Category Archives: Juicing

The cold-pressed juice wagon

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It is a fad that was already slowly and quietly bubbling under the surface of general consumerism in Malaysia. If ‘bootylicious’ made it as one of the most used word that awarded it self-deserved place in the Oxford dictionary, ‘cold-pressed juice’ I believe should be somewhere in the list of most-used, most-marketed word and product of the year 2014. Probably not a place to be reinvented in the Oxford dictionary though, because the 2 words exist in its own right with its on standalone meaning but hey, when you place it together – what a wave it has resulted in! Obviously it didn’t just came about overnight as some would attest to the larger cold-pressed juicing companies that existed in the market as early as 2009 and 2010. Back in the days when a Hurom is not just a car-ride and a AEON supermarket visit away.

While I am all for efforts and advocacy made towards a healthier nation through easier and more widespread access of healthy food, the uprising of this trend is also somewhat disturbing. The fact that anyone with a decent income can own an equally decent cold-pressed juicer is great, what is not so great however is the fact that these days it seems anyone with a decent cold-pressed juicer also thinks they can become champions of the power of juicing by selling their own versions of cold-pressed juices bottled in glass jars.

Yes, I totally understand the idea of capitalising on market opportunities. It is all economics right? The general public now have more access to information on the internet. They can’t be as easily duped by a full page spread in the newspaper telling them that a carton of Tropicana Orange Juice (with REAL orange pulp added!) is any where as superior as a smaller sized fresh, cold-pressed juices that comes in a BPA-free plastic bottle or even better a shiny glass bottle. People want fresh. People want wholesome, raw, active juices. Because cold-pressed juices promises vitality, health, rejuvenation and a bang for your buck. Yes it costs WAY more than that carton of orange juice, but if it’s suppose to cure ailments, make you feel better, wipe out your wrinkles and make you look 10 years younger, spending double and sometimes triple the price of a conventional juice becomes an easy afterthought.

If there is supplies to match market demand, and this is a demand that is pointing towards a change for the better than it is well and good isn’t it? Not so.

Here’s a scenario. One day you woke up and decided to pay a visit to your doctors. Annual health examination. A few days later the results came back and your doctor delivers you the grim news that you had better get your blood sugar level under control because your reading awards you a comfortable place within the ‘pre-diabetic’ category. Or perhaps, more likely these days, the doctor circles a random number on the result paper and tells you that you should watch your cholesterol because by god, those hash browns and McValue meals aren’t really adding much valuable nutrition to your body but rather accelerating your path to the nearest cardiac surgeon office.

So while you are driving home, all these numbers and facts circling in your head and a real concern that something has got to change, your food intake or your physical fitness or your entire approach to life, and you get hungry. But no, there can be no more McValue meals for you, and someone told you recently a juice-detox is a great way to kick start this new resolution for a healthier lifestyle. So you stop at the closest available cafe that you know sells great cold-pressed juices. Along the counter sits many many beautiful, delectable sounding cakes. Cakes, that without a doubt contains an eye-popping amount of butter (even worse, margarine!) and a truckload of white sugar. What happens next? There is a possibility that your better judgement kicks in, you pay for your juice and off you go. But there is also that equal amount of possibility that the ‘naughty’ side of you will try to justify by thinking “If cake is bad and juice is good and I take both at the same time, the good will neutralize the bad right??”

The human mind will always find novel ways to justify anything that it wants. And before you know it, oh the poor consumer who thinks he’s doing good by drinking all that juice everyday and sometimes rewarding himself with that cake is referred to the endocrinologist office instead because his blood sugar level is soaring and his body has decided that it is much too taxing to be processing ALL that sugar coming from both the cold-pressed juice and the cake.

What disturbs me is not the fact that this health trend is picking up traction but in the way that cold-pressed juices are being marketed by the people who are advocating its benefits. Would you go to a doctor who is sick? Probably not. But many of our doctors are overweight, smokes a pack a day and battling their own health issues. The reason you still visit them is because you don’t know what goes on in their personal lives. But what if it is all out there for you to see? What if “buy our cold-pressed juices” photos is posted on instagram next to a bowl of Magee mee? Or photos of people enjoying a plate of KFC with the tagline “buy our family bucket and get 6 bottles of cold-pressed juices free!” would you still be willing to pay the same premium? Probably not. Which is good for the consumer and their wallets, but it does nothing to educate them about the healing power of food.

So here’s the deal, drinking a bottle of premium cold pressed juice to wash down that butter cake/magee mee/[insert food that contains high cholesterol, preservatives, sugar and other unnatural products disguised as food] won’t make you any healthier than the next person who decides to wash it down with a Vitagen or a conventional carton juice or even a can of Diet Coke. It does however, make that next person slightly more richer than you though. That I am pretty sure of.

So before you buy, discriminate. Question. Most importantly on the ingredient, the freshness, and the cleanliness. Was the vegetables and fruits washed properly before being juiced? If it uses orange and lemon rind, was it organic (because lord knows how much wax covers the standard, non organic version and can you imagine ingesting them in that RM15 ringgit bottle of juice?) and of course there is also the question of “Is the lifestyle of the person whose business you are supporting the same that you would buy into?” Not as important as the initial questions, but remember, what you buy also supports the lifestyle of its makers.

Day 3 – Let thy food be thy medicine

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It’s day 3 of Vikasa’s Teacher’s Training Course and I guess the intensity must be catching up with some of us. At the 2 hour break we have in between theory and evening practice, a lot of my fellow yogi-in-training (I am going to refer to them as YITs) passed on trips to Chaweng or Lamai for a power nap instead. I on the other hand got a much needed massage on my shoulders and back at the massage place from across the street. A 60min shoulder and back massage comes up to 300 bhat. Some of the YITs were saying you could get something similar for 180 bhat in the Chaweng but I figured with the cab fare to and fro it would’ve worked out the same.

In theory class we discussed about food. So many things came out of it, from Sattvic diet, to organic food to raw diet and fasting. It was useful to have a lot of us contributing our own knowledge to the class and others to bring up very important and valid questions.

I went around Vikasa during breaks to try to snap as many photos as possible before the sun got up too high. And these are what I got:

View from the shala

Chilling out by the pool during breaks

 

The first 2 teachers from the TTC lineup – Kosta, owner of Vikasa and George

The view from the top point of Vikasa before morning practice begins

 

Market of everything on a Sunday morning

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There is a farmers market that I have been passing by for a number of months since my parents moved houses. Farmers market (or Pasar Tani in Malay) takes place in almost every town around Malaysia. Each varying in sizes and usually held either on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday mornings depending on which town you happen to be in. My appreciation for fresh produce market happened during my undergraduate years in Melbourne when I would walk the neat aisle of South Melbourne Market and admire the vibrant fabolous colors of fresh vegetables and fruits, and when I moved into the heart of the city in my final year, Victoria Market became my weekly haunt for fresh ingredients. It was also here where I was introduced to organic produce and how it is different from all the others stalls selling similar items. Later on when I decided to complete my Masters degree in Brisbane, I began to understand the concept behind a ‘true’ farmers where you are buying directly from the farmer who grew those produce thus eliminating the price hike that usually happens when there is a middle-man involved in the process. One of Brisbane’s farmers market which I love and would happily wake up early in the morning and go through multiple-transfer and modes of public transportation for is the Farmers Market in West End. If you ever associated farmers market as the true hippie, make-love-not-war type of congregation minus the illegal substance, this would be it.

That, plus if you find a friendly, happy seller behind the stalls, you get to strike up amazing conversations on food and how those produce came about. Nothing like knowing exactly where your food comes from!

Back at home and every Sunday, the roads surrounding the Melawati Stadium in Shah Alam will be filled with cars notoriously parked on either side of the roads and families jay walking across towards the vast car park area around the stadium lined with rows and rows of blue-topped stalls. Don’t ask me why they don’t choose to just park their cars in the proper parking area (Ah Malaysians, we are such a creative bunch sometimes). Last night, I convinced my sister that we should at least have a look, because we happen to live so close by and it’s kind of pathetic if we keep experiencing these mad traffic not knowing what brings the crowd back here every single Sunday without fail.

So off we went, at the ungodly hour of 7:30 in the morning to beat the crowd and while the weather is still slightly cool. And boy, have we been missing out! Most of the stalls selling fresh produce were already up by then, so was the ones selling hot, cooked (and not always necessarily healthy) food for breakfast. The term ‘market of everything’ popped in my head as we zig-zagged our way from stalls to stalls.

From fresh colorful vegetables, fruits and herbs..

to hot kebabs …

to mountains of dried anchovies …

and even live fishes to add to your aquarium!

I hope these pretty little babies don't run out of oxygen anytime soon..

The photos obviously doesn’t do justice to the real thing itself like how the tiny fishes in the plastic bag were really colorful and pretty and all you can see from it are just.. numbered plastic bags with water. I was walking and trying to snap photos from my Blackberry while holding on to all the stuff we bought along the way. Next time around, we’ve decided we’ll bring one of those trolleys that you pull along from behind.

While we were there, I bought a whole bunch of fresh bok choys, kailan, and gotu kola or penny wort (pegaga). It makes me really happy to see fresh produce being sold, it reminds me there is still hope against the canned, preserved and pasteurized food industry that has become so convenient and mainstream these days. Now I’m tossing between wanting to make some green smoothie with a handful of each thrown into it, some fresh coconut flesh and bananas or just boiling some of the gotu kola to make a nice, cooling tea. What do you think?

First unofficial class begins today

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I had my first stint at teaching yoga this morning. It started because our usual weekend class at the studio was cancelled over the Christmas – New Year holidays which means 2 full weeks of no stretching, bending and self-pretzelling into positions that you won’t normally do on a daily basis. Z, my best friend of 14 years, who just got into yoga less than a month and didn’t want to see the momentum die down over the long holidays came over – bright and early at 8 am in the morning.

We unrolled our mats on the grassy patch near the pool area, pulling a blind eye to 2 men seated on the deck chairs and proceeded with our sun salutations for 10 minutes (yes, it was timed!). 1 hour and a half can really fly by in between correcting poses, and counting down 30 seconds each time. I think those few breathless ‘thank you for torturing me’ comments meant that I did a pretty good job for a first time (yet to be certified) yogi. That experience of teaching for me is far more humbling than having to admit that I have a lifelong fear of breaking my neck in any inverted poses.

Which brings me to the very reason why I decided to start this blog. Timely as it is (hey new year’s resolution!), it is also part of a deal I had agreed on in order to qualify for some discounts possibly because there is an inherent cheapskate in me that will always try to milk the cheapest deal I can find. More on this “deal” once things are confirmed – I am equally as excited to share! 🙂 I’ve also been intensifying my interest in healthy eating and raw food as of late, experimenting with a few green smoothies, salads, and juices much more than I ever did in the previous years. So this is one way for me to keep track of those odd bits of recipes.

Back to our eventful morning, we ended with a series of Bhastrika Pranayama. Back upstairs, Z watched on rather questioningly as I juiced some carrots, and put in whole leaves of bok choy, alfalfa, kale and a banana in the blender. And once I served her with the concoction of green smoothie, and fending off questions like “will it taste like banana?”, “are you sure I won’t taste the bok choy in there?”, “is it sweet? like you added honey right?” – I was met with a satisfied “i taste the banana!!” which I think means “I can drink this! Not bad!”

She made a comment at the end, which affirms my thoughts for a while “I think you should really do this, screw all these corporate sh*t, you should be doing this instead”. Maybe she is right. And with that, she has been signed on as my first unofficial student. Happy Holidays every one!