Saturday, January 30, 2016

CoconutForGood: Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil Made In Singapore


Made in Singapore cold pressed virgin coconut oil from CoconutForGood.com!

Wait, what? Virgin? Cold Pressed? Is coconut oil like olive oil? Well, turns out there's a lot more to how coconut oil is processed (link goes to very informative piece; Foodrenegade has another good one). Virgin generally means it's extracted from raw coconut meat, not copra; it's usually not refined, bleached, or deodorised. Cold-pressed means it's mechanically pressed at temperatures not exceeding 120 deg F or 49 deg C to preserve its health benefits -- but there have been studies that show heat doesn't degrade the oil. Hey coconut oil does have a high smoke point, which is why it's great for cooking!

Anyway, if you've been following health trends, you'll have seen the popularity of coconut oil resurging in the past decade. Angelina Jolie famously starts her day with a spoonful of it. Gwyneth Paltrow uses it on her skin and in her cooking. You can see how other celebrities use it in so many ways.


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But isn't coconut oil and its high saturated fat content bad for you? No. Like butter, coconut oil went through undeserved vilification last century. These days we know that the saturated fats in coconuts are mainly Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Lauric acid, the main MCT in coconut oil, has antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and immune-boosting effects when consumed. Also, some of those demonising studies used hydrogenated coconut oil instead of virgin coconut oil. We know now just how bad hydrogenated oils are.


Here are 10 more proven health benefits of coconut oil:
http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/




So back to CoconutForGood.com. This is true cold-pressed coconut oil made in Singapore using modern technology in a pharmaceutical grade facility. These passionate coconut artisans support small farm holdings and source for coconuts from those practising sustainable farming methods.


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The coconut oil is so pure and clear, my girls thought it was water in the bottles. It's amazingly light and doesn't have a strong toasted coconut scent like some of the coconut oil processed in the Philippines and Thailand. So if you want a clean-tasting beneficial oil without a dominating coconut smell, this cold-pressed oil is one to consider.

It's "No Additives, No Heat" (NANH): No solvents, sanitizer residue, enhancers
or improvers. I tried to find out more about how they do it, but the process they use is proprietary. Trade secret cannot tell!

Well, no matter what, the CoconutForGood oil really is smoother and lighter. I tried it on my hair and it was a lot more pleasant and easily absorbed than the cheap coconut oil sold at Indian shops. The latter is a lot more viscous and left my hair feeling greasy and still dry/damaged at the same time. Well, no more Parachute brand for me! Now I just need a pump bottle to put the CoconutForGood oil into, for easier dispensing.

Oh, and I found one often quoted study: women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day over 12 weeks did not put on weight but reduced abdominal fat (yes, that stubborn belly fat which also contributes to heart problems). That's the best news to me!

The CoconutForGood festive twin pack of two 385ml bottles goes for S$38 but you get S$6 off with my code "CAMEMBERU".




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Friday, January 29, 2016

Tai Sun Celebrates 50th Anniversary



What a gorgeous basket of goodies for Chinese New Year! The year of the monkey is extra special for Tai Sun. It turns 50 years old this year (hey, just a year shy of SG50) and on top of that, its founder Madam Han Yew Lang will celebrate her 80th birthday!

It's a story of humble beginnings - Madam Han and her late husband Mr Lim Jit Syong started frying peanuts in their kitchen in the early 60s. Their children helped to modernise the production, and today Tai Sun is in the hands of the 3rd generation who are refreshing the brand and adding new product lines.

I learned some interesting things from Madam Han's grand-daughter Esther Loo, Marketing Manager of Tai Sun.

Tai Sun popularised the serving of peanuts at Chinese restaurants: in the 60s, bars were one of Tai Sun's biggest customers. Eating peanuts made the patrons drink more beer. Lim Jit Syong took the idea to restaurants which began to serve them as appetisers.

Tai Sun's unsold CNY goodies go to shelters and homes for the needy: every year, unsold CNY goodies under Tai Sun's NOYA brand (these keep well for up to a month after) are donated to homes and non-profit organisations.

Cashews are Tai Sun's bestselling nut: wow, the cashew is king! Tai Sun sells more cashews than any other nut.




I also didn't know that they owned the NOYA range of cookies. These are pretty good; I had not tried them before this. The pineapple tarts have such generous toppings, and the almond cookies are addictive.


NOYA Almond Delights, 300g, S$11.60
NOYA Pineapple Tarts (open face), 450g, S$11.60

The other items shown above include:
Ah Ma Traditional Love Letters (sesame), 400g, S$12.30
Tai Sun Premium Collection Prawn Rolls, 280g, S$8.95
Nature's Wonders Macadamias, 380g, S$21.30
Nature's Wonders Baked Cashews with Almonds Mix, 400g, S$12.90
California Pistachios, 500g, S$14.20
Tai Sun Assorted Nuts (Eight Treasures), 450g, S$9.95




My favourite items from them are still the Nature's Wonders series.
http://www.camemberu.com/2012/08/natures-wonders-healthy-snacking-made.html


Nature's Wonders has a range of healthy snacks, most of which are baked nuts, not fried

Ever since I discovered them in 2012, I just kept buying these. They just taste fresher and better. You know how some packaged nuts have that slightly rancid or odd processed taste? For me, Nature's Wonders are usually a safe bet (I don't know where they are sourced but they seem better from Tai Sun's other nuts actually).

Happy snacking for CNY!




Many thanks to Tai Sun for sending the CNY gift pack.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Man Fu Yuan (满福苑) 2016 Chinese New Year Menu Highlights


Man Fu Yuan is rolling out serious goodies in its lunar new year prosperity set menus from 18 January to 22 February 2016, crafted by Executive Chinese Chef Kwan Yiu Kan and his team.

First up - yusheng!


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Yusheng with Crispy Monkey Head Mushrooms, Prosperity Flakes and Peach Dressing 金箔蟠桃酱 鰤 鱼生捞起
It's auspicious to toss for good luck, and this year we literally get to monkey around. The artfully laid out yusheng transports us into a peach orchard with crispy monkey head mushrooms, real peach slices and gold-crusted corn flakes. The yusheng is available at $118 for Large but this one above is probably XXXXXL!


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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Giveaway: Lee Kum Kee Sauces CNY Gift Pack



What are you cooking for Chinese New Year? 

I have a media pack of five Lee Kum Kee items: Premium Brand Oyster Sauce, Premium Light Soya Sauce, Seafood XO Sauce, the Spare Ribs and Cod Fillet Sauces.

The Seafood XO sauce (220g) is new from Lee Kum Kee, joining the signature XO Sauce line-up. Singapore is the only market that offers this product in SEA at the moment. Made from dried scallops, dried shrimps, chilies and fragrant spices, it should serve well as an all-purpose sauce for stir-frying or as a dipping sauce.




Giveaway

I have three sets of the Lee Kum Kee CNY gift packs to give out. 

Here's how you can win one:

Via my Facebook fan page post
Or via resharing my Instagram post 

Or share this post on your social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,  Google+ etc. You can use the AddThis share buttons below. Tag me @camemberu so I can see your post, and tell us what dish you plan to cook for CNY that would involve a Lee Kum Kee product. 

Deadline is noon, 28 January 2015. I will pick a winner by next Thursday, so you guys can receive this from Lee Kum Kee before CNY! Happy sharing! 








Many thanks to Lee Kum Kee for the gift packs!


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grand Park Otaru: Restaurants and Buffets in the Hotel

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I love hotel breakfasts. Normally I don't take much food in the mornings, but I will happily indulge when there's a nice hotel breakfast buffet.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Attractions in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

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Most people regard Otaru (小樽) as a day trip destination from Sapporo but it's nice to take your time here, as there's plenty to see and do, including an excursion to the nearby Kiroro ski resort.

We stayed three days at the Grand Park Otaru: it meant being right on top of the massive Wing Bay Otaru mall, which has everything from a supermarket to a cinema (we caught Star Wars: The Force Awakens there when it premiered!). If it's raining or you're snowed in, there's plenty of options to keep you entertained.

From Grand Park Otaru, the town centre is just a five-minute taxi ride away.

Here's what we managed to see:

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Kiroro Snow World: Great Ski Resort near Otaru in Hokkaido



Kiroro Snow World! Never heard of it? It's a really underrated, under-the-radar (i.e. less crowded) Hokkaido ski resort with snow that's plentiful and powdery. It's just 28km from Otaru, and 43km from Sapporo. Powderhounds rates this a 4 our of 5 for its snow, lift infrastructure and lack of crowds.

Our hotel Grand Park Otaru has packages that include daily shuttles to this skiing wonderland. It departs at 8:30am and returns 4:30pm, so you'll get about 7 hours of ski esort time.


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My girls were so excited about playing in snow. We arrived amidst some snow flurries. It was cold but we loved it. And thank god for Uniqlo winter wear. We didn't need thermals but the fur-lined coats and down jackets served us well. Gloves however got soaked through, so we had to rent heavy duty ones.


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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Around Grand Park Otaru Hotel: Wingbay Otaru Mall and Otaru Chikko Station


Staying at Grand Park Otaru means you have a giant shopping mall at your hotel's doorstep. The Wing Bay Otaru is one of the largest malls in Hokkaido, and beloved by Otaru citizens. It isn't like a big city sparkly shopping destination, but has a more suburban and "homey" feel. There are TONS of shops in here; you wouldn't be able to see everything in a day. Let's take a quick look.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Grand Park Otaru Hotel in Hokkaido, Japan



My family and I visited Hokkaido for the first time in December 2015 - finally experiencing a white winter and powder fine snow! After a few days in Sapporo, we stayed 3 nights at the Grand Park Otaru, which is probably one of the largest and best hotels in Otaru (小樽). It has 296 rooms and suites, in Western and Japanese styles.
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Friday, January 8, 2016

Great Singapore Food in Lesser Known Hawker Centres


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It's time to explore new experiences.

We all know and love the some of the most popular hawker centres - Maxwell, Old Airport Road, Tiong Bahru Market, Chinatown Complex and Chomp Chomp. Do you keep going to the same places? Or maybe we rarely go beyond the familiar nearby eateries. Well, it's not surprising given our long working days and punishing schedules.

But we have 107 hawker centres in total, and the government has pledged to build 20 more. How many of the existing ones have you visited? The sights, smells and sounds of a new place is what can jolt our senses back to life; it may be as refreshing as an ice-cold Coke® on a hot day.

Here are three lesser known hawker centres you can try:

Marine Parade Central Food Centre

Block 84 Marine Parade Central, Singapore 440084
There's good reason to visit and soon - not just for good food, but because this hawker centre will soon be closed in 2017 for a major overhaul. Stall owners mention the upcoming MRT developments too affecting the hawker centre.




NEPTUNE HONG KONG DIM SUM
84 Marine Parade Central, #01-176
We love dim sum, even more so if it's cheap and good. Netune offers 24 items, and the baskets roll out fast and furious. Bestsellers include crispy shrimp rolls in beancurd skin (S$3) and lobster puffs (S$3.80 for five fried dumplings). The staples like har gau (S$2.80) and siew mai (S$2.80 for four pieces) are pretty decent too. Mini egg tarts are of the flaky crust variety.



FORTUNE DELIGHTS
84 Marine Parade Central #01-181
This stall has been here for as long as I remember, and I can see why. The rojak is a superb burst of flavours a Western salad would be hard-pressed to match. The crispy youtiao, aromatic peanuts, crunchy vegetables (turnips, beansprouts and cucumbers), cubes of sweet pineapple, all dressed in that spicy and pungent shrimp paste dressing - it's awesome sauce.



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SEREMBAN BEEF NOODLES
84 Marine Parade Central, #01-184
This bowl of beef noodles is unlike the run-of-the-mill types in food courts and chain stores. It's got more spice complexity and sweetness. The S$4.50 bowl comes with generous amounts of meat. Crunchy peanuts and pickles add texture and taste. Make sure you add a dollop of cincalok (preserved shrimp) in your chili dip.

I like to complete the meal with a nice Coke® zero! Dining out at hawker centres usually means no air-conditioning; so a refreshing can of ice-cold Coke is a great way to cool down.




Shunfu Market Food Centre

Block 320 Shunfu Road, Singapore 570320

Shunfu Market was the last hawker centre built in 1985, but it's home to old school favourites like Mei Zhen Hakka Delicacies, and even modern startups like Chocolat n Spice. Bonus: Dapur Asiah satisfies your cravings for mee rebus, mee soto, lontong, mee siam, gado gado for just S$2!

But here are two popular stalls you may have heard of:

Char siew, roast pork and roast duck, gotta try them all!
FU SHI TRADITIONAL ROASTED WANTON MEE
320 Shunfu Road #02-25
If you love roasted meats like char siew, roast pork and roast duck, try Fu Shi. The lusciously browned char siew is well-seasoned and almost melt-in-your-mouth soft from the fatty bits. The roast pork has evenly crisp crackling skin. All gloriously drenched in gravy.





LAI HENG FRIED KWAY TEOW
320 Shunfu Road #02-20
This is probably one of the most popular stalls in this hawker centre. Four generations have been in charge of the wok here, churning out char kway teow that keeps the crowds coming - slightly on the wet and sweetish side, thanks to abundant sweet soy sauce. The only downside is they use vegetable oil, so it's missing the pork lard magic.

After all this, you definitely need a glass of Coke for the perfect pairing! What’s great food without a great drink, right?





Bedok Food Centre

1 Bedok Rd, Singapore 469572

Fondly known as Bedok Corner (it is located around the bend of Bedok Road), this hawker centre carries a cosy Malay village theme. Lots of good Muslim food here!


Beef, Chicken and Mutton Satay with Ketupat
SATAY SOLO
1 Bedok Road, Stall no.9
You'll be spoilt for choice for satay and Malay food at Bedok Corner. We've tried and liked Satay Solo. The satay is well-marinated and nicely caramelised. They also have nasi ayam penyet, nasi lemak, nasi rawon, nasi sambal goreng, mee goreng, mee soto, mee siam, tauhu goreng and lontong.



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MAMU KITCHEN
1 Bedok Road, Stall no.25
Mamu focuses on just three dishes but does them well. Foremost of these is the Mee Kuah Upeh (S$8) or Gravy Noodles in Opeh Leaf. The opeh leaf is artfully folded into a boat shape container for the yellow noodles. It's a tomato-based seafood-mutton gravy almost tastes like chili crab gravy and is loaded with seafood. They also do a nice rendition of Kachang Phool.



Ye Lai Xiang "Special" Cheng Tng
YE LAI XIANG 
1 Bedok Road, Stall no.31
They have been in business since 1939, occupying two stalls, one selling dried cuttlefish kangkong and one selling cheng tng, a Chinese dessert. Don't miss the cheng tng here, prepared laboriously using more than 10 ingredients including dried persimmon, dried longan, barley, mung beans, sweet potato, ginkgo nuts and candied winter melon.


So where will you go and what will you try in 2016? You don't have to travel far to try something new. Don't let routine cage you into same old experiences. When the daily grind gets you down, take charge and do something good for yourself. Or take a shortcut - a fizzy gulp of Coke. Perks me up every time.

There are gems everywhere amongst the 15,000 food stalls, and I love finding out lesser known ones, so please share with me the ones you love.






This article is brought to you in partnership with Coca-Cola®. All opinions shared by writer are his/her own.
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