Thursday, January 3, 2013

Heat wave survival guide

With temperatures rising to up to 40 degrees in Melbourne tomorrow, what do we do when a heat wave has hit?

1) Stay hydrated : Drink adequate water, when traveling ensure that you have your water bottle with you. Drinks like: Coconut water, chilled green tea and peppermint tea are ideal. Consume raw fruit/vegetables in a salad and watermelon juice for this hot weather.

2) Stay in the shade: Avoid going out in the sun between 12 noon to 3pm when the sun is scorching. Do your best to avoid a heat stroke, choose indoor activities around this time.

3) Wear appropriate clothes - cotton and thin layers to allow sweat to evaporate easily.

4) Keep home blinds and doors closed in the afternoon to prevent heat from entering the house. In the evening, open doors and windows to allow the cool change to enter the house.

5) Look out for fire hazards in your garden and home - e.g. extremely dry grass.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pineapple & Coconut goodness

The first time I was introduced to this perfect combination was back in Uni - we had a cooking demo.It was delicious and I kept craving it after.

The benefits of consuming the pineapple core is the presence of Bromelain - which is an anti inflammatory. Pain is a sign of inflammation and bromelain is perfect in combating it. I experimented in consuming this smoothie during my menstrual cycle to reduce menstrual cramps - I was surprised by its effectiveness. Do experiment on this recipe and let me know if it works for you too.

Pineapple & Coconut smoothie

Serves 3-4
Quarter a pineapple, core inclusive
200 mls Ayam brand Coconut milk
500 mls chilled filtered water

Use a sharp knife and cut away the pineapple skin. Cut the pineapple into small cubes and place into blender. Add coconut milk  and water. Blend on high - serve chilled!

P.S. as pineapple can numb the taste buds, I recommend consuming this smoothie away from your main meal.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Pumpkin soup with coconut milk

October (Samhain) has passed and there are still reasons in being involved with pumpkin. Pumpkin has a natural sweetness when cooked and can be enjoyed stewed, steamed, baked or boiled. As mentioned in my previous blog post, pumpkin is a rich source of cartenoids.

Here I share with you a recipe for pumpkin soup
Serves 3-4

1/4 pumpkin, skin removed and cut into medium sized chunks
1 litre filtered water
salt and pepper
100mls coconut milk (Ayam brand)
2 cubes organic chicken/vegetable stock

In a large pot, bring water and pumpkin to boil. Add stock cubes and stir occasionally. After boiling for 30mins, bring soup to a simmer for 20 mins. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn off stove fire. Scoop soup into a blender and add coconut milk. Blend at high speed. Pour soup into bowls and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Carotenoids - a story and recipe

Carotenoids are found in bright yellow, orange and red fruit and vegetables. Cartenoids are high in antioxidants, containing beta carotene that is a precursor to vitamin A.

I knew about carotenoids long before I studied Naturopathy, as my mum shared her hilarious story with pumpkin. Here is the story:

While studying nursing in the UK, my mum loved eating fresh fruit and vegetables. It came to a pumpkin phase for her, as she was eating pumpkin every day for months. One day, she noticed her hands were going orange and felt rather alarmed. She headed to the doctor, informing him that she might have jaundice (a liver condition that affects skin color) and that her hands are orange.

The doctor then asked her about her fruit and vegetable consumption, asking her if she had eaten excess orange fruit and vegetables. Then my mum just exclaimed "Oh...PUMPKIN! " Needless to say her hands got back to normal once she eliminated the excessive consumption of pumpkin. The condition is called Carotenemia. As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

However, in moderation - the benefits of carotenoid rich fruit and vegetables help to boost your immunity, prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Here I share with you a recipe on how to prepare baked Sweet Potato Fries - a healthier alternative compared to deep fried fries.

1 Sweet potato, skin peeled
2 tbs rice bran oil
1 pinch of salt and pepper

To prepare:
Once the skin of the sweet potato is peeled, there is no need to wash it. Water makes your fries too soggy. Proceed to cut them into fries. No standard shape, however do your best to make them a similar thickness.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Place the fries at the center of the baking tray, with baking paper below. Add the oil, salt and pepper. Toss evenly with spoon. Then arrange fries neatly by spreading them evenly across the tray. Bake for 20 mins, longer if you want it to be more crispy. Serve with your fav. dip, for me it's hummus. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chinese style rice vermicelli, serves 2

The main reasons that people eat unhealthily are commonly due to the convenience of fast food and unhealthy food. Compare this to the effort required to cook healthily. Here are some tips on how to save time and prepare a healthy meal when you are busy.

Step one:
Invest in a slow cooker. A slow cooker is an important addition to your kitchen. It saves time and allows you to cook stews and soups the day before.

Step two:
Throw away those instant noodles - they aren't good for you! Instant noodles are high in MSG (monosodium glutamate), contain tartarzine (artificial coloring that makes its yellow color) and are made from wheat flour (inflammatory). They do not contain any nutrients that your body requires on a daily basis.

Step three:
Shop smart. Look for bargain deals, for this recipe I purchased a roast chicken at $7 when the deli was about to close. The wings and thighs were consumed for one meal that night and the leftover breast meat and bones were used to make soup stock for this recipe.

Prepare the chicken and veggie stock the day before.

Place in a slow cooker:
5 cups filtered water
1 piece cooked chicken breast, shredded. (or leftover chicken breast from a roast and bones to add to the flavour)
1 carrot, chopped
1 potato, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
dash of pepper
1 tablespoon tamari sauce

Slow cook for 6-10 hours.
Remove chicken bones and stir the soup.

Now the fun part - cooking rice vermicelli in 10 mins.

1 bunch rice vermicelli - rough estimate for 2 people
2 eggs
1 tsp ricebran oil
2 tsps chopped spring onions
pepper and 1 tbsp tamari sauce

In a heated small pan, add rice bran oil.  Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the pepper and tamari sauce. Fry eggs in the pan, 3 mins on each side. Place the cooked eggs on a plate to allow them to cool. Once cool, slice the eggs into thin strips with a knife.

In a separate pot, add the soup stock and bring to boil. Add a bunch of rice vermicelli and make sure it is submerged in the soup. Boil for 10 mins. Scoop the rice vermicelli in 2 separate portions, divide the ingredients evenly. Top with sliced egg and spring onions. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Healthy version of a Hobbit feast

It seems I have plenty of time on my hands? I am a Lord of the rings fan and today I am celebrating Hobbit day. I have adapted the hobbit foods to fit into a healthier version of 'second breakfast'.


For the salad, combine:
2 Adelaide tomatoes, sliced
1 bunch of mixed salad (spinach, lettuce, radicchio)
2 tablespoons italian dressing

 For the soup:
2 carrots, chopped fine
2 medium potatoes chopped
1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons Massel chicken stock powder

Boil ingredients in 1-1.5 litres of water. for 20mins Add a pinch of salt, pepper and Massel chicken stock to taste

For the bread: 
2-4 slices of toasted gluten free bread
You can choose butter or hummus as a spread. Olive oil as a dip is also a healthier option.

Stir fry mushrooms:
1 flat mushroom, sliced
8-9 white button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves minced garlic

In a heated pan, add rice bran oil and stir fry minced garlic. Add mushrooms and cook on medium heat for 10-15mins.

Hobbit corn:
2 ears of corn with husks and leaves intact
Remove one side of the leaves and give the corn a brief rinse
Steam for 15-20mins.

For the drinks:
1 cup seedless grapes
1 apple, sliced
250ml water

Blend on high in a blender. Serves 2 cups.

Happy Hobbit Day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quinoa Salad

What is Quinoa? It is an alternative grain that is rich in nutrients and a good source of protein for vegetarians.

Where to find quinoa? Health food stores and organic stores stock this grain.

Is it easy to cook? It can be quite challenging the first time, however you will get the hang of it. It is a wonderful dish to prepare for guests. 

1 cup organic quinoa (mixture of white, red and black)
2 cups water
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mint, chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
pinch of sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees.

2.  Pour 1 cup of quinoa onto a fine sieve and rinse under water, rubbing them between with your fingers to remove the bitter saponins. In a pot, bring 2 cups of filtered water and 1 cup of rinsed quinoa to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10-15mins until the seeds look translucent and the germ spiral emerges. Stir occasionally. Allow quinoa to stand for 5 minutes after cooking. Strain off any excess water from the cooked quinoa with a sieve and place in a big bowl.

3. Place the halved tomatoes onto a baking tray with baking paper. Have the sliced side up. Cook for 10-15 mins.

4. In a separate pan, heat olive oil at low heat with chopped garlic. Brown garlic slightly and allow both ingredients time to cool.

5. To toss: In the bowl of cooled quinoa, add the tomatoes, lemon juice, orange juice, mint, salt, pepper, cooled olive oil and garlic.

6. Chill salad for at least 30 mins in the fridge.

7. Serve and enjoy!