A smorgasbord of interesting information and lip-smacking tried-and-tested recipes.

Bitter goodness

Here’s a way to take the guilt out of snacking, at the same time save some moolah (by making it on your own).Other than having bitter gourd in a Chinese soup, in yong tau foo, deep fried at a mamak shop or Indian restaurant, here’s a quick and easy way to enjoy this vegetable that most people consume with some degree of difficulty.

Purchase bitter gourd from our farm, where most of our bitter gourd are about a foot long or more. We have the large vein, the small vein, as well as the white variety. First wash the bitter gourd, then slice it thinly with a slicer or a very sharp knife. Be careful not to slice off your finger.

Wash the sliced bitter gourd and soak it in water with some salt. This is said to help remove some of the bitterness. After about a half hour soak, drain the salt water n pat dry the bitter gourd slices.Mix in some curry powder (and cilli powder for those who like their snack spicy). Leave the mix for another half hour then deep fry the slices in hot oil. Fry it in a kuali with lots of oil rather than a frying pan. This will ensure every bit of the vegetable is properly fried and crispy.

You can remove some of the oil from the fried bitter gourd by placing the fried slices on a kitchen paper towel. Make sure the slices are cooled before putting it in a jar. You can then enjoy this as a snack or a side, which goes really well with curries. You can also add in some nuts into the jar with the fried bitter gourd slices and give it a shake before enjoying this delicious and to some degree, healthy snack.

Here are other bitter gourd recipes you might like to try –


Sweet purple

Now here’s the sweet truth about purple sweet potatoes. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research concluded that purple-fleshed sweet potato has the highest overall level of phenolics, antioxidant content and total soluble dietary fibre. The research also said that they are a good source of potassium and is high in vitamins B6 and C and has a low glycemic index2, and has two to three times more antioxidant activity than white or yellow potatoes. Apparently, its high anthocyanin content is claimed to be good for vision, eye and heart health, and reduces risks in certain cancers and diabetes. Apart from the many more health benefits, purple sweet potatoes also help brighten up your plate. Have them boiled, baked, steamed, cut, sliced, mashed, or wedged, or tossed in olive oil with chopped garlic and rosemary and roasted till tender as a side.

Recipes are available online for Purple Sweet Potato Chiffon Cake, Purple Sweet Potato Pudding, Purple Sweet Potato Latkes and Fries, Roasted Purple Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Soup, and more. For the Asian palate, there is the Purple Sweet Potato Kuih Lapis, Pancakes, Chinese Buns, Ang Ku and more. Have it as a smoothie with gula melaka swirls or simply steamed then add salt to taste and indulge in its natural goodness. A tip for mums with fussy kids – boil the sweet potatoes along with potatoes (or even other coloured root veges), skin them and mash to be made into cutlets.


Super cool

Here’s how to be a different kind of cool … cucumber hydrated cool! The average adult is said to consume about 12 cups of water daily. According to studies, dehydration prevents one’s body from working to its optimum. Hence, cucumber makes good to keep dehydration at bay. Besides hydrating the cells in one’s body, a cup of sliced cucumber, equivalent to just 16 calories, makes good for anyone who wants to diet. It is also packed with nutrients, vitamins K, B and C, along with minerals like copper, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. Cucumbers also have a unique set of antioxidants that protect cells and lessen inflammation while its seeds are said to help improve one’s cholesterol. Cucumbers can be sliced and eaten raw, pickled or cooked, and can also be fermented to create good bacteria (probiotics).

Have them in salads or add cold slices in sandwiches. Puree it along with tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add salt and pepper, and you have a delicious soup. For a more Malaysian taste, check out recipes for Kerabu Timun, Cucumber and Pineapple Spicy Salad, Acar Timun, Cucumber Raita and Nyonya Stir Fry among others. Cucumbers are not expensive. And if you can’t consume them before they get limp, slice them and place on the face (and eyes) to feel cool and refreshed.