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Mar

How to Cook the Perfect Pasta for Any Occasion

It may look simple in cooking videos, but there’s a little more to cooking pasta than you think – once you get the pasta in the water, it’s all about making sure that you get the perfect bite. Not too soft, and not too crunchy, but just the right firmness inside every strand.

Here’s how you can cook the perfect pasta every time:

1. Use a large pot.

No, don’t break the pasta strands to solve your problem! What you need is a big pot with enough room for the pasta to move around, and this is when the stockpot in your kitchen really comes in handy.

You should also get a lot of water in the stockpot and actually let it boil first before adding the pasta in. Not doing so will result in undercooked strands of pasta.

2. Salt the water beforehand.

Starch tastes best when given a generous hint of salt, and you want at least a tablespoon of it in the water. Once the water is salted and brought to a boil, only then can you start adding the pasta.

3. Don’t stop stirring!

Don’t take your eyes off that pasta for even a minute – you need to keep stirring the pasta every now and then to keep the strands from clumping. Once the strands have softened after placing it in the boiling water, turn them gently to allow the rest to boil in the stockpot.

4. Test for two minutes.

The cooking time on the packaging isn’t gospel. After about two minutes, check if the pasta is done by fishing out a single strand using your utensil of choice. Let it cool, and then bite.

Ideally, your pasta strand should be springy and chewy, and yet still firm on the inside. This is called “al dente”. If you’re not confident, you’re better off having pasta that’s just past the point of being raw.

5. Save that pasta water!

Once you’ve cooked the pasta to your liking, save a single cup of that pasta water before draining it into a colander.

This starchy water works amazingly well when it comes to binding the sauce and the pasta together, and if you happen to have a thick pasta sauce, this will break it down to make it less likely to clump at the bottom.

Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain and add the sauce. Don’t rinse the pasta with cold water – this will only wash away the starches that lets the sauce bind to them!

If you’re worried about adding too much or too little pasta sauce, the trick is to keep it separate and add only a little at a time for every serving.

Add toppings, serve, and enjoy!

Mar

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Have the Perfect Cheat Meal

When it comes to weight loss or intensive exercise routines, there’s nothing quite like that first bite of your favorite greasy food after a long week of vegetables and lean meats.

This amount of leeway can work wonders for getting into shape. But while the cheat meal is great for keeping your goals in sight, you can easily throw yourself off track when you’re not careful.

Here’s how you can get the best cheat meal you can while still on your way to being healthy:

  1. Plan it well

What makes a cheat meal work is the fact that it’s planned between rigorous workouts and dieting regimens – not only does it trick your body into continuing to burn weight, but it also motivates you to keep going.

Ideally, they should be in line with other people’s schedules when they’re not busy for lunch or dinner, as cheat meals feel even more rewarding when you factor in the social aspect of food.

  • Don’t go on a cheat meal when you’re starving

Don’t starve yourself of your weekly caloric intake just to get to your cheat day – doing so only makes it so that you’ll throw your whole regimen off course, since it’s harder for you to control yourself when you haven’t eaten properly for a while.

What you do need to go along with your cheat day would be the following:

  • It limits your body’s insulin response. The higher the insulin response, the more sugar in your body is converted to fat.
  • Opening your muscles. Contracting muscles requires energy, which helps to burn the extra that you gained on your cheat meal.
  • Emptying your stomach quickly. Limiting your digestion time gets the junk out as quickly as possible while ensuring that the least amount of fat goes into your body.
  • Add caffeine and cinnamon with your cheat meals

Cinnamon is known to lower the body’s insulin response, which means less sugar in your body is converted into fat. It also takes longer to digest and makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

Caffeine in your cheat meals is also great since it works as a laxative, helping food pass through your digestive system more easily.

  • Get a few rounds of exercise in

While it’s great that you get these extra calories in your system, you also need to spend the extra time to burn them off. Doing 90 seconds of bodyweight exercises ninety minutes after your cheat meal is a great way to do this.

Some great exercises for this include air squats, wall presses, or even chest pulls, as these are the ones most likely to divert the calories into your muscles instead of being stored as fat.

Feb

5 Amazing Street Markets to Visit in Asia

Asia has a lot of experience to offer, from diverse culture and traditions to breathtaking architecture and authentic cuisine. Another must-checkout experience across this humongous continent is the plethora of vibrant local market scene. What each of these markets sell and for what purpose they serve varies widely. Some occupy an entire street while others can be found underground. Regardless what you’re shopping for, whether the perfect memento to bring home or experience delightful local cuisine, these five Asian markets will not disappoint you.

  1. Bugis Street, Singapore

Formerly Singapore’s central hub of vibrant nightlife, Bugis Street is now one of the world’s most renowned street markets where you can find trendy cafes, cheap shopping and amazingly good street food. Since it is sheltered, shoppers can absolutely spend the whole day shopping at its more than 800 stalls no matter the weather.

  • Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

For a fancy Persian feline, a vintage hand bag or a good books to read—for all this and a lot more, include Chatuchak Weekend Market in your itinerary when visiting Bangkok. Even with a map and your strong sense of direction, you will get lost in shopping bliss in one of the world’s largest flea markets. With over 15,000 stalls spread across the 27-acre field, you’re sure to find everything you need and experience shopping like you never did before.

  • Angkor Night Market, Cambodia

Cambodia’s Angkor Night Market is a one-stop shop for anyone looking for handcrafted home wares, massages and even live entertainment. Originally founded to preserve the traditional Khmer crafts, the night market has since become one of the most visited shopping centers in Cambodia by locals and tourists alike. 

  • Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Established more than 50 years ago, Namdaemum Market is the biggest market of its kind in Seoul. Open 24/7, this market boasts more than 10,000 vendors, retailers and wholesalers. While this gigantic market operates every day, it is actually up to the vendor what time in the day they open their stalls. But rest assured, you’ll find many that never closes. 

  • Divisoria, Philippines

Shopping in Divisoria is not for the faint of heart; it is absolutely one of the best shopping experience you can ever have. If you are looking for first-class brand knock-offs to greatly discounted original goods, make sure to check this place out. It may not be the safest looking shopping center on earth, but if you wish to witness every sound, sight and smell imaginable, you’re sure to find them all here. A few tips when going shopping in Divisoria: dress down, don’t take anything valuable and keep your wallet in the front pocket at all times. After all, you can’t expect to be 100 percent safe from pickpockets at any of these crowded places, can you?

Any Asian trip won’t be complete without spending a night in any of these markets. Add these night street markets to your must-visit places for an authentic experience of local cuisine, culture and fashion.

Feb

5 Things You Need to Do When Moving Into a New Home

Moving can be overwhelming and very exhausting. There’s just so much to do in one day. However, having a list of to-dos when you move into your new house can make this seemingly endless task of moving a lot easier.  Here’s how to do that:

  1. Make a priority list

The moment you walk into your new house, your mind will be racing with so many to-dos. Manage this overwhelming task by keeping a notebook with you and writing down the necessary things to do to the house over the course of the day. After a day, cut the list off and then put the items in order of priority. Once you’ve completed the list, start jotting down notes again for a day, and then repeat the same process. But keep in mind that first things to be done should be about safety concerns, unpacking and cleaning.

  • Know the houses before making major changes

Before knocking down a wall, adding an upper floor or extending the bathroom, live first in the house long enough (around a year) to see the potential weaknesses of the structure and to get a feel whether you really need that change or not. It could be that you’re just too accustomed with your old home that’s why you thought you needed that kitchen renovation. What you initially think to change in the house may change after living in it for a while.

  • Change the locks

It’s just a small price for peace of mind. Even if the previous owner of the house has handed over the keys, you don’t know who else might have a copy of them. A babysitter, a dog walker, a cleaning lady or a family member? You just can’t imagine how many other people have the keys to your home, so changing the locks as soon as you move in will give you optimum security and peace of mind.

  • Clean!

If the house is turned over to you sparkly clean, you need to deep clean it before living in it. Do it from top (the attic, second storey rooms or the ceiling) to bottom (the ground floor). Clean the chandelier or any light fixtures first, scrub the walls and finish with the floor. As you work your way down, do not leave an area until they are totally clean before moving on.

  • Finish a room immediately and make it your sanctuary

You can’t expect to finish it all in a day, and it’s ideal to live in the house for several months before doing any major changes. So, choose a room that does not require too much work and make that spot cozy. While your home isn’t completely done yet, you have a place to relax and make yourself feel at home.

Work through the process one step at a time, and let this list be your guide to getting through the most stressful part of moving.

Jan

Why Laughing is Important In Our Life

The old saying “laughter is the best medicine”, may very much hold true. Especially in our time today where everyone notices they have so much struggle, sadness, disappointments and etc. Clearly, life is not always easy, but by sharing a good laugh we can make it much less miserable.

Benefits of Laughing

Lowers stress

Clearly enough, it isn’t very surprising that laughing can improve our mood very easily. When we laugh, our muscles become more relaxed, relieving tension around the body. Not only does laughing ease physical tension, it also significantly reduces the formation of stress hormones.

Good for the heart

Laughing also pushes us to exercise our lungs and abdominal muscles, which in turn improves our circulation and blood flow. This can help us maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and protect us from heart diseases.

Strengthens the immune system

Laughter doesn’t only reduce stress hormones, it can increase and strengthen immune cells as well. It can also specifically affect the lymphatic system which is responsible for collecting and cleaning waste all around the body.

Better social interactions

Having a good laugh with others can help you form better bonds and relationships. Because laughing can be contagious, people who can make others laugh easily are naturally alluring. They give off the impression that they are friendly, fun and easy to be with. 

Promotes a positive mood

Laughter increases the production of endorphins, hormones that make us feel happier.  It also encourages a positive mood not only for yourself, but also for the people around you. It can make your workplace livelier and making more tasks easier to carry out.

Ways to laugh more

 Joke around

One popular Singaporean joke that’s already been going around for a long time goes:

“Good morning sir, may I have your order?”

“Big Mac for me, Cheeseburger for my son, McChicken for my DONKEY wife.”

“Big Mac, Cheeseburger & McChicken. Any side order, sir?”

“Lemme see. French fries for me, fudge sundae for my son, & apple pie for my DONKEY wife.”

“French fries, fudge sundae, apple pie. Any drinks, sir?”

“Sure. Coffee for me, coke for my son, & milkshake for my DONKEY wife.”

“Coffee, coke, & milkshake. That’ll be … dollars.”

“Here you go. C’mon son, let’s go to our table. Your DONKEY mother will collect the food.”

“Excuse me, madam. Sorry to intrude, but how can your husband be so rude? He kept calling you DONKEY, even to your son.”

“Hannor! HEE-HAW, so liddat one! HEE-HAW, veri bad one! HEE-HAW, neh give face one!”

Surf the internet

With the internet, it’s very easy to find funny things. It is a treasure cove for jokes, video clips, and more.

Laugh at yourself sometimes

Don’t worry if you think you’re bad at jokes, jokes aren’t the only ways to make others laugh. Share a story! We can’t deny that we have embarrassing moments from time to time and talking about those moments usually invites laughter.

Jan

The Benefits of Rice

With rice being the most widely consumed staple food around the world, especially in Asia, we just can ignore how important and how good it can be for our body. If you think about it, here are really just more reasons for you to get that Hainanese chicken rice.

The Nutrients

The different varieties of rice each have different nutritional values. White rice is mostly made up of carbohydrates, and a certain percentage of protein and fat. It is also a great source of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and etc. Brown rice also contains carbohydrates, protein, and fat, but considerably more compared to white rice. It has about four times more fiber compared to white rice.

These nutrients are all beneficial for our bodies and can help us become healthier.

The Benefits

Supplies energy

Rice is a great source of energy because it is rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are fuel that our body and brain need for healthy functioning. Having rice provides us with more fuel so that we can finish our daily activities without getting tired too easily.

Promotes cardiovascular well-being 

Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, rice aids our blood flow leading to a healthier cardiovascular system. Rice helps prevent the narrowing of blood vessels and cleans away excess sodium in the blood to prevent blockage in the arteries.

Controls blood pressure

The risk for high blood pressure can be found with having high levels of cholesterol, which we get from fatty foods. Too much intake of sodium also leads to an increased risk of high blood pressure. But rice is low on both fat and sodium. And as mentioned earlier, the other components of rice help to cleanse excess sodium in the blood.

May help prevent cancer

Rice, brown rice specifically, contains a good amount of fiber. It prevents the development and growth of cancer cells in the body. This is made possible because fiber because it enhances the body’s ability to move waste material so that they cannot affect other cells negatively.

Also controls blood sugar

Fiber also helps to regulate blood sugar and keeps it in check. It checks and slows the absorption of glucose into the blood so that it is distributed more efficiently to where it is needed. Having too much glucose in the blood is already a big enough reason for blood sugar to rise, but having too much glucose in the blood can also damage the cells around them.

Aids digestion

Having some rice has been known to help with constipation, dysentery, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Again, this is because of its richness in fiber. Soluble fiber helps with blood sugar and blood pressure while insoluble fiber helps with digestion. Insoluble fiber is not included in digestion, rather, it allows other food to move through your system easily.

Dec

Top Six Life-Saving Tips for Beginning Bakers

Even though it seems difficult (and even more so when the pros make it look so easy), baking can actually quite fun and fulfilling once you get your first batch out of the oven. There are a few steps you can take towards making better baked goods:

  1. Follow the recipe to the letter. While cooking is an art, baking is a science, especially when you’re following a recipe. Aside from your ingredients, methods, and how you bring them all together, there are other variables and factors that you need to consider such as altitude and hot spot variations in the oven.

A general rule to follow when baking is that when in doubt, sticking to the instructions will get you good results each time.

  • Keep all your ingredientsclose by. Beforebaking, write down a list of all your ingredients, equipment, and tools thatyou will need for the recipe and arrange them in your workplace in a way that they’reeasy to reach. This will save you a lot of time when bringing them together toform your batch later on.
  • Don’t make rough estimates. You’ll save yourself and your taste buds from a lot of disappointment later on by measuring the exact amount of ingredients that you need for making the dough/batter/etc. as well as the amount of time needed for your batch to sit in the oven. A timer and measuring equipment in the kitchen will do you wonders.
  • Don’t over-mix your batter. Depending on the recipe that you’re planning on cooking, over-mixed batter will only result in really tough finished products. The point of mixing is simply to incorporate the ingredients into the mixture, so be sure to do exactly just that (unless otherwise specified).
  • Baking mats and parchment paper are your best friends. There is nothing more annoying for a baker than seeing your work stick to baking tray (or worse, fall through the oven rack).

While dusting your workspace with flour is one way tokeep your dough or batter from sticking to the countertop, having baking matsand parchment paper for your goods will save you a lot of time and effort inscraping the dough later on, and can keep your baked goods intact.

  • A pinch is one-eighth of a teaspoon. When a recipe calls for “a pinch” of anything (though this is mostly limited to dry ingredients), bring your thumb, index, and middle finger together for this purpose.
  • Don’t worry too much about messing up your first few batches. Mistakes are bound to happen, and learning from them will help you grow as a baker. And even more importantly, have fun!