A clean way to spring clean for the upcoming Chinese New Year in Feb!

A clean way to spring clean for the upcoming Chinese New Year in Feb!

(By Angela)
Yet, do you know that common household cleaning products can contain unsafe ingredients that can cause problems in your health? Look out for these ingredients: 2-Butoxphenol, which can cause skin and eye irritations, phthalates (Synthetic fragrances) and synthetic colourant dyes which may cause cancer and other adverse health effects.

Household Cleaning Products Survey 2015 show that 70% of Singaporeans fail to look into green alternatives for household cleaning products.

As a tutor with a home-based business, I tend to cook a lot at home and do household chores myself.

Coming from a family of four, I do most of the dishwashing while my mum washes the clothes mostly.

I came across Biohome, a product range for green household cleaning purposes when I was shopping at Fairprice. These products are made from 100% plant based active ingredients and are therefore vegan by default. I tried the following three products-Dishwashing Detergent, Laundry Detergent and Floor Cleaner.

Dishwashing Detergent

I find that general dishwashing detergent happens to irritate my skin, and leave my hands greasy.

Random fact: Do you know that a hawker works from 5.20am to 11.00pm every day, serving 100 to 120 plates a day. And most hawkers wash the dishes by themselves. I observed that many of them have wrinkly hands and dry skin that get sensitive and red easily. I am actually afraid that I might develop hand wrinkles in the long run, with so much chemicals added to my hands every day.

The detergent is made of derived ingredients from coconut. I like that it removes grease from plates well without leaving any residue or grease. I just need a pump of detergent to clean a load of dishes. It also helps to save water due to its low foam formula. My hands feel soft and smooth,with a slight lemongrass and green tea fragrance, but the fragrance smells slightly chemical.

Laundry Detergent

Due to the rainy season, we sometimes take in clothes that are not completely dry because another round of laundry needs to be hung in the same spot. The clothes tend to smell bad and it is because fillers interact with the bacteria and moisture and cause bad odors.

But my mum found that there was no bad smell after leaving clothes in the open. Perhaps it is because this laundry detergent contains no fillers.

The laundry detergent cleans the clothes well using Plantmoist technology and comes with slight Hyacinth and Nectarine fragrance. The detergent is suitable for indoor drying as well.

The laundry detergent is very concentrated, so my mum just needs to use a little bit each time. My mum found lots of laundry suds with just a little bit of detergent and water.

Floor cleaner

The floor cleaner is also made from natural ingredients. It cleans the greasy floor of my kitchen well.

The floor also doesn’t feel sticky. It does not contain any wax though so don’t expect that your floor will look sparkly shiny. There is a slight lemongrass and green tea fragrance that still reminds me of chemicals. I love to lie on the clean, nice smelling floor and read books!

Summary – Angela’s thoughts:

I am overall satisfied with the green household cleaning products. Though they just contain natural ingredients, their cleaning power is still comparable to conventional cleaning products. The price is also quite affordable. The packaging also looks great. If you want a free trial of Biohome products, just head over to its Facebook page and send through your personal details.

SGVegan’s thoughts:

You can commonly find Bio-Home products in the major supermarkets in Singapore, such as the image below which I took in NTUC:

SGVegan_BioHomeNTUC

Do note that for the Delicate Bio-Home laundry detergent, it contains hydrolysed silk protein, which Bio-Home is only able to verify that the silk worms emerge hatched from the weaved silk cocoons (they eat their way out) but not of the hatched adult moth’s well-bring.

SGVegan has chosen not to review/use the delicate version as we know that usually such silk worms emerge with underdeveloped mouth parts and unable to fly (source).

Here is what Bio-Home has replied with regards to the use of this hydrolysed silk protein in their delicate  laundry detergent:

With regards to the process of drawing the silk protein, supplier has indicated that it is taken after the silkworm have morph into moth because they only need to extract the protein found in the silk by hydrolysing it unlike fabric manufacturer who needs pure and undamaged silk before silkworm turn into moth.

Therefore we do not harm the silkworm – clearly being a eco green brand, we have taken steps to ensure that does not happen. There are no other plant based compounds that has similar silk protein structure.

Why we use silk protein because it is a natural ingredient that is suitable for people with sensitive skin. With more exposure to chemicals on a daily basis (be it processed food, cleaning agent or simply the haze / air) more and more people are getting skin irritation and skin sensitivity.

Silk protein protects and retain moisture on the skin.

I personally find that when I use the regular laundry detergent, I need to use more and sun dry my clothes. Air drying in an enclosed area will lead to some clothes smelling bad. But otherwise, I really like the scent.

Like Angela mentioned, the floor cleaner also foams up really well. Just a tiny small amount in a large pail does the job when mopping.

With regards to the multi-purpose cleaning spray, I personally find that if I happen to take a whiff of the spray scent while spraying, I end up choking as the smell is really strong. So do be careful when using it.

Giveaway!

I have 2 sample bags from Bio-Home, each containing a small bottle of laundry detergent, floor cleaner, dishwashing liquid and multi-purpose cleaner.

SGVegan_Biohome sample bag

Follow SGVegan with your email address (top right of page) and comment on this post as to why you would like to win the Bio-Home sample bag.

Winners to be drawn on 24 January 2016, 2pm. All winners will be contacted and a meet-up will be arranged. 🙂

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My shopping experience review (and tips!) on Lazada.sg

A healthy lifestyle begins with small steps one can take to improve one’s health. When we take about health, most of us focus on the food that enters our body. However, we tend to neglect the other contributing factors such as our environment and lifestyle, which plays an equal part towards our health.

As a lady, I am always in search for the best deals. Every time I find a good deal, my happiness level goes up, and I feel good. Who says shopping does not improve our mental well being? 😉

I noticed that the best deals are obtained online on online shopping sites, because online retailers only need to cover warehousing and delivery costs, while physical retailers have to cover other overheads such as rent, workers’ wages and many other costs. These costs are then passed on to the consumer leading to products which cost more than when purchased online.

SGVegan_Lazada logo

As such, I discovered Lazada.sg last year, when I was on ShopBack.sg. ShopBack helps you get the best deals and discounts on 300+ stores, plus Cashback. By signing up on ShopBack, with my referral link (http://shopback.sg/r/2jSEjv), you and I both stand to gain $5 cashback.

Why I am introducing Lazada.sg? As I mentioned at the start, our environment and lifestyle contributes to our health.

By shopping online on an online shopping site such as Lazada.sg, one gets to enjoy cashback, and special deals and discounts, such as the Lazada Friday Frenzy deal which is going to end at midnight tonight, and Lazada MasterCard Monday.

I have personally purchased products on Lazada before, and delivery is only 2 days! If the item is not in Singapore, the Lazada will have a note on the page informing customers of the longer delivery time.

Based on a healthy lifestyle, I have chosen 5 products which can improve our lifestyle.

1. Health/DietSedona Rawfood Dehydrator

SGVegan_Sedona Dehydrator

I have chosen the Sedona Rawfood Dehydrator as compared to other run-of-the-mill dehydrators, the Sedona Dehydrator is specially designed to ensure the nutrients and taste are retained in the food and are truly raw, and not cooked.

The Sedona Dehydrator has 2 drying compartments, so you can control how much power is being used, especially if you are only dehydrating a small amount of food.

2. Health/KnowledgeKindle

SGVegan_Kindle

Knowledge is power and without knowledge, one is not able to improve our health. The Kindle is kind on our eyes, lighter than carrying an actual book and can be used for weeks/months on a single charge.

This is a product I have personally purchased a few weeks ago. It costs close to $100 but has since dropped. And there is now 8000+ free Ebooks – hooray! 🙂 Delivery is longer as it was shipped in at that time. Although the Kindle has ads, the ads is just on the screen of the Kindle when it is switched off. I am completely fine with it.

3. Health/Relaxation Harman Kardon Onyx Studio Speaker

SGVegan_Harma Kardon Onyx Studio Speaker

This is ridiculously priced. In a positive sense.

We all know that listening to music has a positive effect on our mind, mental state and mood.

The Harman Kardon brand delivers beautiful sound by combining unmatched audio quality and iconic design to create a work of both art and sound. I was surprised to see that this bluetooth speaker was going for $129 and as I was looking for a bluetooth speaker, boy, did this deliver.

Delivery came within 2 days of ordering. It came in the original packaging so it was authentic. The sound, wow. Let me just say that if you have a party at home, this is a sound system that is cheap but yet sounds good. You can blast music, or if you are like me, you can listen to it, by pairing your computer with it and you get good sound quality like in the cinemas. I find myself relaxing to the good quality sound in my room before heading to bed.

It was so good (and cheap) that my boyfriend purchased a total of 4 speakers for himself and his family members. Shh~

4. Health/FitnessNike Fuelband SE (Second Edition)

SGVegan_Nike Fuelband Second Edition

I chose this mainly because I am already the owner of a Nike Fuelband SE of the exact color. When I first purchased mine, it was only available in London and as such, I had to get a friend to buy it for me. The reason the Nike Fuelband SE attracted me out of all the fitness bands is due to the “traffic lights” at the bottom. You set a daily NikeFuel goal based on your activeness, and it tracks your activities from waking to night, where at the end of the day, if you fulfilled your NikeFuel goal, the bar of lights will be full (color adds on from Green to Red).

With my new iPhone, I get to sync it with my phone and this gives me feedback and motivation. Burn those fats!!

5. Health/ConvenienceSamsung Slimline Portable HD

SGVegan_Samsung HD

Now with everything done on a computer, we need to ensure that our data are all backed up in case anything happens. It will be a real inconvenience and headache if we lose our data. I am the owner of this Samsung Slimline Portable HD. I purchased mine 2 years ago at the main IT fair at Suntec. It works really well and now comes in 2TB! Mine is only half the size at 1TB, the maximum storage capacity 2 years back. I paid more last time too, than the amount listed here. Plus this Samsung Slimline Portable HD comes with a 3 years local warranty.

—–

These are the 5 products I have chosen to highlight based on different aspects of a healthier lifestyle.

Given my positive shopping experience on Lazada.sg, this is my go-to online shopping site. Delivery is within 2 days from purchase, and there is an ease-of-mind for support in case anything happens as they have a local team. After reading my Lazada.sg review, I hope you will be interested to check them out especially today as their Friday Frenzy sale ends midnight! 🙂

Click on the below image to start shopping for the best deals now!

SGVegan_Lazada Best Deals

Yankee Candle: Fresh Clean Scents – Better Mental Clarity

I strongly believe in the power of scents. A scent can improve one’s mental health. A scent can invoke even the long lost memories… A scent can completely change your overall mood 🙂

The Yankee Candle Company is an American manufacturer and retailer of scented candles, candleholders, and accessories.

SGVegan_Yankee Candles
SGVegan_Yankee Candles

Located at 8 locations around Singapore, Yankee Candles are made with the finest American craftsmanship. It looks atas (Singlish: high class), but yet is an affordable luxury.

They currently have new Autumn fragrances in store. I was send 4 Samplers® votive Candles to try out.

SGVegan_Yankee Candles Autumn Fragrances

From top: Cranberry Pear, Bay Leaf Wreath, Silver Birch and Ginger Dusk

I visited their shop at JEM last weekend. After exploring the shop, the sales assistant happened to introduce the Good Air® Just Plain Fresh™ scent to us. Upon inhaling, I was immediately drawn to the scent, and the quirky name. She informed us that it was one of their bestselling scents and the below air freshener was the last piece.

SGVegan_Good Air®

Thanks to an NTUC Credit Card discount of 10%, I purchased it at $9.90 less 10%. 🙂

My thoughts:

I have been carrying this Good Air® Just Plain Fresh™ air freshener in my bag since Monday. Friends who have a sensitive sense of smell, thought it was my perfume. My bag smells good and the smell has permeated into my wallet too! I have received positive feedback about the Just Plain Fresh™ scent and I can’t wait to try out the new autumn scent candles! 🙂

I particularly love the scent called Fluffy Towels too 🙂

Yankee Candle is located at:

  • Great World City #03-33
  • Velocity@Novena Square #02-41
  • JEM Jurong East Mall #01-14
  • Parkway Parade #B1-28
  • Suntec City Mall #02-366
  • Takashimaya@Basement 1
  • Robinsons Raffles City @ Level 3
  • TANGS Orchard@Basement 1
SGVegan_Yankee Anniversary Sale Roses

Starting today, they are having an Anniversary Sale of 20% off storewide till Sunday. Why not head down and discover your favourite scent?

 

[Orevo Asia Pte Ltd] Giveaway – Stephen James Organics 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt

We need salt in our lives. Our bodies are also made of salt. But not just any salt will do. We need to consume salt that is pure, natural and unprocessed by heating/detrimental commercial treatments.

Table salt in general, is not purely NaCl (sodium chloride). It is filled with additives such as iodine, anti-caking agents and other chemicals that when consumed, leads to toxin accumulation in the body.

So what’s the difference between ordinary table salt and sea salt?

Ordinary Table Salt: Typically mined from underground salt deposits. Filtered & sterilised at high temperature – this process destroys the mineral quality of the salt (heavily processed). Usually contains an additive such as anti-caking agents to prevent clumping. Most table salt has added iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid. However, any excess iodine stresses out our bodies and could lead to nausea, headaches and imbalanced hormone levels. Too much seems to cause cancer too, particularly in the thyroid gland.

Sea Salt: Produced through evaporation of water from the ocean or saltwater lakes, usually with lesser processing. Depending on the source of water, certain trace minerals and elements are left behind which could be potentially healthful. However, many sea salt manufacturers try to make their products look more like table salt, sapping it of everything there is to love in the process.

*Note*
Unrefined sea salt is the better option for favour and health. However, since manufacturers tend to make their packaging look like health food, it is important to read through the ingredients. If the only ingredient listed is sodium chloride, this so-called healthy natural salt is just as refined as the ordinary table salt. Also, ingredient labels won’t list how much of a nutrient it contains, look out for the colour of the salt. Unrefined salt is generally off-white or pink and not the pure white colour most of us are used to.

SGVegan_SJO 73 Himalayan Salt Comparison
SGVegan_SJO 73 Himalayan Salt Comparison

What’s the difference between the salts above and Stephen James Organics (SJO) 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt?

SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt: Comes from what was originally the Tibetan plateau, which over millennia, became the mountainous regions in the Himalayas in North Pakistan. The salts from the Himalayas are rich in mineral content and frequently dubbed “the purest salt on earth” by many health experts, untouched by pollutants from the sea & truly pristine.

This pure, unadulterated salt which contains a multitude of various minerals and ions that are bioavailable. This allows you to absorb and use all of those great minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

So what are the benefits of SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt?

  • Laboratory results show 73 ionically active minerals & elements in SJO Himalayan Salt. It contains more bioavailable iron than any other salts.
  • Proper balance of electrolytes result in improved digestion & better digestive-tract health.
  • Enhances the flavours of food, this is a priceless food preparation secret. It adds dimension to any food you’re working with.
  • Known in to stimulate circulation, balance blood pressure, boost immune system & balance the pH of the body.

As such, the composition of the salt we choose is vital, as our bodies are mainly comprised of water and salt, in a similar proportion to that of ancient and deep seas. Salt and water, can be said to be the essence of life. And the important minerals we need to consume are found in SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt.

SGVegan_SJO 73 Himalayan Salt
SGVegan_SJO 73 Himalayan Salt

My thoughts:

I received a 1.5kg bag (as seen on right) of SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt from Orevo Asia Pte Ltd, the exclusive distributor in Singapore for Stephen James Organics products.

Cooking

I’ve used Himalayan Salt before. However, I noticed a huge difference especially in my cooking. When I added SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt to my organic vegetable soup (just boiled veg in plain water), the soup tasted sweet, instead of salty. As such, to offset the impact of radiation exposure, I added miso to the vegetable soup and it was a hit! Never before in my 15 years of eating self-prepared miso soup from the same miso brand, have I tasted such deep flavour.

Skincare

The week before, I happened to take an aura photo at Fu Lu Shou Complex, located near Bugis. My overall aura is an intense red as seen in the photo below. This indicates either vitality or stress. As I was in a stressful period, it was obvious to me that it can only be stress.

SGVegan_Aura Before Salt Scrub
SGVegan_Aura Before Salt Scrub

One week later, I decided to try out a salt scrub as I felt an imbalance in my body’s energy. I used the salt as an exfoliating scrub on the body and dissolved some for application on my face and scalp. It is not that rough on the body as the SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt is double-grinded.

I was planning to leave the salt on my body for 5 minutes. However, using the SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt, I ended up staying in the toilet for 15 minutes instead! I felt a calmness descend upon me, and could literally “feel” the 73 ionically active minerals & elements diffusing through my skin into my bloodstream.

I met a friend for lunch at Fortune Center. Since we passed by Fu Lu Shou Complex, I decided to pay for an aura photo to have a better idea of what my aura is like visibly based on how I feel.

Here’s the photo:

SGVegan_Aura After Salt Scrub
SGVegan_Aura After Salt Scrub

Overall, it is violet, which represents visionary. There is a report that comes with the photo saying that violet is a mix of blue (unlimited knowledge) and red (activity and power). Thus, spiritual evolution is in store for me, as violet indicates a time of in my life which I will be able to attain unlimited spiritual knowledge.

Anyway, this aura photo is just a physical visual representation of how I felt, which I feel was a good indication. I would caution against anyone to completely rely on aura, as it changes almost all the time based on your thoughts. Whatever that was taken in the snapshot for the photo, may just be indicative of your aura at that particular point of time. 🙂

For those who are interested, you can take your aura photo at Kangli Mineral Kingdom Pte Ltd, located at level 1 of Fu Lu Shou Complex. There are both English and Mandarin Reports. It costs S$10 for a report without consultation. I would suggest to go without consultation if you are not looking to purchase any crystals as the report is self-explanatory.

I’ve been using this SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt as part of my weekly shower regime. I noticed less hair fall too! ^_^

Now for the giveaway!

I will be giving away 2 x SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt Bottle (360g) worth S$19/bottle.

It is great for cooking and skincare. Basically, it is the best unadulterated salt for you and your family.

How to win:

Simply leave a comment below on this blogpost and tell me why you would like to try SJO 73 Deep Pink Himalayan Salt

Giveaway ends 30 April 2014, 23:59.

2 winners will be notified by email. Only for Singapore readers.

P.S.: You can head to http://www.orevoworld.com/ to make an online order too! 🙂

 

[Reblogged] Mother on a mission: Let’s talk about food

Hey readers, I would like to share this blog article that appeared on Cleopatra’s blog sometime back in November 2012.

Cleo is just one year older than me. We met as colleagues just before I embarked on my university path in 2007. When I heard that she was going to get married at such a young age, I was apprehensive, but since she was just my colleague, I just hoped that she made the right decision and would be happy.

Fast forward to now, Cleo is now a mummy of 2 beautiful kids, Xander and Evie. The family resides in Melbourne, Australia.

Cleo and Family_SGVegan

Through the years on Facebook, I have noticed and was surprised as Cleo started to have a shift in her lifestyle. Frankly, she was not one of those whom I expected or even thought of that would start choosing a healthier lifestyle and diet choices out of her own will as she was just a typical Singaporean lady, not even a health nut freak when we first met each other.

However, as a result of her expanding family, her mindset started to charge. She may not be vegetarian, but she sure is walking the talk through the daily lifestyle decisions that she made. This is what I call an exemplary lady/mother! I am very darn proud of this friend of mine as she is a very good role-model.

The post below appeared on Cleo’s personal blog on 27 Nov 2012, and it is a worthy article to read.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

I am a mother on a mission. A mission to provide my beloved family with the cleanest, greenest, and most non-toxic environment to live in and grow.

My impetus to embark on this quest was simple – my baby boy. Prior to his arrival, I never gave it a thought. How chemicals and toxins were such an integral part of my everyday life. But his arrival into our hearts and family changed everything. We saw that we had a huge responsibility to this new person who is entirely dependent upon us for the best start to his life. So much of the first years of a child’s life is the critical foundation upon which the rest of his life is built upon, including his health and physical well-being. It took having my own child, for me to learn how precious life truly is. Here is a little person, so perfect, so pure, so undamaged. And yet here he is, in our world, inhabiting our planet, which now has way too much toxins and dangerous chemicals in its air that cannot possibly be good for us, let alone a tiny little being like him. I wanted to provide him with the best possible environment to grow up in. I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure that we are around for him for as long as possible. As the mother and the wife of this little family, it was ultimately up to me to make these changes. To set us on the right path. So I began my research.

I will be the first to also admit that this is one heck of a daunting task. One that is so huge and feels almost impossible to achieve fully. But every little change makes a huge impact in our lives and every little change is a step towards a better life.

There are so many areas in our lives that we have made changes to and I don’t think it’ll all fit into one post, so there’ll be a few posts coming up that will be related. Today, I’m talking about food.

We have committed to eating real food most of the time, as much as we can. My basic rules are:

Stick to fresh ingredients in my cooking. Cook with fresh hormone-free and chemical-free meat instead of bacon and luncheon meat and such. Use fresh vegetables and eggs. Things like that.

Use natural aromatics like ginger, garlic, spring onions, natural sea salt, etc, to reduce my life-long reliance on artificially processed flavourings such as soy sauce and oyster sauce. If you’ve ever looked closely at the ingredients list of these sauces, you’d be appalled. Artificial colourings, flavourings, and preservatives are all common ingredients. All of which does harm to our bodies, not something I want my son to eat much of.

When buying store bought food, I ALWAYS scrutinise the ingredients lists and if I cannot pronounce it, or if I don’t know what it is exactly, I do not put it in my shopping basket. Rule of thumb: not more than 5 ingredients, and nothing I cannot recognise in its natural state. Even something as simple as strawberry jam can be deceiving. The only strawberry jam I buy for my family, is made up of at least 55% strawberries and sweetened only with grape juice, and preserved only with lemon juice and fruit pectin. That’s it. 4 ingredients. Check out the label of your strawberry jam the next time you reach for it. Most store-bought jams contain less than 30% fruit, and more than 50% pure refined sugar, in addition to artificial colourings, flavourings, and preservatives. Think again, about what you are eating!

Choose the lesser of the evils. I am not willing to give up on potato chips just yet. I still enjoy it way too much to be willing to give it up. Maybe one day I will. But for now, we only have original-flavoured stuff in our pantry. All our potato chips have only 3 ingredients: Potatoes, oil, salt. Period. Have you looked at what’s really in your favorite potato chips recently?

All the other junk gets dumped. I don’t remember the last time I had chocolate, ice-cream, a full can of soft drink, gummy bears, M&M’s, etc. I no longer waste money on them, and no longer kill myself slowly on them. I do, however, indulge very occasionally in fruit sorbets from the gelato stand at the shopping mall, knowing that they freshly churn their sorbets in store. Soft drinks are simply horrible for me now. The last time I drank half a can, I had to crash and take a 3 hour nap because of the intense sugar rush, the chemical-induced migraine, the fuzzy blurry vision and more. Thank goodness it was a weekend and Jude was home to watch Xander. Ditto to chocolates. Especially the milk chocolates. I haven’t tried dark chocolate yet because I can’t handle the caffeine when pregnant or breastfeeding, so no chocolate for a few years yet.

No more processed food that pretends to be the real stuff. I’m talking about instant noodles and such. The smell of the instant noodles is enough to make me dizzy and sick. The last time I ate a packet of my favorite Korean ramen noodles, I was throwing it all back up in less than half an hour no matter how hard I tried to keep it down. MISERABLE does not even begin to describe it. I thought I’d miss it because I was a HUGE fan growing up, but I truly don’t. I don’t miss how terrible it made me feel after eating it. Ugh.

Dairy is a rarity in our home, which is a huge deal because Jude has always been a big milk drinker. Ever since he began cutting down on his dairy intake, his life-long issues with acne and gout has dramatically improved. Those large painful breakouts that he used to suffer on a regular basis started to become less frequent, and months can go by without his gout problem flaring up and leaving him in pain. We also discovered that Xander has a dairy intolerance and he is seriously better off without it. When we used to give him yoghurt and cheese, he would be sick for days – cough, runny nose, teary eyes, lots of phlegm, diarrhea. Yuck. Jude takes olive oil butter, I wanted to switch too but my pregnant taste buds haven’t found something suitable yet so for now I’m sticking to a half dairy/half canola oil blend of butter. We still have the occasional homemade pizza with grated cheese, Jude still has the occasional slice of cheddar cheese with his breakfast sandwich, but we’re slowly getting there. Instead of drinking Yakult for my probiotics, I take probiotic capsules instead. Baby steps.

Eating out is a luxury we choose not to indulge in. We went from eating out or getting takeaway at least 3 times a week to now maybe once a week or so. Not only have we been saving a lot of money, we have been much healthier for it. Nothing beats fresh home-cooked food that has been lovingly prepared by us and knowing exactly what went into the food. Even when I was having my exams and struggling to complete my assignments, I still made it a point to cook dinner everyday because it is simply better than anything we can get outside. We also went from eating MacDonald’s breakfast every Saturday morning, to cooking our own breakfast feast at home with fresh eggs, ham, toast or fresh wholemeal English muffins. Sometimes we have homemade pancakes, french toast, etc. So much cheaper, and so much better.

Since we started making these changes in our diet, we have seen our health improve drastically. We all have so much more energy, so much more life in us. No more feeling cranky and lethargic all the time. I would not have believed it if I didn’t try it for myself either.

We are certainly not perfect. We still eat too much biscuits and I would like to rid my freezer of frozen convenience food like fish fingers that only contains 48% fish, for example. I would like to make more homemade pasta sauces and even things like jam and such. But the truth is that I simply cannot find the time. My daily routine is jam packed with chores and Xander that I cannot find the time during the week to do any of that. Weekends, we have started using a little more productively. Baking goodies for snacks for the rest of the week, cooking proper meals instead of eating out, etc. But it’s still not enough, not when I’m pregnant and caring for Xander all on my own most of the time. So for now, we pick our battles and make the most important and simple changes first. Everything else will fall into place soon enough.

I’m very proud of how our family eats today, and it makes me happy to know that I’m doing my best to give my child the best start to life, by ensuring a good diet for him. And especially now that I’m pregnant, I feel great knowing that my unborn little girl is getting much better stuff from me than she would be before these changes.

I am even prouder of myself, for proving at least to myself if no-one else, that it’s all about mindset. I used to HATE onions, garlic, spring onions, capsicum, ginger, celery, carrots, etc. Today, I regularly cook with them and to my surprise, I’ve started enjoying them. I believe it’s because in my mind, I know they are good for me and definitely better than artificial flavourings, so I am more able to accept and embrace them. It’s good… I feel good!

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Below are some photos I got from Cleo’s Facebook album that proves she really practices what she believes in.

Here is Xander, a young kid, completely enjoying his “deconstructed tortilla burger wrap, made up of multigrain tortilla, avocado slices, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes and a bit of mama’s handmade chicken patty” with a huge smile on his face. Bet you can’t find kids who enjoys eating such healthy food nowadays.

Xander_SGVegan

And Cleo’s homemade natural playdough for Xander:

Natural Kids Playdough_SGVegan

It is very admirable that a young mum like Cleo can spare a thought for her kid’s health. How about you? 🙂

*If you would like to contact Cleo to find out more from her, please do not hesitate to drop her an email at cleopatra.liew@gmail.com*

OKK Vegetarian Mock Meat Factory in JB & Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

In Singapore, vegetarian food is characterized by the variety of mock meat products available.

The most common mock meat products are usually made from soya beans and mushroom. There is also seafood mock meat products available too.

Since young, I love trying mock meat dishes, especially if they really look and taste like the “real” thing. Of course, mock meat is best consumed in moderation! 🙂

As such, when I met Justin whose family owns a mock meat factory in Johor Bahru (JB), I decided to jump at the chance of finally being able to witness how mock meat is produced in a factory. I even brought along my interested friend, who is a Star Blogger on Stomp.

Have you been to a supermarket in Singapore and noticed the brand OKK on the mock meat products?

Well, OKK is produced by Growth Well Industry Sdn Bhd which is located in JB:

Now, a common misconception that Singaporeans have is that eating at a vegetarian/vegan place that is not certified halal means that the food are not halal. Thus, mock meat products are not halal too.

Let me try to clarify this point: Mock meat products are halal. 

Why?

Because no meat is used in the production, only plants and so, there is no slaughtering involved. If you are still curious about it, I would advise you to do a search on the actual definition of halal.

Thankfully, to ease the minds of their Malay consumers (since Malaysia is predominantly made up of Malays) , OKK decided to get the Certificate of Authentication for their wide range of mock meat products:

And, of course, this is the prized cabinet of OKK products developed so far:

We had to be properly attired (no hair sticking out for hygiene purposes, mask and boots) for our factory visit – here’s Grace, Justin and myself:

Even before we entered the production line, we had to wash our hands properly and trawl our white boots through a specially prepared antibacterial solution. Much care was taken during the design of the factory as after walking through the antibacterial solution, the floor is anti-slip and absorbs the water efficiently.

Due to the sensitive business information, no photos are allowed of the production line. Not even if we are friends, haha!

What I can tell you however, is that the factory was divided into different sections, for different purposes – production, freezing, packing  and storage etc. Thus, the room temperature differs at the different sections.

I especially loved the storage room as the temperature of the room was really cold and filled with the yummy smell of mock meat products. 😀

At the end of the factory tour, I was simply taken aback and filled with wonder at the way mock meat products are made. Especially for the pieces of chicken chunks and cuttlefish. Being in a food factory, the smell of the m0ck meats were so delicious, it made all of us hungry.

However, although me and Grace would have loved to eat in JB, Justin said it was not safe. So we traveled back to Singapore to have lunch at his mother’s restaurant – Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant located at Quality Hotel, Balestier Road.

The cabbage appetizer really whets my appetite even though I was already hungry. It did not taste sour but has a sweet taste, which is what I like. 🙂

We started off our lunch with a Veg Shark’s Fin Soup, made mainly of mushrooms and crab strips:

Veg Shark’s Fin Soup $28/$20/$15

Herbal Chicken in Claypot $22/$18/$12

Fried Tofu with Seaweed $16/$12/$8

I highly recommend you to get this dish if you love brinjal a.k.a. eggplant like me:

Brinjal with Bean Sauce $16/$12/$8

For a very unique dish to Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, do try their Veg Snow Fish in Hot Plate. It is made from wheat and served on a sizzling hot plate. It requires great skill on the part of the server to cut the aluminium foil containing the yummy snow fish as shown:

Some lime juice will be squeezed onto the chilli snow fish:

Veg Snow Fish in Hot Plate $12/piece

It was a really fruitful day spent observing the production of mock meat and enjoying the really delicious vegan meal.

All these would not have been possible without the great kindness of Justin who made all the necessary arrangements for us to travel to his family’s mock meat factory and providing us with the opportunity to taste the wide range of mock meat produced by the factory at his mum’s vegetarian restaurant.

Do head down to… Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant at Quality Hotel, 201 Balestier Road, #02-00 to enjoy the wide range of healthy delicious mock meat dishes. And, made sure to inquire about which dishes contain dairy to avoid those for a vegan option! 🙂

Lastly, if you are interested to read about this similar visit through the eyes of a non-vegetarian, do click here!

How I Became Vegan

“Hi, my name is Amanda Teng and I am a vegan.”

“Huh? What’s a ….*inserts wrong pronunciation*…. vegan?”

“A vegan. Erm, I am a strict vegetarian, I don’t take milk, eggs… any form of dairy product.”

This is usually the reply I give when people ask me what a vegan is.

For those who are more curious, they will inquire more about my lifestyle, the food I am able to eat in Singapore. Some friends will jokingly ask me to eat the grass by the roadside when there is no vegetarian option available for me. Others, who have a better idea of what a vegetarian is, will ask if I take onion and garlic. (In Singapore, some Buddhists do not consume onion and garlic as they are considered “black food”.)

For the record, I enjoy being a vegan in Singapore. There are more food options available right now than before. And I take onion and garlic.

For my interested readers, I have been a vegetarian (on-off vegan) for 13 years of my life, finally making the life-changing decision to go vegan on my 21st birthday.

This was me and Liam showing off the vegan cupcakes (vegan chocolate cake in background) right after we got them straight out of the oven!

For me, taking the plunge to becoming a vegan is all due to the influence of this good friend of mine, Liam. I’ll leave you to read the below article which can also be found at: http://vegvibe.com/VegVibeMar10.pdf

When I was young, I underwent a hole-in-the-heart operation at about the age of 5. I was deem normal and had a “normal” diet. However, there was once I fell sick due to an overdose of chicken wings. I think it was fried chicken wings. At that time, my family just adopted Buddhism as our religion.

As such, my family also converted to a vegetarian diet. My mum would bring vegetarian food for us in primary school as there was no vegetarian stall.

In my secondary school, there was no vegetarian stall. As such, I survived on my order of “wanton mee, no wanton, no char siew, more cai xin”. Because of this, the stall owners recognized me and due to my frequent ordering, I did not need to repeat my order. 😛

Then came junior college. I enjoyed my 1st 3 months junior college as there was a vegetarian stall. And, during peak periods, there would be only a short queue for vegetarian as nobody else ate it unless they were in a rush. My friends would rather queue for other stalls.

However, my “permanent” junior college also did not contain a vegetarian stall. Instead, it was famous for its chicken rice stall. It was not easy to get food. 😦

Being I was a vegetarian, I didn’t quite like to eat eggs, and especially, dislike drinking milk, except for those that are strongly flavored. So, there will be periods where I would set myself a mental goal – No eggs for the next 2-3 months. It was on the whole, quite successful.

I met Liam in 2005 when he was just embarking on his vegetarian journey. He just turned vegetarian, but was still eating white meat such as fish. During a inter-school gathering in Australia at a place with lots of roasted meat, Liam and me were the only ones served a special dish. That was how our friendship started.

As I wanted to celebrate my 21st birthday in Australia, we reconnected. I learnt that he became vegan at the start of 2009. I was willing to undergo a vegan diet during the few days I stayed with him.

It was easy.

Thus, I decided that I would maintain my vegan diet when I am back in my home country.

Coming back to Singapore, I found that it was really tough to eat vegan outside. Being a Singaporean, I find it easier to eat out than to cook everyday as eating out is more convenient and less time consuming. The easiest way was to eating vegan was to go to vegetarian hawker stalls and order dishes without eggs in them. But there was not many stalls and you need to know where they are.

It is usually easier if you head to a restaurant where they can prepare your “special diet” meal such as the one below I had in September 2009. But it is more expensive and not suitable for everyday consumption.

Do share with me your vegetarian/vegan journey! 😀