Monday, 30 June 2014

Haze, Heat & H2O Disruption!

The heat is so awful and yet we've been told that El Nino isn't here yet! We'll be roasted ALIVE! On the average, it's 36C.

The haze was bad last week. And then it got blown away.

Clear skies again!!!!!
And then there was massive disruptions due to over consumption of water due to the extremely, freaking hot weather. All the huge containers were taken out again. But we were lucky. We had low pressure. Many did not have water.

Some places have had their water back, but some still do not have. This water problem is far from over...

Friday, 27 June 2014

12 Things You Should Never Say to Someone with a Chronic Health Condition

This is a MUST read!

Click on LINK.

What's In The Haze???!!

The API (Air Pollutant Index) in Malaysia is used to measure pollutants in the air. It is calculated based on FIVE major air pollutants. They are:

1. Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
When it is in gas form, it is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating and rotten smell.

Sulphur dioxide is used:

a. As a precursor to sulfuric acid.
* The major use of sulfuric acid is in the manufacturing of phosphate fertilizers.
b. As a preservative.
* Used as a preservative in dried fruits as it maintains colorful appearance of fruit and prevents rotting.
c. In winemaking.
* Serves as an antibiotic and antioxidant which protects the wine from spoilage by bacteria and oxidation.
d. As a reducing agent.
* In water, it decolorize substance. Reduces bleach for papers and clothes.
* In sewage management, it is used to treat chlorinated wastewater prior to being released.
e. As a refrigerant.
f. As a reagent and solvent in chemical laboratories.

As you can see, sulphur dioxide is widely used. Naturally, sulphur dioxide is released into the atmosphere after volcanic eruptions. But mass emissions from factories are worrisome because it contributes to air pollution.

Sulphur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain. This causes the acidification of lakes and streams  and speeds up the corrosion of buildings. Breathing in sulphur dioxide causes respiratory irritation and in weaker people, respiratory diseases. It can also cause difficulty in breathing. It also damages trees and crops.

Click on LINK to read more.

2. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

This reddish-brown toxic gas has a sharp, biting odour.

Sources that contribute nitrogen dioxide are internal combustion engines, thermal power stations, pulp mills, butane gas heaters and stoves.

Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza.

Click on LINK to read more.

3. Ground Level Ozone (O3)

Ground level ozone is the main component of smog. This ground level ozone and the atmospheric ozone are of the same chemical components. Ground level ozone is created by chemical reactions of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (VOC). On very hot days combined with an urban environment (with lots of emissions from cars, factories, etc), ozone can reach very unhealthy levels. People with lung disease, sensitive people, children, old people and people who spend a great deal of time outdoors can be sensitive to this ozone.

Not only humans are affected by this, even animals and trees and vegetation can be harmed by ozone.

To read more about ozone, click on LINK.

4. Carbon Monoxide (CO)

In urban areas, carbon monoxide comes mainly from vehicles. Even poorly maintained generators produce carbon monoxide. Natural fires (forest and bush fires) and man-made fires (such as burning of crop residues, and sugar-cane fire clearing) contributes to the carbon monoxide production.

Carbon monoxide can cause harm to the health by reducing oxygen delivery to the body's organs (heart and brain) and also tissues. At very extreme levels, carbon monoxide can cause death.

5. Particulate Matter with a Diameter Below 10 Micrometers (PM10)

These are tiny pieces of solid or liquid particles which are suspended in the Earth's atmosphere. Some of these particles are natural as they originate from volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, living vegetation and sea spray. Some are man-made as they are produced by the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, power plants and the industrial sectors.

Small particles can stay in the atmosphere for weeks as they are small and light.

The manmade particulate matter affects the human health and also the climate of the Earth. These particulates can penetrate deep into the lungs and blood streams unfiltered and can cause DNA mutations, heart attacks and premature death. Lung cancer is the major concern. The WHO and IARC have labeled these particulates as a GROUP 1 CARCINOGEN. For a complete list of these particulates, click on LINK.

For more information on particulate matter click on LINK.

Below is the Malaysia's API Index measurement:

Air Pollution Level
0 - 50Good
51 - 100Moderate
101 - 200Unhealthy
201 - 300Very unhealthy
301 - 500Hazardous

* taken from Air Pollution

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Gluten-Free Baked Rice Cakes With Shallot Filling

I've been experimenting with a few gluten-free recipes. This is one of them.


1. 200gm of rice flour
2. 1/4 cup sunflower oil
3. 1/4 warm water
4. Sea-salt
5. Thinly sliced shallots (about 10)


1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the rice flour, sea-salt (it's up to you how tasty you want it to be), sunflower oil and warm water.

2. Knead until it is a smooth dough (it won't be as firm as wheat bread dough). If it's too soggy, add more rice flour.

3. Divide the whole dough into roughly 8 smaller balls.

4. Flatten it.

5. Take about a tablespoon of the shallots and place on flattened rice dough.

6. Fold the dough up and seal it.

7. Lightly flatten it.

8. Repeat the same procedure for the remaining dough.

9. Preheat oven to 200C.

10. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

11. Bake for about 1/2 hour or until light golden brown.

12. It will be crispy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside.

Bon appétit!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Bloody Haze is Back!

The acrid burning smell is in the air again. With the heat wave and El Nino combined, we have been baking in an oven everyday.

On some days, it reaches to 40C! Such heat triggers lots of peat fire and fires.

Scorching hot weather is truly an understatement. And the haze is back.

Sometimes the things that people do during the haze really do make me wonder...

1. Parents bring kids to the playground as the children 'need to exercise'.
I heard this parent exclaim this to the child as they were walking past my house on their way to the playground to 'exercise'. And the parent was talking in a very loud voice which even the deaf could hear. I could hear them behind my closed doors!!

2. Men, women, old men, and old women exercising and chatting in the haze.
Really????! It's a wonder their lungs didn't turn black and expired on the spot.

3. Families in a car with all windows wound down.
Excuse me, this isn't the Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands where that 'misty-looking-air' is REALLY mist. And the child was poking his head out of the window 'enjoying-his-super-duper-fresh-air'.

4. People hang their laundry (EVEN the bedsheets and RUGS) out in the HAZE!
I know not everyone has dryers. But one can get the octopus laundry hangers to hang them indoors. The heat will dry them. If you hang them outdoors, the dust particles from the haze will stick to your clothes and they smell of SMOKE when you keep them.

5. People use their palms to cover their face when outdoors...

6. People open their windows to 'air' their house during the haze.

Coming up next: What's In The Haze???!!!

Friday, 20 June 2014

F is For Flavour (Part 2)

Why Add Flavour?

1. To give the product an intrinsic flavour.
An example would be ice-cream. Without the added flavour, there would be no taste.

2. To add flavour to products which flavour has been lost OR modified during processing.

The Role of the Flavourist

The flavourist who is also known as a flavour chemist who uses chemical processes to combine different flavouring agents to obtain the final intended flavour.

The flavourist will first identify the outstanding characteristics of a particular flavour. From these outstanding characteristics, the flavourist will then create a flavouring which is similar to the original flavouring profile. They are something like perfumists.

Once the flavourist and food manufacturer are satisfied with the new flavour that was produced, they will experiment this new flavour on focus groups to taste it. If the new flavour is accepted, then it can be marketed and sold!

Manufacturing Process of Flavourings

1. Producing Natural Flavouring Substances

a. Extraction Process

An example would be extracting vanilla from vanilla beans. Alcohol is used as a solvent.

b. Distillation Process

In this process, liquid mixture are separated by heating. The steam is collected by cooling. An example would be producing natural citral from lemon grass oil.

c. Biotechnological Production Processes

Flavours which are produced by these processes use micro-organisms to facilitate the 'extraction' of flavour. Acetic acid bacteria, enzymes, fungi are some of the ways.  Once this process is done, extraction or distillation will take place.

2. Synthetic Flavouring Substances

On 20th January 2011, the new EC Flavouring Regulation ruled that both 'natural-identical' AND 'artificial flavouring' will be both categorized under 'flavouring substances' with no distinctions between the two.

Click on LINK to read more.

3. Other Flavouring Categories

a. Flavour Preparations

These are natural flavouring properties which are obtained from animals or plants material by physical methods, enzymes or fermentation. A few examples are vegetable/fruit extracts, spice/herb extracts and yeast extract.

Even essential oil falls under this category. Clove and eucalyptus oil are two examples.

b. Thermal Processing Flavourings

Certain intense flavour only develope once it is placed under controlled heating elements. An example would be roasting meat. A raw steak is quite tasteless but once its is roasted or grilled certain flavours are produced due to the influence of the heat. Cooking oil is used as a solvent.

c. Smoke flavourings

Smoke flavourings not only preserve food but also produce food with a special smoke flavour.

Artificial Flavours Examples

1. Diacetyl - Buttery
2. Isoamyl Acetate - Banana
3. Benzaldehyde - Bitter Almond
4. Cinnamic Aldehyde - Cinnamon
5. Methyl Anthranilate - Grape
6. Ethyl Decadienoate - Pear
7. Allyl Hexanoate - Pineapple
8. Ethyl Maltol - Sugar, Cotton Candy
9. Ethylvanillin - Vanilla
10. Methyl Salicylate - Wintergreen

Acids as Flavourants

1. Acetic Acid - Gives vinegar its sour taste and distinctive smell.
2. Ascorbic Acid - Slightly sour taste: Also known as Vitamin C!
3. Citric Acid - Gives citrus fruits the sour taste.
4. Fumaric Acid - Used as a substitute for citric and tartaric acid. This does not exist in fruits.
5. Lactic Acid - Found in milk and fermented products which gives the rich taste.
6. Malic Acid - Found in apples that gives the sour/tart taste.
7. Phosphoric Acid - Used in cola drinks to give that acidic taste.
8. Tartaric Acid - Found in grapes/wines which gives that 'tart-grape-y' taste.

Flavouring Trivia

1. Food flavouring is added to medications to facilitate ingestion.

2. There are about 10,000 flavouring substances identified in nature. The flavouring industry only uses 2,500 of these flavourings.

3. The colour of one's food can alter the expectations and perceptions of the flavour significantly. Darker hue can influence the taste buds to a sweeter taste. Lighter colours decreases the sweetness.

4. Most F&B companies employ the services of flavour companies for their products.

5. Artificial strawberry flavouring is produced by vaporizing the strawberry natural flavouring.

6. There are seven basic tastes which are sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, pungent and metallic.

7. Artificial flavours usually modify the smell of a food product to accent it while natural flavours set up the basic smell of the food.

8. The flavourists profession kicked off during the time when refrigeration became a household item which was affordable which accelerated the growth of food processing industry.

9. In the US, there is a Society of Flavour Chemist which flavourists can join. In order to join, the flavourist must pass an apprenticeship within a 'flavour house' for five years. A 'flavour house' is a flavour company where the training and (the job) of the flavourist is done.

10. In 2011, US$10.6 billion were generated from the sales of flavours alone!

For a brief history of food flavourings, do click on LINK.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Algae Milk

I know it sounds gross. A company by the name of Solazyme who is a leading pioneer in micro algae sells Algal flour. Algae milk is made from this flour.

Apparently it tastes like like new butter - creamy and sweet, like liquid pudding!

Algae milk is 200% dairy-free, soy-free, lactose and nut-free. It offers plant proteins, fiber, and omega 3,6 and 9.

Like the bee-less honey, algae milk is also the latest trend in organic food!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Bee-less Honey

Since bees are on a great decline, 'bee-less honey' will soon be the next famous 'organic' thing that might even bring the Queen Bee to her knees.

I found this 'bee-less honey' recipe online.


1. 2 1/2 cups of water
2. 10 cups of white sugar
3. 1 teaspoon of alum
4. 18 organic red clover blossoms
5. 36 organic white clover blossoms
6. 18 organic rose petals


1. Pour water, sugar and alum into a large saucepan.

2. Place it over high heat and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in flowers.

5. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, stir and strain into storage jars.

If you try this recipe, do drop by and leave a comment on how it tastes.

F is For Flavour (Part 1)

Flavour plays such an important role in our daily meals. The flavour industry has revolutionized flavourings into a huge business industry.

A. 3 Types of Flavouring

1. Natural Flavouring
These are flavours which are obtained from animal and vegetable sources. They are produced by microbiological and enzymatic processes. This natural flavouring do not contain any natural-identitcal flavouring or artificial flavouring.

Natural citral is extracted from lemon grass. Vanillin is obtained from vanilla pods.

2. Nature-Identical Flavouring
These are 'chemically identical' to the natural flavouring but they are prepared or extracted using chemical methods. The molecules of the natural-identical flavouring are of the same as the natural flavouring thus the body is unable to tell the difference.

Vanilla extract is chemically produced from a plant material called lignin.

3. Artificial Flavouring
These are chemicals whose molecules are not identical or even similar to the natural flavourings.

Ethyl vanillin is a synthetic molecule not found in nature. This is three times stronger than vanillin and is used in the production of chocolates. Ethyl maltol is used as a flavourant in confectionaries as it has a sweet smell and produces a flavour similar to caramelized sugar/cooked fruit.

B. Regulations on Natural Flavourings

1. UK Food Law
'A flavouring substance(s) which is/are obtained by physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes from material of vegetable or animal origin which material is either raw or has been subjected to a process normally used in preparing food for human consumption and to no process other than one normally so used.'
Taken from here.

'The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis which contains the flavouring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products, thereof, whose primary function is flavouring rather than nutritional.'
Taken from here.

3. European Union
On 1 October 2012, the Commission adopted two new Regulations on flavourings. Firstly, they established a new list of EU authorized flavouring substances to be used in foods which includes over 2100 authorized flavouring substances. The second Regulation was the transitional measures for other flavourings (about 400) which are made from non-food sources. For an in-depth understanding of this transitional period, click on LINK.

For a complete list of permitted flavouring substances in the EU, click on LINK.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Low-Salicylate Meal (Version 2)

Dish 1 - Baked Garlic Pork Balls
For recipe, click on LINK

Dish 2 - Stir-Fried Cabbage with Garlic & Poppy Seeds
For recipe, click on LINK

Serve dishes with warm rice.

Bon appétit!

Friday, 13 June 2014

E is For Elimination Diet

The human body's GI tract is a home to 70% of our immune system. It is rich in neurotransmitters, hormones, chemical messengers, enzymes, microbes and bacteria. All of these are located in the wall of our gut. It's pretty amazing how the gut affects so much of our immune system. Thus when something goes wrong in the gut, that's when all hell breaks lose.


Since the gut is the gate to our immune system, the food we consume are very important. And many times, the food we consume are what makes us ill. Though there are blood tests that are available today to find out what is wrong with our system, it is still extremely limited.

Many people eliminate gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, yeast, nightshade plants, nuts and citrus as these are the common triggers for allergy symptoms.

Why Eliminate

The elimination diet is a process where one removes food(s) which is/are suspected of causing an allergy symptom(s) or food intolerances. This should be done under a supervision of an experienced medical doctor or dietitian.

How To Eliminate

1. Stop eating foods which are suspected of causing the allergy symptom(s).

2. Keep a very basic and simple diet.
* At the same time, make sure that your diet is providing the nutrients that you need.

3. Keep a very detailed diary of all foods that are consumed. Some even keep a diary of the things they use, inhale or touch. Also note down your ability to sleep, your mood, digestion, energy levels and bowel habits. See if there are improvements.

4. Slowly add back one food at a time. (Do this VERY gradually in small amounts.)
* As you slowly reintroduce different types of food back into your system, make sure you record your symptoms.

5. Sometimes some doctors/dietitians tell their patients to eliminate again the food that they react to during the period of reintroduction. This is to confirm that if the allergy symptoms clear up for good.

How Long to Eliminate

23 days.


Because the antibodies which our immune system produces to react to the food we eat takes about 23 days to stop reacting to the food we've eaten. So if we eliminate one food for a short while and then we take it again too soon, it is reacting from the 'leftovers' in the system. So be patient.

My Elimination Diet

I think I can say that I have been living on an elimination diet for 5 years plus now. My elimination diet was forced upon me as I almost died from an anaphylactic attack from god-knows-what. No blood tests could give me an answer. Up till today the medical world is still unable to 'label' my medical condition. It's still 'Idiopathic Anaphylaxis'. It's still '...something wrong with my immune system.'

5 years ago after returning from the non-stop ER trips and with a system loaded with steroids, I was reacting to everything and anything. I basically ate only free range chicken, rice, lettuce iceberg veggie, sea-salt and sunflower oil day in and day out for never-ending months. Slowly I added new foods. It was a very risky experimentation. But it was something I had to do. I needed the nutrition to build back up my immune system. Today, 5 years later, I can eat so much more food than I could back then. But it took me 5 years to be where I am today. And I know which foods are my triggers. Unfortunately, food wasn't the only problem for me. Daily toiletries and smells played a big part in causing my reactions. Thus my elimination also included the things I use daily such as shampoo, creams, lotions, toothpaste, etc.

So if you think you'd need to go through an elimination diet, do it under a supervision of a doctor who knows what he is doing and is qualified to handle an emergency if it happens.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tips For the Salicylate Sensitive

1. Remove the aloe-vera strips on shaving blades.

2. Peel all outer leaves of leafy vegetables.

3. Peel all skin from fruits.

4. Keep salicylate levels in body to a minimum.

5. Have fresh and unprocessed food everyday!

Monday, 9 June 2014

D is For Desensitization

Desensitization is a process which causes someone to be less sensitive to the stimuli. In the medical world, desensitization is a process which makes a person to be less reactive to what they are sensitive to.

1. Oral Immunotherapy

Oral immunotherapy is where a person's tolerance towards a type of food which the person is allergic to is build up by ingesting a small amount and gradually increasing in larger doses.

An example would be oral immunotherapy for peanut allergies. Children with peanut allergy would be given small amounts of peanut protein in low doses which were lower than the amount they would react to. And this is to be ingested everyday. Gradually the amount would be increased until it reaches a point where the children are able to tolerate peanuts without allergy reactions.

This is a very dangerous process as children with peanut allergies could go into anaphylaxis. Thus, it must be done under medical supervision and in an environment which has the equipment (and doctors who are trained) to save lives in the event an anaphylaxis occurs.

Patients who had positive outcomes from the peanut desensitization could tolerate peanuts in larger doses. That being said, much research is needed in this area.

Click on LINK to read more.

2. Allergen Immunotherapy

Allergen immunotherapy 'switches off' the allergy switch in the body. That means the body becomes immune to the allergens. The body thus is able to tolerate the allergens with fewer or no symptoms.

Allergen immunotherapy requires many years of treatment. It can take up to 3 to 5 years of commitment. One is not spared from side effects during the period of therapy.

Allergen immunotherapy is good for anaphylactic reactions to stinging insects. Published data shows that it reduces the risk from 60% to 10%! This immunotherapy is also used to treat allergic rhinitis (hay fever) due to pollen or dust mite allergy.

Even when the treatment is ongoing, allergy medications are still used.

a. Sublingual Immunotherapy
This is done by putting drops or tablets of allergen extracts under the tongue to be swallowed. The allergen is absorbed through the stomach lining to enable the body to become tolerant of the allergen.

b. Epicutaneous Immunotherapy
This is done by injecting the food allergen under the skin.


There were a few women who wrote to me saying that they went through salicylate desensitization. And they got their life back as a result. They could take foods, use products which had salicylates. They have to take aspirin for the rest of their lives. They also have to take a stomach medication as aspirin is bad for the stomach. And aspirin is a blood thinner. Which means they bleed more easily when there are cuts. I did ask Dr. Yadav about the possibility of me going through this. He said it would be pointless for me as I am also chemically sensitive and there are just way too many chemicals in this world. There is no desensitization for chemicals.

Baked Garlic Pork Balls


1. 500gm of minced pork (seasoned with sea-salt)
2. 2 garlic clove (minced into very fine texture)
3. 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
4. 1/4 cup of rice flour
5. 1 egg (beaten)


1. Mix all ingredients above until everything is well blended.

2. Preheat oven to 210C.

3. Shape the pork into golf-balls-sizes.

4. Line a tray with baking paper.

5. Place the balls on the tray and bake for about 1/2 hour or until golden brown. Make sure the pork balls are throughly cooked. You can test by inserting a toothpick into the ball. If the meat doesn't stick to the toothpick, it should be fine.

6. Serve with noodles or rice.

Bon appétit!

Natural Beauty Measures That Don't Cost A Bomb

... (And which don't kill you either! I hope...)

1. Charcoal For Eyeliner

Apparently this works very well. Activated charcoal is used for the eyeliner. Just google and you'll see tons of people swearing by this simple home-made product. Some women use spirulina for green colour and cocoa for brown. Interesting....

2. Brown Sugar Exfoliation

Brown sugar contains glycol acid which helps fight bacteria. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxyl aid which is an important acid in keeping the skin healthy. From what I've read, many people who use brown sugar as their exfoliant add some oil to it. Some use olive oil. Others coconut oil. Experiment with caution to see which suits your skin.

3. Baking Soda For Extra White Teeth

Adding a bit of baking soda to your toothpaste will apparently give you white teeth. No harm in trying.

4. Dry Shampoo

My alter ego's name is Miss Clean Freak and I cannot even skip one day of not-washing-my-hair. I live in a tropical country which is hot, humid and dusty. Imagine not washing one's hair everyday!!!!!! But some people believe in not getting their hair washed everyday. They believe that it strips the scalp of the oil. Well, commercial dry shampoo is filled with lots of chemicals. Here is a homemade version: Cornmeal, cornstarch, oatmeal and baking soda. Sprinkle mixture on scalp and rub it in so that oil from scalp will be absorbed. Comb/style as normal. If you try this, let me know how this goes.

5. Algae For Eyeshadow

Another interesting homemade concoction to combat the chemicals.

6. Potatoes For Dark Circles

Applying fresh potato slices over the eyes for 15 minutes can help reduce the red, tired and dark eye area.

7. Large Sunglasses

This ensures your eye area is protected from the UV rays.

8. Pillowcase Change For Acne

For those who have acne, a pillowcase change every night might help in having a re-infection. If you can't do this, covering the pillow with a facial towel is as good. Change the towel every night.

9. Oil As Cleanser & As Make-Up/Sunblock Remover

I use coconut oil to remove the sunblock from my face. I used to use baby oil but I can't seem to find one without perfume. The one which I could use went through a marketing change and now has added fragrance/perfume which made me sick the moment I opened the bottle. Coconut oil works very well for me.

10. Conditioner Away

Instead of using shaving cream, lather your legs with conditioner and shave away. It softens the hair and leaves the legs soft and silky.

If you have any other tips, do feel free to share.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Salmon Fried Rice


1. 1 large slice of salmon (baked and then deboned and shredded to fine pieces)
    For recipe, please click on LINK
2. 4 cups of cooked sushi rice
3. 1/2 bulb of garlic (sliced into thin pieces)
4. Sunflower oil
5. Sea-salt


1. Heat up a wok.

2. Drizzle a small amount of sunflower oil.

3. Once the oil is heated up, add the sliced garlic.

4. When the garlic is slightly browned, add the salmon and rice.

5. Mix everything thoroughly and add sea-salt to taste. Stir fry for another five minutes.

6. Once it is done, scoop up onto serving dish and serve while hot.

Bon appétit!