Beauty recipes: Gwyneth Paltrow’s ultimate smoothie recipe, which costs… HOW MUCH?

Gwyneth Paltrow… she of the ‘conscious uncoupling’ and vaginal douching fame. I met her in New York at the BlogHer conference and was taken aback at how chilled she really is as a person. No, she doesn’t frown when you put a slab of chocolate cake on your plate. And neither will she snatch that glass of full-sugar Coke out of your hands and give you a whack on the head simultaneously. You live your life, she will live hers… and both can co-exist across the table.

What she will do is try and create recipes that will make living healthier a little bit easier for us mere mortals. And tell you stories about her father that will make sure not a single eye in the room remains tear-free (watch out for the video at the end of this post).

Then, right as you are just about already falling in love with her chilled out, humorous, slightly whacky charm, she will put out a set of beauty products so pure that you may be tempted to eat them. If you want to eat a combo of sweet iris and linseed extract. I don’t. Let them stay on my face, thank you so much. But bottomline: She will lead by example and draw you into living cleaner and healthier, which one has to admit, is not necessarily a bad thing. Right?

gwyneth smoothieAnd just when all that has happened, and you are irrevocably in love with the human phenomenon called Gwyneth Paltrow, comes a DIY smoothie recipe that costs… wait for it… US$230 at first glance.

But then look a little further and you’ll realise that’s not really true. So many of the ingredients can easily be made at home for a couple of dollars (like almond milk and almond butter), while other are pantry staples (think coconut oil and sea salt). Yet others, such as ashwagandha, are easy to find for cheap in Indian shops. That leaves us with things like vanilla mushroom protein powder, cordyceps and moon dust, which cost about US$40 each but shall last you through several months. Because you only need a pinch or a small spoon’s worth.

So, it’s not really US$230 for ONE smoothie. Not even close. Actually, it will cost you about US$8 each (Vanity Fair has done a pretty good breakdown here). Which is not cheap but it’s not roughly the same as drinking a lawn mower’s monthly salary in the green goopiness of one glass. In fact, it’s much less than what you would pay for a drink at Jamba Juice. Or most other green juices and smoothies at most other places.

Really, it’s like buying a television set for US$1500 and then claiming you spend US$1500 on entertainment every single day that you watch the television. Nope. It just does not compute.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s morning smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons vanilla mushroom protein powder
1 teaspoon maca
1 teaspoon ashwagandha
1 teaspoon ho shou wu
1 teaspoon cordyceps
1 teaspoon moon dust of choice: Action Dust to soothe overworked muscles, Beauty Dust for a glowy complexion and healthy hair, Brain Dust to combat mental fogginess, Goodnight Dust when sleep has been evasive, Sex Dust, for, you know, and Spirit Dust to get that extrasensory perception going
pinch Himalayan sea salt
pinch vanilla powder (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz to blend

What do you think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ultimate smoothie?

Losing weight: The (super easy) Japanese way

Last month, I was introduced to a super-special lose-weight-as-you-eat dish in New York. Called konjac, it’s a Japanese root vegetable that’s incredibly low  in calories – 3 calories per 100 grams (considering 100 grams of cucumber have 10 calories, this is really, really low).

It’s completely gluten and wheat-free. And when you mix it with a little water, konjac transforms into a gel-like substance that traps fats, sugars and other toxins. Plus, it’s the highest natural source of natural dietary fiber, which makes it quite filling. It’s for all these reasons that konjac has long been known as a ‘broom for the stomach’ in its native Japan.

What does this all add up to? The best 1-2-3 diet punch one could ask for!

How to have konjac for weight loss

Konjac is available in several different forms, including a tofu-like block, flour, jelly and supplements. However, the most popular (and easiest) form of konjac is shirataki or konnyaku noodles – clear, thin noodles that have a rubbery texture.

Unlike regular dried noodles, they come packaged in a watery liquid. All you need to do is drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water. Then blanch them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes; drain well and you’re all set!

But what I like best is that konjac is pretty tasteless, so you can mix in an assortment of flavorings and really make the dish your own without worrying about the calories. I prefer to have the konnyaku noodles in a soup, where they acquire the broth’s own flavour and mix in seamlessly. Just make sure to cook them in the soup’s stock for some time (I add them in right at the beginning), so that the flavours mingle perfectly.

Have you ever tried konjac? In what form? And what’s your lose-the-excess-pounds food? Spill!

Why you should eat beans to curb a pizza craving (and nuts for chocolate… !)

Craving a scrumptious, delectable, sinful pizza absolutely dripping with cheese or constantly find yourself reaching for that box of Godiva chocolates, shutting up the part of your brain that’s blabbering on about killing your skin and destroying the hard won waistline? I am all for every kind of unhealthy food, especially when one is tucked into bed, late on a Sunday evening, watching the latest episode of The Good Wife.

But for the slightly more sane, it might be interesting to know that these cravings are usually our body’s  way of SOS-ing the need for replenishing its store of vital nutrients. And that most of the cravings can actually be tackled by a healthier alternative, thereby satisfying the urge without the calories and other skin-destroying stuff. Here’s the 101 on decoding the signals.

food cravingsYou are craving: Cheese, pizza, pasta
Your body needs: Carbs, proteins
Try: Lean chicken, whole grain cereals or bread, bean salad, bean chili, baked potatoes, brazil nuts, oily fish, avocados, broccoli

You are craving: Chocolate
Your body needs: Magnesium
Try: High energy foods like nuts, seeds, wholegrain bread or crackers, berries etc.

You are craving: Candy
Your body needs: Chromium, sulphur, trypt0fan, carbon
Try: Beans, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cranberries, grapes

You are craving: Chips
Your body needs: Calcium and protein
Try: Meat, fish, chicken, eggs or pulses

You are craving: Bread, pasta
Your body needs: Nitrogen
Try: Nuts, fish, meat, beans

You are craving: Greasy fries, burgers or fry-ups
Your body needs: Salt
Try: Sushi, almonds, grilled bacon, lemon juice, salad tossed with unrefined sea salt, roasted sunflower seeds

You are craving: Deep fried snacks
Your body needs: Calcium
Try: Sesame, string cheese, legumes, mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale

You are craving: Soda, soft drinks
Your body needs: Calcium
Try: Leafy green veggies, sesame seeds, yoghurt, milk

Indonesian Jamu: A simple recipe to make your own healing detox tonic

There’s something about a brand new year that brings out the detox lover in me. I don’t know why. It’s not like any diet that’s started on January 1st is going to be in the least bit more effective than one that kicks in on, say, May 17th. But still, new year and new beginnings and all that, I guess.

So, after 6 days of almost non stop partying with friends and family (we all met up in Singapore to welcome 2016!), I’m calling upon Jamu – a healing drink from Indonesia – to clean up my insides. In the hope it will tackle the new crop of spots and lacklustre skin on the outside as well.

I have been fascinated with Jamu for quite a while now. It dates back almost 1,200 years to ancient Java and has often been likened to Ayurveda. In Indonesia, Jamu is used to address everything from weight gain and a sluggish metabolism to acne, insomnia, fatigue and cough or colds.

And it’s delicious.

The most fabulous part? An all-purpose Jamu recipe needs the simplest of ingredients and can be brewed at home, anywhere in the world.

jamuHere’s what you’ll need to get started

2-4 fresh turmeric roots (or 1-2 teaspoons organic turmeric powder)
1 small galangal root (or knob of ginger)
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
1 litre drinking water
Honey to taste

How to make

1. Peel and grate the turmeric, galangal (or ginger)

2. Boil the turmeric, galangal (or ginger) in water for approximately half an hour, till it becomes slightly creamy; add more water if the concoction starts looking a bit dry

3. Cool for a few minutes, then pour it into a blender, add the tamarind and honey; blend until frothy

4. Strain and serve warm; or refrigerate in an airtight bottle

How to drink the Jamu

Jamu is pretty potent and you need just a little bit everyday. I normally make enough for 3-4 days and store it in the refrigerator – simply lightly reheating and drinking a shot glass worth before breakfast and after dinner, every day.

Why it works

First of all, there is turmeric – one of the most powerful healing herbs. Besides being a natural liver detoxifier and kidney cleanser, it also speeds up metabolism, helps in weight loss, is anti-inflammatory, heals damaged skin, busts infections and so much more.

Then there are the twin forces of galangal and ginger. Also anti-inflammatory, they contain a host of anti-oxidants to minimise the damage caused by free radicals and other toxins (created by, say, those barrels of alcohol and larders of meat!). Additional benefits: Galangal and ginger both calm down the stomach, curb indigestion and acidity, and replenish the body’s stores of iron, sodium, vitamins A and C, flavonoids and phytonutrients.

Tamarind is a rich source of dietary fibre, which binds to toxins, bile salts and excessive cholesterol, flushing them out of the body safely and cleanly. It also contains hefty doses of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which inhibits an enzyme that helps the body hold on to fat (hello, weigh loss!). Other scientifically verified health benefits include the ability to reduce inflammation, heal the digestive system, step up blood circulation, maintain nerve function and soothe a whole range of skin issues. Finally, tamarind is also rich in many vital nutrients, including vitamins A, B and C, and iron, all of which get sorely depleted when you’ve been living it up a bit much.

Have you ever tried the Jamu? What’s been your experience with this cure-all drink?