I’m a Green Finger Wannabe

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Sometime during the middle of last year, I decided to give gardening another go.  I can almost hear my hubby chuckling away in the background because the truth is, I never had success growing stuff.  The prospect did not look too good, judging from my track record; even cacti have not survived under my care.

But tried I did, and I’m pleased to say that thus far, I have managed to successfully grow a few things, some even edible!  Earlier on, I was really looking forward to harvesting some Japanese cucumbers, but alas, the aphids got to them, and my two beautiful plants died and untimely death.  I persevered with my other plants, and I’m proud that I have managed to grow some carrots (mini ones, though but still carrots), spring onions (which I use on an almost weekly basis for cooking), ginger (still growing and I can see the leaves and shoots now) and lately, okra, which I started harvesting a few days ago.

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My little pot of Genovese basil is also beginning to flourish, just when I thought they were gone for good.  Hopefully I will be able to harvest enough soon to make a batch of pesto :).

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And I also have 2 pots of screwpine leaves (Daun pandan), for the occasional instances when I need to use them.

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I have also planted some organic roselle, which I am slowly harvesting the calyxes and storing them in a jar so I can make the roselle drink soon, and I’ve also some pretty flowers in my garden to keep me happy.

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So all in all, not too bad a result considering I hold the reputation of being a “plant murderer”.  Haha…

I’m going to start planting some turnips and cotton soon too, as soon as the immensely hot weather stops.

Sometimes I get pleasant surprises too, like just this week.  I had a planter that I had tilled the soil and was getting ready to plant other stuff.  But today, I noticed a fresh green shoot growing in it.  Initially I had sowed some lettuce seeds or kailan seeds in the planter (can’t remember), and they didn’t grow, so I figured they had died off.  But could this be either a lettuce or kailan shoot?  Only time will tell…

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The Battle Between Antioxidants & Free Radicals – Make Sure the Antioxidants WIN!

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I’ve been doing some research about antioxidants of late. You see it everywhere: in health supplements, in beauty products, in anti-aging products…

Why are antioxidants all the rage? How do they work?

I asked my kids, “What happens when we leave apple slices out on the counter for some time?” They replied, “They go bad.”

Yes, indeed they do. They turn brown, get softer, then turn bad and rotten.

That’s exactly what the oxidizing process does to your body. When our body processes or metabolises oxygen, it creates free radicals. Cells in our body exposed to external factors (like pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, natural aging, to name a few…) get oxidized. The process of oxidation is sped up by stress, alcohol, sunlight and other external factors too.  It’s a natural and unavoidable process.

Now when cells get oxidized, they become free radicals. If you remember your chemistry, free radicals are atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron. What this means is that free radicals are highly unstable and will go on a rampage to steal another electron from a nearby cell, in order to pair off its unpaired electron. If it steals from a healthy cell, that healthy cell in turn will become another free radical. This process will continue on and hence as time goes on, there will be an avalanche of free radicals in your body. During the process of free radical creation, some cells will be damaged and transform and mutate to become abnormal and diseased cells. As the process continues on, a chain reaction is created very quickly and if not treated, dangerous illnesses will affect the body, such as cancer, diabetes, skin diseases, heart and liver diseases and so on.

“The problem is, free radicals often injure the cell, damaging the DNA, which creates the seed for disease.”
(Source)

Here’s where antioxidants come in. From the name, “antioxidants” mean they “cancel out oxidants” or prevent oxidizing. Antioxidants will stop this “stealing electron” process explained above by providing an electron for the free radical, hence creating a stable atom or molecule. The process stops there because antioxidants are stable whether or not they gain or lose an electron.

“We have clear science about antioxidants, that our bodies need a Natural Antioxidant Defense Network, for lack of a better term,” Blumberg says. “Just like a country needs a military system, the human body needs defense workers at all levels — lieutenants, corporals, generals, staff sergeants – in the form of antioxidants.”
(Source)

So it follows that the more antioxidants you take in, the healthier you become and the less free radicals there will be in your body. The body creates antioxidants on its own too, but sometimes it is just not enough to fight all the free radicals that are generated especially if there is a severe illness.

Fresh fruits and vegetables contain loads of antioxidants essential for our body. Processed foods contain fewer antioxidants than fresh and uncooked foods, because preparation exposes food to oxygen.

richcolorsPicture Source

Some of the antioxidants found in food are:

  • Vitamin A: carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes (which gain their color from the compound lycopene), kale, mangoes, oranges, seabuckthorn berries, wolfberries (goji), collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots are particularly rich sources of beta-carotene, the major provitamin A carotenoid.
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits (such as oranges, sweet lime, etc.), green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, black currants, strawberries, blueberries, seabuckthorn, raw cabbage and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E: wheat germ, seabuckthorn, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, kiwifruit, vegetable oil, and fish-liver oil.
  • Alpha-carotene – carrots, winter squash, tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, Swiss chard
  • Beta-carotene – found in high concentrations in butternut squash, carrots, orange bell peppers, pumpkins, kale, peaches, apricots, mango, turnip greens, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
  • Lutein – found in high concentration in spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet and mustard greens, endive, red pepper and okra
  • Lycopene – found in high concentration in cooked red tomato products like canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice and garden cocktails, guava and watermelons.
  • Zeaxanthin – best sources are kale, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard, mustard and beet greens, corn, and broccoli
  • Astaxanthin – found naturally in red algae and animals higher in the marine food chain. It is a red pigment familiarly recognized in crustacean shells and salmon flesh/roe.

(Source)

In conclusion, antioxidants aren’t important only for people with illnesses. If you are healthy (or at least if you think you are), antioxidants are necessary to help PREVENT the free radicals chain reaction and thus prevent diseases from forming in the first place.

After all, the old adage of “Prevention is Better Than Cure” can’t be closer to the truth.

Arming ourselves and supplementing our bodies with a diet filled with antioxidants could be the best thing we could do for our health and our future.  Make this your goal this New Year.
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Breakfast of Champions: Overnight Oats

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Can I have a show of hands as to how many of you have succumbed to the latest fad that is Overnight Oats?

Me? I’m guilty as charged!

I was never a fan of oatmeal before this because I don’t really like it warm, but overnight oats presents oats in a chilled, almost dessert-like fashion….and I find that hard to resist!  It’s healthy, it’s nutritious, it’s tasty, and best of all, it saves me time preparing breakfast in the morning!

The concept of this healthy breakfast (or even tea-time snack) is downright simple.  Soak oats in milk or yogurt for at least 5 hours, thereafter the oats will be soft and mushy and ready to eat!  It’s a wholesome and nutritious meal too, if you ask me.

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The beauty of this is that we can add almost anything to Overnight Oats to suit our taste.  Dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, syrup, marmalade…anything goes!  Well, of course, if you add unhealthy stuff, you just reduce the overall healthiness factor of it.  A caveat though is that if you are going to add fresh fruit to your overnight oats, you need to add it in right before you eat it, and NOT leave it overnight.  This is also the reason why I hardly ever put fresh fruits in it…I’m too lazy to cut them up in the morning!

My current go-to Overnight Oats recipe is incredibly simple, and it’s all I ever make these days.

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What I put in my Overnight Oats:

  • Kefir (yes!  I found another yummy way to consume my homemade kefir, and this is definitely the healthier option.  It’s especially suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant and those who want to cut down on sugar from store-bought yogurt)
  • Rolled Oatmeal (I use the baby-size ones, so when they mush up, it’s really smooth)
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Cinnamon powder

Yes!  It’s that easy!  I just mix these ingredients into a glass jar (like a recycled jam jar), give it a good stir, and leave it in the fridge before I go to bed.

The next morning, I have a sumptuous, nutritious breakfast ready!

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Note: to make these kid-friendly, you could substitute the kefir for yogurt or milk, and add some chopped bananas in the morning.

My kids don’t take this on a regular basis, but they have, on occasion, tried it.  Something is better than nothing, no?

So what’s YOUR favorite Overnight Oats concoction? :)

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Shhh!! It’s an Applecrumby & Fish Closed Door Event!

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…and you heard it first here on Giddy Tigers!  Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

Applecrumby & Fish, the online store renowned for providing luxurious and fine baby and kid products is having a very exciting event lined up!

Here are the deets:

There will be an Applecrumby & Fish VIP Spring Festival Closed Door Event on Saturday, Feb 7th 2015 from 10am – 3pm, for 300 invited VIP guests.   The venue of this event is at the Applecrumby & Fish showroom:

No 3, Lorong Teknologi C
OMNI/01 PJU 5
Taman Sains Selangor 1
Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
Malaysia

This event will only be for 300 VIP guests on a first come first served basis.  As a VIP guest, you will be entitled to lucky draws to win premium giveaways from Applecrumby & Fish and also attend the closed door preview sales.

1) Lucky Draw wins – out of 300, 100 will walk away with gifts from RM45 to RM560. That would be a 33% chance of winning a premium gift from Applecrumby & Fish.

2) The balance 200 invited guests will still be entitled to care packs, CNY giveaways, as well as refreshments.

3) An exclusive CNY pre-view sale at Applecrumby & Fish showroom for these 300 guests. Discounts will be greater during the preview sale.

I would definitely want to go if I am based in KL, but since I’m not, there’s one less person to contend for a spot in the VIP list.

If you’re interested to get an exclusive ticket and invite to this exclusive closed door eventplease click on over to Applecrumby & Fish VIP Spring Festival Event to register yourself.

Closing date for registration is January 25th 2015, but hurry though, as tickets are given out on a first come first served basis.  Enjoy!!

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A Toast To 2014, and a Welcome To 2015!

Over the past 12 months, so many things have happened.  So many ups and downs, so many learning experiences and so many moments to cherish.  There were also “less than happy” moments, but the optimist in me chooses to brush those aside.

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Here’s a customary quick rundown before we herald in the new year of 2015.

  • I made a firm friendship with a fellow stay-at-home-mom, with whom I found I had so many things in common.  Our kids get along so well together and our interests are so similar, it almost feels like we are sister soulmates.  You know who you are, and I cherish our friendship to no end.  Thank you for being there for me this year. *hugs*
  • I have learnt to manage taking care of 3 kids throughout the day.  Taking baby with me in and out of the house several times a day for school runs and other errands is a skill on its own.
  • This year, “life began for me”, or so that’s what most people have been led to believe.  I don’t yet know what the future holds, but I pray that it will be a launchpad for a successful future ahead.
  • I found a little hobby that I churned into my little home business.  With Petit Gems, I now can make accessories for my little girls and myself, while selling some of them off too.  Makes me so happy when friends tell me how much they love my creations.
  • I started on my little garden this year.  I have some plants in my roof garden, and a few more in the balcony.  I have only been successful thus far harvesting spring onions, screwpine leaves (daun pandan) and really really tiny carrots, but it’s a good start for a non-green-finger person like me.  My flowering plants have been doing well though.  Throughout the process of greening my fingers, I have learnt so many things from germinating seeds to making my own natural fertilisers to making my own natural insect repellents.  Awesome stuff.
  • I’d like to think that I have been making a conscious effort to eat more healthily.  Not necessarily organic produce though, because who knows how “organic” they are when you purchase them from the stores, yes?  I’ve been taking more fresh fruit (whole or in juices), more vegetables and cutting down on dairy and red meat when I can.
  • In the last quarter of the year, I found the cure for my eczema.  The products I took (and am still taking) are natural, healthy and safe, and rejuvenates and nourishes my body from within.  Expelling the toxins that are the root cause of my eczema problems in the first place, and thereafter regenerating fresh new cells to replace the old damaged ones.  The solution is so simple, and yet it took me so many years to discover it.  All I can say is I wished I had found these products sooner.
  • I’ve been making good use of my kitchen.  Wish I had more opportunities to do so, but perhaps in the coming year. I was deprived on some occasions by my painful eczema hands, but since that is a problem of the past, I hope to bake and cook more.
  • I learnt to look past failures and disappointments and use them as learning examples.
  • I learnt that not everyone I thought I could trust would return that same trust, and that sometimes even the mere stranger can be more responsible than someone I have known for years.
  • I learnt to live, love and sometimes to just let go.

For the coming year, my immediate goal and resolution is to cultivate more patience and tolerance, and try to make some time for myself.  And also, a bonus goal to be more frugal and save more.

Happy New Year 2015, folks!  Here’s to a fantastic year ahead!

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