B for BANANAS!

Bananas are good for you in more ways than it is widely known for. They are one of the superfoods you can integrate into your daily eating habits. Compared to the more popular fruit, the apple, bananas have five times as much vitamin A and iron, three times as much phosphorus and is very rich in potassium. Here are some of the benefits of bananas you might not have known.

Image taken from ‘http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20464846,00.html’

  • Bananas give you energy boosts that are better than caffeine and sugary snacks
  • Potassium in bananas give you maximum performance when exercising or doing tasks that requires physical exertion
  • Potassium is also good for regulating blood circulation in the body, reducing stroke and maintain a regular heartbeat
  • Bananas have fiber that regulates bowel movements
  • Bananas have a chemical called Tryptophan that boosts your mood and makes you feel happier (note to guys: feed your partner bananas when it’s nearing *that* time of the month)
  • Bananas greatly reduce menstrual cramps
  • Bananas help you focus better at work
  • Bananas cure fatigue and hangovers, again, it’s a healthier alternative to coffee
My favourite way of preparing bananas is making it into a smoothie! Here are a couple of recipes you can try using bananas with.
Banana and honey smoothie
Add 2 bananas, 1 tablespoon of organic Manuka honey, and 3 tablespoon of organic yogurt with 4 ice cubes and mix in blender. This takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and it tastes sooo good. Even typing this recipe out now is making me crave for it! This is best taken before or after exercising as it replenishes your body after losing fluids through sweat.
Banana and berry smoothie
Add 2 bananas, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 3 tablespoon of organic yogurt (optional) and mix in blender. If you want it colder just throw in a couple more of ice cubes. This is perfect for a morning perk-me-up in summer (which is practically everyday here in Singapore. Pfft.)
Frozen banana “ice cream”
I just peel the banana, put it in a ziplock bag and freeze it in the freezer. When it’s thoroughly frozen, the texture is almost like ice cream and tastes delicious and it’s a natural food! You can mash it up in a bowl and put some real ice cream with it if you’re in for a real treat.
*UPDATE* After typing this delicious entry, me and my partner both ended up indulging in ice cream!!!
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How I improved my eczema

I used to think having eczema was like having a certain trait of the body that I cannot change and that I have to live with it. For years my skin was sensitive, prone to itchiness and hives, and was told that because it’s genetic, there’s nothing much I can do about it. How wrong that was.

While it is true that I cannot completely eradicate eczema, I can significantly reduce its flare ups and the inconvenience that it causes. The first thing I did was replace my body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, and facial wash with organic ones and they were not only gentler on skin but also free of sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) especially. There’s also the famous ‘dirty dozen’ ingredients in the products that I replaced, but that’s another story in another post. For me, SLS was the largest irritant for my skin and I assume for most people with eczema, that would be too.

Simply by removing these items my skin seemed calmer during and after showers. There wasn’t any more ‘squeaky’ clean feeling after, which was what triggered the itch in my skin. From there, I started keeping a little notebook to note my diet whenever I get an eczema flare up. Sounds tedious, but really, it doesn’t take more than a minute just to write down what you ate.

I found out eliminating dairy, grains, and gluten and wheat free products helped tremendously in preventing an eczema flare up. Also, eating foods rich in B6 and B12 foods will boost the healing of your eczema over time. Not only did that prevent flare ups, i found that I barely needed moisturizing as much as I did before. I also avoid refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white sugar. If I have to, I’d take brown rice over white rice.

Avoid white rice if you can

Sadly, I find not eating white rice the hardest because in Singapore it seems everyone eats white rice. Whenever I’m with relatives and they see that I haven’t touched my rice, they tend to make fun of me, thinking I’m afraid to put on weight. Frustrating as it is, I stuck by it.

Only recently I realized I’m allergic to corn too, as I had quite a severe bout of eczema just hours after eating it that lasted a couple of days. That recent hiccup made me realize how much my eczema improved because in the past, I loved to eat corn and i never remembered having a significant flare up after eating because my skin was always itchy! But now it’s as clear as night and day.

If you too suffer from occasional bouts of eczema flare ups, try changing your diet instead of focusing on topical solutions. You may find that it works even faster and more efficiently.

Not all vegetarians are healthy

I, myself, eat more vegetables than meat nowadays. But I don’t believe I can eliminate from eating meat entirely even if I wanted to. Most vegetarians and people who suffer from eczema, needs vitamin B12 which can only be found from natural animal sources. I have occasional flare ups from eczema, thus, can never do without vitamin B12 and besides, I don’t believe in taking supplement pills. My point here is, being vegetarian is a healthy choice. However, just like everything else, you have to take in a good variety of foods to be healthy and this rule applies to vegetarians as well.

I’ve known a couple of vegetarians before I was food conscious and they (not every vegetarians) were always weak, tired and stressed. They weren’t exactly healthy at all, or so it seemed like it. It’s only now as I start being more aware of what I eat, that I realized those friends of mine, who are vegetarians, consume as much (maybe even more!) junk and processed foods as those who weren’t vegetarians. Yes, I understand some vegetarians choose not to eat meat because of the morals and ethics of slaughter houses. But really, I think it’s a very bad thing to do to yourself when you limit yourself to all foods that do not contain animal products, but eat everything else.

I do promote people to eat more vegetables and fruits than meat, but the message I’m sending is to be healthy, love your body, and learn to treat your body better. So whatever your diet may be, as long as you are getting the nutrients you need, that’s all there is to it. EAT YOUR VEGGIES AND FRUITS!! 😀

Are we so superficial that even foods have to look a certain way to be sold?

How many of you have heard of the wonky food controversy in 2008? No? Well neither have I, until a couple of days ago. It seems that The European Commission had a certain set of rules that were launched in 1989 regarding standardizing the quality of our fruits and vegetables. However, years and years down the road, these rules have now been distorted, resulting in tons of food wastage. Today, it seems like our never ending quest to acquire beauty has involved even the foods we eat.

Supermarkets, or rather, companies running these supermarkets, refuse to accept fruits and vegetables from farmers that do not meet their standard requirements of how they look, and this can be measured in terms of texture, height and length of it, and the size of it. Their reason is that consumers do not want weird looking foods, even when consumers say this is not the case. While it seems to be an excuse rather than a reason, I start to see a vicious cycle in that statement.

For the longest time since the late 80s, people have been used to seeing fruits and vegetables in their ‘standard’, ‘fresh’ looking states, and would probably think a product is abnormal or spoilt when faced with an odd looking one. What makes this quest of beautifying our food terrible is that these odd looking ones are perfectly edible and no different from the normal looking ones. In fact, many of these ‘defected’ fruits and vegetables that have been rejected by supermarkets, are not even spoilt or unfit for consumption, they are rejected solely by the way they look. Talk about solving world hunger issues!

After the news got wind of this situation, there have been efforts in many places attempting to do right by these fruits and vegetables by demanding they put the wonky looking ones back in the shelves. And in 1st of July, 2009, The European Commission has lifted the ban of food standardization law on 26 fruits and vegetables. This list includes:

26 items (restrictions on shape and size repealed without qualification) – apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, watermelons, and witloof/chicory.

There is another list of 10 items that the ban has not lifted entirely but restrictions lifted subject to labeling to distinguish them from ‘class 1’ or ‘class 2’ produce. These 10 includes:

Apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches/nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes.

I think it is a start with these bans being lifted, but we still have a long way to go. As far as these reports are concerned, i believe it applies mainly to the U.K. Because guidelines for foods deem fit for our supermarkets are different from theirs, this ban that has been lifted may or may not have been applied to us. I have been trying to access the website of Singapore’s AVA site but hadn’t been successful, and will do an update of this post the moment I can access it.

On an end note, when was the last time you saw a wonky looking fruit or vegetable on sale in a supermarket in Singapore? Could mother nature really have been consistent in her works that none of the wonky ones ever appear in Singapore?

How getting enough greens can save your life

After watching this video, both me and my partner were so inspired. This video is yet another confirmation of us being on the right path of eating right.

In this video, Dr. Terry Wahls talks about her unfortunate event of developing Multiple Sclerosis. Despite all the medical treatments and latest medications, her condition worsened. Being sick of having her condition spiraling downwards, she took charge of her situation by reading and researching.

Upon all that reading, she thoroughly understood what caused MS and what she can do about it. Just 5 months after going on a 80% vegetable diet, she has cured herself of her condition without the help of medication.

Watch this video as she shares with you her very inspiring story of how modern day illnesses can be very much avoided based on our diet and explains how we can do the same.