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Teas With Red Dates

Packed with vitamins and minerals, amino acids and flavonols, red Chinese dates – help maintain a steady flow of blood through the body, and encourage the healthy development of bones, muscles, skin, hair, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Ongoing studies continue to recommend red dates as a fruit with the potential to treat and even prevent allergies and several types of cancers.

Seventy to 80 times higher in Vitamin C than grapes and apples, red dates also abound with Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. This vitamin-packed punch makes red dates great for people who are recovering from serious diseases. Making it even better for the sickly, red dates are said to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which improves immunity, and decrease the levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream, which helps protect the liver. Like acai berries and other antioxidant foods, they’re even believed to suppress cancer cells. Red dates can also guard against more common ailments. Because of their high levels of Vitamin C, dates convert excessive cholesterol into bile acid, which helps prevent gallstones.

There are also different kinds of dates – the difference is in the colour. da zao 大棗 are black in color and hong zao 紅棗 are smaller and red in color. Both are from the same kind of fruit. When the fruit are blanched slightly in boiling water, and dried under the sun, they are called hong zao 紅棗. When the fruit are blanched in boiling water and baked until the skin becomes black and shiny, they are called da zao. (Black)

Red Dates -

An easy recipe to make tea with red dates is as follows:
(Adapted from


3-4 dried dates
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup of water


1. Rinse the dates. Boil 1 cup of water. When the water is boiled, add the dates and water into a cup. Let it rest for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add honey and stir well.

3. Enjoy!

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You Have Been Eating Parsley Wrongly

Today, we will focus on quercetin.
Flavonoids, including quercetin, are important anti-inflammatories because they act as antioxidants, which mean they literally fight the natural process of “oxidation” that takes place over time as we age. Quercetin can help stop damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which negatively impact how cells work — including damaging cell membranes, changing the way DNA works, increasing cell mutations and causing healthy cells to die. Consumption of foods rich in quercetin has been linked to a reduction in cholesterol and blood pressure levels, but for the latter it only worked for people who are already hypertensive. Non-hypertensive patients who took quercetin supplements did not show any changes to their blood pressure levels. Apples, citrus fruits, onions, red wine, dark berries, and parsley are among the food sources of the flavonoid. Its supplement form is sometimes combined with bromelain, a pineapple enzyme that is also an anti-inflammatory.

Thank God quercetin is so readily available in so many food.

The one food whose importance has been under-stressed: Parsley.

We don’t think much of parsley because we think it’s just a spice that can be used for garnishing.

You Have Been Eating Parsley Wrongly
Parsley is more than the sprinkle of green for your soups, mains and porridges.

In fact, why not try……………………

  1. Parsnip Soup With Leeks And Parsley

    Parsnip Soup With Parsley

    In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and celery, and stir to coat in the oil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, or until the leek and celery have softened. Do not brown.

    Add the parsnips and cover with the stock. Turn heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until parsnips are soft. Add the parsley and cook a further 3 minutes.

    Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Add the yoghurt to one of the batches and blend till incorporated. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender right in the pan.)

    Transfer the pureed soup back to the pan and reheat over medium heat. Slowly add the milk whilst stirring, using only as much as you need to achieve your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Serve topped with additional chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy

  2. Creamy, Buttery Herbed Bucatini
    10-Minute Creamy, Buttery Herbed Bucatini with Parsley

    Get the 10-Minute Creamy, Buttery Herbed Bucatini recipe from Half Baked Harvest

    We love adding parsley into the mix when preparing salads, such as this red quinoa dish or raw brussels sprout salad, and whipping up this cancer-fighting miracle broth with fresh bunches of the herb. It’s a favorite in all kinds of alkalizing juice combinations you can create in your own kitchen – but if you’re juicer-less or simply on the go,  grab a bottle of Pressed Juicery Greens 1, 1.5, 2 or 3. All four varieties will provide you with your daily dose of this superfood. Drink up!

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5 Health Claims That Might Be Untrue

Have you ever picked one item over the other at a grocery store just because of the health claim it says it can provide? Do you really understand what it means when a label says “fat-free” or “no sugar added”?

Here are 5 health claims we think should be clarified so you know exactly what it means, and a few ways food companies pretend your snacks are healthy.

1. All Natural
All natural, all good, yes? A food labeled natural may contain preservatives or be injected with sodium, in the case of raw chicken. Some natural products will have high fructose corn syrup and companies will argue that since it comes from corn, it’s healthy. But you know sugar, it doesn’t matter what source it comes from, too much sugar isn’t good for you.

Health Claims Can Be Misleading

2. Multi-Grain
This claim simply means that there is more than one grain in the product. None of the grains are required to be “whole grains”—so refined white flour counts. It is not a useful claim….but man it sounds healthy, doesn’t it? When shopping for healthy bread and crackers, look for the words “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat”. It’s not enough if it says “multigrain” or “made with whole grain”

3. No Sugar Added
If you’re concerned about calories and carbs (maybe because you have diabetes or are trying to prevent it), you may toss no sugar added products in your grocery cart.

But foods, including fruit, milk, cereals, and vegetables naturally contain sugar. So although these products may not have added sugar they still may contain natural sugars. And no sugar addedproducts still may contain added ingredients like maltodextrin, a carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates—which can be simple sugars or more complex starches—raise blood sugar, andno sugar added doesn’t mean a product is calorie- or carbohydrate-free

No Sugar Added Health Claims
4. Sugar Free
A little like “No Sugar Added”, the claim is true that these products don’t contain real sugar but they do contain many forms of artificial sweeteners which are controversial ingredients at best.
Sugar Free Health Claims

5. High Protein
Bulking up on protein will help you get into buff shape and melt away excess fat. Fact: Too much of anything, even if it’s healthy, isn’t always good. Too many calories overall, and you can kiss that buff shape goodbye; too much protein, and your kidneys can go into overdrive. When it comes to food products touting “high-protein,” the source of protein is often from a manipulated, processed form of an ingredient, like soy protein isolate. Most of us get more than enough protein in our diets, so stick with simple sources like fish, meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, whole soy beans (edamame), tofu, beans, and quinoa.

High Protein Health Claims
6. Fat Free
One of the more misleading health claims. When the dangers of saturated and trans fat became clear, the market was flooded with products that touted their fat-free status. The problem? They sometimes contained nearly as many calories as full-fat versions.

Just because it says it’s fat-free, doesn’t mean you get a free ride. Packages could say it’s fat free, but be loaded with sugar, and sugar-free products could be loaded with fat.

Fat Free Health Claims

Spend time educating yourself how to read food labels and health claims and you’ll be doing yourself a favour in the shopping aisles!

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6 Chinese Soup Making Techniques

In a recent blog post, we talked about making congee. If a bowl of warm, comfort-zone-inducing porridge does not appeal to you as much as a bowl of hot, soupy nourishment does, here are 7 techniques on how to make Chinese soup.

Chinese tonic or herbal soups are all about putting together various blends of natural ingredients which balance nutritional value and medicinal or therapeutic function, with taste or palatability.

Soup Making Technique #1. Double boil
Double steaming, sometimes called double boiling, is a Chinese cooking technique to prepare delicate food such as bird’s nest soup and shark fin soup. The food is covered with water and put in a covered ceramic jar and the jar is then steamed for several hours.

Soup Making Technique #2. Egg drop soup
Chinese Egg Drop Soup should be savory, soothing, a little warming heat from the white pepper. The eggs should be delicate, floating, whisper-thin silky strands.
Chinese Egg Drop Soup Making Technique
When you add an egg to soup, you are adding nutritional value to the soup as well.

Soup Making Technique #3. Quick Boil

Unlike simmering, quick boiling soups need a good soup base. Since it is cooked quickly, there is insufficient time for the ingredients to “impart” any flavour to the soup. So, instead of water, make sure you start with a good soup stock.

You will be surprised at how good a soup taste even if just a store-bought stock cube was added to flavor the soup. Water with seasonings like salt and pepper is not enough.

Soup Making Technique #4. Always Season As You Go
When making soup, it’s blending and stirring together different ingredients with different textures to form a cohesive whole. Taste a few sips every now and then while making the soup and season as you go, not just throw a chunk of salt at the end. By tasting constantly and adjusting accordingly, you can get a soup that’s got a taste just right.

Soup Making Technique #5. Thickening 
The use of cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot to thicken soup and sauces is uniquely Chinese. The most well-known is the hot and sour soup, and the Westlake beef soup. A newer trick is to use rice instead of cream or milk for creamy soups. Good news for the lactose-intolerant.

Soup Making Technique #6. Blanching/Pre-Boil
Blanching or pre-boiling is a two step process in which food is plunged into boiling water, usually for only a minute or two, then quickly put into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.

How to blanch:

  1. Prepare an ice bath: put water and ice into a large bowl or into a clean sink.
  2. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil, about 1 gallon per pound of food to be blanched.
  3. Add salt to the water; the water should be very salty.
  4. Immerse the food into the boiling water for the specified amount of time.
  5. Remove food to the ice bath to cool quickly.
  6. Once cool, remove food from ice bath and pat dry.

Having a hot pot of soup simmering on the stove is such a comforting welcome, and equally as much fun as drinking the soup itself. In our next post, we will be sharing popular Chinese soup recipes and why Chinese soups can be healthy.

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Congee Recipes For Cold And Flu

Never paid attention to congee recipes before, have you? You have reason to do so now.

The middle burner in Chinese medicine is the heart of the digestive system.

A vivid image of the middle burner is a wood-burning stove that heats a house. Digestion is the stove, and food is the fuel. The quality of the fuel determines the efficiency of the stove and therefore the warmth of the house, i.e., the health and energy of the body.

A large, heavy breakfast would be like throwing a big oak log on a struggling, flickering flame; it might be snuffed. Cold cereal, milk or raw fruit would be like throwing wet, soggy leaves on a tender little fire. Fried eggs and hash browns would be like green wood; it burns poorly and produces thick, noxious smoke. Not eating breakfast would certainly put the fire out for the day. Ice-cold drinks and foods like ice cream and salads also destroy the digestive fire.

Wood Burning Stove And Congee Recipes

Congee Recipes
Congee is to Asians what chicken noodle soup is to the Americans. The comfort food of all comfort foods, congee holds some healing properties. Firstly, rice is neutral to warming, and very few people are allergic to rice. It tonifies the Qi and Blood and harmonizes the Middle Burner (your digestive system), the stomach and the spleen. Water balances our PH, detoxes and nourishes Yin.

A plain congee is easily digested and can act as a tonic when special ingredients are added.

For example, mulberry congee nourishes the whole body and promotes the production of blood and chestnut and longan congee replenishes the heart blood and kidney essence.

Since the rice itself strengthens the spleen-pancreas digestive center, other foods added to a rice congee become more completely assimilated, and their properties are therefore enhanced.

Watch a video tutorial of how to make chicken congee here.

Mulberry congee
Prepare fresh mulberries (30g, remove the stem) and glutinous rice (50g), bring 1000ml of water to the boil, add the ingredients, and simmer over a low heat for 50 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste, and serve in the morning. This congee is suitable for people with insomnia, dizziness, blurred vision and ear ringing.

Chestnut and longan congee
Prepare chestnut (10 pieces, peeled and chopped), longan aril (15g) and rice (50g), bring to a boil with 2000ml of water, and simmer for 50 minutes. The congee replenishes kidney essence and heart blood, which improves the quality of sleep.

Staying warm and happy is as easy as a bowl of congee. That’s not too difficult, is it? Enjoy your congee recipes!

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TCM Tips To Help You Get Pregnant

Chinese New Year is coming up soon and we will welcome the year of the Monkey! Many Chinese try to give birth in a year of the Monkey because it is believed that babies born in the year of the Monkey are perceived as clever.

The Chinese character “猴” (hóu /hoh/ ‘monkey’) is pronounced the same as “侯” (‘high official’), and the association dates back hundreds of years into feudal times.

The imagery of the monkey as nobility often appears in ancient paintings:

  • A monkey hanging a seal on a maple tree symbolizes getting promoted to a high position with an official seal.
  • A monkey riding a horse symbolizes getting promoted quickly.
  • A monkey riding on the back of another monkey symbolizes maintaining a high official standing from one generation to another.

If you are planning to get pregnant in this year, these Traditional Chinese Medicine tips could prove helpful.

1. Increase blood flow

Increasing blood flow to your reproductive organs is key in TCM as experts say a stressful life actually pulls blood flow away from the reproductive organs and makes it harder to get pregnant. Get up from your seats, exercise, do some yoga and try some acupuncture, maybe.

Acupuncture - A TCM tip to help you get pregnant

2. Nothing damp
According to TCM, “dampness” can build up in our body and lead to cysts and fibroids, making it hard to get pregnant. Therefore, damp foods like butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, greasy foods and alcohol should be eliminated from a diet if you are trying to conceive. Wet clothing and extremely humid environments should also be avoided. So maybe no late night drinks or weekend binging on Ben and Jerry’s for a while.

3. Eat right to enhance the “yin” and “yang”
In a woman’s cycle, Yin and Yang energies rise and fall throughout. With fertility, the Yin must be sufficient to nourish the uterus and ovaries in the first half of the cycle. However Yin cannot be activated unless there is sufficient Yang energy. When the Yang is in balance with Yin, then the Yin energy is able to fertilize and nourish the egg.

In the second half of the cycle, Yang energy must heat the blood in the uterus to provide a warm and healthy environment for the embryo.

TCM believes that certain food help nourish your bodies during the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

Foods that nourish Yin include: fruits such as raspberries, pineapples and grapes; vegetables such as asparagus and beans; adequate proteins, especially tofu and fish; and organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts. Avoid spicy, pungent foods.

Foods that nourish Yang include warming foods: ginger; ginger tea; beans; grains; and vegetables such as mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale.

Foods that nourish blood include: fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and grapes; organic meats and poultry; soup stock made from the bones of the meat and poultry; and vegetables such as turnips, spinach and dark, leafy greens.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous Monkey year filled with the laughter of your own Monkey kid! :)

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What Mum Never Told You About Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine is MORE THAN just herbal remedies and acupuncture.

    There is a form of traditional Chinese medicine also known as moxibustion. Common, but not as well-known, moxibustion is the burning of mugwort near or on the skin. Moxibustion is often performed in conjunction with acupuncture and is meant to restore the flow of qi.  Other treatments at hand also include massage, tai chi and dietary therapy.

  2. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm

    According to TCM, your digestive “fire” is strongest when the sun’s fire burns the brightest in the sky. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm. You should try not to eat after the sun goes down, because your body gets colder and your digestive fire dies out in order to save energy for organ restoration during sleep.  This would also mean no supper!

  3. 19 percent of Fortune 500 Companies offer alternative medicine as part of their health care compensation packages.

    So next time you fall sick, don’t first rush to go to the polyclinic or to your company clinic to claim your medical benefits. Try some traditional Chinese medicine and you might be pleasantly surprised with the benefits. Our webstore offers plenty of herbal remedies you could whip  up in the form of a nourishing bowl of soup so take your time to look around.

  4. Limit Drinks, Especially Cold Drinks With Meals

    We have a bad habit of drinking a cold glass of water or soda with meals. Changing this habit alone will create better digestion of food. Limit fluid intake with your meals and you will stop diluting your digestive enzymes which are so important for proper digestion. Green tea or other hot teas before a meal supports enzymatic activity and helps enhance your digestive abilities. So go easy on the iced coffee and drink more hot drinks if you can.