This weeks healthy hearty soup is Carrot, ginger & turmeric soup! The combination of flavors is just divine AND the benefits to our bodies from fresh organic ginger root and turmeric root are NUMEROUS!Read More
When I first get started with what I call soup-season I just want to eat soups everyday. The way hearty thick soups give nutrition, energy and warmth to your whole body is addictive as the degrees are dropping. And when you need healing after a tooth extraction / oral surgery like me.
This weeks creamy spicy pumpkin soup is like the sweetest and most flavorful party my taste buds have ever experienced. And it's the most healing dinner I could think of today...Read More
Yum it's summer-time & it's time for watermelon! Read more for ancient facts about watermelon from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective as well as some fun serving ways from Danish minds!Read More
I'm not a big baker... I just find that homemade cakes are cakes made with love (especially when they are heart shaped)!Read More
I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is where we "break the fast" our body has been under for many hours and where we stock up the energy needed to Attack the Day.
So we need to eat a lot and we need to eat right. Most mornings in our home we make big healthy breakfasts with greens, grains & proteins. With coffee on the side, oh don't forget the coffee (:
But some mornings my body doesn't feel like a big feast. Or I don't feel like cooking. Or I don't have the time (this happens very rarely as I always make sure to have time in the morning, nothing worse than rushing from the beginning of the day!) But on these days I replace my greens, grains, coffee & protein with A BIG YUMMY BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE!
Fruit and Vegetable (I prefer a mix) are super super yummy and gentle to your digestion system in the mornings. Remember that no matter how yummy and healthy the supermarkets pre-packed smoothies look, they are probably packed if not with sugar then with additives to make the shelf live longer. DYI (Do It Yourself).
Nothing like a morning smoothie routine and starting each day with this healthy addictive habit - you should try it!
Mango-Banana Breakfast Smoothie
1/2 big mango or 1/1 smaller mango
50 g of muesli/oats
1 cup of soymilk
1 cup of water
TIP: Add spirulina powder for a green version
Blend, serve with ice & enjoy
A Typical Breakfast in our home
Avocado on rye bread, egg, greens & a Sweet Kiwi Treat. Coffee and water on the side
Under the Spotlight: Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been a dietary and beauty staple for centuries. With the booming of health and wellness related topics, in the past few years coconut oil has gained a reputation for being one of the healthiest foods, a so-called superfood. According to the latest trends, the beneficial uses of non-hydrogenated, virgin coconut oil allegedly range from cooking to cleaning, from skin care to pet care, helping to prevent a number of illnesses and improving your overall physical conditions: a true panacea for universal remedy!
Some nutritional information
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 117 calories. Like all other oils, coconut oil is 100% made of fat, with little to no vitamins and minerals. Unlike other oils though, its fat structure is unusually high in medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCTs), which are directly processed by our bodies and easily transformed into energy by the liver. Other oils and fats instead, are rich in long-chain triglycerides that are difficult for the body to break down and therefore get stored as fat tissue in our bodies.
The belief that medium-chain saturated fats, such as the lauric acid, may not actually influence the levels of LDL-c or “bad cholesterol”, is the reason why so many nutritionists advocate for the health benefits of coconut oil.
Many experts argue that one of the benefits of consuming the MCTs contained in coconut oil is that it can increase your energy expenditure, boosting your metabolism and helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
The consumption of coconut oil can even reduce your hunger, making you feel full for longer and therefore producing weight-loss effects. Some small studies have shown that men who ate most MTCs for breakfast would eat significantly less calories during the day.
Another study on obese women and men has shown that implementing 30ml (1 ounce) of non-hydrogenated, virgin coconut oil into your diet, all without changing any other eating or fitness habits, can lead to significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference.
The MCTs in coconut oil, and more specifically the lauric acid, seem to be effective in killing harmful pathogens, potentially helping to prevent bacterial and fungal infections. In fact, our bodies convert lauric acid into monolarium, one of nature’s most effective anti-virals, antibacterials and antifungals. Some research has shown that coconut oil is effective in treating skin and respiratory conditions.
Moreover, coconut oil is also regarded as a “miracle” toothpaste by many dental care experts. You can use it for your oral hygiene, against tooth decay and to kill the bad bacteria and yeast living in your mouth.
The other side of the coin
The mainstream health community attributes even more benefits to coconut oil, from reducing epileptic seizures and risk of heart disease, to preventing Alzhaimer and cancer. Even though currently this seems to be the prominent opinion, a number of nutritionists and researchers are still skeptical about the benefits of consuming this oil and recommend only a rather moderate use. In fact, many still believe that the consumption of all oils containing saturated fats is to be limited in people’s dietary habits, as they could harm the cardiovascular system causing coronary risk.
Use it for your personal care!
If you can’t make up your mind about the health benefits or risks of coconut oil, you can surely follow our suggestion on this one: it’s amazing as a natural body and hair lotion!
Commercial moisturizers are not the best choice when it comes to taking care of your skin and hair. First of all, they contain a lot of water which only moisturize your skin for a few minutes, until it dries out. Moreover, many of these brands are petroleum-based and contain chemicals that can harm and suffocate your skin and hair.
In contrast, coconut oil provides deep, long-lasting moisture. It’s amazing as a lip balm when in its solid state, and perfect as a body lotion on its liquid state. It helps heal your skin and the underlying tissues. It clears your skin from the dead cells that make it rough and flaky in texture, leaving it smooth and glowing. Coconut oil works the same way also for your hair as it moisturize and protect them, keeping them healthy and shiny.
This article is by Ludovica Damonte. Read more about Shanghaihabits' food editor here or continue reading to learn a few smart uses of coconut oil from Shanghaihabit's Line!
I've always used oil for my split hair ends. I rub a small amount in at bedtime, braid it and let the dry ends soak up this natural wonder elixir during the night. If I know I'll be washing my hair the following morning I'll exaggerate the amount a little bit and use it as a natural mask. But I always try to avoid the top as oil can be difficult to wash entirely out and it can make your hair look really greasy.
I've used Morrocan oil, argan oil, olive oil and now my absolute favorite is coconut oil. I've used it over a year now and my hair feels super healthy & happy. For this reason I've also started adding it to my brows in the evening - to make them grow thicker and more characteristic.
I use coconut oil for skin care as well. I rub it on my skin in the evening or mornings and use it to massage my body parts and get the blood circulation going. I'll even use it in my face in the evenings, I swear it is a miracle treatment for face lines and dry cheeks.
Last year I started getting smal whiter spots/areas on my upper arms which really freaked me out. My doctor in China said it was sun damage and my Danish doctor said skin fungus. So I ended up getting totally different treatments (fungus: soap & keep dry, sun damage: thick lotion & keep moist). After not seeing any result from either I threw both soap and moisturizer out and started consequently using coconut oil on my arms every morning and evening. After 1 month my arms where both back to normal. I'm still not sure what it was but for skin fungus or skin rash coconut oil will help because it's anti-bacterial and for sun damage (not sun burned!!) it will help repair your skin as it is super moisturizing and healing.
When I travel I like to travel light so I leave all products behind and consequently use coconut oil for dry hands, dry skin, make up remover, dry lips etc.
I don't fry a lot when I'm cooking but if I do I'm consequently using coconut oil. The flavor it adds to a thai dish or do roasted vegetable is so yum! I also use it as a butter or vegetable oil replacement in cooking. Even though it's high in calories I truly believe it's such good fat and it will smoothen you inside and make you whole system run so much better. And as we've seen above - it prepares your body to burn lots of calories during the day.
Ever heard about fat black? That's one of the newest terms in the world of coffee. A black coffee with a tea spoon of coconut oil in the morning is said to kick start your metabolism, increase your energy level and make you feel less hungry throughout the day. I haven't made this a habit but I've made it a few times (with some milk added as I am a proper latte lover) and it is actually super yum. Different but yum. My boyfriend makes his with a teaspoon of real butter which is another variety of the Fat Black... He swears that this shot of caffeine and fat makes him feel super energized for so long!
And 100 other things
There's lots of other ways to use this natural wonder and lots written about it. Check this article with 101 uses for Coconut Oil and make sure to get a hold of organic coconut oil and get started. Best sources in Shanghai would be online groceries like Fields.
At Shanghai Habits we do believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! No need to confine yourself into strict regimes, simply follow a few wise recommendations for your new healthy lifestyle & enjoy 2015 responsibly!Read More
Back from cozy Christmas holiday in Denmark and straight into busy-everyday-working-life in Shanghai. Trying to fit aaaall these hobbies, duties & errands into a tight schedule - and staying healthy at the same time. Not always easy! Though Shanghai has a lot of healthy food options when eating out, I find it so difficult to make healthy choices if I need a quick to-go breakfast on my way to work or if I don't want to eat local noodles for lunch - again.
As my mornings are super busy with yoga classes, getting ready and getting to work in good time (I like being in good time) and as my work is located in a super local neighborhood I often find myself in this situation. In order to not having to rely on lemon water, bananas & lattes to fuel the start of my day and to avoid turning into a noodle (!) I have started to plan my healthy habits a little bit better.
If I want to eat more healthy during a busy working week and on-the-go, I find that weekend-planning for that week is vital. It makes it easier, cheaper & much more enjoyable!
My sister's lentil patties were the first thing that came to my mind when I started thinking about ideas for yummy food that can be cooked, frozen and eaten on the go. In Denmark we always have these portion-packed in our freezer and when attending family dinners where the main course is often meat me and my sister bring lentil patties. These yummy treats are packed with natural protein from lentils & nuts and they go so well with most sides. After they've been frozen they can be eaten cold as a snack or bake them in the oven and serve for dinner as a meat replacement.
This time I made a biiiig portion and I experimented with using my bread forms to make lentil pates - that turned out to be such a good solution! You avoid having to fry so many individual patties - just bake the lentil-pate in a form for approx 1 hour or until golden. Cut out in slices and freeze for later use. I also froze 7 bags of lentil patties after this cooking session. Perfect to have vegan topping for salad, vegan filling for wraps or a quick vegan snack for next week's busyness!
400 g red lentils
2 carrots, grated
2 big onions, grated
50 g nuts, roasted and chopped
Fresh herbs (coriander or basil, dry can be used as well)
3 cloves of garlic
50g of oats
1-2 cubes of vegetable stock
Coconut oil for frying
Cook the red lentils in filtered water for approximately 30 minutes or until they have turned into a thick liquid mass. Pour out excess water and cool down so it's not boiling. Grate carrot, onion and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, I use a blender or food processor. Mix everything together and add oats until the mass is thick and not too wet.
Fry small patties in olive oil at low heat. You need to keep them small to avoid a mess and use heaps of olive oil (natural oil mmmm). If you prefer you can use a kitchen towel to dry the patties from excess oil after frying. Don't worry if they seem too soft and uncoocked when you take them off the pan, they will set when they cool down. And as they are both meat & egg free, there is really nothing to worry about (:
Don't hesitate to customize and add your favorite ingredients like nuts, seeds, herbs and flavors!
Chocolate tastes so good that often we can’t help but feeling a bit guilty about eating it. But is chocolate actually bad for our health? As many of you may know already, the answer comes with great relief and is NO, chocolate may actually help you keep healthy. How? Read on and find out everything about this delicious superfood!
The darker the better
First, not all types of chocolate are healthy. So, if you’re already reaching out for a chocolate candy bar... hold on! Chocolate’s nutritional goodness comes from cacao, a bean that is packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky and overall nasty to the taste buds. This is why most chocolate bars also contain sugar, milk, butter and other substances which have the only effect of diluting the benefits of cacao and adding on the calorie count.
To keep it beneficial and still delicious, choose the least processed
chocolates possible containing 70% of cacao and up. Many brands, like Hershey’s, sell pure cocoa powder, which you can add to your smoothies or yogurt for maximum benefits.
A healthier heart
Once determined which kind of chocolate is good for you, let’s pass on to the actual benefits. Research from different institutes proves that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits. Thanks to a high concentration in antioxidant flavonoids, chocolate may help keep your blood pressure under control and reduce the risk of heart attack. On the other hand though, as these antioxidants come together with a great amount of sugar, eating chocolate is not an excuse to cut down exercise.
Actually, studies have shown that together, chocolate and exercise, maximize each other’s benefits to your body. So, why not treat yourself a guilt-free piece of chocolate after exercising?
A brighter brain
Ever felt like it’s impossible to focus at work or at school and you’re just too distracted to get anything done? Here’s your solution! Chocolate seems to increase the blood flow to the brain, helping you improve your cognitive functions. The effects of alertness and receptiveness may last up to 3 hours after consumption, also thanks to its small caffeine content.
Moreover, chocolate is also believed to be a stress reliever. So, grab that chocolate snack, not only will it help your body ward off the effects of stress on the work place, but it'll also boost your brain power when you really need it.
Lose weight the yummy way
Yes, we’ve said it. Eating dark chocolate might actually help you lose weight. Before you reach out for a huge chunk though, let us remind you that chocolate is really high in calories and the secret to its benefits lies in moderation. Eat it as a substitute for unhealthy snacks or whenever you experience a sweet craving; it will make you feel satisfied and will help you control your appetite, thus producing weight-loss effects.
So, instead of reaching out for a cookie, a sneaker or a sugared drink, just go for dark chocolate, an equally delicious option with much higher benefits to your body.
If you need some inspiration for yummy yet healthy December treats, follow our recipe section and find out the many ways you can indulge during the holiday season without falling into unhealthy habits.
----- Buy Fair Trade chocolate whenever possible. It’ll taste even better as you’re doing good, and will make a huge difference to the lives of cocoa farmers and their families around the world.
It's December, it's Christmas time and it's tiiiiiime for Sweet Treats & Chocolate! Lots of Chocolate!
For me, speaking of chocolate means speaking of only one kind: Dark Chocolate! I love eating dark chocolate (every day sweet tooth snack), drinking dark chocolate (in homemade hot chocolate or milkshake) and I love using dark chocolate for cooking.
I recently bought the cutest heart-shaped baking form and have been experimenting with different kinds of healthier and quick chocolate desserts.
Dark chocolate is perfect for making healthier brownies (the darker the better) and I often add extra chocolate and less sugar than any recipe lists. Actually I never add sugar - I substitute. It's one of my tricks to making healthier, yummier and more natural Sweet Treats.
I'll just share my best baking tricks with you - I find that they work magic not only for my health - also for flavor and consistency:
- Substitute sugar with raw honey (still, go easy)
- Substitute butter with coconut oil
- Substitute flour with oats, coconut flour or almond flour
- Experiment with adding shredded vegetables such a zucchini, carrot and squash for a healthier and more fluffy cake (add raw and bake)
- A-V-O-C-A-D-O! My favorite smoothie ingredients works magic for baking as well (ph yes!) Especially in any brownie recipe! Just blend it creamy and add it to your dough before baking!
Get started on your Sweet December Treats <3
As winter is approaching, we’re taking a stand against cold temperatures and seasonal illnesses by boosting our system with healthy nutrients all throughout November. To keep warm and enhance our body’s nutritional intake we have decided to share one yummy soup recipe each week of the month. Want to know why having soup is so important for your body? Read on and find out!
Maximize your nutritional intake.
Sugared hot drinks, chocolaty snacks, fatty warm dishes… winter is also holiday season with Christmas, New Years and, for us living in China, Chinese New Year. For many, cold temperatures and the holiday cheer might result in eating more and more often, with the risk of increasing only the calorie intake while disregarding the nutritional value of what we eat.
Our suggestion is to start your meal with a delicious soup. Containing much water and healthy fiber, vegetable soups help you feel satisfied and full sooner. Research has shown that eating soup at the beginning of your main meal, reduces the calorie intake by up to 20% without compromising on nutrition.
Better raw or cooked?
The answer is… it depends! On one hand, some nutrients in vegetables are heat sensitive and easily get destroyed when cooked or dissolved in water. It’s the case of vitamin C, a compound that can be found in many vegetables such as bell peppers, dark leafy greens and broccoli. On the other hand, boiling vegetables is proven to enhance the level of other nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerful antioxidants, which can be found especially in cooked tomatoes, are associated with a number of health benefits among which a reduced risk of cancer.
Comparing the health benefits of cooked versus raw vegetables is complicated. What we do suggest is that you eat plenty of both, according to your own taste. No doubts, a hearty and creamy soup is the perfect accompaniment to your winter meals.
Do It Yourself!
If you’ve lived in China for a while, you should already know that you can choose among a great variety of packaged or powdered instant soups. Obviously, DIY Soups are the best option to maximize all benefits of a healthy diet. Pre-made soups that you can find at any convenience store and supermarket are EXTREMELY high in sodium, low in protein and high in carbs as they are potato starch based.
It’s true, making soup out of fresh veggies might take a while and sometimes it’s hard to fit some cooking time into our busy schedule. But Natural is just Better! For efficiency purpose, we suggest you make big quantities of soup at once and consume it over the next few days or freeze it for a later use.
If you love your body and are ready to try some delicious soup recipes, visit our Recipe section here on Shanghaihabits and get started with cooking!
Happiness is many things and Home-Cooked Soup is definitely one of them!
Did you know that Tomato is often referred to as a super food? Though this might not go for all tomatoes here in China tomatoes are evidently a healthy source of antioxidants, fibers and c-vitamins. If I were in Denmark I would buy organic and throughout the summer only eat our own tomatoes from our super eco green house... Reality here in Shanghai is different and I can live with that and try not to worry my life away.
We all know (or should know) that natural and fresh is best. So I always have a slight concern when using lots of canned or preserved food in general. So, how about canned tomato and a recipe like our Classic Tomato Soup recipe which is practically based on it?
- Just like fresh tomatoes, the canned version are low in calories and packed with fiber, vitamin C and fiber
- The canning process destroys some of the vitamin C and fiber but on the other hand canned tomatoes are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene (shown to help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer)
- Quick & Convenience are key in a busy everyday life
- Canned tomatoes often contain lots of salt - some brands offer "no salt added" versions. I have not found any here yet. You will often find other additives as well to preserve color and shelf life
- Like plastic containers there is some concern about the BPA (bisphenol) content in canned goods (as BPA may seep into the product from the container). Some suggest to look for boxed tomatoes instead of cans
- Remember to transfer your canned tomatoes to a plastic container after opening (Like with all other canned food)
Canned tomatoes are really convenient and really delicious aaaand actually full of nutrition. But as with everything else moderation in key so don't get too addicted. Try to go natural even when you go canned and check the label: it is possible to find preserved tomato products which only has one ingredient on the label: Tomato (hello ideal world)
Classic Tomato Soup is my boyfriend's absolute favorite soup which was also why he got to make it using his old and simple family recipe. Yum - a hearty, healthy soup filled with naturalness AND made & served with love. I'm such a lucky girl.
Make someone happy with this treat!
3 cans of chopped tomatoes
2 onions peeled and chopped
Fresh tomatoes chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic
vegetable stock w. 1 liter of water
1 tbsp coconut oil
Heat up your coconut oil and stirfry onion and garlic. Add chopped and canned tomatoes. When boiling add veggie stock and let boil at low heat for 30 min or more. Less will do but the more it sits the more flavor (that's why you should make enough for tomorrow where it wlll be super super yummy!
Serve with natural yoghurt and basil, parsily or coriander. Roasted nuts are great as a substitute for croutons.
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When I decided to dedicate November to a month full of colorful nutritious yummy food - such as soups - gazpacho was one of the first on my list. This typical summer soup is big in the South of Europe and in Denmark I don't really come across it that often. But I absolutely love it.
My plan was to experiment with this soup as one of the first ones in the beginning of November when the October degrees was still dominating the days in Shanghai... But it seriously just got cold in a split and I went straight into the warmer creamier ones.
Still, gazpacho has been on my mind and this Sunday I finally made my boyfriend take the time to make it.... Oh why I didn't do it myself is another story and luckily my boyfriend is more than happy to take some time in the kitchen. Aaaand I did myself make the recipe as well as order the fresh ingredients through Fields. I ordered my veggies online from Suzhou before 17 on Saturday and they arrived the following day at my apartment on the 3rd floor in Shanghai. Just in time for cooking. I can't believe it took me this long to discover the convenience of online grocery shopping in Shanghai!
Gazpacho soup is one of the absolute easiest soups to make and it's such a delicious starter filled with flavors and nutrition.
1 peeled cucumber
2 bell peppers of your choice
4 full size ripe tomatoes or around 250g of ripe cocktail tomatoes
1 peeled onion
4 peeled cloves of garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes or 1 cup of tomato juice
2-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablesppons of olive oil
1 cup of water
seasoning and paprika
a dash of tabasco or chilli powder
Chop all your veggies and blend them with canned tomatoes, water and vinegar. You might need two rounds of blending. Pour into a serving bowl and add olive oil, seasoning and tabasco as you please. Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours - the more it sit the more flavour!
Serve with chopped nuts, herbs and a dash of olive oil on the top!
Tip: If you want to make the very very classic version you need some day-old bread (preferably French or similar kind) which you soak in filtered water. Squeeze the water out and blend the bread with the soup. Super thick and filling!