10 Asian Kitchen Essentials

If you want to cook great Asian cuisine, you need to have the right tools in your kitchen. Here is my list of Top 10 “must-have” kitchen items for Asian cooking:

1. Cast Iron Wok 

Instead of having multiple pots and pans, a wok is all you will ever need for Chinese cooking. You can stir-fry, deep-fry, steam, boil, blanch using your wok. It’s so versatile! Once properly seasoned, it will be naturally “non-stick”. It’s almost impossible to replicate certain Chinese dishes using a regular non-stick pan because the wok can withstand much higher temperatures than a non-stick pan; and most Chinese dishes do call for very high heat.

If your wok has a flat base, you’ll be able to utilize it on your electric or glass-top stove; but if you have a traditional wok with a round base, you will need a Wok Ring to hold the wok in place over the burner.


2. Bamboo Wok Brush 

Like a cast iron skillet, you should not clean your cast iron wok with soap. Soap will remove the oils that are much needed in order to properly season your wok. Simply rinse the wok with hot water, use a wok brush to remove any bits of food stuck on the surface, then immediately put it over the burner to dry it completely. You may be thinking: “No soap? Gross!” No worries. The high heat kills all of the germy germs so this is completely safe.


3. Wok Spatula & Ladle

A wok goes hand in hand with a wok spatula and ladle. You’ll use just the spatula most of the time, but the ladle comes in handy for soups, sauces, etc. A bamboo or wooden spatula just does not cut it with wok cooking. This spatula should never be used on a non-stick pan, but will be your wok’s best friend.


4.  Bamboo Skimmer 

A bamboo skimmer or strainer comes in really handy when deep-frying food. Not only can you pick up more of the food in one scoop, you don’t have to worry about draining the oil off the food on the side of your wok. You can just pick it right up, and transfer it straight to your cooling rack. A skimmer also can be used for blanching food like veggies and noodles.


5. Deep-fry/Tempura Rack

Deep frying will no longer be a chore with your wok, bamboo skimmer, and a tempura rack combo. The tempura rack fits right over your wok. Simply pick up the fried food using your bamboo skimmer and place it on the tempura rack. Any excess oil from the food will drip right back into the wok. Genius! You can also use a cooling rack over a cookie sheet, but that would be just one more item to clean up when you’re done cooking.
6. Electric Rice Cooker

A lot of Asian dishes are served with rice. Yes, you could cook rice over a stovetop but using a rice cooker makes it SO much more convenient. You get perfectly cooked rice every single time with just a press of a button. Plus, you can cook the rice ahead of time and use the “keep warm” function to keep it warm all day!
7. Chinese cleaver

The cleaver may look really intimidating but once you’re used to it, you’ll LOVE how versatile this knife is. It can chop, dice, julienne, mince….everything!



8. Bamboo Steamers

Bamboo steamers are primarily used for steaming dim sum but you can steam just about anything that you can fit into the steamer. All you need to do is boil some water in your wok and place the bamboo steamer right over it (make sure you leave about a couple of inches between the boiling water and the steamer). Use Bamboo Steamer Liners for quick and easy clean-up!

9. Mortar and Pestle 

A mortar and pestle is used to grind spices, make pastes, etc.  I love to use it to mince garlic and to make sambal (ground chilies). Some flavors can’t be replicated using a food processor.




10. Chinese Clay Pot

Because clay pots retain their heat so well, they are perfect for braising meats. The flavor that you get from claypot dishes is unparalleled. Soak your new claypot in your kitchen sink overnight, then scrub the inside of the pot and the lid. Always soak the clay pot for about half an hour before each use. Start on low heat for a few minutes, then raise the temperature to medium heat. Not too high or the pot might crack.


10 Healthy Asian Food Ideas

Full of fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs and naturally low calorie ingredients like soy sauce and rice vinegar, adding a few Asian recipes to your weekly meal plan is not only delicious but a great way to ensure a healthy meal the whole family will love. To get you started, here are 20 Healthy Asian-Inspired Recipes from a few of your favorite food bloggers!

Your fork is waiting.


1. Asian Chopped Kale Salad with Miso Sesame Dressing by The Healthy Maven




2. PF Changs Cashew Chicken with Coconut Quinoa




3. Sriracha Chicken Cauliflower “Fried Rice”




4. Egg Drop Matzo Ball Soup




4. Asian Cucumber Salad




5. Baked Egg Rolls with Bacon and Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce




6. Teriyaki Glazed Chicken




7. Asian Sweet Potato Noodles Recipe with Chicken & Vegetables




8. Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps




9. Spicy Asian Zucchini




10. Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups

Eating Too Many Omega-6s Could Be Wrecking Your Health. Here’s How to Fix It

One important key to fighting obesity and other chronic diseases? Fewer omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, and more omega-3s, according to the authors of a new editorial published in the journal Open Heart.

Both types of fatty acids are essential for the body: Omega-6s—found in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, and corn oil—play a role in brain function, growth and development, reproductive health, and promote healthy hair, skin, and bones. Omega-3s—found in fatty fish—reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and are crucial for the brain and heart. They’re also tied to a lower risk of many conditions, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, stroke, arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

But it’s important to strike a balance between the two nutrients. As the authors of the editorial point out, humans beings evolved on a diet that contained equal amounts of both. Today, they report, thanks to technological advances and modern farming practices, Americans now eat sixteen times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s.

That’s a problem because while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, omega-6s tend to be pro-inflammatory. Therefore when omega-6 intake is high and omega-3 intake is low, the result is excess inflammation and boost in the production of body fat.

The drastic imbalance in the Western diet has been tied to more than just obesity. It's also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, depression, pain, inflammatory conditions like asthma, and autoimmune illnesses.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to consume more omega-3s while dialing back on omega-6s. Here are five steps you can take toward a healthier balance:

Check ingredients

Processed foods—everything from frozen meals to canned soup, crackers, and salad dressing—may be loaded with omega-6s, due to the vegetable oils used by manufacturers. Check labels and curtail or avoid products that contain corn oil, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils. The same goes for fast food, which is also typically made with those oils high in omega-6s. You can look up the ingredients in various menu items online.

Buy organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products

Research shows that foods that come from grass-fed and organically raised animals contain more omega-3s. Grass-fed beef, for example packs about 50% more omega-3s than regular beef. (For more info, check out my post all about grass-fed meat.)

Replace margarine with EVOO

Since margarine is typically made with oils high in omega-6s, I recommend ditching it. In its place, use extra virgin olive oil (which is low in omega-6s) or grass-fed butter (which is higher in omega-3s than conventional butter).

Eat more fish high in omega-3s

The best sources include salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel. If you're not a fan of fish, consider talking to your doctor or dietitian about a fish oil supplement. He or she can help you choose a brand that provides the right amount of DHA and EPA, the types of omega-3s in fish, for your health needs.

RELATED: How to Eat All The Fish You Want, Minus the Mercury Danger

Load up on plants

Eating more produce helps displace processed foods that may be sources of omega-6s. Plus, some plant foods contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. It has a different chemical structure than the more beneficial DHA and EPA found in fatty fish; but a small percentage of ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in your body. The more ALA you consume, the better.

ALA is found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax, as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, dark leafy greens, and berries. 

In general, I recommend aiming for three to five servings of veggies, and two servings of fruit per day. Each serving should be about a cup (or the size of a tennis ball when raw). One way to do this is to include veggies at all three meals: Add them to your breakfast smoothie or omelet, eat a salad at lunch, and include a few servings of vegetables (steamed, sautéed, oven roasted, or grilled) at dinner. As for fruit, have a serving at breakfast, and a second serving as a mid-day snack. Also, sprinkle nuts and seeds into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and stir fys. Better balance, achieved. 

Do you have a question about nutrition? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


Source: Nutrition


5 Best Protein Shake Recipes That Taste Great

One of the most common questions that we see is about protein shakes—they are one of the most common snacks that people use to fuel and recover from their workouts, but there are so many options out there, both homemade and store-bought, that it’s hard to decide what the best choice is for you.

So, we asked a few of our experts about their best protein shake recipes and why they think it is a great choice. Keep in mind dietary supplements like protein shakes are not necessary to help build muscle, or lose fat, but they can sometimes make life a little more convenient.

#1: Green Super Drink

Personally, I stay away from whey and casein because for some people dairy products may have pro-inflammatory effects in the body, myself included. Many people are lactose-sensitive but aren’t aware of it. So instead, I use an organic hemp protein powder. Hemp protein is a complete protein that boosts the body’s immune system, hastens muscle recovery, and has anti-inflammatory properties. I blend hemp protein with a banana, spinach, flax, almond milk, and cinnamon making a delicious Green Super Drink.


Protein Shake #2: Strawberry & Banana

I like keeping things simple with a protein shake, which I have occasionally after workouts. I prefer making a shake to buying an RTD (ready to drink shake) because it’s cheaper, tastes better, and has natural ingredients.My protein shake includes 1 banana, 1-2 cups of strawberries, 1-2 scoops of vanilla whey protein (around 30-40 grams – just about any high quality vanilla whey protein isolate can work), 4-6 ounces of water, and handful of ice in a blender. If I wanted to add calories and slow down the digestion of the protein and make the shake more filling, I would add peanut, or almond butter. Tastes great every time!

Couple tips: Play around with the amount of strawberries, water, and ice. The less water, the thicker the shake will be. Blending the ice to the right consistency is the real trick to make the shake taste great. Also consider adding in some raw spinach to make the shake even more nutritious without sacrificing taste.


Protein Shake #3: Almond Chocolate

I like Almond Plus Milk with Blue Bonnet Chocolate Protein, a Poliquin Electrolyte packet with a some greens, post-workout. The Almond milk only has 2 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein. The Blue Bonnet Protein is an additional 26 grams, the electrolytes help with workout recovery and the greens generally have vitamins, minerals and an overall alkalizing effect on the body.


Protein Shake #4: Berries & Veggies

My Best Protein Shake – My recovery day shake (since I try to get in more veggies) is almond milk, handful spinach, handful kale, 1 banana, frozen berries, chia seeds, 100% cacao nibs, tsp olive oil, protein powder. Tastes way better than it sounds!Being a fitness guy for over a decade I have had the opportunity to try many different types of protein shakes from whey to egg to pea protein. Some are obviously better tasting than others but one thing that I have found is not all protein is created equal in the supplement world.

A couple years ago I decided to start doing some of my own research into what goes into some popular brands of whey protein. My only question was, “Does it really matter what brand of whey you use?”

Needless to say, I was shocked at what I found. Most companies use low grade whey from grain-fed cows and are loaded with fillers, chemicals and artificial sweeteners. For a society that is aiming for improved health and wellness this is really a step in the wrong direction if you ask me.

What I look for now is a good quality whey protein isolate that has few ingredients. A few that are acceptable are natural ingredients such as vanilla, cacao, and stevia. I choose whey protein isolate over concentrate as the filtering process will eliminate RgBH (a dangerous chemical found in grain-fed cattle). Isolate is filtered through an extra process and has also been found to be more readily available to your body. It is slightly more expensive but like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

I have found Whole Foods to have a decent selection but some may be a little pricey. Personally I have found better deals online through various distributors. Some of the brands I stick too are EnergyFirst, Whey Cool, ProGrade and BiPro. For all of my vegan clients I recommend Sun Warrior which is great!


Protein Shake #5: Blueberry Banana

My favorite protein shake is very generic but an effective homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 serving plain unflavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup of blueberries
  • ½ banana
  • 1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  • 3 grams of glutamine + ice cubes

Nutrition facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout: a liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles.

Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt prevents a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present. The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

It's as Healthy to Eat Bugs as It Is to Eat Steak, Study Says

Think nothing can take the place of a juicy, perfectly cooked burger? Try a plate of fried grasshoppers.

Okay, so they won't exactly taste the same—and it may be tough to even stomach the thought of munching on bugs. But experts say that nutritionally speaking, they’re a good substitute for beef, and may be a valuable food source of the future.

The idea of eating insects isn’t new. They’ve long been included in traditional diets of cultures around the world, and a 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations noted that more than 1,900 insect species have been documented as food sources globally.

Americans aren’t so keen on consuming the critters, but bugs have crept into some Western food products in recent years. Cricket flour, for example, has become a popular ingredient in the high-protein, low-carb Paleo diet. (One tester's verdict on crickets in chocolate chip cookies? Tastes like walnuts!)

Insects have also been touted as a more sustainable alternative to eating meat and fish, especially as the global population grows. The process of raising and transporting animals as food sources—whether it’s cattle, pork, chicken, or farmed fish—produces greenhouse gases, uses water and other resources, and contributes to pollution.

There are surely more insects on Earth than there are fish in the sea or livestock on land. And it’s well known that insects are high in protein, but until now, their use as a good source of other nutrients has been unknown.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the Paleo Diet

So researchers from Kings College London and Ningbo University in China set out to measure the nutrient content of various insects, to see if they really could contribute to a well-rounded meal, and measure up to Western staples like beef. The results were published this week in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.  

The study authors were particularly concerned with iron concentration in insects, since iron is an important nutrient that’s often lacking in vegetarian diets. Not absorbing enough iron from food or supplements can lead to anemia, cognitive problems, weakened immunity, pregnancy complications, and other health issues.

Using a lab model to mimic human digestion, the researchers analyzed the mineral content of grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, and buffalo worms (oy)—along with a sample of sirloin beef—and estimated how much of each nutrient would likely be absorbed if eaten.

The insects had varying levels of different nutrients. Crickets, for example, had the highest levels of iron, calcium, and manganese. And, in fact, iron solubility (a characteristic that allows a mineral to be taken up and used by the body) was significantly higher in the insect samples than in the beef.

Grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms also had higher concentrations of chemically available calcium, copper, zinc, and magnesium, when compared to the sirloin.

RELATED: 14 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Sources

The results support the idea that eating bugs could potentially help meet the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population, the researchers concluded. “Commonly consumed insect species could be excellent sources of bioavailable iron,” they wrote, “and could provide the platform for an alternative strategy for increased mineral intake in the diet of humans.”

We’re still not 100% sold—but we’ve likely got some time to get used to the idea of bug-burgers as the next big thing. And as one brave volunteer in our cricket-flour protein bar taste test put it, is it really more gross than eating, say, a hot dog?

When you look at it that way, a little creepy-crawler crunch doesn’t seem so bad. 

Source: Nutrition

How This Broccoli Enzyme Can Slow Aging

The quest for the Fountain of Youth is getting a boost from an international team of researchers who may have stumbled upon a compound that appears to make cells act younger than they are—at least in mice.

In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, researchers led by the Washington University School of Medicine reported that they found an agent that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That substance, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.

The compound, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.

Most lab mice live just several years, so the researchers started the NMN treatments at five months, and continued them for a year. The study did not track whether the mice actually live longer, but with lower rates of age-related disease, that’s the assumption.

So can you load up on broccoli or cabbage and extend your life? “If you do the math, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods,” says Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University and senior author of the paper.

The results are encouraging enough that part of the team, based at Keio University in Tokyo, is launching an early study on people — using supplements of NMN in pill form. “It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age,” says Imai. “We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.”

The findings are also in line with other anti-aging compounds that have shown promise in animal studies, including things like the diabetes drug metformin, rapamycin and sirtuins, all of which are also involved in energy-making process. “All of these pathways cross-talk with each other,” says Imai. “We don’t know the precise details of how, but they are communicating with each other.”

The hope is that the human studies will add provide even more information about how to keep cells young — and maybe halt, or at least hold off, the diseases that typically creep in as cells get older and lose their function.


This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Source: Nutrition