general — seaweed , fun ways to add to our meals

According to Master Trainer Wei Ling seaweed may assist us with our flexibility. I have had a fun time mixing this healthy food with almost all of my meals.
Here are some suggestions
1. Peanut butter sandwich with slabs of seaweed which is a light snack for after asana practises
2. Cheese with seaweed sandwich which is both savoury and energy giving.
3. It can also cut up into thin strips and tossed into our salads for that extra crunchy bite.
4. The taste of any soupy food like fish ball noodle soup or fish soup can be further enhanced with a handful of it as well.
5. Tofu seaweed wrap
6. Seaweed as a garnish over Oatmeal for breakfast
7. Snack on seaweed instead of peanuts thus saving us the ‘extra rolls’ around our bellies
Have a good time enjoying this healthy food.

Delicious vegetable muffins

Starting on a vegetarian diet can be a daunting task for some of us. For me, I decided I could revamp my diet by starting vegetarian on my favourite—desserts! I am a great fan of desserts (maybe all ladies will make the same confession) and I love muffins! Soft, crumply, yummy. Mmmmm…
And having worked as an au-pair, I know how difficult it is to get children started on vegetables. So, below are two recipes with vegetables incorporated for the beginning vegetarian and the little ones.
1. Broccoli Muffins

Ingredients  (makes 10 muffins):
375 g broccoli
1 egg
250 ml milk
250 g self raising flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
125 g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Method :
1.      Break the broccoli into small florets and wash thoroughly.
2.      Whisk the egg and milk together in a mixing bowl, then sift in the flour and mixed spice.
3.      Stir until the mixture is just combined.
4.      Finally, fold in the broccoli and grated cheese.
5.      Spoon the mixture into lightly greased muffin tins.
6.      Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 190C/375F for 30 minutes.
 
2. Carrot Muffins
Ingredients (makes 20-24 muffins):
250 g butter
220 g caster sugar
4 eggs
750 g self raising flour
375 ml soured cream
500 ml cooked carrot puree
60 g chopped nuts (optional)
Method :
1.      Cream the butter, sugar, orange rind and vanilla until light and fluffy.
2.      Beat in the eggs, then add the flour, soured cream and carrot puree.
3.      Continue beating until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4.      Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins (deep round tins available from kitchenware shops).
5.      Sprinkle with nuts, if desired and bake at 180C/350F for 25 – 30 minutes or until the muffins turn a golden color.

Vegetarianism Journey

My journey towards vegetarianism started some 10 years ago shortly after I moved to Indonesia for a year or so. I think in Singapore we’re used to things being rather sanitised. If we go to the supermarket we often find chickens duly cleaned out, deboned, fillet and packed in neat packages and the same goes for other types of meats like beef, lamb and pork. Growing up in Singapore I never had the opportunity to experience the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the meat industry. In Indonesia, things are different. My neighbour across the street at that time happened to be a chicken farmer. It was a family business and he grew up rearing chickens and sold them to the local market. I striked up a conversation with him once and remembered him telling me that they would inject the chickens with ‘something’ (and by something I assume it’s growth hormones) and in 2 or 3 days the chickens would grow and almost double in size. “It’s like a miracle!’ as he puts it, his eyes glistening with excitement while I shuddered in fear. I’ve read about stuff like this in newspaper articles but to have it happen so close to home really takes it to another level.

On another occasion, I was invited to the local mosque to witness the process of the kurban where goats and cows would be slaughtered and skinned as a religious sacrifice. I closed my eyes most of the time but could hear most of what was going on and could also smell the blood in the air. Later I was invited to a feast where the meat was boiled simply and served with chilli sauce. I still distinctly remember what the meat looked like…grey and lifeless. At that point onwards, I decided I could no longer eat any more meat.

I started eating only green vegetables and the occasional tempeh and tofu. It was difficult to prepare my own vegetarian meals as I was staying with a local family and there weren’t alot of meat substitutes available. I didn’t feel healthy and was lethargic most of the time and was certainly not a sterling inspiration for vegetarianism to my friends! So a few years after coming back to Singapore, I fell off the bandwagon somewhat and started eating some fish and chicken again. Afterall, in Singapore it is easy to forget where the meat comes from isnt’ it? I started going 100% vegetarian again in the past year or so and this time I’m mindful about making sure that all my nutritional needs are adequately met and thus far I think I’m enjoying the process more (recipes to come!).

I titled this post a a vegetarianism journey because I truly believe that it’s a personal process. Ahimsa as one of the yamas in the 8 limbs of yoga is roughly translated as ‘non violence’  and this includes non violence to animals and also to our own bodies. As I think about my own experience in Indonesia, never is this more true for me. 🙂

Vegan Burger anyone?

Most of the vegetarian restaurants in Singapore are either Chinese or Indian. Less options for Western food. I meant a full vegetarian restaurant, not one whereby they serve meat but have veg options.
I recently went to a vegetarian restaurant in the Eastern part of Singapore, near Eunos area, and so coincidently, bumped into a Yoga student. Small world. I got to know of this place through another student who passed me a brochure.
It is called Vegan Burger, details at www.veganburg.com
The setting of this place is a fast food restaurant, very Western feel. The food selection is typically fast food, with burgers, fries and drinks. The way they serve the burger is very interesting as well…
I would recommend this place for these few reasons:
Free parking
Not crowded
Nice environment, spacious
burger is quite delicious
Fries, even though it is not healthy, is quite nice, once in a while it’s alright
If they can improve on these things, I would go there more often:
Juices are not real juice, it is too diluted and artificial, taste like syrup drink
soup is too watery
they can have more options of sides, instead of fries. E.g, salads.
More variety of burgers, or can include wraps
Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean one does not eat out or have very limited options. I am still quite a foodie and likes to seek out new places for vegetarian food. So, if you know of any good vegetarian restaurants, please let me know!

Some Recommendations for a Sattvic Yoga Diet


1. Try to each fresh, leafy greens in great quantity. These should be included in every meal, and are best eaten at the end of the meal. These vegetables contain many essential mineral for metabolism such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and chromium.  A yoga diets high in these foods forms a foundation for combating disease.
2. Vegetables that grow beneath the ground should be used sparingly, with the exception of carrots.
3. All fruits and vegetables should be taken fresh whenever possible. They are packed with nutrients, providing vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin and other vitamins, iron, calcium and fibre. Use tomatoes and over-ripe bananas sparingly.
4. Avoid canned or preserved foods.
5. The yoga diet includes a regular variety of nuts. These, however, should be boiled or steamed, and not fried or roasted.
6. Legumes, which is another name for beans, peas and lentils, are all good sources of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.
7. Soymilk and soya products are an excellent source of B vitamins and calcium and should be included in the daily yoga diet.
8. Make plentiful use of pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds, squash and other vine-grown foods.
9. Avoid fried foods!
10. Whole grains are rich in fibre and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc.
11. Drink a lot of (pure) water daily. Water (not cold!) may be taken with meals, but in small quantities and should not be used to “wash down” the food.

All you need to know about DETOX

So what exactly is detox? Does it actually benefit my body? How often should i practice it? What are the advantages to doing it? How do i go about getting started? More often than not, these are just one of the tons of questions that pops up in one’s mind when the word ‘DETOX’ is told. And in these days, people are using this word so frequently that got me wondering if they really knew the meaning to it. A common issue would be the various beautified terms around, ‘Detox Diet’, ‘Detox Programme’, ‘Detox Workout’ etc. And this DETOX would eventually equates to DIETING, for many.
However, if not practised correctly, this may actually lead to harmful effects to the body. Why so?
In fact, when one embarks on this diet, there will be a drastic lowering of calorie intake which usually only consists of non solid food, i.e. liquid diet. But whatever that is available in the commercial market, promotes more of its own branding than the healthy benefits for one, and as stated in womens health magazine, these diets usually have, “very low-calorie or contain diuretics that flush your body of potassium and other crucial nutrients.” And the assumingly weight lost from the 3 days detox diet, is actually just water weight, or worse still, muscles that you have lost and nothing of the fats that everyone claimed!  And since muscles are responsible for the extra amount of calorie we burn throughout the day, the metabolism actually slows way down to preserve the muscles and our bodily funtion. and the bad news is once you return back to the normal diet, you’ll eventually gain weight faster with FEWER calories!
Nevertheless, all is not lost. DETOX is actually a medium that aids the body in cleansing when done properly. With this said, as quoted from the womenshealthmag, one, “can feel like an intervention, a fresh beginning” after the period of detoxification. During this period, it also gives the digestive system a short break from the excess food taken daily.
Thus, a good plan would be one that provides minimum calorie but without a deficit for one’s body, which includes sufficient fibre and protein to sustain one through the day without feeling lethargic or any less energetic.
A Suggested Plan
Breakfast:

  • a glass of  warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Scrambled egg whites and 1 slice whole-wheat toast, dry
    or 1 cup cooked oats or cooked oatmeal topped with ½ cup berries or 2 Tbsp nutsSnack:
    • 1 medium sized apple 
    or 1/3 cup natural trail mix
    Lunch
    • 1 cup fresh spinach or lightly sautéed spinach or kale, squeezed with fresh lemon or orange juice
    or 1 cup asparagus with 1 tsp olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice
    • 4 oz grilled, baked, or broiled salmon, chicken, or pork tenderloin, seasoned with spices such as lemon pepper
    • 1/2 cup edamame beans, steamed
    • 8 pecan halves
    Snack:
    • 1/2 sweet potato or one citrus fruit (orange or grapefruit)
    • 4 oz low-fat yogurt
    Dinner
    • Large spinach or romaine salad with vegetables. Dress with 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil mixed with lemon juice or vinegar (any variety)
    • ½ cup to 1 cup asparagus or artichoke hearts, steamed
    • 4 oz lean chicken with spices, baked or grilled
    • ½ cup brown rice, barley, bulgur, or quinoa
    • 8 oz water or decaffeinated green or herbal tea
    Snack:
    • ¾ cup to 1 cup blueberries
    or ½ cup pomegranate seeds
    or low-fat organic yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese

credits womenshealthmag.
So bottomline is, lose weight the right way and do not rely on substitute foods for energry. Choose natural (sattvic food) which increases life, purity, strength, health and more, over processed food for convenience. In addition, it is also important to have a well-balanced diet with adequate amount of water which gives the body sufficent nutrients to function to the day to day chores. Water, a great cleansing  tool, helps dissolves and distributes food while removing impurities in the body. What’s more, its calorie free! Have a sip, before any cravings comes haunting, you may not be genuinely hungry there!

The amazing healing powers of Asafoetida

What is Asafoetida?

Asafoetida, also known as Narthex or Hing, its powder is commonly used in Indian cooking.  Recognized by its overwhelming odour when raw, which has given rise to at least one of its many popular names, “devil’s dung”
Asafoetida is a plant from the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots, parsley, dill, celery, fennel,  Most similar in appearance to fennel, asafoetida smells like rotting feet, which causes many cooks to feel nervous about using the herb.
This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles. Its odour, when uncooked, is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic.
Asafoetida is an herbal medicine used to treat nervousness, bronchitis, and gas pain. Other names for Asafoetida include: Ferula foetida, Devil’s Dung, and Giant Fennel. Asafoetida is a species of Ferula native to Iran. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. Asafoetida is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula , which is a perennial herb..
The leaves are 30-40 cm long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem. The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels. There are two main varieties of asafoetida. Milky white asafoetida and Red asafoetida. Asafoetida is acrid and bitter in taste and emits a strong disagreeable pungent odour due to the presence of sulphur compounds therein.

Benefits and Uses of Asafoetida

  • It is used to help relieve flatulence, abdominal pains, and digestive disorders and will kick-start peristalsis to prevent constipation.
  • Asafoetida is commonly used to treat bloating and gas to prevent flatulence, but it also quells stomach cramps, eases indigestion, and relieves constipation.
  • Asafoetida combines the properties of a stimulating antispasmodic with those of an efficient expectorant, making it a valuable remedy in spasmodic affections of the respiratory tract, as whooping-cough, asthma, etc.
  • It is powdered and mixed with ghee and rice and served to women after childbirth.It helps in relieving toothache.
  • Using the dried gum, this herb helps relieve headache pain and shows promise in treating migraines and tension headaches when mixed with water.
  • Efficient in preventing snake bites and repelling insects when mixed with garlic.
  • Asafoetida used for food stagnation, weak digestion, intestinal parasites and flatulence as well as asthma, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis.
  • It is also a laxative , especially useful in cases of flatulence.
  • Asafoetida was one of the most commonly prescribed herbs for the treatment of hysteria and for many symptoms associated with mood swings and depression.
  • Benefits of Asafoetida seed treatment for jowar becomes immune to drought conditions, increase in resistance to diseases, increase in crop yield.

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup

This is nice and easy and delicious! I found this recipe from about.com and thought I should share it with you.
Tom Yum Thai Spicy Soup Recipe with a vegetarian twist. Tom Yum Soup is currently under study for its ability to boost the immune system and help fight off cold and flu viruses. This vegetarian version is easy to make, and just as healthy (if not more so!) than the original recipe. Make this easy soup today as an appetizer, for lunch, or as a nutritionally complete dinner. You’ll love how it warms you up from the inside!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups good-tasting vegetable or faux chicken stock (makes 4 servings)
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, minced (see link below), OR 3-4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
  • 3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
  • 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes
  • 1-2 red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin matchstick-like pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mushroom (I used shiitake), sliced
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, leaves separated or chopped if large, OR substitute broccoli or bell pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 can good-quality coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil + 1/3 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  1. For complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
  2. Pour stock into a soup pot. If making the stock from cubes or powder, but sure to make it strong (if it tastes good on its own, it will make for a better Tom yum soup!). Now add the prepared lemongrass, plus the lime leaves, chili, garlic, and galangal or ginger. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, or until broth is very fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add the bok choy and cherry tomatoes. Gently simmer 1-2 more minutes (bok choy should remain on the crisp side).
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Finally, add the soft tofu and gently stir.
  6. Do a taste-test, adding more chili or chili sauce if not spicy enough. If not salty enough, add more soy sauce or a little more stock cube/powder or salt. Add 1 more tsp. sugar if too sour. If too salty or sweet, add another squeeze of lime juice.
  7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls with fresh basil and coriander sprinkled over. Enjoy!

Vitamins Alert!

Do we get enough vitamins from the food we eat? How much vitamins do we need and how do we know if we have enough? These are the common questions that are running through our mind, especially the health conscious.
Being a vegetarian, a large part of my diet is vegetables, beans, pulses and toufu. But after reading articles and having some feedback from other vegetarian friends, they gave me the impression that Vitamin B, especially B12 may be lacking in our diet. So I googled on Vitamin B and here it goes, thought I should share with more people:

What are the Vitamin Bs?

The primary group of the B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). In addition, there are numerous sub-groups of the Vitamin B family which are considered less pertinent to human needs, but important to other organisms and some animals.  These include B4 (adenine), B8 (inositol), B13, (orotic acid), B17 (amygdalin), B20 (carnitine), and more.

Food sources

Some foods which are considered to be high in some of the Vitamin B group are chili peppers, lentils, bananas, potatoes, and tempeh (soy based).  In addition, molasses and brewer’s yeast are good sources of B vitamins.
Oats, barley, wheat bran, avocado, salmon, Brazil nuts (and other nuts) are more good sources of B vitamins.
Dairy products and eggs are high in vitamin B12. For vegans, fortified cereal, fortified soymilk and brewer’s yeast are sources of B12 which are required in trace amounts.

The Need for Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get vitamin B12 in their diet. Although recommendations for vitamin B12 are very small, a vitamin B12 deficiency is a very serious problem leading ultimately to anemia and irreversible nerve damage. Prudent vegans will include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Vitamin B12 is especially important in pregnancy and lactation and for infants and children.

Importance of Vitamin B

The Vitamin B group is beneficial and even necessary for healthy bodies in numerous ways, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Supports healthy metabolism.
  • Helps maintain healthy skin and muscle tone.
  • Improves immune system function.
  • Improves nervous system function.
  • Helps promote cell growth and division, including red blood cells.
  • Helps combat symptoms of stress, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

Deficiencies in certain B vitamins can result in such illnesses as beriberi, anemia, heart disease, and birth defects.