Truth about Turmeric

Turmeric really doesn’t need much introduction these days. For those who don’t do much cooking, it is a bright yellow spice commonly used in Indian cooking. If you are wondering what business turmeric has in finding its way into our lattes, it is because of its super food status in culinary medicine. Turmeric has potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects which can potentially prevent and treat arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  As a food enthusiast, I am no stranger to cooking with turmeric but I am curious whether drinking a cup of turmeric tea latte per day (a.k.a Golden Milk) will keep my knee pain away.

The medicinal effect of turmeric is attributed to its active compound, curcumin. It has been used to help prevent ailments for generations in Asia. Research indicates that you need to get 500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day for an anti-inflammatory effect. The average Indian diet provides around 60-100 milligrams of curcumin (2,000-2,500 milligrams of turmeric) per day. In other words, you would need to consume more than 10 times the amount of turmeric than what’s in a typical Indian diet. The truth is that it is not easy to get a therapeutic dose of curcumin without some supplementation. However, if you decide to take on the challenge with eating real food for your curcumin,  keep in mind that you will need to add at least 2 1/2 Tablespoons (17 grams) of turmeric a day in your diet to get 500 milligrams of curcumin. Also, curcumin is not easily absorbed and it needs to be combined with fat and black pepper to enhance its absorption. I am sharing my recipe of the Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower that is super easy and delicious with an abundant amount of turmeric. Cauliflower is naturally high in antioxidant so this packs an extra anti-inflammatory punch.

Along with boosting curcumin in your diet to flight inflammation, it is beneficial to avoid inflammation inducing foods – sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, processed meats, and alcohol – at the same time. This is a good way to double down on the battle against inflammation!

Cauliflower

Oven Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower

1/4 cup Olive oil

2 Tbsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets and put on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. whisk olive oil, turmeric, salt and pepper in a bowl and drizzle over cauliflower to coat pieces.
  4. Roast cauliflower in oven until tender and slightly brown for 15-25 minutes, turning halfway.

 

 


How to avoid GMOs

 

IMG_4606Food companies are labelling their food packaging with more health claims than ever before but do we really know what they mean? The “NON GMO Project VERIFIED” seal is one that has been attracting my attention lately. I am seeing it on a range of products from bread to won ton wrappers. According to data from The Non-GMO Project Verified organization, their seal is the fastest growing label in the natural product industry and represents over $26 billion in annual sales. There are more than 50,000 Verified products from over 3,000 brands available to consumers in the marketplace. With this growing trend, it is definitely worth learning more about what this claim means. I went to their website and this is what I extracted:

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. However, new technologies are now being used to artificially develop other traits in plants, such as a resistance to browning in apples, and to create new organisms using synthetic biology. Despite biotech industry promises, there is no evidence that any of the GMOs currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Are GMOs safe?
In the absence of credible independent long-term feeding studies, the safety of GMOs is unknown. Increasingly, citizens are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Which foods might contain GMOs?
Most packaged foods contain ingredients derived from corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet — and the vast majority of those crops grown in North America are genetically modified. 

Visit the What is GMO page for more information and a list of high-risk crops.

Animal products: The Non-GMO Project also considers livestock, apiculture, and aquaculture products at high risk because genetically engineered ingredients are common in animal feed. This impacts animal products such as: eggs, milk, meat, honey, and seafood.

Processed inputs, including those from synthetic biology: GMOs also sneak into food in the form of processed crop derivatives and inputs derived from other forms of genetic engineering, such as synthetic biology. Some examples include: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein, flavorings, vitamins,  yeast products, microbes & enzymes, flavors, oils & fats, proteins, and sweeteners.

My Bottomline Recommendations:

1. Avoid processed foods. The less processed the food, the less chance of GMO ingredients sneaking into the manufacturing process.

2. Eat fresh food with a short ingredient list. Less is more when it comes to healthy food!

3. Buy organic products when possible because the use of genetically modified organisms are not permitted in products that are USDA organic certified.

4. Look for the Non GMO Project Verified seal on food products, especially with products containing the high risk corps such as Corn, soy, canola, and sugar beet. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal assures consumers that a product has completed a comprehensive third-party verification for compliance with the Non-GMO Project Standard.

 

 


Urban Wellness Retreat in Vancouver

Ever faced with the dilemma of choosing between an in-and-out destination wellness retreat where location is secluded or a busy hectic exploratory sightseeing city trip? Here’s simple solution to have it all – create your own wellness retreat in a metropolitan city that is fitness minded.

Vancouver is an extremely walkable city full of wellness options! Follow my itinerary from my recent trip and enjoy a day filled with yummy food, exercise, and sightseeing. Staying in a central location of the city makes it easy to be active, find healthy restaurants and see local sites on foot. I highly recommend the Kitsilano area for all those reasons. This neighborhood is known for its yoga studios, natural food stores, and outdoor apparel shops. After all, it is the location of the corporate HQ for Lululemon and the first Whole Food store in Vancouver.

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Start you day with breakfast at The Naam (https://www.thenaam.com), located in the heart of Kitsilano on 4th Avenue. You can get anything from scrambled tofu to hardy egg omelettes. It has served organic and locally sourced vegetarian and vegan food for over 50 years. After all these years, I found them to remain true to that original vision, using fresh and pure ingredients while maintaining a warm, earthy and welcoming atmosphere.

After a wholesome meal, head east down 4th Avenue and browse all the trendy boutiques. Along the way, you will come across some of the best bakeries and cafes in town. Try to resist the temptations until you get to your lunch spot. I recommend grabbing a quick bite at Turf, a healthy food counter serving creative vegan fare and making bowls, salads, sandwiches and smoothies extraordinary. “Three Point Oh Burger” below was one of the best vegan burgers I have had. It features a house made patty with black bean, eggplant, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnut, oat, tahini and spices. This little cafe is part of a gym so try a workout (https://www.ourturf.com/pages/classes) before you dine out!

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Walk back up westbound on 4th Avenue to see the boutiques on the other side of the street. When you reach Vine street, turn right and head down to Kitsilano beach where you will see a gorgeous view of the ocean and the north shore mountains. To the left of the beach you will find the largest saltwater swimming pool in North America. The pool is open May to mid-September with extensive hours. For a few dollars, you can enjoy a swim in a 137 meter heated infinity pool with the view of the ocean. Talk about a wellness retreat setting for cheap!

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The walking path from Kitsilano beach will lead you to the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Vanier Park. Walk across the Burrard Street bridge towards downtown Vancouver, known as City of Glass. You will see why as soon as you cross the bridge. Make a left turn on Pacific Street and walk along Beach Avenue towards English Bay. Before continuing your walk into Stanley Park, stop at The Catus Club Cafe on the shores of English Bay to fuel up for the 6 mile loop around the park. You can’t beat the scenery of this location and the variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options on their menu (https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/menus/english-bay/food/lifestyle-choices/).

If this urban wellness day has provided enough exercise, good eats, and fun, just grab a taxi back to your pad. If you still have energy to burn, it’s only a 4 mile walk back to Kitsilano.

 

 


Healthy Hawaiian Food

 

It’s part of the cultural experience to taste local food and drinks when traveling. Of course, you don’t want your diet to rule what you eat when you’ve traveled thousands of miles to indulge in all things Hawaiian, Mai Tai included! That said, you also don’t want to completely blow your healthy lifestyle that you’ve worked so hard all year getting bikini-ready for your trip. Below are the top 3 must-try traditional Hawaii foods that will keep you fit.

Poke was originated in Hawaii but it has become so popular everywhere these days that even a poke bowl restaurant franchise has been created.  Poke means “to cut up into pieces” in Hawaii. From what I see in Maui supermarkets, Poke is abundantly available and affordable. There is an array of seafood mixed with soy-based dressing or creamy dressing. For healthier options, avoid fish high in mercury and seafood mixed in creamy dressing. Ahi tuna is classically used for poke and is very high in mercury so go easy on all tuna and and try salmon, octopus, scallops, and clams instead.

Kalua pig is pork that has been slow cooked in an imu, an underground oven. This slow cooking method produces super tender meat with a smoky flavor. Kalua pig is the main event at Hawaiian luaus but you can find Kalua pork in any Hawaiian style restaurant as a combo plate served with white rice and macaroni salad. Most restaurants will let you substitute the rice and mac salad with some cooked veggies and a green salad. Just by asking, you could be saving yourself hundreds of refined carb calories!

Last but not least, you must try the Lomi-lomi salmon. It’s a light and refreshing side dish made with salted, shredded salmon, tomatoes, and sweet Maui onions.

 

 


2017 : A Year of Healthy Discoveries

Live healthy is more complicated than ever! We worry about the toxins in our food, our water and our air. We pay top dollars for organic food, cold pressed juices and chemical-free mattresses, hoping money can buy us better health. Are we truly getting what we pay for? I work for a health resort where its tagline is “Live Healthy” but I still have to ask the chef if there’s hormone in the chicken served in our restaurant. Just because a company is in the business of selling health-promoting products and services, it doesn’t mean they are truly healthy for you. One of the most common new year’s resolution is changing some habit that has to do with improving health. Sadly, studies showed that only 8% of people achieve their goal. As you embark on your journey of healthy resolutions, take small steps and commit to each step before moving on. Don’t buy into all the hype and fad! For me, healthy eating starts with healthy ingredients free of pesticides. Start with buying organic produce and eating lots of it daily. For a list of the dirty dozen and the clean 15 fruits and vegetables, check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2016 Guide to Pesticides in Produce at www.ewg.org/foodnews/index.php.


High Quality Breakfast for Kids

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Moms know that kids need to eat a good breakfast before heading off to school but that’s easier said then done! When you rule out the sugary cereals and convenient processed toaster treats, everything else may seem like a lot of work. I really try to get some protein in my son’s daily breakfast. With his allergies to eggs and peanuts it doesn’t leave much easy-to-prep protein source except for cheese. I think I burnt out grilled cheese long ago until this morning. Three things I did differently to shake my son’s taste fatigue. Change the type of bread, the type of cheese and the presentation of the meal! It’s not easy to see options that are seemingly obvious and simple when you’re stuck in a rut. When I asked my son how he would describe his breakfast this morning, he said “restaurant quality”. Try something new with the same old – results can be amazing!


French Pastries good for you?

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A little Sunday morning indulgence is good for the soul! I discovered the best almond croissant at La Parisienne on Grand Avenue in Oakland. The taste of a great almond croissant has been lingering on my mind since my trip to France this summer (see “Nice Breakfast in Nice” blog post). By comparison, the almond croissant at Ls Parisienne is even more decadent. If you feel guilty  about eating French pastries for breakfast, don’t! According to the latest WHO data published in 2015, the life expectancy in France for men is 79.4 and for women is female 85.4. It’s clear that this part of the French diet is not shortening their life span. I am not suggesting you make a habit of eating delicious almond croissants for breakfast, but it can be good for your happiness meter if you enjoy it! Just balance out your day with lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and of course some exercise.


Heritage grains served in Top Vancouver Restaurant

I feel so lucky to be able to squeeze in a dinner at The Mackenzie Room on my recent trip to Vancouver. It is not easy to choose one restaurant in a city full of fabulous eating establishments and constant new comers to the food scene (www.scoutmagazine.ca). The Mackenzie Room is located across the street from the Oppenheimer Park in the downtown Eastside. Not exactly the safest part of town but that’s probably what adds to the adventure of this dinning experience. I love fine dinning sans pretentiousness! This very intriguing restaurant sources fresh local ingredients and staffs it with people who cook and serve with a passion. How can you go wrong? You just can’t! No wonder it was voted the top new restaurant – Golden Plate Award 2016. The menu is on a very large chalkboard and changes regularly. The delicious quail with cornbread and Pork topped with mole and sorghum are no longer on their menu when I went back to their website (www.themackenzieroom.com) this week. According to the co-owner who served us, the inspiration for the menu comes from Sean Brock, the author of the Heritage Cookbook. The dishes we ate definitely showed off uncommon Ancient grains in a delicious combination and an artful presentation.

 

 


Feed all your senses near Nice

The most exciting thing about traveling is the discovery of new experiences that stimulate all your senses. Well, this hike around Cap d’Antibes in Côte d’Azur did just that! It is one of the highlights of our trip to the French Riviera. My daughter and I took the bus from Nice to Antibes and then caught a local bus to our starting point at Phare. We hiked to the town’s tiny chapel on the top of the hill at the highest point of Cap d’Antibes with mesmerising view of the Mediterranean Coastline, with St. Tropez to the south and Italy to the north.  We descended down on a little long stone path to the beach at the edge of town. After more than an hour walk in the blazing sun, we arrived at Plage de la Garoupe looking for the signpost for the path that circles the Cap. But this point, we were already exhausted, sweaty, thirsty and hungry. When we saw the cluster of seafront restaurants, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to refuel and rehydrate. We were delighted with a delicious local fresh seafood meal by the sea in the typical French leisure style.

With our bodies recharged, we were ready to start our pilgrimage to the southern end of the Cap. We picked up the the costal footpath, Sentier Littoral, at the end of the sandy beach. Along this rocky hike, my daughter and I had the best mother-daughter chat about life as we admired the breathtaking views. She turns 19 in a few months and will be returning to college after the summer so moments like these are food for my soul.

With the recent terror attack in Nice on Bastille Day, it may instill fear in even the most adventurous traveler. We were thankful that we arrived home safely 2 days before the tragedy. On our journey home, I saw a quote on a billboard that continues to resonate with me “Those who live see much. Those who travel see more.” I must add that those who travel feed their senses most. Don’t ever go hungry but just choose your diet carefully!


New Year, New Energy Bar

If you are like most people, your New Year’s resolution has to do with weight loss or better eating habits. Towards that goal, are you still relying on the same old energy bar to keep your hunger in check. Most bars are high in calories and full of sugar in one form of another that raises your blood sugar. No wonder that extra weight is not coming off as fast as you want. Being a healthy foodie, I wouldn’t want to eat an artificial snack bar to displace my delicious food calories. When I recently discover a new bar called Tosi,  I couldn’t be more excited. It is a bunch of delicious nuts (cashew or almond), chia seeds and flax seeds  pressed into a bar. Tosi calls it “super bites”. It delivers everything it promises on the label: protein, omega 3’s, and fiber. Not only is it truly nutritious, it is also organic, gluten-free, and vegan. That’s bonus for those who care about the environment. Check out their website – http://www.tosihealth.com – for specific nutrition facts. Since I am addicted these tasty bites, it’s a good thing I can buy them at Renaissance ClubSport where I work.