Eating healthy for Chinese New Year

Picture from www.awarenessdays.com

Chinese New Year is just round the corner and as many knows, this is a period of time where there is an abundance of food and especially unhealthy food, that is, food high in sugar and oil. On the eve of Chinese New Year, reunion dinner is the highlight and many tend to go overboard with table-full of seafood, meat and other delicacies. Coupled with late night merry-making and early morning rising for the visiting, no wonder many fall sick after Chinese New Year!

TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING DURING CNY

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drink mineral or plain water and take more fruits instead of sugared drinks. Taking fruits directly is also better than taking fruit juices so that more fibre can be consumed.

2. Choose steamed or boiled food

Photo from www.sbar.com

Niángāo (sticky rice cake) is typically made of rice or glutinous rice flour. You can add red beans or dates to the niángāo and steam it to make a yummy and healthier snack. In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), grains that is the main ingredient in making niangao invigorates the function of the spleen and stomach. Red dates and beans are good for the qì and blood.

Another Chinese New Year must-have delicacy is jiǎozi or dumplings. Similarly, jiǎozi is considered a healthy food because in each small dumpling, you can include grains (jiǎozi skin), meat (filling, typically pork), legumes (peanuts, dates, chestnuts, tofu) and vegetables (carrots, cabbages, spring onion). Cooked in soup or steamed, these are very delicious and filling food.

3. Take more vegetables, especially mustard, and cook vegetables whole

Photo from pxmart.com.tw

By cooking vegetables whole instead of chopping them up, you will need to chew on them longer and the enzymes in saliva aid in better digestion. Fibres in vegetables also encourage intestinal activities, preventing constipation. Also, more meat and glutinous rice is consumed during festive period and these are considered wēn (warm) nature in TCM. Taking too much of these will cause the internal organs to be “warmed” and cause absorb and retain more fats. On the other hand, mustard is consider hán (cold) in nature and will dissipate the heat in the internal organs.

4. Keep up with exercise

Keep active during festive season to not just work off the extra calories consumed but also to avoid constipation.

5. Take healthy vegetarian breakfast

Have a good breakfast packed with vegetables, grains and legumes to start off your days of celebration. This will be a good balance to the loads of meat and oil consumed later on.

6. Avoid food that are no good for your ailment

Go easy on the hot pot. People suffering from constipation, piles and indigestion should go avoid food that are too hot, spicy or sour. If you are diabetic, it is best to take small frequent meals to avoid taxing your intestines and stomach. People suffering from peptic ulcers should avoid, alcohol, sugars, high fats, coffee and spicy and sour food as these will stimulate secretion of gastric juice. People suffering from back flow of gastric juice should also avoid these food, as well as food that are too hot, too cold or too oily, and chocolate, onion and garlic to prevent heartburn and acid back flow. People with gallstones should also avoid high fats food to prevent pains in the stomach.

During this merry Spring Festival, eat healthy, eat in moderation and keep active. May all readers have a happy Chinese New Year and receive a prosperous year ahead!

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Himalayan Premium Foods

Himalayan Premium Foods

I met Rag from Himalayan Premium Foods through Vinitha from Nutrihub Culinary Art. Rag’s husband owns an organic farm in Nepal and Rag started a company to import organically grown foods form her husband’s family farm as well as other neighbouring organic farmers bi-monthly.

It was a pleasure meeting with Rag who lets me have a test of Nepalese Rosemary. I was overwhelmed (in a good way, of course) of its strong smell. Rag told me Nepalese herbs and plants have a stronger taste and smell than similar foods here. It is amazing how the different altitudes, temperatures and climate influence the produces in different ways.

In my second meeting with Rag to pick up my order of seasonal foods (usually every other Thursday after 3pm), she urges me to try the Cheurii Honey and Mustard Blossom Honey. It is really interesting how different honey can taste! Apparently the taste and flavour of honey depends on the kind flowers the bees visit. I like both honey, they taste very light and yet flavourful.

You can join HPF’s mailing list to be informed of the next shipment. Rag’s store is located at Peninsula Hotel Shopping Centre (3 Coleman Street, #04-27, Singapore 179804). They provide delivery service too.

Thai Curry Carrot Salad

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Recipe & picture taken from RawGuru.com

Recipe by Chris Anca

Description

A simple salad by Chris Anca of Tales of a Kitchen made with sweet heirloom carrots, Thai basil, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a creamy, spicy-sweet curry sauce.

Ingredients

At a glance
Salads & Salsas
Makes
1 big bowl

1 orange carrot, matchsticks
1 purple carrot, matchsticks
Thai basil, fresh, to serve
sunflower seeds toasted or raw
pumpkin seeds toasted or raw

For the dressing I used:

1 and 1/2 TBSP tahini
4-5 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey/maple syrup
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/3 tsp ginger powder
pinch of cayenne pepper

Note from BGO Ecoshop: You can add some curry powder to the salad for more flavour.

Methods/steps

1) After cutting the carrots I mixed together all the ingredients for the dressing until completely incorporated. Added the dressing to the carrots, mixed by hand to coat and topped with the seeds and fresh Thai basil.

Beet & Avocado Soup with Cashew Cream

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Image & recipe taken from RawGuru.com

Recipe by Emily Von Euw

Description

A densely pigmented soup made with a base of fresh beet root and avocado, seasoned with a hint of tamari, miso, fresh ginger, garlic and a dash of salt and pepper. Use hot water if you want something to warm the belly, or cold if you want a chilled soup. Top with cashew cream and a spinkling of pepitas! 

Ingredients

At a glance
Soups
Makes
2-3

 1/2 avocado 
1 peeled beet
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon miso
1 peeled garlic clove
1 tablespoon peel fresh ginger root (optional) 
1 1/4 cups hot water (approximately) 
3 mushrooms
pinch of salt & pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon 

Cashew Cream:
1/4 cup soaked, drained cashews with enough water to cover them
Pinch of cinnamon & salt

 
Note from BGO Ecoshop: You can replace the Cashew Cream with Dastony Stoneground Organic Cashew Butter for more convenience!

Methods/steps

To make the soup: 

1) blend everything together in your Vitamix until very smooth. Taste and adapt to your liking. Place in bowls and set aside. 

To make the cashew cream: 

1) blend the cashews with the water, salt and cinnamon until creamy. Add a little more water if you don’t want it so thick. Change it as you like. Spoon onto your soup and enjoy! 

I recommend adding some fresh herbs and seeds. I used peppermint and pumpkin seeds but any combination would be lovely.

 

 

Healthy Avocado Banana Smoothie with Almond Crunch

 

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I got invited to attend UBS Eco Fair on 14 June 2013. Sweng and I set up BGO Ecoshop booth there to introduce some Superfoods we were selling on our online store www.BGOecoshop.com. I also gave a demo on how to make heathy smoothie and I chose the two fruits that I often use – avocado and banana.

The following are the ingredients that I used for the smoothie workshop. Note that you can just use avocado and banana together with any liquid (any milk, water etc) that you prefer. The addition of herbs, nut butter and yoghurt are optional.

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Avocado (how to pick and buy avocados)

Avocado is a great fruit and it is a pity that some people avoid it because of its high fat content. But the truth is that we need fats as a source of energy and support the function of our nerves and brain. The key is to substitute saturated fats and trans fats with nutrient dense fruits like avocado which offers mono and polyunsaturated fat content.

Besides beneficial fats, avocado also gives us good amount of carotenoids, proteins and it is anti-inflammatory. This means avocadoes can help prevent or mitigate against both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.

One cup of pureed avocado has…

  • 368 Calories
  • 4.6 g of Protein
  • 19.62 g of Carbohydrate
  • 1166 mg of Potassium
  • 23.0 mg of Vitamin C
  • 175 mg Beta-sitosterol
  • 0 mg Cholesterol

The information above is based on the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Search the database for “avocado”.

Bananas

I can’t tell you a fruit that is more commonly used in smoothies than bananas. It is such a versatile nutrient-packed fruit and is often used as baby’s first weaning food. Naturally fat- cholesterol- and sodium-free, bananas are also a good source of potassium (helps our heart beat, reduce heart disease), dietary fibre, magnesium (transmission of nerve impulse, aids absorption of calcium) and vitamins B6 (aids healthy nerve and brain functions) and C.

Pineapple (optional)

Normally, I would limit my smoothie to just two fruits. But I saw some pineapples idling in my fridge on the day I made the smoothie, so I added them as well, as they add a sweet tropical taste to my smoothie. Pineapples are loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also rich in fiber and calories. On top of it all, this fruit is low in fat and cholesterol. All the nutrients it contains promote good health.

Coconut water (replaceable with milk or water)

I opted for fresh coconut water (the clear type, not to be confused with coconut milk, which also has its health benefits, but that’s another future post.) Coconut water contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink.

If you are using milk instead of coconut water, I suggest using lactose-free milk such as oat milk (high protein and fibre content), quinoa milk (good amount of amino acids) and soy milk (high in essential fatty acids). These are more easily digestible than dairy milk and contain more health benefits.

Parsley (optional)

I included herbs like parsley because I wanted to zest up the smoothie which I knew would have a sweet taste.

Parsley is often used as garnish but it turns out to be quite a good addition to smoothie as well. It is rich in many vital vitamins (Vitamin C,  B 12, K and A) and keeps our immune system strong, tones our bones and heals the nervous system too.

Regular use of parsley can help control your blood pressure. Pregnant mums will welcome the folic acid in this herb.

Mint (optional)

I blended a small amount of mint leaves to give the smoothie a fresh minty aroma.

Mint is a great appetizer, and it promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation.

Yoghurt (optional)

I added some yoghurt for added creaminess in the smoothie and also to introduce some healthy live cultures (probiotics) to our intestines. These aid in digestion as well as giving us calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium and magnesium.

Almond nut butter (optional)

I filled the bottom of the smoothie cup with 2 teaspoons of Rawmio raw & vegan Almond Crunch (almond nut butter with added raw cacao nibs, raw coconut, sweetened with coconut sugar, flavoured with vanilla beans and Himalayan salt). I also smeared half the sides of the smoothie cup with the back of the spoon such that the chocolate almond nut butter is visible on the outside of the glass (looks nice and tempting!).

I chose the crunch series of Rawmio’s nut butter, as it provides cacao nibs to munch on. Also the chocolatey taste goes well with avocado and banana. You can add nuts to your smoothie to have the crunch too.

Almonds are a good fiber source and also contain protein. Because of their high monounsaturated fat content, they are a healthy food choice. Almonds or almond butter provide us with vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. You can opt for other nut butters, just make sure that they are processed in low heat and not added with unhealthy ingredients such as additives, excessive salt, sugar or saturated fats.

Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Used as toppings on our smoothie. Coconut flakes give a distinct tropical flavour! You can swop for other toppings such as chocolate chips, cacao nibs or nuts.

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Recipe (serves 2 full cups, or 5 small cups)

1. Cut one banana and one avocado into small pieces. (You can add more bananas or avocado or other fruits like pineapples according to your taste preference. More bananas or pineapples, more sweetness.)

2. Blend the fruits after adding some liquids (coconut water, milk or plain water). Add a little liquid (a few tablespoons) at a time. If the fruits seem to have a hard time churning, you need to add more liquid.

3. Tear the herbs into smaller bits and blend. Start with a tablespoonful of each and adjust amount according to your taste.

4. If you happen to add too much liquid and prefer your smoothie to be thicker and creamier, add a tablespoon of yoghurt.

5. Prepare your serving cups. Scoop 2 teaspoons of nut butter into each cup and smear half the cup with the back of the spoon.

6. Pour in smoothie.

7. Sprinkle the top of the smoothie with raw unsweetened coconut flakes for flavour.

Note:

If you intend to chill your smoothie before serving, then add the nut butter only before serving, on top of the smoothie. Otherwise, the nut butter will harden at the bottom of the smoothie upon chilling.

Tip:

You can make your smoothie beforehand and freeze them in ice cubes. When you need to have them, just blend them with some liquid.

The World’s Healthiest Foods Recipes

highenergyshake

Picture taken from http://www.whfoods.com

I discovered quite a gem while looking up the nutrients of lentils* over the internet!

The World’s Healthiest Foods site is started by The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation. The site contains many useful articles & information, including recipes relating to health and food.

What I like most is the over 100 quick and easy recipes they posted (cooking times of 30 minutes or less). Not only are the recipes healthy, what makes it different from most recipe sites is that they have a Recipe Assistant where you can select multiple foods to include and/or exclude as well as nutrients required, and voila! The right recipe recommendation pops up for you!

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Screenshot taken from http://www.whfoods.com

Also, what is sweet and really useful is when you are browsing a recipe, there will be highlighted ingredients that when you click on, it shows you additional information on that ingredients, like how to make broth, and how to cut and prepare tomatoes, carrots etc. Very useful!

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Screenshot taken from http://www.whfoods.com

*Lentils are legumes that are great cholesterol-lowering fibre foods. They have beneficial effects on the digestive system and heart, and also help to stabilise bood sugar. They also provide iron for energy (good for children, adolescent, pregnant and lactating women).