What people eat around the world

In 2007, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio visited 30 families in 24 countries to document what they ate. The results were incredible photographs showing Indian, Japanese, Mexican families with their weekly meals.

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The Patkar family spends around $45 per week
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The Ukita family spends around $361 per week

I have always been curious about what other people eat. When I’m at supermarkets, I would peer into the baskets of other shoppers. Did that man just buy 10 bags of Coke and 8 bags of potato chips? And, oh wow, that salmon looks amazing – where did she get that?

In their 2010 book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, Peter and Faith focused on the diets of individuals instead.

On one extreme, we have this lady in the UK showing us what she eats on a bingeing day. Her bags of chips, chocolate bars, bread and sausages amounted to more than 12,000 calories.

Continue reading What people eat around the world

Free-range eggs in Singapore

Edit (13/10/2015): I have updated this post with new information.

No, there are none. Well, that’s a bummer way to start a blog post I know. But I found out some time ago that our local chickens are not allowed to roam freely outside because of restrictions by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Free-range eggs are as essential to the paleo diet as grass-fed beef. Not only is it more humane to allow chickens to roam outside and live like chickens, free range eggs are also more nutritious. Chickens allowed to roam around get to feed on worms, grub and other creatures they dig out from the soil. Commercial chickens that are caged up eat only corn, soya or whatever commercial feed that is given to them.

Indeed, because there are no free range chickens in Singapore, we have to be wary of mislabeling. In Singapore and Malaysia, the word “kampong” conjures up images of happy chooks running around in the dirt surrounded by children scampering around barefoot playing with fighting spiders. However, “kampong eggs” are not the same as eggs laid by free-range chickens.

I have been buying this brand called Coral eggs (from Malaysia Kampong). The packaging also claims that the eggs are anti-drug residue and anti-colouring. They sell for $2.40 for 10 eggs and are available at NTUC Fairprice.

free range eggs singapore Continue reading Free-range eggs in Singapore

Alternatives to peanut butter

I remember when I was a child, my fridge was always stocked full of various spreads because eating plain white bread was our breakfast staple. We had butter at first, which was then replaced by margarine (eww) as our health promotion board told us that plant oils were better. We also had strawberry jam, kaya, chocolate spread, marmalade and marmite. But my all-time favourite was peanut butter. I loved crunchy peanut butter. I loved the chunks of peanuts trapped in a creamy, sticky mess that was both sweet and salty at the same time. I could eat peanut butter straight from the jar and I often did.

skippy super chunk

Skippy Super Chunk was my favourite. Continue reading Alternatives to peanut butter

How to save money at the supermarket

I do a lot of grocery shopping because it is difficult to get paleo food at hawker centres in Singapore. I like to buy meat at the rotisserie as well as other snack staples such as avocados, cheese and nuts.

These food are not cheap. It’s not the same as buying a $3 plate of rice at the hawker centre. Adding to that problem is the issue of location – the nearest supermarket to my workplace is Cold Storage, which is more expensive than NTUC Fairprice and Giant.

In order to save some money while shopping for my costly groceries (I am addicted to cheese), I have utilised the strategy of getting instant cash rebates. This is achieved via two cards: the Citibank Dividend card and the PAssion card. The former is just another credit card from Citibank and the latter is a membership card for People’s Association (PA). It can also be used as an EZ-link card for public transport.

This is what I bought today (the brie was excellent, by the way):

save money grocery shopping

If you notice, my initial bill was $20.81. Following the use of the Citibank card and the PAssion card, I paid $19.83, which amounted to a $0.98 discount. It’s not a lot but these cents add up when you buy a lot of (expensive) groceries.

The Citibank card works by giving me a 2% cash rebate. The PAssion card gives me one point for every dollar spent, and 150 points equates to a $1 cash rebate. However, you can still redeem your points even if you have less than 150 points, which was what I did in this case.

If I wanted to save even more money, I should apply for the HSBC Visa Platinum credit card, which gives a 5% rebate at Cold Storage and Giant. The only thing stopping me from switching is the lack of petrol rebates at Esso, where I usually pump petro for the car; the Citibank Dividend card gives a 5% cash rebate.

Do you have any money saving tips to help reduce grocery bills? I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. I have the crazy idea of making my own cheese. Will that be cheaper than buying it?

P.P.S. I know it’s quite easy to make your own yoghurt. My friend tried it and she said the taste was good, although it’s more work if you want very thick Fage-like consistency.

Healthy oils – where to find them

Most people I know use vegetable oil for cooking. I grew up thinking that they were the healthiest. I mean, they were from plants right? How fatty can they be? I learnt that ghee was bad for me. I learnt that margarine was better than butter. But when you eat paleo style, you realise that these beliefs passed down from our parents are wrong!

First, vegetable oils tend to come from genetically modified plants such as corn and soybean. They also contain a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This makes them easy to oxidise through contact with air or heat. When that oxidation happens, these fatty acids release free radicals that damage our bodies. Margarine is made from these vegetable oils and faces the same problem. To find out more about the problems with vegetable oils, go here. To find out what kind of oils are good oils, go here.

The good oils are the ones that contain saturated fatty acids and monosaturated fatty acids. This makes them shelf stable and they do not turn rancid as easily as vegetable oils. To start with, we have:

Coconut oil

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These were purchased from Nutrimax Organic shop at Golden Landmark. They sell two brands. The one of the left is from the Philippines and the one on the right is from Thailand. I paid $20 for 500ml. I’m quite surprised that it’s so expensive actually. Maybe I haven’t been buying them from the right places.

EDIT:  I stumbled upon Naturaworks, which is an online store selling the same 500ml coconut oil for $17. They also have another brand that is selling for $24 for 1000ml.

I love coconut everything so this is my favourite oil for cooking and baking. It gives off a sweet smell when heated and conjures images of rustling palm trees at the beach for me! Its health benefits are numerous too. It contains lauric acid, which helps to boost our immune system. Most importantly, according to Dr Oz:

“One¬†2009 study¬†found that women who consumed about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems.”

If there is anyone who needs help with her abdominal fat, that is me!

Armed with knowledge of all these health benefits, I told my mum to buy coconut oil for cooking and she said, “No, it will make you fat!” Looks like coconut oil has truly been villainised. This¬†article¬†explains why the oil gained such a bad reputation in the past.

Macadamia oil

Macadamia oil Fairprice

This bottle of macadamia oil was purchased from NTUC Fairprice. It’s cheaper than coconut oil. I think I bought it for about $8.

I love macadamias! They are my favourite nuts – so buttery and satisfying. So when I saw this at Fairprice, I thought it would make a great oil for Paleozilla to cook with (Yes, the man cooks in this instance and the woman cleans.)

Macadamia oil has a high smoke point so it’s good for cooking. The smoke point is the the temperature at which it begins to break down, losing nutritional value and releasing potential carcinogens.¬†The taste is also less strong than coconut oil so it won’t overwhelm the food you’re cooking. From a nutritional perspective, it has more monosaturated fats than olive oil and seems to contain some amount of antioxidants.

Avocado oil

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I have also seen avocado oil in Fairprice but have not purchased it yet. This will be next on my list once our macadamia oil runs out! It’s also more expensive than macadamia oil so I didn’t purchase it. The smoke point is higher than olive oil, which makes it more appropriate for high-heat cooking. It would be interesting to use this in baking as well, I think, to see what kind of flavour it will impart to my paleo bread.

Nutrimax Organic sells a bottle of 375 ml avocado oil for $21, excluding shipping.

Olive oil

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Olive oil, or more specifically extra virgin olive oil, has been touted for its numerous health and beauty benefits. I’ve read about people using it to remove makeup on beauty blogs (no need for a $100 bottle of Shu Uemura cleansing oil!). When you are not slathering it on your face, consuming olive oil will purportedly help protect your cells from damage, thanks to the high content of polyphenols antioxidants.

I like the mild taste of olive oil, although some people have suggested that we shouldn’t use it for cooking because its smoke point is not as high as the other oils. That being said, it’s still a good oil to drizzle on salads and with vinegar as a paleo bread dip.

Ghee

Sunflower

Out of all the oils I ate while growing up, ghee was the most demonised. I remembered my mum telling me not to eat too much Indian food because it was cooked in ghee and was bad for my heart. Ghee is similar to butter; they are both made from the fats of whole milk, but ghee may be preferred by people who are lactose-intolerant because there are no milk constituents.

I read somewhere that most roti prata stalls here in Singapore now use hydrogenated vegetable oils instead of ghee because the vegetable oils are cheaper. I’ve even seen signs at stalls saying that they don’t use ghee. This is quite sad since ghee is part of traditional Indian cooking and is actually much better for our health.

Let me end here with this hilarious quote about oil:

“It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas.” – George Bush,¬†Sept. 25, 2000