Monday, May 29, 2017

iHerb Top 15 Healthy Must Buy - New Edition

New hauls from iHerb this year! For those who are new to iHerb, you can check out my 1st post to know the advantages of buying from iHerb. Basically, save on shipping fees and middle man fees when you buy directly from the US. The following are my recent favorite items:

1) Barbara's Bakery, Cheese Puffs, Jalapeño

I highly recommend these! This is the real deal - made with real aged blue & cheddar cheese and non-GMO corn. It is not as scary as it sounds. (blue cheese) Just a better version of our childhood snack Twisties, with a hint of Jalapeno, without those chemicals you can't pronounce. It is not really that spicy and very addictive! A great snack for your cheat day.

2) Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate (Beef)

As we all know, our body natural collagen (cartilage/bones/skin) starts to deplete during our mid twenties, this consumable gelatin helps to build connective tissue structures to support the functions of the cells.  I love this more than beef hide gelatin as it does not harden into jello. It dissolves well in cold water as when and I always add them in my fruit juices and blends. I noticed it really helps my joints and I can feel that my skin complexion is getting better.

3) KIND Bars, KIND Bars, Nuts & Spices, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

After trying out several brands of energy bars such as Lara Bars/ Quest Bars/ Combat Crunch, I find that these are one of the more great tasting natural bars out there. If you love nuts like I do, you will love KIND bars. Only 5g of sugar, 7g of fiber and 6g of protein that kept me full if I am really busy and have no time for a full meal. With this bar is my bag, it prevents me from eating unhealthy snacks within my sight.

4) Lily of the Desert, Organic, Aloe Vera Juice, Inner Fillet

For a while I have been suffering from poor digestion and acid reflux. Feeling nausea in the morning and experiencing constant bloating after meals. Then, I found this miracle Aloe Vera Juice. I saw the improvement in a few days. Over 2-3 weeks, even when I stopped consuming it, my stomach was so much better. Taste wise, it wasn't exactly super pleasant (unlike the sugar loaded aloe vera juice we have in the mart) but it was good enough for me to swallow 2 tablespoons every morning. 

5) Mad Hippie Skin Care Products, Vitamin C Serum, 8 Actives

This product really helped fade my acne scars a lot. Like really. Of course it is not all magical. It took me like 3 to 6 months to really see the results. My pores seemed to have shrink as well. It is not the cheapest products out there but it is worth its price. It comes with a dropper which is great so I can control how many drops of these precious serum I need on my skin. I am on my second bottle so I highly recommend it!

6) Muscletech, Nitro-Tech, Whey Isolate + Lean Muscle Builder, Cookies and Cream, 2.00 lbs

This is one of the best tasting protein shake I ever had plus it dissolves well. The company claimed that their formula is 70% Better Than Regular Whey Protein for Gains in Lean Muscle. If I were to buy again, I would choose the Vanilla version as it is more versatile if you want to try different flavors everyday (Like with different fruits or greens). I find that you can't combine and change much taste wise for Cookies and Cream. Nonetheless, it is still delicious.

7) Natrol, MSM with Glucosamine Creme

For those who play sports, this glucosamine cream is a must! I remember having a very bad knee and I can hear the pop sound when I bend my joints. This creme works wonders. The plus point is it only cost about 11 bucks so it is super affordable.

8) Panda Licorice, All Natural Blueberry Licorice

I hated licorice when I was younger. I remember getting excited when my parents bought me these and utterly disappointed after the first bite. Now as I am getting older, (and wiser hopefully) my taste preferences changed. Like how I grew to like red beans, green onions and kimchi, I started to like the taste of Licorice. These licorice from Panda are so good. A great substitute for sugar. They have other great flavors like Raspberry, you should try them if you don't hate the taste.

9) Traditional Medicinals, Herbal Teas, Organic Spearmint, Caffeine Free

I first get to know about spearmint tea when I was researching about hormonal imbalance. I am always having a bad break out (at least 5 to 6 pimples) when my period is nearing that I was so stressed out (more pimples!) I drink this every few days and I only have like 1 or 2 mild pimples on my skin. I was really impressed with the results. Apparently studies shown that drinking 2-3 cups a day of spearmint can reduce androgen levels and hirsutism, excessive body hair. It helps regulate hormones and tastes refreshing.

10) Y.S. Eco Bee Farms, 100% Certified Organic Raw Honey

After reading so much good stuff about raw honey such as its amazing nutrient content and how it promotes sleep, I decided to try this. The thing about raw honey is that its consistency is more towards a paste than syrup. You will need to add a little bit of water and stir it up a little to get the consistency of the honey we find in supermarkets. I had a really bad sore throat once and I made honey lemon with these and I woke up okay the next morning. (though my throat still feels sandy but I no longer feel pain when I swallow)

Read more benefits of raw honey here: Dr Axe

If you like my recommendations, feel free to use my discount code MDC242 to get 5% off your first order or click here to get to iHerb!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Macarons and Swiss Roll - City Square, Johor Bahru

I headed to Malaysia over the weekend and bought some pastries from the different shops.

First up - French Macarons from Lavender Bakery.

Macaroons at RM $4 each. I got a box of 3 for RM $13.20 (Around SGD $1.40 for a macaron slightly cheaper than the ones sold locally) 

These sugar babies were packed in a convenient drawer style box.

From top to bottom: Matcha, Citron, Earl Grey.

Matcha Macaron. - It is great that it has a rich Matcha flavour without the bitterness at all. I love how all the macarons have a thin sugar crust and is soft and chewy on the inside. It is like eating a sugar cookie and candy at the same time. 

Earl Grey Macaron. My favourite among the 3 flavours. If you love anything earl grey, this is one not to be missed. Very rich earl grey taste that lingers in your mouth.

Citron Macaron. This one is lemon flavoured. It tasted like those lemon essence from the baking store so I'm not really fond of  it. 

I think the macarons tasted fantastic but there is just one downside to it - they all got air bubbles. (Hollow in the middle) I'm not sure if it was just the batches of macarons that day but it will be perfect if there weren't air bubbles! 

PS: A good read over here if you wanna know more about macarons. - 10 Signs of a Bad Macaron

Next up Mika Swiss Roll. They got a ton of flavors but I chose:

Raspberry Swiss Roll - RM 13.90

The other end looks neater but I wanna take a close up of the nice thick Raspberry cream.

I love the sponge cake, Super soft and fluffy.

Spiralling cream in the middle of the cake. The cream has a very rich raspberry taste with raspberry seeds in it. 

I like how the sweetness level is just right. I can finish the entire swiss roll for dessert.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Korean Convenience Store - Ice Cream Adventure (Part III)

I'd watched a lot of korean reality shows/ dramas where they are munching down on ice cream cones or ice lollies. It looks so yum yum I had to try them all! Unfortunately I can't because of my short stay in Korea and I was having a bad cough the first few days of the trip.

Taking the subway and I saw Lotte ice cream product placement with some Korean idols. It was a sign that I must carry out my task of trying out ice creams from the convenience store!

Some of the convenience store I'd been to includes: GS25, random mini mart, CU and 7 eleven.

First up Cled'or Vanilla Almond Cone. I can't remember how much it cost but I think 1500won?

It says "Refreshing Premium Ice Cream"

It tastes pretty much like a normal vanilla almond ice cream very similar to Cornetto but I must say that Korean waffle cones are on another level compared to the cones available in Singapore. The waffle cones in Korea are longer, slightly thicker and crispier!

Lotte - Cookie O - 1600won (치즈샌드 - Cheese Sand)

I have never tried an ice cream sandwich before so this is really tempting! (Noob) The orange and white packaging makes it looks so delectable. It says "For those who wants the best cheese ice cream sandwich".

I presumed that the biscuit is really soft due to the moisture of the ice cream. It is easy to chew and there is a slight cheese aroma, not too overpowering. Pretty delicious. It looks small in the picture but it is of decent size.

Lotte Green Tea ice cream - 1000won (녹차마을 - Green Tea Village) I love green tea and wanted to have the waffle cone again! This has got a bright lime green packaging. Lotte has a way to make things look delicious.

It taste really creamy and with a slight hint of green tea. I can smell the fragrance of green tea while eating. This is not bitter at all so you can give it a try!

At this point in time, I'm starting to notice that the pricing in the ice cream differs a lot depending on which mart you go to. For instance I bought this in a random mini mart near my guest house and a lot of the ice cream here only cost around 1000 won compared to pricier marts like GS25, CU and 7 eleven.

However, I must say the interior of GS25,CU and 7 eleven are so much cleaner and brighter compared to the random mini mart I entered. Larger chain marts provide tables and chairs for eating unlike those mini marts.

Binggrae - Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich - 1500won (빵또아 - PangToa - Sponge cake)

It says in Korean "Smooth". 200 calories of goodness is not really that sinful. (At least to me)

This is one of my favourite ice cream ever. It is more like an ice cream cake. Indeed, it is really smooth and creamy with two thinly slice, ultra smooth sponge cake sandwiching the cookie ice cream. The whole thing is just so smooth and with a little bit of texture from the cookie bits. (I keep mentioning smooth but it is the only world I can think of.)

I can eat this everyday!

Another one from Binggrae - Fish shaped ice cream waffle with red bean paste. (붕어싸만코 ) - 1500won Plus 1 for the design!

It looks similar to the fish shaped Korean street snack which has red bean in it as well.

The waffle is soft and chewy. It is like eating a soft vanilla ice cream cone with lumps of red bean. I like red beans so this is pretty good.

The only ice lolly I tried. 해대 (탱크보이 - Tank boy) Apple ice - 1000won. The first time I saw this, I think it was in a Korean drama called Full House. Rain was eating this ice lolly on a swing with Song Hyo Kyo.

This is pretty easy to open. Just pull off the tab and you are good to go. This resembles a condiment bottle and it tastes pretty much like apple flavoured ice.

We have this in Singapore - those 2 segment bars but with artificial flavours that most of us used to eat during our primary school days. However, there are no tabs so we have to chew and twist the plastic tube like a drill so I really think that this packaging is thoughtful.

I figured I can some of these ice cream back here in Singapore but they cost lesser in Korea and it is the feeling of eating Korean ice cream in Korea that made it a unique experience.

Another point to note is that I have yet to taste any soggy cones in Korea so it was really nice to pay roughly a similar price (after currency conversion) and have a crispier and larger ice cream.

I will be back in Korea next year! Hopefully I can make a sequel to this. I love ice cream.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Korean Food Hunt (Part II)

Here are some of the must try Korean food / food I'd tried in Korea.

#1 Naengmyeon (냉면 - Cold Noodles)

There are different kind of Naeng Myeon available and the one I chose was Mul Naengmyeon. (물냉면) If you like it hot and spicy, I would recommend the Bibim Naengmyeon.(비빔 냉면) In Korea, all your meals comes with Banchan (반찬), which are small side dishes that can be refilled at no charge at all. I was being served with some picked radish and kimchi as side.

Mul Naengmyeon. (물냉면) - 5000won.
I think this is one of the best thing I had eaten in Korea in summer. This is so cold and refreshing! The cold broth comes with half an egg, thinly shredded cucumber, radish, buckwheat noodles sprinkled with sesame seeds. There is also some mustard. (green wasabi on the left edge of the bowl) I added a little too much and it cleared my nose! Honestly, there won't much ingredients in it but it tasted so delicious. The buckwheat noodles are so chewy and savory! Yum.

#2 Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bibimbap (비빔밥) - 5000won

#3 Bulgogi Dolsot Bibimbap (불고기돌솥비빔밥)

I love bibimbap. This one was alright. I'd tasted better bibimbap in Singapore though. Filled with seafood, leafy greens, beansprouts, black fungus and sprinkled with sesame seeds. However, I really love the potato side dish.

Bulgogi Dolsot Bibimbap (불고기돌솥비빔밥) - 6000won

This one is really worth it! With an additional 1000won, the dish was served in a hot stone bowl and comes with various side dishes and a bowl of hot soup. Additional gochujang bottle was given in case it wasn't spicy enough.

Sizzling deliciousness. I think the hot stone bowl gives it a slight charred taste to the rice. The ground beef, leafy greens, fungus, egg and Gochujang fusion. I think in the future I will only order dolsot bibimbap as it makes a whole lot of difference!

Kimchi and some corn and carrots in generous amount of mayonnaise

Kimchi Dubu soup (Kimchi and Tofu Soup)

#4 Tteok Manduguk (떡만두국 - Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup)

Tteok Manduguk (떡만두국) - 5500won
If you love dumplings and rice cake like me, why not have both? It is basically a warm bowl of egg drop soup (beaten egg in hot soup) with vegetables, dumpling and tteok (rice cake). I love the generous portion of flavourful dumpling (like seriously tons of dumpling with a lot of chives and meat) and chewy tteok topped with seaweed. Highly recommended!

#5 Korean Fried Chicken

Korean fried chicken with a bottle of coke, pickled radish, sauces (chilli and mustard), and a bowl of korean crackers. - 27 000 won. In Korea, you have to try the korean fried chicken. Chicken and Meokju (beer) However, we didn't really like beer so we had some cola.

A really huge portion of fried chicken on the left with the the sweet and spicy sauce and on the right plain. I don't know what they use in the sauce but it taste like sweet and spicy chilli sauce with a little marmite. I like the plain one dipped in mustard.

#6 Lotteria

Bulgogi burger set meal - Bulgogi burger, french fries and coke - 5300won

I figured I have to try some Korean fast food while I am in Korea. I don't really like the burger though, the meat patty is kind of slimy with a lot of mayonnaise (does not taste like the mayo I used to eat) French fries are really dry too. It is kinda of a disappointment. Maybe it is just that outlet. I'll be sure to try it a second time before concluding it is bad!

#7 Have cup of tea or coffee while chilling in a cafe!

I was chilling in Chloris Tea & Coffee cafe (second floor) in Hongdae! Really great ambiance and the ladies at the counter were polite. My cup of Lemon grass tea (I can't remember the price but I think it was around 5000won?) The prices of coffee and tea in Korea is about the same in Singapore. Around 5-7bucks. I really love this lemonade like drink with subtle hint of lemongrass fragrance! If you have time, chill here while reading a book.

#8 Krispykreme

Yes you read it correctly, Krispykreme! As many of you know that the Krispykreme donuts in Singapore is way overpriced. An original glazed doughnut will cost you S$2.60 and even if you buy in a dozen (you might not want to eat so many), it still cost you around $1.90. In Korea, you can get a doughnut for 1000won. (Around S$1.10-S$1.30)

Original glazed - 1000won
Fluffy fried goodness with sugar. Sinful but heavenly!

Fifa World Cup is ongoing and how about a chocolate doughnut with some icing? Soccerball - 1200 won
This is a little too sweet. However, I do love the lemon gooey filling in the middle. Adds a little sourness to neutralize the sweetness.

There are definitely more yummylicious food in Korea but here are some of the ones I tried during my short stay in Korea. Do let me know what good food to try in Seoul!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

12 Must Try Street Snack In Korea (Part I)

This is a repost from my other blog. I went to backpacking in Korea in July and here is a reblog to share with you what to try while in Korea.

#1 Mandu (만두) - Korean Dumplings

There are different kinds of mandu available here in Korea: Pan-fried, steamed, boiled so you might wanna try out a few versions. The one I had was 찐만두 - Steamed mandu.

I bought mine in Namdaemun market while shopping. There was a huge crowd and I got curious. I waited for some of the crowd to disperse before I was able to get some.

Koreans like to sell things in a pack/bundle so it is always cheaper when you buy more.

The mandu pricing: 1 for 1000 won, 3 for 2000 won and I can't remember how much it is cost for a dozen but it is definitely cheaper. It makes sense to buy 3 at one go.

These are pretty huge, slightly smaller than the diameter of a baseball. There are two flavors available - Pepper pork / Kimchi pork(Bright orange red). By the way a lot of food in Korean especially mandu has pork in it so it's non-halal.

It is not like those Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumpling) but it not too dry. This is pretty peppery stuffed with pork, vegetables and glass noodles. I absolutely love the Mandu skin. Korean love food that are 쯜깃쯜깃 - Chewy. The skin has a chewy texture, in between that of a steam bun and teok (rice cake). I will definitely recommend this if you are popping by Namdaemun market.

The Kimchi flavor one is surprisingly not that Spicy. The stuffings are similar but with additional kimchi. I was pretty stuffed after eating 3! (I think it is because of the mandu skin and generous portion of meat) This is proof that 2000 won can buy you a meal.

#2 Steamed Bun With Red Bean (왕찐빵)

There is a long queue for this at Namdaemun market as well. I forgot to snap a picture of the location but it is easy to spot, with a large banner across the store. Apparently their buns made it on Korean TV.

Pricing 1 for 1000won, 5 for 2000won. I mean how ridiculous can it gets? I was backpacking in Korea alone so only got 1 for myself. Imagine it will only cost 400won if I got 5 and I am paying more than twice the amount for this. Korea is really a place for people travelling in groups.  :(

It was raining so this warm bun made me felt really good! I think it was worth the price though. The bun again is  쯜깃쯜깃 - Chewy! I really love it. Red bean paste is not too sweet and I finished the whole bun within minutes. Kind of missing it back here in Singapore. Thumbs up!

#3 Gyeranbbang (계란빵 - Egg bread)

I saw many recommendations for this Egg bread. You can almost find it at any street food alley but these Gyeranbbang selling near Ewha Womans University are really famous.

Version 1- In the mould. These are flat ovals - 1 for 1000won. The man selling this was really friendly.

Be careful not to scald your tongue because this is pretty hot. The bread is like a cake/waffle slightly sweet and salty with one whole egg in it. Delicious!

Version 2 - Muffin style in a cup. 1 for a 1000 won as well. This one is selling closer to the subway exit while the version 1 is closer to the university.

I really love the fluffy bread. It is larger, sweeter than version one with a completely different texture.

This has a whole egg in it as well. If you ask me, I love both of them and it depends on what kind of texture you want: Chewy soft or fluffy soft?

#4 Hoddeok (호떡 - Brown sugar syrup pancake)

Again, this is a very popular street snack you can find in a lot of places. I saw a lot of blogs mentioning about the Hoddeok but they did not mention that there are several variations of Hoddeok available here in Korea. I shall do just that!

Version 1 - The hollow crispy circle. 1 for 1000 won.

I would have absolutely love this if it is piping hot. I got mine near Ewha Womans University but too bad it is cold. It taste crispy like some Chinese pastry with sweet brown sugar and black sesame seeds inside. The sugar is not liquid like but dried on the inside of the Hoddeok. I would say that this more like a pastry than pancake.

Version 2. - Chewy pancake in a cup! 1 for 1500won selling along the Myeong Dong shopping district.

This is piping hot. I scalded my tongue because of the flowing syrup! Absolutely love this. Sweet pancake!

Version 3. - Crispy and chewy pancake with nuts! 1 for 1500won. I bought mine in the food section (Basement 1 of Shinsegae Department Store)

This is my favourite as it tasted the best out of the 3. Piping crispy and chewy pancake cut opened and showered with different kind of nuts and seeds. If I would to rank them:
1) Version 3
2)Version 2
3) Version 1

Let me know which one you prefer in the comment box! :)

#5 Sausages on a stick

1 stick for 3000 won. This is the first snack stall I found once I exited the subway to Myeong Dong shopping district. It looks pretty ordinary but there different kind of sausages in there. The second and the fourth sausage from the top has teok wrapped in it. One of it has cheese in it and one tasted like curry/paprika?

It is pretty unique but a little oily though.

#6 Cane Ice Cream (지팡이아이스크림)

Original flavor (Vanilla) 1 for 2000 won. These are making a craze in Korea and right now you can only find them in Korea.

There are other flavours like Strawberry and Chocolate which cost more though (3000-4000 won). The cane is made of corn. It kind of taste like breakfast corn cereal but chewy with vanilla ice cream. I really love this! I hope they start selling them in Singapore.

#7 Jajangmyeon (자장면- Black Bean Noodles)

1 bowl for 3000won. I didn't want to eat too much carbs as it is very filling so this small bowl of Jajangmyeon is great. Comes with a slice of pickled radish at the side. Compared to those Jajangmyeon I have in Singapore, these are thicker, slightly chewier that is good for slurping. The sauce is darker with larger chunks of onion and minced meat. Pretty good.

#8 Tornado potato

Super long stick of fried swirly potato at 3000 won per stick. There are different kind of seasoning powder available: Garlic, Cheese and Chilli so you can feel free to roll on it. I purchased mine in Myeong Dong.

This tasted similar to potato chips, just that it is softer, thicker and less crispy. I regret dipping mine in cheese seasoning because I do not like the smell in it. (Smell like those packet cheese that comes with your pizza) and it is sweet.

It is pretty tasty in my opinion. However, I find this really oily so if you don't like oily food you might want to pass this. I found Tornado potato selling Taiwan but they are not available in Singapore yet.

#9 Jeon (전 - Pancake)

There are so many kind of jeon in Korea! The two kind I tried were Bindaetteok, (빈대떡) - made with mung beans, vegetables and some seafood, and Saengseonjeon (생선전) - made with fish.

After negotiation with the ahjumma, I managed to get this Jeon for 10000won. Originally she wanted to sell the Bindaetteok for 7000won and the Saengseonjeon for 5000won. (So it's a 2000 won discount)She was pretty rude though.

Jeon are sold in large portion so if you are backpacking alone you might wanna give it a miss or just you can buy it back and microwave in the hostel as this is pretty filling. Luckily I went with my Korean friend and we shared this huge portion!

#10 Tteokbokki (떡볶이 - Spicy Rice Cake)

1 plate for 2000 won. These rice cakes are larger than the ones I ate in Singapore. Basically it tasted like sweet chilli sauce with chewy rice cake. Pretty good! Some of Tteokbokki comes with Odeng (fish cakes) but this one only has rice cakes in it.

#11 Soondae (순대)

Pork blood sausages! This is selling at 7000 won a plate but I was in Gwangjang market alone so the Ahjumma was kind enough to sell me 5000 won worth of Soondae. She was really friendly and offered me a piece of Tteokbokki and wrapped up the remaining Soondae for me when I was not able to finish it.

Blood sausages are made with pork intestine stuffed with glutinous rice, glass noodles and pork blood. There are however some that uses cow intestines so you will have to ask.

There are different kind of soondae such as the one I had is most common one. It is surprising good. There is no pork smell and it is chewy with a slight pepper taste. The pork livers on top however is overcooked.

This is a must try if you are in Korea!

#12 Odeng soup (오댕국)

2000 won for Odeng Guk. The broth is sweet! Soft odeng with fried beancurd skin. This is one of the most common street food you can find.

I hope you guys find this post useful and have good food when you are in Korea!

There are more Korean street food that I have yet to try so I will continue a Part II my next trip to Korea.(Not so soon - 2015)