Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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A Nood Awakening

This post is for my friend VP because I promised her I would immortalise a couple of her terms in a post, and one term in particular has taken off in our circle of friends-explanation to come! (I think it is one of her steps to world domination).  First of all muchos (one of VP’s fav words) sorry for the absence of blog write-ups recently. Let’s just say my time has not been my own for the last month and as always, things like hobbies become sidelined for more important things like sleep and zoning out in front of the TV. Secondly, if I’m not writing, I am posting photos of my food grazing on Instagram (a girl still has to eat), so you can always have a look on there instead. But either way, thanks for being patient my friends

If you are a bit health conscious, you may have guessed what this write up is about from my title. Now, I was going to put something slightly less delicate like  ‘The Sh*tscapades’ but I thought that might alarm some people. So let me explain. Pure Yoga have launched their own food concept called Nood Food which offers raw, healthy and organic superfood-rich foods and cold-pressed juice cleanses.noodfood

Nood Food is one in a muchos long line of companies that have been appearing faster than a crop of radishes (apparently one of the faster growing vegetables, useless bit of information). I have, until now, been avoiding the likes of Be-juiced, Punch Detox, Genie Concept and Pure Swell, as a) our bodies already have a highly efficient system of filtering out harmful substances and cleansing itself- thank you liver, kidneys and intestines, b) being sensible and eating fairly cleanly throughout the week is already part of my routine, c) these cleanses are not exactly cheap and d) I’m not sure I can go very long without solid food. That isn’t to say that I think detoxing is not a good idea now and then and these juice cleanses do offer a way of detoxing fast and resetting your bodies after a thorough washing out, especially if you are too lazy to make your own juices. And it would be silly to assume that even with the healthiest of regimes, one is able to be completely toxin free, as we do live in a world far more polluted and rife with chemicals than our forebears.

So when my lovely friend F, F&B marketing manager babe at Pure invited me to try a 3-day Nood juice cleanse, I thought, why not. My background is rooted in Science, science geeks love experiments, I shall see what this is going to be like, won’t be that bad surely. HAH. Fool. Who knew that drinking juice could be so hazardous?!

Nood Food have three different programmes which I was told are ‘categorised by lifestyle rather than levels of difficulty’. These cleanses are: C01 Green Cleanse, CO2 Active Cleanse and CO3 Classic Cleanse. The juices in the cleanse programmes are created for varying levels of activity and general diet and the difficulty is dictated by how many days of starvation and torture you can manage. As a complete beginner, I was recommended to do either the Classic or Active cleanse depending on my level of activity. The Green Cleanse is for the more experienced cleanser or those who cannot tolerate much sugar in their diet. Programme prices are: 1 day $600/ 3 days $1700 / 6 days $3200. However, they will provide prices for a longer or shorter times upon request.

All the cleanses come with supplements to aid your detox and formulated with a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and superfoods. Vegetables are the main ingredients more than fruit in order to promote healing and all organic ingredients are marked with an (*) on the packaging. There is 100% juice, no added water or substitutes, so you are really getting a raw deal (pun fully intended). You get 6 organic cold-pressed juices and supplements (which you mix in) daily and you are meant to drink one every 2-3 hours.

Logistics- orders need two days to process, juices can be picked up from any Pure location or Nood Food SoHo and to to guarantee freshness, juices need to be collected each day and then stashed in the fridge ASAP as the juices are unpasteurized and expire the day after the intended consumption.

I chose to start my CO3 Classic Cleanse on a Sunday, shortly after returning from a week’s break in the Philippines, and the day after a full-on dinner at The Chairman (lots of seafood, meat, crab in wine) followed by drinks at The Envoy. Nood recommends preparing ahead of a detox by cutting down on sugar/salt/caffeine/meat. Obviously I failed spectacularly on this front, but after my experience, I highly recommend doing what they say!Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

I had arranged to pick up juices that were for next day consumption due to work schedule logistics, so I had already collected Day 1’s juices on Saturday afternoon. Nood Food lady supplied me with a nice cooler bag and an ice-pack- both of which need to be brought back each day when picking up the next day’s set. I wouldn’t say the juices looked that yummy. The 6 juices are an intimidating, intense array of green, orange and red and the supplements look mostly like coloured powdered chalk. But full marks for names that are meant to lull you into a false sense of security- Recharge/Spring Clean/Whole Food/Turn Me On/Miracle Milk/Royal Flush.

Cold-pressed juices

Cold-pressed juices

The supplements are straight to the point and do the following:

Zeolite- a deeply detoxifying and alkalising earth clay supplement which bonds with toxins like heavy metals and environmental chemicals to aid in their removal; Camu Camu- sounds like a fluffy animal but actually contains a high concentration of Vitamin C; Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix- Suforaphane from broccoli aids liver detox and the carotenoids and flavonoids in kale are powerful antioxidants; Chia Seeds- these babies are good for for your gut as they are high in fibre as well as omega-3 and protein; Barley Grass Powder- a highly concentrated concoction of vitamins, insoluble fibre and chlorophyll and Vitamineral Earth- a herbal superfood complex for the promotion of healing.

Supplements!

Supplements!

Cue Sunday morning and I referred to my Classic Cleanse guide book which recommended that I start with the Zeolite supplement with warm water at 7am. It was 9am. Fail. Looking at their schedule, this meant that my whole juicing day wouldn’t end till 9pm if I was truly going to be regimental about things. Zeolite mixed in with water is supposedly meant to taste of ‘nothing’, but it tasted of something- a  strange, bland metallic substance with a sort of ash-like aftertaste. Mmmm.Classic Cleanse Schedule

2 hours later it was time for Recharge with Camu Camu. Recharge is by far the yummiest and least dangerous of the juices; a lovely citrusy mixture of carrot, orange, apple, lemon, ginger and lemon grass. Even at this early stage, my tummy was starting to gurgle a little, but I wasn’t sure if it was due to the previous night’s festivities, so at this point I popped out to fetch my next day’s batch of juices. On my return, it was Spring Clean with Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix. I didn’t enjoy on two levels: 1) Carrot, celery, spinach and parsley juice did not want to absorb the sprout mix so it became quite clumpy even with me shaking it like a polaroid picture 2) This juice kick-started what was to become the Sh*tscapades.Nood Food

Juice no. 2 was palatable but may be quite ‘green’ tasting for those new to veggie shakes  so you should brace yourselves for juice no. 3 Whole Food. This bugger pretty much destroyed me that Sunday afternoon. 2 hours after my intestines got a light Spring Clean, Whole Food (no supplement with this one), came, conquered and annihilated the contents of my gut. Since this particular experience my friends and I have come up with some puns- Stoolicide/ crapisode/crapventure. It was quite literally a sh*tstorm. Whole Food is GREEN. An alarmingly dark algae green which just shouts I’M CLEANSING. The book does warn you of some of the dramatic effects a juice cleanse may have on you, as some are affected more than others, like yours truly. Coupled with the extreme crapisode, I also got bloating, serious sweats and some joint aches which are all apparently indicative of toxins leaving every pore of your body. At this point I was confined to either my bed with aircon on full blast or the bathroom, which was fast becoming my best friend. Whole Food was so potent that I was not even 10% of the way through before my body decided it needed to see its best friend. Undeterred, I pressed on 2 hours later with juice 4- Turn Me On. This was actually quite pleasant tasting except I was beyond caring at this point and slowly whimpering, “I have nothing left to give”. Carrot, apple, sweet potato, flaxseed oil and maca powder maketh quite a yummy combination, but the chia seeds would not go down no matter how much I mixed. Exorcism of the gut was still continuing and I was fast losing my resolve to stick with the juicing.

pocari-sweat

Stock one of these in your fridge for emergencies!

By 7pm, Skyping my parents, my mum told me I looked ‘thinner’ (this juice is FAST WORK my friends) and then asked me, “why are you still doing this? Just stop if you are feeling this uncomfortable!” Wise words. Miracle Milk, juice 5, was no miracle. First, celery, cucumber, hemp seeds and sesame with barley powder juice is not my cup of tea and second, this miracle did not stem the tide. After getting a quarter of the way through, I finally gave up and thought BAGMI. B*tch Ain’t Gonna Make It. (VP’s favourite term in the whole world). Lying defeated on my bed, I had to stop with juice 5 and admit to myself, that I was completely and utterly cleansed, inside and out and right to the depths of my soul. The sixth juice- Royal Flush would have ended me so I decided to swap that for a Pocari Sweat.

Day 2 rolled round. Did I continue the cleanse? OF COURSE NOT!! I’m not crazy. My intestines were delicate, so delicate. I had work. It was going to be a long day. My gut still had unfinished business (I have no idea how this is possible given the previous day), so I sipped a bit of the Recharge as that’s tasty and tried some Royal Flush (a bright red and very beetrooty), which I instantly regretted as that set me off for a couple of hours. So I passed the baton to my friend R who collected Day 3’s juices and tried them the next day. She got no such dramatic effect, lucky thing. All she got were aches and pains.

So there you have it! My first and most probably last experience of juice cleansing. There is no denying its cleansing effects. I lost 1.5kg in water weight alone but I must caution that you need to be aware of your limits and your body because other friends who have done it have told me that the first 2-3 days are a hard slog. I’m certainly not the only one who gets such a dramatic effect but with work, you may find yourself having to think about when it is logistically a good time to do a cleanse. Would I recommend it? I think it is fine to do one, once in a blue moon if you need to reset your body or you have been maltreating it. But I think exercise and eating in moderation is key and maybe introducing a Whole Food or one of the other juices in your diet on a regular basis will be better for you instead of doing a cleanse. Have a go, but be safe and position yourself near a loo. And remember- there is no shame in admitting BAGMI.

All information including nutritional content can be found at www.allnood.com


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Healthy Eats at Maya Cafe

It is still early enough in the year for people to be stalwartly sticking with their usual New Year’s Resolution to be fitter, leaner and healthier. Come April, that resolve slowly dies, replaced by a longing for hot cross buns, chocolate Easter bunnies and basically anything slathered with butter. Yay for Easter hols! If you are the type to give up something for Lent- you have strong willpower my friend.

So, before your resolve begins to waver, let me tell you about Maya Cafe on Moon Street in Wan Chai, that is stocked with rather delicious looking and tasting vegetarian dishes. I was impressed by the substantial number of dishes which caters to all types of health-conscious beings. Vegetarian, gluten-free and raw dishes grace their menu and they even have organic wine.

Maya Cafe

Maya Cafe

Tina Barat and Mina Mahtani are the two creative friends who decided that in light of a lack of healthy options in HK, would open their own establishment offering what they themselves sought. Tina Barat, in quite a career change from jewellery designer to chef, has taken inspiration from her French-Moroccan background, to create a lovely Mediterranean menu. Tina has been mindful in producing dishes that are nutritious and healthy but without compromising on flavour and both cooked and raw foods are 100% organic. It’s clear when you chat to her (both her and Mina take the time to serve and speak to their customers), that Tina is extremely passionate about healthy living and she informed me that this lifestyle is ingrained in her as her mother herself only cooked such dishes when she was a child.

The cafe has Mediterranean elements in its decoration with Turkish lamps hanging peacefully from the ceiling, white walls and an outdoor terrace that I imagine will be lovely to sit on in the summer.Maya Cafe

When I visited, they were just promoting their special Chinese New Year menu and I got a chance to sample a couple of dishes from this menu as well as dishes from the a la carte. Their dishes will change seasonally, so I look forward to visiting again soon to see what’s new.

I was off to a good start with their CNY Amuse Bouche ‘Joy & Beauty’ which was a duo of Yellow and Red Bell Peppers on a crostini. The bread was nice and fresh and the bell peppers sweet. Following that, I had their Life & Peace Salad, made up of kale and avocado in a lime and hemp seed dressing. This was surprisingly yummy, despite its ‘greenness’ and the hemp seeds added texture and bulk.

Kale and Avocado Salad

Kale and Avocado Salad

Duo of Red and Yellow Pepper

Duo of Red and Yellow Pepper

I then sampled their Cream of Pumpkin and Red Pepper soup which was rich, wholesome and quite filling. During this time I noticed a group of four well-dressed young men had come in on their lunch break, and I was actually pleasantly surprised that these guys had chosen Maya instead of Pizza Express, or TED’s Lookout or even Oolaa. Just goes to show that men are increasingly becoming health conscious. I wonder when my group of male friends will start to willingly go into a vegetarian restaurant instead of having to be dragged there like petulant children!

Cream of Pumpkin and Red Pepper soup

Cream of Pumpkin and Red Pepper soup

I thoroughly enjoyed the next two dishes which can be found on the a la carte. Meatless Balls in a Rich Tomato Sauce is one of their customer favourites and I could definitely understand why. Made of mushrooms, oatmeal and Parmesan, the texture and the feeling of satisfaction is akin to eating real meatballs and I really enjoyed them on the bed of red and brown rice.

Meatless Balls in Tomato Sauce

Meatless Balls in Tomato Sauce

Up next was the Raw Vegan pasta which was fettuccine shaped courgette (Zucchini) with a creamy cashew-truffle sauce. I have to say I thought this was quite delicious and I allowed myself a moment of smugness that I had joined a well-being and goodness foodie club albeit temporarily. Obviously there is no substitute for the mouth-watering, decadent, full-fat, carb-loaded version of this pasta, but I could get used to eating courgette fettuccine as a guilt-free option.

Fettuccine shaped courgette with creamy cashew-truffle sauce

Fettuccine shaped courgette with creamy cashew-truffle sauce

For dessert, I chose the the Chia Cream with Berries. This was interesting to me as I didn’t realise that soaking chia seeds would bloat to that extent and these were soaked in coconut cream then blended with berries and raw brown sugar. A delicious little treat.

Chia Cream with Berries

Chia Cream with Berries

If, like me, you are someone who doesn’t normally frequent vegetarian outlets, Maya Cafe definitely presents a lovely option if you want to eat out but cut back on the rich and calorific foods of normal establishments. It certainly doesn’t feel like you are force feeding yourself vegetables and I thought all the dishes I tried were well thought out and satisfying. If you are a vegetarian or need gluten-free dishes, then Maya Cafe may well be your new haven.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

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Maya Cafe, G/F, 5 Moon Street, Wan Chai. Tel: 2529 3319. Open Mon-Sun 0800-2200

This was by kind invitation- many thanks to Tina for having me!


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Would you like some Lovin’?

Friends will tell you that I’m a big time carnivore. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my veggies, I love my greens but a good hunk of meat usually hits the spot.

But, one fine Sunday, my friend MZ decided that we should go down the healthy route and try Loving Hut, an international vegan/vegetarian restaurant.

I was sceptical. My idea of a vegan restaurant is one of those gross establishments on Tottenham Court Road in London which lure you with a £5 all you can eat buffet and then serve up thick gloopy heavily soya-sauced lumps of cold tofu parading as black bean beef/ chilli pork/ lemon chicken/ curry chicken / sweet and sour pork, (you get the idea), only they ALL taste the same i.e. gross and inedible.

So, it was with some trepidation that I walked into The Loving Hut (kudos to the name) in Wan Chai and perused the menu. If you do check this place out, you will notice that it’s not so much a restaurant as a workplace canteen, without the workplace. There is a helpful towering free-standing menu at the entrance with a massive list of mock meat dishes, with soya being the numero uno ingredient.

Although curious, I wasn’t all that enthused about the fake BBQ pork/ char siew, “New York cutlet” or “veg steak” but in the end we opted for the noodles with char siew “formosan style”, the soya tenderloin with preserved vegetables and cabbage and the deep fried veg scallops tossed in spicy rock salt to share. We shuffled along to the cashier, collected our ticket and found ourselves a seat. As I waited for the lady in the showercap behind the food counter to shout out our orders, I glanced around the spartan canteen and noticed a wall covered in pictures of all these Hollywood vegans and veggies: Richard Gere, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet to name a few. Next to their faces there was a sign saying something along the lines of “These people are beautiful, smart and all vegetarians. Why aren’t you?” Hmmm what are they trying to insinuate…

I have to say the presentation was not too bad. The imitation char siew looked rather like the real deal and the soya tenderloin looked actually quite appetising. Perhaps I need to go with a vegetarian next time to get their expert opinion, but I thought that they did alright. They weren’t heavy-handed with soya sauce and other flavourings and the soy char siew and tenderloin were not soggy or bland. I’m not sure whether the freshness of our dishes that day was due to the fact that it was a Sunday and not that busy but I do wonder if the quality diminishes at peak times. I enjoyed the deep fried veg scallops- but then again I love anything deep fried covered in salt, so perhaps I was just enjoying the saltiness!

But my favourite thing about this place was in fact, my drink. I ordered the Buddha Hand Lemon Pomelo Special Drink (hot) and it was delicious!

Verdict? If you want to psychologically convince yourself that you’ve been healthy at least once in your working week, then trot along to this place. Otherwise, I think there are much better vegetarian places to go to. Or, just make yourself a salad at home. And I don’t mean the Caesar salad kind with 3 cheese dressings or whatever calorific dressings you like to drench your salads in.

Chopstixfix rating: 2/5

Loving Hut Vegan Cuisine, G/F, The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai. Tel: 2574 3248. Open daily 11am- 10pm.

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