Recipes for making the most of your sakana grill* (Japanese fish grill)

How to use your Japanese fish grill (* the sakana grill in case you don’t know is a grill fixture located on the underside of a gas or electric stove. It is a standard feature of most Japanese homes, and is called a fish grill, because it is most commonly used kitchen device for grilling fish, the most common main protein served with rice in the traditional Japanese breakfast. After so many years of living in Japan, I couldn’t survive without it anymore!

The sakana grill grills at 400 degree celsius, the conventional oven at 180 degrees and the frying pan at 220 degrees.
According to BBQ experts, with just a few pointers to avoid burning, the Japanese fish grill produces the best effect in cooking while being the fastest cooking and crisping tool. It also produces superior texture when reheating your tempura food, compared with the microwave oven.

Here’s how you cook a complete meal on a Japanese kitchen grill at one go!

Recipe 1:

Fork holes all over your slice of chicken chop
Add honey and mix well to chicken in a plastic bag (soy sauce, op: garlic flakes/chopped finely)
Lay out in the middle of the grill

Wrap in an aluminium foil, layered inside with a sheet of cookie paper, chopped cabbage, making sure the paper doesn’t emerge from the foil.

Line Zucchini in a row on the side edge of grill and on the opposite edge with sliced Paprika

Grill all in about 4 mins.

An easy complete meal all at one go.


Recipe 2

Section nagaimo potatoes into cyclindrical slices. Sit them on the grill and drizzle some Tomato sauce or ketchup and cheese on top of nagaimo

Lay out a few slices of Tofu blocks (hard frying type) … Drizzle with olive or sesame oil. Salt and pepper or soy sauce to taste

In a sheet of aluminium foil, fold up edges to make a boat for the chopped Avocado, sprinkle salt and pepper. Serve and drizzle with shoyu condiment to taste.

Grill all in about 3 mins.

Recipe 3

On an aluminium foil, lay out cherry tomatoes – and at the same time, in the spare space toast baguette bread topped with cheese.

Grill all for 4 mins.

Mash the cherry potatoes with a fork in glass bowl and add olive oil top with chopped basil, serve on top of boiled somen noodles

Boiled egg in the grill!

Wet fully a sheet of kitchen paper towel, wrap around a raw egg. Then wrap a large sheet of aluminium foil around the egg firecracker (or candy) style, and grill for 4 mins.

This next recipe was prepared by an Italian chef:

Make your pizza dough in the usual way using a regular pizza recipe.

In a small tin tray, line with a sheet of aluminium foil.

Lay or spread out the pizza dough on the sheet of foil to the edges of the tray. Fork holes all over the dough.

Spoon tomato sauce liberally over the spread out dough, and then top with liberal layer of parmesan cheese.

Grill for 3 mins. Open the grill and add blobs of mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, return to grill for 2 1/2 mins

Where is the best spot for laying out the fish for grilling?

Along either sides of the grill, lay the length of the fish across the grill (going northwards of you with you at the center of an imaginary compass) with the head at the furthest corner of the grill, this causes the head portion to grill faster, as the head is generally slower to cook.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Disguised eggplant and eggplant soup recipe that kids will love


Recipe 1

1. Add 75 ml milk to Pancake mix 150 ml to a glass bowl
Add 1egg,
Bacon, chopped
11/2 TBKetchup
3 TB powered Cheese
1/3 tsp Curry spice
All in sequence and mix well

2. Flour lengthwise quartered eggplant (slash diagonals on skin) with katakuriko flour
Skewer and Make a kebab-stick of the the eggplant using bamboo skewers. Should be small ones, so they can sit flat in the frypan (if you are using a frying pan instead of deep fryer)
Add the above pancake mixture to form a patty or sausage-like- shape around the eggplant kebab.
3. Use a paper towel to mop up any excess mixture from your kebab, flour lightly with katakuri flour (this will create a crunchy texture)
4. In a frypan deepfry the kebabs till brown (about 3-4 mins) in oil heated to 180degrees Celcius remove and serve

Serves 4. Lay out Dips: Maple syrup / mustard to taste /Ketchup


Recipe 2

1. Skin the eggplant and cut into thick chunks, microwave

2. Fry onions till transparent, add eggplant
–>Add cubes of raw chicken 100 g
–>Add 2 cups of soymilk
–>2 TB. Cream or more to taste
–>Salt and pepper

3. Put it all to boil gently.
Blend the mixture and serve adter dribbling some olive oil over it.









Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

The living room and command centre of the house

This is my seventh post on house makeover and organization.

Everyone's lounging and congregating space. The living area is a busy space.

Everyone’s lounging and congregating space. The living area is a busy space.

This post is about function, flow interweaving with form and interfaces…and it focuses on managing school scheduling and household documentation and bills and record-keeping.

Today, I tackle my living room to make some changes. In the light of forthcoming major exams, work-from-home and intensive sports tournament scheduling, we needed to streamline the way we communicated as a family to improve efficiency and productivity, as well as to avoid interpersonal friction. This room takes heavy traffic, everybody congregates here and in the adjoining dining area,  several times a day. It also tends to get awfully messy and to become everybody’s dumping ground for clothes, books, homework, empty snack plates etc.


A closet by the door serves to collect all the jackets, caps, gloves, scarves, etc., as people walk through the door.  Being rather small, everybody is allowed one at most two jackets in the closet’s hanging space.

The living room is the nerve and command centre of the home, it is where we share and coordinate information, so we have house rules for the kids…for everyone, which have been negotiated and drafted in consultation with the children. Below are the major areas of central control:

Landphone line and stationery station

Landphone line and stationery station

Around this space, we have our communication board and calendar schedule where major events are marker-penned for all to see, where day-to-day routines of bento, and school schedule are indicated, and a phone contacts and emergency numbers are instantly accessible.

Everybody's calendar schedule

Everybody’s calendar schedule

School bento and activity schedule noticeboard, school letters go straight in there after school

School bento and activity schedule noticeboard, school letters go straight in there after school

And next to our TV and music & media entertainment station, here is our central station for all our communications and social media devices, this is the charging station as well as depository for all electronic devices – phones, smartphones, iPad, iTouch, iPods and DS’ have to be returned by a certain time,  and during the Golden Hour of study time (8-10 pm) is no-screen time.  They also have to be returned here just before bedtime. Blinking lights and social media bleeps are terribly distracting for study concentration, and disturb the formation of deep sleep for our children.

Beside the media station (TV, DVD player, etc) is our social media, mobile phone and game center)

Beside the media station (TV, DVD player, etc) is our social media, mobile phone and game center)

One of the hardest aspects of school life and scheduling to keep under control, is the constant stream of letters and communication from school. The other equally huge minefield is the constant stream of mail and household matters that require our attention such as bills, some urgent, some not, but most require some kind of action or record-keeping.

I like to keep it simple. These “color-box” shelving are the cheapest standard book shelves you can find in any furniture shop. We have been using them since the kids were born, and they are easily adaptable for a great many purposes. We turned them on their side, slotted in baskets. In two of them, we keep vitamins, earbuds, and daily use skin-lotions and medical items (not first aid which is kept separately). School documents are filed in accordion type file folders that cost only a few cents/yen and that fit perfectly into the standard cubby holes, and a nifty black slide-out multiple pocket file-cum-brief document carrier will hold all types of bills and banking documents. Throw out and shred old statements, keeping most current two, and that will keep your filing system portable and manageable. Portability and compactness is also vital for us living here in the event of fire or earthquake disaster. A simple all-purpose basket can hold you latest magazines, start discarding old issues just before it starts to bulge. Accordion folders are useful or stationery such as envelopes, as well as for odds and ends and keepsake cards or souvenirs.

Accordion filing system fits into basket and cubbyhole of bookcase

Accordion filing system (perfect for school communication, notes and schedules, contact numbers) fits into basket-drawer and cubbyhole of bookcase

Left: household management notes folder with pockets and tab dividers. Right: Slide-out multiple pocket-system in a black document carrier.

Left: household management notes folder with pockets and tab dividers. Right: Slide-out multiple pocket-system in a black document carrier.

The document carrier, house-management-foler fit into the drawer

The document carrier, house-management-foler fit into the drawer

Our set-up is now more efficient, serious and work-and-activity-oriented in the light of our high schooler’s college-going goals, but most of our ideas can easily be adapted for any family’s goals and purposes.

Finally, I decided to remove the fussy, lace curtains, to let in more light into living area, and to remind us that we have a view and that there is a world outside to be explored.




Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

My girl’s bedroom – reorganization

imageimage My twelve year old’s room organizes itself. This is ‘cuz DD has always been hands on with her own room, and hands off to Mum. And she does a nifty job, it is up for the prize of nicest room in the house, even though it is the smallest.

She threw out a whole lot of stuffed toys and kept only these...

She threw out a whole lot of stuffed toys and kept only these…

DD re-arranged her books and study-table, she likes it busy, but unlike me she has a near photographic memory and remembers where everything is and what’s in each drawer. Above is what’s left of her stuffed collection, others washed and off to charity shops (see below)



So the re-organizing job here is all done by DD herself, which really makes my job super-easy! She’s always been this way, self-organizing. On her very first day of school, she wouldn’t let herself out the door, till she had packed and repacked her schoolbag ten times!

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Dream-space makeover

I admit to being a real sloth in my bedroom, I don’t do any housework in this room except for changing and washing the sheets and linen often. More often than not, the moment my head touches the pillow, I’m out like a light.

Aiming for a restful but happy dream haven

Aiming for a restful but happy dream haven

For the Japanese, a good energy and a good start to the day begins in the kitchen, so the kitchen should be spick and span to start day off on a good footing.

But according to the “Perfect Housewife” Anthea Turner, leaving the bedroom with the bed done and the room neat sets the right tone for the day. Well that won’t work for me, for one thing, I rise at five in the morning when hubby is still a sleeping log in bed, and I traipse downstairs in a zombie state with eyes half closed. My only goal is to get the breakfast out on the table and two bento lunchboxes out for the kids. No amount of persuasion is going to get me to do my beds on top of those goals.

I bought new sunny cushions to match the blanket covers, and that was it. No fussy bedfooters for me, because I like to vacuum under the beds to make sure I get all the dust. Keep the bedroom simple and uncluttered. Cleaning takes all of 5 mins of vacuuming or floor-mopping…and the once-a-month wipe down of windows and blinds.

The Laundry on wet rainy days gets taken into this room from the bedroom balcony, so it can get messy, all the more important to keep the room clear all the time.

Bedroom mission accomplished, next goal, the kids’ bedrooms.

P.S. Dear hubby of mine promises to build me a headboard for the bed, but the bed will have to do as it is for now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Library makeover

I have to make a start in the library-study. This room drives me nuts…this is a room I have been dreading because it involves the throwing out books – but it has to be done. My son has university entrance exams in half a year, and it takes hours to find a single title because this room is too disorganized. I have let it go for way too long. Our library-study is just bursting at the seams, and you can’t get in without stepping on books or pushing over piles of books, so here goes my best efforts. I start by removing every book wiping down the shelf and replacing books sorted.


Books can kill … in this country they can become lethal weapons. Yep, when an earthquake hits, we all run out of this room. The chandelier shakes, big fat books could come falling from the top shelves and give you the whack on the head that could be your undoing. During the 3/11 Fukushima disaster, the study lamp and white board crashed to the floor giving me a fright. So top shelves have to be secured, or stuffed so full they don’t budge.

Top shelves secured with string

Top shelves secured with string

Next task … to carve out a cozy study nook.

Oops, just noticed … I ought to fix up those loose wires under the PC!
And as always, the piece de resistance…is the window dressing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

The dish ran away with the spoon … so we need crock solutions

That’s how it sometimes feels like when the stored crockery and cutlery are in disarray…and it can be an embarrassing affair when you are entertaining, to be missing a dessert spoon or saucer. So I learnt to find them all a special home. I also learnt how to stack my teacups and saucers, Martha Stewart-style. image

It also pays to make a date to remove old shelving paper, replace them with new ones, wash and wipe down all the dishes, plates and teacups… image

A butch cupboard with transparent glass makes you want to display your stuff in style, and to take care of your sets, since multiples always look better.

Cutlery, spoons, forks and knives can be wheeled out in this butler-on-wheels, along with seasonings, and special dish for that special person, adding a touch of resort luxury style!

Cutlery, spoons, forks and knives can be wheeled out in this butler-on-wheels, along with seasonings, and special dish for that special person, adding a touch of resort luxury style!

But what do you do with all the rarely used crockery, or odds-and-ends, or eyesore items that you want to keep out of sight? Well, you keep them sorted, but out of sight.

Wineglasses are specially kept in a dedicated case bubble-wrapped

Wineglasses are specially kept in a dedicated case bubble-wrapped 300¥ Case


The great frequency with which earthquakes happen, it makes sense to keep wineglasses tucked away in protection. I stapled bubblewrap to cardboard partitions to separate the wineglasses, and then wrapped one large sheet of bubblewrap around all the glasses to create a nest.  The two makeshift yellow floral print cases cost about 300 ¥ each only.

Other stuff that went into storage…the odd party salad bowl…ice-shaving-maker..

. imageimageimageimageimageimage

The cleaning cloths, cleansers and gloves all need a proper dedicated home too…these are used daily.

imageimageimageimage Underfoot deep storage is used to store emergency water and the home-pickled bottles with red lids.

Underfoot small cellar stores water rations

Underfoot small cellar stores water rations

With the kitchen appliances and countertop and all surfaces given a good cleanup, the makeover is almost complete.


The finishing touch is dressing the window. A cozy window makes washing up more fun, well..less of a chore anyway, and a few decorative touches make the home look cared for and thought about.

Before: messy mug collection line the sill

Before: messy mug collection line the sill

After: Cat themed pieces decorate the sill

After: Cat themed pieces decorate the sill

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Task Three – Storage’s the thing

Having all the storage space in the world ain’t no good if it ain’t organized, and you can’t find nuthin’.  Forgotten food that gets old and has to be tossed, is money wasted. So task three in the kitchen is to get the pantry sorted and food labelled.

My twelve year-old got into the act and helped me do the labels…

Labels save time searching for what you need and keep things tidy

Labels save time searching for what you need and keep things tidy

A pull-out shelf-on-rollers is a nifty and convenient hing to have…

Pullout comdiment-shelving beside the stove is one of the most convenient forms of storage

Pullout comdiment-shelving beside the stove is one of the most convenient forms of storage

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Kitchen makeover – Task Two – addressing the Bento Bane

Today, the big job for me is the re-organization of the drawers…especially the bento- and tupperware drawers.


Bento-making uses stuff that come in tiny parts, different shapes and sizes and materials, and are apt to get lost and to look real untidy, so they have to be classed according to function or stages of bento prep, and in receptacles of the same type to create the illusion of a unifying theme of color, texture or shape.


Now they are finally all in one cupboard top to bottom, above and below the microwave oven used for defrosting food before bento making. Lost tupper-lids have found their mates. All in one place. Nice.
Above: utensils organized according to cutting and chopping implements, measuring tools and bowls.

Kitchen utensils and tools have to be within easy reach. I just realized this: the first time you organize the kitchen, if you are the primer user, you need to be the one to organize it, to rationalize and streamline where things go. Or it usually doesn’t work.

When I first got married, my husband organized the kitchen – that was because he worked in an Italian kitchen for several years, and considered the kitchen and cooking his favourite domain and past-time.

But the system was a pain for me for too long. Not only did I have to learn and memorize where things were kept, my style of cooking differed from his, and daily bento-making was my priority, so the kitchen just didn’t work for me… I found myself traipsing in trails from different cupboards, shelves, drawers in a haphazard way all over the kitchen most of the time.

And forget model kitchens, they’re not always practical, which model kitchen or magazine features all the non-matching nitty-gritty utensils and containers you need for bento-making”???  You ned to think of your busiest routine day and retrace your tasks, path from storage to worktop counter…and store your items accordingly to nix unnecessary movement.

For example, it only needed a little tweak like switching the breadmaker with the waterpot, but it saved a whole lot of extra-walking and time on busy mornings, besides avoiding people bumping into each other trying to get past each other in all the wrong stations.

Now, since the breadmachine is now beside the baskets where the breadmixes, cereal and napkins and coasters are kept, while the hotwater is right next to the tea and coffee, which makes a whole lot more sense than before, and it looks nicer having a proper breakfast, and coffee-and-tea-station.

A tea and coffee station at last!

A tea and coffee station at last!

All things bread related

All things bread related

Now that all the utensils have been washed, dried and re-arranged and proper homes found for them, the kitchen is in half-working order.

The next step will be to organize the crockery, baking ware, teacups, and then the larder….work for another day. Stay tuned.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Seven-Year-Household-Itch: Time for reorganization


Goal: A sanitized fridge and easier navigation and efficient use of kitchen

Goal: A sanitized fridge and easier navigation and efficient use of kitchen

I’ve got the seven-year itch. An itch to shake things up in the household department. We’ve had our own home for seven years now and it’s time to take stock of things, reorganize our living spaces, and shake up the dust, before we get too comfortable, old and crusty. It feels like the nesting instinct and no, I’m not pregnant.

A periodic shakeup in any area of our life is healthy…even if it’s only in the form of the re-organization of the household.

Research shows student academic performance and worker productivity and general well-being can improve measurably with a redesign of our living, working and studying spaces, so this is an experiment towards the same end.

Japanese “Super Housewives” recommend beginning in the kitchen, the Stomach-Gut of the Home being sort of a Fountain or Dispenser of Well-being of the Home.

So here goes, a photo essay of my re-organization efforts, as it goes.

1. Beginning with the fridge, gave it a good wash, inside and out, removing shelves, drawers and ice-box too.

2. Instituted a Golden Zone, where all soon-to-expire items are placed.

3. Use see-through receptacles for like items like jam jars and mustard. Just pull-down and remove.


Dispenser of well-being, the Fridge

Dispenser of well-being, the Fridge

Wipe up spills on the handle-bar, organize dressing and condiments bottles, milk, etc.

The handle-bar niche is always caked with dried up spilt milk, juices or soy sauce.

The handle-bar niche is always caked with dried up spilt milk, juices or soy sauce.

Freezers need cleanouts too. Resealable ziplocks make light work of cleaning

Freezers need cleanouts too. Resealable ziplocks make light work of cleaning

Don’t forget the top of the fridge too. Eeek, layers of dust. Learnt years ago what a pain it is to wipe off oily surfaces in the kitchen, so I now layer the roof of the fridge with newspaper (nobody looks there anyway) and just chuck the papers out and replace them with fresh sheets.


Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

NHK ASAICHI stain removal tips

These tips by the Super Housewives’ Tomokai Friendship Circle were featured on NHK TV this morning. Decade-old yellowed shirts looked impressively newer than new shirts after treatment in the show.

Taking notes for myself, and for posterity:


Getting rid of food stains – use dish detergent

Gum – put ice on top to stiffen gum, then peel off

Blood stained items (and stains by organic fluids) – use grated daikon (daikon oroshi) rub directly onto the stain or spot.

Foundation, makeup – wet a rolled-up and tied with a rubber band handtowel, hit the stain/spot, pound the stained area


Dull blackened socks and other yellowed clothing items

White shirt – make a paste of purin sekkin 50g with 500 ml water, roll up microfiber cloth and pound on the neck or othee stains, then wipe off, use also on white socks. And use also on gas stove stains

Fill a Spray bottle of PVA purinjo senzai. Treat spots by spraying directly onto the spot. From 100 yen shop purinjo solution. Coat stained section, wash in the washing machine as usual

Additional effective washing tips

Use a large net for each person’s clothes, clothes that get entangled leave stained spots in trapped clothes untreated.

Yellowed underwear

“Te-iron” (hand iron) method:
(After washing as above) – fold wet yellowed shitagi undershirts and other underwear- fold sleeves and shirt into quarter and slap and pound to remove wrinkles, then hang to dry

Pillow-covers “otou no niyoyi” can be classified into four thpes of smells – sweaty, oily, dusty, green usui-ame (slightly sickly sweet)
Kareishu occurs in men in their forties onwards.
Method: Use sekisui soda (it contains natrium) For stubborn smells, use quensan (citric acid) after first sekisui soda wash. Quensan is most powerful there is for oil and smells.

Coffee and tea stains
Fill a basin with 40 degree C. water. Place stained clothing item in the lukewarm water, pour sekisui soda directly all over the water, the warm water will remove about half of stains, and the soda the rest. This works for textile color that washed off from colored clothing items.

For the most effective treatment of stubborn stains, use:

Katansan natrium. Add katansan natrium to a basin of lukewarm water water, and dilute with water in a basin with the clothing item in it, wash gently.

Washing the washing machine

In warm water with katan-san natrium soda, wash the washing machine in one cycle, the dirt that has been stuck in the washer will surface with the washwater.

Washing white shirts

Items needed: Nylon net and wooden scrubbing washboard.
Scrub the collar using the “nylon net” wool stocking cloth.
Turn the shirt pocket inside out, use a toothbrush and scrub out the lint
In a washing machine wash white shirt for 3 minutes before other other load. Remove while soaking wet and hang to dry immediately. This is called daraboshi method.

Frequent daily household work clothes, and summer “one-piece” dresses:

Hang sweaty daily-use one-piece clothes on shower rails and shower sweat off the clothes, then quickly hang to drio dry.

Missed the suggested treatment for ballpen stains ….
Ballpen – will have to get back to this one later.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Recipe for Eggs Benedict

In a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt, on medium heat crack and drop an egg from a ladle gently into the pot of boiling water.

Do the same for another egg, drop it in gently wihout touching other egg.

Lower heat and cook eggs for 4- 5 mins. Lift eggs and pkace on paper towels to drain eggs.

Toast two halves of muffin bread and serve eggs benedict on top of bread and with or bacon and washed and torn into bite-size lettuce leaves on the side.

Alternative recipe


Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil (at least 2 litres) and add the vinegar. Break the eggs into 4 separate coffee cups or ramekins. Split the muffins, toast them and warm some plates.
Swirl the vinegared water briskly to form a vortex and slide in an egg. It will curl round and set to a neat round shape. Cook for 2-3 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Repeat with the other eggs, one at a time, re-swirling the water as you slide in the eggs. Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of ham on top, then top with an egg. Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, September 2005

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Quickie breakfasts

Sprinkle pork well with Roasted panko add salt, garlic, egg

Wrap pork around Avocado and tomato and fry

Alternatively, use Takenoko bamboo shoots ingen French peas

Onion soup

Sliced carrots, lettuce, boiled snappeas, strawberries, parmesan

Sliced cabbage beside pork cutlets.

580 cal


German breakfast

White wine over chicken to remove semll. Salt and peopper the chicken

Slice potato, maitake, carrots, red and green bell peppers into chunks

Heat olive oil, garlic in a pan, add bacon chopped slices, when fragrant, add chicken then add green bell piman peppers, next other veggies.
Lastly, salt and pepper again
240 cal.

Fry in olive oil, eggplant and lotus root, salt pepper.

Boil Eggplant or zucchini.
Mix Canned tuna, add chopped onions, mayonnaise, miso, salt and pepper and aoijiso mint chopped finely. *** secret umami ingredient aoijiso. Combine all
Pop zucchini mixture in oven toaster

















Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Recipe for homemade Chinese breakfast






















Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Preventing MCI and early onset of dementia – start prevention in your forties

Today’s Asaichi NHK TV programme highlighted the topic of MCI and suggested strategies for its prevention. According to the doctors, MCI starts manifesting from age forties, and we should take steps to be aware of the symptoms and to prevent MCI decline and descent into dementia. Japan has the largest (one of the largest) numbers of seniors and centenarians in the world, and this area of research is in a relatively advanced stage compared to the rest of the world.

What is MCI?


Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills. A person with MCI is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Experts classify mild cognitive impairment based on the thinking skills affected:

MCI that primarily affects memory is known as “amnestic MCI.” A person may start to forget important information that he or she would previously have recalled easily, such as appointments, conversations or recent events.

MCI that affects thinking skills other than memory is known as “nonamnestic MCI.” Thinking skills that may be affected include the ability to make sound decisions, judge the time or sequence of steps needed to complete a complex task, or visual perception.

MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia, but with preventative measures taken early enough, some people may never develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.

In diagnosing MCI, the first 6 items are your top clues of the onset of MCI, according to the Asaichi programme:

  • However many times someone repeats an instruction or something to you, you seem to forget it (no.1)
  • Forgetting your promises made to someone, and insisting otherwise when reminded (no. 2)
  • Inability to recall recent events (no. 3)
  • Forgetting to relay phone messages to family members or other people (no. 4)
  • Forgetting umbrellas, glasses, keys, but an important clue is losing especially large or important items ( no. 5)
  • Not being able to remember how to take your medicine (no. 6)
  • Forgetting where commonly placed things are in your home
  • Forgetting faces and places introduced
  • Confusion over time and spatial locational challenges
  • Verbal confusion in mid-sentence

If you manifest one of more of the above symptoms, you probably have nothing to worry about, beyond that, you should start exercising preventative measures to avoid further decline of your cognitive faculties. If you are manifesting all of the above symptoms, you should have yourself checked at a specialist clinic and possibly have a brain scan.

I’ve found more info at the Alzheimer’s website:


One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over, Increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. remider notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.


Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.


People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.


People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.


For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Vision changes related to cataracts.


People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.


A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.


People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making a bad decision once in a while.


A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.


The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

According to Asaichi, the key impact areas upon our lives are:

Loss of key “kuku-kaka” (mnemonic aid) areas show up  dangers, esp. :

Ku-suri – MEDICINE admin. dangers
Ku-ruma – CAR control dangers…need to stop driving altogether
Kane – Money control, administration)
Kaji (disaster causation … Forgetting to turn off the firestove, gas heaters, etc., and to lock the door)

(can you recall all the 4 Ks ???)

According to Japanese research, some effective strategies to prevent MCI deterioration of cognitive faculties and dementia include the following:

  • Keep a 2-day diary recording all events up till 2 days ago without aids or others’ assistance. Record mistakes made too.
  • Walking strategies, increase stride and pick up heels by 5cm – This is expected to increase substances that promote the growth of nerve cells due to slightly challenging aerobics exercise. Increase walking activities or take up vigorous aerobic heart-pumping exercise for at least 5 min daily (exercise increases blood pumped to your heart but the blood also nourishes the brain)
  • Step aerobics, dance or other exercise all the while thinking, introducing new elements just before consolidating old memories
  • Practise Memory Recall Games – try to recall 10 items (average proper functioning capability, you should be able to recall around 8-10 items). At one experimental centre, an effective strategy with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients was to have patients look at and repeat and recall the random sequence of color-coded color charts. (This is very similar to Dr Shichida’s method of training children in perfect recall and retrieval and especially their Mandala colour-coded geometric charts)


Mild cognitive impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function. Because the changes caused by MCI are not severe enough to affect daily life, a person with MCI does not meet diagnostic guidelines for dementia.

Learn more:


Mild cognitive impairment is a “clinical” diagnosis representing a doctor’s best professional judgment about the reason for a person’s symptoms.

Early diagnosis is essential according to the TV programme, it is best to prepare yourself as well as family members for the eventuality that one descends into dementia or Alzheimer’s. See:
A medical workup for MCI includes the following core elements:

Thorough medical history, where the physician documents current symptoms, previous illnesses and medical conditions, and any family history of significant memory problems or dementia

Assessment of independent function and daily activities, which focuses on any changes from a person’s usual level of function

Input from a family member or trusted friend to provide additional perspective on how function may have changed

Assessment of mental status using brief tests designed to evaluate memory, planning, judgment, ability to understand visual information and other key thinking skills

In-office neurological examination to assess the function of nerves and reflexes, movement, coordination, balance and senses

Evaluation of mood to detect depression; symptoms may include problems with memory or feeling “foggy”

Laboratory tests including blood tests and imaging of the brain’s structure

If the workup doesn’t create a clear clinical picture, the doctor may recommend neuropsychological testing, which involves a series of written or computerized tests to evaluate specific thinking skills.


The causes of mild cognitive impairment are not yet completely understood. Experts believe that many cases result from brain changes occurring in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The risk factors most strongly linked to MCI are the same as those for dementia: advancing age, family history of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and conditions that raise risk for cardiovascular disease.


No medications are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild cognitive impairment. Drugs approved to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease have not shown any lasting benefit in delaying or preventing progression of MCI to dementia. See above…plus:

Coping Strategies:

  • Exercise on a regular basis to benefit your heart and blood vessels, including those that nourish your brain
  • Control cardiovascular risk factors to protect your heart and blood vessels, including those that support brain function
  • Participate in mentally stimulating and socially engaging activities

MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia, but some people with MCI never get worse. Others with MCI later have test results that return to normal for their age and education. Experts recommend that a person disgnosed with MCI be re-evaluated every six months to determine if symptoms are staying the same, improving or growing worse.

Researchers hope to increase the power to predict MCI outcomes by developing new diagnostic tools to identify and measure underlying brain changes linked to specific types of dementia.

The above information is based on today’s broadcast NHK TV Asaichi programme    <“もの忘れ”が気になるあなたへ 最新!認知症対策> URL: as well as the Alzheimer Association Alz.Org. Webpages URLs: and

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Try the easiest no-fuss roast potatoes today


Balsamic-glazed potatoes

All you need to is combine the following ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop it in the oven!

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
8 garlic cloves, smashed
5 sprigs thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In an 8-inch square baking dish, combine potatoes, broth, vinegar, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Bake until potatoes are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 1 1/4 hours, tossing twice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

How to adapt to hot bath temperatures, and how hot should baths really be?

Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

Onsen, Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

The onsen baths in Japan are usually between 38 degrees to 42 degrees Celsius, adults here like temperatures in the forties, with usually only one or two with temperatures around 38 to 39 for children or those with weaker constitutions. Our home bath is automatically set to run at the press of a button at forty-two degrees Celsius. These hotbaths used to be excruciatingly painful for me initially when I first settled in Japan. Onsens were not relaxing affairs at all. Eventually, I learnt a way to cope and adapt. I found that by thinking and being preoccupied in thought about something other than the bath as I plopped inside the bath fullon, My body would get used to the water temperature in something like 5 seconds. Sort of like the reverse of plunging into a cold swimming pool. More than a decade after living in Japan, I am today totally at home with a forty-two degree bath, and look forward to onsen spas as relaxing social events with my daughter or mother-in-law.


Research, however, while showing numerous benefits of hot baths, has also shown though that hotbaths can be dangerous for those with heart conditions. Well, I can testify to that. My mother-in-law found her mother-in-law dead of a heart attack in her tub with a forty-two degree bathwater. She was a few days shy of her eighty-eighth birthday.

According to this news article posted below, around thirty-five degrees is optimum for health, so I am going to bear this in mind as we age…


The good bath guide
by PAT HAGAN, Evening Standard

It’s been a long, hard day at the office and your feet are killing you.

As soon as you get home, the first thing you want to do is run yourself a soothing, hot bath.

Now, the latest research shows that baths are not only great for unwinding and soaking away the stresses of the day, they can also play an important role in boosting your immune system, help skin conditions like eczema and even alleviate serious medical disorders.

One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that diabetics who spent just half an hour in a hot tub could reduce their blood sugar levels by around 13 per cent – as the heat dilated their blood vessels, blood-flow improved and the body made better use of its insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar into energy.

A separate Japanese study showed that 10 minutes in a warm bath improved cardiovascular health in elderly men and women, helping them to cope better in exercise tests and reducing pain.

Previous research had suggested that hot baths could be dangerous for heart disease patients, because they temporarily increase blood pressure.

Now a new book, 48 Hours to a Healthier Life, claims baths can be used as a simple-form of hydrotherapy to keep the body in mint condition and reduce the risk of illness.

‘I heartily recommend bathing,’ says the book’s author, Suzi Grant, a member of the British Association of Nutritional Therapists.

‘It can prevent colds and viruses, reduce stress, improve sleep, strengthen blood circulation, boost the immune system and detoxify the body.’

So what’s the best bath for you and how long should you spend in it? Find out with our guide below.


Warm baths – 90-95F or 32-35C – open the pores and encourage sweating, which helps to release toxins. They are good for mild detoxing and slight colds. Warm baths can also help lower blood sugar levels, relieve painful joints and muscles, and help to keep your bowels working properly.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.


If you’re really stressed out, a cold bath can be the perfect answer – but they’re only for the very brave and those in robust health. The temperature needs to be 55-65F, or 12-18C, says Grant. ‘Cold baths are fantastic if you’re full of tension. They do the opposite of hot baths as they thin the blood and increase blood sugar levels.’
Soak time: a quick dip – between six and 30 seconds at the most.


For skin conditions such as eczema, hives or rashes, adding some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath can make a big difference. It acts as a mild antiseptic, {3}opens the pores and relieves itching and skin irritation. Fill the bath with lukewarm water, add about a pound of baking soda and mix well.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.


Yeast infections such as thrush can be helped by adding three or four cups of cider vinegar, preferably organic, to your bath. It’s also very good for detoxifying the body, according to Grant, as the vinegar helps to restore its acid/alkaline balance. Add to a full bath of warm water.
Soak time: 15-20 minutes.


Sprinkle 3-5lb of sea salt into the water and mix in well for a thoroughly relaxing bath. The cooler the water and the shorter the time spent in the bath, the more it acts as a tonic, says Grant.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.

Colds and headaches

Hot foot baths can help with colds and headaches as well as refreshing tired feet. Pour enough hot water into the bath or a bowl to cover your feet and ankles and add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, thyme or lemon. Finish by rinsing your feet with cold water.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.


“A cold foot bath is absolutely brilliant if you’re insomniac or just sometimes have trouble sleeping,” says Grant. Soak your feet until they start to feel uncomfortably cold. This treatment is also useful for constipation, nose bleeds, tired feet and colds.
Soak time: as long as you can bear.


Try alternating between hot and cold foot baths if you suffer from circulatory problems or varicose veins. Start by soaking your feet for one to two minutes in hot water, followed by 30 seconds in cold. Keep alternating between the two for 15 minutes, finishing with cold water.
Soak time: 15 minutes.

48 Hours to a Healthier Life is published by Penguin, price £6.99.

Share or comment on this article
by TaboolaSponsored ContentFROM THE WEB

Top 19 Celebrities Before And After Plastic Surgery

Get Rid Of Cellulite Forever (Naturally)

Celebs as Average Joes, LOL!

GRAPHIC CONTENT: Mom beats daughter for Facebook pics

Self-styled Instagram king throws a NAKED porn star off a…

Father offers a lit cigarette to his TODDLER who then SMOKES…

Seflie boy kicked in head by train conductor

Ross Barkley smashes in a BEAUTY in England training

Football spectators spooked by stadium ghost

Moment woman is forced to withdraw cash at knifepoint

Fishermen get shock when GREAT WHITE gnaws on their boat

Frightening moment home-made gas-powered car exploded

The heartbreaking explanation of Stephen’s Story

Adorable dad finds out he’s going to be a grandpa

Mother posts graphic video of daughter breaking both feet in…
Ads by Google
Viral Research Reagents
Proteins,Antibodies,Kits,cDNA Leading Reagent Developer Worldwide
片頭痛は様々な要因で起こります 片頭痛を抑えて心地よい一日を!
アトピー肌で悩むお子様にも優しい。 娘の肌がここまで潤っているのは初めて!
サントリーのカルシウム&マグネシウム キシロオリゴ糖配合で吸収もサポート
Comments (0)
Share what you think
No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.
We are no longer accepting comments on this article.
Who is this week’s top commenter? Find out now
Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Megaquake more likely now than ever? Oh dear

Slow-motion tremors make Tokyo megaquake more likely

14:00 16 April 2014 by Jeff Hecht
The people of Tokyo have long lived in fear of another great earthquake, and those fears are increasingly justified. Slow-motion earthquakes have become more common beneath the city in the last few years, causing tectonic stresses to build up. The after-effects of the 2011 Tōhoku megaquake are also prodding the area in the direction of a big quake, but seismologists cannot predict when it might occur, nor which part of the region’s complex fault system will break.

Shinzaburo Ozawa of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan in Tsukuba used GPS sensors to track the surface motion of the Bōsō peninsula, the eastern side of Tokyo Bay. Between 28 December 2013 and 10 January 2014, he detected centimetre-scale shifts. These were caused by two tectonic plates, kilometres below the surface, slipping by about 10 centimetres. The motion released as much energy as a magnitude-6.5 earthquake, but it caused no damage because it was spread over two weeks.

Seismographs do not record such slow slips, so they went unnoticed until GPS came along, says Heidi Houston of the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the research.

The concern is that the slow-slip quakes seem to be coming more frequently, a sign of increasing tectonic stress in the region. The latest slip came only 2.2 years after the previous one, a month-long slip in October and November 2011. The first slips detected, beginning in 1996, were 6.4 years apart.

The earlier-than-expected Bōsō slip is a reminder that “it is essential to keep a close eye on the deformation and seismicity in this region,” says Roland Burgmann of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study.

Shifting plates

Ozawa’s research adds to the evidence that a big Tokyo quake is on the way. After the 2011 Tōhoku quake, seismicity in the Tokyo area initially jumped tenfold, then levelled off at three times the earlier rate.

Based on that increase, a study last year estimated a 17 per cent probability of a large shock under Tokyo between March 2013 and March 2018. That is two-and-a-half-times higher than if the Tōhoku quake had not happened (Geophysical Research Letters,

The events after the Tōhoku quake have “completely rearranged the whole system in north-east Japan”, says Burgmann. “They definitely point to the very complicated area around Tokyo becoming a zone of greater hazard.”

Four tectonic plates meet in the Tokyo area, and as a result it has suffered several quakes above magnitude 7 in the past four centuries. The largest in the past 1000 years was the Genroku quake, estimated to have been magnitude 8.2, that killed 2300 people on 31 December 1703 and produced a tsunami that killed several thousand more.

However, the deadliest was the magnitude-7.9 Great Kantō earthquake of 1 September 1923 (pictured, above right), which killed 100,000 people – with some help from a typhoon. Since 1960, 1 September has been Disaster Prevention Day across Japan.

Journal reference: Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060072
If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.


Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Day one – kitchen clearout bootcamp

Goal: To achieve the luxurious feeling of being served by a butler, and/ having breakfast at a resort!

BEFORE photos

I had to make room, so started by throwing stuff out of four cutlery and bento drawers, and two utensil drawers, followed by shelves of a steel rack.


Because I had my cutlery in so many different places, to re-organize them I ended up clearing out and throwing out the contents of eight drawers, and two cupboards. Here are the AFTER PHOTOS Below…


imageimageimageimageimageMoved the mugs from the window sill to the bottom shelf where the cutlery had been formerly.imageimageBreadmaker, tea caddies, coffee on shelves 1-3 and cleaning sheets kitchen roll and bento bags on the lowest shelf.

FINALLY, I bought a “butler wagon” for under 3000 yen, got rid of cutlery drawers altogether, they will now be wheeled out by the “butler” at every meal to the table! I have wanted one for a very long time…tadaaaa….


Do you like the arrangement A above or B below? Cutlery on top of trolley, in the middle basket are jam, honey, parmesan, and in the bottom basket are nori and furikake toppings for Japanese dishes.


Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

My winter mums







Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

A surprising corner of Machida city, Tokyo



Swear for the moment there I thought I had walked through a travel portal transporting me to Rome or Florence

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Winter potting options





Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth


Was really glad today that I ‘d brought in my kitchen garden this winter, so I had some cilantro on hand for the chawanmushi I made for dinner.

passed the taste test,  but failed on the “looks” end, as egg custard did not come out totally smooth. I have made this many times,  and by now I have figured that a number of  points are to be noted if you want a beautiful chawanmushi dish..

a. Remember the 3:1 DashI stock to 1 egg proportion

b. Remember to strain, for smooth mixture

c. Remember to mix egg into dashi stock, NOT whip because you don’t want to introduce bubble air

d. Remember to wrap each receptacle you use

e. Remember to steam on medium low heat NOT high heat

f. Don’t over cook!

NOT as easy as it looks …is it?

Miss these points, and you’ll likely end up with pock-marked “eggy” looking mixture, that will fail the custard  appearance test.

Chawan Mushi Recipe adapted from

2 cups of dashi
3 large eggs
8 large cooked prawns (I shelled, de-viened and boiled them gently until cooked)
4 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and very thinly sliced
1 green onion cut into matchsticks

In a medium bowl, using chopsticks, very gently stir the eggs until blended, without incorporating too much air. Stir in the dashi, then strain the mixture into a measuring cup.

Divide the egg mixture between 4 shallow 1-cup bowls and wrap each bowl in plastic. Preheat a steamer. Add the bowls to the steamer and turn the heat down to medium low. The water should be at a gentle simmer. Steam for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Immediately transfer the bowls to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Unwrap the custards. Top with the prawns, shiitakes and green onions and serve.


Source of recipe: momofor site


Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Easy natural lipcare and repair

Apply Vaseline first thing in the morning and at night

Before applying a layer of Vaseline, apply with brush lipcolor or lipstick mixing well onto VaseLine layer

To remove lipstick, apply olive oil.

Chapped lips will recover after three days

For a natural cheap lipspa:

Apply a layer of Vaseline, and then a liberal application of honey over it, and saranwrap over and take a nap or  remove after 5 to 10 minutes

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

For the love of a golden pear …

Our pears are now almost ripe for the picking …

photo (59)

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite nursery rhymes was “I had a Little Nut Tree” which bore “a silver nutmeg and a golden pear” and so I now grow pear trees in my garden. The rhyme, in case you’ve forgotten, goes like this (for origin and history, see this page):

I had a Little Nut Tree
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

This is, by the way, what the pear trees looked like in spring, they are quite lovely, though not colourful… I grow both the Asian and the European pear espaliered against our fence. So you see …you never know the kind of fruit, the kind of nursery rhymes you read your kids will bear …

Pears in flower

Pear trees in flower

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Mum’s tropical garden

There are almost always bananas in Mom's garden

There are almost always bananas in Mom’s garden


Inside the banana grove

Inside the banana grove


photo 2

Papaya tree

Papaya tree


Mom's gigantic sweet potatoes, the tiny one in the middle is the average-sized one sold in the supermarkets

Mom’s gigantic sweet potatoes, the tiny one in the middle is the average-sized one sold in the supermarkets


There aren't many flowers, but Mum is partial to orchids

There aren’t many flowers, but Mum is partial to orchidsphoto (41)

Mom the gardener, is on the left in the shade (refusing to be photographed closeup)

Mom the gardener, is on the left in the shade (refusing to be photographed closeup)

There’s lots more fruit .., pineapples, jackfruit, mangos and mangosteens and more…

Growing watermelons

Growing watermelons

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Ikuta Rose Park is a labor of love…

…by Volunteers of the local community.

















Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Making hay while the sun shines…and before the mosquitoes come out….


I am loving this year’s unseasonally many cool days which has meant we have not seen mosquitoes in the garden yet. those Japanese mosquitoes are really vicious and relenting and biting compared to the tropical ones that come out at certain times of the day… so taking the opportunity to enjoy gardening more than usual…








Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

The health benefits of Wakame seaweed / Wakame (and mekabu) recipes

Boiled Wakame

Boiled Wakame

Wakame, according to MindBodyGreen is:

“is an edible brown seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines.” According to the same source, wakame is…

“a good source of the following:

1. Magnesium. This mineral is critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy, and the production of protein.
2. Iodine. Iodine is needed for strong metabolism of cells – the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
3. Calcium. Wakame easily allows for the absorption of calcium into the human body. Each 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150 milligrams of calcium. Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
4. Iron. We need iron because it is essential for the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia.
5. Vitamins!
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K. These vitamins are all amazing for skin health and repair as well as immunology.
  • Vitamin D. Promotes the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). We need riboflavin to use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. Riboflavin helps us use these nutrients for energy in our bodies for growth and is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitaminB6. 
6. Folate. Helps the body make new cells and is especially important for pregnant women.
7. Lignans. Thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Nutritionist Gillian McKeith, PhD, author of the You Are What You Eat Cookbook, calls wakame the woman’s seaweed because it is loaded with osteoporosis-preventing calcium and magnesium and acts as a diuretic (which helps reduce bloating). Wakame’s pigment, fucoxanthin, is known to improve insulin resistance, and a 2010 animal study found that fucoxanthin burns fatty tissue. —

Today’s NHK Asaichi programme looked at the ways in which Iwate people eat wakame, given that Iwate Prefecture i the no. 1 largest producer of wakame, we could thought to take a few notes here.  We learned that:

  • Wakame improves the taste of and makes boiled rice delicious, hence, making rice-balls with wakame enhances their taste considerably.
  • Secondly, fresh wakame doesn’t keep more than a week, however, an easy way to store wakame, is to add mentsuyu, wakame soaked in mentsuyu will keep for about a month. The wakame is surrounded by calcium minerals, which helps keep the wakame in prime condition.
  • 3rdly, wakame and mekabu have health benefits for preventing or ameliorating stroke symptoms.
  • Animal research (published 2003) conducted at Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan, showed that, despite being fed a high-salt diet, rats that were fed wakame had increased resistance to stroke and higher survival rate after stroke than animals in the control group. Researchers found a carotenoid compound called fucoxanthin to have protective brain effect and to contribute to the stroke or cerebral thrombosis prevention or resistance effect. Other research showed health effects of mekabu diet for high blood pressure  in a 1999 study on rats as well as for reducing systolic blood pressure in humans in a 7 week 2002 study.  Other research show benefits for cancer patients and especially reducing mammary tumors. — Better Nutrition, May 2004

わかめごはん(4~5人分) Wakame Rice (Serves 4-5 people)

・米・・・2合 2 Cups rice
・わかめ・・・50グラム 50g wakame
・しらす(乾燥)・・・30グラム 30 g shirasu whitebait/anchovy

・水・・・2分の1カップ  1/2 C. rice
・薄口しょうゆ・・・大さじ2 Tsp light soy sauce
・みりん・・・大さじ2 Tsp mirin
・砂糖・・・小さじ3と3分の1 1/3 sugar
・酒・・・少々 A little sake wine

<作り方> How to(method):

  1. ごはんを炊き、わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって細かく刻んでおく。   Cooked rice. Use unsalted drained Wakame , mince finely
  2. (A)の調味料を全て鍋にいれ、ひと煮立ちさせる。Add all the seasonings of (A) to a pan and bring to a boil.
  3. (2)に、しらすをいれ味を染み込ませたら、わかめを入れてさっと(20秒程度)混ぜる。Add shirasu to 2) till taste penetrates through, then add wakame seaweed and mix  quickly (about 20 seconds).
  4. わかめは煮込まず、すぐに火をとめ、炊けたご飯に混ぜれば完成。Wakame does not do well when boiled, so stop fire of the pan quickly, and add wakame mixture with the boiled rice, mix and serve.


生わかめ保存法 The way to store Wakame


・生わかめ・・・100グラム 100 g fresh raw wakame
・めんつゆ・・・大さじ1と3分の1 1/3 TB mentsuyu sauce
・みりん・・・小さじ1 1  tsp
・酒・・・小さじ1 1 tsp sake wine
・刻みしょうが・・・5グラム 5 g myoga ginger
・一味とうがらし・・・適量 Dash of chilli

<作り方> Method

  1. 生わかめは湯通しし、水でもみ洗いしながら冷ました後、ザルにあけて水分を切っておく。Run hot water over the raw seaweed, then wash over with cold water to clean the wakame and drain well in a sieve.
    Raw wakame ※最後に、水分を絞るようにしてきるとよりよい。Finally, cut when most of the moisture has been drained or wrung out of the wakame.
  2. 調味料を全てボールにいれ、わかめを加え、味がしみこむように混ぜる。Add all of the condiments and ingredients to a bowl, and then wakame and mix well till sauce and other ingredients penetrate the seaweed well.
  3. 落としぶたとおもしをのせ、ひと晩寝かせれば完成。Use a lid with a weight over the wakame and leave overnight.
    タッパーなどに移しかえ冷蔵庫で保管すると、1週間程度食べられる。 Remove to a Tupperware and store in a refrigerator, serve and eat in about one week.


Wakame tempura recipe


・塩蔵わかめ・・・50グラム 50 g salt-preserved wakame
・玉ねぎ・・・2分の1個(120グラム) 120 g / 1/2 onion
・にんじん・・・4分の1本(50グラム) 50 g carrots (1/4 carrot)
・ごぼう・・・5分の1本(50グラム) 50 g burdock (1/5 stick)
・天ぷら粉・・・120グラム 120 g tempura flour
・水・・・カップ1 1 Cup water

<作り方> Method

  1. わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって荒く刻み、玉ねぎ・にんじん・ごぼうは千切りに、水にさらしておく。Soak Wakame seawed in water, then drain well and  julienne the onion, carrot that has been pre-soaked in water
  2. 水(少なめ)でとかした天ぷら粉に、(1)の材料を全ていれ、揚げる。Add a small amount of water to dissolve the tempura flour, then add (1) to the tempura mixture and fry in oil (watch how to make vegetable tempura video).


Finally, adding raw mekabu to any wakame increases the health benefits  as well texture and taste …well, to the Japanese anyway (an acquired taste and texture), the neba-neba “sliminess” makes the food more delicious. Mekabu is the budding root portion of wakame seaweed.

Below is the local fisherman’s recipe:

<Material (2 persons)> Ingredients

・生のめかぶ(千切りにしたもの)・・・200グラム200 g Raw finely  julienned mekabu
・沸騰したお湯・・・カップ6 6 Cups of boiling water
・水・・・カップ1 1 cup of water

<作り方>Preparation Method

  1. 生のめかぶの芯を抜き、それ以外の部分を1~2ミリ程度に千切りにする。Extract the core of the raw mekabu, and julienne the other portion
    ※切る前に風にあてて少し乾かすと切りやすくなる。Tip: Wind-dry slightly before cutting, will make it easier to cut finely.
  2. 沸騰したお湯に水を加え、80度程度に温度を下げる。Bring water to a  boil and then lower to about  80 degrees Celcius
  3. ザルに千切りにしためかぶを入れて、鍋のお湯に1秒つけたら引き上げ、全体を均一にかき混ぜる。これを4回程度くりかえし、めかぶの色が緑色になったら、お皿にだし2分程度混ぜると、粘りがでてくる。Place the julienned mekabu into a sieve and drop into the water for 1 second then lift and mix well the mekabu all over (but don’t over-stir)
    ※ザルではかき混ぜすぎないこと。粘りがザルから出てしまうため  as the mekabu turns green, the mekabu will, after 2 minutes, have the right “sticky” texture.

* Serve according to your liking (with soy sauce or without) and locals like eating mekabu with boiled rice or topping noodles

Recipes are my translation of the NHK Asaichi TV programme

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Happy inhabitants of our garden

Happy inhabitants of our garden

This bird has been ever so chirpy for he past two days. We watch it from our living room window, a great observation viewpoint.

Leave a comment

April 19, 2013 · 4:15 am

I luv spring




imageEnjoy the views from my garden!

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Welcome to my spring garden!




Daisy and azaleas dazzle in the garden…

Leave a comment

April 19, 2013 · 1:05 am

Erica Heath’s magnificent show…





Leave a comment

April 19, 2013 · 12:21 am

In my spring garden this week..

towering tulips among the grasses

towering tulips among the grasses


tulips are captivating swaying in the wind, like translucent colored stained-glass chalices in the sun…







Leave a comment

April 18, 2013 · 11:36 pm

Beekeeping on the rooftops of Tokyo’s GINZA district!

This morning’s NHK Asaichi programme featured a really interesting experimental activity by an NPO. A group consisting of a diverse group of volunteers, who have taken to beekeeping on the skyscraper rooftops of GINZA district. You would think that this is a highly unlikely place to keep bees, but the bees thrive on the many cherry blossom trees that line the streets of Tokyo, and the honey produced is a rich thick cherry-flavored honey (or so the taster says on TV). The volunteers include a motley group of unrelated people but not surprisingly, include sweets or confectioners, department store staff, and a French restaurant chef.

For more see the NPO’s website HP:

See also:

Tokyo bees make honey on rooftops of Ginza (Daily Onigiri, MARCH 11, 2010)

We are living in turbulent times where bees are dying rapidly in large numbers because of profitable pesticides and pollution. If this trend keeps going on, one day we’ll be filling up our plates with artificial food, compressed in colorful Pfizer tablets with chemical taste of green salad, beans, strawberries, blueberries and other natural goods that we’ll know only from pictures and ballads.

Science says that about one third of all food we eat depends on pollination from bees, and about 40 percent of all bee population in the world has vanished in the past decade.

The Ginza Bee Project

Well-aware that those numbers can’t mean anything good, are the members of a very successful project called Ginza Hachimitsu Project (The Ginza Bee Project). Five years ago, the group set itself a task of creating a bee-friendly space on top of a building in Tokyo’s Ginza district where bees will be able to produce honey.

On top of the 11-story Pulp & Paper Building in Ginza, this glitzy area of luxurious boutiques and department stores, members of the Ginza Bee Project take care of 300,000 Western and Japanese bees.

Every morning the bees take off into the sky from their wooden hives in search of flowers for pollination and nectar. Because there are many parks in Tokyo, the bees can find a lot of greenery in the area of just 2 kms (1.2 miles), like the Hibiya Park, Hamarikyu Gardens and the vast parks of the Imperial Palace. The roadside trees are also a good source of nectar, as are small flower and vegetable gardens that many Japanese grow on balconies of their apartment buildings.

The amount of produced honey increases every year. The Ginpachi bees — as locals named these bees in Ginza — produced over 760 kgs (1675 lbs) of honey in 2009 alone. The honey is then sold to local stores and pattiseries in limited numbers as a final product or as an ingredient for sweets and cake-making.

But there’s more to the project than just making honey. Ever since they brought bees to Ginza, the local cherry trees began to produce cherries which wasn’t happening before when the blossoms were not pollinated. Birds began eating the cherries and the amount of small insects, beneficial to the environment, increased in the area.

At the start of the project some people were concerned about safety as they thought that keeping so many bees in such a densely populated area could be dangerous for people. After the group thoroughly explained the behavior of bees to the tenants of the building, they successfully agreed to place three beehives on the rooftop.

According to the group, the bees are very gentle creatures and would attack only if suddenly surprised. Ever since the project was launched, there was never a case where anyone would be attacked by the bees, even though there are masses of people walking on the streets near the building every day. Quite the contrary — the Ginpachi bees have become some sort of a mascot for Ginza.

According to one of the beekeepers, Fujiwara, the Ginza bees are even healthier than those in the countryside where farmers often use pesticides. He explains that pesticides — not exhaust fumes — are the biggest threat to the bee population because a bee’s lifespan is only about 30 days and therefore any toxins they might get from the air don’t accumulate to any considerable extent in their bodies. Fujiwara adds that bees fly in the air only for about a week to ten days and they spend the rest of their lives cleaning their hives.

A project for the future

“Our future vision for Ginza is not a place where buildings compete for height but a place where people and small insects could live in harmony with nature,” says Atsuo Tanaka, co-founder of the project. “We believe that bees and people’s appreciation for them will help build an urban environment, full of greenery in the spirit of satoyama (satoyama is a Japanese word that means a traditional environment where people coexist in harmony with nature and its resources). We will be happy if our project could in some way help in the future urban planning in Japan.”

The Ginza Bee Project has received support from the city government and has gained attention from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, students and people who live in the area. In an effort to create an even friendlier environment for the bees, the Ginza Green Projectwas launched in 2007 with aim of growing flower and vegetable gardens on the rooftops of other buildings in the district. The project also looks to create green spaces that would help lower the heat retained in roads and concrete, to promote the principle of “grow local, eat local” and to encourage interpersonal relationships among people who help with the project and who may have otherwise been complete strangers.

The Ginza Green Project started out on the rooftop of the Matsuya department store where today 30 employees voluntarily take care of the gardens after they finish their regular job. The customers are also interested in the activities on the roof, so the gardens are open to the public. Matsuya sells bread and various sweets that use the ingredients they grow on the roof of their store.

In this article for The Japan Times Atsuo Tanaka says: “A bee’s average lifespan is 30 days. In this short period, a bee produces only half of a spoon of honey. This tells us how precious are their lives.”

UPDATE: Some of our readers were curious if this type of beekeeping takes place in any other cities around the world. According to this article at MSNBC, some other beekeeping cities are Paris, Berlin, London and Washington D.C. Urban beekeeping is also encouraged in San Francisco. What makes The Ginza Bee Project in Tokyo so distinct is the fact it is carried out by a large group of people who have a long-term vision that makes it possible for the project to expand and give birth to new ideas, useful to people and the environment without being limited only to beekeeping, for example, The Ginza Green Project. On the other hand, some other world metropolitan areas have banned beekeeping. In New York City, for instance, this type of illegal beekeeping is punishable with a $2000 fine (the ban has been in effect since 1999).

What do you think? Could other cities around the world benefit in a long run from a project like The Ginza Bee Project? Write your thoughts in the comments!


- The Japan Times:
– Japan for Sustainability:
- TreeHugger:
- The Ginza Bee Project:





ホームページ: (銀座ミツバチプロジェクト)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Getting over my anchovy prejudices: Shirasu-Chirimenjako whitebait-anchovy recipes for calcium-rich meals

Baby sardines shirasu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Growing up, I didn’t like anchovy much whether in the Japanese loose-fishes style or European oily fillet style (some people’s reaction to anchovy are said to border upon this spoofy reaction), but then they weren’t served with much imagination in my home. Here, in Japan, anchovy appears in such a variety of ways and in delightful combinations with other foods, that my prejudice against the humble anchovy-fry has largely disappeared.

In the local supermarket here, a fish staple that is bought and consumed in practically every Japanese family’s daily menu is either Shirasu or Chirimenjako.  Shirasu/シラス in Japanese means “whitebait”, although it normally applies only to the Japanese Anchovy/Katakuchiiwashi/片口鰯 (Engraulis japonica ). Whitebait, according to Wikipedia, is a collective term for the immature fry of fish (consisting of many important food species (such as herringsprat,sardinesmackerelbass and many others).

Shirasu and Chirimenjako are both rich in calcium and it is said 100g Chirimenjako contains 500mg calcium and you can consume calcium necessary for a day with 100g Chirimenjako.  The difference between whitebait and “Chirimenjako” is its method of processing. Those which are boiled and contain much moisture are called whitebaits and those which are properly dried in the sun are called “Chirimenjako”…although technically, “Chirimenjako”, should refer to young sardine since jako means sardine fry.

In actual fact, anchovy, pilchard and round herring are often used but it depends on a fishing season. (Note: In Kyoto, chirimenjako and sansho are usually paired together over steamed rice, and considered an everyday food of Kyoto).

Today’s recipes (nearly all taken from this morning’s NHK Asaichi TV programme) combine calcium rich ingredients and other vitamins and minerals needed to facilitate the absorption of calcium, for healthy strong bone growth.

The recipe below is perfect for preparing healthy calcium-rich bento-ready patties…

しらすのフリッテッレ(8コ分) Chirasu-patties

・しらす・・・100グラム Chirasu 100 g
・小麦粉・・・75グラム 75 g flour
・粉チーズ・・・30グラム 30g powdered cheese
・卵・・・1個 1 Egg
・塩、こしょう・・・各適量 Salt and pepper (a little of each)
・イタリアンパセリ・・・少々 Italian parsley (small amount of~)


    1. ふるった薄力粉、粉チーズ、卵の順にボウルに入れる。 Add to a bowl, the flour and powdered cheese and egg.
    2. しらすを加え、こねる。Add chirasu and knead.
    3. イタリアンパセリと塩・こしょうを入れてこねたら、手で形を作る。Add Italian parsley, salt and pepper, and form patties.
    4. 多めのオリーブ油を熱して、弱火で片面を5分程度焼き、ひっくり返して3分程度焼く。Add liberal amounts of olive oil to pan, heat and over a weak fire, cook the patties for 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Cooking chirimenjako stir-fried with vegetables いいことずくめのじゃこ菜っぱ

・しらす・・・一握り Chirasu
・ごま油・・・適量 Sesame oil
・にんじん、小松菜・・・適量Garlic, komatsuna greens (small portions)
・酒・・・少々Sake wine – small amount
・いりごま・・・適量 Ground sesame
・しょうゆ・・・小さじ1弱 Soya sauce 1 tsp


  1. フライパンにごま油を熱して、しらすを炒める。 Fry the chirasu in sesame oil in a frying-pan.
  2. 細切りにしたにんじんを加える。Finely chop the garlic.
  3. しらすがきつね色に変わって香ばしくなったら、刻んだ小松菜の葉と5ミリメートルの長さに切った小松菜の軸を加える。When the chirasu turns to a (fox-coloured) brown and has become fragrant, add 5mm-cut-lengths of komatsuna greens to the pan.
  4. 酒少々を加え、水分がほとんどなくなるまで炒める。Add a little sake wine, and water and keeping frying.
  5. いりごまとしょうゆを加える。 Add sesame powder grinds and soya sauce.

Preserved shirasu-garlic condiment dish (served as a topping over rice, tofu, salads, etc.)


しらすとスナップえんどうのトマトクリームパスタ(2人分) Shirasu snappea and tomato cream pasta.(Serves 2)

・しらす・・・30グラム Shirasu
・スパゲッティ・・・100グラム 100g spaghetti
・牛乳・・・90ミリリットル 90ml milk
・生クリーム・・・30ミリリットル 30 ml fresh cream
・トマトソース・・・30ミリリットル Tomato sauce 30 ml
・スナップえんどう・・・2~3本 2-3 snappeas
・イタリアンパセリ・・・適量 Italian parsley


  1. 塩一つまみが入った熱湯でスパゲッティをゆでる。Salt – add a lump of salt into the boiling water and spaghetti.
  2. オリーブオイル適量を熱したフライパンでしらすを炒める。Olive oil – small amount to oil the pan
  3. 牛乳と生クリームを加え、沸騰させる。Milk and fresh cream – Add until boiling frothily
  4. 沸騰したら火を弱め、トマトソースを加える。Once boiling, reduce heat on weak fire, add tomatoes.
  5. ゆであがったスパゲッティとサッとゆでたスナップえんどうをフライパンに加え、ソースとからめる。Add boiled spaghetti and blanched snappeas to the frying pan until the sauce caramelizes.
  6. 盛りつけてイタリアンパセリをまぶす。Remove to dish and scatter Italian parsley on top.


3 great simple chirasu-calcium-rich breakfast recipes follow below:

カルシウムとビタミンKたっぷり!しらす丼(1人分) Calcium and vitamin K-rich chirasu-don dish

・しらす・・・20グラム 20 g Chirasu
・ご飯・・・150グラム 150g rice
・ひきわり納豆・・・30グラム 30g natto
・温泉卵・・・1個 1 Onsen tamago [lit. hotspring egg) but note that onsen tamago or slow-poached egg* (Watch this video on how to make onsen tamago) or soft-boiled egg
・焼きのり・・・2分の1枚Yaki-nori BBQ nori seaweed
・青じそ・・・5枚 Aojiso green shiso mint leaves - 5

丼に盛ったご飯の上にしらす、納豆、温泉卵、ちぎった焼きのり、せん切りにした青じそをのせる。 Just lay them all out in "sectors" of your rice bowl on top of piping hot steamed rice and serve for a nutritious Japanese-style breakfast.

* Cheatsheet notes: Chef Rio's easy technique: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and add 4 eggs. Leave the eggs in the water for about 30 minutes. Remove the eggs, crack them open and -- viola! -- you'll have nicely poached onsen tamago. (For those of you who demand perfection, maintain the water temperature at exactly 145 degrees F (or 65 degrees C), which will yield an impeccably spherical poached egg.)

しらす野菜トースト(2人分) Chirasu and vegetable toast (2 persons)

・「カリカリしらす」・・・40グラム 40 g Savory chirasu
・食パン(6枚切り)・・・2枚 2 slices of loafbread slices [Baker's Loafbread cut into 6]
・小松菜・・・50グラム 50g komatsuna greens
・パプリカ(赤)・・・10グラム 10g green paprika capsicum
・マヨネーズ・・・大さじ1 1 Tb mayonnaise
・オリーブ油・・・小さじ1  1 tsp olive oil
・溶けるチーズ・・・40グラム 4-g cooking cheese


  1. 5ミリ程度の長さに切った小松菜と薄切りにしたパプリカ、マヨネーズ、オリーブ油を混ぜる。Chop into 5 mm lengths of komatsuna and sliced paprika, mix with olive oil and mayonnaise
  2. 食パンに(1)をのせ、カリカリしらすとチーズをトッピングする。 Over each slice of bread, layer (1) the bowl’s ingredients, and then over it a layer of savory chirasu, and finally top with cheese
  3. オーブントースターで5分間焼く。 Toast in an oventoaster for about 5 minutes.

Another breakfast idea is anchovy pizza. Now the Japanese anchovy pizza is easier on most palettes, especially kids’… than the European-or-French style anchovy fillet pizza, largely because the fish are savory and lighter, and emerge less fishy on pizza than the European version…unless you prefer the more flavorful French anchovy pizza(watch this video).

Last but not least, a breakfast dish I have actually been serving up for years on our breakfast table is either the shirasu-whitebait omelet(see photo above, and Nana Hanah’s recipe or Radio NZ’s recipe) or whitebait fritters. Visit Carol’s Whitebait Fritter’s page for her egg-white recipe or visit the Classic NZ whitebait fritters recipe page posted below.

Classic Whitebait Fritters

Ready In: 15 minutes Serves: 4Ingredients
250g Whitebait (drained & gently washed)
1 Tbsp Flour Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Eggs (Lightly beaten) Butter for frying
Lemon Juice
Sieve flour onto beaten eggs and lightly whisk together. Stir in Whitebait and season.Heat a small amount of butter in a heavy fry pan and using a teaspoon drop fritter mix into pan.Fry quickly on one side, or until egg mixture sets. Turn fritter and quickly brown other side. Drain fritters on paper towels and serve with squeezed lemon and season with salt & pepper.


しらすガーリックオイル(つくりやすい分量) Chirasu-in-Garlic Oil

・しらす・・・100グラム 100 g chirasu
・にんにく・・・1~2かけ Garlic 1-2 cloves
・オリーブ油、サラダ油・・・各大さじ2  2 Tb each of Olive Oil, Salad Oil
・しょうゆ、みりん・・・各大さじ1  1 Tb each of  soy sauce and mirin

<作り方> Method

  1. しらす、薄切りしたにんにく、オリーブ油、サラダ油、しょうゆ、みりんを清潔な瓶に入れて混ぜる。 Add to a heat-proof glass jar and mix together chirasu, finely chopped garlic, olive oil, salad oil, soy sauce, and mirin
  2. 鍋に沸かした熱湯に瓶を入れ、鍋にふたをして15分間加熱する。 Place glass-jar and added 1. in a pot of boiling water, cover for 15 minutes.


Other notes:

Cooking with olive oil, or cheese, or tomato sauce or spices such as sansho helps get rid of the fishiness of the chirimenjako/chirasu.


カルシウム吸収率UPの食材】To increase absorption of calcium from food, combine the following:
カルシウム・・・しらす、卵、小松菜 Calcium=shirasu, egg, komatsuna greens
ビタミンD(血液への吸収)・・・しらす、卵Vitamin D=shirasu, egg
ビタミンK(骨への沈着)・・・小松菜、納豆、焼きのり、青じそVitamin K (bone-building) Komatsuna greens, natto beans, BBQ nori seaweed, Aojiso green shiso mint leaves.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth


A new way to do the groceries

A new way to do the groceries

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Putting your affairs in order: Lasting Power of Attorney

Despite the popular belief, your spouse or another family member cannot automatically take over your responsibilities unless you expressly authorize them to do so in the event of your incapacitation. Securing an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) ensures that simple decisions, such as paying the bills, as well as more complicated decisions, such as selling your home, are made according to your wishes.

You will need to specify what type of Lasting Power of Attorney you want (there are different types of powers of attorney).

‘Lasting’ simply means the agent is mandated to continue making decisions for the principal especially if the latter becomes incapacitated. However, the law states that the agent should be obliged to act only in the best interest of the principal. Thus, the money and properties involved must only be used for the benefit of the principal.

A Property and Affairs LPA allows the attorney of your choice to handle your financial affair while a Personal Welfare LPA allows the donee to handle your medical care or other personal health issues.

You may assign the above two broad areas to the same donee and you may also add or give specific powers according to your needs.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney? click here.

Make sure to appoint an LPA when you are of completely sound mind because this is a requirement when you write a will. If you do not do this when you are healthy, an LPA to manage your affairs will be court appointed. In this case, you could end up with someone you do not like.

If you do not appoint an LPA and become incapacitated, your spouse or another family member will have to apply to control your assets or access your bank accounts. This is a complicated and expensive process. It can also feel like a violation of your privacy because your private matters will be in the hands of a stranger until your application is processed.

Anyone of legal age can be asked to handle your affairs. If you choose to hire an LPA, however, the LPA must be registered and it should be done sooner rather than later. Even in an emergency situation, registration can take a long time.

Accidents or long illnesses are never planned. This is why many people appoint an LPA to protect themselves and their loved ones.

It is a good idea to start appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney Singapore now to help your loved ones avoid a stressful situation later.

Using a Lasting Power of Attorney

The chart below presents a generic overview of key procedures to use a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The LPA should only be used when the donor loses capacity and has been certified to be incapable of managing his own affairs. Should the donor regain his capacity again, the donee should step aside to allow the donor to manage his own affairs again. The LPA remains valid.

What is required, see this page at Family or the Office of Public Guardian

Criteria to make an Lasting Power of Attorney:

The requirements for making an LPA are:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must have the mental capacity to make the LPA
  • You must not be an undischarged bankrupt.
  • For the LPA to be valid, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

NB: You can, at any time when you have the mental capacity, cancel (revoke) your LPA.

How Can I Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

You will need to do the following:

a. Complete the Lasting Power of Attorney1 (LPA OPG Form 1 or LPA OPG Form 2).

There are two versions of LPA available to cater to the different needs of individuals:

LPA-Form 1 contains mostly checkboxes for donors to grant general powers to their donees with the option to select basic conditions or restrictions to these powers. This form can be self-completed by the donors.

LPA-Form 2 contains mostly free text spaces where individuals can give specific powers to their needs. This form is to be drafted by a lawyer.

b. Bring the LPA form to a certificate issuer who must be either one of the following:

  • A practising lawyer
  • A psychiatrist
  • An accredited medical practitioner

The certificate issuer will sign on the LPA Form as a witness for the donor, to certify that the donor understands the purpose of the LPA and the scope of the authority conferred under it, that there is no fraud or undue pressure used to induce the donor to create an LPA and nothing else that would prevent an LPA from being created.

c. If there are person(s) you wish to notify that you are registering an LPA, send to each named person the Notice to a Named Person of Intention to Apply for Registration of an instrument as a Lasting Power of Attorney (OPG Form N1).

d. Complete the LPA Application Form.
e. Book an appointment to submit the application to the Office of the Public Guardian and bring along the following documents:

Completed LPA Form
Completed LPA Application Form
NRIC of donor (original)
NRIC of donees and/or replacement donees (photocopy of front & back of NRIC)
One passport-sized photograph of each donee
f. Pay the application fee. The application fee is S$50.00 for Form 1 for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and S$200.00 for other cases and for Form 2. You may pay by cash, NETS, Credit Card (Visa or Master) or cheque in local currency made payable to the “AG/MSF”.
Who can apply to register an LPA?

The person who can apply to register an LPA can be the:

Donee or donees (if the LPA appoints them to act jointly), or
Any of the donees if the LPA appoints the donees to act jointly and severally.

Who can submit the LPA application at the Office of the Public Guardian?

The application forms and documents can be submitted by the:

Applicants mentioned above
3rd party as authorised by applicant in the application form
Submitter must produce his original NRIC to verify his identity.

To allow us to serve you better, please book an appointment with us to register your LPA.
>> View instructional video on the procedure to make an LPA.

1 Please refer to “Guide to Filling Up the Lasting Power of Attorney

Where to Find a Certificate Issuer

If you are making an LPA, Part D and Part E of the LPA Form will have to be witnessed and certified by a certificate issuer. Any one of the following can be the certificate issuer for a instrument to be registered as a Lasting Power of Attorney:

a. an accredited medical practitioner
b. a practising lawyer
c. psychiatrists

Kindly note that a professional fee is payable to the certificate issuer. Please note that our Office does not prescribe the quantum of the fees charged by the certificate issuers? Where to find certificate issuers?

More info at the Office of the Public Guardian Q & A also here at this page.

Form  and Cost for Power of Attorney

Who can apply to register an LPA?

The person who can apply to register an LPA can be the:

Donee or donees (if the LPA appoints them to act jointly), or
Any of the donees if the LPA appoints the donees to act jointly and severally.

Who can submit the LPA application at the Office of the Public Guardian?

The application forms and documents can be submitted by the:

Applicants mentioned above

  • 3rd party as authorised by applicant in the application form
  • Submitter must produce his original NRIC to verify his identity.

To allow us to serve you better, please book an appointment with us to register your LPA.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Toe-freezing foray to Hokkaido’s ski slopes

Here’s our photo montage of our favourite slopes from Sapporo — the Kokusai Ski Resort (click on any photo for slideshow or closeup):

Note: The bottom three pictures are photos of Mt. Moiwa

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Notes on Updating Java…

I learned something new today …  it has taken the “analog-old-world-me” too long to check on this, but better late than never!

The java popup has always bugged and nagged me … sometimes I updated it and sometimes I didn’t. I know, I know, I play Russian Roulette with my PC and treat PC stuff like my cooking .. going with my mood and hunches, only hunches of course, don’t always play out well in the PC world. Only now did  I decide to settle the question once and for all and checked up on this issue. This is what I found out:

Either update Java, or remove it. Do not refuse the updates. That gives you the worst of all possible worlds: a buggy old version of Java that might be exploited by maliciously coded web pages.

What Java Is

Some computer programs are written in a language called Java. The advantage of Java is that a program written in Java will work on many different kinds of computers, such as PCs and Macs. Java programs can appear both as standalone “applications,” like the Azureus file sharing program, and as in-the-web-page “applets.” The latter is increasingly rare, because Flash is much more popular for this job.
What Java Isn’t

Java is NOT JavaScript. They are completely different. They share a name only because of a marketing decision made by Netscape and Sun years and years ago. Whether you decide to keep Java or remove it, your web browser will still support JavaScript. And that is a good thing, because many web pages rely on JavaScript for important features you want.
Why Java Needs Updating

Java sounds pretty useful. So what’s the catch? Well, to run programs written in Java, you need a Java “runtime environment.” So if your computer is nagging you to “update Java,” then your computer has a Java runtime environment already— and it is out of date.
What You Should Do

You have two reasonable choices:

1. Update Java whenver you are asked to. This is safe— the Java runtime environment is a product of Sun Microsystems, a very respectable company. And it is already on your computer. Updates are usually intended to fix security problems, which makes your computer safer. When you refuse to update Java (or Windows, or MacOS…) you are often taking a very big risk by refusing to fix security problems.

2. Uninstall Java completely. Yes, you can do this and it is safe. The negative consequence is that if you are using any programs or websites that rely on Java, you will not be able to use those programs or websites correctly any more unless you install Java again. However, most people do not have Java applications on their computers these days, and most websites use Flash instead of Java for the interactive features that used to be commonly written in Java. And if you do turn out to have Java programs or applets that you depend on, you can always reinstall Java later by visiting

How To Uninstall Java

Windows users can follow these steps:
1. Click on the “Start” menu

2. Click on “Control Panel”

3. Double-click “Add or Remove Programs”

4. Look for entries beginning with “Java(TM)” or “J2SE”

5. One at a time, select them, click “Remove,” and follow the prompts to remove them.

Removing Java on MacOS X

Removing Java on MacOS X is not recommended as Apple has made Java a standard part of the operating system and may rely on it to a greater degree than a typical Windows system.


And from the bob rankin website:

Should You Allow Java on Your Computer?
If you encounter a website with an embedded Java app, and you don’t have Java installed (or enabled), you’ll just see an empty space where the program should be displaying. Many sites will provide a helpful link to where you can download the Java runtime environment from Sun Microsystems, the developer of Java. Even cell phones commonly push Java at users. But what is Java, and why should you install or enable it?

Java is a both a programming language and a platform for development of applications that work on multiple operating systems, such as Windows or Mac OS or Linux. Java consists of many software components that work together to provide a “cross-platform environment”. Essentially, that means a program written in the Java programming language will run on any type of computing platform, not just on an Intel or Apple or Nokia piece of hardware; provided, of course, that the essential Java operating components are present. That’s where the Java runtime environment becomes necessary.

Java is handy for programmers; they need only write a program once and not worry about whether the user has a PC or a Mac computer, or be concerned with which browser is being used. Java applications can be embedded in web pages, cell phones, industrial controls, household thermostats, even coffee makers. So you will run into Java often.

Yes, you do need the Java runtime environment, or you will be frustrated quite often. That online game or mortgage calculator you’ve been looking for all day won’t run without Java. So go ahead and install the Java runtime. It won’t hurt, if you have sufficient computing resources.

Is Java Safe?
Java is touted as a secure computing environment, one that makes it difficult for bad guys to snoop, cripple, or take over your computer. The Java runtime forces all Java programs to run in what’s called a “sandbox”, a portion of computer memory to which they are strictly confined. In the sandbox, a program cannot do certain things without the user’s explicit permission – like read your email or format your hard drive. But a sandbox takes up space.

Java sets up this sandbox in a “virtual machine” which consumes considerable computing resources. The amount of resources required varies according to the needs of a given Java application. A mortgage calculator won’t slow your overall computing down noticeably. A 3D animated game might, if your computer is short on memory and/or processor power.

Java applications are often encountered on Web sites, and you may want to disable them sometimes. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and most other Web browsers let you enable and disable Java at will in their “Options” settings.

In Firefox, click on the Tools button on the main toolbar. Then select Options. Click on the “Content” tab and check or uncheck the “Enable Java” checkbox.

In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Internet Options. Select the Programs tab and click the Manage Add-ons button. Find “Sun Microsystems – Java plug-in” and enable or disable it.

When the Java runtime is running in memory, you may see a “steaming coffee cup” icon in the system tray. It may persist after you close your browser or otherwise stop using a Java application. Don’t worry, the Java runtime will end itself and the icon will go away after a short while…

Read more:

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

For sharp fashion sense – Miranda Kerr’s my favorite go-to-pinupgal!

This reminded me of my college-days, post-college years, the look to pull-together that never goes wrong for the young girl going out into the career world, is that of the sharp French girl look… Time to get  back to “that look”.  Oh but those to-die-for shoes…

This also very Frenchy style, throw on a scarf accessory…

It’s been such a very long time, since the humble white Tee has looked this good! But see a close runnerup for the terrific Tee-contender below (from the 2013 NY spring collection)…

New York Fashion Week Spring 2013 Models


Comfy casual looks so cool on her … for the rest of us, some earrings and a sailor scarf might distract from less-than-perfect faces

I want to be seen shopping in Nice or Paris in the summer dressed like this!

An entirely flawless ensemble of picture-perfect photo shoots …and an utterly inspired and workable wardrobe  from Style Bistro — check the rest out:

15 Reasons to Love Miranda Kerr’s Style
From funky footwear to darling dresses, find out why we can’t help but adore Miranda’s look!

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Study: Eating dinner late leads to obesity

The vicious circle … of modern late-night lifestyle, late-night hunger leads to snacking or late-night-meals, the path to obesity. Abstaining from food doesn’t help either, if one gets too hungry to sleep and loses sleep as a result …  The only alternative is to adopt the healthy habit of sleeping early as man was evolved to do …

Study: Eating dinner late leads to obesity (Oct.9)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eating late dinners can disrupt the biological clock that determines a person’s daily circadian rhythm, leading to obesity and diabetes, according to a Waseda University research team.

The team is led by Prof. Shigenobu Shibata, who specializes in pharmaceutical science.

Its findings were based on experiments with mice.

It had been known that disruption of the internal body clock can cause obesity and diabetes, but Shibata’s team discovered the mechanism behind these problems, Shibata said.

The biological clock of living things is controlled by “clock genes” in cells. The internal body clock controls functions such as sleep, wakefulness, body temperature and hormonal secretion on a cycle that is about 24 hours long.

Although a day consists of 24 hours, the biological cycle varies somewhat depending on the species. The human cycle is about 24-1/2 hours while that of mice is between about 23-1/2 and 24 hours.

People’s circadian rhythm is adjusted by daylight and the intervals between meals.

The researchers examined the rhythm of body clocks by feeding mice three times a day on different schedules and measuring the functions of clock genes in their kidneys and livers.

They found that mice’s body clocks were properly reset to begin a new daily cycle when breakfast was eaten after a relatively long interval since the last meal of the previous day. The feeding schedule that seemed to work best was 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

Feeding the mice the last meal of the day at 10 p.m. threw their body clocks out of sync by two or three hours, the team found.

The researchers concluded that the rhythm of body clock becomes the most disrupted as the intervals between lunch and dinner and between dinner and breakfast become almost the same.

When the mice’s last meal of the day was divided into two eatings, one at 7 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m., the disruption of their circadian rhythm was was limited to between 1-1/2 and two hours, the team found.

“Regular eating habits will help prevent obesity,” Shibata said.

(Yomiuri, Oct. 9, 2012)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Dried enoki mushroom – contains powerful metabolizer and natural weight-enhancing active enzyme called renol

A 25 year-long piece of research found that enoki mushrooms contain renol a highly effective enzyme that can contribute to effective metabolism, production of adrenaline and therefore, is an effective natural weight-loss enhancer (10%)…according to NHK Asaichi  TV programme.

Dried enoki is best, drying the enoki in the sun for 2 hours  or more, increases, releases or concentrates the active enoki enzyme 「エノキタケリノール酸」 renol(?).

干しえのきの作り方 How to dry enoki mushrooms

Important:  Dry the enoki mushroom in a netting cage where rain will not get it wet. Find a well-ventilated spot. 2 hours of drying is sufficient, no more benefit will be obtained from drying beyond that. Calcium and Vitamin D are also produced(?) released(?) in the drying process.

Move the dried enoki to the frying -pan and over dry heat cook for 7-8 minutes, till all the water content has evaporated. You may store the enoki indefinitely from this point onwards. (But refrigerate the dried enoki for extra long shelf life)


エノキタケリノール酸を効果的にとる『えのき茶』の作り方 Effective way to extract enoki enzyme or essence:

1. 天日干ししたえのきたけを細かく切ります。 Sun/air-dried cut enoki mushroom

2. 水を沸騰させたあと数分そのままおき、95度程度になるのを待ちます。 Place the enoki into boiling water that is 95 degrees Celsius (i.e. cooled slightly from boiling point) see above picture.

3. 保温ポットに干しえのき5グラム、お湯500ミリリットルを入れ、ふたをします。

5 grams of enoki is all you need daily (do not exceed this amount), to 500 ml of water. Cover the pot.

4. 30分そのまま置くと、「エノキタケリノール酸」がたっぷり溶け出したお茶のできあがり。

Allow to steep for 30 minutes
5. これを1日かけて飲みます。その際、中に入っている干しえのきをそのまま食べるか、しっかり絞って栄養成分を取り出して飲むか、どちらかをしてください。

The remnant enoki may be eaten, add to soups or other dishes.









Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Tips for starting my day better…

Avoid caffeine
Avoid caffeine. It may be through habit that one of the first things we do when we get up is go straight for the caffeine hit, but this should be avoided if possible. Since your body has been several hours without fluid, what you need is a proper rehydrating drink such as freshly squeezed orange juice. A cup of hot water with a touch of lemon and honey is also a good way to start the day. If you can, add some ginger—this acts as an extra boost to your circulatory system


Take a deep breath. There is often a sense of anxiety ahead of a stressful day and sometimes we are far from relaxed when we get up. To get your body into a state of relaxation, it is important to control the functions of the body, like the beating of the heart and breathing properly. A good method is to try 2:1 breathing, this is easy and really effective—you gently slow the rate of exhalation so that you are exhaling twice as long as you are inhaling

Your morning ritual is something which shapes how you feel for the rest of the day. If you’re someone who constantly reaches for the snooze button again and again, then chances are you end up prizing yourself out of bed, only to feel rushed and frantic because you’re running late.
Okay, some of us are just not ‘morning’ people, but you can make yourself go some way to becoming one just by modifying your morning routine. The following tips focus on how to improve how you feel from the very moment you wake. less
Move your alarm clock. You may want to have you alarm clock close to hand so you can constantly keep leaning over and pressing it for a few extra minutes of snooze time. The reality is it doesn’t really help. Place your alarm just that bit farther away so that you really have to stretch or even get up to reach it—any stretching movement stimulates the waking part of the brain.
Move your alarm clock. You may want to have you alarm clock close to hand so you can constantly keep leaning over and pressing it for a few extra minutes of snooze time. The reality is it doesn’t really help. Place your alarm just that bit farther away so that you really have to stretch or even get up to reach it—any stretching movement stimulates the waking part of the brain.
Avoid caffeine. It may be through habit that one of the first things we do when we get up is go straight for the caffeine hit, but this should be avoided if possible. Since your body has been several hours without fluid, what you need is a proper rehydrating drink such as freshly squeezed orange juice. A cup of hot water with a touch of lemon and honey is also a good way to start the day. If you can, add some ginger—this acts as an extra boost to your circulatory system. less
Exercising in the morning. Although many of us probably don’t feel like it, a bit of morning exercise will help. We are not talking about a full-on several-mile run, just some activity to increase your body temperature, and get your metabolism and enzyme activity kick-started. This could involve just doing a few basic stretches or even jogging on the spot. If you do fancy taking on something more energetic in the morning, then ensure that you have thoroughly warmed-up. less
Take a deep breath. There is often a sense of anxiety ahead of a stressful day and sometimes we are far from relaxed when we get up. To get your body into a state of relaxation, it is important to control the functions of the body, like the beating of the heart and breathing properly. A good method is to try 2:1 breathing, this is easy and really effective—you gently slow the rate of exhalation so that you are exhaling twice as long as you are inhaling. less
Surroundings. Your surroundings can have an impact on your mood from the moment you wake. If you wake up surrounded by clutter, then that is hardly going to get you off to the right start. Keep your bedroom as clutter free as possible. You can also pay attention to your décor—certain colors can be good for your mood, choose something that uplifts you. If possible have some green plants in your bedroom—a little bit of greenery can do wonders to enhance your mood and positivity


After a long sleep, breakfast is responsible for replacing your liver glycogen, which helps you stay focused and switched-on throughout the morning. Choose your breakfast carefully—sugary breakfast cereals only give you a quick hit and can rapidly wear off. The best bet is to eat some protein combined with carbohydrate to help maintain your alertness throughout the morning


Source: How to start your day better

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Isn’t it time to stop throwing eggs in the face of egg-lovers?

Image: Wikipedia

How complicated can an egg get? Pretty complicated it seems.

This report No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? (Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2012) has the effect of an egg in the face of this egg-lover and stirring up controversy over the humble egg and whether-an-egg-is-good-for-your-health issues.

I sure wish researchers and medical people would get their facts straight about eggs. Every few decades, the tide swings the other way about whether or not we should eat eggs.

Growing up in the sixties, they told our parents it was bad to eat eggs, that eggs were high in cholesterol and that eating eggs gave you heart disease and all…

And then when I was getting rolling on my career path, they were telling us that only egg yolks are bad (a still influential view), so a whole generation went yolk-less and women followed the example of models who stayed think by eating egg-whites only.

And then while I began raising my own kids and wondering how much egg to serve and how to serve egg to my husband and kids, the word came out that the key to eggs was to avoid hydrogenated oils, … with the egg association’s advice to avoid cooking eggs with hydrogenated cooking oils (the egg association has at least a dozen tips on how to cook your eggs).

More recently, the experts encouraged us parents to take eggs off the naughty list, telling us that egg food is brain food, a key to success and better test scores,  and that the choline in an egg is important for our kids’ (and adults’) brain development and protects their eyes, and what loving parent with their best intentions could resist avoid heeding advice like that?

Only last year, the health world gave us greater licence with the egg in the kitchen and told us to eat more eggs, not fewer. The new word out yet again was that eating more eggs could increase the amount of cholesterol in high-density lipoproteins (HDLs)—the good cholesterol. They reported a Michigan State University study involving more than 27,000 people that found that cholesterol was lower in people who ate more than four eggs per week than among people who eschewed eggs. Also fairly recent news … new research that tells us eggs help those of us who hard and long hours to stay awake and alert during the working day.

But now this? No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? is like a slap in the face for the well-meaning parents who have been putting lots of “wholesome eggs” on the home menu. In short, we egg-lovers get buffeted about, (as far as I can see in the course of my short life-time) swinging like a pendulum between the good news and the bad news about eggs. I seriously feel deprived over, and defensive about my right to eat and enjoy an egg, without getting jerked around and having my mind messed up and having to go on a guilt trip.

How can there be so much controversy about the one most innocent, simple, basic and primal food that’s so loaded with life and nutrition in the world? The egg has been so revered by many ancient civilizations, judging by the number of egg-related creation myths (think Cosmic Egg, World Egg, Easter Egg traditions) in the world. I mean the egg features big on the breakfast palette of just about every civilization, so how can something so full of goodness and life, also be so downright bad for us?

I mean …look at the Japanese, they consume more eggs than anybody else in the world…300 eggs per person, and still more Japanese live to a ripe old age than just about anybody else in the world (except that the Fukushima disaster set Japanese females behind to second place in this year’s life expectancy statistics, behind Hong Kongers). Heck, in Japan, if you go to Hakone which is near where I live, the locals stubbornly have it that if you eat one of its volcanically brewed black eggs (called the Owakudani Black Egg), you prolong your life by 7 years, and two, 14 years and so forth…  Doesn’t it really get you wondering what the experts are getting wrong with their big picture of eggs and the health of mankind?

Just when I’ve got used to the idea of enjoying my eggs whole again … there is only more confusing research to make us hold back from serving up the most convenient and neat nutritional package that is called the egg. Steven Novella in Eggs and Atherosclerosis points out the flaws in this most recent report challenging the health benefits of eggs, and writes:

“The weaknesses of this study include the fact that it is retrospective and based on survey data, which is notoriously inaccurate. Further, it is an observational study and therefore there are many confounding factors that are not controlled for. Perhaps people who eat more egg yolks also eat more bacon, or have a generally poorer diet, or don’t exercise as much. The authors acknowledge this in their last line about needed a prospective study that controls for possible confounding factors.

But the data in the study is even more problematic, in my opinion. The article itself is behind a paywall, but here is table two containing the key data. … The table does indeed show a significant increase in carotid plague, the build up of cholesterol on the inner lining of the main arteries that feed the brain, with increase in egg yolk years. There are significant confounders and contradictions in the data as well, however. The most glaring to me is that total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL do not vary significantly across the egg yolk years columns. Apparently what the authors have shown (which is consistent with previous data) is that eating lots of eggs does not increase total cholesterol or bad cholesterol (LDL) nor does it decrease good cholesterol (HDL). In my mind this leaves the authors completely without a mechanism to explain a causal relationship between egg consumption and carotid plaque. This strongly suggests the association is not causal but is incidental or spurious … Overall the data are not very compelling. The lack of correlation with cholesterol is most damning, in my opinion.”


I hope he is right and the report is flawed.  Seriously, pretty please, will somebody please get the facts right and set the record straight once and for all???


Source reference article: No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles TimesAugust 14, 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

The best thing about milk …

Glowing skin! Healthy bones and teeth! Build good eyesight, muscles and lose weight (Surprised?)! De-Stress (ever heard of milk and cookies for Santa?)  Lower high blood pressure and risk of strokes. Milk is anti-ageing and gives you a beauty boost (healthy hair, reduces acne skin flare-ups! Reduce the liver’s production of cholesterol. Reduces PMS symptoms. Stop or slow osteoporosis, loss of bone mass. Protect from type 2 diabetes and colon cancer, read on…

While a 2004 National Cancer study Dairy Foods, Calcium and Colorectal Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 10 Cohort Studies” concluded that ” Higher consumption of milk and calcium is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer”, research published in the journal Evidence-Based Nursing determined that calcium supplements specifically calcium carbonate forms (more absorbable untested forms like calcium citrate might still work) didn’t reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

An old wives’ tale was that milk could make acne breakouts  (associations with more fat). But … according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, certain nutrients may help reduce the severity of frequency of acne. An 8-oz. glass of 2-percent milk provides you with about 10 percent of recommended daily value, or DV, of zinc, which improved acne in some clinical trial. The serving of 2-percent milk also provides about 15 percent DV for vitamin A. Vitamin A is a milder version of the synthetic topical versions of the vitamin, known as retinoids, that are sometimes prescribed for acne. According to UMMC, consuming more vitamin A delivers some of the same pimple-fighting benefits of retinoids, including unclogging pores and lessening skin inflammation. (Source: writes about the nutrition found in your daily glass of milk:

According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium: Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein: Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium: Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D: Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12: Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A: Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2): Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

In other words, milk packs quite a punch when it comes to nutrition—and you don’t have to drink a gallon to reap the benefits, the National Dairy Council says. In fact, the council says that just one 8-ounce glass of milk provides the same amount of vitamin D you’d get from 3.5 ounces of cooked salmon, as much calcium as 2 1/4 cups of broccoli, as much potassium as a small banana, as much vitamin A as two baby carrots and as much phosphorus as a cup of kidney beans!

Read more: here

The only downside is if you are lactose-intolerant, which a lot of Asians tend to be. But in such cases, reducing the amount of milk drunk to half a cup at a time, or drinking it along with other foods, would be better than not drinking at all.

From my point of view, the best thing about milk for the busy mom is … you can serve it to your kids without no effort at all!


Benefits of Milk

Milk the Facts and the Fallacies

The Benefits of Milk for Skin and 11 Beauty Benefits of Milk 

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

Homemade Blueberry Egg Tart — a variation on the Chinese egg tart

My two kids tried out a variation on the Chinese or Asian egg tart recipe (from the Instructables) today all by themselves. We happened to have a lot of leftover blueberries (we’ve having a large crop of blueberries in our garden right now) so they added fresh blueberries … which is the only variation to the recipe (posted below), and somehow it made it less “eggy” …and voila! it was the most marvelous egg tart I have ever had! I am so proud of them!

Blueberry egg tart


A) Crust ( 8 tarts)

· 1 ½ unsalted butter stick(1 cup)

· 2 cups flour

· 1 egg

· 150ml powdered sugar

· ½ tsp salt

B) Egg Custard (10-12 tarts)

· 5 small eggs/ 4 medium eggs/ 3 large eggs

· 290ml milk

· 75ml water

· 190ml sugar or less (1.5cups)

· 1 pinch salt

Equipments needed:

· Electric mixer(optional)

· 2 large bowls

· Measuring cup

· Whisk

· Tart tins or disposable muffin tins

· toothpicks

Step 1 Melt the butter

Set the butter into microwave and heat it up for a minute or two until the butter dissolve completely.

Note: You can either melt or use electric mixer to beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy.

Step 2Add flour, powdered sugar, egg and salt together into the butter

After adding those ingredients, use your hand to knead the dough. You can stop kneading if it turns soft, pliable dough.

Note : Electric mixer might not work well in kneading dough because it will spill flour all over the place and make a mess to your kitchen.

Step 3 Form small balls of dough and place them on tart tins (or disposable muffin tins)

Start forming the base using your fingers to push the dough into the mould. You can trim away excess dough on the mould.

Tip : This method is considered to be the toughest among others. A delicious egg tart depends on how thick your crust is. If the crust is too thick, you tend to consume more crust and less custard which leaves you unsatisfactory feeling. If it is too thin, the egg tart will fall apart easily.

Step 4 Mix all the ingredients for making egg custard

You have to beat the ingredients gently for a minute or two with a whisk. The egg yolk should blend together with other ingredients. In the end, the mixture will become light yellow in color.

Note: It is all right if you happened to find some visible yellow patches or the egg white that does not dissolve completely in the mixture. They do not affect the taste of the custard.
Step 5 Pour the egg custard mixture into a measuring cup

After that, start by filling the crust with egg custard. Please do not pour until it is completely full because it will spill out easily. If it is full, the filling will expand because of the heat in the oven and spill all over the place. This will create a mess in your oven.
Step 6Preheat the oven to 350 �F /180 degrees C and bake them for 40 to 50 minutes

You have to monitor the conditions of the egg tarts from time to time. This is because the crust will get burned easily. Remove them from the oven when they turned golden brown.

Warning: Please handle with care while you are working with oven. If you happened to burn yourself, seek medical help immediately.

Step 7 Insert a toothpick into the custard

Before this, leave the egg tarts to cool down for a minute or two. Do not take them off right away because the crusts are still soft and will break easily.

Warning: Be very careful while removing the egg tarts from the hot tins because you might scale yourself if you do not handle them cautiously.
Step 9  Serve the egg tarts!

Finally, the egg tarts are ready to be served! It is advisable to serve the egg tarts while they are piping hot from the oven. You will able to taste the crunchy crust with the soft moist egg custard fresh from the oven. The egg tarts can be kept in refrigerator up to 3 days. This is a simplified version of an egg tart recipe. You can search more recipes and compare with others if you wish to produce tastier egg tarts. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

At last! Odour-free and pristine shoes…shoecare tips that don’t cost an arm and a leg and that actually work!

Uwabaki (上履き)

A number of useful tips to be garnered from this morning’s NHK Asaichi TV programme:

  • Use alum (みょうばん myouban in Japanese) to get rid of smells and especially to kill the germs in shoes. Use a spray-bottle containing a mixture of 6g of alum powder and 100 ml of water, and spray onto the insides of shoes. Alum has been used as a deodorant by various cultures, and notably by the Romans in antiquity(see Pliny the Elder’s “The Natural History, Chap 52″).
  • To maintain shoes in clean and smell-free condition, create your own teru teru bozu with a cotton square clean rag or remnant textile, stuff with alum powder, and tie into a teru-teru bozu form. Stuff the teru teru bozu, head first into the toe area of the shoe.

teru teru bozu

  • To keep canvas shoes white as new, dip into baby powder and powder liberally and coat well with powder puff all over the new canvas shoes, paying attention to the seams, edges and cotton straps, which get dirty easily. The baby powder will plug the pores in the cotton so that soil and dirt will remain on the surface which can be brushed off easily. This keeps the canvas whites whiter and newer than if you use industrial canvas cleaners. Those notoriously difficult-to-maintain–in-a-white-state school canvas shoes Uwabaki (上履き) can finally be kept in pristine condition!
  • To maintain your working leather shoes for longer life and cleaner shoes, here’s the easy TOP SECRET tip. Use an ordinary clean cotton ragcloth, wet it well (but not dripping) and press into the surface of the shoe all over, then wipe off the grime and dirt. It will all come off easily. Water will work better than any storebought shoe-cleaner. Then use your usual store-bought leather waxes or creams to protect and maintain the life of your leathers.
  • To keep your working leathers or other shoes in shape and to avoid sag, crush a sheet of newspaper and roll up into small balls, wrap each ball in one sheet of tissue, then stuff into your shoe till full.
  • To be rid of mold growing on your shoes, scrub and wipe off the mold from the surface of the shoes. Then with a store-bought ethanol cleaning solution in spray-bottle, spray liberally all over the affected shoe surface, and wipe off with a clean cotton rag.
  • To avoid peeling and poorly fitted foam cushion insole pads, cut to accurately fit your shoe shape, and then spread a layer of dedicated-for-shoe-glue onto both the inside sole area of the shoe and a layer on the back of the shoe insole cushion pad. Important: Wait till the glue nearly dry (to the point that the glue does not stick to your fingers), then press the shoe insole cushion pad to the insole of the shoe into position. Press well with your thumb the entire area of the insole. This will prevent the problem of shifting and peeling shoe cushion pads.
  • To mend your worn out heels of your shoes, this is what you do. Cut a rectangular strip from any old clear plastic folder.  Tape with duct-tape the strip of plastic to the heel of the shoe, squeeze from a tube of store-bought shoe repairer rubber mix (chip type) onto the heel area to be refurbished. Then with a tongue-depressor (used ice-cream stick), level off the shoe-repairer mix. Wait for it to set and dry for 24 hours. Your shoe will be as good as new.

Repairing the heel of your wornout shoes

How I love the ever-practical Asaichi TV programme!

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth


This week’s TV and newspapers have been on a binge  with news on low-sodium drives in Japan, so I have tried pooling together some links posted below, on low-sodium ideas for cooking and diets:

Low Sodium Girl/Cooking with Kaz is a good primer on how to use Japanese condiments for low-sodium cooking

Low Sodium Cooking Archive

Low Sodium Cooking

Low sodium recipes 

Low sodium yakisoba cooking


Flavor Tips for Salt Free Cooking

Take a few minutes and read these low sodium cooking tips. Most of you will find a salt free seasoning tip or several that will help you with your low sodium diet and help you stick to it.

For a Salt Free Tex-Mex Dorito like flavor: take #103 Table Tasty salt substitute and #117 Bravado chili seasoning at about a 50/50 combination. You will get a Dorito like flavor and it’s salt free. Sprinkle on unsalted corn chips, unsalted potato chips, unsalted nuts, potatoes, eggs, popcorn. Even in sour cream as a dip and add to guacamole. Beat some into eggs when making a Spanish Omelette and stir in or sprinkle on some of this mix to spice up deviled eggs. This combination is amazing when added to taco meat, even sprinkled on grilled fish for fish tacos. It really does make a good salt free taco seasoning. It’s also good added to beans.
Quick & easy salt free vegetable broth. Stir about 1 teaspoon of #103 Table Tasty salt substitute into a cup of water, or more to taste, and you will have a quick, tasty, salt free vegetable broth.
Zesty Lemon & Herb seasoning (#104) is delicious in Tuna Salad. It’s got lemon and dill in it to help give it a little of that dill pickle tang. Trader Joe’s has a very good no salt added canned white albacore tuna. also Crown Prince no salt added Tuna is quite good and can be ordered on Amazon. If you buy fresh tuna, don’t panic. It is very dark in color, almost like beef, but it turns light in color when you cook it. The color you’re used to seeing in the can.
Flavorful dipping oil. If you warm, (not too hot) a very good extra virgin olive oil, in a dish with #106 Gusto Garlic & Herb Pepper seasoning. in a microwave about 30-45 seconds, or slowly in a pan. You will get a wonderful dipping oil, like they give you in many of the Italian restaurants for your bread. Also try adding a little Balsamic vinegar at the edge of the oil. You could also use Supreme Garlic and Herb instead of Gusto, if you don’t like pepper. They both are good flavors used here.
Flavored vinegars are a great way to add flavor to your food without salt. Tarragon is one of the saltiest tasting herbs, also one of the most expensive, try Tarragon vinegar. Rice wine vinegar is very popular as it doesn’t have a strong vinegar taste like most vinegars. Make sure you use the Unseasoned Rice Vinegar as the Seasoned Rice vinegar has salt and sugar. Apple cider vinegar has always been touted as the one vinegar with the most health benefits and is used in many of our recipes. There is Sherry vinegar, Champagne vinegar and other herbal vinegars to try. Find what you like.
Adding a little vinegar instead of salt to the water when poaching an egg, will help the egg white stay together better. Adding vinegar instead of salt to water when hard boiling eggs will help the egg shell from cracking and the egg white from going in the water.
Adding a little vinegar to freshly boiled or steamed spinach or any greens, perks them up and gives a nice taste, usually added at the end of cooking. Greens can sometimes have a bite and oddly enough the vinegar cuts through that and mellows it out. Since you’re not cooking your greens in bacon fat anymore, you need other flavorings. Fresh lemon juice will also work but sometimes the lemon juice will make the greens change color to a sort of khaki color instead of a deep green. Not as appealing to the eye. Zesty lemon herb seasoning works especially well with greens or green vegetables and keeps the colors bright. Zesty is also great on green beans, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, or anything green.

Since most of you are not using bacon fat for that nice smokey flavor in your greens or beans, you can try Wrights Liquid Smoke. A drop is all you need as it is very potent but it gives a nice smokey, grilled taste made from roasted hickory wood. Soon we hope to have a salt free seasoning blend with a nice smoke flavor.
This is more of a health tip than a flavor tip. To skim off that last bit of fat off the top of a hot pot of soup, try this: place a lettuce leaf or two on top of the hot soup. Take the lettuce leaf out with tongs and the oil will cling to the lettuce leaf. This can also be done pretty well with a paper towel. There are also kitchen utensils called fat skimmers, available. You can also refrigerate your dish, especially if it is a soup or stew, and after it is cold, you can lift off the fat which comes to the top and discard

Always keep fresh lemons and/or limes around. You won’t believe the difference they can make. Your tongue has trouble distinguishing between salt and sour as you pucker up with either. By adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end of your cooking or even at the table, you’ll find many dishes brighten up with a hint of saltiness. You may have noticed that many Mexican dishes, especially soups have a squeeze of lime at the table. Just take a little of your food to the side and try a little squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and test and see what the taste difference would be, before you add it to your whole plate or pot.
Fresh lemon zest ( the yellow part of the lemon) adds a brightness and a lot of flavor to food. Do not get the white part of the lemon (the pith) as it is bitter. Sprinkle on just about anything. Also, lime zest works well. Actually, any citrus zest is amazing. This is where organic or citrus without sprays would be best.
Add fresh lemon zest to olive oil with Zesty Lemon Herb seasoning, fresh lemon juice, maybe a little water and you have a delicious and quick salad dressing, or drizzle over vegetables. Delicious especially over green vegetables like asparagus, green beans, spinach, even avocados, etc.
Invest in a pepper mill. The difference in flavor between fresh ground pepper and regular store bought, is huge.
Browning your food well (carmelizing), will add a lot of flavor. I think browning more slowly on a medium or medium low heat instead of a quick sear on a high heat will add the most flavor to most recipes. Make sure you brown your meats with #106 Gusto when making soups or stews, pot roasts or even for the crockpot. By doing this the broth has a really good flavor and color. You are not using canned broths or bouillon cubes (not even the low sodium ones, as they are usually still too high in sodium and many have potassium chloride added), so you must learn how to flavor the broths naturally, and browning or caramelizing adds a lot of flavor. Take your time on this step. If this is done well, and not burned, it will add a tremendous amount of flavor and rich color.
Use the little browned bits on the bottom of your pan, called fond. Deglaze the pan by adding liquid (water, wine, juice, tomatoes, milk) to release those browned bits. by scraping them off the bottom (usually with a spoon) and those little bits add a ton of flavor. Be careful, don’t let them burn. Even just to start to burn will ruin the sauce or gravy and you will get a strong burnt taste and there is really nothing you can do to fix it.

When cooking with wine, use something you would like to drink but don’t cook with something expensive. If you don’t know what wine to buy, the recipes in the cookbook we usually use a dry white wine like Chablis and try Chianti for a red wine. If in doubt which wine to use, a white wine is many times a better choice in your recipe, as it doesn’t make your vegetables or sauces too dark or purple. White wine lets the colors stay bright but red definitely adds a richness to certain dishes like beef stew. Do not buy “cooking wine”, it often tastes terrible and usually has salt added. Every wine has a different taste which will change the flavor in the recipe you’re cooking. So try different wines. You’ll notice that wine is usually added as the first liquid to a hot pan so that the alcohol can burn off and then other liquids can be added. Good wine adds good flavor.

There are just three basic carriers of flavor: fat, water, and alcohol.
The crock pot or a slow cooker is your friend. You will get incredible flavor. Again, this is about letting the food cook over a long time, nice and slow, which allows flavors to mingle and permeate the food. Generally, it works like this, low temperature is 10 to 12 hours and high temperature is 6 to 8 hours. Put the food in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a delicious meal. When you buy a crock pot, we recommend getting one with a removable crock as it is much easier to clean. If you don’t have a removable liner try using those oven cooking bags inside the crock as it makes clean up easier.
Try simmering instead of boiling your food. Boiling your food too long or at a hard rolling boil can start killing the flavor. A simmer is not boiling. A simmer is bringing food to the boiling point, just to where is starts to bubble and then turn the heat down. Keep it at a slow bubble. This gentle cooking helps preserve and enhance flavor

Instead of using bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (they are usually very high in sodium) try using oats like in our Meatloaf Masterpiece recipe. Old fashioned whole grain rolled oats is a good filler, high in fiber and low in sodium. You can grind the oatmeal so the pieces don’t show (if that bothers some of you). Don’t use quick cooking style oatmeal.

Avoid croutons, they are usually very high in sodium. Try making your own (it’s not hard), or just forget about them.

Corn tortillas are commonly made without salt and therefore have no sodium. Read your labels and even if there is salt they still may be low in sodium.

A pressure cooker is a great way to cook quickly and add lots of flavor. Cooking in a pressure cooker, adds flavor just like you had been cooking all day. It’s a great way to cook tougher cuts of meat (as they are usually more flavorful). These tougher cuts will cook up tender, in minutes versus hours. This is a great way to cook soups and stews, for maximum flavor. We have used a pressure cooker for years (one that says can’t explode).
It’s usually better to by products that say “no salt added” rather than products that say “reduced sodium”. Reduced sodium products may still be too high in sodium for a low sodium diet. Reduced sodium products just have to be a certain percentage lower (25-30% lower) than their regular product. Many times that does not make it a low sodium product, just a reduced sodium product.
Instead of steaming or poaching your fish, seafood, chicken or vegetables in plain water, add a piece of onion, garlic, carrot, celery, fresh parsley stems, lemon zest (a nice slice of lemon peel), fresh lemon juice, vinegar, wine, peppercorns, and/or a little of Benson’s Seasonings, to the water. Flavored water will impart flavor to the food. It’s like a quick vegetable stock. This trick also works well when cooking rice, even potatoes. Just remove the spent vegetables before cooking your food or definitely before serving. You can put things like peppercorns in a cheesecloth so it’s easy to lift out of the water at the end of cooking and no one bites into a peppercorn for example.
Watch the serving size on the nutritional labels. The sodium level may not look too bad, until you look at the serving size. The sodium level stated may be for a half cup, when actually you know that your serving size is a cup. Or it may state a tablespoon, when you are actually using 3 tablespoons.
Those of you who are watching your potassium, be aware that many low sodium products are made with potassium chloride (salt substitute). The doctors may tell you no salt substitutes but they may forget to tell you to watch for the salt substitutes (potassium chloride) in many low sodium products, like low sodium chicken broth, even many low sodium seasonings (not ours). We use no potassium chloride in any of our seasonings.
Nuts are heart healthy, they have the good fats and are high in fiber. Nuts add good flavor to food. If you toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes (until you can smell them and they are golden), shake the pan like you would for popcorn. Their flavor is more pronounced and fresher tasting. Freeze nuts that are not being used as they will go rancid fairly fast. Be careful and don’t burn them, just lightly toasted. Toasting them in a 350 F oven about 10 minutes will give you a more even color, but you have to wait to heat up the oven. Lightly toasted nuts, such as pine nuts on a spinach salad or pecans on a green salad or in a chicken salad or walnuts in a fruit salad are wonderful. Sliced almonds sprinkled over fish, chicken or green beans are tasty. Grind toasted almonds to use like a flour for breaded fish or chicken or pork chops. Try coating a piece of fish or chicken with finely chopped macadamia nuts, for a buttery, breaded taste. Cook slow so you don’t burn them. Nuts tend to burn easy because of their oils. These tips are easy, flavorful and remember the oil in nuts are good for the heart.
If you are cooking with or eating butter, always use unsalted butter. The amount of sodium varies significantly in a pat of butter, from brand to brand. Generally, the less expensive the brand, the higher the sodium. Salt can cover up flavor flaws so unsalted butter can give you a more pure butter taste. You will find that the different unsalted butter brands will each have a different butter taste, so find one you like.

Most margarines and shortenings are trans fats. Trans fats are proven not good for your heart. Stay away from anything that says hydrogenated. That means trans fats.

Macadamia nut oil is a very heart healthy oil with a rich buttery taste. It’s not butter but it’s very good. Try macadamia nut oil on popcorn with Table Tasty and you popcorn lovers who are on a low sodium diet and have felt deprived, will be amazed how good this tastes. A heart healthy, buttery, salty taste. Just air pop some popcorn. Drizzle with some macadamia nut oil. Sprinkle with Table Tasty, toss with your hands, add a little more oil or Table Tasty, if needed.

Avocado Oil also has a rich, buttery taste.

Buy meats with the bones when possible. Bones add flavor. This works for everything. Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, or pork. A pork chop for example with the bone will have better flavor than a boneless pork chop. It’s just the way it is. Always make your soups and stews with some bones. The flavor difference is huge.

When you are shopping, be aware that most of the time when a product says low fat or no fat, the sodium may be 2 or 3 times higher than the regular product.

Try a pinch of cayenne or chili powder, even a little ground white pepper added towards the end of cooking, especially in soups, sauces and gravies. This can add a little zip without making it hot. Soups are some of the most challenging dishes to cook salt free and tasty. Table Tasty really helps here and so does a pinch of #117 Bravado chili seasoning. You can also add a little (a pinch) of red pepper flakes at the begining, to the olive oil, when you are sauteeing vegetables especially when you are going to use these vegetables for a soup or a sauce.

Wood chips are a flavorful addition when grilling or barbecuing or using a smoker. There are many types of wood to choose from and sizes. Just make sure you soak them well, first, or they will just burn up and not smoke. Hickory wood chips are the most popular and can be found in most grocery stores. Try mesquite or apple wood for completely different flavors.

Eggs. Most of the sodium in eggs is in the whites. If an egg is 77mg of sodium then around 13mg of sodium is in the yolk and about 64mg of sodium is in the white.

Fresh Meats naturally have 20-30 mg of sodium per ounce.

Nut Oils, are heart healthy, no sodium and no potassium. Walnut oil is considered the most heart healthy nut oil as it has the most omega 3 fatty acids. All tree nut oils have special heath benefits. Roasted nut oils, tend to have the most flavor. Nut oils can turn rancid so always store them in the refrigerator. These are great to create more flavor in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. Also, delicious drizzled over vegetables. Try almond oil, hazelnut oil, pecan oil, macadamia nut oil, pine nut oil, and others. The flavors can surprise you. More flavor for a low sodium diet.
Cook with a rainbow of colors. You’ve heard the saying “We eat with our eyes first.” Make your food colorful. When using the basics, like onion try adding also red onion or some green onion. Bell peppers, instead of just green, splurge and get a red and/or yellow bell pepper. Use celery, (always the darker the green, the better), and carrot (unless used raw is usually peeled, otherwise the peeling may turn dark when cooking). Use different colors of squash, like green Italian zucchini, yellow bar zucchini, and white zucchini (light green) or called Mexican squash. Try different colors of potatoes instead of the same kind every time. Tomatoes come in a variety of colors and flavors. If you miss the taste of a really good flavorful tomato and you don’t have a garden, try heirloom tomatoes. They are usually varigated and not the prettiest shapes, but they have great flavor. Even if you just use red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half, the color and presentation on the plate is beautiful. It’s amazing what a variety of colors on your plate can do. This adds a definite eye appeal. It’s healthier. Colors are richer in antioxidants. If you have trouble finding colorful fruits and vegetables, shop your local farmers market. You will find varieties of the freshest produce both colors and flavors that you never see in the grocery stores. We all should be supporting our local farmers markets.
Many of you ask about what kind of chicken to buy? We always tell you watch the labels and the very fine print on the labels. It is a common practice especially with boneless skinless chicken breasts to inject them with a sodium broth. Now I am seeing this more in other chicken products. Many chicken pieces are ice glazed. The glaze is a sodium broth. Here is a link to a page by Foster Farms discussing this process about plumping (injecting with a sodium type broth).

Always look for yellow chicken. The more yellow the better. The chicken is usually raised more natural and is usually a little older so a little bigger and we have found almost always has better flavor. Yes, we usually buy chicken with the skin on. It makes for a better tasting and a moister chicken recipe. You don’t have to eat the skin. As you read above, most skinless chicken has a sodium broth injected. If you can find a natural cage free or free range chicken, they are usually the best. Usually expensive but amazingly good and no hormones or antibiotics. Kosher chicken is usually brined (read your labels). Occasionally, we shop at Mexican markets in our area and their chickens are usually very yellow. Sometimes the chickens are fed marigold petals to help get that yellow skin. The Mexican shoppers seem to know that yellow chickens are best. Even if the yellow is helped along, these chickens tend to be bigger and more flavorful. Good to cook long and slow. You may find this to be the case in other ethnic markets.

It looks like most all of the turkey is being plumped (injected with a sodium broth) or brined. Look for free range, no antibiotics or hormones. These farmers raise their turkeys this way so they are the most natural and usually the most flavorful. These will most likely not be plumped. Not easy to find. Try natural food stores, or direct from the farms, or mail order.

Breadings – Plain flour is most commonly used to bread meats or vegetables for cooking especially frying. Flour tends to need salt otherwise it tastes bland like paste. Try adding seasonings (like Gusto) to the flour before breading, this makes a big difference in the flavor (not bland) but you still achieve a crispy coating. Try other breadings like ground nut flour or nut meal. Almond meal or almond flour is good and fairly easy to find. Store this in the freezer so it stays fresh. There are many other types of breadings that give you flavorful results. Light batters like a tempura batter, egg whites, beer batter, corn meal, ground or chopped nuts, seeds like seasame seeds, rice flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, a little mustard or ground mustard seeds, freshly ground peppercorns, or try a variety of mixed peppercorns. Even a pinch of cayenne or chili added to a breading adds a little kick to take away the bland. It doesn’t have to be hot just flavorful.
If you are eating bread…buy good quality bread. Cheap or inexpensive bread is usually much higher in sodium. Try breads seasoned with garlic, herbs and/or seeds as they will have more flavor and the sodium tends to be lower. For example, try breads like, sourdough, rye, garlic, jalapeno, even olive oil bread for some ideas.
Shop for your groceries in the outer perimeter isles of the store. Most of the high sodium products are in the center isles. The outer isles you will find your fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy and meats. Buy fresh as you can.
Add wood chips to your smoker, barbecue and when grilling. Wood chips come in a variety of woods and sizes. The most common is hickory wood in chunks or chips which you can find in most grocery stores. You can also find mesquite, apple, maple and others. Every wood imparts a different flavor. Make sure you soak them in water before using. You want the smoke not a fire.
Never add salt to water – You will be surprised how flavorful your food will be without adding salt to the water when cooking vegetables, potatoes, pasta, rice, even oatmeal. If you think about it, usually you add toppings, or sauces, seasonings, etc to these foods. There is enough flavor in these to compensate for not adding salt to the cooking water.
Think you must add salt to a recipe? Sometimes, you think you need salt especially in baked goods. Try cutting the salt called for in the recipe in half and you usually will still have good results. Perhaps the next time you can cut that amount in half again. Then eliminate the salt altogether. Think of salt as a flavor inhancer. Salt is not usually needed for a chemical reaction, for example to make bread rise. Depending on what you are prepareing, you can add more vanilla or other flavor extract, or fresh lemon zest, or black pepper, seasame seeds. or other seasoning, with good results.
Sea Salt and other fancy salts, Kosher salt have the same amount of sodium per weight as regular table salt.
Add minced fresh Italian parsley towards the end of your cooking. Usually when you’re ready for that last stir before you’re ready to serve. Then sprinkle with a little more fresh parsley on the very top of your food just as you’ve placed it on the platter or bowl, to serve. Parsley adds a nice fresh taste with a hint of saltiness. Parsley is one of the most nutritious herbs and makes the finished dish beautiful. This must be nice fresh green Italian parsley leaves, not old, or yellow and not too much of the stems, for the best results. (This is one of the main reasons we have parsley flakes in all of our seasonings. For taste, with that little edge of saltiness and to make the food beautiful).

Some chopped fresh herbs added at the end of cooking really can perk up a dish. A little fresh basil for instance, stirred in to pasta sauce just before serving, adds a lot of flavor and aroma. If fresh herbs are added to a hot recipe, just the warmth of the food will carry the aroma of the fresh herb.

Good aroma really helps food taste better. If you pinch your nose closed and taste something most cannot taste anything. The smell (aroma) of the food is important to increasing flavor. That is why nothing tastes good when you have a cold. No smell, no taste. This is why when cooking with our seasonings (because they are so fresh and have very aromatic ingredients), the smells (aromas) are so wonderful. You can call this true aromatherapy. Aroma definitely helps the flavor of the food.

Note: If you are cooking for someone who is not eating very well. Make sure you try a crockpot or slow cooking. Fill the house with the aroma of good smelling food. It opens the appetite and starts the taste buds working. Remember when you would walk in to a house when someone was cooking something that smelled so good…you couldn’t wait to eat.

There is an advertisement on this page for growing an indoor herb garden or vegetables, peppers, flowers (whatever you like) the Hydroponic AeroGarden. This makes growing herbs so easy. No yard, No dirt, No bugs. Grow fresh herbs indoors

Note: If you are eating a healthier diet – a low sodium diet, these are lifestyle changes. We highly recommend growing some fresh herbs to go along with our seasonings, as they do compliment and add more flavor. It’s less expensive to grow your own and it is enjoyable to eat something you’ve grown. If you have never had a garden, this is a good place to start. You can even start by growing a few herbs on the kitchen windowsill. If you are wondering which herbs to start with, try the fantastic 5 fresh herbs: Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (like the song) and basil. You could add cilantro, dill, tarragon or whatever you like.

Source: Low Sodium Cooking Tips

Taking salt off the menu / Community projects aim to achieve healthier diets
Programs promoting the reduction of salt in food have been spreading around the country, in households and across communities. Low-salt foods suffer from a reputation for blandness. But restaurants and bento shops offer a variety of menus geared toward low-salt diets, which help people reduce their salt intake.
The Kashiwazaki Kyushoku Center Cooperative Association in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, makes and delivers bento to offices and factories. They have developed a new meal–a reduced-calorie “healthy bento”–which contains less than 3.5 grams of salt, about one gram lower than a normal bento.
(Yomiuri, Jun 03)

Taking salt off the menu / Community projects aim to achieve healthier diets
Aki Omori / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Programs promoting the reduction of salt in food have been spreading around the country, in households and across communities. Low-salt foods suffer from a reputation for blandness. But restaurants and bento shops offer a variety of menus geared toward low-salt diets, which help people reduce their salt intake.

The Kashiwazaki Kyushoku Center Cooperative Association in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, makes and delivers bento to offices and factories. They have developed a new meal–a reduced-calorie “healthy bento”–which contains less than 3.5 grams of salt, about one gram lower than a normal bento.

In February, the center, with help from the Kashiwazaki Public Health Center, prepared a new monthlong menu. It invited 75 men and women to taste the new items, and about 80 percent of them were satisfied with the new dishes.

The new items included a radish salad flavored with mustard and a cutlet created by sandwiching shiso leaves and cheese between two slices of koya-dofu (freeze-dried tofu).

Nami Makiguchi, a nutritionist involved in planning the menu, said, “Our staff tried to vary the tastes and flavors in the bento.”

The center is considering delivering the healthy bento to individual customers.

In fiscal 2009, the Niigata prefectural government began its “Niigata Gen-en Runesansu Undo” (Salt reduction renaissance campaign) to reduce the daily salt intake of residents by two grams: a reduction of one gram from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2012 and another gram from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2018.

The government started the program because of the high number of people in the prefecture who die of stomach cancer or strokes, ailments to which excess salt is often a contributing factor, according to prefectural officials.

The campaign is aimed at promoting community-wide salt reduction programs, such as working with local companies to popularize soy sauce bottles with reduced-pour spouts that release just one drop at a time.

According to dietary guidelines set by the central government, the recommended daily intake of salt is less than 9.0 grams for men and less than 7.5 grams for women.

A 2010 survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on national health and dietary habits showed average daily salt intake per adult to be 11.4 grams for men and 9.8 grams for women. Recently, those numbers have decreased–but only slightly. People are dining out and using ready-made dishes more often, circumstances that make it difficult to reduce salt intake.


Some restaurants helping out

In Hiroshima Prefecture, about 50 restaurants in Kure and surrounding municipalities are working together to provide menu items with two to three grams of salt. The dishes are also less than 600 kilocalories and are made with local ingredients.

Local physician Miho Kusaka, a member of the salt reduction panel of the Japanese Society of Hypertension, proposed the project for healthy foods to be offered by the restaurants.

The project started in 2008 with eight eateries participating. “Even when doctors tell people to reduce salt, it’s not easy for them to do. I think it’s easier if they have tasty, low-salt meals available,” she said.

In late May, the country’s first-ever event dedicated to highlighting the importance of salt reduction was held in Kure. It was organized by The Yomiuri Shimbun together with other organizations. Restaurants set up stalls to offer low-salt meals, and demonstrations of low-salt cooking were held.

“Excessive salt intake can lead not only to high blood pressure but also to stomach cancer, strokes and heart and bone disease,” said Yuhei Kawano, a member of the board of directors of the Japanese Society of Hypertension.

Kawano also heads the lifestyle-related diseases section of the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Suita, Osaka Prefecture.

“It’s necessary to expand salt-reduction movements nationwide to reduce medical costs,” Kawano said.

(Jun. 3, 2012)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth

The Nutrition in a Nut | Relishing some new nutty recipes

Walnuts (left); Almonds (right) Source: Wikimedia Commons

Countries in the west have always recognized the high nutrition in a nut. In prehistoric times, the Jomon Culture in Japan was practically a “nut-gathering” culture, gathering walnuts, chestnuts and all manner of acorns. Slowly, that nut culture has virtually disappeared, the use of nuts in Japan dwindling to their use as additions to dressings, condiments and garnishings.

Jomon culture, chestnut gathering (Photo: mine)

In today’s Asaichi NHK TV programme, the programme took an extensive survey on the value of nuts in nutrition, as anti-ageing anti-wrinkling magic pill, skin-propper, bowel-mover and diet helper … and recommended heaps of useful recipes…that look set to become staples and new favorites on our home menu.

A researcher in nut nutrition was on hand testifying to the results of before after results of consuming nuts over a 6 month period, his skin was indeed fantastic for a 50+ year old…you could shave 20 years off his real age.

According to the researcher, his experiment showed to get the desired results, one needed to consume (translating below from the Asaichi homepage):

Almond paste recipe
・1日25グラム Daily 25 grams (about a palm-ful)
・毎食にわけてEat separately from main meals (best after meal, he later says on the show)
・無塩で素焼きUnsalted roasted

Other participants’ secrets/recommendations – eating a bag of nuts with soya milk.

Apart from almonds, walnuts, highest in dHA oils, are considered the best brainfood) and Koreans are said to consume the largest amounts of walnuts in their daily diet today, so we could take a leaf from their page.

One of the favorite recipes I have swiped off the show is as follows:

フルーツがけかつおのたたき Fruit-topped katsuo-tataki bonito tuna or horsemackerel (seared over open-flame)

材料・4人分 Ingredients for 4 persons:
・かつお(さく・刺身用)・・・約400グラム 400g flame-seared-bonito
・サラダ油・・・少々                                       A drip of salad oil
・みょうが・・・1コ                                           1 stalk Myoga ginger
・細ねぎ・・・大さじ3                                     3 Tbsp of chopped thin long onions
・キウイ・・・1コ                                              1 chopped kiwifruit
・しょうが(すりおろす)・・・小さじ1             1 tsp ginger, grated
・貝割れ菜・・・2分の1パック                     1/2 pack of radish sprouts

・レモン汁・・・大さじ2                                  2 large Tbsp lemon juice
・しょうゆ・・・大さじ2                                     2 Tbsp soya sauce
・みりん・・・小さじ1                                       1 tsp mirin

作り方 Preparation

かつおは少し前に冷蔵庫から出し、室温に戻す。 The refrigerated katsuo-tataki should be left at room temperature for a short while before prep.
貝割れ菜は3センチの長さに切る。 Cut the sprouts to about 3 cm
みょうがは縦半分に切って小口切りにする。 Finely slice the myoga ginger
細ねぎは小口切りにする。Finely chop the long thin onions
皮をむいたキウイは細かく刻む。Chop finely the kiwifruit (leathery skin removed)
これらを混ぜ、合わせ薬味をつくる。Mix together all of the above
レモンじょうゆの材料を混ぜて、(2)と合わせる。 Add lemon and soya sauce to the above mixture and mix.
かつおの血合いを取り除き、十分に熱したフライパンにサラダ油を入れ、皮のほうから焼く。Heat a frying pan coated thinly with cooking salad oil and brown the katsuo-tataki on all sides.
器にかつおを盛り、(3)をのせる。Cross-section and slice the block of katsuo-tataki into about 1 cm thick slices, layout as in the picture above, line one side of the fish with sprouts, and the other side with the fruity mixture.

Some other suggestions from Asaichi on how to add nuts to our diet through our cooking and main meals:

Almond olive oil-ginger paste recipe

・アーモンド・・・60グラム(皮付きで、オーブンなどで、から焼きをしたもの)60g shelled ovenroasted almonds
・オリーブオイル・・・大さじ8  8 Tbsps olive oil
・しょうゆ・・・小さじ2分の1    Soya sauce half a tsp
・しょうが・・・6グラム                 Ginger 6 g

<作り方> Preparation:

Roll with rollingpin, walnuts in a ziplock bag, but *** take care to stop before they turn into flour.

Add olive oil, soya sauce and ginger and mix. The mixture will keep for 2-3 weeks.

You can add the above almond paste to many types of meat dishes, like niku-jaga (boiled potato and beef), pasta meatsauce (prepare meatsauce as usual and add almond sauce at the end). You can also add the almond paste grilled fish dishes, katsuo-tataki.


Banbanji-tare (for 4 persons)バンバンジーダレ(4人分)

・万能アーモンドダレ・・・大さじ4 4 Tbsp almond paste
・さとう・・・大さじ1と3分の1            1 1/3 Tbsp sugar
・しょうゆ・・・大さじ1と3分の1        Soya sauce 1 1/3 Tbsp
・酢・・・小さじ1                                     Vinegar

材料を全部あわせてよくなじませれば完成です。Mix all of the above ingredients


Use the above to make natto toast, omelettes and as salad dressing.


Walnut miso-mirin-wine topping

・むきくるみ・・・100グラム 100 g shelled walnuts
・みそ・・・100グラム            100 g miso
・さとう・・・100グラム、        100 g sugar
・みりん・・・大さじ1              1 Tbsp mirin
・酒・・・大さじ2                     2 Tbsp cooking sake-wine


Pop the walnuts into the foodprocessor until walnut powder is produced. Mix with various foods (such as at the end of rice porridge on the boil for Korean porridge dish), dust thickly over rice balls, or top over konnyaku veggie dish (on its own or with other ingredients).

Korean porridge recipe is as follows:

・米・・・60グラム            60 g rice
・ごま油・・・小さじ2       2 tsp   Sesame oil
・水・・・500ミリリットル  500 ml water

・くるみ・・・40グラム      40 g walnuts
・水・・・50ミリリットル    50 ml water


米は洗って水につけ、ザルにあげて水気を切る。 Wash rice, drain rice with a sieve
ハンドミキサーで少し粒感が残る程度につぶす。 Process with a handmixer till texture is fine
くるみは熱湯に浸して表面の薄皮を竹串できれいに取り、フライパンで軽く炒る。 Wet surface of walnuts with warm water slightly to remove the husk off the walnuts, then roast lightly the walnuts in a frying pan till dry and crispy.
水50ミリリットルを加え、ハンドミキサーでなめらかになるまでつぶす。 Add 50 ml of water to the handmixer.
鍋にごま油を敷き、米を炒める。もったりしてきたら水500ミリリットルを加え、弱火で炊く。 In the pot, fry the powdered rice in sesame oil and then add 500 ml of water and cook over a weak/low fire, all the time stirring.
時々かきまぜながら、じっくり火を通す。ある程度火が通ったら、くるみを加え、ゆっくりかき混ぜながら弱火で5~6分炊きあげる (約10分) After about 10 minutes or so, add the walnuts and stir slowly over the low fire for 5-6 minutes maybe 10 mins to serve.

Last but not least, this relatively easy-to-fix Fish and Chips recipe looks set to become the new favourite variation for my kids:

フィッシュ アンド チップス Fish and Chips

・かじき・・・400グラム(3~4切れ) 400 g of any kind of billfish/swordfish/marlin/sailfish
・塩、天ぷら粉(市販)・・・各適量   Tempura flour (with salt added)
・さつまいも・・・2分の1本                 1/2 Sweet potato

・赤みそ(仙台みそなど)・・・30グラム   30 g red miso (Sendai miso used in the show)
・砂糖・・・大さじ2                                      2 Tbsp sugar
・みりん、マヨネーズ・・・各大さじ1          1 Tbsp of mirin, mayonnaise each
・ラーユ・・・適量                                        Spicy sesame oil (or Korean sesame oil paste) – add a touch


かじきは1.5センチ幅に切り、塩をふる。 Slice the fish to 1.5 cm thick, salt the fish
さつまいもは薄切りにしておく。                 Slice the (long) sweet potato into round chip slices.
ボウルに赤みそを入れてよく混ぜて、砂糖・みりん・マヨネーズを加えてよくかき混ぜ、最後にラーユを加える。(みその塩分によって調味料を加減する)                          In a bowl add and mix well the sugar, mirin, mayonnaise, and last the sesame oil paste
中火で熱した揚げ油に(1)のさつまいもを入れて揚げる。あがったら、天ぷら粉をつけた、かじきを入れ中火で揚げる。Note: Bag tempura flour in a ziplock bag, add the fish and shake till fish are well coated with flour. Heat a pot of oil over a medium fire and add the floured fish. Fry the tempura fish till nice and brown, and remove.
器にかじきとさつまいもチップスを盛り付け、(2)の合わせみそを添える。Add chips to the remaining still heated oil over a medium fire and fry till chips are crispy and remove to drain off excess oil.

* The above mentioned show was careful to mention that peanuts are considered to be not “nuts” but in the “mame” or legume family. The nuts recommended for consumption are all those that are the innermost kernel protected inside a relatively hard shell and inner husk.

** One needn’t be concerned about fat-or cholesterol levels, though nuts are a higher-fat food, they contain mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat and may help lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol).. However, for full health benefits, do not use salted nuts…and like all things, eat in moderation (or as recommended by the nut expert on this show)

***Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health found three times as many people trying to lose weight were able to stick to a Mediterranean-style moderate-fat weight loss diet that included nuts, peanuts and peanut butter versus the traditionally recommended low-fat diet. (International Journal of Obesity, Oct. 5, 2001).

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Growth