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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

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I love fried rice. It is a dish that could change according to the appetite, the mood, the occasion, the season…and yet it is so easy to make!

But there is one dilemma.  The main component of traditional fried rice  is rice. The carbohydrate to protein ratio tends to be very high ( too much carbohydrate, too little protein).  For a lot of us in a sedentary working environment, or trying to lose some weight, excessive starch /rice provides unnecessary calories that could not be burnt off. Traditional fried rice also uses white jasmine type rice which has a very high glycemic index (too much sugar released into the blood stream too quickly causing insulin surge and potential diabetes).

So I made some modifications to this well-loved dish.

Remember when making fried rice,  all ingredients should have as little moisture as possible to avoid the dish turning out soggy. Long grain rice is usually better than the shorter grains as they have less moisture when cooked.

Ingredients ( for 1 person)

1.  Black rice, cooked, 100g to 150g (cooked weight): Sunrice black rice is available at Coles supermarket. Alternatively red rice or basmati rice can be used to lower the glycemic index. Rice is cooked and placed in an open container in the fridge the night before to  reduce moisture

2. Fresh whole prawns  0.5 kg ( frozen prawn meat is OK ) which makes about 250g prawn meat after shells and veins removed

3.  Garlic 1 clove, minced

4.  Organic butter

5.  Soy sauce

6. Fish sauce optional

7. Shallots, chopped

Method:

1. Pat dry prawns and season with sea salt

2. Heat a wok with some oil (coconut oil the best, when using olive oil make sure the wok is not too hot), add prawns to wok and stir till they turn pink and curled up. Sprinkle minced garlic and add a knob of butter to the prawns. Stir some more till you could smell the garlic then quickly transfer prawns to a bowl.

Note: prawns cook very quickly so take care  not to overcook them

3. Pour some more oil in the same wok (with the residual prawn flavor), add cooked rice (which has been in the fridge over night) and stir well till the rice is soft

4. Season the rice with some soy sauce to taste, and a few drops of fish sauce (optional)

5. Add the cooked prawns back to the wok and mix well with the rice. Sprinkle shallots in.

6. Serve with a plate of steamed vegetable to complete the meal

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They say, common sense is not common anymore.

It seems the more knowledge we have,  the more confused we become.

This is particularly true when it comes to health.  As we are bombarded daily by new researched information, miracle drugs development, advancing medical technology, we lose the big picture, the basics, the common sense.

It is the routine obstetric advice that a pregnant woman should eat exactly the same way as when she is not pregnant, apart from taking some extra folate, calcium and iron. Common sense would ask why. As common sense knows when we have  increased demand, we have to increase supply. A fetus could not grow out of just combining folate, calcium and iron.  It turns out that pregnant women have many folds increase in need for protein, zinc, magnesium, iodine, essential fatty acids, to name a few. Pregnant women do not just need to eat, they need to have a special eating plan catered for the special need.

It was such a marketing success when Coke zero was invented. I had countless people coming up to me and said proudly:” At least now when I drink Coke, I drink Coke zero.” When something is advertised  to contain absolutely no sugar and yet tastes sweet, common sense would ask why.  Common sense would look for the substance that brings the taste and find out if that substance is better than sugar. It turns out that substance is aspartame. The adverse effect of aspartame on health is another topic for another day. All I would say simply is that if you have to drink Coke, drink the proper one.

And then we have the cholesterol super fear. Advice is often given to patient to bring the cholesterol down as low as possible. Common sense would ask why. Why on earth we have cholesterol in our body  in the first place?  I have never seen a patient with a zero cholesterol reading before. Because they would be dead. It turns out that all hormones are produced from cholesterol. ( see post”So you think you know cholesterol”)

And what about our appendix?  We are often told it is useless. So much so that some surgeons remove them “prophylactically”. Common sense would ask why. Why everyone is born without fail with an appendix? Are we satisfied  that it is merely a side product of evolution?  It turns out that the appendix contains lymphoid tissues in the highest density compared with other parts of the gut and it acts as the “point of entry or border control” for food allergens. Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix) indicates  fighting with unwanted food particles is occurring.

……

Medical care is not rocket science. Common sense  is often priceless. Keep it if you can.

.

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A young patient of mine had cried all the way through the whole full hour consultation, because I removed dairy products from her diet (due to allergy issues).

“Why are you upset?” I asked.

“Because I won’t be able to have ice cream. It is not fair that I can’t have ice cream!”

And then every five to ten minutes also she moaned about her great “loss” in tears: “Oh, I can’t have ice cream!”

Mum and I were slightly shocked by the incredible pain caused by removing this important item from her diet.

That afternoon, after much doctoring, it was my turn to be a mother. My son and I went to the supermarket to shop for his upcoming 18 birthday party. We had the following conversation a few days before.

Son: “I will shop for my party food with Dad.”

Me: “I can do that with you.”

Son (hesitated): “Er… I want Dad to come as well.”

Me : “Why?”

I know too well why. I am the food police at home. I censor processed and junk food ruthlessly. “Child abuse”, as my son would call it, jokingly (or not?). My behavior is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to choosing party food.  My husband, on the other hand, is usually much more sympathetic and flexible. He reminds me to put things into prospective.  It is his 18th birthday after all. We have to look after his emotional need as well as his physical health, you know…

After some serious self talk and psychological preparation, I went on our shopping trip.

We went from aisle to aisle.  The young man was having a ball picking up his dreamt “food”. I frantically struggled to keep my mouth shut as I saw items piling up in the trolley: E202, E331, acid 330, colourings, preservatives, flavour enhancers, glazing agents, sugar, modified corn starch, MSG, stabilizers, hydrogenated oil, anticaking agent and more….  Apparently we called these “food” nowadays.  And I was watching myself walking to the check out to pay for them.  The bill mounted to more than 100 dollars. What a sacrificial act of unkindness.  But I did not say a word (with big effort). I was proud of myself.

How have we come to this, I wonder.  It seems food is no longer food.   Fresh meat intake is fiercely reduced, because they might cause cancer, we are told. Salt intake is the less the better as it causes hypertension, we are told. Animal fats? well, avoid them like a plague, because they block up  arteries, we are told.  And at the same time as a society, we have gradually given up our natural instinct and surrendered our power to “faked foods”, consciously or subconsciously. To the extent that we almost could not survive without them. To the extent that our social existence is threatened if we walk away from them.

If only we could stop and think for a moment , and being connected to our body, we would remember that our body works best with what mother nature has to offer us as food.  Because after all, our body is a synergistic part of nature. It is profoundly simple.

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Growing Tomatoes

I always dream of eating fruit and vegetable that are freshly picked. I wish I had a vegie patch.

But in reality, I am busy enough running around working and doing my daily chores, the last thing I want on my plate is tending a vegie patch!

One day my neighbor begged me to “adopt” her chili plant. I reluctantly agreed, thinking secretly that at least  I am symbolically growing something. The plant was handed to me sitting in a cracked bucket, which my neighbor reminded me of returning. I frantically went through the local nurseries and managed to buy a large clay pot before the chili plant died of dehydration with its poor roots exposed in the cracked bucket. With fresh new potting soil in the clay pot, the chili plant finally settled in. I took some time to figure out where to place the pot so I could attend to it regularly without too much of an effort (a vitally important decision, otherwise the plant would definitely be left to die without a question) . The final spot I decided was on the deck outside the kitchen, just next to the back door leading to the deck. This way I could walk to the back door, open it and pour water in without even stepping out to the deck.

Things went smoothly from then on. While cooking dinner, I would soak and wash my vegetables in tap water, then rinse them in filtered water. The used filtered water would get tipped into the clay pot for the chili plant. Everyone is happy.

And then one day I saw something.  Something sprouting next to the chili. It was a young tomato plant! A tomato seed must have got tipped in the soil together with the water. My first reaction was to “weed” it out. After all I had only JUST gotten used to the idea of growing a chili plant. And the pot is not a huge one anyway. As I was tossing between “weeding” it or “keeping” it, a few days have passed and the tomato plant was quietly getting bigger, as if to show the world its determination to stay. Looking at the strong and luscious green tomato leaves, I decided to take the risk to keep it!

One pot, two plants. To my surprise, they accommodated each other very well. The softer tomato branches tended to lean on the stoic chili plant for support and the chili plant seemed to take it well. And very soon, they both started to flower! Not long after, small chili and tiny tomatoes came into sight. Just try to imagine the excitement of someone who has never grown anything successfully… 

Fussing over the fruit every morning then became my new routine. Watching the tomato fruit grow bigger each day, believe me, was incredibly therapeutic. It brings out instantly the joy and child-like amazement which are so authentically human’s when we are connected to mother earth, which, unfortunately have long-lost among the modern day hustle bustle.

One day I noticed the biggest tomato fruit was turning red. The biophotons(see previous post “May The Life Force Be With You”) it absorbed from the sun finally reached a threshold which had kicked the ripening  process into place!  My mouth started to drool.  I envisaged the first bite of the crunchy, juicy tomato flesh, I visualised the busting of biophotons  into my mouth and the lighting up of my organs…. I must choose a special day to harvest my first fruit and take time to enjoy it, I decided. Saturday morning would be the perfect time, I decided.

Came Saturday morning. Well groomed and dressed, I solemnly walked to the tomato plant. I froze. In fact nearly fainted. A crime had been committed the night before. The only thing that was left of my first fruit was a piece of tomato skin hanging to the tomato plant. The thief had the evil skill of shelling the tomato flesh from the skin and leaving  scattered tomato skin  in the crime scene under the tomato plant. Ahhhhhhh! My first fruit! My sweat! My biophotons! I could think of a thousand ways to kill the devil(what ever that was)!

A war had been declared. This is now a national security issue!  I drew up a plan: a special trip to Bunnings hardware store. I came back armed with a piece of  “antibird netting” and netting hooks. The net went over the plant and was secured by the hooks buried in the soil. Finished, I looked at my piece of art work and smiled at the prospect of the devil returning tonight feeling completely mad and disappointed!

Two days later, I finally harvested my second tree ripened tomato and officially put it in my mouth. It is a common practice nowadays that fruits and vegetables get picked before they are ready or ripened so that they could last longer for storage and transportation. And then the ripening process is chemically induced when they are ready for sale. The human body has long been deprived of the intense solar energy transfer from eating tree ripened fruits and vegetables, except for that rare moment of eating a ripe tomato from one’s own tomato tree.

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This one is my favorite.

Ingredients: (for 4-6, makes about 20 omelette purses)

Free range eggs 12

Mince pork 250 g

Spanish onion 1, diced

Large Potato 1

Shallot 4 pieces

Garlic 1 clove, minced

Method:

1. Peel potato and shred it finely. Season shredded potato with sea salt and stand aside to let it sweat.

2. Mix mince pork, diced onion and garlic. Season mixture with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix well.

3. Beat 12 eggs thoroughly. Add to it diced shallot, 2 teaspoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoon of salt.

4. Squeeze the water out from the shredded potato. Add potato to egg batter.

5. Heat fry pan with some duck fat or ghee, fry mince pork mixture slightly till 80% cooked. Let pork mince cool a little. Add the pre-cooked pork mince to the egg batter and mix well.

6. Heat clean fry pan with fat on low to medium heat, use a soup ladle to ladle  egg batter onto fry pan to make a pancake shape. When egg batter is firmly cooked, fold it in half to make a “money purse”. Continue to shallow fry for another minute until cooked. Make omelette purse one by one until all egg batter is used. Check and adjust heat frequently to avoid burning.

Served with a plate of vegetable, you have a complete meal with adequate protein from the pork/eggs and not excessive  carbohydrate from the potato.

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This is the ultimate coconut therapy! Those who are serious about introducing coconut in their diet must give this a go. It is also a good time to make some magical broth!

Whole chicken will be used because we not only need the chicken meat but also the bones, skin and tendons. (see post “Broth, Magical Broth). We also need 1 mature coconut.

It requires some patience and determination but the end result is worth all the troubles, because nothing comes from jars or tins could compare with the fresh coconut fruit cracked open by you!

The biggest challenge of this recipe is to open the coconut and obtain the coconut meat from the shell. After wrestling with a few coconuts and lots of research,  not to mention the bruises and cuts I endured on my hands, I can now share with you the most painless way to open a coconut and obtain the meat.

STEP 1: Roughly wash  the whole coconut. Find the three eyes on the husk. Push the pointy bit of a corkscrew into one of the eyes and screw down as you would with a cork in the wine bottle (you might need to aim the pointy bit at different angles to get in). Do it until you are right inside the coconut (you should feel a give). Wiggle a bit to make the hole bigger. Do the same to another eye. You need two eyes open to drain the coconut water (to equalize pressure inside and outside the coconut). Now find one chopstick and stick it into one of the eyes you have worked on and push it right in to make a proper hole. Pop the coconut upside down on top of a jar and let it drain all the coconut water out.

STEP 2: Once the water is all drained, you are ready to crack open the coconut. Hold a mature coconut in one hand over the sink.  Imagine the three “eyes” on the coconut being the north pole. Move down to the equator round the middle. You will not see any line there to indicate the equator but  there is a seam or a line of weakness along the equator in the coconut husk. Use the back of a meat cleaver and whack along the equator with solid force. Rotate the coconut as you are hitting it. Be patient because it would feel like nothing is going to happen for a long time and suddenly you feel something gives and you are there!

STEP 3: Put the open coconut in the fridge for a few hours. I usually leave it overnight. The chilling makes the coconut meat separate a little from the shell.  Without the chilling process, to get the meat from the shell is a practical nightmare! Remove the coconut from the fridge and break it into small pieces again using the back of a meat cleaver. Use a thin blade knife to get between the coconut meat and the husk to separate the meat.

Making coconut chicken broth from here on is a breeze.

Ingredients:

Whole chicken x1

Mature coconut x1

Dried Shiitake mushroom x1 handful, soaked (optional)

Method:

1. Wash chicken thoroughly and cut into 4-6 pieces.

2. Put chicken pieces, coconut water, coconut meat and mushroom in 5-6 liters of water.

3. Bring it to just about to boil (small bubbles appearing) and then turn the heat down to keep the broth merely boiling for 5-6 hours. Remember over- boiling destroys protein.

4. Season generously with salt to serve.

This broth can also be used to make soup noodles by adding noodles and vegetables of your choice, but I prefer to drink it as it is. Holding a warm cup of coconut chicken broth in hand, I am in heaven!

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A group of my friends decided to be good and washed up after a meal. Two volunteered. We immediately realized even a simple task like this would cause dispute. One said, “Wash first (with detergent), then rinse (in clean water).” The other said, “Rinse first (away the left over food), then wash (with detergent) ” The latter guy won in the end as he declared his method was indeed the most professional one because he once worked as a kitchen hand in an upmarket hotel. So there we were, rinsing off the food remnants from the plates before cleaning them in dish washing liquid. The plates were dried by a clean cloth immediately after they were removed from the sink full of detergent, bubbles and all.

I watched in horror. I would have agreed with the first guy. I hope no one else washes dishes like that, although I know this is quite a common practice.

Detergent works by attaching itself to grease and dirt particles to form water soluble compounds. These water soluble compounds need to be dissolved in water to be washed away. A piece of clean tea towel would never function as a solvent like water to take away the grease-detergent compounds. Try washing your hands with soap then dry them without rinsing. You will see what I mean. Without rinsing away the detergent compound with clean water, we are left with dishes that are now covered in a film of detergent for the next meal. It is not so much of a worry if the film is made up of only left over grease or someone else’s saliva. They may not sound very hygienic but at least they are biodegradable. Unfortunately, we are now dealing with detergent. We are practically eating or drinking detergent. So far I have yet discovered a detergent that is eatable.

I  looked up one of the most common dish washing liquids in Australian households. On the manufacturer’s product safety data sheet, it is indicated that “acute or chronic (meaning repetitively—added by author) ingestion of the product can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritation of eyes on direct contact”.  In another word, it says please do not eat it. Do not make your delicate internal mucosa (like the inside of  the eyes, the inside of the mouth, and not surprisingly the intestinal track, etc) in direct contact with it. If you do, seek medical attention.

These are the main ingredients in that dish washing liquid: Water , Ammonium C12-15 Pareth Sulfate , Magnesium Isododecylbenzenesulfonate , Lauramidopropylamine Oxide , SD Alcohol 3-A , Sodium Xylenesulfonate , Sodium Chloride , Fragrance , Pentasodium Pentetate , DMDM Hydantoin , Sodium Bisulfite , D&C Orange No. 4 (active ingredients: Triclosan 0.12%). I would be very surprised if someone tells me these are food grade ingredients!

Our liver does a  damn good job cleaning these foreign particles out, after all, the amount is minute, one might say. I can’t agree more. I am not so sure though when we add pesticides, preservatives, medications, stress hormones, late nights, and more to the list if the liver would thank us. At least the detergent can be washed away while a lot of others may not be avoidable.

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