RED DATE GINGER TEA WITH CINNAMON | FOR MENSTRUAL PAIN RELIEF

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Ladies, it’s time to nourish ourselves every time of the month. As I approach the first week before my next period cycle, signs of rapid perspiration, rising body temperature, fatigue, erratic emotions, and soreness in my lady part are seemingly more visible than they were in my early 20s. Perhaps the only pleasing part of pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) for me is my swelling boobs to give this mini chest a little perk & boost hahah.

Jokes aside, I gradually learn to stop taking my health for granted, especially when that 1 to 2 weeks of PMS can affect my performance at work, my energy and the way I treat people around me. PMS can easily take control of our lives, but with proper nourishment in our diet, we can relieve these symptoms. That’s why I got into a habit of brewing this Red Date Ginger Tea with Cinnamon to nourish myself with minimal effort using good quality ingredients from Hock Hwa, the Chinese medical hall.

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For many years, red dates are vital tonic to balance our qi (energy) in times of stress, fatigue, soothe the stomach. Compared to Middle-eastern Medjool dates, red dates have lower calorie and sugar level with 32 times of Vitamin C. On a side note, ginger is tested as the leading drug for alleviation of painful periods, and it has significant relief properties in menstrual pain intensity and duration. Putting them together, the effectiveness for keeping our PMS. under control is valid.

This deeply-spiced home brew elixir is like a comfort blanket with ginger, dates (jujube fruit), cinnamon and cordyceps. You can kiss goodbye to ibuprofen.

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RED DATE GINGER TEA WITH CINNAMON

Serves 1 litre ( 3 cups)

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Difficulty: 1/5

Diet Notes: Vegan, Vegetarian

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large honey dates (蜜枣)

  • 6 seedless red dates (红枣)

  • 1 large cinnamon stick

  • 1 knob of old ginger, washed and sliced with skin on

  • 5g cordycep miltaris (Premium) (冬虫夏草)

  • 1.5 litre filtered water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash and soak honey dates and red dates in a bowl of room temperature water for 5 minutes.

  2. Bowl 1.5 litre water in a pot over medium high heat. Once it starts boiling, add ginger slices, cinnamon stick and soaked dates.

  3. Leave tea to boil for 5 minutes.Turn down to medium heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.

  4. Add cordycep militaris to the pot and simmer 5 minutes. Remove tea from heat.

  5. Scoop up honey dates and red dates from tea. Rinse them quickly with water to cool down slightly. Slice honey dates into thin strips. Divide evenly between 3 heat-proof glasses or mugs. Ladle honey ginger tea into each glass. Use a toothpick and pierce through two red dates and set at the edge of the glass. Drink tea while its hot and eat the red dates for extra nourishment.

NOTES

  • Vitamin C content of the dates will be lost with prolonged exposure to hot water. Do not over boil it.

  • For remaining tea left in the pot, let it cool down to room temperature. Pour into a water bottle. Reheat tea by pouring it into a mug microwave for 2 minutes before drinking. Do not consume tea when it is cold as cold beverage may instigate the production of prostaglandins which causes muscles contraction in the ovary and vaginal walls, resulting to cramps.

  • Old ginger tastes slightly more earthy, woody and pungent than young ginger. For those who prefer a deep spicy taste in your tea, choose old ginger.

More to know

  • Coryceps militaris supports healthy lungs and kidney, and body immunity.

  • Cinnamon has a significant effect on reduction of pain, menstrual bleeding, nausea and vomiting without side effects. It can be regarded as a safe and effective treatment for dysmenorrhea in young women. (Source: NCBI)

  • An eighth of a teaspoon of ground ginger power that is taken 3 times a day during one’s period is tested head-to-head against the leading drug for the alleviation of painful periods and reduction of menstrual blood loss. (Source: Nutritional Facts.org)

With loads of love,

Ally



KOREAN PEAR MULLED WINE | GIFT IDEA

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In this year alone, my home brew mulled wine production stopped at the fifth batch. It’s the most I have made. Never have I anticipated to delve deep in brewing batch after batch for friends and family as a gift this year. The two gift options were either a Christmas Time Mulled Wine for those who fancy a deep, full-bodied, dry finish, or the Korean Pear Mulled Wine for a pure, tropical, lengthy finish.

As you may have guessed it from my title, today’s recipe is an East meets West mulled wine. I am using a Sauvignon Blanc this time to brew with Korean pears. They are ginormous and unstoppable. Their size and succulence are comparable to their counterparts from China, the only disparity is that Korean pears are notably sweeter. China pears are thirst-quenchers yet without much taste to them.

To start off, we need to make a healthy sugar base, using our key fruits, pressed juice and honey. Make sure you purchase proper quality raw honey, that has a deeper shade of yellow, not those cheap, golden looking liquid fake honey that contain syrups or other components to achieve the unique taste and texture of real honey. Read the label and origin of the honey before you purchase.

Once this concentrated sugar base is formed over a rolling boil, pour in Port and Sauvignon Blanc, and the festive spices. Do not cover the pot fully, tilt the lid slightly so that some alcohol is boiled off. Leave it to simmer between 40 minutes to 1 hour until all the flesh are fully softened, and juices are released. I would highly recommend to leave out the pot overnight for it to sit, and strain the solids on the next day. Reheat in a microwave oven for 1 minute 30 seconds at 600W, and ladle into heat proof wine glasses to serve!

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Beyond just a holiday drink, mulled wine is celebrated as a health drink with plentiful of health benefits you can read more in my previous post!

So if you have any wines sitting around your house, get up and brew yourself or a dear friend of yours a bottle of warming, traditional mulled wine. Alternatively, you may check out a diverse range of ethically produced wines from TTG wines, and enjoy a 10% discount when you use the promo code “POUT10”.

Just to clarify that it is not an affiliated code, and I do not earn a commission in your every purchase.

Leave your comments down below if you have any questions prior to brewing your first mulled wine!

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KOREAN PEAR MULLED WINE

(Serves 6)

Preparation time: 5 mins

Time: 50 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 750ml bottle Sauvignon Blanc (Walnut Block, TTG wines)

  • 375 ml Fine Ruby Port, Taylor's

  • 750 ml fresh pressed apple & ginger juice (Cawston)

  • ½ cup fresh cranberries, gently crushed

  • 1 large Korean pear, peeled and cut into large chunks

  • 2 heaping tsp acacia honey

Spices

  • 1 large cinnamon stick

  • 2 tbsp whole gloves

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 2 star anise

DIRECTIONS

  • Pour apple & ginger juice, pear, cranberries, honey in a medium-sized pot over medium high heat. Stir gently till honey has dissolved, bring it to rolling boil for 5 minutes (I’m using induction hob at heat mark 7).

  • Turn heat to low (mark 5), pour Sauvignon Blanc, port, and all spices into the pot. Put the lid on partially, simmer for 40 minutes, till you hear all the cranberries “pop” and pear chunks softened.

  • Remove from heat, let it cool for 5 minutes. Strain solids from the mulled wine, press them through the kitchen sieve for extra bit of mulled wine essence. 

  • Alternatively, leave the pot out with the lid on to cool overnight. Strain the solids. ladle them in mugs, and reheat in a microwave oven for 2 minutes to serve. Store the remaining in air tight glass bottles, refrigerate and store up to 3 days for a richer taste.

Happy Holidays!Xx

- Ally

CHRISTMAS TIME MULLED WINE (IMPROVED)

Nursing a warm glass of mulled wine, and get cosy with loved ones during this festive season.
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Christmas wouldn’t be completed without hugging a steaming mug of mulled wine, watching Lord Of The Rings trilogy after dinner time, on the leather couch. That’s how the Kirwans celebrate Christmas every year in Aberdeenshire. Before we returned for Christmas in 2017, Ryan introduced his signature home brew mulled wine to my family. When they first sipped it, it tasted like herbaceous cranberry juice muddled with heirloom naval oranges and a tickling hint of cayenne pepper. This undeniable warmth stolen their hearts. My parents nods were in synced, they have never been happier and approved this son-in-law to be right after, lol.

As I am leaning towards sustainability this year, I’ll be using RNW Cape Blend South Africa from TTG wines to brew my first batch of holiday mulled wine. Today’s post is one of the holiday wine-pairing series TTG wines and I created using their sustainably produced and organic wines from vineyards around the world. Blessed by cooling mornings and diffused sun rays a few Sundays ago, I seized the chance to head into the woods and capture a simple picnic session with my dearest friend, Odelia.

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Emma and Mags are two lovely, and enthusiastic wine experts behind TTG wines, their eye to source and introduce handcrafted wines at an affordable price has distinguished themselves from others in Singapore. They offer a diverse range of sustainably produced red wines, white wines, rose wines and champagne you can consider for a Christmas gift or simply pair with what you served for every day dinners. Check out these carefully sourced wines under $45 here, and enjoy a 10% discount using my code “Pout10” 😘

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Let’s talk a bit about the RNW Cape Blend. It possesses a faint bouquet of violet and blueberry, combined with elegant oak notes, earthy minerality, leading to an enticing sniff when I’m pouring out. It’s fruity, juicy entry complements with the lusciousness of the pithy orange, and enhanced a prolonged pleasant aftertaste of a mulled wine.

Here are a few tips for brewing your mulled wine:

  • Look out for purely cranberry juice, not those that are mixed with triple berries or pomegranate, they are juices enhanced with artificial sweeteners, meh. If you can’t find cranberry juice, orange juice with pulp works well too.

  • Gently crushed fresh cranberries using the back of a ladle till they “popped” open. This creates an exit for their juices to flow into the wines under a rolling boil later.

  • Using the Jamie-Oliver’s way of kicking off with a syrup base first, pour cranberry juice, followed by orange, cranberries cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark chocolate under medium high heat. Once it starts boiling, pour in red wine and port to cover. Then bring to a rolling boil at medium heat, we do not want to boil off all the alcohol, such a waste!

  • After adding star anise, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, cover the lid to keep the mulled wine from evaporating.

  • Strain the fruits and spices and ladle warm mulled wine in a microwave oven-safe mug to serve. Alternatively, what I’ll do is to cover filtered mulled wine with a beeswax seal and let the cool overnight for a denser flavour.

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The power of mulled wine extends to its unexpected health benefits. There’s certainly no harm indulging it over other sugary cocktails or fortified wines during this festive season. As age is catching up every year, the more we ought to drink responsibly, and sensibly to protect our health.

Here are the benefits of sipping mulled wine:

  • Improves digestion and eases constipation: Too much good food with low intake of fibre this season may cause you a higher chance in experiencing indigestion or constipation. You’re in good hands hun, the presence of cloves in mulled wine may increase gut mobility and improve the digestion power through gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions with their antibacterial, antispasmodic and anaesthetic properties. Whole cloves stimulates digestion with its fibre content, and relieves constipation.

  • Boosts immune system: The mulled wine contains orange, cranberries and cloves, they are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in our bodies and helps to protect our body from oxidative damage by fighting against infections and free radicals. Meanwhile, it prevents us from catching in this cold season. A festive season is also a season prone to sniffles.

  • Decrease the amount of glucose: With cinnamon sticks in the mulled wine, it has shown to lower the level of glucose that enters our bloodstream by 10-29% after savoury, and sugar laden meals at high frequency this season.

  • Reduces chances of having a stroke: Red wine tannins contains resveratrol, which come from the skins of grapes used to make the glowy ruby red liquid. As grape skins are fermented longer in red than white wines, the resveratrol content is higher, and they help to reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and remove chemicals causing blood clots. Hence they say a glass of red a day is good for your heart, but don’t get carried away.

Enjoy this warm winter sangria clutched in your hands and put on Michael Bublé Christmas album on loop mode :D

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This is a collaboration for the holiday season, not a sponsored post. All the words, snd perspectives came from me.

CHRISTMAS TIME MULLED WINE

(Serves 6)

Time: 35 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bottle RNW Cape Blend

  • 375ml fine ruby port, Taylor’s

  • 750ml cranberry juice, Ocean Spray

  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries

  • 1 large heirloom naval orange

  • 10g 70% dark chocolate, Lindt

  • 3 dashes cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 2 star anise

  • 2 tbsp cloves

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

DIRECTIONS

  • Slice away both ends of orange, and slice remaining in five parts. Gently crushed fresh cranberries with the back of a ladle.

  • Pour cranberry juice, fruits, dark chocolate, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon sticks in a medium-sized pot over medium high heat. Bring it to rolling boil for 5 minutes.

  • Turn heat to low, pour red wine, port, and add star anise, cayenne pepper into the pot. Put the lid on, simmer for 30 minutes, till you hear all the cranberries “pop” and softened.

  • Strain solids from the wine, and ladle it into heatproof glasses/ microwave oven safe mugs to serve. Alternatively, leave the pot out to cool overnight, and ladle into air tight glass jars. Refrigerate and store up to 3 days for a richer taste. Reheat in a microwave oven for 2 minutes to serve.

Happy holidays!Xx

-Ally

FORGET ME NOT + CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWER TEA

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Hello rainy Monday! Let’s start this brand new week with a home brew flower tea shall we?

Within this aromatic flower tea mix, I’d combined Chrysanthemum and Myosotis Sylvantica (aka Forget-Me-Not) mainly for the functionality they serve in helping me to combat a bad flu last week.

Chrysanthemum is long known and used for treating respiratory problems in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and Forget-Me-Not is high in Vitamin C and boosts immunity.

Apart from their health properties, the delicate purple bloom is a beauty secret weapon. They support in skin nourishment and said to be an effective skin-whitening agent in lightening dark spots and wrinkles.

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Having a cup of home brewed tea from the flower buds infuses a round-bodied, and appealingly clean flavour as compared to tea bags in my opinion. It is absolutely soul-soothing to drink tea at 3-4pm, when it is time to walk around even if I am sedentary, when I completed my chores, when I return home from a big grocery trip.

For a refreshingly sweet and lively taste preference, pour hot flower tea brew over dried longans and a teaspoon of Chinese wolf berries. They are both great to boost “Qi”, our energy levels in another words. Allow them to steep for a couple of minutes, and you’ll get busy drinking and chewing on these natural sweeteners to perk you up!

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Before I introduce the Myosotis Slyvatica + Chrysanthemum Beauty Tea recipe, I want to share with you about how I learned to have a true, loving relationship with myself by being acutely aware of what I eat currently.

It all started from my journey of self-employment; solely manning this blog and working on food styling jobs at the start of this year. Being my own system, I was preoccupied to getting things done and neglected myself. Even though my working hours are flexible, having irregular meals and poor quality of sleep were the stumbling blocks I have encountered for myself.

When food and sleep were poorly managed, my health paid a price. I was ill for a full week in February. Everything was put on hold and I had to turn down jobs. It was a massive bummer😔

I panicked, and I felt horrible and guilty for not taking responsibility over my health. Essentially, it’s a self-love and time-management problem to fix.

Ever since that mini lesson, I realised I couldn’t sabotage myself again. I started a routine to ensure I eat better at regular timings, and even forced myself to hit slumberland by 11pm.

We are what we eat, and our faces reflect how well we sleep.

If we want to look sharp, radiant, and beautiful from inside out, we ought to eat and drink fresh, natural, diverse foods, and have at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a day. They definitely have an impact on our entire lives, our attitudes, our energy and emotions. Crazy huh? But very true.

With that said, I am going through a self-examination process, learning what foods allow me to perform better, think clearer and what foods to avoid another episode of sickness. Eating more leafy greens, removing red meats to unleash the vital goddess certainly takes a little practice. The more we practice to bring awareness of the foods we eat, the more we will eat intuitively!

After all, it is still a work in progress and I finally know what it means to feel a connection with my body- how to heal myself when it shuts down on me and how to nourish myself. I hope to share with all of you my journey in the upcoming recipes! Leave your comments or any recipe suggestions you’re hoping to learn for your overall well-being!

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Have a lovely week!Xx

-Ally

FORGET ME NOT + CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWER TEA  (1 litre pot of tea)


Brewing time: 8 mins 

INGREDIENTS

  • 5g dried white chrysanthemums (Tai Ju 胎菊)

  • 5g Myosotis Sylvantica (Forget-Me-Not 勿忘我)

  • 2 tsp Chinese wolf berry (goji berries 枸杞子)

  • 4 Thai dried longan flesh(龙眼肉)

  • 1 litre filtered water


DIRECTIONS

  • Boil water and allow it to cool for a minute to around 90-95℃.

  • Pour dried flower buds into the teapot and fill with hot water. Let it steep for 3-5 minutes till the buds bloom.

  • Add 2 longan and 1 tsp Chinese wolf berry into each mug. Pour flower tea mix, and let them steep for another 3 minutes. Enjoy! 

TIPS

  • For iced tea lovers, follow the same brewing directions and add in ice cubes. Always drink tea that is freshly brewed, best within half an hour. Do not leave it sitting around overnight as tea darkens and becomes sour and undrinkable.

  • All the above ingredients are available at Hock Hua Tonic #notsponsored

LAVENDER GRAPE & TONIC | A CALMING MOCKTAIL

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Hey’all, I hope everyone had a restful and splendid weekend. Last Friday I was out with my bride tribe for a TGIF night at the Empire club. It’s been almost two years since I’ve visited a club and stayed awake at 3am.

We danced as if no one’s watching and I conquered a handful of spirits, thanks to how mild every gin & tonic dry the bartender mixed🙄. 7 drinks were all it took to reach my boundaries. I rejected every unwelcoming free drinks and stopped myself from getting hammered because that was never a cool and sensible thing to do.

My pinkish Asian flush, hives and dizziness are the dead giveaways that I am alcohol intolerant. It makes me feel vulnerable, yet embarrassed in a social setting. Hence, I never feel safe drinking more than one glass without people I trust around me. I begin drinking with Ryan at home instead. Home-made mulled wine, sparkling mock-tails, or the Old-Fashioned sum up our drink’s list. If anything happens, the bed or Ryan’s shoulder will be my safety nets, hahaha.

Today, I’ll be sharing with you this Lavender Grape & Tonic, high in fibre, which aids in digestion.

This inventive mock-tail comprises of dried lavender buds, seasonal Campbell Early Grapes from Korea, lime juice and skinny tonic water. Imagine a sparkling red wine. It’s refreshing to drink, and wake up sans hangover!

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After I removed the seeds and blended the flesh, the grape juice is slightly vinous. If you like, crush some dried or fresh lavender buds and stir in with lime juice. Strain the flowers and mix with the dense and sweet-acidic grape juice to counteract the bitterness of qunine in tonic water.

What are Campbell Early Grapes?

The harvesting season for Campbell Early Grapes aka Hwaseong Grapes is typically between September and October. These grapes are nearly round and grow in compact, handsome clusters. Korean grapes contain seeds, but their skin slip off neatly and easily once I pinched them with both my thumbs and index fingers.

Whiffs of sweetness emanated from the early grapes resemble those Japanese grape-flavoured gummies. They tasted uniquely palatable compared to other grapes I ate before and never left my lips tingling after popping in a few.

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What are the benefits of grapes?

  • Grapes contain phytonutrients, they are chemical produced by plants. Phytonutrients provide significant health benefits for individuals on plant-based diets.

  • Grapes are good source of fiber. Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease, according to a 2013 review in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). Our digestive process requires bile acids, which are made partly with cholesterol. As your digestion improves, the liver pulls cholesterol from the blood to create more bile acid, thereby reducing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol. With a sufficient daily fibre intake, it can make a difference to the overall colorectal health. Source: Livescience.com

  • Grapes contain copper and research suggests that copper also helps maintain strong bones. A study in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society explained that copper is essential for enzymes involved in the synthesis of bone components, and could possibly help prevent bone loss.

Should I eat grape skins?

  • Grape skins has the majority of the nutrients and antioxidants, particularly its high reservatrol content. Reservatrol is known for its effects of reducing the risk of heart diseases and anti-inflammatory activities. However, most of grapes are covered with pesticides in the United States, according to Environmental Working Group’s Dirty List, or if they are not organically-grown.

  • For myself, I do wash the grapes thoroughly most of the times before consumption, or purchase organic grapes for my safety. Enjoy grape skin in moderation!

LAVENDER GRAPE & TONIC (serves 2)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 150g Campbell Early Grape (Korea)

  • Juice of 1 large seedless lime

  • 2 sprigs dried lavender buds, available in FairPrice Finest

  • 600ml/3 bottles Skinny Tonic Water (Double Dutch), available in FairPrice Finest

Directions

  • Pull out the lavender buds into a bowl. Use a rolling pin or pestle to crush them roughly.

  • Mix crushed lavender buds into lime juice and let it sit for 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, wash grapes thoroughly and deseed. Add the grapes into a blender and blend until a smooth, deep red juice is formed. The grape skins should also be finely chopped. Strain the juice with a strainer, use the back of a spoon to press on residue to squeeze out excess juice. Set aside.

  • Strain lavender buds. Divide lavender infused lime juice and grape juice between two glass jars. 

  • Pour 300ml/ 1½ bottle of chilled skinny tonic water to each jars. Stir quickly with extra lavender sprigs and serve with ice cubes. 

Notes

  • Choose lavender buds that are fully purple for the best aromatic, calming qualities

  • Put some pressure and roll a large seedless lime on the chopping board to get the most juice out of it.

  • It is optional to keep the skin on if you don’t favour its astringent flavour

  • Chill skinny tonic water an hour before preparation

Enjoy!Xx

-Ally

ENERGISING TURMERIC SHOT

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A golden turmeric shot a day, brings your bounce back to slay!

During my last wellness retreat at Amatara Wellness Resort situated in Phuket, it was an enlightening, and restorative one to remember. Having their crafted turmeric shot every morning before a morning yoga class not only awakes my palate, but also keeps me sharp and focus throughout the day.

I am inspired by Amatara’s strong concept of wellness cuisine, and how they embrace authentic healing foods for optimal nutrition. So once I returned home, I got into the habit of recreating this turmeric shot every morning for that burst of energy.

Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric. It results to a golden-hue, which will instantly stained on anything it comes in contact. Be sure that you are not wearing your favourite nightgown or PJs, while preparing this extremely potent and sweet-earthy concoction. Scrubbing this stubborn stain away may not be the most positive task to kickstart your day.

Despite curcumin’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and its properties to improve digestion and memory, the content in turmeric is not high, around 3% by weight. To boost the absorption of curcumin, I sprinkled a pinch of black pepper to the turmeric shot composition before it is ready to blend.

This nourishing shot is an inexpensive, healing potion that I am hooked on. I hope you’ll give it a shot (pun intended) and let me know your thoughts!

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Tips

  • Designate a glass just for the turmeric shot. You’ll be reusing the stained glass every day anyway.

  • Use a small piece of kitchen paper to hold raw turmeric root while handling it at all times. This is to prevent having yellow fingertips and nails.

  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash, brush your teeth, and scrap your tongue shortly after you take a shot.

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ENERGISING TURMERIC SHOT

Preparation time: 3 minutes

Juicing time: 2 minutes

Ingredients

- 1 thumb fresh turmeric root

- ½ thumb young ginger

- 200ml coconut water

- 1 tsp acacia honey

- 1 tsp lemon juice

- 1 tsp lime juice

- Pinch of cracked black pepper

- Pinch of cayenne pepper

- Pinch of ground turmeric powder (optional)


Directions

- Peel turmeric and ginger skin. Cut them into small chunks.

- Add all ingredients into a juice blender. For a more peppery, pungent kick, sprinkle an extra pinch of cayenne pepper. 

- Blend the mixture for 2 minutes. Serve between two glasses, and take the shot right away. 


Enjoy!Xx

-Ally

ELDERFLOWER & CHERRIES SMOOTHIE

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Rise and shine fellas! I'm stoked to release a series of floral recipes alongside Windflower Florist over the span of three months. Be sure to look out for more alluring, floral recipes! 

Convenience is key to prepare breakfast when we live by racing against time once we get off from bed. Therefore, for the first item of this floral repertoire, I'm serving a light, zingy and filling Elderflower & Cherries Smoothie, perfect for a quick breakfast. Does elderflower remind you of the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's stunning wedding cake? 

I was inspired by the royal wedding and the fragrance of elderflower cordial when I first drank it last Summer in Scotland. It is heavenly😌 

Fixing this smoothie comprising of cherries, frozen bananas, grapefruit, coconut oil and turmeric, you'll be certain that this combination is packed with power antioxidants, and good fats to last you through a long morning.

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Even if you only have 5 minutes every morning to fix a breakfast, you can pit the cherries and slice the grapefruit the night before. Then, put all sliced cherries and grapefruit in a bowl, and cover them with a cling wrap or a plate to prevent them from drying up. 

Blending them up and filling the pink mixture into a see-through tumbler take barely 5 minutes. It's beautiful to hold and drink on the way to work that it makes me happy! (I'm guilty for pretty things, how can you not?)

Alternatively, you can blend the smoothie and store it an airtight mason jar or container overnight to stop it from oxidising. However, do not be alarmed when that rosy pink mixture has browned overnight, it is still nutritious and drinkable. The browning effect is a result of cherries, or any berries added in the smoothies. Shake it up before you drink in the morning. 

Before we start making this smoothie, let's talk about cherries! Cherry is the fruit of this summer harvest. The sweetness of cherries are addictive, and amazingly nutritious to snack. Step into any nearby supermarket, look out for the shelves at the front of the store, you'll never missed containers of cherries on promotion. 

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How to choose cherries?

  • Select cherries that are dark red, firm and glossy on their surface.

  • Dark coloured cherries indicate their ripeness and sweetness. Handpicking them will be ideal instead of buying them in a plastic container. If you're thinking of storing them for more than a week, choose those with a lighter red tone.

How to store cherries?

  • To maintain its best sweetness and condition, refrigerate them in a plastic cover crate, or plastic bag for a week.

Here's some benefits of cherries

  • Reduces belly fat

  • Helps to maintain body's ideal pH balance with its high alkaline content

  • Increases melatonin level which promotes better, beauty sleep and helps cure insomnia

  • Lowers blood sugar level

    • With a low glycemic index of 22, lower than blueberries (54) or strawberries (41). Therefore with a lower GI level, it will not have much impact to increase our blood sugar levels, which make them better for healthy snacking.

  • Slows the aging process, reduces post-exercise muscle pain.

    • Cherries ranked as the highest antioxidant level amongst any fruit. Antioxidants help the body fight the free radicals that make us look old and form a protective layer to reduce muscle damage and pain after strenuous exercises.

  • Boosts hair health

    • Vitamin A,B,C and E are present in cherries. The abundance of vitamins improve blood circulation that results in regenerating of existing hair cells and boosting hair growth, strengthening of hair follicles, and maintains moisture in the hair and scalp.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe, leave a comment below!Hope you enjoy this perk me up smoothie as much as I do! 

Also, to end sign off, here's my summer playlist of soothing beats to get ready every morning! 

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ELDERFLOWER & CHERRIES SMOOTHIE

Serves 1

Time: 10 minutes (including preparation)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp elderflower cordial (Belvoir)

  • 10 cherries

  • 1 grapefruit

  • 2 frozen large Cavendish bananas

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • 1 tsp organic coconut oil (Aunt Patty's)

  • 200ml almond milk (Ecomil)

Directions

  • Peel bananas skin, cut them in quarters and freeze them at least one night before using.

  • Give the cherries a good wash to remove any remaining pesticides. Pluck the stem, take a knife to cut around, give it a twist, and remove the pit.

  • Slice around the grapefruit to remove skin. Remove the pith (white bitter part) of the grapefruit, and cut the remaining into bite sized chunks.

  • Place all ingredients into a blender, and blend for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth.

  • For a thinner consistency, add 2 tbsp almond milk each time and blend again till desired.

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Enjoy!Xx

- Ally

 

  

MERRY CHRISTMAS | SLOW COOKED MULLED WINE

Merry Christmas everyone! Michael Bublé version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was on repeat on my phone as I finished bottling and wrapping two batches of mulled wine earlier. If you're thinking hard about what to prepare for a Christmas potluck or what kind of easy DIY gifts for your loved ones, this mulled wine may fit the bill! 

Speaking of those two batches of mulled wine, they were brewed with the same method but different concoctions due to the availability of the fruits in the supermarket. Brewing slow cooked mulled wine is a tradition to Ryan which he holds dear every Christmas. It all started when he was 18. Aunt Wendy sent a greeting card with a mulled wine recipe attached to it that Christmas. His memory of that recipe was in bits and pieces, what he remembered was that red wine, oranges, cinnamon sticks and cloves served the base of the drink.

With his experimental nature, this guy was toying with the idea of adding more spice, sweetness to dilute the potency of a traditional mulled wine for which his family are non heavy drinkers. In the end, port wine, cayenne pepper, heather honey and cranberry juice were the additional ingredients, none of them was bought from the supermarket with intent. They were the common items in their everyday kitchen. And that marked the beginning of his series of mulled wine journey... 

Every year, the zesty citrus touch and spicy kick remain in the mulled wine, except for this year, he created two versions. One with fresh cranberries and the other one with persimmons and grapes (they were never bought with intent again, we had too much to finish.)  If you fancy a spicy and bitter after taste of the wine, watch the video the above! For those who adore yours to be sweeter, go for the latter version😊 Believe it or not, we are stoked for making our third batch next week when the fridge is quarter filled with mulled wine now, hehehehe....

Wrapping my hands around a cup of warm mulled wine and indulging every sip are suffice to feel a lot like Christmas. The warm balmy liquid trickled smoothly down its way in my throat and sat quietly in my tummy of caramel waffles. Surprisingly, the punch of caramel that made me cringed was washed away with mulled wine. Having it alone or pairing with either sweet treats or savoury cheeses and crackers will not go wrong.

We were inspired to serve a warm, low alcohol content mulled wine for friends and family, allowing them feel the fuzzy glow and drift off to sleep. I called it the "sweet dreams wine"! Oh, it is advisable to drink it several hours before you hit the sack as any booze, disrupts your sleep after you visited slumberland for barely a few hours. We'll be guilty for causing people to wake up feeling groggy and kill the festive mood in an instant😪

What I like about mulled wine is that my Asian flush face hardly makes her appearance and I'm still wide awake, after 2 glasses, though, the giggly self never hides. Also, mulled wine was discovered as a home remedy for my coughs and colds. 

Below are some tips from Ryan to make the perfect home mulled wine:

  • The mulled wine consists of citrus base+ 3 spices + 1 sweet fruit+ 1 juice
    • Orange and lemon won't let you down. Tangerine, blood orange, grapefruit bring a more festive pump.
  • Do not put too much spice in the beginning. Sparingly is the key word and adjust accordingly to your palate. 
  • Avoid boiling the mixture, it will burn off alcohol and affect the taste. Always let it simmer. 
  • Keep in an air tight glass jar, the longer it sits in the refrigerator, the deeper and robust it tastes.

SLOW COOKED MULLED WINE WITH CRANBERRIES

Ingredients (serves 14 cups)

  • 1 orange, in chunks
  • ½ cup cranberries, smashed
  • 2 bottles Cabernet Merlot
  • 240 ml cranberry flavoured grapefruit juice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, break in halves
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons organic raw eucalyptus honey

Directions

  • Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, red wine, dried chilli flakes into a stock pot. 
  • Turn on fire to medium heat and gently add honey and stir slowly till it dissolves. Pour in orange, cranberries and cranberry flavoured grapefruit juice in the mixture. Give it a quick stir and turn down to low heat. Close the lid to let it simmer for 40 minutes. 
  • Turn off the heat and let the mulled wine sit for at least 30 minutes. Put sieve in mulled wine to filter solids before scooping into glasses or airtight glass jars.
  • Once the mulled wine has cooled down further, keep glass jars in the refrigerator. They can be kept for up to three months.
  • Reheat mulled wine before drinking, it is perfect to serve with sweet treats or savoury cheeses and crackers. 

SLOW COOKED MULLED WINE WITH PERSIMMONS AND GRAPES

Ingredients (serves 14 cups)

  • 1 orange, in chunks
  • 2 persimmons, in chunks
  • ½ cup seedless red grapes, in halves 
  • 2 bottles Cabernet Merlot
  • 240 ml cranberry flavoured grapefruit juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, break in halves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons organic raw eucalyptus honey

Directions

  • Add cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon cloves, red wine, cayenne pepper into a stock pot. 
  • Turn on fire to medium heat and gently add honey and stir slowly till it dissolves. Pour in orange, persimmons, grapes and cranberry flavoured grapefruit juice in the mixture. Give it a quick stir and turn down to low heat. Close the lid to let it simmer for 40 minutes. 
  • Turn off the heat and let the mulled wine sit for at least 30 minutes. Put sieve in mulled wine to filter solids before scooping into glasses or airtight glass jars.
  • Once the mulled wine has cooled down further, keep glass jars in the refrigerator. They can be kept for up to three months.
  • Reheat mulled wine before drinking, it is perfect to serve with sweet treats or savoury cheeses and crackers. 

Gifts. Christmas songs. Christmas tree. Fairy lights in the house. All checked! I'm soaking in the joyous mood already, sooooo ready for a week of feasting and catching up with everyone. Once again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!🎄🎁💫

-Ally Xx