Apr 092010

It is good to know that more and more people are declining shark’s fins soup. Instead, people are now turning to fish maw and bird’s nests. Both of these Chinese delicacies are believed to be rich in nutrients. Let me talk about fish maw in here.

Simply put, fish maw is the dried gas bladder in larger fish. Chinese usually (right, usually, there are always exception) do not consume the gas bladder as is. The gas bladders are usually deep fried or dried. Since I am not a big fan of deep fried food, I always go for the dried ones. In addition, fish maws are believed to be a rich source of collagen. So, it is especially good for women and unborn babies in pregnant women.

One fact you have to consider is that many parts of the ocean today is contaminated with heavy metal. There is the fear that we might come across heavy metal fish maw. So, some people are concerned that consuming fish maw will lead to fatal consequences. I would like to think of the whole thing this way: in today’s world, there is pollution all around us. Everything, including the air we breathe and the water we drink, is contaminated to a certain extent. As long as we don’t over-consume anything, we should be in good shape.

Dec 192009

All of us know the importance of drinking adequate amount of milk for ourselves and for the babies. Or do we?

Milk is part of western culture daily diet. To most expectant mothers, taking in the daily needed dosage of calcium is not an issue. However, milk is not part of the Chinese diet. It is, therefore, even more important for Chinese to ensure there is enough calcium everyday. More so, some of the Chinese are turned off by the smell of milk during pregnancy. So, what can be done?

The easiest way is to eat calcium-enriched food, such as cheese (pasteurized ones), yogurt, or juices fortified with calcium, broccoli, sardines in oil (also eat the fishbone), tofu, or even cheesecakes! Some people are skeptical about soya milk, but actually you can take in calcium-fortified soya milk. Some of my friends found it work fantastic!

So, being a Chinese does not mean our bodies and babies will be lacking the needed calcium. Find the right substitutes and we will all be fine!

Dec 122009

Chinese eat a lot of exotic delicacies, the Chinese expectant mothers are no exception. I want to talk about the two most popular ones – fish maw and bird’s nest.

Fish Maw (花膠) – yep! Fish Maw! This is the gas bladders in fish. And yes, I am talking about the internal organ of fish. But, don’t be turned off. When cooked properly, this delicacy is a real treat! It is also a rich source of collagen and believed to be good for you and your babies.
There are different ways to prepare the fish maw. The easiest and most convenient way, I have done in the past, is to prepare a larger piece at once, then eat portions of it when needed. To do so, you first to soak the washed larger piece in cold water overnight. When the fish maw is soften, you then bring a pot of water to boil, and place the fish maw in it. When the water and the maw boil again, you can turn the heat off and let the fish maw remain in the pot for three to four hours. When it is soft enough, you will take it out, drain it, cut it into smaller pieces, then place the smaller pieces (wrapped separately) in the freezer for later use. Next time when you cook your favourite soup, just dump a few pieces into your soup, and you have finished the cooking. But remember to eat everything in the soup! Otherwise, you would have missed out a lot!
Oh! You can also make sweet soups with the maw. Simply take out the smaller pieces and ‘double-boil’ it with rock sugar. It is deeeeeee-licious!
One more thing, some people may say that you should eat the male or the female maw. To me, there wasn’t any difference, as long as there is something for me to eat!

Bird’s Nest (燕窝) – that’s another delicacy. You can eat it sweet or salty. To make the sweet soup, soak the washed nest in cold water for about two hours, then ‘double-boil’ it for an hour or so, add rock sugar, ‘double-boil’ for another 5 to 10 minutes, you are done! It is really tasty!
Another easy way to cook it is, after soaking it, place the nest in congee and serve. It is convenient and tasty as well.
One thing I have to remind you is that, as tasty as bird’s nest is, doctors have recommended expectant mothers not to consume too much of it. Some lesser quality bird’s nests are believed to be contaminated with heavy metal. Eating too much (unintentionally of course) of heavy metal will certainly do more harm than good to you and your babies.

Bon Appetite!

Dec 092009

Let’s talk about meat and seafood for the expectant mothers.

Seafood is full of nutrients, especially rich in protein. Protein is essential to the growth of the unborn babies. However, traditional Chinese wisdom has told us that we should not eat crabs, prawns, lobsters, and other edible crustaceans. They were thought to be the culprit of eczema. As you have guessed, I just did the opposite. And my boys are fine! So, I would say, EAT THEM! Just make sure you do eat too much of anything, and you will be fine!

Meat - Chinese were advised not to eat lamb meat. This is because in the Chinese language, lamb / sheep shares the same pronunciation as epileptic seizure. So, expectant mothers are asked to stay away from lamb meat – if you eat lamb, your child will suffer from epilepsy. Of course this is not true! Go ahead and enjoy your lamb chops!
In addition, Chinese eat some exotic food, like snake meat. Snake meat is believed to keep us warm during winter time. However, expectant mothers are asked not to eat it because of its scaly skin. Expectant mothers were warned that if we eat snake meat, the babies may have problematic skin like those of snakes. Well, you can judge it for yourself. But the same theory goes with lychee I talked about last time. I think if you really feel like some snake meat, go for it!

Dec 072009

To the Chinese, being pregnant means a lot to the ancestry. All of a sudden, the moms-to-be become the center of attention in any family gatherings. Everyone will tell the expectant mothers what she can / should eat. At the same time, advices were given as to what NOT to eat. Different food is recommended mostly based on different culture. I would like to talk about my own experience, which is based on a Chinese culture.

First and foremost, I would like to remind all of you that a well-balanced diet is very important to the expectant mothers in any culture. This would include meat, vegetable, seafood, and fruits. Most of you already knew the good and bad of these food, so I am not going to repeat what others are talking about. Instead, I will talk about things that Chinese expectant mothers were told not to eat (and I think I have tried ALL of them).

To start with, I have to give all of you some simple background on Chinese medicine, more specifically, food from a Chinese medicine standpoint. To the Chinese, foods are considered cold, hot, or neutral. The cold food will help you to recover from hot symptoms, such as eating cold food when your body is overheated; and vice versa. This way, our bodies are kept in a delicate balance from a Chinese medicine perspective. In this light, there are certain foods that the expectant mothers should stay away from.

Banana and other fruits
Chinese expectant mothers are forbidden to eat bananas. We were told that it is a ‘cold’ food, and will easily cause miscarriage. Well, I can tell you that it is not true. Banana is rich in potassium, which is good for the babies; and is a good source of energy for the fatigued expectant mother. The fact that banana is considered a laxative maybe viewed as something that can cause miscarriage. But honey! They are two different passages. The same goes with watermelon. Don’t worry about eating bananas or watermelon, as long as you don’t eat too much.
The other fruit that I was told not to eat was Lychee! To a certain extent, it is true. Lychee is considered a ‘hot’ fruit, eating too much of it is not good for anyone. But people were scared that eating too much of it would cause the babies to have scaly skins, like those of lychees. Well, I don’t know if this is true or not. But I did have a few and my boys are fine! One thing that I can confirm is that it is a really hot fruit and eating too much of it did give me acne! To the Chinese, ‘you are what you eat.’ So, Chinese would stay away from food that they are wary of the unknown consequences, such as lychee and meat of snake, as both of these have scaly skins.

In any case, just keep in mind that too much of any good things will never do anyone any good! So long that you eat a bit of everything, you are all in good shape1

In my next blog entry, I will talk about other foods that I was told to stay away from simply because I was a Chinese!