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Sunday, July 31, 2011

group cooking class- winter

Thanks for the wonderful people who came to my group cooking lesson yesterday. Cooking and eating are such basic human activities and doing this together make people come together. We all shared their stories, beliefs and struggles and enjoyed everyones positive energy. Another way to motivate healthier, kinder living.

The menu was...
Piping hot brown rice and amaranth gratin topped with tofu cream
Apple and raisin chutney
Comforting winter chickpea miso soup with kudzu
Raw green and red salad with ginger and ume vinegar dressing

Almond and amazake tart with goji, blue berries and crunchy raw cocoa nibs

I will be running another spring session in September. Also a dessert class of course with no dairy, eggs, refined flour or sugar.

I am also thinking about hosting a lunch, to bring people together.
Let me know if you are interested.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

food matters, super size me

I have been watching different documentaries lately. Today I would like to mention these two .
informative documentary film that covers issues such as using food as medicine, organic foods, safety of our food etc. Interviews with leading nutritionists, Naturopaths, Scientists, M.D.'s and Medical Journalists, including Andrew W Saul, David Wolfe, Charlotte Gerson, Ian Brighthope.

documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock. In the film he eats all the meals for 30 days at McDonald's. The film follows the effects on Spurlock's physical and mental well beings as well as the fast food industry's influence on our society.

Friday, July 29, 2011

oil oxidation and omega3

I get this question quite often. What oil do you recommend for cooking?
In macrobiotic recipes canola oil, sesame oil and occasionally olive oil are used. Though after my own research I don't use these oils often, except extra virgin olive oil.
When you decide which oil to use for different purposes a few things should be considered

smoke point for an oil varies widely depending on origin and refinement. In general the temperature tends to increase as free fatty acid content decreases and degree of refinement increases.
When oil is exposed to oxidation it becomes rancid and produce free radicals
heating oil also produces free fatty acid and as heating time increases, more free fatty acids are produced, thereby decreasing smoke point. It is one reason not to use the same oil to deep fry more than twice.

For cooking I choose coconut oil, as it is high in saturated oil. Saturated oil is not affected much by oxidation because they are very stable and have a high degree of resistance to oxidation. Keep in mind that coconut oils has relatively low smoking point so it is best not to heat the oil over 177 degrees, unless it is refined.
It is best to avoid oil with high polyunsaturated fat as it is the most unstable fat compare to monounsaturated or saturated fat.

For salads I would use extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil has a nutty taste, rich in Omega3, which is hard to get in my current diet. It is high in ALA which the body can convert to more usable form of Onega 3, EPA and DHA. How much we can convert ALA to EPA and DHA depends on individuals. I recommend plant source of DHA as it is from a renewable source and free from environmental contaminants.
Make sure it is kept in fridge all the time and not use it for cooking.
I freeze my omega3 oils.

There are oils that I would avoid for another reason.
GM oils are a big concern. If your vegetable oils are not organic and do not specifically state that it is not from GM sources, it is most like that it is. Unfortunately there still isn't a obligation for the company to give consumers this fact! Corn, Soy and canola oils are one of the most common GM foods at the moment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the new whole foods encyclopedia

Here is another book of mine.
It is a great reference to keep. There are more than 1000 fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and herbs. It is easy to follow, as they are listed in an alphabetical order. They include common and uncommon whole foods in details. Description, medical benefits, use and safety.

Monday, July 25, 2011


can you believe it is my birthday already?
32 this year..
My daughter gave a present and card. She made me a necklace and a card and letter saying I love you, Mum. On the letter it said
"I love you Mum, A good person like you mum, will have a great life ahead."
You know what? I already do have a good life. Life with you....

thank you

face book

I'm on facebook.
I don't know how it works!

becoming vegan, vegetarian and raw

These three books are written by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. Great complete guide to becoming vegetarian/ vegan or vegan raw. They are registered dietitian so there are lots of nutritional facts in the books. it covers many different issues such as vitamins, minerals, scientific researches, myths, lifestyle. I often go back to these three books for some guidance. Only thing that I would mention is use of veggie meats and burgers. I don't believe they should be included in your dairy diet as these products are highly processed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

my puff pastry

Last time I wrote about the margarine that I made and said I'd make a puff pastry. I am proud to say I have done so already. My version is rough puff pastry so it doesn't take as long and it doesn't need to add fat as much as a traditional pastry.
Still I folded about 10 times over the course of 3 hours or so. Because it keeps quite well and freezes I made a bigger batch.

So What should I make with these...? savoury? or something sweet?
I asked my daughter and there is no surprise there. I was to make a dessert.
To cheat ( I think I used up most of the energy making the pastry today) I got azuki bean paste that I froze a while ago and spread onto the pastry. While it is baking I made white choco glaze with cocoa butter, stevia and kudzu.

Friday, July 22, 2011

vegan butter/margarine

It is one of a few things that I haven't had for a looong time. Butter and Margarine. It is not just because I choose not to eat dairy but also for a health reasons. Many so called vegan products have vegan margarine which is full of processed synthetic chemicals including preservatives, GMO corn and soy, palm oil and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. If you have heard that saturated fat is not your friend these trans fatty acids are worse than saturated fat.

Anyway, I don't have an urge to have puff pastry or cream frosting anymore. However I started thinking I wanted to make those pastry dishes so that my daughter, who loves a croissant or pastry dessert when her father gives them to her, will enjoy my version of them.
The first thing was making vegan margarine. and you know me by now I want it to be made with real food.
And I have to say it was a SUCCESS!
All the ingredients includes, coconut oil, soy milk, salt, apple cider vinegar, sunflower oil and soy lecithin. It was my first time to have used soy lecithin. I did some research and concluded that it is an ok product and I did manage to get organic.

Making pastry is pretty labour intensive. I don't know when I will get to that....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

raw flaxseed cracker

Because I wanted to dehydrate some nuts and the weather is not great for drying in the sun I made flaxseed crackers as well.
they are so easy to make! process flaxseed, water, garlic, my own cured olives (yes they are ready!), beetroot and broccoli in a food processor and spread on a non stick paper. to preserve the enzymes and nutrients I only heat my raw products at 50 degrees or under.
Even though my daughter won't like these crackers. I made her more of fruity one. Together with frozen berries, coconut , almonds and flaxseed meal and dates I hope they are good enough for her selective taste buds. I will see.
I know they are quite yin but my interested in certain raw foods are increasing. It's funny because it is cold and I do have lots of things cooked, there are many studies done to promote more raw foods in the diet. Not only it preserves its nutrients but also heating at high temperature can oxidise many fats, oils and proteins. I can't live without warm soup at the moment and I don't see any reasons to go 100 percent raw I have started to deliberately include raw dishes.
I still think seasonal and local foods are important though. In winter I wouldn't buy bananas to make frozen ice cream even it looks good in a recipe book!

immigration museum in Melbourne

I just came back from the immigration museum in Melbourne. I really enjoyed it and recommend anyone with any background to go and see the exhibition.
The history of australia's immigration as well as your identity and racisms were discussed. What I found interesting the most was the individual's stories and identification that lots of immigrants and second generation australians experience in the every day lives.
Melbourne is know for a diverse multi cultural city. Being a non-white resident in Australia, I have had my share of discomfort. Race is one thing but there are others. How you look, what you wear, eat, your accent, your job etc.
You cannot change how others think of you and treat you but YOU have a power to change how you think. Being proud of who you are could do that....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

cooking class with J

Thanks J for doing a cooking class with me.
Like many of my clients J is a vegan and like me she doesn't like to be called a "vegan"
Sometimes I tell people that I am vegan because it's sort of easy to explain what I prefer not to consume in a form of food. But what if I purchase something with leather form a shop or what if I ate something with fish stock? What I am then? Labelling yourself and other people can limit your potential to be flexible and adventurous.
It is not just a food choice. It could be your personality or ability to do things. Do you say something like "I am shy" or "I am not good at giving speeches" When you voice that out it becomes something that is hard to reverse or change.
I try not label my daughter in front of other people as well. "he is a bit timid", "she doesn't like sports" hearing someone else talk in this way children can start to think they are, even if that is not true.

anyway i wanted to talk about the class!

J wanted to learn how she could use more legumes in her dishes instead of opening a can and eat them as they are. She found the beans from a can tend to make her feel bloated.
I agree. Even though they are convenient foods in aluminium are not ideal for your health, Also I don't know how they are prepared. In order to digest legumes well they need to be soaked, sprouted if possible and cooked in a certain way that make them more digestible. Like everything else they should be cooked from a scratch. (Again I know we can't be perfect all the time!)

Our dishes were

Pink quinoa with ginger infused beets and wakame
Creamy mushroom, onion and white bean pie with white sauce topping
Warm spiced vegetable and lentil coconut salad

Even her partner gave us a thumb up!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

yin and yang

In macrobiotic we talk about yin and yang principle a lot.
Yin is an expanding energy and yang is more concentrated, contracting energy. like everything else some foods are more yin than others or vice versa. nothing can be purely yin or yang but can be seen as containing more or less of each quality, compare to other foods.
For example meat is considered to be very yang and refined sugar is considered to be very yin. The goal is to find ourselves balanced physically, mentally and emotionally between these two states as having too much of either yin or yang energy can throw our physiology and mentality out of balance.

The effects of each food will be different for different people as well. A person who is normally more yang might have a piece of cake and might not feel the imbalance after, while someone with more yin quality may.
You may decide to eat accordingly in order to achieve a specific emotional state. If you feel that you are feeling more stressed, and aggressive you may decided to include something more yin in your next meal. (I am not suggesting here to eat white sugar loaded ice cream here! because it is so extreme that throws you right out of balance, bring the feeling of inactiveness, depressed and spaced-out feeling) It might be more leafy vegetables, fruits or desserts that are made of quality sweeteners, such as rice syrup, amazake or maple syrup

this principle can be quite complicated more mysterious as you go deeper into the philosophy but they are very interesting.
How yin attracts yang and yang attracts yin (yin oxygen attracts yang hydrogen making water, Yang boys and yin girls)
On the other hand we may make choices that violate the actual force. (yin repels yin and yang repels yang). Like trying to put minus and minus together on magnets. too much alcohol (extreme yin), staying with a job that crush you day after day. We deny ourselves our attractions because we will be enslaved by the temptation. That will cause some unhappiness in your life.

It is important to stop to see how you are feeling and your body is feeling. When it's time to let go of something let it go. let the universe or natural force (or whatever you'd like to call it) do their thing you will feel happier and more balanced.

(I know I'm not perfect. it is hard sometimes....)

Monday, July 11, 2011

safe and better way to prepare your healing foods

There are so many foods that have potential to heal and keep you well nourished.
However if you store and prepare many foods in an undesirable way it doesn't only reduce the effectiveness, it could be harmful.
Here are some examples.

- Whole grains.
I soak my grains overnight to promote germinating process and let them sprout a little especially if they are grains that contain gluten. That makes them easier to digest.

Special care needs to be taken when you are washing quinoa. Quinoa is coated with saponins, which protect he seeds from insects and birds. make sure to wash well.

Many oils cannot take high heat. Oils that are high in omega-3, such as flaxseed, walnut oil, should never be heated as the heat changes the chemical structures of the fatty acids and forms free radicals. Even some commonly used oil cannot take the cooking temperature. When high temperatures are involved in cooking the most stable oils are ones that have more saturated fat such as butter, coconut and palm oil.
water-oil sauté method (add oil after cooking the ingredients with a bit water or other liquid) can reduce the temperature and still add the flavour to the cooking.

I keep most of the oil in the fridge, in a dark glass to prevent from oxidisation. Flaxseed oil is kept in the freezer.

-nuts and seeds
The best way to eat nuts and seeds, I think are to soak them over night to initiate the sprouting process, which makes them more digestible. Then dry and eat raw, dehydrate or roast at a lower temperature or cook them.

Thy become easily rancid and can
cause irritation to the lining of the stomach and intestines
contribute poor immunity, cancer and other chronic diseases
destroys vitaF in the food and those stored in the body
cause gall bladder and liver complaints

purchase the nuts and seeds in the shell and /or buy them in a small quantity. I keep them in the fridge.

I do love crunchy nuts as well but sometimes I make fermented nuts/seed dip. The soaked and sometimes sprouted nuts/seeds are blended with miso or rejuvelac then fermented a little. That is easily assimilated an the rancidity and oil are reduced by the fermentation process.

-Beans and legumes

Some people stay away from beans and legumes as they complain about unpleasant effects they experience---gas
There are techniques that alleviate most problems.
start a small amount to build up your enzymes that digest these protein
smaller legumes, such as adzuki, lentils peas and mung beans are easier to digest
always soak the beans
make sure to cook till they are done
discard foam after bringing the legumes to the boil
cook with kombu or kelp
cook with cumin or fennel

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

as a person, woman and a mother

There are times when somethings seem so hard and not so cheerful. It could be after a certain event, major or minor, or after a conversation you had or something you have heard or read.
Everyone goes through different stages and hopefully we learn from these experiences and be able to grow. At the moment I have to say I feel a bit stuck. Many things have occurred in my life and made me question who I am and what I am as a person. Also questioning certain things and feelings that I always thought were real and important.

Having a child has been such a big thing for me, as for many parents. Not just because it changes the way you live (not enough time for yourself, lots of organising or decreased amount or changing the way you socialise etc) but it really question who you are.
When I realised I was carrying a life inside me. When my daughter was born nearly 8 years ago. When I used to wake up to feed, comfort her through out the night, often all night (!), when she used to cling to me when a stranger came to talked to her. Her first day at the kinder, when she wrote me a note that said "I love you Mummy". When she wanted to go to a sleepover at her friends'. When she said she can't tell me a certain thing because it may hurt me. how she is becoming more independent every day and exploring other options that I might have not shown her.
These are only some events that have changed the way I looked at her and world around her and myself. And also forced me to think what LOVE is. A unconditional love. We are all born to love others unconditionally, I think. Thant's why babies cry and trouble the carers. They know they are to be loved no matter what they do. They love you unconditionally as well. No matter what you are, what you do to them they accept you. As we grow up some of us become scared and not sure of ourselves.
Hope I can help her to be proud of how she is and who she is. Hope I am doing the right thing. Hope I can always give her the love she deserves so much.

cold wet day with my daughter

It was such a cold wet day yesterday. not so good running around outside but perfect day for creating.
My daughter is on school holiday for 2 weeks. She wanted to draw and I wanted to make something. It is a good way to be quiet, slow down and connect in a busy, so stimulating world.

so here are our creations!

Friday, July 1, 2011

cooking class

Next winter cooking group class will be held at
103 Evans St, Brunswick 3056

30th July 2011 (saturday)

We will have 3-4 nutritionally balanced meals consisting grain, main and side dishes.
This friendly small class is hands on and you will gain cooking tips, knowledge on the natural whole foods ingredients and very tasty
Please contact us and we can send you more details