of this, I have moved the spreadsheet to a password-protected directory on my server that will allow access only to folks who own the book and can look up the following in their copy of New Rules of Lifting for Women:

  • User Name: Fourth word in paragraph two of the “A Decent Interval” section on page 26
  • Password: Seventh word in paragraph three on page 121

Download: New Rules of Lifting for Women Diet Calculator and Workout Logs

A final note: Bear in mind that attempting to perform the NROLFW workouts in these log sheets without the actual exercise descriptions from the book which include photos, proper form, and tempo information could result in sub-optimal results and/or actual injury.

Buy the book, ladies! It’s only $17.13 from, and it’s WELL WORTH IT.

NROLFW Stage 2, D2 Log: Food and Workout Geekery

This weekend was pretty productive for me. I did a LOT of cooking Saturday and Sunday, trying out two new recipes and one new vegetable and generally bulk-cooking about five days’ worth of food. I had a sort of epiphany while watching Top Chef last week: Why the hell am I wasting my time watching OTHER people cook on TV when I could be making all kinds of mouth-watering food for myself in the same amount of time?

So I pulled out the Wei-Chuan Taiwanese cuisine cookbook I’ve owned for over three years (and from which I had yet to make a single entree), my Weight Watcher’s Take-Out Tonight, and a steamed bread recipe from the Internet and got to work using ingredients I had on hand from last week’s grocery run.

I made:
– Honey-glazed pork (first recipe tried from my Taiwanese cookbook)
– Chinese BBQ roast pork
– Stir-fried garlic turnip greens
– Stir-fried string beans and carrots
– Kashi 7-grain pilaf
– Red pepper and garlic roast chicken
– Chinese steamed buns filled with red bean paste and gemma protein (PWO-compliant recipe modification!)

The steamed buns were time-consuming, but OMG…they are so worth it. WAY better than a PWO shake or processed protein bar from the store. DH and two co-workers all loved them. I’ve wanted to try this since I received my gemma protein order a few months ago, and it is great to see that my initial reaction to the stuff (“Hmm…tastes like a sweetened Chinese bean paste dessert…”) was right.

Anyway, I am on a mission to try one new recipe each week for the rest of the year. I’ve gotten into a good groove with food prep now, brining, seasoning, and roasting one 4 lb chicken every weekend for easy protein (salads, quesadillas, basic protein portion, pita pizzas, etc.) and making two other protein entrees to round out the remaining 2-3 lbs of protein DH and I go through for lunches and dinners the rest of the week. Since whole chicken is still one of the cheapest meats available per pound, this gives us a good baseline for the week while providing the opportunity to spend just a little more on the other protein types besides chicken. (I still go for what’s on sale, though, and decide what to cook based on that.)

Our grocery bill has gone up noticeably over the past year from an average of $45 or so for two of us per week to $60-$65 now, and honestly, I buy almost exactly the stuff every week, very little of it processed or packaged – fresh produce, WW pita bread, around 5-7 lbs of lean meat, 36-54 large eggs, cheese, soy milk, 0.5 lb roast beef, 2 cans of cat food, 2 bottles of juice for DH, one box of cereal, raisins, oats, salsa, and condiments and cooking staples as they are used up.

Besides geeking out over food, I also got nerdy with some spreadsheets this weekend. I start NROLFW Stage 2 this week, and as I mentioned earlier, I went ahead and made an Excel spreadsheet with logs for all of the workouts for the entire book plus a new diet calculator based on the nutrition chapters. The blank workout log that you have to fill out by hand was just not working for me, and I also wanted to come up with an easier way to calculate caloric needs for maintenance and fat loss than slogging through the book’s tables and equations by hand.

I’m going to work on a version of the spreadsheet for the original NROL book this week for the 12-week workout-a-long at my office that I am trying to start up. The last challenge was fun (especially since my team won), but a lot of the other guys just gave up and fell off the wagon because they didn’t have a real plan to follow. This time around, it will be non-competitive, and everyone will be using either the free TT bodyweight program or NROL for 3 months.