Healthy alternative to instant noodles

I can be quite draconian and dictatorial when it comes to food for my family, and though we lived in Asia for several years, I never allowed my children to eat the ubiquitous instant noodles.  I even banned my Indonesian helpers from eating them, simply because they are so bad for you.

But we live in a world where convenience and speed are king. However, you don’t have to resort to chemical-laden fast food if you invest a little time into preparation whenever you have the time to spare.

(1) Always keep some stock handy in the freezer. Simply boil down chicken carcass (from roast diners!) or stock bones (available cheaply from your friendly butcher or fishmonger) with any surplus vegetables you have lying around.  Just be sure to include a bay leaf, peppercorns, onion, garlic and tomatoes.  The rest is up to you! Over the years, I have chucked weird things into my stockpot, such as apple core (with the pips removed), left over salad leaves, the hard part of broccoli and other greens I happen to have lying around.

(2) To make this Asian noodles, boil up the stock with a small piece of ginger.

(3) Cook spaghetti separately until soft.

(4) Add spaghetti to the piping hot soup. Garnish with chopped spring onions and red chillies, and season with salt, pepper, Braggs and sesame oil (optional).

Note: If you are making this with fish stock, boil for longer with more ginger.

Making Banana Flour At Home

Why am I making banana flour?

I love baking. Probably because my mother loves baking. Last week, over a three day period, I baked three cakes. It was then I thought to myself, ooops, my family is eating too much flour. Even though the flour I used is unbleached and organic, I felt that they were eating far too much flour.

Some time back, my friend Vivienne Webb gave me a bag of banana flour. I have never used it before, and was pleasantly surprised that the apple turnover cake I baked with banana flour tasted every bit as good as it would normally. And yayy, banana flour is gluten-free, so I baked an extra one for my friend Richard Boyle.

Feeling pleased with myself, I posted my recipe on Facebook. Then someone commented, banana flour is expensive. Sitting in lush Phuket looking out at banana trees, I can’t figure – nay, can’t accept – why banana flour should be expensive. It is five times more expensive than regular flour.

I don’t like economics that don’t make sense, so I googled. And made my own.

The goodies

As I am doing my diploma in Naturopathy, I took special interest in the dietary benefits of banana flour, apart from being gluten-free:

  1. Green (unripe) bananas are more nutritious
  2. The goodness is in the skin
  3. Green bananas’ starch is resistant starch, which means that they act more like fibre than starch
  4. Because bananas are sweet, you need less sugar when you use them instead of regular flour in baking

How to

Wash the bananas thoroughly. Top and tail each banana.

flour 1

Cut them into wood chip size. Spread the chips out on a plastic tray. You could either dry them naturally in the sun (cover with muslin) or in a dehydrator.

flour 2

Grind the dried banana chips in a strong blender. As the blade of my blender was not that sharp, I sieved and reground the coarser grains. Store in an airtight container and use soon.

flour 4

Just a reminder, this cake was the one which started it all 🙂  Recipe here.  It tastes really delicious!

apple turnover cake

Garlic & Onion Mash with Sun-dried Tomatoes

This is almost a meal in itself, inspired by the Welsh Colcannon. Try it, and you won’t be disappointed!

Boil some potatoes until soft.

In the meantime, sauté sliced onions and garlic cloves (halved) until browned.

When the potatoes are soft, mash with lots of butter and a swirl of cream.

Add in the onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.

Season to taste.

Press into a baking tin and bake until crispy on top.

Food safety: Eggs


On of the most disquieting things I heard in recent months is a 9 year old girl developing breast cancer. Of course, the causes of cancer are multifactorial, namely genetic, environmental, lifestyle and nutritional, to name a few. There is no one culprit that we can definitively lay the blame squarely on for making the C-word mainstream. But there is no doubt about it: more and more pharmaceutical by-products are seeping into our food chain, chemicals that are not meant for human consumption.

In eggs that you buy in supermarkets, for example. Eggs are good sources of nutrition. They are versatile, delicious, and an affordable source of protein. But it is so difficult to find organic eggs that are free from growth hormones and antibiotics. These are more expensive that the normal ones, sure, but are still reasonable cost-wise compared to other sources of proteins. I bought eggs with a particular strong branding implying that the products are healthy and green, but a perusal into the company website showed that the eggs are not free from stuff that I do not want in my body (especially my growing child’s). In the tropical paradise of Phuket, ‘clean’ eggs are not easy to find.

What are clean eggs by my definition? I want eggs that are cage-free (I don’t want them laid by hens in battery-cages), antibiotics-free and hormones-free. If possible, I want eggs that are organic as well, namely the laying hens are not fed with animal byproducts or genetically modified (“GMO”) crops but are fed with feeds that have been produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for a minimum of three years. Apparently, the supermarket in Central is one of the few places (other than specialised organic shops) that one can find these pure eggs, though I am not sure how rigorous the organic certification in Thailand is.

Click on this link for the US standards :


But I was very happy when my neighbour Richard Boyle presented me with a dozen. Now that I know where I can lay my hands on them, I will be cooking up a storm with these babies. Stay posted for yummy recipes! The eggy treat shown below is from a previous post: Spinach and eggs, German-style. Served with truffle butter on warmed toast, it is sheer decadence.

egg and spinach


Here’s another wonderful, healthy recipe with eggs: energy pancakes


And finally, don’t forget the simple omelette.  Load it with sweet Spanish onions, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes for a wonderful, protein-filled treat (gluten-free too).


Tip for egg safety: wash all egg shells, store eggs at 40F or below, in the interior of the refrigerator, rather than the door, which is subject to variable temperatures. Cook eggs – yolks and all – to a temperature of 160F if you are pregnant or vulnerable. I love runny yolks so I take the risk 🙂

Scrambled eggs: Cook until firm, not runny.

Fried, poached, boiled, or baked: Cook until both the white and the yolk are firm.

Egg mixtures, such as casseroles: Cook until the center of the mixture reaches 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.