June 29, 2017

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5 Sneaky Ways To Feed Your Children Vege

by Lionel Ong

TO MANY children, asking them to eat their greens might just be the most unpleasant request one could pose to them. To parents, attempting to feed their children vegetables can be a constant thorn in their sides.

Well, make the weekend a more relaxing one as we show you five ways you can sneak vegetables into your kids’ meals:

1. Cauliflower fried rice

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Image Cauliflower “Rice” from Well Fed from Flickr user Kirybabe. CC BY 2.0

A recent innovative way with cauliflower that has been making its rounds on the Internet involves the use of a food processor to obtain fine cauliflower granules. They are light, fluffy and easy to make. While they are more similar to couscous, they can certainly pass off as “rice” if done right. You can get the instructions on how to get them here.

For local kids, one way to make meal time a delicious one is to make cauliflower fried rice – an alternative to the tze char favourite. The addition of things like like bacon, soy sauce, garlic and herbs elevates this dish into something you wouldn’t expect from the the cream-coloured floret. Get the full recipe here.

 

2. Mushroom soup (with broccoli)

Image The finished product by Flickr user Kim
Image The finished product by Flickr user Kim

Mushroom soup is both easy to make and easy for little children to consume. The luscious, earthy flavours are tasty and it packs a nutritional punch for your growing children. Surreptitiously adding broccoli into the blend is one way you can make sure your children – and perhaps veggie-loathing spouse – get their vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibre.

First, blanch chopped florets of broccoli and a mixture of mushrooms (white button, portobello, creminis, shitake). While waiting for the vegetables to cook, sautee garlic on a heated pan with butter. When the garlic turns golden brown, add the broccoli and mushrooms into the pan and sauteed them well. Add salt to taste. Alternatively, you may just use salted butter to stir-fry the vegetables. Once this is done, blend the garlic, mushrooms and broccoli with the water you used to blanch the vegetables. You should get a smooth serving of blended vegetables.

Next, transfer the puree into a pot and proceed to boil. You can choose to add cream to give the soup a thicker consistency and a creamy flavour. Or you can simply go without, if you prefer a more earthy taste.

3. Banana and mango smoothie (with spinach)

Looks funny, but tastes yummy :) Recipe from Russel James (http://therawchef.com)
Image Mango-spinach smoothie by Flickr user Damien Pollet

Children might think of spinach as the diabolical green leaf that lunchtime nightmares are made of, no matter how much you try to convince them that it promises Popeye-like brawns. Short of force-feeding it to them, it might seem almost impossible to get your child to consume this great source of iron.

Fret not! All you need is one serving of banana and half a mango to mask the taste of spinach. Simply blend the banana, mango and one cup of spinach together to get a sweet, tasty smoothie.

Tip: Add the fruits into the blender first. This way, it is easier for the blender to chop up the soft fruits and the resultant liquid-like consistency will help make it easier to blend the spinach that has been layered at the top.

4. Pumpkin pancakes

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Image Perfect fall breakfast by Flickr user Justin Snow. CC BY N-D 2.0.

Pumpkin is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in building up our immune system as well as to help the heart, lungs and kidneys function properly. Make consuming it more fun by sneaking the fruit into your children’s breakfast pancakes. This is an easy-to-make recipe that can be done in 20 minutes, making it suitable for busy parents rushing to get their children to school.

You can get the recipe here.

5.  Baked kale 

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Image Post & Beam by Flickr user T.TSeng. CC BY 2.0

For a light snack, try staying away from the usual culprits such as potato chips. Try baked kale chips. While they may not be a direct replacement for potato chips, they are still delicious to eat especially when baked to crisp perfection. Here, Martha Stewart – yes, the veteran US personality known for the “handmade, the homemade, the artful, the innovative, the practical and the beautiful” – provides an easy-to-follow recipe.

 

Featured image of Kids ‘n Fiber by Flickr user The US Food and Drug Administration CC BY 2.0

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Photo from Pie Face Singapore's Facebook page.

by Gillian Lim

TODAY marks International Pi Day – the day we celebrate the mathematical constant, pi. Also known as the weird squiggly character, π – the one you spent days trying to figure out how to write, and also known as approximately 3.14159.

Why today of all days, you might ask. Well, March 14 is 3/14, if you look at it another way.

International Pi Day can be celebrated in a number of ways. You can go on a maths fest and hold quizzes, binge watch some Big Bang Theory, discuss the significance of the mathematical constant over lunch, or, well, you could just have lots of pie.

Here are five cool pies to check out:

 

1. Banana almond brittle cognac pie, Windowsill Pies

Photo from Windowsill Pies' Facebook page.
Photo from Windowsill Pies‘ Facebook page.

This pie consists of four things: banana caramel, sweet parfait, almond brittle and cognac cream.

What makes this pie so unique is the play of flavours and texture: the sweetness from the banana and the caramel, the creaminess of the parfait cream, the crunchiness of the almond brittle, and of course, the tangy alcohol and slight kick you get from the cognac cream.

According to reviews, the pie isn’t as creamy as it sounds. Food blogger Daniel Ang said in his review of the place that the pies at the outlet were “three-dimensional”, adding that “every bite you take gives you a play of taste and (especially) texture, part creamy fluffy, part almond-nougat-like crunchy”. Windowsill Pies said to not let the cream fool you. It added: “It’s the fluffiest and lightest pie we have!”

If you’re not much of a nutty person, you can check out its other pies. Its selection ranges from the coconut vodka lime pie to the strawberry lemon pie.

Location: 95 Soo Chow Walk, Singapore 575382, along Upper Thomson Road

Price: $7 per slice, $63 per whole cake

 

2. Thai green curry chicken pie, Pie Face Singapore

Photo from Pie Face Singapore's Facebook page.
Photo from Pie Face Singapore‘s Facebook page.

Apart from its unique Thai green curry chicken flavour, the first thing that’ll strike you about the pies here is the emoji faces on them. Yes, that’s why the bakery is called Pie Face.

“We make pies with funny faces on it,” its website said. So if you head to one of it two outlets (at NEX or 313 Somerset), be prepared to see pies with squiggly, curved mouths, or big yawning mouths, or even smiley faces.

And you’d be surprised at the range of flavours that the place has: besides the Thai green curry chicken, it has a chunky savoury steak pie, creamy vegetable pie, and if you’re craving something sweet, you can go for its apple crumble pie or the mini butterscotch pie.

Location: The first outlet is at 313@Somerset, #B3-10, Singapore 238895 and the second outlet is at NEX, #B2-49A, 23 Serangoon Central, Singapore 556083.

Price: The Thai green curry chicken pie costs $4.90, while its other pies range from $3 to $5.20

 

3. Charcoal crust curry chicken pie, Pies & Coffee

Photo from Pies & Coffee's Facebook page.
Photo from Pies & Coffee‘s Facebook page.

Imagine: A blackened pie crust with luscious chunky curry chicken on the inside.

This is one of Pies & Coffee’s signature pies – because of its charred exterior, no doubt. But what’s on the inside? Chicken thigh stewed in an onion and curry-based sauce, with mashed potato and mixed salad on the side.

If you’re worried about how burnt it looks, here’s what The Halal Food Blog said when it dropped by the cafe earlier this year: “We’re guessing that some of you might be put off by the whole ‘charcoal thing’, but it’s really quite okay. It gives the pie crust a little bit of a more distinctive taste but you’ll still enjoy the buttery goodness of a pie crust that you’d expect, so don’t be afraid to give it a go!”

They also said that the filling was “the traditional kind of curry flavour that isn’t too spicy and you’ll get to enjoy the curry flavour with every bite”.

But if charcoal pie isn’t your kind of thing, you can check out the rest of its savoury pies – some of which include beef rendang pie, chicken cheddar pie and mushroom ragout pie. Pies & Coffee is Halal-certified.

Location: It has four outlets – the first outlet is at Rochester Mall, 35 Rochester Drive, #01-02, Singapore 138639. The second outlet is at Robertson Walk, 11 Unity Street, #01-25, and the third outlet at The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, #01-10, Singapore 288794. The last outlet is at Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC), 460 Alexandra Road, #01-18, Singapore 119963.

Price: $11.20 per pie

 

4. Cherry clafouti pie, Dean & DeLuca

Photo from
Photo from Dean & DeLuca’s website..

Clafouti is a French pie, made by baking fruit arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick batter. This fruit is traditionally black cherries, but in Dean & DeLuca’s case, it uses French Griotte cherries – dark, wine-red cherries – and pours a rich custard over the entire pie.

The result? A soft, flan-like texture and a rich, creamy flavour with a hint of vanilla. So when you cut into the pie, it’s a soft, cheesecake-like pie, with little bits of cherries in-between.

So if you’re up for something less traditional – and more French, you can give this a go. An alternative pie – sort of – to try is the hazelnut pear frangipane tart.

Location: Far East Square, 47 Pekin Street, #01-01 and HillV2, 4 Hillview Rise, #01-01

Price: $40 per pie

 

5. Candy bar pie, Drury Lane

Photo from Drury Lane's Burrple page.
Photo from Drury Lane‘s Burpple page.

One of the unique flavours at Drury Lane, you can check this sweet candy pie out. It has a crunchy Oreo cookie base, layered with gooey salted caramel, squidgy peanut butter nougat and decadent chocolate ganache. This is topped off with a crispy pretzel. So if you’ve had your fill of savoury poached eggs and grilled steak sandwiches at Drury Lane, you can check this sweet treat out.

Also, as part of a collaboration with dessert place In the brickyard, Drury Lane has four new unique cake flavours you can check out: strawberry lychee martini, earl grey with lavender chocolate and matcha crunch, ondeh ondeh, and lime vanilla.

Location: 94 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088515

Price: $5 per slice, $35 per cake

 

 

Feature image taken from Windowsill Pies’ Facebook page

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by Wan Ting Koh

OLIVE oil, sunflower oil and canola oil are the more common oils found in a cook’s arsenal. Here are some other oils that are lesser known, but that you could consider stocking up too:

1. Argan oil

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Organic Argan oil. Photo La Tourangelle Argan Oil by Flickr user ellevalentine. CC BY 2.0.

Argan oil is commonly used as an ingredient in lotions or moisturisers for its supposed moisturising effects on hair and skin, but are you aware of its culinary uses? Argan oil is processed from the kernels of Argan nuts which come from Argan trees. These trees grow in southwestern Morocco and residents there are well acquainted with its use as a dressing oil. In Morocco, Argan oil is used for breakfast as a bread dip, much like how the Spanish use olive oil to accompany their breads for appetisers. It is also used as a sauce to dress pasta, couscous and salads.

2. Essential oils

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Essential oils. Photo Young living essential oils by Flickr user Abi Porter. CC BY 2.0

Commonly used in aromatherapy, essential oils are more known for their scent – and some say, health benefits – rather than their taste. However, you can add them to your food to make it smell and taste good. Essential oils company Young Living has an array of recipes which include their oils. For example, their website suggests adding one to four drops of orange essential oil to your waffle mix, your bowl of oatmeal or even to protein shakes or plain yoghurt. For dinner, you could add basil essential oil and one drop each of rosemary and thyme essential oil to your tomato-based pasta sauce. There’s also an alternative to using real lemons in this hot lemon tea recipe: Mix in three drops of lemon essential oil and blue agave in a cup of hot water. So, essentially, you can use essential oil for cooking too.

Disclaimer: Not all essential oils are edible and their effects are unpredictable. Please consult your doctor before adding any essential oil to your food.

3. Walnut oil 

walnut oil
Walnut oil. Photo taken from iHerb’s website.

This, or any other nut oil – such as macadamia oil, peanut oil and hazelnut oil – is great to have. Walnut oil makes for a good salad dressing but might be expensive. It also brings flavour to cakes, cookies and other bakes. Nut oils are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, and walnut oil is the highest in omega-3s. However, nut oils, which are generally obtained from compressing the nut flesh with an oil press, are high in calories too as about 80 per cent of the nut is fat. A halved walnut contains 185 calories.

4. Truffle oil

truffle oil
White truffle oil. Photo taken from Carecci’s website.

This might be an interesting fact for you: Truffle oil does not actually contain truffle. The fading fad has seen truffle chips, or truffle fries, being served with a dressing of truffle oil. Truffle itself is a much-prized fungi which grow wild and underground – usually at the base of an oak tree in the European countryside. Its rarity makes it highly prized and priced – the Italian white truffle can fetch up to a market price of €4,000 (S$6071.60) per kilo. Other less valuable (but still dear) truffle types include the black truffle, summer truffle and garlic truffle.

However, generally, commercial truffle oil involves none of these precious, highly sought after delicacies. Instead, the oil is made by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane, a substance created in a laboratory.  There is also a proportion of truffle oil which is made using olive oil infused with a small amount of truffle. Those who use the oil drizzle it over pasta, risotto, potatoes or as a vinaigrette by combining it with olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, pepper, and dijon mustard.

5. Coconut oil

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Coconut oil cooking spray. Photo Pam Cooking Spray Coconut Oil by Flickr user Mike Mozart. CC BY 2.0

Another one known for its cosmetic properties, coconut oil is extracted from the flesh of the coconut. This is done by cold-pressing the coconut flesh. Coconut oil can also be extracted from coconut milk. While coconut oil is a moisturising agent for your skin and hair, it is said to be a healthier alternative to vegetable oils, while can contain trans fats. Coconut oil is said to have antioxidant properties and boost brain function in Alzheimer’s patients.

However, the supposed health benefits of coconut oil have been questioned. A Harvard health letter by physician and professor at Harvard School of Public Health Walter Willett stated that coconut oil is about 90 per cent saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter. Butter has about 64 per cent saturated fat. According to Prof Willett, too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease.

According to another professor however, the manufacturing process of the coconut oil has a part to play. Professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology Tom Brenna said that while the “older refined-deodorised bleached coconut oil causes rapid and very unhealthy looking rises in cholesterol”, this might not be the same for virgin coconut oil.

If you are still interested in adopting coconut oil in your cooking, the oil can be used in place of butter when baking, as a base cooking oil or as a dressing in salads. Coconut oil is commonly used in Southern Indian cooking. An interesting fact: coconut oil has a pretty high melting point (24 to 25 degree celsius) so it might still be solid at lower room temperatures.

6. Chia seed oil

chia seed oil
Chia seed oil. Photo taken from iHerb’s website.

Chia seeds are added to beverages, sprinkled in salads or on top of yoghurt, but did you know that they can be pressed for oil as well? Chia seed oil comes from the seed of the Salvia hispanica plant and about 25 to 40 per cent of the chia seed is composed of oil, which can be used as a salad dressing. Like walnut oil, chia seed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acid content – about 60 per centChia seed oil is said to have anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically as it is soothing. Its other beauty uses also include stimulating healthy hair growth.

 

 

Featured image of Photo Young living essential oils by Flickr user Abi Porter. CC BY 2.0

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By Unsplash user : Caleb Thalhttps://unsplash.com/photos/LY9GKi4xllY

by Ling Kang

GENERATIONS of fans cheered – and breathed sighs of relief, we reckon – when Shashlik reopened in early March. To many Singaporeans, the iconic Russian-Hainanese restaurant brings them to a different place and a different time – back to the days when they were dating or what they imagined romance would have been like for their parents and grandparents.

We explore other restaurants and cafes that “take us back”:

 

Chin Mee Chin Confectionery

https://www.flickr.com/photos/surveying/10271426534/in/photolist-5CsWD-5CsWC-gDDKfW-5CsWB-gDEP56-5CsWE-gDDMiU-gDEiug-gDEgcF-e3kbWh
Photo by Flickr user Jnzl. public domain.


If you can ignore the hordes of “millennials”, including this author, texting on Whatsapp or snapping photos with their smartphones, Chin Mee Chin looks like it materialised right out of a post-war era drama. My mother used to bring me here when I was younger. She always remarked that not many places in Singapore still bake the pastries she used to eat when she was younger. In a country where large-scale landmarks are never safe, there’s something deeply comforting in the knowledge that the small things – lacquered wooden chairs, marble top tables, and even porcelain cups and saucers – can somehow withstand the supposed inevitability of progress. Almost as resilient as the joint’s monumental furniture are the aged servers who remarkably take down your orders and tabulate your bill with nothing but their great memory and math prowess (okay, they do use pen and paper at times).

It is the food, however, that makes getting a seat a challenge. After all, nostalgia alone can’t fill tummies. All of Chin Mee Chin’s baked goods are made on site. Their egg tarts have robust pastry crusts that embrace wobbly egg pudding. Their kaya toasts are unique, with round buns and homemade signature Kaya paste and a generous slice of butter that melts into a puddle of gold before your very eyes. Quick! Snap the photo before it fully dissolves!

In 2013, there were unsubstantiated whispers that Chin Mee Chin Confectionery was closing, but three years later, business is as strong as ever. Due to the large crowds, come before 9.30am and have your orders ready for the servers before you beckon them over. The joint is closed on Mondays.

You can visit it at 204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903.

 

The Ship Restaurant & Bar

Established since 1977, The Ship Restaurant & Bar opened an outlet at NEX shopping mall in Serangoon a few years ago, to complement their original outlet at Shaw Centre. Known for its affordable and, at the time, unique offerings, it serves Western food with a Hainanese twist. Perhaps to reach out to a wider clientele, the NEXT branch also offers a “student value meal” and a “tea time special”.  When I visited recently, I made sure to try out its famous Chicken Maryland – and it did not disappoint at all. Deriving its name from the coastal state of Maryland in the United States, the Chicken Maryland was crispy and succulent at all the right places. Also, it was paired with delicious fried corn and banana fritters which balanced well against the salty taste of the fried chicken.
You can visit it at 23 Serangoon Central, #01-61/62 NEX Shopping Mall, 556083

 

Pete’s Place

http://www.singapore.grand.hyattrestaurants.com/petesplace/
Taken from their website


The entrance to Pete’s Place is so nondescript that it’s almost a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place. Located in the basement of Grand Hyatt Singapore, you wouldn’t be faulted for walking right by its entrance, a lone stairwell that brings you there from bustling Scotts Road. Do make it a point to locate it though because you’ll be brought to a treasure trove of Italian delicacies. Pete’s Place, established in 1973, looks and feels like a secret wine cellar and the photos of celebrities – most of whom were famous in the ’80s or ’90s – that line its four walls are a testament to its illustrious history.

My personal favourites are the thin-crust pizzas that come straight from their wood-fired ovens. The Pizza Margherita features fresh tomatoes and basil, and stringy melted mozzarella cheese on top of the crispy pastry. From the same rustic oven are the freshly baked bread with crusts that crackle with each bite and that goes in perfect tandem with the soup of the day. Also, the last time I visited Pete’s Place for their lunch buffet, I appreciated the unique taste of the blackcurrant panna cotta. While I’ve had strawberry and blueberry Pannacotta, this blackcurrant variation was an unexpected treat. Even though the lunchtime buffet will set you back $35, it does have a wide spread of salads, soups, mains, pizzas and dessert.

You can visit it at 10 Scotts Rd, Grand Hyatt Singapore Hotel, Singapore 228211

 

Featured image vintage restaurant by unsplash user Caleb Thal.

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by Wan Ting Koh

THE latest food craze to hit Singapore was first seen in steamed Chinese buns or bao. Yes, the liu sha bao popularised the salted egg. Salted egg yolk is also used as the main component in zi char dishes such as salted egg yolk crab or pan-fried salted egg yolk tofu.

Now, the flavour is making its way into cafes as a dip and it is even incorporated into much-loved desserts like lava cakes where the chocolate filling is replaced with salted egg yolk “lava”.

Here are five interesting salted egg yolk-flavoured items to check out:

1. Salted egg yolk potato chips

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Irvins’ salted egg yolk potato chips. Photo taken from Irvins’ Facebook page.

These are definitely not your ordinary potato chips. Imagine crisp fried potato chips coated with a hearty layer of salted egg yolk crumbs, spiced with curry leaves… The other ingredients in the coating include egg, milk powder and chilli.

Two online stores currently sell the snack. The first is Irvins, which also retail two other salted egg yolk-flavoured snacks: salted egg yolk fish skin and a salted egg yolk dip, which are $15 and $7.50 respectively. Their salted egg yolk chips are sold in a bottle for $15.

The other retailer is The Golden Duck which sells theirs in a resealable packet for $7 each.

2. Salted egg yolk croissants

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Flavour Flings salted egg yolk croissant. Photo taken from Flavour Flings Facebook page.

This unique pastry went viral on social media when it was first sold at a cafe on January 23 this year. Reportedly snapped up within half an hour of its release in Flavour Flings cafe, the salted egg yolk croissants, which are going for $7.50 per piece, are simply fluffy croissants filled with flowing salted egg yolk “sauce”.

According to Flavour Flings cafe, they were the first to introduce the specialty into Singapore’s food scene. Other places soon came up with their own version, including Antoinette, Black and Ink, Kokomama Marketplace and Bridge.

3. Salted egg yolk cookies

Salted egg yolk cookies from Sinpopo. Photo taken from Sinpopo's Facebook page.
Salted egg yolk cookies from Sinpopo. Photo taken from Sinpopo’s Facebook page.

If you cannot get enough of those addictive, crispy-thin potato chips, pamper your tastebuds with these thick and crumbly alternative. The salted egg yolk cookies from Sinpopo cafe has curry leaves in them and are sold for $15 per jar.

4. Salted egg yolk ice cream

Salted egg yolk flavoured ice cream from Tom's Palette. Picture taken from Tom's Palette's website.
Salted egg yolk flavoured ice cream from Tom’s Palette. Picture taken from Tom’s Palette’s website.

There was a time when ice cream flavours stuck to a sweet palette or only consisted of three main flavours: strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. Now, more innovative ice cream flavours are entering the market and these include savoury flavours. Salted egg yolk ice cream can be found at Tom’s Palette, an ice cream cafe located at Shaw Towers which prices its ice cream at $3.60 for a small cup of two flavours.

5. Salted egg yolk cocktail

Operation Dagger's Salted egg yolk cocktail, The Egg, created by Operation Dagger. Photo taken from Theurbanwire.
Operation Dagger’s Salted egg yolk cocktail, The Egg, created by Operation Dagger. Photo taken from The UrbanWire.

Salted egg yolk… drink? The Egg is a salted egg yolk concoction which comprises a salted egg yolk cured for 24 hours in dark Venezuelan rum, sugar and vanilla. The inventor of the drink is Luke Whearty, the 31-year-old owner of Operation Dagger, a cocktail bar. He was inspired by liu sha bao and a duck egg yolk liqueur from Sweden. The drink is presented in a ceramic cup housed within a glass jar with burnt hay and smoked star anise. It costs $25 per serving.

 

Featured image taken from Irvins Facebook page.

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by Gillian Lim

FOR centuries, honey has been known to have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial properties.

It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, from absorbing moisture in wounds and pressure sores to treating the common cold or sore throat. Honey contains antimicrobial compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, antioxidants, lysozyme and polyphenols.

Manuka honey is purported to be one of the most beneficial types of honey because of the presence of several other compounds which are not found in regular kinds of honey, like methylglyoxal. Plus, manuka honey is said to have up to four times the nutritional content than that of the normal flower honey, said Dr Radhika Kamat, a Singapore-based naturopathic physician at the Osteopathic Treatment Centre at Tanglin Shopping Centre. “It’s also rich in amino acids and minerals, more than any other honey,” she added.

But last Friday, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) announced a recall of 18 Evergreen Life manuka honey products because the company might have used additives during the processing of the honey – mainly dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and methylglyoxal (MGO). However, these two additives are already naturally present in manuka honey.

So, was this a case of a manuka honey company adding artificial ingredients to boost their grading, or were they simply overstating their claims? And what implications will it then have on the rest of manuka honey sold in our stores?

We spoke with three nutritionists to find out what they thought of manuka honey:

But first, what is manuka honey?

A glance at the supermarket shelves reveal a host of different kinds of honey. Raw or pasteurised, wild honey or natural honey, and even filtered or unfiltered honey. This isn’t even including the different kinds of honey, for example apple blossom honey, wild forest honey and Tupelo honey, which comes from Florida.

The antibacterial properties of honey isn’t just limited to manuka honey – other types of honey have it. Essentially, a chemical reaction happens when bees turn pollen into honey. They produce gluconic acid, and a mild antiseptic – hydrogen peroxide – is released when gluconic acid comes into contact with the moisture from the human body.

But manuka honey – made by bees pollinating the manuka bush – is certainly not the same as your regular “table” honey. For one, compared to other types of honey, it has has a higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO), a natural antibacterial compound. In fact, a study by German professor Thomas Henle of the University of Dresden showed that the amount of MGO in manuka honey is up to 1,000 times greater than in other honey. And this MGO is separate from the hydrogen peroxide activity that happens in other honeys, but forms from the condensation of dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, a chemical compound present in the nectar of manuka flowers to varying degrees, according to a research study published in 2009.

Manuka honey is most commonly produced in New Zealand, thanks to bees that pollinate the manuka bush. This particular bush is also known as Leptospermum scoparium, and other common names for the bush include New Zealand tea-tree, broom tea-tree or just tea tree. Now, the bush also grows in Australia as well.

How do you grade manuka honey?

Manuka honey can be graded in two ways, all of them trying to reflect the quality of honey by measuring its antibacterial properties: UMF and MGO.

1. UMF or Unique Manuka Factor

Trademarked in New Zealand, the UMF refers to the non-peroxide activity in honey. So, this measurement doesn’t factor in the generic hydrogen peroxide activity that all honeys have, but measures everything else – essentially the non-peroxide activity – that contributes to its antibacterial property. The higher the UMF number, the more antibacterial activity it has, and the more potent it is. And of course, the more expensive the honey.

UMF ranges from 10 to 25; anything above UMF16 is considered a superior quality, while anything from five to 10 means it has low levels of antibacterial activity. Anything below five means it has negligible antimicrobial effect. The numbers following the letters UMF actually refer to the percentage of phenol in water, so this means that a UMF rating of 20+ is equivalent in strength to a 20 per cent solution of phenol. Companies are only allowed to use the UMF mark if they have a license with the UMF Honey Association (UMFHA) based in New Zealand. Currently, only 67 companies have licenses with the UMFHA.

2. MGO or methylglyoxal: 

MGO is a natural antibacterial compound found in high concentrations in manuka honey, and the grading system’s numbers measure the amount of MGO in a single kg of honey. You could say that it is a more specific grading system as compared to the UMF grading system, as this targets a specific ingredient in manuka honey, rather than measuring the entirety of its antibacterial activity.

For this rating, the higher the number goes, the higher the concentration of MGO, and the more antibacterial activity you’d get. The number can range from 0mg/kg to 1,000mg/kg as its level can vary from place to place and year to year, depending on where and when the honey was harvested, but anything higher than 100mg/kg is considered antibacterial.

For example, a bottle labelled with MGO 100+ Manuka Honey means that there is 100mg of MGO in 1kg of honey. MGO is a trademark of Manuka Health New Zealand, and this grade is seen only on their own products.

Why is manuka honey good for you?

A quick search on the US National Library of Medicine’s portal show 231 results for manuka honey – majority of it explore the antibacterial properties of manuka honey.

For example, manuka honey is purported to be effective in killing several bacterial pathogens, such as MRSA or Clostridium difficile. If you’re not familiar with medicinal terms, here’s the upshot: Manuka honey is scientifically proven to be effective against the agents that cause certain diseases or illnesses. You can read the medical journal here. This doesn’t stray far from historical uses of honey – ancient Egyptians and Greeks used honey for wound care.

“Manuka honey has medicinal value, and it’s supposed to a higher-grade honey,” said Singapore-based naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist Ms Ketki Vinayachandra. “It has antibacterial properties, and some nurses in hospitals in Australia use manuka honey for dressing and wound healing.” Ms Ketki’s Natural Medicine clinic is located at Raffles Place.

When Ms Ketki spoke with TMG, she also added that manuka honey is a good sweetener for sore throats. “When you’re losing your voice, you can swallow bits of honey and trickle it down your throat slowly,” she said. “Basically, manuka honey is a good honey with antimicrobial properties. I use it for red and inflamed sore throats.”

Dr Radhika Kamat, a naturopathic physician at Singapore-based Osteopathic Treatment Centre, also suggested applying manuka honey to open ulcers, acne and burns. “It’s just a topical application, and it can be a very good adjunct therapy,” she said. “But you can also ingest about a few tablespoons of manuka honey if you have a strep throat infection.”

Some controversies behind it

In July 2014, the New Zealand government came out to say that several manuka honey brands were overstating their claims. For example, existing labels such as “Active” or “Non-Peroxide Activity” should be removed.

“These claims imply that the product has some form of antibacterial effect when the honey is eaten and are therefore therapeutic claims,” said the New Zealand government. “The tests used to determine this antibacterial activity only relate to the efficacy of the product inhibiting bacterial growth – that is, as a topical antiseptic.”

But even with the various grading systems, how good is manuka honey, really, and why is it prized above the rest of the honey?

That’s the question that most researchers are still trying to find out. For example, while manuka honey is widely acknowledged to have proven medicinal effects, a 2011 study at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine found that heather honey also killed MRSA microbes and three other strains of pathogenic bacteria. You can read the study here.

Plus, manuka honey is, by default, a kind of honey. And honey is supposed to have antibacterial properties in general anyway, thanks to the hydrogen peroxide activity. Since both kinds of honey have antibacterial properties, what makes manuka honey so special?

“[T]he normal honey you find outside could be loaded with sugar, and there’s no way to ascertain how much sugar it actually has because it’s mass produced,” said Ms Ketki. That’s why she only uses manuka honey for medicinal purposes. And even so, she doesn’t use manuka honey every day, because it’s still a form of glucose.

“I would never use normal common honey at all. If I consume it, it would be manuka honey,” she said. “I think mass production has come to a point where you don’t know how much sugar has gone into the honey.”

And even manuka honey has different grades and brands. How do we know which is real, and which grading system to use?

Dr Kamat said that the first grading system, UMF, identifies how much strength the honey has in fighting bacteria. And this includes how much MGO it has – which comes as a second and more specific kind of grading system.

Ms Ketki has some reservations about the multiple grading systems.

“It’s difficult to ascertain the genuine quality of manuka honey, just like it’s so hard to ascertain 100 per cent of anything,” she said. She raised organic produce as an example, and how it was impossible to ascertain whether your produce was 100 per cent organic or not.

“These are all natural stuff, so there’s no way to clinically prove anything,” she said, comparing the use of manuka honey against other clinical drugs. “With natural stuff you can’t get very serious side effects unless you overdose. This is a lifestyle thing.”

Singapore-based nutritionist and dietitian Ms Jackie Green, whose clinic The Family Dietitian is located at The Forum in Orchard Road, agreed.

As with many products, there is huge variety in quality and it is very difficult for consumers to identify which are superior and which are inferior products,” she said. “It varies hugely in price, and maybe you get what you pay for, but maybe not.”

Featured image Honey by Flickr user Sonia Karen. CC BY 2.0

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by Gillian Lim

A LOT of people believe in drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. Some people make it a point to sip lemon-infused water throughout the day. But is this actually beneficial for your body, or is it some old wives’ tale that has no scientific grounding at all?

This trend has evolved to include fruit-infused water as well – cue an onslaught of Instagram-worthy, beautifully arranged mason jars filled with a variety of mixes, ranging from orange slices and blueberries to basil leaves and strawberry slices.

I myself am a slave to this popular trend, along with several other colleagues in the office.

My mother likes to prepare a huge jug of warm water and lemon slices at home, and the entire family drinks from it throughout the day. When I asked her why, she cited a variety of reasons. “I like to drink lemon water because it’s a natural source of vitamin C,” said my mother Grace Yap, 56, an administrative executive. “And vitamin C helps boost my immune system, so that means protecting me from the flu. I understand it also helps make the skin look fairer and eases my thirst. Plus, it helps me feel better when I’ve had oily food.” But did she actually hear about this directly from a certified nutritionist or dietitian? She admitted, “No.”

So, we asked several dietitians and scoured the Internet to find out if the benefits of warm water and lemon is myth or fact. Here are six reasons why it’s good for you:

1. It stimulates your digestive system

The reason why everyone tells you to drink it in the morning – first thing when you wake up – is because warm water and lemon helps stimulate your digestive system.

Dr Frank Lipman, founder and director of New York City-based Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center, said on his website that such a combination “wakes up” your liver, and flushes out nasty toxins. “So, a perfect start to the day, especially if you suffer from blemished skin,” he added. “You can even aid the process by adding mint or other natural flavourings,” added Ms Jackie Green, a dietitian at Singapore-based The Family Dietitian.

And because it stimulates your digestive system, simply adding a slice of lemon into warm water also aids in digestion. This means that warm water with lemon doesn’t just help you in the beginning of the day, but throughout the day as well.

“Because lemon juice’s atomic structure is similar to the digestive juices found in the stomach, it tricks the liver into producing bile,” said Dr Joshua Axe, a clinical nutritionist in Nashville, who also runs his own health website. “This helps to keep food moving through your body and gastrointestinal tract smoothly.” He also added that lemon water also helps relieve indigestion or ease an upset stomach.

2. It’s a homemade, electrolyte-filled sports drink

Because warm water infused with lemon is sugar-free, and free from other artificial ingredients, it acts as a healthier alternative to your other sugar-filled drinks, like coffee, tea, or other fruit juices. Plus, lemon juice contains calcium, potassium and magnesium, and these are three of the most important minerals that act as regulators of the electrical impulses that keep our body running.

Registered and licensed dietitian Erin Coleman said that citrus fruits are the best natural ingredients for electrolyte replenishment. “This is why you may have seen many athletes gorging themselves on juicy slices,” she said on online nutrition website FitDay. Ms Coleman is an experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What’s so important about keeping your body hydrated? Your body depends on water for survival. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. You cannot have good health without water.

3. It gives you more vitamin C than any other citrus fruit, and fulfils your recommended daily vitamin C intake

Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C, more than any other citrus fruit, in fact. According to Nutrition Data, a website which provides detailed nutritional information on all kinds of food, a single lemon contains about 83.2mg of vitamin C, while a single orange contains about 63.4mg of vitamin C.

More importantly, one cup of lemon juice contains more vitamin C than what our recommended daily intake requires – it contains 112mg, while Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends that adult males have a daily intake of 105mg of vitamin C, and 85mg for adult females.

And what are some of the benefits of vitamin C?

Apparently, other than boosting your immune system (which is number four on our list), you might get younger-looking skin and less wrinkles, according to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study showed that women aged 40 to 74 who had high intakes of vitamin C were less likely to have wrinkles, skin dryness and aged appearances compared to those who had lower intakes.

4. It boosts your immune system

Lemon water contains a variety of vitamins and minerals – this includes vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, and these boost your immune system.

The immune system is usually weakened by chronic stress, and a diet rich in vitamin C increases one’s resistance to the effects of stress as well as certain diseases. And since lemon water is rich in vitamin C, it would do exactly just that, said Dr Angelica Samarista-Giron in a medical response to a query on SteadyHealth.com. Dr Samarista-Giron is a medical expert and trained anaesthesiologist from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.

But it doesn’t mean that lemon-infused water would help cure colds or flus, she added. It does, however, help prevent the development of complications such as pneumonia or lung infection, and it’s also known to reduce symptoms of sore throat, tonsillitis, or asthma.

Dr Samarista-Giron also added that vitamin C is an important component for collagen formation, for reducing inflammation and promoting tissue healing and repair. “No wonder lemons and other citrus fruits are popular ingredients of foods and cosmetic products that are marketed for their anti-aging effects,” she added.

5. It’s a natural diuretic

What is a diuretic? It’s something that helps you urinate, and lemon water does just that. And although there are a range of pills out there to do just this (for example chlorothiazide, bumetanide and amiloride, according to Mayo Clinic), a natural substitute would be lemon juice.

Dr Marita Schauch, a recognised naturopathic doctor who runs her own clinic in Victoria, Canada, wrote that lemon water acts “like a gentle diuretic to help flush out any toxins in the body”. She also added that it helps to purify and stimulate the liver.

6. It’s filled with antioxidants

Aside from vitamin C, lemon juice contains flavonoids and other substances that have antioxidant properties. And what exactly are antioxidants?

They are chemicals that fight against the harmful products of metabolism, or free radicals, that can cause chronic disease. And if you might not be familiar with terms such as metabolism or free radicals, here’s the upshot: “These antioxidants can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and cancer,” said Dr Samarista-Giron.

And it’s not just lemon juice that contains such antioxidants.

“Studies show that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and have high blood levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants are less likely to suffer from stroke, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Samarista-Giron. But specifically, with regard to lemon juice, she identified several compounds called limonoids, which have been shown to fight against skin, lung, mouth, breast, colon and stomach cancer.

“Current investigations are also looking into the cholesterol-lowering properties of these substances,” she added.

 

Featured image of refreshing from Flickr user Tit BonacCC BY 2.0

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Dungeness crab with Kings Mix. Photo taken from The Cajun Kings Facebook page.

by Gillian Lim

YOU think you might have heard it all – salted egg yolk crab, the classic chili crab, marmite crab and black pepper crab.

There’s also myriad ways you can cook the crab – you can steam, stir-fry, deep-fry, bake, boil or broil it. You can even barbecue your crab if you want. And if you’re craving for some juicy crab, there are plenty of places that host crab buffets, like Todai and Park Royal, which let you have all the snow crab legs you want.

But among the plethora of crab dishes that have emerged in Singapore’s food scene, have you ever heard of unique crab dishes like green chili crab, coffee crab or curry crab?

If you haven’t heard of them and you’re up for a twist on the classic crab dish, here are six unique crab dishes and where to get them:

1. Curry crab

 

Penang curry crab. Photo taken from Penang St Buffet Facebook page.
Penang curry crab. Photo taken from Penang St Buffet Facebook page.

The use of spices in crab dishes isn’t new. In fact, some of the more popular crab dishes include black pepper crab and white pepper crab. While the classic chili crab dish is often mild in its spice level, some restaurants take it up a notch. However, curry is a different spice altogether, and if you’re a fan of curry, you might want to try this out.

The Penang Street Buffet located at Causeway Point serves a spicy curry crab dish during its Crab Madness Buffet, which food blog Ladyironchef said was “worth mentioning”. Apart from calling its flavours addictively spicy, the review also added that the curry was “so damn good” that it recommended you order a plate of piping hot steamed rice, best for “drowning your rice with the curry”.

Location: You can find Penang Street Buffet at Causeway Point, located at 1 Woodlands Square. It is open all week. The Crab Madness Buffet has two sessions: one from 4.30pm to 7.15pm, and another from 7.30pm to 10pm. It will start on March 1 this year.

2. Steamed crab with dang gui

Steamed crab with dang gui. Photo from the Park Royal Facebook page.
Steamed crab with dang gui. Photo from the Park Royal’s Facebook page.

Herbal broths go with a variety of things. Plain rice, brown rice or dong fen (vermicelli), for example. But have you ever had herbal broth with crab?

In this version of a crab dish, the Chinese angelica herb – or dang gui – is steamed and simmered with the crab. Usually, dang gui is used in soup dishes, or even together with steamed chicken and black fungus. But Park Royal’s crab feast buffet also features this particular Chinese herb together with its crab.

Ladyironchef’s review of this particular crab dish says that the herb has a slight bitterness, but one can still taste the sweetness of the crab. This produces “a very balanced flavoured herbal broth”, the review says. So if you’re not a gravy person, you might find this crab dish a bit more suited to your tastes.

Location: You can find this particular crab dish at Park Royal’s Plaza Brasserie crab feast buffet, which will start in the middle of this year. Although a specific date hasn’t been set yet, the crab feast buffet will last around three to four months. Park Royal is at 7500 Beach Road, and the nearest MRT stations are Bugis MRT or Nicoll Highway MRT. It is open all week.

3. Dungeness crab with the King’s Mix

Dungeness crab with Kings Mix. Photo taken from The Cajun Kings Facebook page.
Dungeness crab with King’s Mix. Photo taken from The Cajun Kings’ Facebook page.

You might have heard of snow crabs, king crabs and soft shell crabs, but have you heard of the dungeness crab before? It comes from the west coast of North America. A restaurant in Serangoon boils this crab together with a bag of spices native to South America.

The Cajun Kings calls the King’s Mix their signature spice mix – this includes spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, lemon and pepper. So, boiling the crab together with this signature spice mix will definitely be different from your salted egg crab or sweet marmite crab dishes, and packs a punch as well!

The restaurant specialises in Cajun-styled cuisine, so other dishes available at its restaurant include butter-fried frog legs and garlic butter prawns

Location: The Cajun Kings can be found at 15 Jalan Riang, near Serangoon MRT. It can be contacted at 62844426. It is closed on Mondays, and is open for the rest of the week.

4. Coffee crab

The kopi crab. Photo taken from The Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant Facebook page.
The kopi crab. Photo taken from The Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant’s Facebook page.

Coffee isn’t just limited to drinks nowadays – you can now find coffee braised pork ribs at zi char restaurants, and you can also cook coffee with bacon and pulled pork as well. But this restaurant at Gardens by the Bay cooks its coffee with crab.

The Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant’s kopi crab costs $65 per kilogram, and uses Sri Lankan crabs. According to a review of the dish on HungryGoWhere.com, the coffee sauce is “stick-sweet, and slightly alcoholic”. It’s also runny and not as thick as chili crab sauce, but “enough to give it a nutty, medium-strong coffee coating”.

Location: The Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant is at the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, #01-10. You can find Gardens by the Bay at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, and it is within walking distance from Bayfront MRT. It is open all week. You can reach it at 66046604.

5. Salt-baked crab

Salt-baked crab. Photo taken from New Ubin Seafood Restaurants Facebook page.
Salt-baked crab. Photo taken from New Ubin Seafood Restaurant’s Facebook page.

You’ve heard of the Salt-baked fish – the dish where the fish comes encased in a large salted crust, and some restaurants even make it a point to crack open the salt hull in front of you. But have you heard of salt-baked crab before?

In this dish, New Ubin Seafood Restaurant’s salt-baked crab doesn’t actually come encased in a bed of salt. Instead, the crab is immersed in a special salt mix for several hours, which then “draws some of the moisture out of the crab meat, which intensifies the natural flavour of the flesh”, said its dish description. The crab is then baked on top of an enclosed charcoal grill, resulting in a slightly burnt exterior. And although it looks like a plain and somewhat burnt crab, the restaurant said that “hidden within the charred shell lies naturally sweet crab meat that is meaty and firm”.

Because the crab is immersed in the special salt mix for several hours, it’s only available if pre-ordered in advance. So be sure to call up the restaurant beforehand!

Location: New Ubin Seafood Restaurant is located within the Sin Ming Industrial Estate, just off Thomson Road. Its exact address: Block 27 Sin Ming Road, #01-174, Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A. It is closed on Mondays, and is open the rest of the week. You can reach it at 64669568, or 97406870 outside of operating hours.

6. Crab in green chili sauce

Crab in green chili sauce. Photo from Gajalee Seafood Restaurant Facebook page.
Crab in green chili sauce. Photo from Gajalee Seafood Restaurant’s Facebook page.

Here’s a twist on the chili crab dish: Instead of having red chili, why not try some crab with green chili sauce instead. Also, how about an infusion of Indian spices, as opposed to your common Chinese herbs and flavors?

Gajalee Seafood Restaurant, at the Esplanade Mall, is a restaurant specialising in Indian coastal cuisine from the state of Maharashtra. Its Sri Lankan crab is stir-fried in a green chili sauce, and apparently scores pretty high on the spiciness level. A review on HungryGoWhere.com of the dish says that this is “way more fiery than Singapore’s chili crab” due to both the chili and Indian spices.

They recommend eating this dish together with naan, so you can consider swapping your fried mantous for Indian flatbread instead. The crab costs $80 per kilogram.

Location: You can find Gajalee Seafood Restaurant in the Colours By The Bay section of the Esplanade Mall, located at 8 Raffles Avenue, unit number #01-13C. It is open all week.

 

Featured image of Dungeness crab with Kings Mix sourced from The Cajun Kings Facebook page‘s Facebook page.

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HERE’S what’s worth your clicks on social media this week:

Seriously?

Now, there’ve been numerous Donald Trump memes and jokes going around over the years. The most notable ones have been about his hair – remember the one where scientists discovered a bright yellow caterpillar that looked like Trump’s hair running away?

Well, his lips are the new focus. Someone has edited a photo of him by replacing his eyes with his lips. The result? He looks exactly the same. Presenting the man who could be America’s next President:

DonaldTrumpEyesPhoto by Twitter user @recordsandradio

We’re speechless.

 

#ShareTheLoad

Indian ad guys are giving the Thais a run for their money as masters of the “inspirational tearjerkers” genre.

This one, by Ariel India, P&G and BBDO Worldwide, shows how fathers and husbands can take small steps (like doing laundry) to share the load at home. They hope to help create more equal homes. The grouping won a Glass Lion at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for some earlier work on the same campaign.

Wear your plants

The succulents craze is still going strong – this time, they’ve been made into jewellery.

Thankfully, they’re not tacky. Will you wear them?

gallery-1455815445-il-fullxfull868565632-1d4lPhoto from etsy.com

gallery-1455815526-living-succulent-plant-jewelry-passionflower-susan-mcleary-1Photo from etsy.com

 

Kitchen experiments

Singapore might be a cosmopolitan city where you can buy almost whatever you might want, but sometimes, we just want to make it ourselves.

Here’s how to DIY your own exotic food:

Brazilian Toasted Cassava Flour Farofa

Banh Mi Burger

Mochi Brownies

 

Compiled by Esther Au Yong 

Featured image L’espace internet du musée de la Communication (Berlin) by Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra. CC BY 2.0

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by Gillian Lim

ALONG with the rise in the amount of organic produce stocked at supermarkets, including those in the heartlands, is the emergence of cafes and restaurants that promise to use organic or all-natural ingredients in their food.

We spoke to a few organic cafe-goers, who agreed that there have been more of such cafes in the past few years. Having been going to vegan and organic restaurants for about five years now, student Megan Sim said that as far as she knows, she has noticed five more of such cafes opening up in the last four years. “Thankfully,” she added, because now she would have more organic cafes to visit. A fan of organic and vegan cafes but not a vegan herself, Ms Sim said she genuinely likes the food served at such cafes. “Plus, it’s healthy food too.”

 

Supply crunch

We also spoke to several organic cafe owners, who said that their businesses have grown significantly since they opened – they attributed the increase mostly to word-of-mouth. General manager of EcoHarmony Cafe Phuah Teck Shin said that business has increased from about 10 to 20 per cent since the cafe opened in 2007, while Mr Bernard Toh from The Organic Baker in Bukit Timah said business for its bakery has increased about 30 per cent since it opened in 2008.

And the demand for organic ingredients isn’t just exclusive at the consumer’s end, but also on the end of the supplier. “We have difficulty grabbing every ingredient we need,” said The Living Cafe’s service manager Ms Jena Enriquez. She added that they have to place their orders for produce two weeks in advance. If not, they would have to find other suppliers to get their produce. She also added that the cafe has to compete with over 30 organic juice bars for juice ingredients, which makes it difficult for them as well.

But this surge in demand for organic food products isn’t consistent across the local food industry.

Ms Delcie Lam, founder of Delcie’s Desserts and Cakes, said that although demand for organic food has increased over the years, the increase isn’t significant. “Only 0.5 per cent of our customers look for organic ingredients specifically, so the use of organic ingredients does not increase our business or revenue,” she said. She added, though, that business has tripled because they’ve expanded their range of products to include vegan, gluten free and diabetic-friendly cakes.

Plus, there hasn’t been much competition among players in the baking industry too – Ms Lam said that it wasn’t easy for bakeries to convert their ingredients to become organic and all-natural. “The ingredients can be three or four times more costly,” she said, adding that even Delcie’s Desserts and Cakes, which has been running since 2009, can only promise to use 70 per cent of organic ingredients, and not 100 per cent.

We came up with a list of six local restaurants and cafes that serve organic food that you should check out:

 

1. Real Food

Poached egg sourdough sandwich. Photo taken from Real Food's Facebook page.
Poached egg sourdough sandwich. Photo taken from Real Food’s Facebook page.

Serving as both a cafe and grocer, Real Food‘s menu ranges from salads, sandwiches and all-day breakfasts, to pasta, pizza and rice. It doesn’t use meat and processed ingredients, and instead uses a variety of raw, vegan and organic ingredients to cook up its dishes. Some of its dishes include poached egg and sourdough sandwich ($8.80), mushroom and celery tomato penne ($11.80) and organic pumpkin soup ($8.80). A quick check with the cafe’s service staff revealed that although it uses organic ingredients in all its food dishes, it’s also supplemented by a variety of natural ingredients as well. “More than 95 per cent of our food dishes is organic, I would say,” said its manager Mr Marcus Tan.

Real Food has a total of five outlets, three of which are located in Singapore, and the other two in Malaysia. All outlets also sell natural and organic products, ranging from fresh regional and local produce, dried food, healthy snacks, condiments, skin care and children care.

Price: Most of its food items are below $10, and cost an average of about $8 depending on what you order. For example, the veggie omelette costs $8.80, and their organic mushroom aglio olio costs $7.80. More costly dishes would be their chickpea and sweet potato cakes, which costs $13.80, and the baked brown rice, which also costs $13.80.

Location: Real Food’s three local stores can be found here: #B1-52/53 at The Central located on 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #B1-105/106/129 at Square 2 located on 10 Sinaran Drive, and at the Tai Wah Building on 110 Killiney Road.

 

2. Delcie’s Desserts and Cakes

Blue forest square cake, eggless and dairy-free. Photo from Delcie Lam.
Blue forest square cake, eggless and dairy-free. Photo from Delcie Lam.

There are three main kinds of cakes made at Delcie’s: There are those baked without eggs, dairy and other animal products like milk and whey protein, which makes it vegan-friendly. Another kind replaces sugar with organic agave, a kind of sweetener, making it friendly for diabetics. The last replaces wheat flour with a mixture of potatoes, rice flour and buckwheat, making it gluten-free.

But even though the menu splits its cakes into three wide categories, all its cakes are baked using all-natural products. This means a mix of premium and organic products, and depending on the type of cake made, these can range from organic apple puree and calcium-enriched organic brown rice milk, to low sodium sea salt and non-hydrogenated cholesterol-free canola and grapeseed oil.

Price: Depending on the size of the cake ordered, Delcie’s cakes can cost from $40 to $660. For example, a round 5.5-inch rainbow strawberry vegan cake costs $70. Other cakes range from coffee cakes to fudge bar cakes, and blueberry ice cream cakes to carrot spice tea cakes. Apart from cakes, Delcie’s also sells macarons, cupcakes and cookies.

Location: You can either order the cakes online, or drop by the store at Block 34 Whampoa West, #01-83. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11am to 7.30pm. You can also contact them at 97892309 or 62822951.

 

3. The Organic Baker

Open-faced croissant with truffle egg mayonnaise and wild mushroom ragout. Photo taken from The Missing Pan's Facebook page.
Open-faced croissant with truffle egg mayonnaise and wild mushroom ragout. Photo taken from The Missing Pan’s Facebook page.

“About 90 per cent of the breads baked at The Organic Baker is organic”, said its general manager, Mr Bernard Toh. As Singapore’s first organic sourdough artisan bakery, the bread produced contains no preservatives, additives, flavourings or other improvers. Rather, the bread is naturally leavened, often taking up to two days for the dough to fully ferment.

Other than supplying its organic bread to shops like Four Seasons Organic Market, Swiss Butchery and SuperNature, the bakery also has its own cafe called The Missing Pan, located in Bukit Timah. In the spirit of environmentally-friendly food, the cafe uses only organic bread in its sandwiches and burgers, although the rest of its produce is not organic.

Price: Its burgers range from $15 to $25 – for example, its open-faced croissant with truffle egg mayonnaise and wild mushroom ragout costs $15. The salads are $15 each, and range from avocado and quinoa salads to Spanish octopus salads. The most pricey thing on its menu is the pulled beef burger, which costs $27.

Location: The cafe, The Missing Pan, is located right next to the bakery, at #01/02-91 619D Bukit Timah Road. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 10pm. They close slightly earlier on Sunday, at 7pm. You can reach them at 64664377.

 

4. The Living Cafe

Sunny side and shrooms pizza. Photo from The Living Cafe Facebook page.
Sunny side and shrooms pizza. Photo from The Living Cafe Facebook page.

The Living Cafe’s menu is decked out in colourful icons – for each dish, you can see whether it is raw food, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian or nut-free, and what exactly each dish contains. This helps channel one of its main aims, which is to make healthy food “tasty, affordable, and accessible to everyone”, according to its website description.

On a whole, the cafe steers clear of red meat, dairy, white sugar, preservatives, additives and artificial food colourings, and it also uses organic ingredients where possible. The Living Cafe’s general manager, Mr Chris Renaley, said that about 80 per cent of the food served at the cafe is organic. For example, its apricot pistachio quinoa salad ($18) uses organic quinoa, and the brown rice nori roll ($12) uses hormone-free chicken.

Price: A majority of its food items cost more than $10, with only three starters and sides falling below the $10 mark. The peppery salmon sandwich costs $16, and the grilled tofu guacamole wrap costs $14. The priciest dish on its menu is the salmon spinach 10-inch pizza, which costs $25.

Location: You can find The Living Cafe at 779 Bukit Timah Road, just before 6th Avenue. While it is open every day, the opening hours vary: From Mondays to Fridays, it is open at 11am to 7pm, with an exception on Friday, when it closes slightly later, at 10pm. On weekends, it opens at 9am, but close at 10pm on Saturdays and 8pm on Sundays. You can contact them at 64684482.

 

5. EcoHarmony Cafe

Olive rice set at EcoHarmony Cafe. Photo by Mr Phuah Teck Shin.
Olive rice set at EcoHarmony Cafe. Photo from Mr Phuah Teck Shin.

A cafe and a grocer, EcoHarmony Cafe falls under the Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation. “About 90 per cent of the food served at the cafe are organic,” said its general manager Mr Phuah Teck Shin.

The food in the cafe range from olive rice sets to thunder rice tea sets, and deviate from your usual cafe fare like eggs benedict or smoked salmon sandwich. The turmeric brown rice set uses organic brown rice, and the thunder tea rice is made using organic ingredients plucked from Kampung Senang’s own organic vegetable farm at Tampines. If you’re up for a twist, you can also try its take on mee rebus – the gravy is made using pumpkin and herbs, and served with its in-house herbal soup, which is brewed with Chinese herbs and organic leafy vegetables and stems.

The cafe also serves as a grocer and sells organic products like organic bathroom soap and organic detox soup packets, which are packaged by them.

The price of its food dishes is not available on its website.

Location: You can find EcoHarmony Cafe at #01-205 Block 106 Aljunied Crescent. The nearest MRT is Aljunied MRT.

 

6. Sunny Choice Cafe

Sunny Choice's Thunder Tea food dish. Photo from Mr Clement Ong.
Sunny Choice’s Thunder Tea brown rice food dish. Photo from Mr Clement Ong.

Started by five sisters in 2007, the main outlet at The Rail Mall along Upper Bukit Timah Road consists of a cafe and a store – both of which stock organic and all-natural products. One of its partners, Mr Clement Ong, said that 70 per cent of its food dishes and products are organic, while the rest comprise of healthy ingredients.

For example, its most popular dish, the Thunder Tea brown rice ($8.50) – a traditional Hakka dish – comprises of cabbage, carrot, wing bean or long bean, and beancurd topped over organic brown and red rice. Preserved radish, vegetarian anchovies and nuts are also added into the mix.

Some of the other dishes on its menu include mushroom tofu set ($8.50), bak kut teh ($8.50), vegetable sushi ($7) and olive rice ($8.50).

Price: Most of the items on its menu cost around $8. The spaghetti is $7.50, while the Ipoh hor fun is $8. The most expensive dish on its menu is the cooked vegetables side dish – it costs $10.

Location: You can find Sunny Choice Cafe at The Rail Mall, located at 434 Upper Bukit Timah Road. It is closed on Tuesdays, and open on the rest of the days from 10am to 9pm. You can also contact them at 68922383.

 

Feature image Chorizo Fiesta by Bernard Toh from The Organic Baker, used with permission

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