Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Orange Booster Smoothies - Orange, Honey, Lemon & Banana

Big Guy is working late tonight, in fact he had been staying up late these few nights, so I whipped up this vitamin C booster smoothie for him before I head off to bed.

Here's a big cup my Big Guy...

And one slightly smaller cup for myself as reward... :)

Why I called this Booster Smoothie? Simple because...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Purple Smoothies - Dragon Fruits & Banana Smoothies 紫色冰沙-火龙果香蕉

It's been such a hot month, not a single rain drop, just melting tropical sun that burns the skin. So I decided to make some smoothies to combat the unbearable heat before anyone of us got dehydrated (excuse excuse.. the truth is we just love smoothies :)).

Dragon fruit is an ideal choice; it is naturally sweet, high in fiber, vitamin C and is a good source of anti-oxidant. It's locally produced so getting a fresh one is really not that difficult. I usually pick the pink dragon fruits instead of white ones, as they have higher vitamin C content. Besides, go for the fruit that is heavy and firm when hold in hand, and a tip the store worker told me was - check for fresh looking "spikes" on the outer layer, that's a sign of fresh and juicy dragon fruit.

This smoothies is so simple that it can be ready less than 10 minutes, absolutely no flavoring or sugar required.

Preparation Time: 8 min
Cooking Time: Not required
Serving for: 4 cups

1 dragon fruit 火龙果一粒
2 medium size ripe bananas 香蕉两条
1 cup / 240ml fresh milk or low-fat milk 一杯或240ml鲜奶/低脂牛奶
6-8 ice cubes 六至八颗冰块

How to cut the dragon fruit with least mess? Just scope around it using a spoon then make tic-tac-toe cuts using a knife. Give it a light push and the flesh with come off easily.

Step-by-Step Guides:
1. Wash and cut all the fruits into cubes, toss into the blender and pour in the milk. 

2. Blend on high speed for 20-30seconds. Add the ice cubes last. This is how it should look like, before and after..

3. If the mixture is too thick, dilute with some milk; If its too thin, add a little more banana or ice.

4. Chill the smoothies in the fridge for 30 minutes, or serve as is if you just cannot resist, like me. ;)

Yum... Anyone care for a cup of this Purple Smoothie? 

Just some Tips..
• This is a naturally sweeten smoothie, while I found that many will add sugar or honey to it, it is really not necessary.

• Due to the high fiber content, dragon fruit is ideal to ease constipation problem too.

• Pink Dragon Fruit may stains the cloth, so avoid to let your little one self-feed. I only let my 18 mo to have a few sips as I discourage cold drink for young infant.  Even for elder toddler you may want to serve in moderation, i.e. just one small kid's cup.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Easy Chicken Nuggets for All Ages 简易香煎鸡肉块

Like most kids, my little boy enjoys eating chicken nuggets but I am reluctant of bringing him to fast food restaurant, so once in a while I'll make him some homemade chicken nuggets. He never failed to finish them. :)

Since I'm preparing some for my little girl too, I used minced meat instead of whole meat. Still taste good. Being a lazy mom, I prepared the nuggets for everyone in the family with a little twist in the ingredients. So this is indeed quite a time-saver.

The tiny chicken nuggets for my 18 months old. I made some pumpkin purée as dipping Sauxe.

With a little "dress up" :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Creamy Cheesy Multi-Colors Alphabet Pasta 芝士蔬菜意面

Now that baby has past 1 year old and confirmed no allergy reaction with cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese, I am serving her creamy cheese pasta instead of the usual soup pasta. I love the cheesy smell and the creamy taste of this little pasta... When I was cooking it in the kitchen, even my little boy couldnt resist to ask for a try..

I used four different types of vegetables here for the mixed nutritious, you can replace with vegetables of your choice, but do try to maintain the variety of colors.

Happy Burger for Happy Tot 笑脸蛋堡包

It's a leisure morning, sun is shining bright and birds are chirping in the garden. So I thought, hmm, why not a happy burger for my little boy?

Here it is, the happy egg omelette burger for my happy tot.  Served with organic prunes (for the hair) and organic cherios (for eyes and body). I used two little chocolate chips for the pupils and Nuttela for the lips :)

To make the "eyes" stay in place, I cut a small hole using the tip of the knife before I stuffed the cherios in place.

The egg omelette is full of goodness. I added a palmful of cheddar cheese, chopped celery, capsicums, fresh herbs and a little fresh milk into 3 eggs; mixed well, melted a teaspoon of unsalted butter and cooked the egg mixture for 2 minutes each side, or until golden.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vermicelli Soup with Minced Pork 肉碎米粉汤

Vermicelli (米粉) is a kind of traditional Chinese thin noodles made of rice, it is easy to digest and cook fast within few minutes. I  usually keep a package of vermicelli as it can be used to make soup or stir fried with meat or vegetables, always come in handy. 

When serving for my duo today, I served it with mixed vegetables soup and top with some minced meat. I used organic pork but you can replace it with minced chicken meat too.

Here's the serving for my 4 years old. My baby girl had the same but in smaller portion.

I made extra of the minced meat and served it with the blanched Bak Choy for me and my big guy. When cooking at home, I always try to cook dishes that are suitable for the entire family so I can keep my cooking time to the minimal, otherwise I may have a frustrated baby clinging onto my legs like a little koala.  :)

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serving for: 2 little ones

1 palm-ful of vermicelli (or adjust according to your little one's appetite)
1 palm size of minced meat
1 table spoon of olive oil
2 glove garlic, finely chopped
A dash of sesame oil
2 tea spoon of corn starch (to achieve  smoother texture)

For Marinate:
1/4 onion, finely chopped
A dash of salt
1 tea spoon of soy sauce
A dash of Shao Xin wine (I usually skip this when cooking for little one)

For Soup:
3 cups of water 
1 stalk of celery, chopped into small chunks 
1/2 medium carrot, chopped into cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped 
20-30 anchovies (pre-washed) or 2 table spoon of anchovies powder

Step by Step Guide:
  1. Marinate the minced meat in a bowl, set aside.
  2. Boil a pot of water (about 3 cups), add the soup ingredient and boil for 5 minutes on high heat then switch to medium heat and let it shimmer for about 15 minutes. 
  3. While the soup is boiling, stir fry the chopped garlic until fragrance, toss in the marinated minced meat and a dash of water, stir fry for 3 minutes. Once the gravy has thickened, add the corn starch and a dash of sesame oil, the meat is now ready.
  4. Toss the vermicelli into the soup, cook for about 2 minutes and turn of the heat.

To serve, just put the minced meat on top of the vermicelli, or mix well if serving for young infant, and remember to cut the vermicelli into bite size using a clean kitchen scissors.

It's a really simple dish that is suitable for young infant and elder kids. The minced meat complements the vermicelli which is plaint in taste. You may choose to skip the sesame oil when serving for young  infant however elder kids usually like the aroma and taste of the sesame oil.

Bon appetite peeps!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sesame Flavored Lady's Fingers 麻油拌羊角豆

In my attempt to introduce more variety of food for my little ones, I decided to try one of my personal favorites, lady's fingers. Surprisingly, my picky little boy liked it and he especially liked all the little seeds, which are indeed cute looking.

Sesame flavored Lady's Fingers

Before going into the recipe, let's have a little sharing about this little pod veggie.

Lady's Fingers, or Okra, is a common locally produced vegetables that is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidant. My mom used to grow them in our backyard and I love to watch the tiny "fingers" grow. Unfortunately I do not have green fingers like my mom so I can only get from store. Remember to go for okra that is in vibrant/dark green and looks crunchy, which means its fresh.

One important goodness that you should know is that, lady's finger is one of the ideal food that ease constipation condition due to its high dietary fiber and mucilaginous content. It also has low calories and zero cholesterol which makes it an ideal food for people that want to loose weight (check out more on nutrition and you). Quite a guilt-free food it seems. :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What is Sodium, Really? 什么是纳?

Last week I wrote a post about feeding cheese to baby and had received quite some feedback about the post, hence this is a sequel to the post. You may read more about it here.

Now, What is Sodium?

Sodium exists in salt and is essential to maintain the fluid level in our body and providing channels for nerve signaling. Deficiency of sodium is rare but over-consumption of sodium is common due to the modern diet. Young infant needs very little sodium in their diet because breast milk and formula milk alone provides sufficient sodium for a 12 month old's daily sodium intake requirements, hence it is really not necessary to add extra salt into the little one's diet.

According to the 2012 publication by UK Food Agency, Feeding Your Baby In the First Year, it was mentioned where:

Don’t add any salt to the foods you give your baby because a young baby’s kidneys can’t cope with it. Some foods, such as cheese, sausages and bacon, are high in salt, so remember to limit how much of these foods you let your baby eat.

Baby foods aren’t allowed to contain added salt. But any foods you buy that aren’t aimed at babies, especially sauces and ready-made porridge, can often be high in salt, so also limit how much of these you let your baby eat and remember to check the label. 

It’s best not to encourage a liking for salt at any age, so when you’re cooking for the family,  leave out the salt so your baby can share the food.

For first time parents, I would encourage you to read the publication as it has rather comprehensive information on baby's first food that I find quite informative.

What is so Bad About Sodium, really?

Baby's daily sodium requirement is very low - up to 1g salt or 0.4g of sodium a day, which can be met through drinking breast milk or formula milk.

Babies's kidneys are not mature enough to handle excessive salt, among the potential side effect of excessive salt / sodium include:

  • the risk of kidney damage in long run
  • may lead to high blood pressure in later life
  • introducing salt in baby's early food also indirectly training their palate to saltier flavors, which has no added benefit at all.

How Much Daily Sodium Consumption is Consider Enough?

According to NSH UK, the maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and children is:

up to 12 months – less than 1g salt a day (less than 0.4g sodium)
1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Note: 0.1g = 100mg

As a general guide according to Baby Center:
  • any food containing more than 0.6g of sodium per 100g is considered to be high in salt.
  • any food containing less than 0.1g of sodium per 100g is considered to be low salt level.

 Since I posted about cheese last week, let's use cheese as example for comparison.

Option 1
Based on nutrition information below. 1 slice of cheese (23g) contains 150mg / 6% of sodium. Assuming your little one is 4 years old where the max daily sodium intake is 1200mg, offering 1 slice of the cheese should be considered acceptable, as it only takes up about 10% of total daily requirements.

Option 1: Slice Cheese

Option 2
Comparing to this one, where 1 slice of cheese (21g) contains 320mg / 13% of sodium, consuming 1 slice is already meeting 1/4 of a 4 year old's daily sodium consumption. Assuming you serve it with cured meat or ham which contains around 200mg of sodium per slice, the little one would have consumed nearly 520mg or 45% of his daily sodium need in 1 single meal.

Option 2: Slice Cheese

Considering its calcium content is also considerably lower than the Option 1 (8% Calcium vs 15% Calcium per slice), my personal choice will be to go for the Option 1.

According to, these are among the top 10 food with highest sodium content:

  1. Table salt, Baking soda and Baking powder
  2. Bouillon (stock) cubes, Powdered Broths, Soups, and Gravies
  3. Soy Sauce, Other Sauces, and Salad Dressings
  4. Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite)
  5. Salami, Bacon, and Cured Meats
  6. Sun dried tomatoes
  7. Cheese
  8. Snack Foods (Pretzels, Cheese Puffs, and Popcorn)
  9. Pickled foods
  10. Salt water crabs

From the list of these food, one common point is they are either processed or preserved food, hence addition of sugar or salt does not come as surprise. However, it does not mean you have to cut down consumption of these food altogether, just serve them in smaller quantities and reduce the frequency.

You may want refer to the website for more nutrition information about these 10 types of food.

So, what is the right thing to do?

  • When introducing solid food to babies, do not add salt or sugar into the food. 
  • Avoid offering adult food or processed food to young babies; even for baby food purchased over the shelf, always check the nutrition facts and choose wisely.
  • Avoid salty snacks such as chips, biscuits, sauces etc. Instead try to opt for healthy finger food such as fruits, fresh vegetable sticks, low salt baby food where possible.
  • Home cook food using fresh ingredient is the best option as you know exactly what your babies eat and most importantly, you can be assured that no junks is given.
  • Avoid adding ready packed gravy or thick sauce into toddler's food (or give sparingly if you must), as you are offering extra fat, salt and sugar into their diet which is not necessary.

For the long term benefit of the little ones, do have a mindset change and if possible, share with the care-taker or nanny so they understand why they should refrain from adding salt or sugar into the little one's meal.

While doing my reading on all the nutrition facts I started to revise the food that we consume daily, I'm glad that I had chosen to serve home-cook meal for my little ones as often as possible. I am not a strict dietitian as I do believe life need some enjoyment and indulgence of delicious food, however I do believe as parents we can do our part to encourage healthy eating in the family.

Hope you find this post helpful, till the next post, Happy Labour's Day! :)

Reference Materials:


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oriental Style Stir Fried Brussels Sprout

I always find Brussels sprouts a rather cute looking vegetables, in fact they look like miniature cabbage or little green footballs :) While it is common in the Europe countries (oh I love the salad!), they are usually sold at quite a high price in KL. Most supermarkets selling them at around RM20 or more for a pack of 20-30 sprouts, however I found some really fresh ones at Mercator  Jusco supermarket yesterday at only half the price, so I decided to give it a try.

Oriental Style Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts

Turn out, we all like it and it's a really simple dish that can be ready in under 10 minutes.

So, give it a try if you have the chance. ;)

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 8min
Serving for: 2-3 persons

20 Brussels sprouts, cut into half
1 thumb size ginger, cut into thin slices
1 table spoon olive oil
A dash of sesame oil
A pinch of salt

Step-by-Step Guides:

4 simple steps to cooking Brussels Sprout - Cut, Blanch, Drain, Stir Fry.

1. Boil a pot of water, blanch the sprouts with lid on for about 5 minutes. Drain all excess water and set aside.
2. Heat up a table spoon of olive oil in a wok and add the ginger, sauté until the ginger turns golden, then add the sprouts.
3. Drizzles with some sesame oil and a pinch of salt, and stir-fry for about a minute then turn off the heat.

Serve while hot, it's crunchy and I simply love the vivid green of these little baby sprouts!

I cut some leaves and add into my 17 months old baby's porridge, she munched them all away without any complaint, in fact she asked for more. A new variety for my baby girl, yay!

Here's the serving for my little boy, served alongside steamed cod fish and egg omelette, "Fu-yong Dan" (芙蓉蛋)

Don't they look really cute?

Brussels sprout taste best when it's crunchy, so make sure you do not overcook them or they will be all soft and mushy.

Some nutrition facts..
I looked up the nutrition info out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised to know that Brussels sprout is actually a health food with low calories content. It is also rich in Vitamin C and is a good source of anti-oxidant that is said to be good protection for prostate, colon and endometrial cancer.

Read out more nutrition fact here if you are interested.