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Time and time again when people asked me about the recipe of my daily smoothies, I have always been telling everyone that it’s entirely up to your taste and the season.  There is so much variety when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and there isn’t one formula that fits everyone especially when taste is concerned.   Nevertheless, my daily recipe is listed below merely as a reference to what I like, particularly from my principle of diversity and balance of nutrients. 

If you want to know what this is and why I’m doing it in the first place, check out my previous blog post here.

Blend of Goodness

My daily smoothie recipe (2-Litre size)

One carrot

One tomato

Ginger (ample quantity; unpeeled)

One half cucumber

One apple (unpeeled; unseeded)

One pear (unpeeled; unseeded)

Grapes

One grapefruit (peeled)

One kiwi (peeled)

One half beet root (peeled)

One fourth cabbage; or One half broccoli

Black sesame (a dash)

Flaxseeds (a dash)

Dried wolfberries (a dash)

Water (650cc)

There you have it.  All ingredients are sliced for ease of blending.  Again, I have to stress that this only works with an industrial strength blender (as detailed in my earlier post).  Throw this recipe in the trash if you are using anything else.

Have fun and share with me what works for you!

Blend of Goodness 1

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Yes, maybe it’s age.  These days when I travel, particularly when it’s traveling for business, I hardly go for the popular tourist attractions or sites anymore.  I try my hardest to stay away from the crowds, chaos, traffic, lines, and the so-called “must-sees” and “must-dos”.  The setbacks of not having a “I’ve been here too” photo are well compensated by my own itinerary that is catered for my preferences, and pace.

When you travel for business, you usually only get a few hours in the evening, or if you’re lucky, half of a weekend before business commences.  A further half of that time is usually spent on socializing or dining with local friends and colleagues.  With the valuable time that remains, I am not prepared to stand in lines for the tourist attractions, only to mingle with visitors but the locals.

Trying to get a feel of the local culture and pulse is a must.  It can be felt on the streets, in the local eateries, subway trains, neighborhood markets, grocery stores, or even convenience stores around every corner.  Take a step back, suck in the air, the sounds, and the sights on the streets, can be different enough.  The key is maintaining an inquisitive mind at all times, and you will be nicely rewarded.

The reason I mentioned age is because younger folks generally have a lot more energy to fill up their itineraries by visiting a dozen landmarks a day.  Either I am too lazy, or simply I don’t have as much energy as them these days, especially when I see crowds and lines of people everywhere.  Instead, I gave myself much less aggressive targets by taking light strolls on the streets, sitting down for coffee or tea, taking my time at the park, and to find my bearings using guide books and the all so convenient iPhone apps.

The only complaint I have when traveling for business is the absence of dining companions other than work colleagues.  There are times when you just don’t want to talk about business anymore, and you know how inevitable it is even if you are already seeing your colleagues 12 hours a day.   My dining options are largely restricted if I haven’t had the luxury to make advance appointments with my local friends.  This is when local food courts usually come to my rescue.

Last month in Shanghai I discovered a newly opened food court right next to my hotel.  To my surprise, the establishment was invested by Taiwanese and hence the entire mall is inhabited by licensed Taiwanese eateries.

But then again, why would I go for Taiwanese food when I am in Shanghai?

Shanghai Food Court

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I have no idea whether it’s because we really have nothing else to say in front of our friends and relatives.  After all we have already shared on Facebook over what marvellous life we have, the trips we have gone on and the mouth-watering food we have inhaled over the weeks.  If you think that we can then finally get down to what’s at stake, and what’s real – our lives, our ups and downs, our struggles and revelations when we finally got time to sit down with our best friends and family, you are wrong.

We are multi-tasking even when we have company.  Our conversations are constantly interrupted by instant messages, texts and up to the minute Facebook uploads and downloads, as well as tweets and weibo.  It feels that everyone else in the virtual world is more important than our companions at hand.  Oh yes, they would understand, since they are doing exactly the same in their virtual friend sphere, at the same time.

And for the few who are not so much into the latest digital gizmos, or the unthinkable catastrophe where your gadgets are either out of power or network coverage, not to worry.  If physical human interaction cannot be avoided, there is always our most loyal friend to the rescue, television sets.

There is nothing more tacky in my opinion than large screen LCD hanging television panels in restaurants in town, and they can be as densely installed as ceiling lights.  I hate it when it’s now considered a must-have item on the restaurant fixture list.  Not only are they in no way aesthetically pleasing, these 60 inches panels just suck the life out of everyone , turning them into chewing zombies.

Call me old-fashioned.   If you want to catch a TV show, stay home for it, or record it for private viewing later.  Please don’t strip away the last bit of enjoyment of actually sitting down for dinner, over a nice long chat.  For me, that latter eye-to-eye interaction is actually what makes a meal memorable.

If it’s up to me, I would really pick some place without the floating TV sets.  Maybe I’m really getting old.

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10 Reasons I Love Dim Sum

Do I have reasons loving dim sum?  Sure I do.  Good reasons?  Yes.  How many reasons do I need?  None.  Good food is always a blessing, and the fact that we have the health and luxury to indulge ourselves, at least occasionally, in mouth-watering cuisines, needs absolutely no rationalization.  Yet then and again, sometimes I do need a reminder or two to reaffirm my faith for these little drops of heaven.

  1. It’s the ultimate culinary art.  Even if you are a fabulous cook you will seldom find yourself making dim sum at home.  Seldom has there been so much preparation work involved with such tiny bite-sized treats.  It involves the freshest ingredients and as time evolves also the most expensive ones.  The chopping, dicing, steaming, baking, frying and the precise timing makes attempting dim sum at home a nightmare.  There is so much depth to a good piece of dim sum.  If you are not a fan yet, chances are they weren’t prepared by the master chefs with heart.  Don’t allow yourself to be stripped of your eternal right of culinary orgasm.
  2. It’s the ultimate time-waster.  Aside from those run-of-the-mill business lunches when you find yourself fighting for the last piece of siu mai with your colleagues, or when you are so exhausted entertaining your clients by putting the emphasis in difficulties to make a booking over actual qualities of food, it’s life’s biggest blessing when you find yourself sitting in a place for 2 hours enjoying little portions of dim sum in the middle of the day.  Dim sum is not meant for rush eating.  Chinese tea is not to be consumed like coke and you don’t dunk 3 pieces of dim sum into your mouth like you chow on a burger that is 8 inches tall.  If you get a window table on a weekday, you get to feel sorry over the pedestrians scrambling for work on the streets.  On the weekend, you get to be thankful that you haven’t slept through most of the day as you still get to enjoy a sumptuous brunch while enjoying the sun and breeze.
  3. It means you still have friends.  Dim sum is not meant to be consumed alone, though there are lots of seniors who enjoy having a light breakfast after their early morning stroll or Tai-Chi, alone.  Taking that aside, dim sum is better shared with the people you love.  If you have a steady group of close friends whom you feel comfortable to invite to your dim sum gatherings while gossiping, you have done something right in your life.
  4. It’s for the undecided.  I sometimes have a phobia making menu decisions.  I always find the entrees picked by my companions far better than the ones I’ve picked for myself.  With dim sum, all my troubles are gone.  Although there can still easily be 50 or 60 choices on the menu, I can still have about 6-9 chances to make something right.  Yes I do love varieties in sample sizes, and dim sum makes it legitimate for greedy people like myself.  Even if I’ve over ordered, I can still easily pack it up to go.
  5. It’s perfect for people watching.  No it’s not just like any other restaurant.  Chinese restaurants have brighter lighting and closer table proximity in general, and you’ll be amazed by the abundance of personalities from all walks of life.  If you want to feel the pulse of the city, head to a Chinese restaurant during dim sum hours.  You will be bombarded by gossips, opinions and never-ending drama.  Enjoy.
  6. It’s available in every street corner.  If you are in Hong Kong, you will find yourself surrounded by dim sum restaurants virtually anywhere.  When hunger strikes, and sometimes in the middle of the night after a few rounds of drinks, the ultimate comfort food here may not only be greasy pizzas, hot dogs or kebab, but glorious bamboo steamers of your favorite shrimp dumplings, beef balls and spring rolls.  Its popularity has since made its way into around the clock convenience stores.  Of course, the authenticity and quality of such remains questionable.  Nevertheless, it’s the city’s ultimate comfort food, in every definition.
  7. It’s the no-brainer hotspot to entertain foreigners.  If you want to scare your dear friends from abroad, order chicken feet, stinky tofu or roasted pigeon and video tape their reaction.  If you want to scare yourself, be amazed to see your dear friends drown everything from shrimp dumplings and siu mai into soy sauce before the very first bite.  A dim sum lunch is in no shortage of entertainment for either sides.
  8. It’s the ultimate taste test.  If the restaurant serves fantastic dim sum in the day, you should be assured of its quality and consistency all around.  If you ain’t sure whether that’s a place good enough for your clients or your mother-in-law, try their dim sum and you can tell.  This golden rule has never failed me so far.
  9. It’s piping hot.  For Chinese, temperature is almost everything.  It warms our body.  It’s soothing, and it increases our metabolism.  Aside from selected desserts, most dim sum comes out steaming hot.  Parents always use the excuse to remind kids to eat quickly because “it’s getting cold”.  I am guilty of such even with my own friends.  Frankly it does taste a lot better when you consume it right out of the steamer/oven.  Problem is, you may find yourself finish swallowing everything in less than half an hour.  In that case, you might not get to experience reason #2 above.
  10. It’s affordable.  I know.  There are plenty of places where you can break the bank by ordering siu mai with abalone, or shark fin dumplings (only if you are not an environmentalist).  The truth is, there are tons of places where you can find affordable dim sum at decent quality.  What you sacrifice for, most likely, is the ambience of the place and service from the wait staff.  Rental is exorbitant here in Hong Kong, and I don’t blame them for extremely tight spaces or expected high turnaround of patrons.  As long as your expectations are set in determining what you are in the mood for the day, you shouldn’t get a heart attack seeing the bill.  The latter can still happen in plenty of western and japanese places in town, unfortunately.

So, who cares to join me for some mouth-watering dim sum?

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Comfort food is a fabulous term.  It is broad enough to let each of us define what it is according to our personal tastes and experiences, while at the same time graphic enough to depict the cause as well as the result, i.e., a desire of comfortness.

It’s the choice where you keep returning to even if you have the luxury to consume the most exquisite and exotic cuisines of the world.  It’s one of those nights when you just don’t want to dress up for fancy restaurants and pretentious table manners after a long hard week of work and traveling.  It’s not only the food itself, but also the state of mind that you have attached to the pursuit and consumption of such.  It’s a beautiful and satisfying craving, along with soothing emotional thoughts.

It’s highly individualized, though one can generally find some consensus choices in each culture.  Evidently, a lot of these choices involve sugar, candies, desserts, foods that are deep-fried and filling, or generally anything with strong salt and flavoring that tickles our taste buds.   And why is that?  It’s the kind of food which we craved for when we were young, often prohibited by our parents, and at the time when healthy eating wasn’t the tiniest bit of our concerns.

Eating is one of our most primary sensory forms aside from the obvious need to stay alive.  Aside from the taste and texture of what we put into our mouths, the state of mind around us at the time is a compelling memory.  The steamy soothing bowl of noodles at 4am in my dormitory room has created a lasting impression on – you know what – instant noodles.  I remember my days abroad in a cold lonely night with my books and the tiniest black and white TV, and an empty stomach resulted from unheard of supper times of 5pm.  That remains to be my comfort food until today.  It’s actually my “friend” then.  It’s where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling at the time of consumption that makes it my personal choice.

Comfort food is like music.  You love certain oldies because it reminds you of whom you were loving and accompanying at the time.  The scene immediately pops into your head.  You feel the heartache, the tears, the joy, and the simpler times.  We love our mothers’ cooking because it’s familiar, it’s warm, and its unconditional love even though we know it may not be the most delicious or sophisticated cooking we have tried.  Regardless, we still engulf our moms’ cooking, with tiny tears in our eyes and like there is no tomorrow, because it comforts us.

That’s the reason why despite the tens of thousands of exotic and sophisticated eateries in the city, there are still smaller players that continue to provide simpler and fulfilling comfort foods to those in need.  Selling comfort food is like selling warmth and memories.  If there is a place where I can visit and recapture my youthful experiences and dreams, they have secured my wallet.

For now, that place is called home.  My Mom’s home.

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Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef with humor and personal wit that I come to admire and enjoy, has recently been caught in a “food fight” with fellow Food Network star, Paula Deen.   In an TV Guide interview, Bourdain calls Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America” for  her artery-clogging style of cooking.”

She revels in unholy connections with evil  corporations, and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f–king bad for you,”  Bourdain said of the Food Network star, who is famous for her butter-heavy recipes.

I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it is OK to eat food that is killing us,”  he said. “Plus, her food sucks.”

I have not personally heard of Deen before, and out of curiosity and just a few mouse clicks away, I can see why she is portrayed as the most dangerous person to the U.S. of A.

Judge for yourself.  Here below is one of her famous recipes, courtesy of additional commentary by FoxNews.com.

Deen’s Doughnut Burger

Ingredients:

4 Glazed Doughnuts

1 lb Ground Beef (not the lean kind!)

8 Slices of American Cheese

8 Strips of Bacon

Directions:

You can cook the doughnuts from scratch, but why go to the trouble? Any from your local bakery should be fine, but you can’t go wrong with Krispy Kremes. We suggest using the Glazed Sour Cream variety for a nice 310 calorie kick. Slice in two and fry the inside until browned.

Separate the beef into four patties. Resist your summertime instinct to put them on a BBQ grill and fry them to your liking in  butter instead. This is not the time to be worrying about your waist line.

Don’t even think about not frying the bacon in butter too.

Place one slice of cheese on the bottom of the bun,  followed by the patty and another slice of cheese on top to enhance overall gooeyness. Add two slices of bacon, in a crisscross fashion, of course, then consider for a moment if you really  want lettuce and tomato — we’ll leave that up to you.

(Don’t do it!)

And that’s it, you now hold in your hands the ultimate brunch or — for you late nighters — dinsert.

Depending on the time of day, you can either wash it down with a steaming cup of coffee or a crisp, hoppy beer to cut through the sweetness.

Either way, have a good night’s sleep.

And if you need further proof, go with the experts.  According to mnn.com, last year, Dean’s “Kitchen Classics” cookbook was ranked one of the worst of the decade according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “You’d need a magnifying glass to find a vegetable in some of these cookbooks,” a rep for the group quipped.

Amen to America.

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I came across this interesting article on Men’s Health how some food ingredients can trick our bodies into not recognizing fullness, and we all know what happens after that.  We continue eating even after we have finished a satisfying lunch or dinner.  Men’s Health listed these 7 reasons from the book “The New American Diet” by Stephen Perrine and Heather Herlock.

1. You Drink Too Much Soda

Sodas and sweetened beverages contain high-fructose corn syrup, which according to new research from the University of California at San Francisco, can trick our brains into craving more food, even when we are full.  “It works by impeding the body’s ability to use leptin, the “satiation hormone” that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat.”

2. Your Dinner Came Out of a Can

“Many canned foods are high in the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which the Food and Drug Administration recently stated was a chemical “of some concern.” Exposure to BPA can cause abnormal surges in leptin that, according to Harvard University researchers, leads to food cravings and obesity.”
 
3. Your Breakfast Wasn’t Big Enough
 
True.  A good breakfast drammatically cuts down my craving for a heavy greasy lunch.  “After following 6,764 healthy people for almost 4 years, researchers found that those who ate just 300 calories for breakfast gained almost twice as much weight as those who ate 500 calories or more for breakfast. The reason: Eating a big breakfast makes for smaller rises in blood sugar and insulin throughout the day, meaning fewer sudden food cravings.”
 
4. You Skipped The Salad
 
“…leafy greens…are rich in the essential B-vitamin folate and help protect against depression, fatigue, and weight gain. In one study, dieters with the highest levels of folate in their bodies lost 8.5 times as much weight as those with the lowest levels. Leafy greens are also high in vitamin K, another insulin-regulating nutrient that helps quash cravings. Best sources: Romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, radicchio.”
 
5. You Don’t Stop For Tea Time
 
Ok, easy.  They are not talking about those egg tarts, cakes and chicken wings you may be thinking about.   They are talking about actual tea here.   “According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who drank one cup of black tea after eating high-carb foods decreased their blood-sugar levels by 10 percent for 2 and a half hours after the meal, which means they stayed full longer and had fewer food cravings. Researchers credit the polyphenolic compounds in black tea for suppressing rebound hunger.”
 
6. You’re Not Staying Fluid
 
Can’t be more true.  So many of us are simplying not drinking enough water.  “Dehydration often mimics the feeling of hunger. If you’ve just eaten and still feel hungry, drink a glass of water before eating more, and see if your desires don’t diminish.”
 
7. You’re Bored
 
I’ll be damned.  How many of us want to eat just because we hate to get back to work?  “Researchers at Flinders University in Australia found that visual distractions can help curb cravings. To test yourself, envision a huge, sizzling steak. If you’re truly hungry, the steak will seem appealing. But if that doesn’t seem tempting, chances are you’re in need of a distraction, not another meal.”
 
The book comes highly recommended from fellow readers.   Check it out even if you are not American – our diets are getting similar!
 

 

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