Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Short Getaway - Part 1

We had planned for this short getaway for sometime now. It's always either hubby being too busy or Joel falling sick.

So finally, on Friday afternoon we arrived. At a beach resort. This is the one that we came to, a few months back. 

The haze was quite terrible back home. Thus, we prayed so very hard for strong winds to blow the haze away from the beach resort. It would have been a futile trip if we came all the way here to be confined in the chalet while only being able to GAZE at the sea! Today, the skies were clear. A beautiful day indeed!

Unfortunately, last night wasn't a beautiful night. Not the least. I had only 3 hours of sleep. 

We had neighbours who thought that they were the only ones in the resort.

I get it, it's Merdeka day today, which makes yesterday the eve. And you're here to 'par-tay' all night long, but seriously, 3.30am???!!! 

It all started at 8pm. I know that it's early so it's understandable that the girls were cackling outside at 1000dB. The night is young. 

8.30pm: More cackling and giant-sized-sounding flip-flops ascending and descending the stairs leading to their room. (It's still early and everyone is in very light spirits.) And they enjoy closing the room door in a slam. They enter, SLAM! They exit, SLAM! They enter six times, SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM!!!!!! They exit six times, SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM!!!

9pm: Sudden mega shakes coming from next door as if the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk had crashed next door! (But hey, it is still damn early!) SLAM SLAM!

9.30 - 12.30am: I knocked out from tiredness and managed to sleep in a very deep sleep as Little Misses and Misters Cackling must have gone to the beach party.

12.30am : I jumped out of my sleep as I thought I was in the midst of the Savannah. They were laughing like hyenas. (I forgot to tell you that there were 3 males and 3 females). SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM! CRASH! More 'Savannah-hyenas-like-laughter'...

1am: Boy No. 1 is calling out to Girl by the name of Val. Oh no, wait, it's Bell. OH, it's BELLA. No wonder they were so uncivilised, they are from Twilight. And then I finally knew her name, it's Isabella.  (Suddenly, I hear strains of Isabella by Search in my mind!) And I heard all of these THROUGH the walls!!!!!

1.30am: I think that they are having a bong party next door. More crashes, squealing and SLAM SLAM SLAM! And more laughing like barking-dogs being heard through the walls...

2am: Out they go again, STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM!!!!!!!!!!!

2.30am: Here they come again, STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM CRASH CRASH! (Followed by a series of helium-induced laughter)

3am: They've decided to shower now. How do I know? The water pipes sounded like Steve Tyler attempting to sing opera like Pavarotti! You can't screech opera. But the water pipes managed to do it. Joel jumped out of his sleep in panic, asking us what was that horrible sounding sound! He thought the place was going to crash down!

3.30am: They finally decided to sleep. But I was wide awake, pissed and had a dull-migraine at the back of the head... 

7am: Joel woke up and I decided to join the Twilight gang next door.. STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM!!!!! 

Miss BELLA appeared at 8am whining that she was feeling 'tired'... Obviously she had not had her neck bitten by Edward. Otherwise she would be not be feeling 'tired'....

When I went out of the room at 9am to look for the guys who were building sand castles at the beach, one of the boys was standing outside. I glared at him with daggers in my eyes. He quickly left. I think they knew that they were so damn bloody noisy but they just couldn't give a damn. Like a friend of mine said, 'kids'. If they were mine, I would have slapped them left and right!

We've shifted to another room, and this one is so quiet and peaceful and all we hear are the waves! But there are so many mosquitoes!!!! be continued

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Rice-Cooker Bread

Someone posted this on FB and I was immediately captivated by the idea. I cook practically everyday with my rice pot! Why not make bread with it????

I tweaked the recipe a bit and made a wholemeal version instead. I also used sunflower oil instead of butter.


1. 350g of organic wholemeal flour
2. 1/2 a cup of organic cow milk powder
3. 1/4 cup of sunflower oil
4. 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
5. 1/2 cup of warm water
6. 5g of active dry yeast
7. 1/2 teaspoon of sea-salt


1. In a medium sized bowl, add the warm water, a dash of brown sugar and yeast. Wait for about 15 minutes for the yeast to froth.

2. Pour the flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, yeast water and sunflower oil into the rice pot.

3. Mix all ingredients.

4. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

5. Put aside in a warm place for 1 hour to allow the dough to rise.

6. Punch it back down and place it aside for another 1 hour.

7. Once it has risen a second round, you can start cooking your bread.

8. Choose the 'cooking rice' function and cook for 1 hour.

9. Once the first hour is up, turn the bread over and cook for another 1 hour.

10. I only cooked mine for two hours though the original recipe required 3 hours. Serve hot once the bread is done! You can either eat it plain or with some butter.

Bon appétit!
Below is the YouTube video on how to make rice cooker bread. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Amines Part 9 - Non Essential Amines (Aspartic Acid/Aspartate)

A. Aspartic Acid

Aspartic acid is one of the two acidic amino acids. The other acidic amino acid is the glutamic acid.


In 1806, asparagine was isolated under a crystalline form from asparagus juice. Louis Nicolas Vauque (a French chemist) and his assistant, Pierre Jean Robiquet discovered this. In 1809, Pierre Jean Robiquet now a chemist, identified a substance very similar to asparagine from licorice root. And in 1828, aspartic acid was discovered by Plisson which was derived from asparagine.

Functions & Uses In Our Body

Aspartic acid (together with glutamic acid) play an important role as general acids in enzyme active centers. They also maintain the solubility and ionic characters of proteins in our body. (Proteins in our body are critical to maintaining the body's pH balance.)

Aspartic acid also plays a very huge role in metabolism.

Foods With Aspartic Acids

A. Meat, Poultry & Fish

  1. Dried and salted Atlantic cod - 6g of aspartic acid per 100g serving
  2. Cooked yellowfin tuna - 3g
  3. Cooked blue crab meat - 2g
  4. Chicken giblets - 3g
  5. Braised top round beef - 3g
  6. Beef chuck pot roast - 3g
  7. Bacon - 3g
  8. Cooked lamb shoulder - 3g
  9. Cooked veal leg - 3g
  10. Cooked light-meat turkey - 2g

B. Seeds & Legumes

  1. Partially defatted sunflower seed flour - 5g of aspartic acid per 100g serving
  2. Partially defatted cottonseed meal - 5g
  3. Soy protein isolate - 10g
  4. Defatted peanut flour - 6g
  5. Freeze-dried tofu - 5g
  6. Defatted soy flour - 5g
  7. Soy-based meat extender - 4g
C. Eggs & Dairy Food

  1. Dried egg whites - 8g of aspartic acid per 100g serving
  2. Dried egg yolks - 3g of aspartic acid per 100g serving
  3. Grated parmesan cheese - 2g
  4. Semi soft goat cheese - 1g
D. Fruits & Vegetables

  1. Dried apricot - 1g of aspartic acid per 100g serving
  2. Dried seaweed/spirulina - 5g
  3. Freeze-dried sweet green/red peppers - 2g
  4. Dried ancho peppers - 1g
  5. Tomato powder - 1g
  6. Freeze dried chives - 1g
  7. Sun-dried tomatoes - 1g

Two Forms of Aspartic Acid

There are two forms of aspartic acid. One is 'L-aspartic acid'. The other is 'D-aspartic acid'. 'L-aspartic acid' is the more predominant one. It is the protein-based structures in human beings. Muscle tissue, skin, hair, fingernails and enzymes are all made from amino acids.

'D-aspartic acid' accumulates in the pituitary gland, pineal gland and testes and is involved in hormone production. This aspartic acid stimulates the release of sex hormones form the pituitary gland and testosterone from the testes.

As A Supplement

D-aspartic acid is a popular supplement among bodybuilders and serious athletes as they help build muscles. It is also popular among elderly men as it boosts low-circulating levels of testosterone.

B. Aspartate

The carboxylate anion, salt or ester of aspartic acid (Asp or D) is known as aspartate.

Functions of Aspartate

  1. In diagnosing periodontal diseases through aspartate transaminase. This enzyme is found in the liver and heart. 
  2. In diagnosing heart attacks and issues regarding the heart. Aspartate aminotransferase (which are in our skeletal system and heart tissues) test is used. 
  3. It is one of the components used gluconeogenesis (production of glucose) in our body.
  4. It serves as a neurotransmitter in our brain.
 Foods With Aspartate

  1. Luncheon meats
  2. Sausage meat
  3. Sprouting seeds
  4. Asparagus
  5. Avocado
  6. Oat flakes
  7. Molasses
  8. Sugar beets
  9. Young sugar cane
C. Aspartame

What Is Aspartame?

Aspartame is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose/table sugar. Because it is able to produce sweetness and is extremely low in calories (unlike sugar), many people use this to sweeten their drinks and food. The F&B industry greatly uses aspartame.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals. They are aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (50%) and methanol (10%). Aspartame is the technical name for NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure. Aspartame was discovered by accident in 1965 by a chemist by the name of James Schlatter when he was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

The Use of Aspartame

In 1981, aspartame was approved for use in dry goods. In 1983, it was approved for use in carbonated beverages.

In the European Union, aspartame is coded as E951 as a food additive.

How Aspartame Can Make You Sick

As aspartate acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, it is believed that an influx or excessive aspartate could 'over excite' or over-stimulate the neurons to death.

Apparently, long-term exposure of 'over-exciting' the neurons could cause long term damage and illness such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, dementia, epilepsy, brain seizures and Alzheimer's disease.

Ingesting aspartame could produce the same side-effects as ingesting glutamic acid. The most common side-effect after ingesting aspartame is headaches/migraines. Other symptoms include nausea, abdominal pains, fatigue, anxiety attacks, depression and asthma/chest tightness.

Click on LINK to read more.

Aspartame In Products

Today aspartame is found in more than 6000 products and is used by over 200 million people in the whole world.

Some of the products that aspartame is used in:

  1. Carbonated soft drinks
  2. Powdered soft drinks
  3. Chewing gum
  4. Confections
  5. Gelatins
  6. Dessert mixes
  7. Puddings and fillings
  8. Frozen desserts
  9. Yoghurt
  10. Tabletop sweeteners
  11. Vitamins
  12. Sugar-free cough drops
  13. Cereals
  14. Breath mints
  15. Fruit spreads
  16. Frozen ice
  17. Jams and jellies
  18. Juice blends
  19. Juice drinks
  20. Maple syrups
  21. Meal replacements
  22. Mousse
  23. No-sugar added pies
  24. Nutritional bars
  25. Vegetable drinks
  26. Sugar-free cookies
  27. Sugar-free chocolate syrup
  28. Sugar-free ketchup
  29. Ice-cream toppings
  30. Hard candies

*The small print at the bottom says that this information was compiled by Coca-Cola company!

The DVD-Smelling-Pizza!

Did you know that Domino's in Brazil has created DVDs which release the smell of the pizza??!

With the help of thermal ink and the heat of the DVD player, the black disc will turn into a mini pizza image and emit the smell of melting cheese and pepperoni, once the movie is over!

Don't believe me?

Watch this YouTube video.

Domino's Pizza DVD

PS: I wonder how many pizzas they sold because of this...

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Stir Fried Minced Chicken (Potatoes & Spring Onions)


1. 6 large old potatoes (peel the outer layers and sliced into thin pieces)
2. 500gm of minced chicken (seasoned with sea-salt and a teaspoon of sunflower oil)
3. 2 stalks of spring onions (washed and cut into 2 cm length)
4. Sunflower oil
5. Sea-salt


1. Heat a wok.

2. Once the wok is heated, pour about 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil.

3. Once the sunflower oil is hot, pour the sliced potatoes into the wok and cover with lid. Stir now and then. Cover back with lid.

4. Once potatoes have soften, lightly mash them up and then add the minced chicken. 

5. Once the chicken is cooked, break up the chicken into fine pieces.

6. Add the spring onions and mix the dish thoroughly.

7. Add sea-salt to taste and stir the dish. 

8. Scoop up onto serving dish.

9. Serve hot with warm rice.

Bon appétit!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Amines Part 8 - Non Essential Amines (Glutamic Acid)

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and muscle tissue.

When amino acids are ingested into the body, the standard 22 amino acids are used to synthesize proteins and other biomolecules. They are also used to oxidized to urea and carbon dioxide to be translated into energy.

Amino acids are divided into two groups: essential and non-essential.

Essential Amino Acids

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine
Non-Essential Amino Acids

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartic acid
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamic acid
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Ornithine
  10. Proline
  11. Selenocysteine
  12. Serine
  13. Tyrosine
Glutamic Acid

Glutamic acid's carboxylate anions and salts are known as glutamates.

Functions & Uses in Our Bodies

In neuroscience, glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in long-term potentiation and it is important for learning and memory. Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate nervous system.

Glutamate is also a key compound in cellular metabolism.

Excessive glutamate release in the body can cause excitotoxicity. (This means that the nerve cells are killed by excessive stimulation by our neurotransmitters.) It can cause stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), lathyrism, autism and even Alzheimer's disease.

The History of MSG

In 1866, a German chemist by the name of Karl Heinrich Leopold Ritthausen treated wheat gluten with sulphuric acid. He discovered glutamic acid. In 1907, Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese researcher of the Tokyo Imperial University identified the brown crystals left behind after the evaporation of a large amount of kombu broth as glutamic acid.

The Professor tasted the crystals and discovered that the flavour highly resembled the taste in many foods especially in the seaweed. This flavour was named umami. He patented the method of mass producing the crystalline salt of glutamic acid, called monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Manufactured monosodium glutamate contains over 99.6% of the naturally predominant L-glutamate form. This form is higher than the naturally occurring L-glutamates found in fermented food. Ajinomoto uses selected strains of Micrococcus glutamicus bacteria to excrete glutamic acid. This is then separated and processed into sodium salt, which is monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Naturally Occurring Glutamates in Common Food (Free Glutamate Form)

  • Makombu (Kelp) - 3190 free glutamate per 100gm
  • Rausu Kombu (Kelp) - 2286 free glutamate per 100gm
  • Rishiri Kombu (Kelp) - 1985 f.g. per 100gm
  • Hidaka Kombu (Kelp) - 1344
  • Nori (Seaweed) - 1378
  • Marmite - 1960
  • Vegemite - 1431
  • Japanese Fish Sauce - 1383
  • Roquefort Cheese - 1280
  • Parmesan Cheese - 1200
  • Korean Soy Sauce - 1264
  • Chinese Soy Sauce - 926
  • Japanese Soy Sauce - 782
  • Oyster Sauce - 900
  • Green Tea - 668
  • Cured Ham - 337
  • Sardine - 280
  • Grape Juice - 258
  • Clam - 208
  • Peas - 200
  • Scallop - 159
  • Squid - 146
  • Tomatoes - 140
  • Oyster - 137
  • Corn - 130
  • Mussel - 105
  • Potatoes - 102
  • Duck - 69
  • Chicken - 44
  • Beef - 33
  • Pork - 23
  • Human Milk - 22
  • Salmon - 20
  • Cow Milk - 2

Naturally Occurring Glutamates in Common Food (Protein Glutamate Form)

  • Parmesan cheese - 9847 protein glutamate per 100mg
  • Peas - 5583 protein glutamate per 100mg
  • Tomatoes - 238 p.g. per 100mg
  • Corn - 1765
  • Cow milk - 819
  • Human milk - 229
  • Eggs - 1583
  • Chicken - 3309
  • Duck - 3636
  • Beef - 2846
  • Pork - 2325
  • Salmon - 2216

Hydrolyzed Protein

Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins treated enzymatically or acidic-ally from certain foods. These hydrolyzed proteins contain free amino acids such as glutamates at levels of 5% to 20%. An example would be yeast extract. (I've seen organic shops selling hydrolyzed soy protein which is used by vegetarians to stir fry their vegetarian dishes with.)

Hydrolyzed proteins are used in the same manner as MSG, which is to flavor/enhance the taste of dishes. It is also used in canned vegetables, soups and processed meats.

The MSG Syndrome

Many times, people who consume food with high levels of MSG complain of migraines, extreme drowsiness, mouth tingling sensations, flushing, palpitations or a hangover. Some even develope chest pains or difficulty breathing. Some call it the 'Chinese Food Syndrome' as Chinese restaurants are famous for using MSG to flavour practically everything!

Labeling MSG

Glutamate acid is labelled as E620.
Monosodium glutamate is labelled as E621. (This is a flavour enhancer)
Monopotassium glutamate is labelled as E622. (This is a flavour enhancer)
Calcium diglutamate is labelled as E623. (This is a flavour enhancer)
Monoammonium glutamate is labelled as E624. (This is a flavour enhancer)
Magnesium diglutamate is labelled as E625. (This is a flavour enhancer)

In the European Union, all these enhancers are not allowed to be added to milk, emulsified fat and oil, pasta, cocoa and chocolate products and fruit juice.

The FDA of US requires that monosodium glutamate be listed in the label's ingredient list. But as glutamate is also commonly found in food (from protein sources), these are not labelled. The term 'natural flavour' is also used by the food industry when using glutamic acid.

It is indeed misleading and deceptive when the 'No MSG' or 'MSG-Free' terms are used as there are other sources of free glutamates which can be used.

MSG Trivia

  1. Disodium glutamate (DSG) is a flavouring agent which is used to impart a meat-like flavour!
  2. During the Roman Empire times, glutamic acid was found in a sauce called garum. This was made from fermenting fish in saltwater. It was so famous and widely used that it was called the 'ketchup' of ancient Rome. 
  3. Fermented products such as soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce have high levels of glutamate which is similar to foods with added MSG!
  4. Auxigro (a chemical based growth enhancer for crops) is a plant growth preparation which contains 30% glutamic acid!
  5. In 2006, the largest producer of glutamic acid in the world was Fufeng Group (a China-based company). At the end of 2006, they were producing 300,00 tons of glutamic acid! 
  6. The Chinese demand for glutamic acid is 1.1 million tons per year. The world's demand is 1.7 million tons per year!
  7. Since 1998, MSG can no longer be termed under 'spices and flavourings'.
  8. MSG is known by MANY other names. They are:
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Autolyzed Yeast, Yeast Extract, Yeast Food or Yeast Nutrient
  • Glutamic Acid or Glutamate (E 620)
  • Monopotassium Glutamate (E 622)
  • Calcium Glutamate (E 623)
  • Monoammonium Glutamate (E 624)
  • Magnesium Glutamate (E 625)
  • Natrium Glutamate
  • Calcium Caseinate or Sodium Caseinate
  • Textured Protein
  • Soy Protein, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate
  • Whey Protein, Whey Protein Concentrate

To read more on glutamic acid, click on LINK.
To read more on glutamic acid the flavour, click on FLAVOUR.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Glorious Heavens - Part 21

'Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.' - Buddha

'The sun is new each day.' - Heraclitus

Dolphin swimming in the skies!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Chicken Balls Fried Rice

Click on CHICKEN BALLS to view recipe on how to make the chicken balls for this dish.


1. 4 cups of sushi rice
2. 1/2 a bulb of garlic (sliced thinly)
3. 2 stalks of spring onion (chopped finely)
4. 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
5. Home-made chicken balls
6. Sunflower oil
7. Sea-salt


1. Boil the sushi rice and set aside to cool. (Alternatively, you could boil the rice the day before and keep it in the freezer.)

2. Heat the wok.

3. Pour about 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil into the heated wok.

4. Add the sliced garlic and fry until slightly browned.

5. Add the chicken balls, rice, finely chopped spring onions and eggs.

6. Stir everything and fry the rice until the eggs are cooked.

7. Add some sea-salt to taste.

8. Scoop onto serving plate.

9. Serve while the rice is hot.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

AMINES Part 7 - Surviving Amines

I never knew of the existence of amines in food which could make one sick before I became salicylate and chemically sensitive. I did not know why food which was kept in the fridge were causing me to have terrible migraines, mouth-burning-episodes, diarrhoea and near-anaphylaxis attacks (even though they were salicylate-free).

A very friendly and helpful lady by the name of Cecilia Corlett whom I met at the Yahoo online Anaphylaxis Support Group shared with me about keeping food in the freezer once freshly cooked food has cooled down. At that time, I thought I was 'killing' or 'freezing' the salicylates! I now know that by freezing, amines formation would be lessened. Or at a very minimal amount. Thank you Cecilia!

After reading and researching and (also experimenting), I find that by practicing these practices (listed below), it lessened and in fact (totally annihilated the attacks that I was having that were caused by amines)! So here are my strategies in surviving in an amine world.


1. I buy freshly slaughtered chicken from the wet market. When I reach home, the chicken is still hot! And I really LOVE that. I keep them at most for 2 weeks in the freezer.

2. I wash all the chicken under running water before keeping them in the freezer in separate bags.

3. I make my own ground chicken. I don't buy ground chicken (or anything that is grounded that is not done by me).

4. I DO NOT store any cooked chicken in the fridge. In fact, I don't store 'anything which is cooked' in the fridge. I store them in the freezer.

1. I buy fish and prawns fresh from the fish monger. She goes to the harbour on certain days. I buy from her on those days. All her fish are kept in containers packed with ice.

2. I wash them immediately under running water (upon reaching home) and keep them in separate bags in the freezer.

3. I do not store uncooked fish in the fridge!

4. I do not even store cooked fish in the freezer!

1. I defrost my chicken/fish/seafood in hot water.

2. I rinse all chicken/fish/seafood under running water before cooking.

  • EGGS
1. I keep ALL my eggs in the fridge.

2. I wash all the eggs with a gauze under running water. Once they have dried I keep them in the fridge.


  • TIPS
Below are some very interesting and useful tips. I do not react to these today but I did a few times a few years back. It is still good to keep them in mind. As each and every one of us is different, what can trigger a reaction in me, might not for you. Vice versa. Browse the tips below with this in mind, and with a pinch of salt. Hope this helps you somehow in improving the quality of your life.

  1. Poultry skin is HIGH in amines.
  2. Amines form VERY quickly if hot soup/stews are stored in Thermos.
  3. Prolonged cooking of meat/fish, multiplies the production of amines. Maximum cooking time = 2 hours. 
  4. Yeast extract, yeast nutrients and autolyzed yeast are VERY high in amines.
  5. Over-riped bananas are VERY high in amines.
  6. Bean sprouts must be VERY fresh. They ferment extremely fast!
  7. Cooked/baked cashews are VERY high in amines.
  8. Recycled oil accumulates amines. (I can smell the amines in this. It makes me sick!)
  9. Expired AND overly-expired stuff contain amines. 
  10. Biogenic amines in food accumulate in our body system over time like salicylates. By abstaining from amines, your system will slowly recover and heal.
  11. Make everything from scratch and eat them FRESH!

Clink on LINK for a very detailed post on amines.
Amines minimisation.
More on Amines

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Container Garden - A Fruitful Update

Cherry tomato-land!

My first ever yam harvest. I gave this to my mom. I can't eat yam. But I LOVED (still do) yam. Especially the deep fried yam basket dish!!!
I'm Popeye the Sailorman!
This year's first corn harvest!
The 3rd corn harvest!

So engrossed with the sweetness of the flower, that it had to eat upside-down!
A VERY friendly, regular visitor of the garden.
A blue kingfisher! It drops by the garden sometimes.
Slurping away!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Celery & Carrot Chicken Stew


1. 1 whole free-range chicken (cut into 8 equal pieces) (seasoned with sea-salt)
2. 1 whole garlic bulb (outer layer removed) (leave in clove size)
3. 5 sticks of celery (cut into 2cm in length)
4. 4 medium sized carrots (sliced thinly)
5. Soft brown sugar
6. Sea-salt
7. 2 tablespoons of organic all-purpose flour (this is to thicken the sauce)
8. Sunflower oil
9. 1 cup of warm water


1. Heat a pot on high heat.

2. Once it is well heated, pour 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil.

3. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic cloves.

4. Stir fry until garlic cloves are slightly browned and a fragrant-garlicky-aroma has filled the air.

5. Add the chicken, celery and carrots. Stir and mix the ingredients.

6. In a bowl, add a teaspoon of soft brown sugar, sea-salt, flour and 1 cup of warm water. Mix concoction thoroughly.

7. Pour into pot.

8. Boil the dish on high heat until it starts to boil.

9. Then turn it on low heat and allow to simmer with lid closed for about 1 hour+.

10. Serve hot with warm rice.

Bon appétit!

AMINES Part 6 - Biogenic Amines in Food (Epinephrine)

Our human bodies have two types of neurotransmitters which are epinephrine and norepinephrine. These two are involved in neural communication.

Epinephrine is also called by another name, which is adrenaline.

Epinephrine is a hormone which is secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands. Fear and anger (which are strong feelings) will cause epinephrine to be released into the bloodstream. This will cause an increase in the heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure and sugar metabolism. This reaction is called the 'Flight or Fight Response'.  I'm sure all of us have gone through episodes of fear/anger where the aftermath is us panting for breath and racing hearts.

Norepinephrine belongs to a neurotransmitter group called the catechlolamines. Click on LINK.


The production of both of these neurotransmitters start with tyrosine (which is another neurotransmitter).

Below is process of how tyrosine is turned into epinephrine.

  • The enzyme tyrosine hydroxyls turns tyrosine to L-Dopa
  • The enzyme dopa decarboxylase turns L-Dopa into dopamine.
  • The enzyme dopamine ß-hydroxylase turns dopamine into norepinephrine.
  • The enzyme PNMT turns norepinephrine into epinephrine.
Ephedra Equisetina (Ma Huang)

Our bodies produce epinephrine. It is in fact an extremely regulated hormone in the body. 

Did you know that there is a desert shrub called the Ephedra Equisetina that produces the ephedrine protein which acts very similar to epinephrine and affects the same reactors too? It is also known as the 5000-years-old Ma Huang which can literally translated as the yellow cannabis

Traditionally, the indigenous people used this desert shrub to treat asthma, hay fever and even the common cold! This shrub contains active constituents of alkaloids ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine. 
  • The ephedrine helps to relieve asthma and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
  • The pseudo-ephedrine acts as a nasal decongestant. 
Chemically, the alkaloids are related to the amphetamines.

Dietary Supplement

1. Diet Pill

As the epinephrine receptors recognizes the ephedrine molecules, ephedrine also plays a rolls in breaking down glycogen in the liver. (Glycogen functions as the secondary long-term energy storage). Because ephedrine is able to do this, the Ma Huang shrub is a popular dietary herbal supplement. It suppresses the appetite and stimulates the thyroid gland by increasing the thermogenic metabolism (the heat production of our body). Epinephrine will be released into the blood stream by the adrenal glands, causing an increase in body temperature which in return, burns more calories.

2. Athletic Performance Pill

Theoretically, taking the ephedrine pill could boost the athletes' performance during short  routines. As the ephedrine metabolizes quickly, it is not suitable for sports that last hours. Ephedrine opens the lungs, enhances muscle contractility and increases blood glucose levels. It is akin to the body's 'adrenaline rush'. It is in theory that this could help athletes perform better. Bear in mind though that drugs are banned from the sporting world!

3. Side Effects

Ephedrine increases the blood pressure and heart rate. Those with a weak heart could suffer from heart failure or a heart attack. It can also cause dizziness, insomnia and headaches. The FDA proposed that supplements with epinephrine should not be taken for more than 7 days.

Foods With Tyrosine & Epinephrine

As epinephrine is a product from tyrosine, let's take a look at foods which have tyrosine or epinephrine.

Since the body produces most of the tyrosine that we need, the other food option would be foods that are rich in phenylalanine (which the body also converts into tyrosine). To read more about phenylalanine, click on LINK

Thus, foods that are rich in both tyrosine and phenylalanine are red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and soybeans.

Some of the foods that are high in tyrosine are:
  1. Raw, dried spirulina seaweed
  2. Soy products
  3. Avocados
  4. Eggs
  5. Cheese
  6. Almonds
  7. Bananas
  8. Pork
Click on LINK for detailed list of foods with high levels of tyrosine. 

Medically Speaking

The epinephrine injection is used to treat severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). I can personally say that this injection has indeed saved my life twice. 

A norepinephrine injection is used to treat severely low blood pressure.

Monday, 5 August 2013

AMINES Part 5 - Biogenic Amines in Food (Phenylethylamine)

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a natural monoamine alkaloid and a trace amine. PEA is widely used in psychoactive drugs and stimulants.

Phenylethylamine functions as a neuromodulator/neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. As usual, it is biosynthesized from the amino acid called phenylalanine by the process called enzymatic decarboxylation.

Phenylethylamine is found in foods too. A very well known food is chocolate. The microbial fermentation of the cocoa beans largely contribute to the presence of phenylethylamine in chocolates.

Dietary Supplement

Since phenylethylamine has amphetamine-like effects (as it has the ability to release noradrenalin and dopamine), the business world developed supplements with phenylethylamine. Dopamine is a hormone which plays a very important role in the feeling of wellness. Noradrenaline is a stimulant hormone which involves in increasing the heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow. These two hormones play a very important role in the feel-good-factor and also in improving exercise performance through an increase in blood delivery.

As the body exercises, the levels of phenylethylamine in the body increases. And that could be the reason why people feel good/are in a better mood after exercising.

Phenylethylamine is included in some pre-workout supplements and concentrated pre-workout supplements to increase exercise performances and elevate the mood during intensive training. Phenylethylamine is also found in some fat burners to improve the mood during the weight loss period.

The downside of taking phenylethylamine orally is that it metabolizes rapidly.

Chocolates = Happy?

Since chocolate is apparently loaded with phenylethylamine, does it mean that we will be euphoric when we consume chocolates?

Not so, it seems.

The taking of phenylethylamine orally is of not much use (because of its rapid metabolization by the MAO-B enzyme). Thus any perceptible psychoactive effect would only be possible by ingesting MAOI anti-depressants!! Now who in their right mind would swallow MAOI inhibitors/blockers to experience the effects of a chocolate high???

Foods Rich with Phenylethylamine

1. Beans, Lentils, Nuts & Seeds

High-protein food have the richest amount of phenylalanine (which the body turns into phenylethylamine).

*Phenylalanine per 100gm

  • Raw soybeans - 1910mg of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw cowpeas - 1390mg
  • Raw lentils - 1380mg
  • Raw peanuts - 1340mg (Peanuts are a big NO for me)
  • Almonds - 1150mg
  • Raw chickpeas - 1030mg
  • Raw flaxseed - 960mg
  • Tahini (made from stone-ground seeds) - 940mg
  • English walnuts - 710mg

2. Meat, Seafood & Poultry

*Phenylalanine per 100gm

  • Italian pork salami - 940gm of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw top, round beef (lean and fat) - 880mg
  • Lean raw top sirloin - 870mg
  • Raw shrimp - 860mg
  • Raw chicken thighs - 780mg
  • Raw chicken wings (with skin) - 700mg
  • Raw Italian pork sausage - 480mg
  • Raw fresh pork - 220mg

3. Dairy Products

*Phenylalaine per 100gm

  • Raw egg white - 690gm of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw whole egg - 680mg
  • Raw egg yolk - 680mg
  • Sheep's milk - 280mg
  • Goat's milk - 160mg
  • Soy milk - 150mg
  • Whole milk - 150mg
  • Human milk - 50mg
*taken from this LINK


People with abnormally low concentrations of endogenous phenethylamine are those who seem to suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADHD). And those who have abnormally high concentrations of endogenous phenethylamine are those who have schizophrenia.