Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mommy taught me: Beat the HEAT

Chongqing is so hot, that when you step into a hot spring you feel cold.  Chongqing is so hot that you sweat while you're taking a shower. Chongqing is sooo hot that my 5 inch wide sun hat bakes and protects me at the same time. And the jokes could go on. How do I survive...listening Third World's 96 degrees in the shade? Nope. Those silky voices do not cool me down. However, these drinks do. So where ever you are, use them to keep nice and moist inside and try not to get too toasty on the outside.

Jasmine Iced tea

1 tsp loose jasmine tea ( I'm totally in love)
2 cups hot water
4 tsp white sugar

1. Using my teapot infuser, I draw the leaves in hot water for two minutes or until light brown. It's important not to go overtime, to preserve the floral taste.

2. Transfer to a pitcher and mix in sugar. Chill for a couple hours

3. Drink to the last drop!!






Honey I'm home Lemonade

1 lemon, thinly sliced 
3 mandarins, peeled and sliced ( Other citrus fruits are welcomed)
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp sugar
1 cup room temp. water
Plenty plenty ice

1. Arrange fruit at the bottom of the pitcher. Make it look pretty!

2. Mix honey and  sugar in water until dissolved, then add to pitcher

3. Fill the remaining space with ice cubes. I used about 42 cubes and chilled for at least 1 hour.

4. Freshness times sweetness equals satisfaction. Use within 2 days.



Tropical Ice pops

1 frozen banana, sliced
2 cups cantaloupe, sliced
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp white sugar
Dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
Coconut gelatin chunks
1 tsp flax seed (very optional)
4 part popsicle mould


1. Blend banana, milk and flax seed for a base. Add the remaining ingredients (except the coconut) and blend until smooth.

2. Pour into mould, add coconut chunks and cover. Freeze for a couple hours.

3. Enjoy a bite on the tropics on your balcony or  in the comfort of your room.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bite me: C.H.I.P.S

This week in 'Bite me' are these awesome mixed vegetable and fruit chips from Shandong. Ingredients include anything you can think of...Are you finish thinking? OK. Let's go. Irish potato, sweet potato, taro, carrot, mushroom, apple, kiwi and peach. They are thinly sliced and fried in palm oil. Maltose and salt are added for taste and preservation.


Crispy, sweet and despite the odd combinations, easily addictive.....



The entire tin provides 43% recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fats, 23% carbohydrates and 12% salt. So take it easy or as we say over here...慢慢来(man man lai).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bite me: Summer Fruit Bliss

This Summer I found out that I am a....FRUIT ADDICT. I eat fruit every minute of the day. If there was a Mad Fruit Disease, I would have caught it for sure. There are so many kinds of plums, grapes, mangoes and pears to choose from. And then came the 'unheard ofs'. I'm from the tropics, so I thought I had tasted it all. Well I was pleasantly surprised. I've forgotten most of their names but my taste buds have much better memory. So here is a review of my favorites.


Lychee fruit by SUJA on flickr

Lychee 荔枝  lì zhī

The shape and size reminds me a lot of the Caribbean chenette/chinup/skinup (we can argue about the names later). However it's a heavy sweet flavor with a smooth texture and juicy flesh I never get tired of eating. After a little reading, I learnt that they are a very good source of Vitamin C (1/2 cup can meet the daily requirement), Vitamin B complex, Copper, Phosphorus and also Phenols which are great antioxidants.





Longyan Fruit

Dragon eye Fruit 龙眼 lóng yǎn

It's the firmer version of the Lychee and sort of taste like a mango without the hairy issues. Although it's lower in Vitamin B, it also provides more Vitamin C and Potassium. Dragon eye fruit 'nourishes' the nervous system and help to treat insomnia and forgetfulness so I really hope these are in season next semester. Don't mess with the Dragon.









Dragon Fruit 火龙果 huǒ lóng guǒ

By now you've probably figured out that the Dragon is very important in Chinese culture. First of all, I was completely attracted to the color. What fruit comes in bright pink? A pretty and chic one, right? And the coat and layers scream 'freakum dress'. I've seen it in fruit salad and as a birthday cake topping, but this summer was my first time eating it. The insides hold a very delicate sweetness and tartness; a definite contrast to the party on the outside. Great source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Plant albumin which helps in detoxification and Anthocyanin which maintains the health of your blood vessels. And since it's low in calories and fat and high in cellulose, it perfect for the munchies.



Here is a roughly translated recipe using Dragon fruit and shrimp. I'm so sorry that I couldn't provide measurements but I know you'll make a boss dish from this inspiration.



Mystical Fried Shrimp


Dragon fruit
Sand Shrimp
Egg
Starch
Celery
Green onion

1. Peel fresh shrimp and remove moisture with a dry cloth.

2. Add salt and after some time, drain the water and squeeze with a dry cloth. Mix shrimp and egg white and then add dry starch, stirring in one direction. Finally add salad oil (to prevent sticking together of shrimp) and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

3. Without letting the pan get too hot, place the shrimp in and spin clockwise with chopsticks until you see a color change.


4. Put oil, several small celery stalks, dragon fruit, a few scallions (green onions not too much to  overshadow shrimp flavor). Fry for two minutes, then add the shrimp and fry for another five minutes. Isn't that exotic !!!




真的吗?:Stop counting Calories


As I have mentioned in my profile or somewhere in this blog, adapting to food customs of a different culture can be both exciting and challenging. I panicked for the first couple months when I couldn't find cheese. (What was I going to eat with watermelon? Yikes?!) Then I complained when I had to travel for hours to find it. Then my cheese shopping days became an impromptu food safari as I sampled the local delicacies and street food around me. Before I knew it, six months passed without me using or tasting cheese and even butter.

Pizza from a local Pizzeria
Those food safaris were scary at first. Bugs on a stick, hundred year old egg, stinky tofu. I know. Nothing sounds appealing here. But what it did teach me is that there's a lot of variety if we just look around a bit more. For instance my calcium intake decreased with my lack of dairy. Soon I discovered a love for soybean products such as soy bean milk and tofu, seaweed, bok choy, day lily flower all containing acceptable levels of calcium and as a bonus avoiding the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol that hide in the shadows of dairy products.
Stinky Tofu sold street side
Many people find eating healthy to be very boring or difficult because of the restrictions but as my eyes have opened, I see tons of possibilities, avenues for creativity and exposure to more nutrients in your diet. When eating with my Chinese family and friends, they have never once mentioned calories, saturated fats, radicals and other factors we tend to obsess about. And here's why:

Water

 They drink water all day, most times hot or at room temperature. Water is the cleanest fuel your body can run on. It controls your appetite so that you're not always first in line at the donut shop and increases metabolism so that your body breakdowns fat during the day and in between meals.

Tea

Simply brewed with hot water, Chinese tea, whether its green leaves, black leaves or precious rose and chrysanthemum petals, are cool and refreshing and provides a ton of benefits from a healthy liver to beautiful skin.

Meal portions

You open the menu and order a beef meal expecting juicy clunk of meat dripping in that rich marinade. Sorry to be a dream crusher but it will most likely appear in strips. Whether its duck, rabbit, chicken or pork, the flesh is most times served in smaller pieces. It aids in quicker digestion and also keeps you from celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas everyday. Veggies are served the same, all as separate dishes instead of the individual plates. 
Dinner for the fam

  I personally have so much fun eating like this because I usually have 5 or 6 different types of meat and veggies in one meal. By the time I'm full, I've actually eaten much less than a typical Western meal yet consumed so many 'good' nutrients.
Dinner for one


Time

Spontaneity is fun but let's face it, our bodies need routine. I mean every time our hearts skip too many a beat, we run to the doctor. My friend taught me a very valuable lesson in Chinese culture: Eat before you're hungry and sleep before you're tired. So firstly, try not to skip meals. Secondly, try to eat them at the same time everyday. This one's a bit tough if you're a workaholic or live alone but it's really worth the try. Thirdly and most important is your last meal. Just like our eyes follow the second hand at 3:59 with bag in hand, our bodies have their closing time. And when the boss calls you in for overtime, don't you work as slow as you can so you get more pay. Guess what currency your body pays in. Having dinner between 4 and 6 pm gives the body enough time to digest and pack up for the night. "But Kizzy, those worms in my tummy are keeping me awake." No problem mon. Try fruits that are low in fiber or yogurt which is low in fat. And maybe some Zentel?

Let's get physical

Honestly, I love this section the most because it really captures the Chinese view on health. On my way to school and back, I'm guaranteed to meet Tai Chi folks, pole dancers (not what you're thinking) and professional walkers. They are mostly over the age of 70 but they don't look it at all. Over 40ers are mainly into waltz and traditional Chinese aerobics and fill any park or square with up to 60 women and sometimes men every night. And we young folks take the jogging. Just 20 minutes of your day can make a big difference in your blood circulation, digestion and metabolism. That means you get to enjoy life much longer.



The world is being saturated with too many weight loss plans that keep you from enjoying your food. Be honest with your body. Choose options over restrictions and have fun eating.



Not to sound too commercial but check the link to read more about this topic in
Why the Chinese don't count calories by Lorraine Clissold. I'm still trying to source the book but from the preview, it gives the whole nine. In the mean time I have to go figure out a new book to write....