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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