Made in HK, local artisans pop-up market brought to us by the fabulous Green Queen!

Hong Kongers, search your memory banks! Has there ever been an food and drink-centric event 100% dedicated to products that are sustainably made here in Hong Kong, focusing on all these wonderful things: organic/vegan/artisanal/homemade/unprocessed/eco-friendly/gluten-free/homemade? Sure, there is East Island Markets, and I am not putting it down as it is a huge organisational challenge to have this market up and running for all this time.  But when I saw Pizza Express there, I felt that maybe EIM has somewhat lost sight of it’s initial vision. When I visited, I was disappointed. I had been hoping for all homegrown companies, selling interesting products that I would actually want to take home with me, but I left pretty much empty-handed apart from some locally-grown strawberries (which were by the way, incredible).

Anyway, I digress. The point is, last weekend, I think a lot of us Hong Kongers finally found what we were looking for – a foodie market event that actually gave us what we want! And even if you didn’t end up taking something home (which is highly unlikely), then at least you would have had a great meal – there were lots of healthy food choices available, as well as picnic benches to eat them on. By the time  I arrived at 1.30pm, most of the food had sold out!

Made in HK

All of these wonderful, local vendors were at the Made in HK Pop-Up event, including more well-known companies such as Stephen James OrganicsThe Genie Concept and Homegrown Foods, although my favorites were these lesser-known but equally as interesting companies. I look forward to seeing more, and will keep you in the loop as to when the next event will be! Believe me, you will not want to miss out, and it is in our best interests as a community to support initiatives such as this – they add that little bit of colour to our weekend, promote local small businesses,  as well as open our minds to eating and living a healthier lifestyle. Well, just so long as you don’t eat too many cupcakes and ice cream…

Happy Cow (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

IMG_6352Established in 2012, this fledgling Hong Kong brand makes their ice cream from scratch using coconut cream (instead of dairy) and coconut tree nectar (instead of sugar) to make truly delicious ice creams that are healthy! Dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free and containing no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, they truly taste great! Fact, coconut cream is quite fattening, but a little of this ice cream goes a long way – one scoop is enough to satisfy your ice-cream needs. We tried the Mint Chip and the Piña Colada. Their most popular flavour, Lime in the Coconut, was sold out.

IMG_6353

Both of the ice creams that we tried are the same in appearance, but the flavours were crisp. Love those ocean blue cups too!

Happy Cow ice cream is available by the scoop at Grassroots Pantry, coming soon to JCC Kosher Mart (conveniently located in my apartment complex, woohoo!). Visit their website, http://www.happycowhk.com/, to see all their flavours!

Anything But Salads

Coco drillThe people at this stall were super-friendly and even if nothing had tempted me, I still would have bought something any way because they were just that nice. Luckily enough, PB was there to control me, or else I would have bought everything! Kale chips, organic raw chocolate, raw cheesy nuts (ignore the name, and they are delicious!) I left with a container of living almond butter (all natural, no sugars or additives) and the neatest new contraption in my kitchen, the Coconut Drill.  Because hacking away at a coconut with a big  knife always made me a tad nervous!

You can order their products online, and delivery within Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories is free for orders above $500.

Website: http://www.anythingbutsalads.com/ or Tel: +852 6743 5000

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The Fun Facts: Carbohydrates & Sugars in Vegetables & Fruits

In the interests of being Bikini Fit, I have been researching the fun facts – they say everyone should have their five a day, but just what am I putting into my body when I eat fruits and vegetables, and are there any vegetables that could be bad? Or rather, let’s say relatively less beneficial. Well, as boring and as tedious as it all is, there were a few things that surprised me, and so I thought I would share it with you.

Prepping for the pain!

Prepping for the pain!

Let me just give you a little background information. The idea of outdoor ‘bootcamp’ training has really gained momentum in Hong Kong over the past few years, whether they are organised and advertised groups such as Bikini Fit, Circuit 25, Hong Kong Bootcamp, or Apefit, to name a few, or one-on-one personal trainers. After spending most of your waking hours in an office, it’s nice to get out into nature and kick about for a change, rather than sweat on a hamster wheel in air conditioning.

I joined the Bikini Fit 4 week mini-program after being recommended by a girlfriend, to:

a) Figure out if I could wake up early every morning before work and get my ass in gear (I can!)
b) See if it would raise my energy levels during the day (It has!)
c) Lose some fat and gain some muscle and more upper body strength (… a work in progress)
d) Look good in my wedding dress!

My goal is not to change my lifestyle and nutrition completely – it would be unrealistic, impossible and let’s face it, really rather miserable. The idea is to be just a little bit better, drink less, exercise more, take more pride in my body, and be more aware about what I put into it.

The Bikini Fit trainers advocate minimal carbs, no sugar, dairy or wheat, and more protein. Oh, and no alcohol (that’s a real toughie, and there has been cheating happening on my part!). However, even if you manage to stay away from bread, pasta and potatoes, you still take in carbohydrates in veggies. So, to make the most of this bootcamp , I put together these tables to try and eat more low-carb vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

I’ve included a column for what I find are suitable levels for a low-carb diet (this is in no way a professional opinion) – I’m hoping that following a low-carb diet will help me to shed some of my body fat percentage, now at 20.6%.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart1 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Chart from the American Council on Exercise, http://www.wikipedia.com

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart2 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart3 Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart: How Lean Should You Be?

Body fat as a function of age

While I was at it, I also introduced a column to show which fruits and vegetables are acceptable for the Wild Rose Detox (a detox that I do once a year, after new year’s eve), as a easy way to cross-reference both. One thing I have noticed is that the Wild Rose Detox has pretty clear guidelines for acceptable fruit, but not much at all on acceptable vegetables. I therefore assume that all vegetables, apart from the ones that are mentioned in the guidelines, are acceptable.

All of these figures were obtained from Wikipedia, and show values per 100g.

Make of this information what you will, and I hope you find it useful!

 Good Veggies and Not-So-Good Veggies 

Vegetable

Carbohydrates

Protein

Sugar

Fiber

Calories

WRD friendly?

Low-Carb Diet friendly?

Pak Choi †

2.2g

1.5g

1g

13

?

Yes

Lettuce (butterhead)

2.23g

1.35g

0.94g

1.1g

13

?

Yes

Basil

2.65g

3.15g

1.6g

22

?

Yes

Endive †

3.35g

1.25g

3.1g

17

?

Yes

Radishes †

3.4g

0.68g

1.86g

1.6g

16

?

Yes

Olives

3.84g

1.03g

0.54g

3.3g

146

?

Yes

Spinach †

3.6g

2.9g

0.4g

2.2g

23

?

Yes

Asparagus

3.88g

2.2g

1.88g

2.1g

20

?

Yes

Tomato †

3.9g

0.9g

2.6g

1.2g

18

Yes

Yes

Mushrooms (brown)

4.1g

2.5g

27

?

Yes

Cauliflower †

5g

1.9g

1.9g

2g

25

?

Yes

Kale ∆

5.63g

1.9g

1.25g

2g

28

?

Yes

Broccoli †

6.64g

2.82g

1.7g

2.6g

34

?

Yes

Haricot Vert †

6.97g

1.83g

2.7g

31

Acceptable

Yes

Avocado †

8.53g

2g

0.66g

6.7g

160

?

Yes

Brussels Sprouts

8.95g

3.38g

2.2g

3.8g

43

?

Yes

Carrot †

9.6g

0.93g

4.7g

2.8g

41

?

Not really

Beetroot ∆

9.96g

1.68g

7.96g

2g

43

?

No

Butternut Squash

11.69g

1g

2g

45

Yes

No

Leek

14.15g

1.5g

3.9g

1.8g

61

?

No

Green Peas †

14.45g

5.42g

5.67g

5.1g

81

Acceptable

No

Potato *

17.47g

2g

2.2g

77

Yes

No

Parsnip †

18g

1.2g

4.8g

4.9g

75

?

No

Corn kernels †

18.7g

3.27g

6.26g

2

86

?

No

Sweet Potato

20.1g

1.6g

4.2g

3g

86

Yes

In moderation

Lentils (dry weight)

60g

26g

2g

31g

353

Acceptable

Big No

*   Raw, with skin
†   Raw
∆   Cooked

These items in orange are actually technically fruits, but I have included them here for ease of reference. I also added lentils just because I was curious about trying a lentil and cabbage soup recipe … that’s obviously not going to happen now!

 Low-sugar and High-sugar Fruits 

Fruit

Carbohydrates

Sugar

Fiber

Calories

WRD friendly?

Low-Carb Diet friendly?

Coconut water

3.71g

2.61g

1.1g

19

No

All fruits in moderation (limited to 2-3 pieces a day)

Watermelon

7.55

6.2g

0.4g

30

No

Strawberry

7.68g

4.89g

2g

32

Yes

Cantaloupe

8.16g

7.86g

0.9g

34

No

Grapefruit

8.41g

7.31g

1.1g

33

Probably no

Honeydew melon

9.09g

8.12g

0.8g

36

No

Peach

9.54g

8.39g

1.5g

39

Yes

Blackberry

9.61g

4.88g

5.3g

43

Yes

Orange

11.75g

9.35g

2.4g

47

No

Pineapple

13.12g

9.85g

1.4g

50

No

Apple

13.81g

10.39g

2.4g

52

Yes

Blueberry

14.49g

9.96g

2.4g

57

Yes

(Green) Kiwi fruit

14.66g

8.99g

3g

61

Probably yes

Raspberry

14.7g

5.4g

8g

63

Yes

Mango

15g

13.7g

1.6g

60

No

Longan (fresh)

15.14g

1.1g

60

No

Pear

15.23g

9.75g

3.1g

57

Yes

Cherries

16g

12.8g

2.1g

63

Yes

Lychee (fresh)

16.53g

15.23g

1.3g

66

No

Mangosteen

17.91g

1.8g

0.58g

73

No

Grape (red or green)

18.1g

15.48g

0.9g

69

No

Banana

22.84g

12.23g

2.6g

89

No

Coconut flesh

24.23g

6.23g

8g

354

No

33.49g of fat!

A Dim Sum Compendium

I recently read an article about a book called “The Paradox of Choice – why more is less”. Being quite an indecisive person when it comes to consumerism, I can relate to the authors premise that whilst choice is good for us, we are presented with too much choice nowadays. It can be psychologically disadvantageous and ultimately, makes us more unhappy. And so, faced with all of this choice, many of us do the simplest thing – choose the same option over and over, because we know it, because we’re comfortable with it.  While this is all a bit too serious as an introduction to dim sum, the logic is quite the same.  There are many choices in this city for Dim Sum – which one should we choose?

I have a long list of Dim Sum restaurants in my phonebook, a Dim Sum Compendium, if you will. Some are the good old favorites, some are the easier option, some take that extra effort to get there but are worth it, and some are on my “To Eat” list. All are worth trying – why choose, when you can have them all? Continue reading

The best of Bali – Food

One of my favorite places in the world is Bali, the enchanting island of the Gods. Each time the wheels touch the tarmac, all stress vanishes and I feel instantly lighter. Feeling the coarse black sand squelching in between your toes as you run away from the crashing waves that always approach faster than you anticipated. Driving through paddy fields on pot-holed roads as you watch a large group of children pass by carrying a huge kite over their heads. Kayaking, or white water rafting, or cycling, or climbing, or playing with lion cubs at the zoo. For me, everything about this island promotes peace, tranquility, and a general sense of well being. And the food, oh my goodness, the food! The Balinese put so much emphasis on spices so that myriads of different combinations of them result in such a rich depth of flavour that it’s simply impossible to not be delighted.

IMG_5399

All these reasons and more makes one appreciate Bali so fully, not only for the trendy tourists spots, but also for the small, no-frills restaurants that serve simple, honest and authentic Bali cuisine. I love watching the sun set at Ku De Ta with one of their stupidly expensive (yet amazing) cocktails in hand, just as much as I love to pull the flesh off a piece of ayam goreng and dip it in sambal before placing it on top of my rice and scooping it into my mouth with my fingers at a road-side warung.

So here I give you my Bali favorites, the posh and the plain, the hip and the trendy, the cheap and the cheerful.

THE SEMINYAK/LEGIAN AREA:

 POTATO HEAD/LILIN/TAPPING SHOES 

Potato Head has something for everyone – call ahead to reserve one of their day beds by the pool to enjoy cocktails and snacks in between dips. There is a minimum charge, but with their prices, you’ll have no problem covering it. The cocktails are around the same as HK prices, or you could opt for one of their awesome sangria mixes (around IDR560,000/HK$450 for around 6 glasses), served in large fishbowls. At the Beach Club, the food is of a very high standard and their burgers and desserts are to die for.

Potato Head’s Wagyu Beef Burger – hands down the best burger in Bali. Perhaps even one of the best burgers I’ve had, ever! R120,000 (HK$100)

Check out Lilin in the evenings for Asian Tapas, a wonderful way to try all kinds of South East Asian cuisines in small portions. The grilled fish was great, although for the other grilled seafood options you’re better off in Jimbaran.  I haven’t tried Tapping Shoes yet, their more upscale modern French restaurant (headed by Japanese chef Take Hikaru), but if the other food is anything to go by…

Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak Tel: +62 361 473 7979 Website: http://www.ptthead.com/

IMG_4151

4 tapas (prawn balls, beef rendang, Thai roast duck red curry, fish carpaccio) for IDR 180,000 (HK$145)

 KU DE TA 

In its 12th year as a Bali hot spot, KTC is the place to see and be seen. Indulge in a modern dinner and a really yummy and extensive cocktail list (Rp. 110,000).  A nice place for a special occasion for dinner, but really, I’d prefer to eat locally, you can always eat this stuff at home. Go there to watch the sunset with an awesome cocktail and some cool vibes instead.

Address: Jalan Laksmana, 9, Seminyak Tel: (+62) 361 736969 Website: http://www.kudeta.net/

Ku de ta

 NAUGHTY NURI’S WARUNG

Don’t be surprised if you end up going to Naughty Nuri’s 3 times in a 5 day trip to Bali – their ribs are that good. I’ve heard good things about their pork chops as well – choose from a good range of side-dishes (porn corn, anyone?) as well as a choice of Indonesian dishes. Their slogan is spot on: “A funky streetside food haven, especially for the “naughty but nice!” With wicked ribs and brutal martinis, fun times and smiles are guaranteed.”

Address: Jalan Batubelig, 41 Tel: (+62) 361 847 6722 Website: http://www.naughtynurisbali.com/

IMG_4220

Full slab of the most delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs! IDR 89,000 (HK$ 70)

Continue reading

Wild Rose Detox, Day 1: What you can and can’t eat

Day 1 is over and I’m doing well so far! Below is a table I’ve made of the foods that I should be eating and shouldn’t be eating, and have stuck it by my work computer and on my fridge at home. I’m finding it fun and helpful to highlight all of the items that I’ve used as ingredients, so I can try to control the amount of each that I’m eating. I also section off my plate into a pie, so to speak, and only have Section 1 Foods covering a small slice of it.

If you know the ins and outs of this detox, and you’ve figured out whether or not this detox is for you, then here’s what you can and cannot eat:

The Detox recommends that you eat 80% alkaline and neutral foods in your diet (Sections 2&3), and limit your intake of acid forming foods to 20% (Section 1). Continue reading

Wild Rose Herbal D-tox – a quick introduction

After indulging rather extravagantly over the holiday season (i’ve only just worked off the last bit of fondue!)…

It’s detox time!

I have previously tried The Wild Rose Herbal D-tox program as well as the Master Cleanse, in an attempt to be healthy and lose weight while doing it. I must admit that I ‘attempted’ the Master Cleanse more to lose weight quickly rather than detoxify. I say ‘attempt’ because I found the water, lemon, paprika and maple syrup concoction utterly disgusting, and thus didn’t drink enough of it. Even if I had managed it, and even though some swear by the master cleanse and do it 3-4 times a year (for up to two weeks each time!), I found it to be the most unhealthy way to be ‘healthy’. Needless to say, I managed 3 days and promptly ended it one morning with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. I tell you, it was like mana from the gods, orange juice has never tasted so good! Continue reading

The best martini in town – Blue Bar’s Apple Martini

I know it’s a bold statement, but I think this may be the best martini in this little town called Hong Kong, and certainly one of my favorites. In fact, the rest of the drinks menu may as well not exist at The Four Season’s Blue Bar. Every time the bring over the menu, I politely wave it away, give the server a big smile and very proudly say “I know what I want….”

The Apple Martini at the Blue Bar is perfectly balanced, sweet (but I like it that way), flavourful, and fresh. It’s not too strong, which actually works in your favour, because it’s so morish you want to have at least 3 of them if you can. Made with vodka and fresh apple puree, then topped with a very thin slice of dehydrated apple, one could almost deem it healthy! The puree gives it dimension, and I almost feel like I’m having a snack at the same time!

And for one more special touch, it’s served on a barman’s tray, together with the cocktail shaker. They pour it into the glass at your table, then leave the shaker with you, which contains almost another full glass of the martini mixture. Talk about two for the price of one!

Please, do me a favour, go have one, and tell me you love it just as much as I do!

P.S. I apologise for the poor quality photo. I forgot my camera at home, and the Iphone 3 picture quality leaves much to be desired!

Oufti! Ca c’etait un bon weekend!

I was at a birthday barbeque on Saturday night and had some great conversations with new and interesting group of people. After half an hour of being there, I’d already explained my background and how I grew up in Hong Kong.  Then the follow up questions came:

Q: Do you know TST very well?
A: Um…no.

Q: New Territories?
A: Well, we went to Tung Chung today to go wakeboarding!

Q: Isn’t that in Lantau?
A: Um…yes you’re completely right. Sorry, I thought you said Lantau (….)

Q: Have you been to the Thousand Buddhas Monastery?”
A: You mean the Big Buddha? Of course I have! (internal monologue: YESSSS! Thank goodness, I won’t embarrass myself with this answer!)

Q: No….the thousand buddhas in Shatin…
A: Oh….um…ah…no.

I am a Hong Kong girl, but I should really stop telling adventurous expatriates that I grew up here! It’s like the Parisian who has never been to the Louvre, or the New Yorker who has never been to the Empire State Building – it’s not going anywhere, so we can always check it out one day.

The Dark Side is too much of an effort, and on days where I’m actually inspired to cross the harbour, I consider myself an intrepid adventurer. As for Lantau and the New Territories, as a child I went with my parents to the places of their choosing, with what I consider is essential to really explore – a car.Now, most would think I’m a ditz for saying that – “Come on JK, you don’t need a car to get places – you just need to get off your lazy a@@”. And it’s true – I am lazy. I don’t want to spend $300 to get a taxi to Saikung, and I really can’t be bothered to taxi-MTR-bus-taxi-boat-hike my way to Dailongwan. Now that I can actually drive a car, the first 4 parts of that process can be avoided. Plus, I can ride as a passenger on P’s bike (oh how I love that bike!), it makes getting around infinitely easier. Continue reading

My Online Shopping Spree

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a couple of weeks, and as a result have gone a bit crazy with shopping online. And before you make any assumptions, no I have not been splashing the cash on Net-a-Porter. Being able to try clothes on, having the satisfaction of walking out of the store with my shopping bag, and rushing home to try things on straight away again are all an integral and important part of the process for me.

But food shopping is a different thing. There are so many seafood and meat items that you simply cannot buy in supermarkets here, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for them. With a little bit of forward planning, you can have choice cuts on your dinner plate at a fraction of the cost. So yes! I have been a very good customer of online food purveyors this week.