Throw Your Own Asian Christmas Dinner Party!

Here at Amazin’ Graze, we’re all about celebrating local culture. Just watch us put goji berries into our blueberry granola! Or use Gula Melaka instead of plain old caramel. It just works!

Bowl of Blueberry Goji Coconut Granola with almonds, organic chia seeds, wild blueberries, goji berries and coconut on yoghurt

With Christmas approaching rapidly (is it December already??), we got to thinking. So much of what we think of as “Christmas” food comes from Western culture. Turkey with cranberry sauce? Roasted root vegetables? Figgy pudding? Not something the average Asian easily identifies with.

Asian Christmas Dinner - Figgy pudding topped with holly and with pies in the background

Image source: NPR

But then again, maybe eating our usual fried noodles or chicken rice seems too ‘every day’ for a magical celebration like Christmas. We may have special dishes for our local celebrations like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and Deepavali, but they don’t always translate into a Christmas celebration.

So we decided to curate a Christmas menu featuring traditional Christmas concepts – but with distinctly Asian flavours.

Asian Christmas DInner - Place setting for Christmas dinner with red bauble and rolled napkin with lights in background

Image source: Town of Morris

Use them to host your own unique Christmas dinner party, or bring a showstopper dish to a potluck. These recipes are unexpected, delicious, and filled with undeniable Christmas spirit!

Appetizer

Sesame and soy are distinctly Asian flavours, and they come together beautifully in this recipe for a Creamy Sesame Soy Dressing. Think of it as a local take on Western dips and dressings (like ranch or blue cheese). This recipe is versatile and can be used as a topping for salads, or as a dip for chips and sliced vegetables.

Asian Christmas Dinner - Creamy sesame soy dressing in clear pitcher

Image source: Japanese Cooking 101

Bonus shortcut: To save time (or if you don’t have a high speed blender), you can substitute our All Natural Cashew Butter for the cashews in the recipe! Instant silky smoothness, with minimal effort.

A cup of all natural cashew butter 100% stone ground being spooned with a knife and the original pot

Soup

Christmas menus usually feature creamy soups like butternut squash or French onion. Our selected recipe retains the creaminess, but adds in a whole lot of Asian flavour.

Try this Spicy Chickpea, Coconut, and Tomato soup recipe. Warm, fragrant, delicious – and perfect for adding some pep to your dinner.

Asian Christmas Dinner - Spicy Chickpea Tomato Coconut Soup in bowl with pita wedges on the side

Image source: SenhoRita Tours

Main Dish

Now we come to the main event – the Christmas turkey! Most Christmas turkeys are simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and some herbs. But this Turkey with Hoisin Glaze recipe combines local ingredients like hoisin, star anise, and ginger to form a glaze that is packed with Asian flavour. Definitely an unexpected way to jazz up a Christmas favourite!

Asian Christmas Dinner - Turkey with hoisin glaze garnished with leaves

Image source: delicious.com.au

Side Dish

What better accompaniment to a roast turkey than a steaming pan of roasted vegetables? But our suggestion does away with the traditional root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnips etc). Instead, it turns to an Asian favourite – bok choy.

Asian Christmas DInner - Roasted Bok Choy in square bowl

Image source: Cooking on the Weekends

Try this recipe for Roasted Baby Bok Choy for crispy, tender bok choy with a zesty lemon and herb drizzle! An unconventional, but very effective way to prepare a vegetable we all know and love!

Dessert

And of course, what would a dinner party be without dessert? Pudding is a traditional Christmas favourite, but it is often loaded with sugar and (in some cases) alcohol. Well, we have a solution for you! This Mango Coconut Chia Pudding recipe retains the soft, smooth pudding texture while incorporating fun tropical fruit flavours and all the goodness of chia seeds. A perfect ending to a perfect dinner!

Asian Christmas Dinner - Mango Coconut Chia Pudding in glass tumblers with a spoon and napkin

Image source: FitLiving Eats

So there you have it! Traditional Christmas favourites updated to celebrate our local culture. Unexpected, unconventional, and oh-so-unique!

Granolas, nuts, cookies, and nut butters from Amazin' Graze's Christmas Specials Range

Speaking of updating Christmas favourites, make sure to check out our brand-new Amazin’ Christmas range, where traditional Christmas foods are given a healthy makeover! Ever had fruitcake in granola form? Well, now you can – and it’s pretty Amazin’!

Sticky
November 25, 2016

Easy Christmas Ideas for Every Day Living

Well, Grazers, we’re officially into the second half of November..which means it’s time for Christmas! Well, not quite yet. But the excitement is definitely beginning to build. All you need to do is visit a shopping mall to get a full on dose of Christmas spirit.

Easy Christmas Ideas - Shopping mall decorated for Christmas with large hot air baloons and Christmas funfair

Image source: says.com

But the sudden flip of a switch into Christmas mode can be overwhelming. Going from 0 to 100 isn’t for everyone! What if you (like me) love Christmas, but prefer to experience it in small ways first, building up to the full excitement that is Christmas itself?

Or maybe you’re reeeeally into Christmas but don’t want to be the only one in ultra-Christmas mode in November?

Easy Christmas Ideas - Child excited opening Christmas present of green dinosaur with Christmas decorations in background

Image source: newsfeed.time.com

Or perhaps you want to get into the Christmas spirit, but don’t have the time/skills/money to replicate all the cool Christmas ideas you see on Pinterest.

Well never fear – here are some easy and fun ideas on how to experience Christmas in your daily life (yes, even in November). Better yet, they require minimal effort and budget!

Easy Christmas Ideas - Plate of sliced kiwis, blackberries, and raspberries arranged in a Christmas tree shape on a striped black and white plate

Image source: homemadebyyou.co.uk

Make your own Christmas-themed drinks

Absolutely love Christmas beverages but can’t afford them (both in terms of money and calories)? Make a healthier version at home – they’re surprisingly easy! Try this recipe for a pumpkin spice latte, or perhaps a healthy peppermint hot chocolate. Christmas in a cup – for a fraction of the price!

Easy Christmas Ideas - Cup of pumpkin spice latte with a cinnamon stick and whipped topping in a white cup with pumpkins in the background

Image source: people.com

Make a healthy Christmas treat

If drinks aren’t your cup of tea (pun intended), then you can also opt for a Christmas-themed healthy snack! Try our healthy twist on a traditional chocolate chip cookie (bonus: your house will smell absolutely fantastic)! Or if you’re not into baking, these Ginger Cinnamon Bliss Balls have concentrated Christmas flavour with all the effort of pressing the button on a blender!

A plate of Flourless Almond Butter Bites, a bowl of all natural almond nut butter and its pot, next to its pot.

Make everything smell like Christmas

Did you know that among all the physical senses, the sense of smell is most strongly connected with memories and emotions? Bring Christmas with you wherever you go in the form of peppermint essential oil (or any other oil that evokes Christmas to you). Just put a drop on your pillow, in your car, on your sleeve – and voila! Instant Christmas spirit. Besides, most essential oils have other benefits too (peppermint is especially known for being calming to the body)!

Easy Christmas Ideas - Peppermint essential oil in a brown glass bottle on a wooden surface with fresh mint leaves

Image source: New Health Advisor

Make an unusual Christmas playlist

Christmas carols are a surefire way of getting into the spirit of Christmas – until you hear them on repeat wherever you go. For a more subtle, but still festive option, try creating a Christmas playlist of piano or violin instrumental versions of traditional Christmas songs. You’ll be surprised at how uplifting a piano rendition of Frosty the Snowman can sound – even when you’re no longer too keen on the original.

Easy Christmas Ideas - Piano keys being played by hands

Image source: Best Digital Piano

Make someone’s day – every day

It’s never too early to get into the spirit of giving this Christmas. Doing nice things for others is good for the soul – and it’s a great way to refresh, reflect, and get ready to wrap up the year. As we count down the remaining month to Christmas, why not consciously do one good deed a day – pay a compliment, help with a task, share a possession..anything works! And that heartwarming feeling you get after doing something good? Now that’s a true experience of Christmas.

Easy Christmas Ideas - Younger person's hands holding older person's hands

Image source: Lists10

Check out our Christmas page to see what we have in store this Christmas! Hint: It’s limited edition, and absolutely Amazin’!

Granolas, nuts, cookies, and nut butters from Amazin' Graze's Christmas Specials Range 

Sticky
November 21, 2016

5 Easy Strategies for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

It’s World Diabetes Day, Grazers!

Here are the 2 most important things you need to know about Diabetes:

1) There is no cure; BUT

2) It is totally preventable.

At this point you’re rolling your eyes, sure I’m going to tell you to exercise, cut back on sugar, and maintain a healthy weight. But rest assured, I’m not….although that is definitely good advice for anyone hoping to keep Diabetes at bay.

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels - Hands checking blood sugar level using glucometer

Image source: http://pregnancywellnesstips.com

Instead, here are 5 additional strategies for healthy blood sugar levels – they’re simple, easy to implement, and..well..they can help to prevent Diabetes, so need I say more?

Go for Combo Meals

No, not like McDonald’s combos (got you excited for a minute, didn’t I?). Combo (or combination) meals simply means meals that have a mix of nutrients. Specifically, you should try to mix your carbohydrates (rice, noodles, bread, etc) with sources of protein and healthy fat. This will ensure that the carbohydrate part of your meal digests more slowly. Slower digestion = slower release of sugar into your bloodstream, which makes it easier for your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

In practice: Don’t just eat plain crackers as a snack! Spread some light tuna or some natural nut butter on them. This amps up the flavour while keeping your blood sugar in check.

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels - Tuna salad in a bowl with plain crackers on the side

Image source: A Cook and Her Books

Don’t Forget the Fibre

Fibre is technically a kind of carbohydrate – but it can’t be digested or absorbed by the body. Instead, it slows down the digestion of the other carbohydrates in your meal, thus also keeping your blood sugar levels in check (see point above). Because fibre can’t be digested, it keeps you full for longer, which is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. This in turn is important in preventing Diabetes!

In practice: Eat whole grains when you can (they come with built-in fibre!), or make sure you add vegetables and fruits to your main meals to boost their fibre content!

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels - Colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains in heart shaped bowls

Image source: Weight Loss Resources

Move It to Use It

After a meal, blood sugar levels rise steadily before your body systems kick in to clear the sugar away. The sugar is cleared from your blood into your cells, where it is used as a source of energy. Moving your body after a meal (i.e. using up energy) means that sugar is transferred more efficiently from your blood to the cells where energy is needed (your muscles). This helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

In practice: Go for a short walk or make it a point to move around after your meals. There’s no need for intensive exercise – even a slow stroll can help!

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels - Legs in sneakers walking down path lines with trees

Image source: Tom Fuszard’s Business Builder

Give Your Meals Space

Are you a grazer? Not a Grazer with a capital G – that’s a term of endearment over here at Amazin’ Graze. A grazer is a person who nibbles constantly throughout the day, never fully satisfying their hunger. This constant input of food into the body can result in a constantly elevated blood sugar – or at least a body that is constantly working to keep blood sugar levels down. A better approach is to leave at least a 3-4 hour gap between meals and snacks, to give your body some time to digest and deal with the sugar from one meal before introducing another.

In practice: Make it a point to eat enough at main meals so you’re not constantly hungry throughout the day. When you do snack, make sure the snacks are nutritionally balanced to keep you going till your next meal!

Healthy Pink Raspberry Granolas from Amazin' Graze with raspberries, almonds, wild blueberries, cranberries and organic Chia Seeds

Go Beyond Taste

Carbohydrates may or may not taste sweet – but in the end, they all end up as sugar in the blood stream. This is not a bad thing – we all need sugar as fuel to function. We just can’t always assume that just because a food doesn’t taste sweet, it’s safe for our blood sugar levels. I see this happening most often with sweet drinks – “I added water to my cordial, now it’s not sweet so I don’t have to worry!” All you’re doing here is diluting the taste – the sugar content of the drink is still the same as before. So look beyond the taste of a food when planning your meals – portions matter!

In practice: Learn about carbohydrate-containing food and how to portion them out. Remember that combining too many carbohydrate foods in one meal (e.g. rice with potatoes, corn, and a glass of milk) and in excessive portions can cause your blood sugar to rise high – even if none of those foods are sweet-tasting!

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels - Potatoes, pasta, beans, rice, grains are all carbohydrate sources

Image source: P2Life Swimmer’s Blog

So there you have it – 5 easy peasy strategies for healthy blood sugar levels. Of course, these are not the end all and be all of Diabetes prevention – it is an undeniably complex disease. But, it’s a start! As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – so what are you waiting for?

Besides, if you’re good, Santa and the Amazin’ Elves might have a treat (or six) in store for you this year…stay tuned to find out more!

Sticky
November 14, 2016

5 Nutrients for Men’s Health – Are You Getting Enough?

Happy Movember – it’s Men’s Health Month!

Did you know that men live, on average, 5 years shorter than women? And did you know that this is not due to biology? It’s by choice. And it’s true worldwide.

cancer-myths-4

Image source: My Year Without Clothes Shopping

“But why would men choose to live shorter lives?” you ask. Well, to be fair, they probably don’t know they’re making that choice…and there lies the problem.

It’s about a lack of awareness of men’s health. Maybe it’s a feeling of “I can deal with that stuff later, when I’m older”. Or “It’s just a small thing, I don’t need to get it checked out”. Or maybe, it’s not wanting to be the only one looking for vegetables while everyone else tucks into their burgers and fries.

Men's Health - Man eating bowl of colourful vegetables

Image source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Whatever the reason, the fact is that this neglect of men’s health is leading to higher instances of disease, and yes, shorter lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Guys, you are not invincible. Taking care of yourself now is important in order to take care of future you, as well as the people who rely on you. And what better time to take charge of your health than in Movember? Growing a moustache for Movember may be fun and all (a break from shaving duties? Yes please!). But what if you went a little bit further this time and actually took steps to live a healthier (and ultimately longer, stronger) life?

Men's Health - Men's legs walking up steps

Image source: Men’s Health

An easy place to start would be with your diet. Sometimes it feels like the only time men’s diets are talked about is in the context of bodybuilding – you know, 10 egg whites on a slab of salmon washed down with a protein shake. But men’s bodies are far more complex than that. Here are 5 nutrients that are especially important to men’s health, and how to get them into a manly diet!

Men's Health - High fiber foods

Image source: www.nutrilett.no

Fibre

Everyone knows it’s good to eat your veggies – but this is especially true for guys. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the large intestine) is the most common cancer in men in many parts of Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore. And we all know that a diet high in fibre can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

While women need fibre too, women are less prone to colorectal cancer than men. So guys, for the sake of your digestive tract, think twice before skipping over your veggies and fruits. You can also get excellent fibre from whole grains (granola, anyone?), beans, legumes, and nuts.

Men's Health - High protein foods

Image source: WebMD

Protein

While it may not be necessary to overdose on protein (see bodybuilding example above), it is undeniable that men do need more protein from their diets than women. Men, by nature (and testosterone), generally have more lean body mass than women. Yes, even the men who don’t regularly lift weights. And this muscle mass requires more protein to maintain.

This isn’t a license to buy all kinds of expensive protein shakes, by the way. Getting enough protein from the diet is simple – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are all great sources of protein. But how about trying some plant proteins as well? Nuts, beans, legumes, and quinoa are all amazing options. Added bonus: these plant proteins are also packed with great fibre (see point #1!).

Men's Health - High Potassium Foods

Image source: Everyday Health

Potassium

With great muscle comes great responsibility..er, I mean potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for proper muscle function – in short, your muscles need potassium to contract and relax properly. Potassium is also key in keeping your blood pressure within check – and this is especially important for men, as hypertension affects men more than women.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts & beans, dairy, and meat are all sources of potassium. Not all sources of potassium are equal – there are some foods even within a food group that are better sources of potassium than others. A quick Google search can give you a comprehensive list – but a good rule of thumb would be to have two servings each of fruits and veggies a day. Bonus (again): fibre!

Men's Health - Tomatoes are a source of lycopene

Image source: Rodale’s Organic Life

Lycopene

Lycopene is one of the colour pigments that gives red-orange foods their vibrant colour. It is a powerful antioxidant, and is thought to be especially protective against prostate cancer. Lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, goji berries, and apricots.

Although many health food stores sell lycopene in supplement form, as with other antioxidants, you should consume the food as a whole to get the best effects. Unlike other antioxidants that are destroyed by heat, however, cooking a lycopene-containing food actually makes the lycopene easier to absorb – so cooking those carrots is actually more beneficial than eating them raw in a salad!

Men's Health - Milk is a good source of calcium

Image source: Keyword Suggestions

Calcium

Osteoporosis is often considered an “old woman’s disease” – and it’s true that it affects women more than men. However, it is crucial to note that the older you get, the more fragile your bones become – this is true for everyone. And as lifespans increase (as we hope it will), ensuring that your bones are strong enough to withstand the test of time becomes ever more important.

Calcium is the main mineral that is deposited in bones, giving them their hard texture and strength. It is also used in many other body processes. If insufficient calcium is taken in the diet, your body ‘steals’ calcium from your bones – resulting in a quicker loss of bone density over time.

Dairy products are the easiest source of calcium in the diet. However, dairy products do not regularly feature in Asian diets. High calcium alternatives include fortified soymilk, tofu, ikan bilis (anchovies), sardines, and green leafy vegetables.

 

Men's Health - High Calcium Foods

Image source: Eat Right Ontario

That’s not so difficult, is it? Guys, do “mo” for men’s health than grow a moustache this Movember! It’s never too early, nor too late.

Amazin' Graze Movember ContestAnd don’t forget to encourage the guys in your life to make a change for the healthier! Head over to our Facebook page to see what we have planned in support of men’s health this Movember – it involves you, a friend, and some FREE granola!

Sticky
November 07, 2016