Homemade Kefir w/ Granola

If you’ve been following my Instagram @beautyinexcess, you would have seen my post of homemade kefir and granola yesterday. Everything is made from scratch so I know what ingredients are used and it’s a whole lot cheaper. I think though it does take a bit of prepping ahead of time, it’s really worth it. Okay, so here’s what I do.

Ingredients to Get Ahead of Time

  • Kefir grain (I’ll talk more about this later, but you can buy this on Amazon)
  • Milk (I use Vitamin-D homogenous whole milk, I find whole milk produces thicker and tastier kefir)
  • Oatmeal (Rolled oats or old fashioned, just not instant which tends to get digested quicker)
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower seeds (peeled of course, Trade Joe’s sells a pound for ~$2)
  • Honey
  • Peanut butter (I use Kroger Natural Crunchy peanut butter because it has 0 added sugar, and just 1g per serving—check the ingredients to make sure.)

Making the Kefir

Some notes beforehand:

Kefir is very similar to yogurt and is made from fermenting milk with the exception that kefir grains contains both friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt as well as beneficial yeast. Key takeaway, it’s even better than yogurt. However, the taste takes some getting used to because it’s more tart in flavor than your typical yogurt; but it’s very low in sugar and it’s all natural.

You can buy a kefir grain starter pack from Amazon. You’ll notice that your kefir grain clump will start to increase in size. That’s because they’re growing. The bigger the colony, the faster your milk will ferment, so you’ll need to adjust either the size of the colony or the period of time you let your milk ferment. I try to limit the fermentation to 1 day at room temperature and adjust the colony as I go.

Okay, so making kefir is really simple and here’s how:

Step 1 – Use a glass jar, I bought a dozen mason jars from Amazon for $14 and just use 1 repeatedly every day. Put the kefir grain into a jar an add 1-2 cups of milk or however much you’ll consume on a daily basis. Using a paper napkin, cover the opening and twist it in place with just the outer metal cap, not the lid. It’s important to let the grains breath.

Step 2 -After a day, check in on it and if it’s starting to look like yogurt, it’s time to strain it out. You pour the content through a metal strainer and using a wooden spoon, gently push the clumps around until you’re only left with the kefir grains in the strainer.

Step 3 – At this point, I’ll wash my mason jar and put the grains back in with another serving of milk. Then the process repeats.

I like to strain at night so I can refrigerate my kefir overnight so I have fresh chilled kefir every morning. I find that I prefer the taste when it’s chilled, but you can eat it right after straining.

You can find all of this info I talked about and more on this website. There are also video tutorials and different types of grains you can buy.

Making the Granola

Step 1 – Toast your oatmeal at 350 for 15mins

Step 2 – Combine 4 parts oatmeal, 1 part raisin, 1 part sunflower seeds into a bowl (I didn’t specify quantity because I think you should make it to whatever your liking is. You might like more of one ingredient than another or make a lot or a little.)

Step 3 – Mix in honey and peanut butter (Again, go by taste and feel. If the granola needs more sweetness, add more honey. If it needs more chewiness and moisture, add more peanut butter.)

Step 4 – Pour everything into a baking tray and bake in the oven for another 10mins at 350

Step 5 – Remove and place into a zip-lock bag. I’ve stored mine for up to 1.5 weeks now and it still tastes good. I wouldn’t recommend over 2 weeks though.

All that’s left to do is combine your fresh kefir with the granola. Optional, you can add some matcha green tea powder or fresh berries on top for extra antioxidant boost.

Last Words

I don’t think anyone can argue this meal isn’t a healthy breakfast packed with nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics. There are no additives or hidden ingredients used to extend shelf lives. You can make it fresh everyday. Plus you can stretch your dollar a long way—I would say each meal is close to $0.75 compared to $6 for the same amount of food, you save $37 a week, $2000 a year. 2 iPhones you say? Good project with your kids you say? Excellent!

Thanks for reading and bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

Quick Meal Under 10min

For the multi-taskers out there like myself, here’s a quick 3-dish lunch, assembled in just under 10 minutes.

Dish # 1 – Wash the green, any green. Mine is Chinese broccoli, cut into 1 inch pieces, stir fried. Quick tip on stir frying, heat up the pan, add canola oil and let it heat up before dropping in the sliced garlic. Wait until the garlic is golden brown and the pan is very hot before dropping in your green. It should only take 2-3 minutes before you turn off the heat. You can leave the green in the pan until you’re ready to serve, the residual heat will finish cooking the dish.

Dish # 2 – As you’ve set your green aside, start another shallow pan on the stove and let it heat up. Drop in a whole wrap and whatever filling you want. Mine is a spinach wrap with pepper jack cheese on the inside. You can also add in sliced meat if you need meat for sustenance. Fold the wrap in half with the ingredient in the middle. Let it crisp up and the cheese will naturally melt. Take it off the heat after 2-3 minutes.

Dish # 3 – The pickled carrot requires no stove time. Use a mandolin to slice it up as thinly as it allows. Pour your choice of vinegar and a dash of salt over it, toss it a bit. I used rice vinegar since I like the combination of sweet and sour.

That’s it! From prep to cooking, all under 10 minutes.

Just to quickly talk about nutrition. Vitamin A & E form the carrots helps promote healthy eyes, skin and hair. Calcium from the broccoli, spinach and cheese allows for healthy bones, fiber for digestion, and finally selenium from 2 garlic cloves helps to protect your heart. Not to mention it all tastes delicious.

I’m all about simple and delicious. Please follow me if you want to get instant notifications on future posts from me.

 

THANKS!

My Annual Physical

“Adult-ing” A new vocabulary in my personal dictionary. It means to attend to the things that are important but not always fun. Such as getting an annual physical.

I highly encourage everyone to do this starting in your early to mid-20’s. It’s important to track how your body is doing so you have time to adjust and course-correct sooner rather than later.

So I made an appointment with a new doctor at UCLA Medical and was told to fast for my blood exam. That means 10 hours of water-only diet. That’s 1 way to lose some weight. So I did and went in to the doctor’s office at 2 in the afternoon.

Blood pressure, BMI, temperature, lungs, etc., all normal.

He asks about my diet and goes, “How much red meat do you eat?”

I thought about it, aside from the occasional KBBQ, I don’t really eat beef or pork all that often. I like to stick with chicken or fish. “Once or twice a month?” I replied.

“Soda? Juice?”

“None.” I said. “I like to drink water or tea.”

“Green tea?”

“Yep.”

“How often do you drink alcohol?” He asks.

Well ever since moving to LA, I’ve really cut down. Now that I don’t go out every week, I find myself sometimes go weeks without drinking even a beer or wine. “Once or twice a month I suppose.” I answered him after thinking about it.

Finally, he said, “It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Do you still want tips on nutrition?”

“Sure.” I would never say no to diet tips, especially from a doctor.

He hands me a sheet of paper. (I’ll put it below for reference.) Looking at it, it seems like I’m on the right track to longevity.

Next, he ordered me a series of blood exams. He especially wanted to test me for Vitamin D, saying Asian females are extremely prone to Vitamin D deficiency.

“Gee, I wonder why…”

Okay, so I think anyone can benefit from this piece of advice, but if you’re like me, Asian female, Chinese, please listen.

You need to make it a point to go outside and just be in the sun. Being pale is not worth raising the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, weak bones and diabetes. Also, just  be smart about it, wear sunblock with 30-40 SPF and don’t stay out too long. A nice walk in the morning can replace that Vitamin D supplement AND help you sleep better at night.

I used to have a Vitamin D deficiency back in NY, but that wasn’t really from lack of trying to be in the sun. Weather just didn’t always allow it. It wasn’t like I can be outside in shorts and sleeveless top every day of the year. Thankfully now that I’m in LA, I can get as much sunlight as I want all year round. My Vitamin D level is now in the normal range, no supplements taken.

I’ll just leave this last piece of fact for you to consider. Vitamin D can help you lose weight. Happy tanning! 🙂

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Not As Easy As It Seems

Having gone to bed at 9:30pm last night, I opened my eyes to see my alarm indicate I have slept a full 9 hours. Blissful, dream-filled, and glorious sleep. Turning over to my back, I meant to slowly wake up and get out of bed. As I laid there reflecting back on my dreams, I unfortunately fell back asleep. HA.

Why is it not that easy to go from waking up to getting up?

Love this quote from Quora by Venkat Bharadwaj Jonnavithula. And his self-annointed title “lifehacker”.

May be there is nothing that is exciting enough to wake up early in the morning and do. So you feel, ‘I’d better rest and do it later’.

The brain will try to debate you between getting up and finishing that thing and procrastinating.

So to wake up early, you’d have to have an ‘obsession’ or at least that state of mind that it is a great time and I have to utilize it to do something exciting.

As I sit at work, yawning, no less. I think to myself it must be that time of the year again where I want to accomplish something. I feel like everyone has a special hobby or skill they spend hours perfecting. What’s mine?

I have many things that I want to do, but they all require extra effort. Easy enough but still require extra motivation and time. Yes, time is another factor. I do think that if I had all the time in the world, then it would be easier to focus on one thing and do it well. Reality? I’m too used to rules and having people tell me what to do. I blame upbringing, culture and education system. It taught me that thinking for myself is hard.

That’s why people take classes at the gym, no? A part of me has always hated restrictions and boundaries. What would a world be like without them? Would we be more challenged? Would only the strongest survive? Would there be progress made faster or would it stop altogether? Aren’t innovators sort of like rule breakers? Isn’t that why it’s so hard to innovate?

I leave this last thought… If we are only bound by the rules of ourselves, would society today be the same? Or better? Or worse?

Training for Spartan Beast

With less than 8 weeks to go till the Spartan Beast in Temecula, I figure it’s time for a plan and some self-discipline. Why do I buy my own BS excuses knowingly? Work hours are too unpredictable. Aunt Flow is visiting. I’m too hungry or too tired.

I like this comment on Quora,

It is because as human beings, we lack the ability to completely deprive ourselves of pleasure. For this reason, the level of discipline you’ll show in doing a certain task would depend on the amount of pleasure you derive from it. So mind you, no matter how hard you try to do something, you would easily get distracted if it is boring to you. But when you do things that are exciting, it is easy (and natural) to absorb yourself in the task.

Thank you Chukwuma Mojekwu.

I agree. I get BORED way too easily. I need that constant shuffling of activities to keep focused. Now if that doesn’t sound like an oxymoron, then…

Plan. I need a plan.

Let’s break down what the race entails shall we?

  1. 12 miles of running up & down a ski mountain – 45* angled incline?
  2. 20 obstacle courses consisting of heavy lifting, dragging, throwing,
  3. 30 burpees per easy failed obstacle

What’s my goal?

  1. Don’t do anything foolish to incur major injuries
  2. Don’t screw up any obstacles
  3. Finish under 5 hours
  4. Hydrate and refuel regularly

How am I going to train?

  1. Strict sleeping routine to make time for training
  2. Resume running, add in inclines
  3. Dead lift, squat, pull-ups

Did I miss much? Probably…

But hey, talk is easy. Let’s see if I can follow through starting now.

 

Miss Chinese New York 2013 – Part 17

July 10th

To void the world of bias and subjectivity is nearly impossible. When it’s in our favor, we never complain or rebel, but when it’s against us, we want to bite off the person or organization that’s responsible. Personally, I’m probably the same way. When I was “selected” to participate in the redemption round of the Miss Chongqing competition, I was more than happy to cast the unselected aside. I also fought hard for that role.

A month prior, we were asked to submit a few memorable photos of ourselves ranging from childhood to present-day and a art platter made from fruits and vegetables. I submitted them immediately, not knowing what they were for until about a month later. this just shows you, never assume anything and always put your 100% into everything even if you don’t understand why. Anyway, so I was selected among 3 other to partner up with one of Miss Chongqing contestant who were eliminated, to give one of them a chance for redemption.

Though the taping was only for the 4 of us, everyone needed to come along to the studio. The taping began fairly early in the day. We got a chance to briefly speak with our partner and come up with a strategy for each of the rounds. Round 1 was a mini game consisting of a roller tape and a ping pong ball.

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The four of us cleared the challenge at around the same time. I lost the first ball but made the second one in. Key is to slowly roll the ball across the measuring tape. Round 2 was Q&A, except this time, we weren’t given the answers ahead of time. I helped with a few questions but we didn’t even come close to answering as many questions as the dynamic local dual.

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Now may be a good time to explain how the elimination works. Each round, the teams gains a point for winning the round. At the end of the competition, the team with the most point receives a free pass and is saved from elimination determined from the previous round. First round went to contestant 20, or the blue team.

Round 2 was two-part: part I involved one partner, Miss NY, to draw to the best of her abilities, a mystery item that is hidden under the box in front of her. We were given a minute to draw the item. The 4 items for each of the teams were… well, you can tell in the pictures…

Hairband

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Remote control

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Ashtray

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And mine was instant noodles

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After a minute of prep, we happily sketched away.

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Part II of the round involved more than guessing the item. The challenge is that you have to give an elevator pitch to sell the product. The most creative pitch was given by the contestant number 11, the remote control. Her remote controlled anything and everything, very futuristic and made me want to own it. Needless to say, they took the round.

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But hey, at least we looked like the best matched pair, one black and one white.

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My favorite round was the third one, vegetable art! I started cooking at a tender age of 12. I enjoy food, a little too much at times, and I enjoy working with my hands, so I can’t think of a best hobby than cooking. I learned to slice and have had plenty of practice. But I did watch some YouTube videos on how to carve. I also like to think I’m pretty creative, but since this wasn’t my competition, I went along with my partner’s idea of a peacock. It would have made for a neater presentation if we had madelons though. Rushed for time, not everything was perfect. Also, notice I was in heels the whole time. It was very painful.

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As I strutted down the runway, I prayed I won’t trip and spill everything. In the end, we got this round in the bag.

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The last and final round was story telling from a picture. Mine was taken at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. There were a lot of stray cats on the resort and new kittens for that matter. Being an animal lover, I lured a kitten into my arms with a hot dog. I didn’t even notice when the picture was taken, pure candid.

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We didn’t get a clear winner for the last round, but elimination had also taken place. The only Miss Chongqing contestant that didn’t win a round was unfortunately eliminated first. The remainder three pair held hands and waited for the verdict.

Drumrolls…

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You all pass!!!

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Yay!!!!

It was bittersweet. Final group photo in front of CBG network.

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