Food

Fat vs Sugar

There has been this debate regarding whether fat or sugar is worse. Which makes u fat? A pair of twin brothers, who are also doctors, did 1 month experiment on themselves in an attempt to find out the answer.

BBC Documentary: Fat vs Sugar

Some points to note:

CARBOHYDRATES (low fat diet)

  • Provide fuel for brain. Brain uses 60% glucose for energy, so lack of carbs would lead to decreased performance in memory and focus.
  • It is a more efficient fuel for physical activity as compared to fat.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it actually increases sensitivity to insulin. Effects are more efficient lowering of blood sugar after meals.

FATS (low carb diet)

  • Suppresses ghrelin (hunger hormone) for longer periods of time, hence making one feel full for longer.
  • There seem to be a stop trigger to prevent one from consuming too much fat.
  • Does not necessary makes one fat. On the other hand, one may lose weight, but that includes a large percentage of muscle mass, which leads to potential problems in future. This is due to the breakdown of muscle for energy as glucose are not readily available.
  • Desensitize response to insulin. After one month of high fat low carb, Dr Xand actually became 0.2 points to being pre-diabetic.

The combinations of sugar & fat: (not available in nature)

  • The killer is a 50-50 combination of sugar and fat.
  • There is no mechanism to pull a stop trigger.
  • It is almost addictive as the combi makes people go back for seconds.
  • Mice experiment showed great increase in body mass.

In conclusion, a healthy diet is one that is balanced. It is unhealthy to exclude major macronutrients. Eat real food existent in nature, and reduce processed foods to minimal.

It is an interesting experiment. My sis often wonders why our grandma is healthy and living a long life despite eating all sorts of things – carb, fat, protein. She came to her own conclusion that grandma doesn’t eat processed foods. Grandma does not snack on potato chips, cookies and cheesecake. She does not even like butter and milk much, though she often put too much oil in the dishes she cooks. And she loves to walk, is always curious, and kind.

Sometimes the answer is around us. We just need to observe. As Michael Pollan puts it in Food Rules,

  1. Eat Food
  2. Mostly Plants
  3. Not too much

That pretty much sums up. No need for complicated science or calculation of calories. Calorie counting don’t work (been there done that). It serves as a guide but just a very vague one. It is like currency. Different currencies has different values and not exactly interchangeable. It is complicated. Calories from carb and protein are different. Its origins matters, how it is metabolised are also different. So, one calorie from bread does not really mean one calorie from an apple, or pork. It is different.

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Vanilla Almond Granola

Easy to make and delicious Vanilla Almond Granola! It is surprisingly easy to make. What took me so long to try?!

Whisk together coconut oil and syrup until well combined.

Make sure the oats are evenly coat.

Spread it evenly on the pan before baking. Stir to ensure the granola is baked evenly, every 15 mins.

Vanilla Almond Granola

Ingredients:

2½ cup or 200g rolled oats

¾ cup silvered almonds

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

½ cup maple syrup (substituted with golden syrup)

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ tsp almond extract (omitted)

1 tbsp vanilla extract (yes, 1 tablespoon)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300oF or 150oC. Line baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Toss oats, almonds, cinnamon, salt together. Set aside.
  3. Whisk syrup, coconut oil till combined.
  4. Whisk in almond extract and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over oats mixture and toss to coat evenly, making sure all oats are moistened.
  6. Spread it on the baking sheet, and bake for 45min, stirring every 15min.
  7. Allow granola to cool completely so that it will be crunchy.
  8. Keep in airtight container for up to 3 weeks, at room temperature.

Notes:

  • It is a scale down from the original recipe, and it fits my baking pan just nice. So it depends on the size of your own baking pan.
  • I used a combination of sliced almonds and diced almonds because that’s what I have on hand. I find that sliced almonds are good as it is thin and crunchy after baking, giving the finished product more “dimension”.
  • I omitted almond extract as I finished it. The granola was still good.
  • Substituted maple syrup with golden syrup. Yea.. I am making it more unhealthy so called. But I think that both are sugars, and downing too much maple syrup is equivalent to overdose of sugar too. Besides, it was practical for me because I could not think of a better way to finish up my golden syrup. End product was good, maybe better because golden syrup is thicker and sweeter compared to maple syrup. Just eat in moderation. J
  • Stirring every 15 min is absolutely important, especially that I used almond flakes, which are thin. Some almond flakes were still burnt.
  • It is absolutely delicious and easy to make.

 

No bake Peanut Butter Cookies

I am trying.. to prepare more food that I can bring on the go, as my new workplace is horrendously inaccessible and far, with

not many food choices that suits me. (There is only one canteen.)

Close-up texture of the cookies

Anyway, I found this recipe on Tone It Up. If u are female and trying to “Tone It Up”, u won’t regret popping over to take a look. The site is managed by two gorgeous women who are fitness trainers and decided to start a community where women can encourage each other to become healthy and fit. There are plenty of FREE articles for exercise routines, recipes, motivation, etc.

The recipes they provide are pretty simple, delicious and healthy. I have reached an age whereby I can feel it if I drank too much the previous night, or if I don’t sleep properly for 2 days. I just feel, I can’t go on living the way I lived. I NEED to CHANGE. So, I found their site by chance and it has become my new hobby. Hope things turn out well 🙂

I was just lazy to sift the cocoa powder, so I had to do extra work trying to let it all well mixed using two spoons (refer to next picture). Recommended: Sift the cocoa powder first.

Make sure everything is well mixed.

Mix well, and fast, as the oats “soak” peanut butter dry too fast.

After 20 minutes??

Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup almond milk
    • 3 to 4 tbsp cacao powder
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter (no-sugar added, natural peanut butter)
    • 3 cups oats
    • 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate Perfect Fit protein powder

Method

  1. Heat honey, milk, cacao powder over medium heat till boiling.
  2. Add peanut butter, oats and protein powder. Mix well.
  3. Form into cookies, place on wax paper. Refrigerate until set.

Notes

  • Sift the cocoa powder first, so that it can mix well with the other ingredients.
  • Shaping into energy balls or bars is easier, I find. It’s really up to u. What shape and size, it doesn’t matter.
  • Used skimmed milk instead of almond milk
  • Rolled oats were used.
  • The end product was just sweet enough for my liking, but maybe not sweet enough for general public who are desensitized by too much sugar in the daily food. (Plus, I added extra cocoa powder so it is even less sweet. It did not turn out too crumbly because I only add a little extra.)
  • It is good to know that the peanut butter should not be too dry otherwise it will be harder to mix. (I did not mix properly and took some drier portions of the peanut butter).

Peanut cookies

 

I first tried this recipe 3 years back, after founding the recipe on Bread Et Butter. I liked how she presented it with the simple 2:2:1:1 ratio. (2 cups peanut: 2 cups flour: 1 cup icing sugar: 1 cup oil) Voilà! I loved peanut cookies and was amazed how simple it was. No weighing scale needed (unless if u need to weigh out the balls for business purposes).

Peanut cookies are easy to differentiate from the white almond cookies. But anyway, I took extra effort to make it look like golden coins (ancient Chinese coins look like that). Did not apply the egg wash evenly.

The peanut cookie dough was extremely cohesive. It was the easiest to make as compared to almond cookies, especially the crunchy almond cookies, which requires “extra squeeze” to make the dough come together.

I used a chopstick with square ends to gently push the middle to create “coin shape”.  The one at bottom right was leftover dough, about 5g instead of 8g.

I purposely left some of it with the bubbles from egg wash. It all dissipated with baking. (e.g. second one from bottom left) Without egg wash, the taste was not very different.

Finished product.

 

Peanut cookies

Makes 60-65 cookies, 8g each.

 Ingredients:

1 cup ground peanut (~125g)

1 cup flour (~125g)

½ cup icing sugar (67.5g)

½ cup oil (67.5g)

Method:

The ratio of peanuts: flour: icing sugar: oil = 2:2:1:1.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add in oil and mix well. It should form cohesive dough (not crumbling). Form dough into small balls, 7-8g each. Glaze with beaten egg. Bake at 180oC, 15-20 min.

Notes:

  • The dough for peanut cookies are much more cohesive than the almond cookies (both types), thus easier to handle.

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Traditional Almond Cookies

This was really fragrant. Even my grandma (who does not eat CNY cookies as she is afraid of butter) says its nice! She ate three. Nice feat. I took it out to let everyone try during the reunion dinner at Grandma’s house and all of them except one liked it, to my delightful surprise. One of my uncles can’t stop at one and specifically requested to grab the container of cookies I gave Ah-mah (grandma) and kept popping into his mouth right after dinner. He liked it so much he wanted to order. But I have no time for that cos CNY was next day!

Moreover I made a mistake by using the fine grain table sugar as it was too late to get caster sugar anyway (most shops were already closed when I started baking).  I thought the sugar would melt with high oven temperature, but it did not. If u want the sugar crystals to blend in better, use caster sugar (super fine grain, specifically for baking). Some people like the sugar crunch though.

Nevertheless, I looked for ways to solve the crystal problem. I want to find a recipe which creates melt-in-the-mouth-even-more almond cookies. I found one using icing sugar in much less quantity, which I had thought of after baking the first batch, but threw the idea out as I was not sure how the cornstarch content will affect the product. Maybe next year.

It looks similar to the crunchy melty almond cookies I baked earlier, but that’s just the original colour of almond cookies. The yellow colour saw in stores were bestowed by egg wash, which has to be omitted because my friend’s wife is vegetarian.

1 batch makes about 60-65 cookies, 8g each. Slightly more cookies than required to fill one container. I used a medium large container. This “business” was no easy task. Hourly pay could be $5 or less, depending on various factors. But the bonus is, I get to do the things I like.

Cooling on a rack immediately after baking. My oven pan was too hot and the bottom got slightly burnt. On the upside, there was a nice “burnt taste” if u know what I mean.

Traditional Almond Cookies

Makes 60-65 pieces, 8g each

 Ingredients:

120g ground almond

95g caster sugar

180g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

122ml oil

1 egg yolk

Method:

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Mix well with almond. Incorporate oil into the dry mixture and stir quickly. Roll into small balls of 7-8g each (about 1 tsp). Bake at 180oC, 18 min or lightly browned.

Notes:

  • Bought the wrong type of sugar, the fine grain table sugar. It did not melt fully in the finished product. Some people like the “crunch” sugar crystals gave. I think it’s a blessing in disguise, but if I bought the normal table sugar (coarse grain), then people will probably shun the cookies.
  • Baking at 180oC for 18min results in slightly overbaked cookies. Anyway baking temperatures and timing in recipes are mere guidelines. Every oven is different. My oven pan tends to be very hot and I think that’s why cookie bottoms were slightly burnt. I ended up baking for 15min. No burnt taste but slightly less fragrant overall.

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

Crunchy Almond Cookies

Recipe at end of page

I first started baking these Chinese New Year goodies 3 years back, armed with a curiosity for “How are my beloved CNY goodies made?”. I explored my favourite peanut cookies and almond cookies, and the classic pineapple tarts. And I was tired enough. My family was intrigued by the process of making the cookies, which was something new to us, and everyone was eager to try the product. My mum was pretty impressed and decided to order 10 containers of peanut cookies and almond cookies each for her friends, despite that she did not like people “messing” her kitchen. She paid for the ingredients while I do the things I like.

That was a busy year.

While looking for recipes, I chanced upon this recipe, Crunchy Melty Almond Cookies by j3ss kitch3n. Her description of the cookies and the way she presented in pictures were so tempting, that I knew I had to try it. I baked about 10 containers of cookies (in addition to the 20 my mum ordered) for my friends and then-boyfriend. The response was overwhelming. Everybody likes it. I continued to bake for free the next two years.

This year, my house was chosen for the Home Improvement Program just one week before Chinese New Year. Great. I decided not to bake anything. Moreover, I quitted my job which I had thought of leaving for years. It was not wise to spend too much. Some of my friends were the most supportive people ever. During a meetup in Jan for a friend’s birthday, I announced the quitting of my job, and they started to come up with ideas to earn money for me. The group unanimously suggested me to sell my CNY cookies since CNY was around the corner. They thought the cookies were good and one of them even wanted me to bake some samples to bring to office so she could help me promote. Very enthusiastic of them. I did not follow up as I knew mum would be upset as after HIP she would need the kitchen too.

Somehow, I ended up taking orders and occupied the kitchen while mum was doing her CNY shopping (with her consent of course).

After a few years of practice, I have become better at moulding the cookies. I figured if I wanted to make it a business, this is a good time to put it to test. I also need to be precise in every step, from the sources of ingredients and containers, price (good quality and not too expensive), size of cookies, rather than using my freestyle methods to estimate. This time, each cookie weighs 8g (+/- 0.5g as my weighing scale rounds to the nearest whole number). Why 8g? I think its a lucky number 🙂

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Incorporate the oil and mix it fast. It may look crumbly but when u pushed the dough with the back of spoon, the dough comes together. I never have to add extra oil.

My uncle was horrified when he saw the cookies on the left. I told him it was work of art. Just kidding. It was easier to weigh out the 8g each, before shaping into neat balls (picture on the right).

Finished product

The cookies were crunchy and slightly “fluffy” when hot from the oven

Crunchy Almond Cookies

makes approximately 60 cookies, 8g each

Ingredients:

150g self-raising flour

80g icing sugar (reduced to 60g)

80g diced almond (blanched)

80g ground almond (blanched)

100ml corn oil

½ tsp almond essence (omitted)

Egg yolk for brushing (omitted)

Method:

Sift flour and sugar together. Add almonds and mix well. Mix almond essence to corn oil and stir well. Mix both wet and dry ingredients to form a soft dough. Shape into small round balls and place in paper casing. Bake at 170oC, for 15-20 min or till slightly brown.

Notes:

  • You can make the self-raising flour as shown. Self-raising flour recipe:

1 cup flour (125g)

¼ tsp salt

1½ tsp baking powder

  • Even with reduced amount of sugar (60g instead of 80g), there are people who still find it too sweet. Majority thinks the sweetness is acceptable though.
  • Toasting the diced almond before mixing might give a better flavor.
  • Without almond essence, almond taste is still strong. It is quite good as almond essence gives an artificial taste sometimes.
  • Using oil with neutral taste like corn oil or grapeseed oil is preferable to those with strong flavour like olive oil.

 

I am submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb)” hosted by Miss B of Everyone Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House.

 

Classics: Chocolate chip cookies

Crunchy chocolate chip cookies (pardon for poor lighting)

soft chocolate chip cookies. (10 min baking time)

I first made this classic in 2010. Found it in

All Recipes is my favourite recipe site because the recipes were contributed by real people who tried it and reviews by people who also tried it. Its almost foolproof. This particular recipe is by Dora and has over 6000 positive reviews.. I knew I gotta try it.

As it would be the last Christmas cookies I bake for my colleagues, I decided to do the same cookies again. But when my sis saw the soft cookies, she commented that most people would prefer crunchier ones. True. So I Increased baking time and my colleagues seemed to prefer it over soft ones anyway. Enjoy! 🙂

I mix it with two spoons.

not smooth I know..

After adding eggs.

Add in flour, chocolate chips and walnut. Mix well.

Flatten slightly. Bake for 10 or 20min, depending on the texture desired.

Ingredients:

225g butter

200g white sugar (reduced to 50g)

220g packed brown sugar (reduced to half)

2 eggs

10ml vanilla extract (2tsp)

375g flour

5g baking soda (1 tsp)

10ml hot water (2 tsp)

3g salt (1/2 tsp)

335g chocolate chips (semi sweet)

115g chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 175oC.
  2. Cream butter and sugars till smooth. Beat in eggs one by one. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to mixture, together with salt.
  4. Sift in flour. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased pans (flatten slightly for crunchier result)
  6. For soft cookies: Bake 10min or until edges are browned.
  7. For crunchy cookies: Bake 20-22min or until the cookies are brown.

Notes:

  • Baking time determines whether it is a soft or crunchy cookie. Increase by twice as much time for cookies with a crunch.
  • Did not read carefully and added salt to flour instead. Not a big impact I guess.
  • Cookie will slightly spread but flattening it will produce a more evenly spread and crunchier cookie.
  • Baking it for too long will result in an overbaked product – the cookie will taste slightly bitter. But most people will enjoy it anyway. Only the most picky tastebuds will be able to tell. Most people around me prefer crunchy cookies.
  • The chocolate chips are way too much. Semi sweet (Hersheys) is still too sweet. Reducing it by half is a good idea.
  • Reduced white sugar as I ran out of it. Brown sugar was weighted loosely instead of “packed”. It was still too sweet for some people. Could reduce sugar content further, but not sure how it might affect the outcome other than sweetness.