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Foraging & food

Plant-based recipes and foraging adventures

Meatless Mondays & Fainting Fridays

 

A few weeks ago I watched Cowspiracy, the 2014 documentary on modern animal agriculture and its impact on sustainability. The doc had been stewing in my Netflix feed for the past year and I’ve honestly been avoiding it. I’ve been avoiding it because 1) I don’t want to see gruesome, hidden-cam footage of animals being slaughtered and 2) I already know about the impacts of modern animal agriculture but really don’t want to change my diet. I’m not going to unpack everything here but for the facts read this or watch this.

In a nutshell, switching to a plant-based diet is is a more direct and powerful way of tackling climate change. It’s as simple and unpopular as that.

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Since graduating and becoming an independent adult (i.e. I moved out and had to pay for groceries myself), I started to eat less meat. This wasn’t because all those articles linking red meat nitrates to cancer scared me, but simply because meat is expensive! Also, I’m not the best at cooking meat, and I’d rather not spend money on a pound of beef if I could only cook it to subpar standards. And now that I have a drive to go plant-based, the only hiccup is a brief anemic stint that happened earlier this year.

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fainting and what to do about it

Lightheaded, near-fainting spells are not fun. They are annoying, take a while to pass, and did not make me feel like Elizabeth Turner, née Swann at all. After following my Doc’s advice, a diet with plenty of iron and red meat plus additional iron supplements, I feel good as new! So I’m not swearing off meat and I don’t know if I ever really will, but what I can do is shop consciously and include more iron-rich, plant protein sources to my plate. The game plan is to do more research and to approach dietary changes the same way the zero-waste lifestyle should be approached: one day at a time.

jujube tea, jujube tea, jujube tea

Red dates, aka 1红枣 or jujube, is a common staple in many Chinese pantries. Side note, why would you say ‘red date’ when you could be saying ‘jujube’? Anyways, jujubes are believed to help replenish blood and improve blood circulation. Even before my fainting days, my mum would remind me to drink the tea regularly ‘记得喝红枣茶! 可以补血的!’ If anything, it makes for a nice, non-caffeinated drink when you need something a bit more exciting than water. You can buy instant mixes but jujube tea is easy to make.

 
 
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brewing time

First, you need to pay a visit to a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) store or, even better, the wet market or a package free store where you can get some unpackaged, dried jujubes.

 
 
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Wash and halve 1 cup of jujubes (about 20 jujubes total) and bring to boil 4 cups of water in a small saucepan. When the water is boiling, add the jujubes and simmer for 15 mins. Jujubes have a mild taste so boiling them longer makes for a more flavourful tea. Turn off the heat, strain, and add sugar to taste. I prefer my tea with just a bit of brown sugar but you can also cook the jujubes with ginger for a kick or dried longan for extra sweetness.

 
 

unpackt 2.0

Unpackt, the first package free store in Singapore, now has a 2nd location at OUE Downtown (photos of their first one here) and yes, they have unpackaged jujubes available for purchase. Pay them a visit and buy exactly 20 jujubes, or whatever amount you need.

 
 
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I bought a compact blender/food processor earlier this year with the hopes of making my own peanut butter. Alas, my machine/the blades are not strong enough so instead of smooth peanut butter, I ended up with peanut pebbles. Now that Unpackt has an industrial-strength grinder (this is not verified but just look at that machine), I’m just waiting for them to announce that freshly-churned pecan butter is the flavour of the week.

 
 

Some new additions which I didn’t see when I visited Unpackt’s first store: bamboo toilet paper, bamboo cosmetic facial rounds, and handmade mee sua.

 
 
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I’m going to try to gift more consciously this Christmas, and Unpackt offers affordable and reusable items such as coffee cups or cutlery sets. They aren’t glamorous or exciting but I’d take a well-considered gift over a pretty but useless trinket any day.