go to royka website

Monday, 26 March 2012

Manju's Indian cookery class

We had an amazing Indian cookery class yesterday with lovely Manju and her mum. It was a part of my friend's birthday party organised by his partner. What a nice thing to do! There were 10 of us and had a great time cooking, chatting and eating together for actually 4 hours. Probably it is already a common practice in many households, but I was amazed to notice the difference between freshly grounded Indian spices and off-the-shelf grounded spices. It is crucial to use the best spice ingredients as much as possible for especially spice-loaded Indian dishes. We made garam masala mix and the freshly grounded ones had much stronger aroma and somewhat sweeter smell. I am sure that nutritional value is much higher too. This reminds us that we should only keep raw material of spices in our cupboard. Manju explained that whole spice can be stored up to 6 months in airtight container, and grounded one up to 4 months. So that it is better to buy smaller batches and keep them away from the heat. Typical spice rack is near the stove, which is not a good idea! See here for Manju's website. She has many books published worldwide.


Photo by Atsuko Ikeda 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cola drinks & health alerts

Did you read the recent news about cola drinks? Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. are changing the way they make the caramel colouring used in their dinks as a result of a California law that rules drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens must bear a cancer warning label. It is like tobacco package warning. Who want to buy drinks with such labelling! The culprit is a food colouring of caramel colour, 4-methylimidazole, and companies like them are now announcing to reduce this chemical from the ingredients. It is also found in dark beers but the amount is much lower than cola drinks. I support this is a good move but is it really the only chemical potentially carinogenic? Some health expoerts say that drinking cola drinks is not likely causing cancers, because to get a carcinogenic effect of drinks you have to drink 37,000 cans a day for the rest of your life. Well, we don't want to be sick but also want to be optimally healthy so drinking commercially produced drinks is out of picture isn't it?


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Food to focus - Chocolate

Chocolate is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, and the best quality is said from the beans of the Criollo variety for its rich aroma and delicacy. The most common variety is Forastero which is nearly 90% of the world's cacao crop. The exact origin of the cacao is disputed but it is clear that Olmec, Mayas and Aztecs all enjoyed the cocoa bean for at least 5,000 years before it made its way to Europe. They treated cocoa beans as a highly valubale crop and as a symbols of life and fertility. Recent years, its health benefit become more well known, and very dark chocolate is now standard product in the supermarket. At the centre of chocolate's health benefits are definitley flavonoids. Chocolate's key flavonoids are proanthocyanidins (or procyanidins), and consist from 12% to 48% of dry weight cocoa bean. So we can say that cocoa powder is endowed with these compounds. One of the key research area is an effect on the cardiovascular disease, by protecting against damage to cholesterol and the lining of the arteries. They also act like a very low dose of aspirin to prevent blood platelets from aggregating, thus making blood less sticky (that can be a cause of heart attack etc).Yes commercial chocolates also contain sugar and fat, but eating small amount of dark chocolate regulary is actually good for you!

Here is some tips to select healthy chocolate:
  • Choose highest cocoa content
  • Avoid a product with hydrogenated fat
  • Avoid a product with refined sugar
  • "Chocolate-flavour" or other artificial chocolate has no health benefit
  • Since the chocolate's beneficial flavonoids have been removed from white chocolate, it is not recommended as a healthy food.

  • ココアの割合が多いものにする
  • Hydrogenated fat (日本語だと不飽和脂肪酸になりますか?)が含まれていないものにする
  • 精製された砂糖が入っているものはやめる
  • チョコレート風味などニセモノチョコレート味のものはやめる
  • ホワイトチョコレートはこのフラボノイドが入っていないので、同じようにヘルシーなものとは捉えられない