Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bitter Melon Juice?!

Hey everyone! Hope you all have been doing well! I can't believe it's already almost August! Time really does fly doesn't it?

Remember my post on how I got sick after camp and my mom made me drink the radish juice? I'm not sure why, but up until recently I still had a minor cough... I think it could have been because I haven't been getting enough sleep lately.

But my mom decided I needed to try another one of her concoctions! This time it's bitter melon

When I first heard her say this, I was like


Bitter melon?!

This is going to be even worse than the radish juice one you told me to drink!

I usually like radish (cooked at least), but bitter melon is bitter even when cooked! Wouldn't it be worse if I ate it raw??

But like the good girl I am, I listened to my mom and juiced the melon. However, to make it taste better, I juiced two pears along with the melon.

Btw, eating pears is another home remedy my mom swears by, but this one I don't mind~

I've never actually prepared bitter melon by myself before, so I was surprised to find out that it has red seeds O__O

Haha, the other half of the bitter melon is missing because my sister was de-seeding it while I was taking the picture <3

Then I just put everything through the blender, and voila! Done :)

Doesn't the juice look beautiful?? It's even frothy!!

So now I'm sure you're all wondering how this "delightful" concoction tastes right?


It actually tasted really good to my surprise!! The first sip tasted somewhat pear-y with a pretty bitter aftertaste. However, for every sip after, I surprisingly couldn't taste the bitterness. :/ Strange hmm? Maybe my taste buds got used to the bitterness?

I'm not sure if this juice really helped my sickness or not, but I felt a lot better the next day. (I think it was due to getting more sleep though.)

However, I would actually encourage you guys to try this recipe! It was a surprising success :)

What do you think about bitter melon? Do you like it? How do you eat it?


A couple cool facts I just found out about bitter melon from WebMD (***although some studies have suggested the following uses for bitter melon, concrete evidence is still insufficient):
  • Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels
  • Bitter melon is good for some stomach and intestinal disorders including but not limited to ulcers, constipation, intestinal worms
  • Bitter melon is beneficial for those who have diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney stones, and OH WAIT! fever!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

What?! How could I not have known?

So... It's been a while!

I was going to post earlier, but then... I dropped my phone in the toilet, so I didn't have any of my pictures....

JK JK, the part about the toilet was wrong (although I have done that before... Oops!). I actually spilled water over it >__< I usually have a cup of water sitting next to my bedside at night in case I wake up and am thirsty. But when I woke up in Wednesday night, I accidentally spilled the water onto my phone! I forgot my phone was there and kinda left it sitting in that pool of water all night....


Let's just say that phone went into the rice a for a day and a half!

Sunday (I know it's already been almost a full week, sorry!!), I went on a hike today with six of my friends after church! The trail is really pretty so I felt I had to share with you all!

What's surprising is that the trail is really close to my old high school. Although I used to run there a lot for cross country since it was our home turf, I realized I didn't even know most of the trails, some of which are really narrow and steep!

Let's just say some of the trails we traveled we had to crawl on our hands and knees or hold onto the roots that stuck out of ground! However, at the end of each slope down or hill up, there's always some beautiful scenery.

Eh? I didn't notice this picture turned out so blue compared to the rest?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Little late.... But: Chinese New Year and the 年糕 (“nian gao")

Well more than a little late... really late, but this is a recipe my mom makes a lot, especially during Chinese New Year (which was January 31 this year!). After more than 20 years, I finally learned how to make it this New Years as well!

This is the nian gao or steamed Chinese New Year cake!

The pictures I have above are actually from the end of January. I made a bunch of these nian gaos in ramekins, and gave them away as gifts. My friends really liked them, but what’s even better is that they’re super easy to make, and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients!

So before I get to the recipe, I want to share a little of what I know on the history of Chinese New Year.... If you're looking for the recipe, scroll to the bottom of the post!

Chinese New Year is an ancient festival based on the Lunar calendar, beginning in the middle of the 12th month and ending in the middle of the 1st month. It involves the Chinese zodiac, which includes 12 animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Each new year is characterized by one of these animals.

Chinese New Year has been celebrated since the Shang Dynasty in the 14th century B.C. Traditionally, it involves activities such as cleaning and then decorating the house with red items including lanterns and Chinese paper cuts, giving out red envelopes (红包 - "hong bao") filled with money to children, setting off fireworks to scare away evil, and holding a big feast on New Year's Eve. The feast is often celebrated with the extended family and includes dishes such as the Eight Treasures Rice (八宝饭 - "ba bao fan"), dumplings, and glutinous rice balls (汤圆 - "tang yuan").

Today, Chinese New Year is no longer called Chinese New Year but instead the Spring Festival. It is still the most important social and economic holiday in China. However, the attitude towards it is not the same as it once was. It is still a time for family to get together and celebrate, but many young people use the holiday as a time to relax from work and/or watch the televised Spring Festival Gala (春节联欢晚会 - "chun jie lian huan wan hui").

So although meaning behind Chinese New Year has changed over the centuries, it is nevertheless still one of the most important cultural celebrations in China with a long and rich history.
I've never been to China during the Chinese New year celebrations, but I've heard it's full of energy and is a lot of fun. Have any of you been there during the celebrations before? I'd love to hear about your experience! :)

The glutinous rice flour is on the left! You should be able to find this at any Asian market!
Steamed Chinese New Year Cake:

  • 1 bag glutinous rice flour
  • 1.8 cups liquid*
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Chinese dates
  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Oil baking dish/ceramic bowl with vegetable oil, or in my case coconut oil.
  3. Pour contents into a baking dish/ceramic bowl, and decorate with pitted dates.
  4. Cover dish with aluminum foil and steam on high for 30-40 minutes. The New Year cake is ready when the chopstick comes out
  5. Enjoy!

*I used azuki bean soup, which I made by cooking azuki beans in a slow cooker until the beans were soft. However, you can also use water or milk as well.
If you’ve ever had nian gao before or if you make this recipe, please let me know what you think! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do~

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Smoothies: Who Doesn't Love Them?

Wow, can you believe it? It's already been almost a month since summer has officially started!

From my visit to the University of Washington! Wow, great weather even in the rainy Northwest!
And what does that mean? SMOOTHIES EVERYDAY, FOR EVERY MEAL! Or so I wish, haha. With so many berries and other fruits being in season, this is the best for making smoothies!

If you haven't seen my previous post on blueberries and all their wonderful nutritional benefits, there are so many! So if you haven't gotten yourself some, or gone U-picking, go get some!

A sneak peak of these wonderful babies! <3 Click, Click, Click!
Alright, back to our topic of smoothies! Today, I have a simple recipe for you all! My Raspberry Chocolate Smoothie! Super delicious: creamy, refreshing, fruity, chocolatey.... you know, everything that makes you love smoothies! Just try it out :)

Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie Makes enough for two (sharing makes the world go 'round!)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberry
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 scoop Nature’s Bounty Complete Protein and Vitamin Chocolate Shake Mix
  • Agave/honey (optional)

Haha, only one: blend and serve <3
And of course, you can change up the ingredients however you would like. If you like a more chocolatey drink, add more cocoa; more sweet, add some agave or some honey! What ever fits your taste.

Now it’s time for me to sit in the sun, grab a book, and enjoy~

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries!

Wohoo! It's the time of year again for u-pick blueberries! My family never fails to go at least a few times each summer, and every trip we pick A TON! In fact, we picked four tubs of blueberries this time, which weighed a little over 23lbs, AND we picked with the intention to come back within a week or so?

With so many blueberries, we basically eat a cup or so every morning and sometimes another cup as a snack! We also ended up freezing maybe a third of what we picked? Our family then uses these blueberries in oatmeal or smoothies as the year goes by and blueberry season ends. And the great news about freezing them is that freezing has no significant affect on the levels of antioxidants found in blueberries.

So in addition to their amazing flavor, what's so great about blueberries? Well let's find out~


Nutritional Benefits of Blueberries:
  • Great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber
  • Low glycemic index, which means blueberries do not have a large impact on blood sugar levels post consumption. In fact studies have shown that consuming at least 3 servings of low-GI fruits per day (including blueberries) led to an improvement in the study participants' blood sugar over three months
  • Has one of the highest levels of antioxidants among all fruits, vegetables, and spice. Antioxidants are important in fighting free radicals from the atmosphere, which can destroy cellular structures such as our DNA!
  • Help improve cognitive function (memory, ability to learn new information, etc.)

Tips to prepare and store blueberries:
  • Wash only when planning to eat (or freeze). Blueberries have a protective bloom (the grayish waxy deposit) on the surface of its skin that protects the berry from spoiling at room temperature
  • When freezing the berries, wash and drain the blueberries. Then set on a clean surface to dry. Remove damaged berries and place in a freezer-safe bag or container to freeze. Can be stored for up to a year! However, texture and flavor does change slightly upon freezing
  • Best way to enjoy blueberries is when they are fresh and eaten raw. Cooking/baking the berries causes many of the vitamins and antioxidants to become damaged and thus losing a lot of its nutrients
And yup! That's all for now. Hope you all enjoyed my little spiel on blueberries! (Btw, I had to google how to spell spiel! Oops, haha)

How do you enjoy your blueberries? Do you go to U-Pick farms as well? For what fruits/vegetables? Please share! I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Camp, Red Bean Milk Tea, and Radish Juice?

Wow! It's been so long since I last posted. A couple weeks ago, I went down to NorCal to serve as a camp counselor for a week-long Christian high school camp. It was such a humbling experience as I saw my own weaknesses as a leader and comforter. Yet at the same time, the experience was an incredible blessing as I saw my group of girls become closer and more willing to be vulnerable with each other as the week progressed. Overall, it was an incredible experience, and if you want to hear more about it, feel free to ask me about it in the comments or via email!

View from the center of the camp!
Group of students for morning prayer :) What a blessing to see!
After camp, I had to the blessing of visiting a friend who lives in the San Jose area! We took a late night trip to Fantasia Coffee & Tea and each ordered a cup of their hot red bean milk tea. OMG, it was good! The drink wasn't too sweet and the red beans were cooked perfectly, a perfect way to end a long week at camp~

Hot Red Bean Milk Tea
And lastly... I got sick towards the end of the camp and lost my voice. As a result, when I returned home, my mom decided that it would be best for me to try some home remedies. She heard that radish was supposed to be good for colds/coughing/etc. so yesterday, she told me to juice a raw radish, and me usually liking radish (in soup at least) thought it would taste just fine. To make it even better, I decided to add in some ginger and a pear for some extra spice and sweetness....

BUTTT. OMG. I. Almost. Died. Don't try it. It tasted horrible! I admit I do feel better today, but I don't know if it was due to the radish mixture or just rest and lots of fluids...

What do you think? Does your family have home remedies for sicknesses? Feel free to share!