Monday, 9 December 2013

Love Thy Liver

It’s the time of the year when there will be more alcohol going thru the body than usual.  From Christmas parties, counting down to the New Year.. and before the body can heave a relief with a tata to the last bit of residual alcohol, pretty soon, it’s time for yam seng at Chinese New Year dinners.  The liver needs protection!


This is one popular recipe to nourish the over-working liver.  I accidently came across this soup when I was having “yum cha” in Hong Kong.  The soup is soothingly delicious, with a hint of citrusy taste.  It is supposed to help clear liver ‘heat’, expel liver toxin, and promote a healthy liver

So what is this odd-sounding herb..and does it look just as odd?  And what about the rest of the ingredients that make up the soup?

  • Chicken Bone Grass
  • Pig liver and/or pork – I didn’t want to much of a liver-tasting soup, so I added a chunk of pork and reduced the portion of pig liver.  No, I didn’t use this entire chunk of liver as in the picture..just a 2cm-wide sliver.
  • Red date
  • Tangerine peel
  • Ginger - slices

How to:
a.     Wash the liver/pork block.  Cut liver into thin pieces.  Leave the pork block as is.
b.     Rinse the chicken bones herb and put all ingredients into a pot
c.     I normally do not like salt in my soup, but a slightly added salt sharply enhanced the taste of the soup

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Quinoa - The World's Healthiest Food

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as "The International Year of the Quinoa" and quinoa has now been singled out by FAO as a food with "high nutritive value," impressive biodiversity, and an important role to play in the achievement of food security worldwide.

Quinoa dates back three to four thousand years ago when the Incas first realized that the seed was fit for human consumption. According to WHFoods quinoa “was the gold of the Incas” because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors.

Here are seven health benefits of quinoa:

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and may help you to lose weight (it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense,” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food).

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron; it aids in neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.

How to cook quinoa:

1. How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup dry quinoa yield?
A: 1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.

2. How much liquid do I need to cook quinoa?
A: To cook 1 cup quinoa, you need about 2 cups liquid.

3. How long does it take to cook quinoa?
A: 1 cup quinoa will cook in about 20 minutes.

4: How do I make quinoa less bitter?
A: Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa's outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer.

5: How do I make better-tasting quinoa?
A: Quinoa is really excellent when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth. Also, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup dried quinoa when cooking. Try adding other spices aromatics during cooking as well: A clove of smashed garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary, a dash of black pepper.

6: Can I use my rice cooker to make quinoa?
A: Yes! Just use the 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio and follow the instructions on your rice cooker.

For this demonstration, we had rinsed the quinoa first and used the rice cooker with 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio, but instead of water, we substituted with chicken stock. The result was a bowl of perfectly cooked and tasty quinoa. Try it, and let us know how it goes.

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Of Antioxidants and Collagen: Cabbage & Beefball in Phoenix Claw Broth

Question: Women, what do they want?

Hint: Two things - one, antioxidant as that's synonymous to anti-aging (yes, yes - everyone wants to always look beautiful and young). Plus there are also claims that antioxidants help with conceiving - so mothers-wanna-be, do take note of what you are eating. And two, collagen to keep the skin glowing and supple.

So what can we eat to achieve that look of youth?

Here's a simple receipe that can help you achieve these goals. A bowl of hot soup with cabbage and beef ball made from phoenix claw (what's that, you ask? we'll keep the suspense for now...) broth.

Cabbage & Beef Ball in Phoenix Claw Broth
It's easy to make and with all things in life, consistency is the key. So drinking this once isn't going to work as this is no miracle broth. But drink it often and you will be able to see the beneficial effects on your skin.

These are the key ingredients that make this soup healthy and nourishing. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea or variants) – a leafy green biennial plant, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads. 


It’s “cousins” are the broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  The late Middle English word “cabbage” derives from the word caboche (head) from a dialect of Old French.  Cabbage is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fiber, indole-3-carbinol (don’t worry about remembering this, so long you understand that it is a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells, and therefore block growth of cancer cells).  How do the above benefit the body?  The key value is the ability to reduce the risk of some cancers, especially those in the colorectal group.  

Fiber helps with bowel movements, so, the trip to the toilet will be less, err, straining.  Other benefits include helping in the production of blood clotting proteins, regulate blood pressure, and promote a steady heartbeat.

Note: those with thyroid problem should avoid eating copious amounts of cabbage as it interferes with the absorption of iodine, which is required by the thyroid gland.

Cabbage trivia: there is a legend told to children that babies come from cabbage patches.  And we thought it was solely the stork who brought the babies!   

Phoenix Claw – having “undress” the name, phoenix claw is a glam name for the humble chicken feet.  

Phoenix Claw (aka Chicken Feet)

The faint-hearted may actually faint at the sight of chicken feet (with cropped toes) swimming in the soup, but chicken feet is packed with collagen.  So what is collagen?  Collagen, in simple terms, is protein that acts as a glue that holds our body together.  The benefit of collagen is not simply for a good lookin’ skin (no saggy bits), but it’s also for the heart. 

A list of the goodness of collagen:
a.       Healthier and younger-looking skin (think smooth ‘n’ glow)
b.      Strengthens the blood vessels
c.      Supplies protein and calcium, but without the bane of carbohydrate
d.      Helps with weight loss, as it assists the body to metabolize fats

Chicken feet trivia: China is the major destination of chicken feet from around the world, and after China joined WTO, the Chinese can enjoy direct import of American chicken feet into the country.  Chicken feet can be a source of economic discussion at ministerial level.

- Cabbage
- Beefball (You don’t have to start from ground up and slaughter a cow - grind the meat - make into balls. Just get a pack from the market.)
- Spring onion & Chinese coriander

Soup stock:
Chicken bones – trim off whatever hanging fats
Chicken feet – give the feet a pedicure, chop off the nails. 

a.      Wash the cabbage, peel the leaves, and cut them into bite pieces.  Leave aside.
b.      Boil a pot of water, and when the water is boiling, put in the cleaned chicken bones and feet
c.       Put in the cut cabbage leaves
d.      Boil for about an hour, so that the soup is sweet from the natural ingredients
e.      Put in the beef balls, and boil for another 15 mins.
f.       Chop the Chinese coriander and spring onions for soup garnish. 
g.      Voila!  Soup is ready to be served.

Try it out and leave comments to let us know how it goes! Have fun.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

For the love of carbs: Mung Bean Noodles (Glass Noodles)

To carb or not to carb, that is the question.

Mung beans are also known as cellophane noodles or glass noodles (冬粉). The gluten-free pasta earned these odd names because it turns from white to clear when boiled. And even after boiling and baking them in pasta sauce, the noodles retain a common chewy noodle texture.

Mung beans don't have much natural flavor, so they absorb the flavor of other ingredients. Downside to the noodles is that they aren't friendly on the figure.

One cup of dehydrated mung bean noodles contains 491 calories and 121 grams of carbohydrates. The beans don't offer any protein and very little fiber to your diet. However they contain iron, phosphorus and selenium. To boost the nutrition factor, pair the noodles with vitamin-packed veggies, lean proteins and low fat dairy products.

Although the noodles are a splurge, it's nice to have a gluten-free option that withstands boiling, baking and tossing with other ingredients without falling apart (like some gluten-free carbs).

Do you use mung bean noodles? What are you favorite recipes? Please share in the comments section below.

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

You are what you eat.

Diet is one of the most important aspects of maintaining good health and treating ailments. Eating well and eating right is about moderation, discipline and balance. Wellness is nourished with the right taste, along with food and herbs chosen and consumed in the right seasons or circumstances.

This blog will share easy-to-use herbal recipes that are tailored to the body's problem area.

Do try them and share with us your experience.