December 25th, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

cocoandme_santayoga

(Even Santa’s health conscious this year.)

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Ho Ho Ho~! Merry Christmas ~!!

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I hope this message finds you well? Where are you? What are you doing today?

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Guess what? I’m currently in Hamburg! And I’m so happy! It was a bit of an effort to get here but it just feels like it’s exactly what I needed. Y’know, since a while ago, I had been regarding this winter trip as a goal/ milestone, because it coincided with my end date for the chemotherapy treatment I’ve been having, & so it’s a relief & a proud moment to say this: “Here I am!”

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In Germany they celebrate Christmas on the 24th, so yesterday, from late afternoon, we were at Mr.D’s sisters for the party. His mum gave me the biggest bear hug – she always does. She’s a sweet lady, she sings a birthday song in German over the telephone on my birthday, every single year.

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For Christmas dinner, Mr.D’s macrobiotic sister S baked ‘saibling’ fish stuffed with vegetables. Wholegrain rice, brussel sprouts & German red cabbage on the side. Very healthy Christmas dinner don’t you think?! :) Well, then again, the dessert was a naughty tiramisu made by his sister N, & there were lots of chocolate covered marzipan to nibble on throughout the evening, so not completely!

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Wherever you are this Christmas, have a wonderful day!

T xxxxx

 

December 13th, 2016

Coco&Me’s recipe for self-brewing lemongrass & ginger tea

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Coco&Me - Recipe for ginger & lemongrass tea self-brewing in thermos flask - www.cocoandme.com

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This post is in two parts. First, it’s the recipe itself, then secondly, there is my story on what it is like as I travel with this flask on the red bus to get to the chemo treatment that I am having at the moment.

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Part 1: The recipe.

Whenever I travel, I concoct this tea in a thermos flask & take it out with me. It takes just a couple of minutes to put together, it’s so simple, I just let the goodness steep on its own accord while traveling.

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I like to sip this as the day unfolds. Like while waiting for the bus on a freezing day for example. I pour just a tiny bit in to the cup so that it cools down quicker, then take a sip & enjoy the deep, warming zing of the ginger & the crisp, purifying aroma of the lemongrass. I feel its warmth seep in to my body & envelope me & shield me from the cold.

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Its weird to admit to, but this tea flask is starting to become almost like as if Linus’s security blanket for me. Whenever it’s too much, I take a break with it. Even while walking on the street at times! I stop & take a sip by the sidewalk & let the world pass by. I find that it is a great calming way to take a step back from the hustle & bustle. I now realise that the time you enjoy taking a break is not wasted time. It reminds me to slow down & most importantly, allow for that.

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Coco&Me’s recipe for cold busting lemongrass & ginger tea brew

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Ingredients:

Fresh lemongrass

Fresh ginger root

Tea bag of your choice (caffeine-free would be ideal, like rooibos tea or chamomile)

Honey to sweeten (optional)

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Method:

1. Boil some water in the kettle.

2. Cut a slice of ginger. Just a slither is plentiful, otherwise it becomes too spicy & dominant in the tea. Peel the skin, & place this in the thermos flask.

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cocoandme_ginger_tea

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3. Next, chop off about 2cm of lemongrass. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash it to bruise & release the aromatic oils. Pop this in the flask also.

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cocoandme_lemongrass_1

cocoandme_lemongrass_2

cocoandme_lemongrass_flask

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4. Pop the tea bag in the flask & pour in the hot water. Let the tea steep for a while & then discard the bag.

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cocoandme_ticktock_flask

cocoandme_tea

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5. Then secure the lid. That’s all! :) It’ll be flavoursome after about 30 minutes. 

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Part 2: As on my way to the chemo treatment.

Thursday morning. Eight o’clock.

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The day starts with my earnest intention to leave the house much earlier than Mr.D who stands in to walk our daughter to school. I want to get to the hospital quick to start on the treatment so that I’ll be home by the time when the children come home from school.

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But I get too involved when I enter the kitchen – I see the washed up plates & pots from last nights dinner on the dish drainer by the sink & the compulsive in me finds some work to do. I circuit around & around the central kitchen in a hurry to put things away in to the cupboards. Have I ever told you that I hate my stupid kitchen island? It makes me feel like a guinea pig on one of those round spinning what-you-call-its.

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I’m the queen when it comes to multitasking (a much positive way to put it rather than saying impatient jitterer, which is what I really am!), so amidst the tidying I prepare my breakfast, which this morning is porridge with slices of kiwi & dried prunes. With the same chopping board I also cut a small piece of ginger & pound a thumb length of a stalk of the lemongrass. These I pop in to the travel flask filled with hot green-rooibos tea to steep. It’s amazing this, just the tiniest pieces perfumes & permeates the tea. I feel like I’m doing something right & healthy by drinking it. I tuck this travel flask in to my rucksack, together with a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel which I now carry around everywhere, because chemo compromises the immune system & I’m freaked out about germs on public transport!

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I leave the house to journey to the hospital. It will take me around an hour & a half on the bus with one interval change.

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On the first bus that I take, a scruffy possibly homeless man comes on. His worn out clothes are dirty gradients of grey. Except his t-shirt. It’s bright blue with the superman S logo. If there ever was a superman & I was Clarice, this beatened superman looked unpromising to bring some peace to my troubled world.

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Next, I sit on the icy cold metal bench as I wait for my second bus. The thing about England is that it’s so cold for most of the year. There’s not really a real summer here, it’s hot for only like two weeks then that’s the summer done! So I have a go at the bench. “C’mon, seriously? Do you have to be metal? You’re super icy!” ~ This is all in my head of course. Don’t worry, my screws aren’t that loose yet!

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This is the perfect time to take out my thermos flask & pour the hot tea in to the cup that also acts as a lid. The purifying aroma of the lemongrass feels like it’ll shield me from the cold, & the fiery kick from the ginger warm my body from the inside. I’m convinced that if anyone should take a thermal image of me & the others at the bus stop, I’ll be the one that is glowing reds & yellows, while the rest will be in shades of blue.

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Soon enough the bus for the second length of my journey arrives. This one takes up the longer part of my travel so I sit upstairs on the double decker bus. My preferred side to sit is always the curb side so that I can look at the passing shops. It’s interesting you know, the kind of shops out there. There’s ones that’s like“How on earth are they surviving?” & I’m not kidding, it’s the sort that both you & I will think so in unison. But surely the shop rent isn’t cheap either. Sometimes, there are shop-keepers that lean by the doorway, arms crossed, looking bored stiff. Er, yeah, that’s really gonna bring the customers in, isn’t it…

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I plug my earphones on & listen to the BBC radio programmes that I pre-downloaded on my iPhone. Listening to it & all the while looking out of the window is entertaining enough to pass the time. Food related programmes are my favourite to listen to. This particular instance they were cooking at the same time as talking & I hear the sizzling sounds of frying the fatty bacon with clear stereo audio. Ahhh my-my, it is food porn for the ears I tell you! The sounds of the kitchen are my favourite sounds that I behold so fondly. Love it. I subtly smile to myself for my own silly reaction & decide to take another sip of my tea. I briefly pondered wether the distinct lemongrass aroma may be too intense for the confines of the closed air of the bus, but heck, I pour some out anyhow.

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Listening to radio, I observe the people getting in & out of the bus from my upstairs seat. I noticed the young lady waiting by the bus stop straight away. Something about her is so radiant. Y’know what, it’s that youthful look with the air of carelessness. No sign of apparent worries, confidently living the moment. – It’s such a contrast to me, I thought. Me, makeup-less, on way to the ghastly chemo, with my balding head hidden under the beanie, finger-tips tingling with peripheral neuropathy, weighed down with anxiety for having to freeze my head with the cold cap again. As a fully-fledged adult you know that the grass is not greener on the other side, & blah blah blah, but nevertheless, I feel… jealous… & it tugs at the emotions that I want to keep stabilised. Undergoing chemo compromises the immune system physically for sure, but also emotionally it seems. I think tea again should help. I sip it & close my eyes as I gulp & feel the warmth trickle down deep.

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It’s a funny thing, now that I’m not busying myself with the baking, I notice my surroundings much more so. Keeping up with the appointments is busy enough, but the truth is, the little people in my head are also feeling like the shop-keeper leaning by the doorway with arms crossed, looking bored stiff…

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Ps: Two more chemo sessions to go! – Last one on 21st. Then 4 weeks of radiotherapy from mid January.

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November 10th, 2016

I bought a non-plastic kettle!

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Hihi everyone!

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This time, I’d like to show off my brand spanking new kitchen equipment!

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica

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Ta-da~!!!!! :) :) :)

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It’s an ALL-STAINLESS-STEEL electric kettle by Ottoni Fabbrica, & it’s non-plastic!!!

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Ooh it makes me so happy! :) :) :)

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I do slightly fear that I may come across as a bit silly getting all excited over just a kettle…, lol, but you’ve gotta understand (!)
this is a cumulative result of me searching high & low for a non-plastic kettle for an age! Did you know that finding a kettle with absolutely zilch plastic parts is really hard?! You’d think that the stainless steel kettles out there on the market would be good enough, right?, but no…, they all have some sort of plastic part that would be in contact with the boiling water. For example the mesh lime scale filter by the spout – it has a plastic frame… And if the kettle has a a water level window on the side, that’s going to be made out of plastic too.

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica_2

(Inside shot)

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cocoandme_ottoni_fabbrica_3

(The kettle by Ottoni Fabbrica has a stainless steel mesh filter on the spout side. The mesh is the same height as the kettle, & although it doesn’t look it, it is actually removable for washing!)

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You’re probably wondering what the fuss is all about, right? Well, I’m on a mission to get away from the plastics. This is because I worry about harmful cancerous chemicals entering mine & my family’s body. My personal concern is especially bisphenol A (BPA) that mimics the oestrogen hormone. Was it this that fed my hormone-receptive breast cancer…? Having had the first-hand experience of cancer, where ever I can, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

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“… considerable data indicate that exposure of humans to BPA is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, decreased birth weight at term, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive and sexual dysfunctions, altered immune system activity, metabolic problems and diabetes in adults, and cognitive and behavioral development in young children”

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Mind you, it’s not just bisphenol A (BPA) that’s bad…, yikes…:

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“Three plastics have been shown to leach toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach.”

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(Quoted from breast cancer fund)
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So, here’s my review about the use of an all-stainless kettle in general & specifically about the Ottoni Fabbrica kettle:

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Pros:

  • In general, an all-stainless kettle has no plastic parts touching the water. It’s strong material will likely last for a long time. Stainless also doesn’t impart or absorb flavors or smells.
  • The Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is considerably a lot quieter than the plastic kettle I had previously! And the design of the spout on the Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is really nice – it pours water beautifully. Also worth mentioning is the large opening on the top which makes putting the water in easier.

Cons:

  • In general, an all-stainless kettle is heavier than it’s plastic cousin. In my opinion, elderly people might find it cumbersome. It also gets pretty hot to the touch on the outside wall.
  • The Ottoni Fabbrica kettle is expensive compared to the standard price-point of it’s plastic cousin. The handle is still plastic (but atleast it’s not touching the water directly). I wish the handle was wooden…! It’ll really suit the rustic appearance of the kettle! Using wood will make these kettles truly plastic-free!

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By the way, as far as I know, this is the only all-stainless steel interior electric kettle that I know which is available to the UK market.

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The Ottoni Fabbrica kettles comes in two different shapes. To make the decision to choose harder, they have these in  an assortment of twenty colours & finishes to colour-match your kitchen! Below are the four that I liked the best: 


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Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Crema” 

The colour-combo of white & silver reminds me of my iPhone.
 

 

 

Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Nero”
I like simplicity, so this one below with the black handle was a possible candidate. It’s a classic look that you won’t get tired of.
 

Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Alice Elegance”
Similarly, how about an all-black one like below?? Rather slick don’t you think? It oozes calm modernity. Oh choices, choices…! :)

 


Ottoni Fabbrica Italian Top Kettle “Fjord Satinato”
Below’s the one I went for. It’s over twenty pounds more expensive than the others… but I liked the shape of the spout, & I liked the brushed stainless steel surface. I think the somewhat retro/ vintage-y/ nostalgic appearance is rather charming!
 

 


_Hello, nice to meet you Mrs. Kettle, welcome to mine!_ :) :) :)

October 12th, 2016

Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice

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(( Note: this article is really long, so if you’re just after the recipe, click this link to jump down the page! ))

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Here is a recipe to kick start the revised Coco&Me blog!!!
I’d like to introduce to you my go-to recipe for brown rice. It’s probably going to look like no-frills (it’s just rice after all!) but it is perhaps THE apt one to be featured as my first recipe. Because being Japanese, rice is my staple food. It forms the foundation of my meals. It’s so often that I eat it that it makes sense for me to try & make my rice meals healthful by opting for wholegrain brown.

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Anyway, hope you like the recipe! It’s a bit long winded as always my recipes…, but hopefully I have covered enough material so that I can convey how beneficial it is to opt for brown rice, & how, with the correct cooking method, the time & effort that you’ll put in will reward you with rice that is tasty & that will become your go-to recipe too! :-)

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The case for eating brown rice:

Although we all understand that opting for brown rice is good for our body, a lot of us might be unclear on what on earth it’s really good for perhaps? If someone asked me what each B vitamins are good for precisely, I’d be so fuzzed up! So here is a quick glance chart comparing the nutritional values of brown & white rice, & explaining each’s benefit:

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Nutritional comparison of brown rice & white rice (per 100g)

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Nutrition
Brown
White
Benefits
Protein 7.1-

8.3

6.3-

7.1

Alkaline forming element is great for digestion, skin & mood.
Fat 1.6-

2.8

0.3-

0.6

Vegetable fat is unsaturated fat that reduce heart disease & lower cholesterol level.
Sugar 0.8-

1.9

0.1-

0.5

Brown rice has lower GI, so the glucose is released gradually into the blood. Keeping low blood sugar level keeps life-threatening complications such as diabetic at bay.
Fibre 2.9-

4.4

0.7-

2.7

Reduces high cholesterol level. It binds to carcinogens & prevents it from attaching to the colon walls thus helps eliminating them from the body.
Calcium 10-

50

10-

30

Builds & maintains strong bones, muscle contraction, heart & nerve function. Also maintains the acid/ alkaline balance of the body.
Phosphorus 0.17-

0.43

0.08-

0.15

Filters out waste in your kidneys. Grows, maintains, & repairs tissue & cells.
Iron 1.4-

5.2

0.3-

0.8

Makes haemoglobin that help carry carbon dioxide away from the cells & transport it back to the lungs.
B1

(Thiamin)

0.4-

0.6

0.07-

0.17

Vitamin B1 helps our body metabolise carbohydrates as energy fuel.
B2

(Riboflavin)

0.04-

0.14

0.02-

0.06

Antioxidant. It fights damaging particles (free radicals) that contribute to serious illnesses such as diabetes/ parkinson’s disease/ alzheimer’s disease/ cancer.
B6 0.5-

0.7

0.1-

0.4

Decreases chances of heart attack/ impact of radiation exposure/ high cholesterol. It increases stamina/ maintains healthy brain function.
E

(Tocopherol)

0.8-

2.5

0.1-

0.3

Promotes fertility, anti-aging property, healthy skin & hair.
Zinc 1.9-

2.8

0.8-

2.3

Helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria & viruses. Also makes proteins & DNA.
Niacin 3.5-

6.2

1.3-

2.5

Important in energy production/ processing fat in the body/ & regulating blood sugar levels.
Pantothenic

acid

1.4-

1.6

0.8-

1.3

Breaks down fats & carbohydrates for energy. Also important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract.
Folate 16-

20

4-

9

Important nutrient for before & during pregnancy. Helps the body develop new cells & prevent changes to the DNA that may lead to cancer.
Phytic

acid

0.13-

0.27

0.02-

0.07

‘Anti-nutrient’. It binds to the beneficial minerals & stops it being absorbed in the intestine. Humans produce very little phytase (enzyme that breaks down phytate) in our body so it’s best to soak the rice to reduce the phytic acid & increase the nutrient bioavailability. Sprouted/ germinated rice is even more beneficial as it increases GABA which helps to lower blood pressure, improve kidney function & stimulates cancer cell apoptosis (cell death).
(Numeric data from Encyclopedia of Food Grains by Colin W Wrigley, Harold Corke, Koushik Seetharaman, Jonathan Faubion). 

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Eating brown rice means eating LIFE:

Did you know that if we sow brown rice, it will sprout? Whereas white rice will just rot? Brown rice, even the rice that’s been packaged & sit on the shop shelves, is still alive. ~ Life dwells in brown rice ~ Isn’t that simply beautiful? Personally, it was this moment of personal revelation that converted me to eat whole grains. It made me realise that, just like how apples that are freshly picked is joyful, the pleasures of eating ‘life’ is joyful. By receiving the life of things we eat, it fuels the burning light of our lives. Eating wholegrain brown rice is obviously nutritious, yes, but there is more to it that science can’t explain ~ it is good for our soul. 

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The benefits of chewing:

As it is harder than white rice, brown rice will make you chew more. This might not sound necessarily beneficial, lol, but actually, chewing more has many benefits to offer!

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– One benefit is that you’ll be eating less & taking in fewer calories! That’s because it takes 20 minutes for the brain to signal that you’re full, so, by having to chew more & consequently eating slower, you’ll be feeling full before you’ve finished the food on your plate!

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– Another benefit is that chewing food is anti-cancer! Chewing stimulates the salivary glands to produce saliva, & saliva contains peroxidase which suppresses carcinogens in food = preventing cancers!

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-Plus! As we continue to chew, it gets progressively sweeter! This is because enzymes in saliva convert starch into glucose.

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Soaking the rice:

As touched upon on the ‘Phytic acid’ part of the nutritional chart above, phytic acid is a bit of a “party-pooper” in this otherwise perfectly nutritious grain. It’s an ANTI-nutrient, meaning, it interferes with the absorption of good nutrients by the intestines, impacting its bioavailability…! :( An enzyme called Phytase is the saviour here (it breaks the phytic acid down!), but very unfortunately, our human body create very few of this enzyme…, it’s just not enough… 

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This is the very reason why we have to soak the brown rice for a really long time. Soaking increases the activity of the naturally present phytase in the grain – it breaks the hull of the rice so that we have access to the nutrients inside.

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My recommendation for how long it should soak is overnight – around 12 hours – & more if you have the time (& patience…!). Start by soaking in lukewarm water (around 30°C), & leave it out at room temperature. After the 6 hour point, you might want to change the water.

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Pressure cooker:

By cooking in the pressure cooker, your brown rice will be softer & taste less whole-grainy.  

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I understand that if you’re new to pressure cooking, anyone at first has hesitation to cook with “Pressure”! I remember that I was too! I was super scared that the lid might blow off & that the hot stew would dangerously spew out! But when once familiarised, there is nothing as convenient. It would ‘boil’‘steam’ & ‘stew’, & can of course ‘save time’ & ‘save utility costs’ by dramatically shorten the cooking time.

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Going beyond just brown rice to keep it interesting!

Exploring variety & getting excited about it is the key to success for continually opting for healthy eating! So here are some variations! It’s also a great way to add more nutrition to your rice with minimal fuss!

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Brown rice + beans of your choice. (Such as dried chickpeas, adzuki beans, soya beans, cannellini beans and kidney beans).

1.Wash dried beans together with rice. 

2. Pre-soak the beans together with the rice.

3. Additionally to the water for the rice, pour in the same weight of water as the beans. 

4. Then cook! So simple! 

Note 1: I tend to toss in beans that are about 1/10th of the ratio to the amount of rice. Note 2: Adzuki beans does not need pre-soaking! Just add some in just before you cook the pre-soaked rice.

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Brown rice + pearl barley.

Just replace some of the brown rice with barley. I tend to replace about 20%.

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Tossing in a spoonful of hijiki or arame (sea vegetables). 

It brings the ocean flavour to the rice. No adjustments of water needed. No need to pre-soak the sea veggies too. 

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Amount:

For a family of four like mine, I cook 300g of rice. Most of the time there is some rice left, but I like to cook that little extra to make sure there is always plenty to go around. If & when there is any rice left, I transfer it to a different bowl & once cooled, I place a bamboo mat over it to cover, & leave it out at room temperature. I then have it for breakfast or lunch the following day. Brown rice retains the flavour really well compared to white rice, & it’s still very tasty even if it is not warmed up.

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Did I convince you?

Maybe you feel a bit resistant…? The fact that you have to steep it in water for over-night might be putting you off? I understand, I was like that before. But! Once you get in to the new slow rhythm of it, you’ll adjust, I promise! :-) It’ll become second nature to remember to prepare the rice in advance, just like remembering to put a shoe on before you go out! And you’ll start to see the benefits too – like how your energy lasts throughout the day! So why not start a brown rice life together with me? :-)
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Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice (by pressure cooker)
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Preparation time: 5 minutes to wash + overnight to soak the rice

Cooking time: 30 minutes

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Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 300g short grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (good quality salt, not table salt)
  • 430ml water (Please note, there may be a difference to the cook & feel of the rise due to the brand of the pressure cooker, so please use this figure as a ballpark)

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cocoandme_brown_rice01www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice

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Method:

1. Put the rice in a large bowl or pot. Rinse & drain 3 to 4 times.

  • TIP 1
    For the first rinse, be quite brief about it. Pour in some water & quickly swish & drain. This is because, as the rice is completely dry initially, it rapidly absorbs the most water, & you wouldn’t want the unclear dirty water to soak in to the rice.
  • TIP 2
    The biggest tip to getting plump rice:
    The thin skin on the rice surface has a waterproof membrane, so by rubbing the grain together, you are scratching the surface of the grain, which will let the water penetrate faster. The most effective method to do this is to rub the grain in-between the palm of your hand in the water, just like how you wash your hands. Because the hands are like of the form of worship, in Japanese, we call it the ‘worship wash’.
  • TIP 3
    When pouring away the water, pour away the floated rice & dust too.
  • TIP 4
    (optional) I always rinse the rice in a clockwise motion out of habit, ever since I learnt that in traditional Oriental medicine, the clockwise motion draws energy in to the body, whereas counter clockwise will sedate and reduce the energy. ~ I find this pleasing to imagine, although I’d understand if this is sounding peculiarly superstitious! But when I am cooking for my family, I like the idea that I am inserting positive energy in to the foods that enter their body.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice

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2. Use a sieve/ colander to drain away the water completely.

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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice

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3. Place the washed rice in a bowl/ dish & immerse the rice in clean lukewarm water (around 30°C).
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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown ricewww.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice
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4. Cover with a bamboo sushi mat or a meshed food cover or a plate to stop any dust falling in & keep it aside for over-night (12 hours) at room temperature. After the 6 hour point, you might want to change the water.
  • TIP 5 – You could of course loosely cover it in cling film, but, bamboo mat or a meshed food cover will let the rice breathe. It’s also nicer to be plastic-free! :-)
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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice
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 5. When it is time to cook, drain the rice. Pour in the measured water & add salt.
  • TIP 6
    Salt here is not because of seasoning. It is used to take away the smell of the bran & cereal germ. Because it is not for seasoning, the amount of salt that you put in is very subtle. Maybe around 1/3 of a teaspoon per 100g of rice is plenty. The benefit of salt extends to increased plumpness as the rice’s absorption rate of the water increases by putting in the salt. Additionally, in Oriental medical term, salt “draws out and strengthens the life force”. A good reason to seek & use good quality salt!
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www.cocoandme.com - Coco&Me’s recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice
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6. Put the lid on, secure the pressure lock & put it on high heat. Then let the gauge on the pressure cooker go all the way to maximum. Once it is at its highest, let it stay like that on high heat for 1 or 2 minutes more, then lower the heat to minimum, & cook for 20 minutes.
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7. When the 20 minutes have past, stop the heat. But don’t open the lid yet! Let the pressure gauge go down naturally & let it rest for 10 minutes. It’s the last 10 minutes of steaming that is extremely important for fluffy rice!
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cocoandme_brown_rice07
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8. When you have finished the steaming, open the lid & use the rice paddle to turn the rice over so that the moisture is evenly distributed.
  • TIP 7
    To turn the rice without mushing the grain, first cut the rice in a cross, then use the rice paddle to fluff & loosen the rice from the bottom of the pot in quarters. By doing this, you’re distributing the moisture & releasing the trapped vapour. You’re also introducing air, which makes the sweetness & umami of the rice stand out. 
  • TIP 8 
    If you’re putting the lid back on, wipe the excess water on the back of the lid so that it doesn’t drop in to the rice & make it soggy!

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August 31st, 2016

What I can do

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“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”  ― C.G. Jung

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I believe that how well I react to the given situation would help me to overcome this and see me through to the healthier me again. To react well means acknowledging its existence & accepting it. It means dealing with it head on, working hard to become who I’d want to be.

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It’s not me to lament over what happened. I am not going to let the fearful emotions take control of me. I have always been the ‘glass is half full’, happy-go-lucky type & that’s who I shall remain to be.

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So in practical terms, what can I do right now? Here’s what I’m thinking at the moment:

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1. Eat a well balanced diet.

2. Check my body regularly.

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Breathe well.

5. Don’t dwell on the negative. Never play the victim.

6. Radiate positivity. Glow.

7. Stand tall, have grace.

8. Appreciate everyone with respect & love.

9. Be thankful for the second chance in life.

10. Proceed forward.

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For now I would like to share my thoughts with you on the first one:

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Eat a well balanced diet. 
Just like how I have my own beliefs that is tailored to just me, I have my own eating system. The current global health & wellness trend is absolutely amazing in that it’s become much easier to buy healthy foods so readily, but on the other-hand I can’t help but feel cautious of how commercialised it has become. Do you ever feel this? I feel slightly overwhelmed by all those heavily branded, need to be instagrammable, touting big health benefits, over hyped ‘products’. They are hitching a ride on the trendy bandwagon, I feel. I also think that I don’t want to be the sucker that laps it up, it’s commercialised health boom is just going to be costly for me!

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with the clear trend in fighting food causes, being ethical, sustainable, nutrition-led & high moral. It serves in informing us, the public, on the impact of our food choices to our body & to our Earth, & be mindful to try to change it for the better – for us & for our future children.

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I just need to train my eye to wade through some of the more colourfully illustrated ones to find what makes sense to me…

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What I wonder is this: what is ‘real’ food? Real food to me is made from ingredients that are honest. It means simple. It means unrefined & unprocessed. It means authenticity. It doesn’t need to be prettily packaged or marketed heavily. = It means buying authentic raw ingredients to notch up a meal.

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I am still a learner at this (always will be in life!), but in trying to cook as much as possible from scratch at home, I enjoy controlling what is in my food. More than ever before, now that I have breast cancer, I recognise the need to cook healthy & nurturing foods for my self-preservation!

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Here’s some pics of what I’ve been eating lately!

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Coco&Me blog - homemade cauliflower soup - www.cocoandme.com

(Lunch: I made cauliflower soup. Sprinkled lots of rocket salad.)

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Coco&Me blog - AZUKI AND PUMPKIN DISH - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Azuki & pumpkin macrobiotic stew, steamed broccoli, daikon radish & carrot pickle, with brown rice.)

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Coco&Me blog - sun dried apple pieces for snacking - www.cocoandme.com(Making snacks: sun drying apple pieces on a very hot day.)

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Coco&Me blog - boiled chicken breast with spring onion sauce - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Poached chicken breast with ginger & spring onion sauce.)

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Coco&Me blog - pub salad - www.cocoandme.com

(Went for pub lunch. Chose salad over the choice of fish & chips…, sigh…)

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Coco&Me blog - steamed Japanese sweet potato - www.cocoandme.com

(Snack: Steamed Japanese sweet potato.)

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Coco&Me blog - homemade green smoothie - www.cocoandme.com

(Breakfast: Green smoothie. Very filling…)

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Coco&Me blog - sea bream, arame rice, nameko miso soup - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Pan fried sea bream, white rice with arame, sautéed broccoli & egg. Together with nameko mushroom miso soup.)

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Coco&Me blog - sandwich bento - www.cocoandme.com

(Bento for S.)

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Looking for answers within.
You might or might not have realised that this Coco&Me blog is going to have to do a 180 degree turn. It is no more a cake blog, or a blog by a cake baker/ seller. I can no longer continue my refined sugary ways.
It’s taken a bit of soul searching to say these words – I am going to ditch the 10 years of my relentless cake obsession. I am going to renounce my ways.

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It is a no brainier decision, I’ve got to, if I want to live a long healthy life that keeps my breast cancer at bay!

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So yes, here it is folks, here’s the scenario from now on! This Coco&Me ship is changing course!

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Just imagine a typical scene that you might read in a book, set perhaps in an injured warship, it is terribly under threat, so much so that it’s almost been battled to a halt. In the control room, there is the panic stricken confused crew running left right & centre. And to top off their distress, there is the emergency alarm piercing the troubled air.

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Then…, the good guys – a brigade of ornately armoured commanders storm in. They authoritatively shout,
“This station and its crew are now under our command! We’re here to help you, lighten your load, drop the sugar cargo!” “Commence with our advance!”

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And then we enter the next chapter…
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