DOUBLE-OLIVE-SEVEN, IS THAT YOU MR. BOND?

DOUBLE-OLIVE-SEVEN, IS THAT YOU MR. BOND?

It’s finally occurred to me! James Bond, a.k.a. Agent 007, is impossible to kill because he loves martinis! Not because he likes them “shaken, not stirred” – I think he’s just being fussy – but because every martini comes with an olive. And olives are fantastic for preserving health and promoting continual living. Martinis are really just Mr. Bond’s excuse to have his daily dose of olives and look cool at the same time: cover blown, double-o-seven!   Most of us have heard of the health benefits of eating and cooking with olive oil. Olive oil has been given bad press before, but I suspect it was an economic agenda trying to push consumers to use other oils, and not that the anti-health claims made against it were true. That exercise generally failed worldwide. And today we all know (again) that consuming olive oil is very good for health.   And if olive oil can be pressed from olives – which are fruit by the way, and not a vegetable – then it’s certainly true that olives are a high-fat food source. In fact, almost 85 per cent of the calories in olives come from fat. But it’s extremely good fat, like oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid), linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). These decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.   In addition, olives contain the phytonutrients hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein (trivia: oleuropein is found only in olives), which are not only linked to preventing cancer, but also to preventing the loss of bone mass. Olives...
POTATO CHIPS ARE GOOD FOR YOU!

POTATO CHIPS ARE GOOD FOR YOU!

I’m feeling good, actually super-elated. In fact, vindicated and downright righteous! I love potato chips – crisps, in the Queen’s English – but everyone knows (and makes it a point to tell me!) that they’re an unhealthy snack, classified as an “you-really-don’t-care-about-your-health-do-you?” part of a meal, eg. lunch that you pack to work; if you put a small bag of potato chips in your kid’s lunch box that they take to school, then “are you the worst parent ever?” Well, everyone’s wrong, or at least not all right!   Some years ago I was holidaying in London (such a historic, beautiful and vibrant city on most days). At mid-day I saw many well-dressed, suited-up, office-type people eating their lunches outdoors, enjoying some sunshine and fresh air at the same time. London has the climate for it that Singapore usually doesn’t.   Anyway, I observed that most lunches, whether home-packed or bought, looked the same: a sandwich, a small bag of crisps (it’s the UK, lah), a beverage and often an apple or banana. Even the supermarkets and food sections in department stores displayed these items next to each other, making it easy for customers to pick-step-pick-step-checkout-eat. Whether they reacted to consumers’ lunch preferences, or dictated it, I’m still not certain. Whatever the case, the combination was mostly the same, and always with crisps. I too thought then, “how healthy can that be?”, silly me of little faith!   Consider this: an one-ounce (about 30 grams) serving of “plain” potato chips contains about 150 calories, 10 grams of fat (about 1 gram saturated fat), and 180 milligrams of sodium. And...
LEMONS FOR POST-LUNAR NEW YEAR RECOVERY

LEMONS FOR POST-LUNAR NEW YEAR RECOVERY

“Lemon tree, very pretty; and the lemon flower is sweet. But the fruit of the poor lemon, is impossible to eat.” I don’t know why these lyrics have been playing repeatedly in my head the last few days. They’re from the song “Lemon Tree” by Peter, Paul and Mary, recorded and released in 1962 – way before my time! Perhaps it’s to nudge me to write about lemons for this week’s article. And actually, why not? Post-Lunar New Year, lemons can be great for recovery. And also, maybe after writing about lemons, I can finally get the song out of my head!   One common after effect of the busy Lunar New Year schedule visiting numerous relatives’ and friends’ homes is fatigue. At least for me, I’m usually worn out post-Lunar New Year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful that people like me enough to invite me their homes, and I do really appreciate that! Lunar New Year is such a great time to enjoy meeting and catching up with one’s relatives and friends, especially those whom you don’t get the chance to see regularly.   But all the festivities, hustle and bustle, and constant snacking at each home visited does take a toll, and I feel it even more as I get older with each new year. I have to confess, I’ve needed some help getting back on my feet the last few Lunar New Years.   And so now, I’d like to share with everyone a fantastic post-Lunar New Year recovery and pick-me-up trick that works wonders for me: lemons!   Lemons are easy to find, and...
GONGXI! GONGXI! TIME FOR “GOLD” MANDARINS!

GONGXI! GONGXI! TIME FOR “GOLD” MANDARINS!

For some, the Lunar New Year is about angpows: “lucky” red packets with money inside given to children and unmarried young adults. For others it’s bak kwa, the barbequed slices of sweet, minced pork that people willingly queue hours for to buy from their favourite shops. Or pineapple tarts, crispy yummy love-letters, or some other seasonal treat. Or noisy, colourful, exciting Lion Dances. For me, the Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) is mandarin oranges.   Actually, I only realised this of myself a couple of Chinese New Years ago. I was at someone’s house (can’t remember whose, such are the blurred recollections caused by busy visitations to numerous relatives’ and friends’ homes during this annual ritual), comfortably settled into the sofa and eating my fifth or sixth mandarin orange. And it suddenly dawned on me that this was what I’d do without fail every Chinese New Year since I was a kid: eat many mandarin oranges!   I do enjoy bak kwa, pineapple tarts, love-letters and the lot too, but I’m ok about giving them a miss, they’re not must-haves for me. But mandarin oranges – I have observed – are an item I’d always consume at each home visited. My modus operandi: at each stop, after exchanging new year’s greetings and angpows, I’d gather five or six mandarin oranges, find a comfortable spot, and devour them all at a sitting. Then off to the next venue and repeat. I reckon I’d have eaten a whole carton by the end of the day, easey-peasey.   The thing I love about mandarin oranges is that they’re so easy...