Fermented Foods For Good Health


If 2014 is the year of gluten-free (some may call it ‘fad’) diet, 2015 will be the year of fermented foods, according to an article by Phil Lempert discussing next year’s food trends. Meaning, most fermented foods that we already know such as yogurt and sauerkraut are about to get more attention and most likely appear on our dining tables more often. Fermented foods contain live or active cultures that are considered effective bacteria-boosting agents.

Not to undermine the health benefits of farm-to-table foods, but these fermented foods with their pungent probiotic ingredients have been proven to boost the good bacteria in our digestive tract, which can help correct and prevent digestive issues, promote weight loss, improve skin conditions, and boost overall immune system.

Here are some traditional fermented foods you should incorporate in your daily meals to give the good bacteria in your digestive system a lovely boost. Keep in mind that as in all things good, you must only enjoy these fermented foods in moderation, with one or two meals a day.

Homemade Yoghurt with strawberries (from Pinterest)

Homemade Yoghurt with strawberries (from Pinterest)

Yoghurt. Greek and regular yogurt are the most common fermented yogurt, but you can also make your own. Try this delicious home-made coconut yoghurt and get all the beneficial bacteria your body needs to strengthen your gut health and improve your immunity.

sauerkraut

Sauerkraut. Also known as fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is said to have positive impact on good digestion as well as, brain health. According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., author of The Happiness Diet and 50 Shades of Kale, there “exists a correlation between gut and brain health”. You can either buy sauerkraut from the supermarket or make your own. Here’s an easy home-made sauerkraut recipe.

Miso Soup goodness

Miso. Here’s something that miso soup lovers probably already know: The paste made from fermented soybeans and grains is packed with essential minerals including potassium and also microorganisms that promote good health and stamina. And it’s also pretty easy to make! Simply add a small portion of miso paste to boiling water together with spring onions and bok choy.

Kimchi

Kimchi. Considered a staple in Korea, kimchi is a spicy dish that is made typically from fermented cabbage and is regarded as a beauty food and an energy-booster. Why? Because as you improve your digestion, you will notice a significant improvement in your skin as well.

Wine and Beer

Wine & Beer. Now this is probably where most of us are getting our fermented food quota. Go ahead, no one’s judging. Just keep in mind that the ideal quantity is just a glass and anything beyond that may bring your body more harm than good.

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Five Things to Consider When Going On a Holiday


Wouldn't you want to just lose yourself in THIS magnificence?

Wouldn’t you want to just lose yourself in THIS magnificence?

Going away on a holiday is a necessity for most of us who are deeply entrenched in the brutal corporate and (even) domestic jungles, primarily to relax and recharge our batteries, to get lost in the moment and rediscover our fun self (remember that time when you used to be fun?), meet new romantic partners or recapture excitement with current beau, or perhaps to disengage ourselves away from the maddening demands of our daily lives. Also, going on a holiday takes us to that state of natural mindfulness, where we pay complete attention to our life experiences and evaluate them with a fresh pair of eyes as we try to look to the future.

But now that we are bombarded by travel options, it becomes increasingly important to make wise travel decisions without having to kill the thrill of spontaneity and intoxicating randomness, in order for us to fully maximize the perks of our trip. Consider these tips when planning your next travel adventure:

  1. Traveling on a budget is NOT (always) synonymous to bad travel experience, and it shouldn’t be. What it does is simply help you manage your resources efficiently and encourage you to experience some aspects of traveling without having to go expensive all the time.
  2. Be an explorer! Now is your chance to absorb all the colors, sights, sounds, tastes and emotions your body can contain, so don’t waste it by being cooped-up in your hotel room the whole day. If in a safe neighborhood, you can take a walk, rent a bike, or run at your own pace. This is also a good way for you to keep fit while on vacation. Go out there and live life like you mean it!
  3. Direct your own travel documentary. Capture moments and places as much and as often as you can. These will give you enough materials to create your own travel videos which you can revisit each time you feel the need to escape but just can’t.
  4. Make one or two friends for each day of your trip and by that I mean, make it your mission to know more than just their name and what sort of work they do. Have engaging conversations on books, movies, sports and of course, your travel adventures.
  5. Be a student – learn. Discover more about the place, its history and culture, and the people, by watching, observing, listening, and asking questions. Make each travel an enriching experience for you and you will be surprised by the great number of things you will soon learn about yourself.

TRAVEL: Nine Things To Do In ABU DHABI


Everything I thought I knew about Abu Dhabi turned out to be completely wrong. Well, not entirely everything. Abu Dhabi is scorching hot (weather/temperature-wise) and extremely wealthy (money-wise). Apart from those two things, I didn’t really know any better until I set foot in the city itself and stayed for all of three days with our very gracious hosts, Mamoun and Chemsih.

But let’s back up a little. I was in the UAE sometime in September for a company event in Dubai, followed by a junket trip to this luxurious resort spa called Anantara Desert Islands Resort at Sir Bani Yas island. It being my first trip to the UAE (there were two travels to certain parts of Africa years ago that had me staying at the Dubai Airport for a few hours’ worth of layover, that was it, which hardly qualifies as visit) and knowing for certain that a second visit is probably not going to happen so soon, we planned for Hubby to travel to Abu Dhabi so we can explore the city together, even for just a few days.

Abu Dhabi is ahhh-may-zing! Forget that it’s often referred to as the shy and conservative, plain Jane sister of the more flamboyant Dubai, Abu Dhabi is finally coming to its own and the city is beginning to show more of its innate beauty – and is making no apologies for it! Though we only had two full days, we count ourselves lucky to have been in the great company of our hosts who really took time out of their own schedule to show us around. Merci beaucoup les amis!

And what makes Abu Dhabi special? Here are nine wildly fantastic experiences I will not soon forget:

  1. Anantara Desert Islands Resort — Anantara Resort and Spa at Sir Bani Yas Island is one of those places that, once experienced, will tease and taunt you for the rest of your life. Knowing that this luxurious resort sits on top of an arid desert makes it even more impressive. Everything about this place is luxurious, beautiful and elegant. I was lucky to have been assigned a room overlooking the gorgeous  infinity pool and the incredible turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf. Anantara offers a ton of activities for their guests to choose from and my favourite was the early morning wildlife safari ride where you get to see animals roaming freely on this section of the island. Arabian oryxes, giraffes, cheetahs, different bird species, and horses are only some of the animals we’ve seen during our two-hour safari drive.

    Fantastic view of the Arabian Gulf at the luxurious Anantara Desert Island Resort

    Fantastic view of the Arabian Gulf at the luxurious Anantara Desert Island Resort

  2. Make a pitstop at Ferrari World — A dream destination for petrolheads and especially, the rabid fans of the prancing horse, Ferrari World is the biggest indoor theme park in the world. Visitors can take their pick from rides, restaurants, shops, and some sort of Ferrari museum which this large establishment houses. Formula Rossa, said to be the world’s fastest roller coaster, is their most popular ride, which sadly, I did not get to experience because I just hate, hate, HATE roller coasters. And I’m pretty sure they hate me right back.

    Welcome to the world's biggest indoor theme park!

    Welcome to the world’s biggest indoor theme park!

  3. Go sky-high at Ray’s Bar — Whether or not you consider yourself a party animal, a visit to Ray’s Bar should be on your list when visiting Abu Dhabi. Located at the 62nd floor of the towering Etihad Tower, Ray’s Bar is so stylish and chic that it’s so easy to see why all the beautiful and loaded people love to converge here. With its prime location, Ray’s Bar gives you the best view in Abu Dhabi.  Looking down on The Corniche and the Emirates Palace was an exceedingly breathtaking experience for me. I was mesmerised by the pretty lights pulsating from the establishments below, while having a sip of Cabernet.
  4. Get seriously carnivorous at Chamas — Chamas is not for the fainthearted. For someone like me who only eats fish, chicken, and occasionally pork, the whole experience was both daunting and provocative at the same time. But  for those with an insatiable appetite for meat of all types, cuts, and manner of cooking, Chamas will definitely hold a massive appeal. After our big carnivorous meal, accompanied by live salsa band, we headed across to the Yacht Club for our cocktail fix.
  5. Sun-worshipping at Saadiyat Public Beach — Now ranking high on my list of favourite beaches in the world, Saadiyat captivated me with its beautiful white sand and gorgeous blue water that is almost similar in hue and temperature with Maldives. Despite being a public beach, Saadiyat is kept very clean and you only pay a small fee, if you want to use the umbrella and beach chair. Don’t forget to bring and coat yourself with the strongest sunblock in your arsenal as the sun can get pretty nasty here – and pretty much anywhere in the region.
    Cocktails for lunch at Park Hyatt  Saadiyat. Thank you Mamoun and Chemsih for the wonderful Abu Dhabi experience!

    Cocktails for lunch at Park Hyatt Saadiyat. Thank you Mamoun and Chemsih for the wonderful Abu Dhabi experience!

    Just gorgeous.

    Just gorgeous.

  6. High Tea at Shakespeare and Co. — Located at The Collection, right across the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in Saadiyat, Shakespeare & Co. is a great place to hangout at, especially if you are looking to cool-off a bit, after a day spent suntanning at the nearby beach. The restaurant itself has been designed beautifully with very colourful interior and exterior decor; food is great and they come in bigger-than-average portion.

    Happy place in Saadiyat.

    Happy place in Saadiyat.

    7.  Take a stroll at The Corniche — If it weren’t extremely hot outside, I would’ve loved to walk the whole stretch of The                  Corniche and back. I did, however, manage to walk close to 2kms – just long enough to see a nice section of the beach              and some cafés dotting a portion of the shoreline. I saw some runners and cyclists plying the Corniche in the late                        afternoon on our way back from the Saadiyat Beach, and I‘ve been told that they have some yoga sessions on certain                days, so there’s definitely something for every fit Tom, Dick and Harriett.

8.  Visit Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque — The first thing that struck me as we were walking along the elegant hallways of the            Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque was the sheer serenity of the place. There is so much beauty and peace inside and outside              of the mosque that one can’t help but fall in love with it, regardless of religion. While everything is pristine white outside,            the interior of the mosque shows a stark contrast with the cacophony of bright and glittering colours of the gigantic                    chandeliers incorporating millions of Swarovski crystals. The columns inside the main prayer hall with mother or pearl                inlays also look very beautiful. Truly, it’s not called the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque for nothing.

C'est magnifique!

C’est magnifique!

      9.  Shisha at the Souk — Any trip to the Middle East is incomplete without the shisha experience and we had our fix a few              times in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well. On our last night in Abu Dhabi, our hosts took us to the shisha bar on the rooftop            of the downtown souk. Don’t expect much from the view because there isn’t any, save for the buildings surrounding the            area, but it’s still a worthwhile experience especially when shared with good people.

What are your best memories of Abu Dhabi?

Vicky’s Guide To Moving On


Nine years, three months and I have finally moved on. And the journey is, surprisingly, not at all painful. It’s as easy and smooth as you would have wished all your breakups in the past had been. But perhaps I should start by explaining what it is, or was, that I have moved on from.

So here it is.

Three weeks ago, I left my job. Or more to the point, (my) life for almost a decade. You know how sometimes you develop an intense affection for something or someone (the latter being more relatable, I guess) that you think the romance is never going to wane, but then you wake up and bam! It’s. just. not. there. anymore. However, in my case, it was more gradual rather than abrupt. No drama, no tears, no gut-wrenching pain or guilt. Except when I finally had that chat with my former Boss, whom I have always respected and I reckon, always will, and not only because of our working relationship but because he’s just a genuinely awesome person, that I got a wee bit emotional. A really good man, that one. And then of course, I have a few (so few) colleagues whom I really liked talking to and collaborating with. Let’s not forget the fun memories of the good old days when people were a lot closer, less calculating, more genuine, more fun. When you’ve had your fair share of breakups, you know that often, even when you know the relationship is heading south, you try to delay the inevitable by allowing yourself to be swayed by memories which are really no more than just dying embers. And these things (do) die, eventually. But I remain loyal to people, good memories and experience spanning nine years and the learnings that came with it. Otherwise, if I forget all of that, those years would have been all for naught. And they weren’t. I just…needed a good change.

Which brings us to here and now. Since I tendered, I found myself planning and doing all sorts of really fun stuff which admittedly made the transition so much easier, like I said. So here it is, Vicky’s guide to moving on:

1. Buy a MacBook Air. I mean, I wish Apple had just given me one for no reason but in my case, Apple came in the form of my doting husband. Merci beaucoup mon mari for my early Christmas gift! With my new job, I intend to pick up blogging again so Macquette and I are certainly going to have a LOT of crazy fun adventures together!

MacBookAir

2. Go to a baking class with newfound friends. Making friends is always encouraged but I prefer my connections to be more than just the perfunctory follows, likes and comments on social media. I want to be in the company of beautiful people (hi Mae!) who are just as passionate about learning new stuff as I am. Plus, baking is totes fun yo! And c’est bon, says Hubby.

BakingClass

3. Indulge your inner fat kid. Met up with a dear friend (hi Madie!) and discovered Market Grill and its famous Mangalica Pork Chop and swooped down on Dean and Deluca’s top-rated rainbow cake for dessert. Before the night was over, we made semi-concrete plans to hit foodie haunts we’ve never been to before in Singapore and just let ourselves go. Anyway, there’s always running and yoga to turn to when things get a little bit out of hand.

RainbowCakeDeanandDeluca

4. Go to a Mariah Carey concert. Okay, this one was not random. I bought the tickets months before but it was just fortuitous that the concert happened during my period of transition. Mariah can still sing and she performed beautifully last night! So haters and trolls, you can all give it a rest now. Give the lady a break. She’s been through a lot.

TheElusiveChanteuse2014

5. Go to a yoga and music festival on the beach! What can be better than these three things – beach, yoga and music -combined? Them three plus a lifetime supply of Ben & Jerry’s! Jest aside, I’m glad that I signed up for SoulScape SG where  I met a lot of likeminded yoga and fitness enthusiasts and got to do some fun things right on the beach! Never mind that the sight of their yoga-toned and taut bodies made me feel overweight.

SoulScapeSG

6. Repurpose old clothes. I started with a major spring cleaning session and, tadaaah, found clothes I have not worn in ages which I am now in the thick of repurposing so they don’t go to waste. While repurposing ex-lovers is a big no-no, I cannot say the same thing for, you know, things.

7. Reorganise stuff. Books, clothes, bags, shoes, kitchen items, digital photo albums, etc. Basically, anything messy that I can get my hands on, I will eventually reorganise.

8. Plan for winter holiday… (or any other holiday because now I have 20 plus paid vacation leaves a year to use whenever and however which way I want!) Planning is actually more of Hubby’s hard skill but I do get involved occasionally by scouring Instagram and Pinterest for places I want to visit and haranguing him nonstop to consider plugging it into the itinerary.

So there you go. Bottomline, we all have different ways of dealing with a major transition in life and mine just happened to have come together to form this beautiful pattern, for which I am truly grateful. And now that I have put the past behind me, it’s time to plan, nay, just BE awesome in life everyday.

TOTAL FITNESS: Conquer Your Relationship Slump


July 2012 Cover

Check the online version here:

***

Most, if not all, of us who have been in the dating scene for a while would know that there is no such thing as unbreakable, consistent winning streak when it comes to relationships. Often, it all starts out hunky dory until you get past the crux of the honeymoon stage, then things start spiraling down, and before you know it, it’s over.  And the process gets repeated in your succeeding relationships to a point that you feel you have officially struck out. This stage is what we call The Slump – the danger zone in which you begin to suspect that your unlucky streak might have already taken a permanent residence in your life.

Being in a slump is a terrible situation to get caught in. Not only does it give your dating resume an unpalatable feel, it also does some very weird things to your ego. Being unable to keep a relationship and make it last longer than the first season of Game of Thrones can make you feel insecure and incapacitated. Unless of curse, you don’t mind the label – which I highly doubt because at the end of the day, we all just want to love and be loved in return. Don’t we?

Your dating slump may feel like a terrible disease, but the prognosis is excellent. It is highly curable and with some work, you can just as easily get your groove back and maintain the upper hand. Here are some recommended courses of action:

Have a long hard look at yourself; do you still like what you see? In this case it could be you and not she or even the ones that came before. One failed relationship too many should alert you to something no longer caused by external variables you conveniently put the blame on the first few times. Evaluate yourself from your wardrobe, mannerisms, to where you typically go on dates. Analyze your attitude carefully and look out for glaring signs of self-fulfilling pessimism or intolerable self-indulgence as these could potentially ruin your chances of relationship success. How nicely do you carry out a conversation? Are you aglow with positivity or do you immediately launch on a barrage of complaints about the weather, traffic, and your evil boss and co-workers? Remember, the next time you have an opportunity to date someone new and actually start a relationship, be mindful of the ruts you keep falling into and make a conscious effort of avoiding them.

Don’t try too hard. Dating and going into a relationship is supposed to be fun, so let loose! Maybe you are simply trying too hard. Approaching each new date as though the long buffet cart is going to run out of food the first five minutes will freak anyone out so bad they’d be running towards the opposite direction – on a sprint pace. Don’t come off as uptight, overly serious, and emotionally fragile— too terrified of yet another strike out before the pitcher even takes the mound. I bet you’ve heard it said a bazillion times but ‘Relax. Take it slow.’ The journey to a relationship is not about winning or losing, it’s about having as much fun together as possible. Don’t obsess about your losing streak because it will show in the manner that you speak and conduct yourself.

Choose Carefully. It’s true that being in a slump longer than you’ve gotten accustomed to can really put your patience to the test. But you must also realize that willingness to wait for the right person to come along never stops being an essential element of your dating game. Do not swing wildly at anything or any relationship possibility that shows up in your orbit. Chances are, these may NOT at all be what you need in your life. Ultimately, your goal should be to have a good and fulfilling relationship and that usually takes time.

Listen Carefully. Everyone needs objective input now and then. We need to keep ourselves attuned to what our friends, co-workers, and family think about the state of affairs of our relationship. Even though, ultimately, the decision rests entirely on us, it helps to listen to our friends’ advice, opinions, and perspectives. If you’ve got someone whose insights you trust, listen carefully. There might be some things or behavioral structures that we tend to overlook which gets in the way of lasting and meaningful relationships. Most important, allies like this provide encouragement to press on and persevere until the slump is over. After all, it always pays to have friends as cheering squad when you’re feeling way down in the dumps.

One last tip: when you finally overcome your slump, invest a good amount of energy and commitment into making the relationship work and last. Best of luck!

SPEED Magazine: Wanna get FIT? There’s an app for that!


Like a lot of people who have crossed the 30-year mark and are beginning to experience increasingly slowing metabolism, I am under a lot of pressure to keep fit – both for aesthetics and health reasons. But when you have a job that requires you to work beyond 9 hours and travel frequently abroad, not to mention, one or two extra curricular activities you dabble in outside of work, it becomes a major challenge to slot-in a sustainable fitness regimen.

But thanks to great discoveries in fitness technology, people like me who barely have time to visit fitness clubs (I enrolled for a one-year program at 360 and have only visited the club less than 10 times in four months), now have access to games such as Xbox 360 Kinect add-on or Nintendo Wii Fit and do workout at home instead. I don’t own either of these two but what I do have and I must say I am quite hooked on these days are mobile apps that let me share my accomplishments with online friends and fellow fitness freaks.  The latest crop of fitness technology –pumped up with gaming and social networking features – certainly add a deeper level of fun to the usual sweat and burn.

Currently, there is an onslaught of apps that are downloadable for free or for a minimal download fee. When it comes to health and fitness, here are some of the ones that I have on my iPad, which I try to update as often as my schedule permits me.

1. MyFitnessPal. Before getting started with this program, make sure to key in basic information about your current weight, height, activity level, goal weight etc. MyFitnessPal app allows you to set goals for yourself make suggestions on how much calories you should be consuming everyday in order to reach your goal according to the timeline you have set. You can log in the food you eat and this app will tell you how many calories that food contains. Furthermore, it also helps you monitor and keep track of your exercise and the amount of calories you burn for each workout session. The app shows your weight loss over time in a graph format, which you can share with your friends anytime.

2. Fitness Pro. With Fitness pro you can easily create your own workout plan. It has 450+ exercise photos of real people that help you find the right exercise routines for you. Fitness Pro 2.0 contains an advanced logging system that can assist you in tracking your progress. Just start logging your exercises during training so you can track your progress in detail.

3. LoseIt. Get closer to success when it comes to weight loss with LoseIt! Set goals and establish a daily calorie budget that enables you to meet them. Stay on track each day by recording your food and exercise and being conscious of your allowable calorie consumption. This app has a track record of helping the average active Lose It! lose more than 12lbs .  Now who needs lipsosuction when you have this app to help you shed excess weight?

To ensure that you keep to your health and fitness goals as the year continues to get busier for you, here are simple ways you can follow:

1. Make your goals visible.

I’m sure you’re just as tired of making resolutions that don’t get fulfilled just like the next person but probably one of the reasons why you have a hard time seeing your goals through is because they are not visible. I recommend that you put “I WILL…” and your resolution on the homepage of your computer, your mobile device, and your monitor at work so that your goals are in your face every time you power up your machine, make a phone call, or check your email.

2. Go on social media.

Self-pandering or not, you gotta admit that social media is a great tool to help support your resolution. Start out by announcing a measurable, attainable goal with a deadline (ideally the first quarter of 2012) and invite your Facebook and Twitter friends who can help support your initiative by training with you, sharing healthy recipes, providing you with extra motivation at work, or simply not tempting you with treats along the way.

3. Keep track of your performance.

Use an online workout tracker like Dailymile or download mobile device apps such as MyFitnessPal to help you keep track of your performance and identify trends to help you better succeed. Core Performance tracking and reporting tools allow you to track your weight, energy levels, quality of sleep, pain and soreness, productivity, overall mood, impact on others, and willingness to train. Fill in your trackers daily and see your progress charted over time in your Reports section.