Trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world

Posts Tagged ‘Organic

Nice to meet ‘chia

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So, have ya chia’d chia seeds?

I’ve been aware of all these superfoods for quite awhile now, chia seeds, maca root, bee pollen, flaxseeds, goji berries yada yada yada and of the supposed health benefits of these foods, but for never really jumped on that bandwagon probably due to my preference at the time for a bottle of booze to a bottle over an ancient incan/mayan/super powered magical plant root.

But since discovering iherb which stocks all the products unavailable here in South Korea and its astoundingly cheap shipping costs to South Korea (free on orders exceeding $80) and wanting to get into a somewhat regular sleep pattern after removing coffee from my diet, my interest in a holistic lifestyle resurfaced once more.

I am one of those unfortunate people that has a high sensitivity to caffeine, which surprises even myself as my tolerance to other forms of stimulants is rather, unfortunately, expensively high. So, due to the nocturnal timetable of my work which allows me the luxury of being able to stay up to 5am and still get 7 hours of sleep (being able to set an alarm for 12pm is definitely the perk to my job) I found myself getting into some rather unsociable and unproductive sleeping patterns.

I love staying up late. I love being a night owl. However, I feel my body clock is not meant to function on these nocturnal hours and my circadian rhythms and all that were getting out of whack, as even though I was theoretically getting enough hours sleep, my metabolism, thought processes and general feelings of wellness were feeling fuzzy and out of sync. My dependence on caffeine to jolt me awake, even though well rested, was becoming problematic, leaving me in that unrelelnting pattern of ingesting litres of caffeine to keep you awake only to find yourself unable to sleep when the time comes.

So, coffee, my tall (long black), dark and handsome friend, it was time to bid you adieu.

But, like anything in life, it was able to be replaced.

Enter, the superfoods.

Hello friends.
L-R Navitas Nautrals Organic Maca Powder, Navitas Natural Organic raw cacao powder, Nutiva organic White Chia Seeds, Kims Club Fermented probiotic, Frontier organic whole flax seed

After a particularly harrowing experience with Spirulina, (nobody told me that it was best taken with pineapple juice – instead I tried to ingest the powder straight with water) which was quite an effective energy booster yet induced horrendous gagging, I was kind of skeptical to try anything else.

However, what can I say, I’m not sure if it’s one particular supplement, or a combination of them all, but since incorporating this breakfast power smoothie into my diet, I’ve been bouncing out the door, doing some mad lip synching and popping and locking to some old school hip hop playlists as I stalk through the Seoul streets all wired and alive. I find myself powering on through the afternoon/evening shifts with no lunch required, just a mid evening snack at around 5 or 6 of one of my raw balls, some fruit or nuts. (Mind you, I still wake up at the luxurious time of around 10am, having the smoothie around 10:30-11am)

So what exactly are their superpowers? In a nutshell:

Chia Seeds:
High in fibre:
30 grams contains roughly 12grams of fibre, nearly half of your RDI (recommedned daily intake) of fibre.
High in Omega 3’s and 6’s. Gram per gram chia seeds contain more omega 3’s than salmon.
High in calcium. 30 grams of chia seeds contains 20% of your RDI of calcium, 3x more than skim milk.

Maca Powder:
Energy Booster: Believed to reduce effects of anxiety and a general energy booster.
PMS / Male Reproduction: Is also very effective in reducing symptoms of PMS in women and heightening reproductive functions within males.

Raw Cacao Powder:
High in many vitamins and minerals such as:
Magnesium, and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
Polyphenols called flavonoids, with antioxidant properties
Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E
Essential heart-healthy fat: oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat and can help reduce cholestrol
Also gives the body a boost of energy; the “bliss” chemicals found in cacao help to increase circulation and availability of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in brain, improving mood and combating depression.

Good source of fibre
Omega 3’s: Flaxseeds contain concentrated amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat.
Help lower cholestrol
Good source of magnesium
High level of lignans which may protect against estrogen dependent cancers, like breast cancer.

Breakfast power smoothie

1 small, very ripe, frozen organic banana
1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries (or berries of choice)
1 small probiotic fermented drink (find one low in sugar and cals)
1/2 cup homemade almond milk (or milk of choice) recipe to follow soon
10 dry roasted almonds (home roasted)

2 tbsp organic chia seeds
1 tbsp organic raw cacao powder
2 tsp organic maca powder
1 tbsp organic flax seeds

Place all ingredients in any order into blender, food processor or moulinex.

frozen banana’s and blueberries…..

…..plus all the superfoods

Whiz/pulse on highest speed.

I find by the time I have put all the ingredients back in their cupboard/fridge/freezer home the smoothie is done. Which, however is not saying much, as I could stand in the same position of my small kitchen and perform some serious Stretch Armstrong manouveres and get everything back in its place.

For the sake of this blog and some pretty pictures I placed it in a cup and garnished. I usually eat it straight from the blender with a spoon (yes it’s that thick and luxurious thanks to the frozen banana’s)  as I am the dishwasher and hate washing up anything more than I have to.


Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 19, 2012 at 16:51

mo money, mo problems

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Notorious B.I.G. was onto something.
“I don’t know what, they want from me
It’s like the more money we come across
The more problems we see”

fast cars.
fast money.
fast food.
fast death.

I’ve mentioned before, it’s a crazy world we live in. “The irony of the food production system is that millions of wealthy consumers in developed countries are dying from diseases of affluence….” It really is a case of mo money, mo problems.

Anyone can make delicious food with sugar, fats and flours. It’s a foolproof combination.

Let’s take it back to basics. Cut the crap. Simple flavours. Real ingredients. Satisfying and delicious.

Too many health foods claim to be nutritious by replacing fats, sugars and flours with artificial flavours and sweeteners, chemical additives like xantham gum and guar powder or just other starchy flours.

Support the slow food movement. Its easier than you think. Start with buying organic. If it’s too expensive, buy less. You’re more than likely eating more than what you should anyway. Focus on quality, not quantity. Make one flavour the stellar, stand-out star of your meal.

I recently attended the Slow Food Festival in Paldang, South Korea (post to follow) and became aware of the slow food.com website and Terra Madre network. Yet to fully research it and its authenticity however it seems legit so far and an organisation I think I want to be a part of and support. It is an international, member supported non-profit organisation with a very low membership fee (90AUD/50EUR/35EUR in Asia – these prices are halved if under 30 years old) that supports small-scale, sustainable, local economies worldwide. They show their support by promoting taste education and backing educational projects in schools, hospitals and prisons and defending biodiversity with a sustainable model of agriculture, cultural identity and animal welfare and supporting any local community’s right to decide what it produces and eats. To date, there are 85,000 members in 132 countries from Mexican campesinos, French bakers, Mongol herdsmen, Vietnamese fisherfolk, Italian wine producers and South Korean organic farmers. Make up your own mind at www. slowfood.com.

Grow your own anything. Basil, coriander, chives, spring onion, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, weed if you can get away with it. Just sayin’! Here in Korea I would get deported for even the suspicion that I may have smoked it. Not worth it, and half the reason I’m staying here – self imposed rehab.

Eat less meat. I’m not suggesting here you have to become vegetarian or vegan. I have dabbled in the past, but I personally cannot give meat up completely. I only eat it about once a week, and eat fish/seafood 3 times a week, but I believe it constitutes a healthy diet in smaller quantities. Most Korean dishes actually serve meat as a side dish, for example Jangjorim.

Also, make sure you know where your meat is coming from. I cannot understand how some people will make the effort to source the most fresh and organic produce, yet due to the high price of grass fed, organic and farm raised free wheelin’ and dealin’ animals, supposedly ‘save’ money on meat. This was once a living, breathing, blood pumping animal. We eat its flesh, yet you really think it’s ok to eat an animal that has been subjected to conditions we do not even force our most terrible humans to endure in jail, like being pumped full of hormones and growth steroids to mature 4 times more quickly than normal, to grow a body so large our legs collapse under the sheer pressure, to be forced to live in perpetual darkness or subject to artifical lighting systems and living knee deep in our own shit, or fed GMO grain that is actually a by product of previous animals.

Either buy the good stuff or go without. Seriously, you don’t have to be a hippy-dippy or burn your bra and chain yourself to a tree. It’s just about educating yourself, having heart and understanding that this inhumane treatment of animals is unethical, it is doing damage to your body and that the government and regulating food bodies are more interested in making a profit, than your health and the flavour of the food. There’s many documentaries to educate you, but Earthlings, (A difficult watch) Food Matters  or Forks over Knives is a pretty good starting point.

But this isn’t meant to be a rant on animal liberation. Just to make you more conscious of what you put in your pie hole. Maybe more pie. Maybe less pie. Either way make that pie delicious and enjoy and appreciate every last bite.

whole food.
whole taste.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 18, 2012 at 03:31

Alripe then, what to do with an unripe avocado ey?

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Mmmmmmm, I love me a nice pair.

An avocado that is.

In Australia, they are a-plenty, as common as fluro at a festival, on-road SUV’s and overpaid tradie bogans pairing overpriced designer threads with a cheap-ass attitude and designer mullet. After 10 years of house sharing, with no less than 15 different sets of housemates, a regular wasted staple in the fridge, was the browning, slowly rotting, half carcass of a plastic wrapped avocado. They are literally an epidemic in any Australian share house fridge, tossed aside, bought in a bulk 3-for-$2 type scenario only to suffer an undeserved, ill-fated composted ending, if they’re lucky.

Avocado goes with everything, and makes any dish distinctly Australian. Crikey, cut it in half and it’s even a dish of its own. Have spoon, have salt, ta-da!! Breakfast! True Aussie avo grub would be to spread it on a slice of toast, add tomato if feeling particularly healthy and sprinkle with salt and pepper, add slices between the beetroot and fried egg on a works hamburger or wedge it under the smoked salmon on your eggs benedict when indulging in Australia’s favourite weekend pastime, Brunch.

Similar in colour to a bright green chameleon, Australia being the magical multicultural country it is, we’ve also made the avocado as interchangeable as the incognito reptile:

El Mexicano: Smash it and mash it, add some lemon and lime, chilli and salt, now it’s holy-moly-guacamole!
Turning-Japanese-a: Slice it and fan it over basically a small piece of good ole’ chicken schnitzel and give it a fancy name like “Chicken Katsu” and you’ve got a truly ‘Jonglish’ bit of aussie nigiri there.
Italiano: Spread it, slice it or dice it under fresh mozzarella with some ripe roma tomatoes and basil on some crusty ciabatta, with a balsamic/olive oil reduction and hey presto, gourmet bruschetta.  Save the avo, laughing cow wedge and tomato sauce for the “I’ve-come-home-alone-drunk-at-4am-in-the-morning-noone-loves-me-and-I-am-destined-to-be-alone-forever-but-damn-I-don’t-care-I’m-a-culinary-genius-right-now-om-nom-nom” (Anyone who says om-nom-nom deserves to be single)
Moroccan: Whiz it up in a blender with some milk and oranges, maybe a few obligatory chickpeas and there you have a favourite hawker food Moroccan avo shake.

But here in the land of South Korea, the avocado is quite an exotic being. Found only in fusion Korean food, the rich, buttery texture doesn’t seem to pair well with the spiciness and characteristics of Korean cuisine. It pops up at the better run mexican restaurants or typically in a california roll at a sushi joint, and also makes cameos on burgers menu-wide as Seoul is still in the (diminishing) throes of a burger show-down. All, at a price of course.

But, as I do like quite simple food, and tasting the individual flavours of ingredients, I longed for a fresh, perfect ripened avocado. I gazed longingly at them in the supermarkets, caressed them, only to then curse at myself for even contemplating paying ₩5,000 – ₩6,000 for one single avocado, and placing them back on the shelf. Only of course to get home, and feel unfulfilled with everything I had bought.

It’s not that I’m a tight ass, quite the contrary actually (figuratively, not literally, I do my squats and lunges), but it’s more the logistics of where that avocado has travelled from and how long it has been sitting there. As I mentioned before, they’re not really popular here, and therefore I doubt they have a high supermarket turnover.

They are also as hard as a rock. Which I am used to, you seen these rocks?!(mmm, an altercation that occurred in Seoul some time ago, but kinda went viral) but these ones are sitting in the chilled section, and well, they shouldn’t be. Once an avocado has been chilled, it is harder to get them to ripen, if at all.

But, anyway, my desire for an avocado became so overwhelming that I threw caution, and hard-earned ₩ to the wind and caved against all my better judgements. I proceeded towards the downward descent to avocado disappointment.

I put it in a paper bag. I put it in a dark corner of a cupboard. I impatiently waited, checking on the dear thing daily, waiting for telltale signs of redemption to ripeness, yet, *sigh* to no avail. After waiting a week, I decided this little baby wasn’t going anywhere so it was now or never.

As soon as I cut it, and the knife struggled, making a slight crunching sound, I knew it was doomed to fail. It was like slicing through butter. When I eventually pried it in half,  I did the whole “attack-the-seed-with-knife-and-one-miss-could-sever-my-hand-trick” only to have the knife brutally stay in the seed, laughing at me, all sinister like and shit.

So, after retreating the knife and entering submission, I cried and wailed at my loss. What could I do with this unripe avocado?

Well, the only thing I could do was turn it into some sort of mashed up spread/dip/guacamole concoction, but I could hardly scoop the bloody thing out, let alone mash the friggin thing.

So, I had a brain wave, that perhaps the micro waves could help soften the blow. And voila, it worked, however it did make the whole thing turn an unappealing baby poo green/brown colour, but it tasted amazing and most importantly, was not a waste.

Unripe Avocado Dip

1 unripe avocado (of course this will work with a ripe one, but then just eat it in all its simple glory)
1 red chilli
1 tsp hot sweet chilli sauce
sprinkle rock salt
squeeze lemon juice

With avocado still in skin and seed in place (I couldn’t for the life if me remove it, it was that unripe) microwave on high in 30 second increments until it becomes pliable. Mine took 3x 30 second increments.
*It will brown slightly on the exposed edges. Mine was for my eating purposes only, so I didn’t care too much.

Attack seed with knife and remove.

Add all ingredients into blender and pulse the crap outta it.

Spread on toast, crackers, falafel topped with plain yogurt and sweet chilli or roll up in cabbage leaves with homemade hummus and vegetables. Recipes for these to follow soon.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 13, 2012 at 16:54

Food for thought

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I have followed vegetarian and vegan lifestyles in the past in an attempt to be more proactive in my sustainable endeavours, however, what can I say…..I love meat, seafood, eggs and chocolate too much for it to be a life long commitment. Consider the theory surrounding great white sharks, once they get a taste for human flesh, they continue to seek it out. Perhaps this extends to humans as well, I think it is easier to live a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle if one has not eaten meat, or whose parents are also vegetarians.

Contrary to the outside perception of the Korean diet, it is not all meat bbq. Sure it is enjoyed regularly, perhaps once a week, but even then, the quantities are far less than what it looks like (it’s all the tiny bowls of vegetable side dishes collectively called ‘banchan’ that make it look like super sized), a typical serving of meat is around 100 – 150g, and a minimum of two servings must be bought by a minimum of two people (due to again, all the preparation involved in preparing banchan).

Hence, why one-person-me usually only eats bbq meat once a week if I can coerce my friends into it…and why most Koreans are desperate to be in a couple. They just wanna eat some friggen bbq meat yo!

But, I find myself eating a shit tonne less meat here than in Australia, mainly due to the unavailability of lamb, my go-to-number-one meat. I find I prepare and eat really simple things if I am eating at home, salads, eggs, soups, vegetables. Eating out here is much cheaper than Australia, and generally, more nutritious, but this is a whole other post.

So, I’m not advocating one lifestyle choice over the other, however, I do not condone the inhumane treatment of animals and always make a conscious decision to purchase organic meat that has come from animals treated ethically and wild, locally caught seafood.

Organic groceries are becoming more affordable and readily available in Korea, see my previous post here as are organic vegetarian restaurants. Finding a restaurant that serves organic, humane meat is more of a challenge unless you are willing to drop a serious amount of coin – akin to that of your first born’s university fund.

Seoul Restaurants:
Byeokjae Galbi (벽재갈비) – High quality, high cost Korean beef BBQ. The restaurant owns and maintains the hanwoo (korean cow) farm in Gyeonggi. Ph. +82 2 2058 3535
Goraebul (고래불) – Seafood restaurant. Receives their seafood fresh everyday from fishermen on the east coast of Korea. Ph. +82 2 556 3677
Gae Hwa Oak (개화옥) – Traditional korean restaurant with black Jeju pork and barley fed beef from a local farm in Jeollanamdo. Ph. +82 2 549 1459
Slobbie (까페 슬로비) – Slow Food, casual dining, great prices, great atmosphere. Traditional Korean food, ingredients sourced from local farmers. Ph. +82 2 3143 5525
Cafe des VertsOrganic tea and coffee, sandwiches, yogurts. Casual atmosphere.

*I’d really like to hear of some more, this is a lazy, half assed collection.


It takes 50,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef.
It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of grain.

Most of the grains grown in the world is given to cattle.
These grains could be going to third world countries to help prevent starvation.

“The irony of the food production system is that millions of wealthy consumers in developed countries are dying from diseases of affluence – heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer, brought on by gorging on fatty grain-fed beef and other meats while the poor in the third world are dying of diseases of poverty by being denied access to land to grow food grain for their families”
/jeremy rifkin

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 9, 2012 at 14:41

Organic Schmorganic…..???

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Back home in Australia we are blessed with an abundance of fresh produce, all year round. Some of this is due to Genetically Modified foods (GM), which means the actual genetic makeup of the plant has been altered by scientists, or, much to the outcry of the general public, has been sitting in frozen storage for many months and sold as ‘fresh’ in season.

However, we are also fortunate in Australia to have many Farmer’s markets which sell organically grown produce, meat, poultry, dairy and seafood. Whilst I always knew organic was obviously better and more healthy, I never really understood why until I began studying nutrition. I mean, how could the government have regulations that allow the unsafe consumption of these pesticides, herbicides and hormones?

Because the government doesn’t really give a Basically because these chemicals have not been around long enough to truly monitor the long-term health effects. Consequently, the government has approached food (thus influencing our heavy grain-based diet) as purely a numbers game. We are a grossly expanding population and due to this consumer demand, chemicals and GM food have been introduced to maximise crop productions, growing rates, reliability and to apparently reduce the work of farmers. And, although a contentious opinion, to create a monopolisation of the world food market by large corporations controlling the distribution of GM seeds.

However, at what cost is this to our own mortality and evolution, the environment and the ecosystem?

I understand something had to change to feed the growing population, however why has the issue of food wastage not been properly addressed? Why do we have facts like this, that “All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.” 
South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have regulations in place that some (percentage unknown) food waste is to be fed to pigs as opposed to anaerobic digestions (which in a nutshell is vegetable waste decomposing in airtight containers to produce methane gas). Since South Korea introduced penalties for food wastage, there has been a 60% decrease in overall wastage.

However, back to organic foods.

To be certified organic, farming practices must be free from synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, hormones, antibiotics, sewerage sludge, genetic engineering and irradiation (basically electronic pastuerisation). Not only does this result in a completely chemical free product and is less invasive to the environment, it also supports sustainable agricultural practices.

South Korea has its own standards for regulating pesticide residue in food. However, here they also use 15 times more pesticides than the United States. Additionally, any imported produce also undergoes a secondary testing and possible respraying if not suitable to Korean standards. There are also tariffs of up to 40% on certain imported fruits, explaining why four apples can cost a ridiculous ₩15,000.

Being a foreigner in South Korea, it is not always easy to find organic produce or understand the different regulations. See here for a breakdown of the different levels of the National Agricultural Products Quality Management System (NAQAS). As a health conscious country, South Korean government has made statements to reduce pesticide use, however, I am not aware of the outcome. There is heightened interest into the benefit of organic foods and as a result there is a wider selection available at high-end marts such as Shinsegae and Hyundai (at high end prices), as well as E-Mart.

Servicing the Seoul area, veggiehill.com provides locally grown produce and other organic foods from Dumulmeori region. What makes this such a convenient service is that the site is in English, they offer a delivery service, the prices are competitive to non-organic produce and Monica is very prompt and easy to communicate with.

A relatively new and exciting event is the Seoul Farmers Market held every Saturday until October 20, 2012. The market boasts around 340 items from farmers in Seoul and throughout Korea and are open from 10am to 5pm in Gwanghwamun Citizen’s Park (광화문 시민열린마당), adjacent to Gwanghwamun Square.

Janong Natural Farming has been around for nearly 60 years and president, Cho Han Kyu, is extremely passionate about not only chemical free farming, but the humane treatment of animals with high quality feed and life, free from artifical lighting, hormones and antibiotics, The Nutritive Cycle Philosophy harnesses a balance between the environment, where animals, insects, weeds, sun and wind create an intricate method of natural pest control and crop rotation.

Information Network Village is a very comprehensive website that extensively covers farming villages Korea-wide. Searches can be done via Province/Village or by selecting an item of interest, fruit, vegetables, meat, grains etc. The site covers what particular region is revered for a certain product, as wll as nutritional, storage and consumption information.

Finally, the overall cost of buying organic is more expensive due to a number of reasons; there are no government subsidies in place, organic certification is expensive, crop production is slower and crop size is usually smaller, better living conditions for animals costs more money and organic farming is more labour intensive. However, if you are shopping on a budget, the products you should really buy organic or go without are:

  1. Strawberries / Berries
  2. Milk (pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics)
  3. Bananas (But you don’t eat the skin you say? Due to the tropical location bananas grow in and their sweetness, they are sprayed heavily whilst growing, gassed in ethylene to ripen and then finally sprayed with ethyl bromide to prevent travelling pests when shipping. Tell me none of this permeates the skin….)
  4. Stone Fruit
  5. Leafy greens
  6. Grapes
  7. Green beans
  8. Apples
  9. Capsicums / Peppers
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Tomatoes
  12. Celery

Written by ayearinpatissiere

August 3, 2012 at 17:49