Thursday, 31 December 2015

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” - Brad Paisley

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As the New Year dawns,
I hope it is filled with the
promises of a brighter tomorrow.
May your New Year flourish with new discoveries,
wonderful inspirations, and happiness to fill your heart.

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My best wishes for you,
Great start for Jan,
Love for Feb,
peace for March,
No worries for April,
fun for May,
Joy for June to Nov,
Happiness for Dec.
Have a lucky and wonderful 2016!!

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Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :) 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Sending warm wishes to you and your family during this Christmas Season. May your home be blessed with love and happiness.

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Whatever is beautiful. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you happiness. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year. 



May you experience lots of love, laughter and joy this Christmas and beyond and a very Happy New Year too. 



Here’s to hoping the Christmas season fills your home with the warmth and joyfulness that you and your family deserve.



Let the spirit of love gently fill our hearts and homes. In this loveliest of seasons may you find many reasons for happiness.

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Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :) 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Happy Winter Solstice 冬至节快乐 and Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls) in Sweet Fragrant Osmanthus Lemongrass Pandan Sweet Soup

First of all, HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE/Dongzhi Festival (冬至节快乐) to all Chinese who are celebrating this meaningful festival.  This  year, Dongzhi Festival falls on 22nd December. Traditionally, Winter Solstice is also a time for the family to get together.  During this festival, making and eating tang yuan 汤圆 (glutinous rice balls) symbolize reunion and its sweet syrup symbolizes prosperity.  In China, Dongzhi was originally celebrated as an end-of-harvest festival.  
According to Wikipedia, Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬 至; pinyin: Dōngzhì; literally: "the extreme of Winter") is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term (winter solstice) on or around December 22 (according to East Asia time). In 2015, the festival falls on Tuesday, December 22.

The origins of this festival can be traced back to the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. The philosophical significance of this is symbolized by the I Ching hexagram fù (復, "Returning").

Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get-togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of tangyuan (湯圓) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. Tangyuan are made of glutinous rice flour and sometimes brightly coloured. Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed. They are cooked in a sweet soup or savory broth with both the ball and the soup/broth served in one bowl. It is also often served with a mildly alcoholic unfiltered rice wine containing whole grains of glutinous rice (and often also Sweet Osmanthus flowers), called jiuniang.

In northern China, people typically eat dumplings on Dongzhi. It is said to have originated from Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty. On one cold winter day, he saw the poor suffering from chilblains on their ears. Feeling sympathetic, he ordered his apprentices to make dumplings with lamb and other ingredients, and distribute them among the poor to keep them warm, to keep their ears from getting chilblains. Since the dumplings were shaped like ears, Zhang named the dish "qùhán jiāoěr tāng" (祛寒嬌耳湯) or dumpling soup that expels the cold. From that time on, it has been a tradition to eat dumplings on the day of Dongzhi.

Old traditions also require people with the same surname or from the same clan to gather at their ancestral temples to worship on this day. There is always a grand reunion dinner following the sacrificial ceremony.

The festive food is also a reminder that celebrators are now a year older and should behave better in the coming year. Even today, many Chinese around the world, especially the elderly, still insist that one is "a year older" right after the Dongzhi celebration instead of waiting for the lunar new year.

To Taiwanese people, the festival in winter also plays a very important role. It is also a tradition for Taiwanese to eat tangyuan on this day. They also use the festive food as an offering dish to worship the ancestors.

In an interesting twist, in accordance with ancient Taiwanese history, many people take some of the tangyuan that have been used as offerings and stick them on the back of the door or on windows and tables and chairs. These "empowered" tangyuan supposedly serve as protective talismans to keep evil spirits from coming close to children.

In addition to following some of the customs practiced in China, the people of Taiwan have their own unique custom of offering nine-layer cakes as a ceremonial sacrifice to worship their ancestors. These cakes are made using glutinous rice flour in the shape of a chicken, duck, tortoise, pig, cow, or sheep, and then steamed in different layers of a pot. These animals all signify auspiciousness in Chinese tradition.

Another interesting custom in Taiwan is that many people take invigorating tonic foods during this particular winter festival. To the Taiwanese, winter is a time when most physical activities should be limited and you should eat well to nourish your body. This practice follows the habits shown by many animals which follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter months to rejuvenate and to preserve life. In order to fight cold temperatures, it is necessary to eat more fatty and meaty foods during winter when your body can better absorb the rich and nutritional foods at this time due to a slower metabolic rate.

Since Dongzhi is the "Extreme of Winter", Taiwanese regard it as the best time of the year to take tonic foods. Some of the most widely popular winter tonic foods enjoyed by Taiwanese to fight cold and strengthen the body's resistance are mutton hot pot and ginger duck hot pot. Other foods like chicken, pork, and abalone are also common materials used in making tonic foods with nurturing herbs such as ginseng, deer horn, and the fungus cordyceps.

This year, I decided to make a different syrup.  Instead of the usual pandan and ginger syrup, I added lemongrass and osmanthus 桂花 as well.  Well, it tasted much much better and is also healthier, right?  As for the tang yuan, besides sweet potato, I also have green tea powder for the green color instead of the usual pandan colour too!  Hehehe...
Ingredients :
Sweet Potatoes Tang Yuan :
- 100g glutinous rice flour
- 150g orange sweet potato (steamed and mashed)
- 1tbsp cornstach

- 1/4 cup warm water

Method :
1) Mix the above ingredients and knead until a smooth dough is formed.

2) Divide the dough into several pieces and roll into small balls. I have various sizes!

3) Cook the glutinous rice balls in a pot of boiling water. Stir gently to prevent the rice balls to stick at the bottom. Please take note that when the rice balls float to surface, it is cooked.

4) Transfer the cooked tang yuan to a pot of cold water and drain.

5) Serve tang yuan in a bowl with your favorite syrup or sweet soup.

Step by step pictures of cooking the tang yuan


Sweet Soup/Syrup : to taste (no exact measurement)
- 2.5litre water
- 10 pandan leaves
- 10 lemongrass/serai (slit and crushed)
- 2 big thumbsized ginger (crushed)
- 2 bar of brown cane sugar
- some dried osmanthus

Method :
1) Put everything in a large pot and boil. I slow boiled for around half an hour as I love the fragrant of the ginger and lemongrass in the syrup. Mine is more towards like sweet soup dessert (tongsui) instead of syrup. You can adjust according to your preference.



Making tang yuan is very easy as you can 'mix and match' the ingredients to your liking
As for the sweet soup or syrup, you too can 'mix and match'' whatever that fancies you
Isn't it simply easy yet mouth-watering??
Happy Winter Solstice 冬至节快乐 to all my dear readers 



Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :)



Friday, 30 October 2015

How To Combine 3 Simple Ingredients To Make an Easy Peasy Yet Super Healthy and Nutritious Dessert or Tong Sui 糖水

Sweet potatoes flesh are not always in orange colour.  You can find spectacular purple-flesh potato, which is also known as Okinawan potatoes. Like orange sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes are low in carbohydrates and fat.  They are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin A, which boost our immunity and help preserve our eyesight. They are also rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre.
Purple Sweet Potatoes are found to improve blood sugar regulation. Eating purple sweet potatoes also help lower blood pressure. But what makes them truly stand apart from their orange counterparts is the fact that purple sweet potatoes have high contents of anthocyanin which may have anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, anthocyanins have been epidemiologically associated with a reduced cancer risk and cardiovascular disease.

Sweet potatoes can be steamed or boiled, or in anyway you like.  I usually use orange or purple sweet potatoes for breads, buns, desserts or just steamed it. They are delicious!!
Red Beans is one of the richest foods in antioxidants. It provides half your daily requirement of fiber, source of iron and thiamine (vitamin B1) which stimulates attention and memory.
Ginger is known for its medicinal properties. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
Just combine the above 3 ingredients into a delectable and nutritious dessert for your breakfast. I cooked this dessert in a slow cooker. Just switch it on to Auto before you go to bed. The next morning, you will have hot dessert for breakfast!

So, starting your day with a bowl of this simple 3-superfood dessert will definitely cheer you up and get you through the day!! Something different for your family instead of the usual Milo, milk, bread,cake, etc, right?
Sweet Purple Potatoes Dessert with Red Beans and Taiwan Ginger Cube (姜母茶)
Ingredients : 
(Please take note that, the measurement for this simple dessert is quite flexible.  You may adjust it to your taste)
- 2 medium sized purple sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 1/2 cup of red beans (washed)
- 1 cube of Taiwan Brown Sugar Ginger Cube
- 1500ml water 
- 8 tbsp brown sugar
- few blades of pandan leaves (washed and knotted)
Method :
1)  Put everything into the slow cooker except the pandan leaves.
2)  Turn it to Auto before you go to bed. (If you want to have it for breakfast.  Otherwise, you may prepare it anytime you like).
3)  Alternatively, you can cook it over the gas stove.
4)  Add the pandan leaves few minutes before serving.
That day, I had it with a slice of radish cake. In case you are interested, do kiv for this radish cake recipe....
Other similar recipes you might be interested :
Have a great weekend and cheers!


Sorry to inform that for the time being, I have disabled comment box as I won't be able to return visit to my fellow bloggers who are kind enough to drop me a line or two. The comment box will be enabled when I am not so tied up with my work schedule. However, you may contact me by leaving your message or comment at SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY LIVING FACEBOOK. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a nice day :)