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5 Amazing Rice Dishes that You Can Make at Home

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There’s a good reason why most Asian households have this humble grain as a staple in their diet – it’s cheap, easy to cook (simply rinse, add water, and throw in a rice cooker), and depending on the variety, you can have all kinds of added health benefits.

You’ll also find that there are a lot of amazing dishes you can make with rice. Here are a few to get you started:

1. Nasi Goreng
Traditional nasi goreng is a favorite dish in many households, and if you want to introduce vegetables to your kids for a healthier diet, this is definitely a dish you should try out.

2. Nasi Ulam
Usually eaten in Malay or Indonesian households, nasi ulam is a type of fried rice with an added generous seasoning of different herbs and spices, such as lemongrass, and kaffir lime (you can add more herbs depending on your preference).

Be sure to use room temperature rice when cooking nasi ulam, since warm or hot rice turns the herbs brown and bitter.

3. Biryani Rice with Fried Chicken and Crispy Flakes
You can give a fresh twist to your traditional chicken or mutton biryani by adding rice (use a medium-length grain variety) and crispy flakes, and the result is a dish that’s great for any occasion.

To make this dish more convenient for you, you can prepare it a day in advance, especially if you need to save time for other occasions.

4. Rice Pudding
Think you have a little too much cooked rice in your fridge? If so, then you’re in luck. Break out the stove, since you’re only fifteen minutes away from a delicious dessert.

Making rice pudding is faster when you’re doing it with cooked rice (any variety will do just fine) – just add milk and stir over medium heat until it starts to boil, and turn the heat down before adding your choice of sweetener.
Once that’s done, keep stirring until the rice has reached the consistency of pudding.

5. Bubur Pulut Hitam
While this dish make take more time to make (you need to soak the black glutinous rice overnight), this well-loved dessert will be definitely worth the extra time and should be something to try making if you already love it yourself.

There’s no need to fret if you’re looking for an easy-to-make meal with one food item as a base. With the right ingredients, you can make all kinds of meals with rice, from meals to desserts, so there’s always something you can make for every occasion.

What are you waiting for? Break out the rice cooker and start cooking right now!

(Disclaimer: this list is compiled in no particular order.)


7 Foods That Will Give You More Brainpower

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The brain is the command center of the body. Having a healthy mind also means having a healthy body. What the mind conceives, the body portrays. Positive thinkers also have a healthy disposition in life. Whether you are going to take an examination or simply want to stay alert for your next meeting, you need to be conscious of your diet, as both have a correlation.

There is no known single food for the brain alone to be able to protect ourselves from getting dementia in the future or other medical conditions for that matter. Healthy and balanced diet includes brain-boosting foods that may help making your memory keen and your concentration and focus sharp.

1. Broccoli
Broccoli has been known to contain high glucosinolates compounds that slows the breakdown of the neurotransmitters and acetylcholine that our central nervous system needs to properly perform and to maintain a sharp memory. Broccoli is best source of vitamin K which is responsible for enhancing our cognitive function and improve brainpower. Low acetylcholine levels have also been associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Nuts
Nuts are good source of vitamin E. vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role as an anti-oxidant in the body. It protects the heart, eyes and more. It helps the elderly prevent cognitive decline. Natural sources of vitamin E includes leafy vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains.

3. Eggs
Eggs is best source for vitamin B – B6, B12 and folic acid which helps reduce the levels of homocysteine compound in the blood that may contribute to stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. High doses of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid are needed especially for the elderly helps to deter brain shrinkage. Good sources of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid are eggs fish, chicken and leafy vegetables.

4. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are best source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells that contribute to the developing of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Blueberries
Different blue or violet berries are good source of anti-oxidants. It helps in delaying short-term memory loss. You may want to check berries available in the market that contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins.

6. Fish
Omega-3 fats are found in the fish. EPA and DHA good sources are salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. Essential fatty acids are also found in flaxseeds or linseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Low DHA levels may lead to increased risk of acquiring dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. While having a sufficient level of these compound will help manage stress and help develop the serotonin in the brain which is the happy hormones.

7. Whole grains
Whole grains is the best source for glucose in our blood to the brain. This gives us energy to work, concentrate and focus. You can have this from brown wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice and pasta.


Decoding Food Nutritional Labels

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Grocery shopping on Saturdays, meal-prepping on Sundays and always keeping healthy snacks on hand when out and about—this is what we’re supposed to do to keep ourselves healthy and fit. But let’s be honest, the convenience of packaged snacks and the temptation of instant satisfaction of vending machines are just so irresistible, especially during the busy hours of the day. That’s okay though, as long as you do a little reading.

It helps a lot to read the nutritional facts. However, it’s not necessarily the first thing to mind. Yep, you heard that right. Before you start searching for the caloric, protein, fiber and sugar content of your treat, know first where these things came from by reading the ingredients list. Here are the reasons why we suggest reading that short list first before anything else.

1. It helps identify right away whether the food contains something you want to avoid.
If there is a specific ingredient you want to steer clear of, perhaps because of allergic reaction, reading the ingredients list is the best way to go. Sure, there are label certifications that state that the food is gluten-free or has no GMOs, but there’s no verification whether the food is free from peanuts or herbs and spices, which may cause allergic reaction to some.

Reading the ingredients list help a lot in avoiding the food components you don’t like or have intolerance to. Also, it makes it easier to avoid straight up unhealthy elements like trans fats.

2. It makes you think outside of the “calorie” box.
The nutrition facts section gives you a quick evaluation whether the food is healthy or not. If it is low in calories and meets your needs for fiber and protein, it’s likely that the food is healthy enough. However, it doesn’t let you know how healthy the food is.

Just because a pre-packed food contains a certain amount of macronutrients doesn’t automatically mean it provides the most nutritional bang for your money. For instance, a slice of white bread and a slice of sprouted grain bread both delivers 100 calorie. But the former is made with refined grains, which causes your sugar level to spike and crash; while the latter is made with whole grains that provides essential nutrients like B vitamins and fiber. See the difference?

3. It makes the food transparent in your naked eye.
A wholesome label (e.g. low fat!) or a health-inspired picture (e.g. a fit woman eating a bowl of cereals) might suggest that the food is healthy, but it is in the ingredients list you’ll know the truth.

This section will not only tell what the product is made of; it’ll also give you clues how much of what ingredient is in there. Ingredients are listed by quantity, with the top three ingredients making up typically 75 to 80 percent of the food. If you see nuts and fruits near the top of the ingredients list, you know you’re doing the right choice.

The back (and side) labels of your pre-packed treats are jam-packed with useful information, so make sure to make good use out of it. Next time you’re going grocery shopping, make the ingredients label of every food you’re getting your first stop.


Developing a Deeper Appreciation for Food

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Food! Let’s say that again, FOOD! What came into your mind? Well, we’re pretty sure it’s that specific dish you’ve been craving for maybe since this morning, yesterday, or maybe even just now as you heard the word, food. Food has a huge power over ourselves as a person. Food is not only a source of nutrition, food has shaped the world in so many ways.

Careers were even built around food and some people even live with the pursuit of finding the best dish around. Food for you may not be that huge of a role, but it is still undeniably very important to you. In fact, food plays a huge factor aside from sustaining our physical aspect. Food even affects us socially.

Going out with friends? Most likely there’s food involved. Sometimes, we tend to forget that there are two portions of food in general. The first one is that food is nutritious and it should be eaten to boost our overall physical condition and appearance. The second one is taste. The appeal to the senses.
Most people tend to look at the latter rather than looking at food as a whole. Food shouldn’t just be about taste, food should also be about nutrition! We all know that eating healthy food is the backbone of success. But then again, why doesn’t it cross our mind when we are hungry? Well, hunger is a direct physical feeling which we notice almost instantly.

It’s easier to notice hunger than notice the fact that we aren’t in physical shape anymore. Hunger can easily be quenched but to improve our body’s physical state? Well, that takes a whole lot of discipline. In fact, we it actually takes more than a year to reprogram your body into a very positive physical state.

Cleansing your body of the toxins we intake from unhealthy food might be a bit bizarre at first since you aren’t used to eating food for the function rather than the taste. Later on you’ll realize that it may be hard, but it’s definitely possible. Our pallet is something we can actually train. In fact, we can condition our pallet into preferring healthier foods rather than foods that don’t really do us any good.

How do we do this? By discipline! Every habit comes from repetition and it is repetition you have to focus on. Consistency may not sound like such a fun word, but consistency is one of the only words that actually get things done. After all, who said eating healthy food isn’t yummy?


Foods to Avoid During Lactation

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You are serious about breastfeeding your baby so you researched about the food that can ensure steady supply of breast milk. However, it is equally important that you are aware of the foods to avoid so you won’t commit the mistake of consuming it. Yes, there are foods that you should avoid. Just think that it is best for the baby and avoiding it for a certain period of time won’t hurt you so bad.

Here are the foods to avoid during lactation:

  • Fish with high mercury content: Your baby ingests mercury through you. It is therefore important that you examine your diet. Mercury can have an effect on the development of the baby. Fishes with high mercury content include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tile fish. Instead of eating these fishes, you can consider healthy ones like shrimp, tuna, salmon, cod, catfish and tilapia. Do not worry because these fishes are readily available here in Singapore.
  • Alcohol: It is fine to have an occasional glass or beer or wine. There is a study that two units of wine or beer once or twice a week will not harm the baby but if you consume more than that, it will lead to abnormal weight gain, drowsiness and impeding of supply of breast milk. If you want to be sure, do not think about alcohol at least for a few years while the baby is still breastfeeding.
  • Caffeine: It is understandable that you want that jolt because of the late night sleep but consuming caffeine is not the solution. The good news is that it is safe to drink your cup of coffee or tea but limit it to only two to three cups every day. More than three cups can lessen haemoglobin levels as well as iron levels in the breast milk.

 

  • Chocolate: Chocolate holds theobromine – a substance that has similar effect of caffeine. It is okay to consume small quantities but if it is more than 750 mg of theobromine, the baby will surely exhibit fussy and erratic behaviour. This will result to sleeping problems.
  • Sage: if you do not want your lactation to be reduced, do not think about consuming safe. Sage is famous to reduce lactation and it is known to help mothers with weaning. You should be careful consuming high amounts of this herb as it can affect your milk supply.
  • Peanuts: If you are aware that your family has this peanut allergy, you have to avoid it as the baby will ingest it resulting to complications. If you want to eat peanuts, at least wait until you wean.


5 Common Ways You’re Making Veggies Less Healthy

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You may have decided to consume the recommended daily amount of veggies, but that doesn’t mean you’re reaping all its health benefits. If you want to get the most nutrition from your veggies, make sure to prep them the right way and avoid these common cooking mistakes.

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  1. Using Any Kind of Oil

Stir-fry veggies seem like a good choice for dinner, but think again if you’re sautéing them in seed oils like sunflower seed oil and canola oil. These types of oil contain unsaturated fats that oxidize and become toxic when exposed to high heat. A healthier option is to sauté vegetables in coconut oil or in grass-fed butter.

  1. Overcooking

This is the most common mistake people do to their food. Oftentimes, overcooking leaves the vegetables mushy and dull in colour, so they are no longer appetizing to eat. The worst part, too much heat ruins its nutritious components. Your best bet is to steam your veggies for four to five minutes before frying them—or serve them right away after steaming them.

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  1. Heating the Wrong Way

While microwaving is quick, it can easily overcook your vegetables, reducing its nutritional properties. Even worse, microwaving veggies in plastic containers can contaminate them with toxins, like BPA. If you nuking is necessary, do so in glass containers without plastic wraps.

  1. Peeling Veggie Skin

One thing that people do before cooking potatoes (and carrots, cucumbers, parsnips, etc.) is to peel the skin off. What most of us don’t know is that vegetable skin is full of valuable nutrients. And by peeling the skin off, the veggies is also stripped off significant amount of its nutrients. For optimal health benefits, do not peel the skin off.

  1. Tossing Them On the Grill

Grilling is a healthier cooking option because it doesn’t require oil to cook the food. However, the dry and very high temperature of the griller can deplete your veggies nutritional content. If you must grill your veggies, try using cooking baskets. But remember that too much heat is still isn’t good, so be sure to do it with caution.

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Vegetables are naturally nutritious, but the way you prepare them greatly matters in terms of preserving their nutritional content. Cook your produce the right way and ensure you’re sealing all its nutrients for you and your family’s benefit.