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6 Scary Cooking Hazards You Need to be Aware Of

For many of us, cooking is a fun past time activity. It can be a bonding session with your beau or with the entire family. However, there are quite a lot of safety risks when it comes to preparing food. Fortunately, by simply identifying these hidden hazards, you can avoid them to ensure that your kitchen is a safe and healthy place for all your culinary activities.

1. Storing Food in Plastic Containers
Reusable plastic containers are convenient for storing food and cutting down on waste, but they can contain harmful chemicals that may leach into your food. BPA, which is known to be a hormone disruptor, is quite common in food containers made of plastic. Since you don’t want any harmful chemicals on your food, opt for glass containers or at least buy food storages that says BPA-free on the label.

2. Cross Contamination
Washing your hands properly and more frequently can’t be stressed enough, especially when handling raw food like meat, fish and poultry. Similarly, sponges and countertops can also be sources of contamination. Use paper towels along with soap and hot water for easy disposal every time you need to clean up surfaces.

3. Thawing on the countertop
Thawing your frozen meat on the kitchen countertop may be a convenient way to warm up the food. However, doing it on your countertop exposes the food’s outer layer to temperatures where bacteria can thrive while the center of the food is still frozen. Always thaw your food inside the fridge or soak it in warm water for safe thawing.

4. Tasting Raw Batter
Unless you’re baking vegan food, licking the bowl or spoon of the batter can pose a health risk. Raw eggs in your batter mixture may contain salmonella, which can cause serious illnesses. If you must taste the batter, do so before adding in the eggs.

5. Shattering Glass Bakeware
Glass dishes are versatile—can be used for storage, baking, and are dishwasher- and microwave-safe. They just do it all for you! Perhaps, their only weakness is going from one extreme temperature to another. This means taking out a hot dish from the oven and placing it straight to a cold countertop may cause the dish to crack and shatter.

6. Microwaving Wrong Items
Most of us know that anything metal, including aluminum foil, shouldn’t be microwave, but other items like plastic can melt as well—even if it says ‘microwavable.’ Heating plastic can break down, causing its particles to seep into the food, which can be toxic when ingested. Stick to glassware at all times if you need to heat or cook food in the microwave.

Cooking should be fun and any homemade food should be safe for the entire family to eat. Ensure your and your family’s safety by preparing your meals the best way possible.

Delicious Fermented Products You Can Make at Home

Fermented foods have recently made a comeback, and more people are now starting to ferment their own food at home. And it’s not just great for your body – it’s also great for your budget if you love the stuff but can’t keep buying it.

In fact, here are some of the different fermented products you can start making at home right now:

Kimchi
This spicy Korean side dish made of vegetables is perhaps the most recognized fermented dish in the world, which is great if you have a knack for spicy foods, but it’s also really easy to make in your own kitchen.

When making kimchi at home, be sure to use sea salt (or salt that isn’t iodized or doesn’t have anti-caking agents), as this can prevent fermentation from taking place.

Sauerkraut
What do you do when you find yourself with a bunch of cabbages? Why, you make sauerkraut, of course!

Known basically everywhere for its crunch and pleasant sourness, it’s amazing both as a side dish and as a spread in sandwiches for a quick, healthy bite whether it’s for breakfast or a light snack.

Kombucha
With a lot of kombucha flavors commercially available, it’s easy to forget that this is essentially tea that’s mixed with sugar.

And when you’re the one making it yourself, not only will you get this treat for a fraction of what you would usually pay for it, but you can also play around with different teas and fruits until you find the flavor that works for you.

Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread is made differently than other types of bread because it uses dough that’s been allowed to ferment with wild yeast and naturally-occurring bacteria that break down the gluten in wheat flour.

Not only is this great to make and keep around if you happen to be sensitive to gluten, but it’s also rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Milk Kefir
While not exactly yogurt – milk kefir, or fermented milk, is a little more watery – it has between twenty and sixty probiotic strains and contains more nutrients than you would find in a cup of regular yogurt.

And because it’s fermented, as much as 99 percent of all the lactose in milk has been broken down by the bacteria, which makes it safe for those who are especially sensitive to dairy products.

These are just some of the many dishes you can start making at home – there are a lot more that you need to try out. Not only are they all delicious and healthy for your whole family, but making them also means you have cheap, nutritious food all year long.

How to Ferment Your Own Vegetables in 4 Easy Steps

Fermenting vegetables is made possible with lacto-fermentation, a process of preserving food that allows it to retain its nutrients for a long time. This is a great way for keeping nutritious food at home easily accessible all year round, especially with fresh produce.

And while it seems intimidating at first, the process of fermenting vegetables is actually simpler than you would think. All you need to do is follow these steps:

1. Choosing Your Equipment
Fermenting vegetables only needs a container (preferably a glass jar) with an airtight lid, and a good chopping knife to get the vegetables to the right size that will allow them to ferment more easily.

2. Preparing the Vegetables
One of the best things with fermenting is that you can do it with any vegetable. You can choose to grate, shred, chop, slice, or even leave it whole. You can even ferment different vegetables in the same container!

3. Choosing Your Brine
There are three different brines that you can use: salt, salt and whey, or a starter fermenting culture (these are used for fermenting different vegetables and producing different finished products, but work more or less in the same way).

If you plan on using salt for fermenting, be sure to focus on the right kind of salt, as well as the right amount for the brine. Once done, prepare your brine with water.

4. Culture and Cold Storage
Weigh the vegetables under the brine and keep them in an environment without air for the fermentation process (that means keeping the lid sealed tight). Once the vegetables have finished fermenting, place them in a refrigerator or in any cold storage place.

However, because it can be difficult to tell when the vegetables are ready for cold storage, be sure to take note of the following:

• Aroma – Smell will be your biggest indicator for knowing if your vegetables are still good or have gone bad. If it’s still good, they should release a sour, vinegary aroma.

However, if your vegetables smell like spoiled food, you should discard it. Be sure to clean your container thoroughly and try again.

• Bubbling – Lactic acid bacteria release gases when breaking down the vegetables, and seeing bubbles is often a good sign that your fermentation is going well.

• Flavor – Once the vegetable ferment appears bubbly and has that sour-but-pleasing aroma, do a taste-test. Be sure to do this every day until you come across the flavor you like.

Fermenting food is a process that has been around for a long time, and when you plan on getting started, keep in mind it’s going to take a while to get to the finished product. However, once you do, the results will be both delicious and certainly rewarding.

3 Salad Ideas to Make Your Meals More Appetizing

For health advocates, salads can stand alone as a complete meal. But for those looking to bulk up, salads are but appetizers to prelude the actual meal.

Here are three salad ideas to appetize any meal:

1. Greens and Barley Salad
To start off our list of salads, let’s start with a healthy one unless you’re looking to up your protein or veggie intake. For this, you’re going to need assorted greens which may include endive, radicchio and butter lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, vinegar, barley, honey, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and walnuts. Place assorted greens, carrots sliced into ribbons, cauliflower and barley in a serving dish. Prepare a screw-top jar and combine vinegar, olive oil, honey, paprika, salt, pepper and walnuts. Replace the top and shake well. Coat over the salad and top with walnuts.

2. Tuscan Bread Salad
For this one you will need fresh green beans, snap pea pods, asparagus, Italian bread, cherry tomatoes, small cucumber, olive oil, red onion, sweet peppers, Kalamata olives, basil leaves and red wine vinaigrette to be prepared separately aside from your salad. First off, prepare the beans by trimming off the ends and cut it into pieces of about 2-inches. In a saucepan, toss in asparagus, beans and pea pods in lightly salted water. After boiling, transfer veggies to a bowl of ice water. Once chilled, drain the water and let it stand. Next up, spread a thin line of oil in the bread. Toast the bread until lightly brown, using a grill or a broiler. Cool for a few seconds and tear bread into pieces sizing about to an inch per piece. Combine beans, bread, mixture, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red sweet peppers, red onion, Kalamata olives and fresh basil. Pour the red wine vinaigrette over the tomato mixture and coat gently. Next up, mix remaining dressing over the tomato mixture. Toss again before serving, and add salt and pepper to your liking. For the red wine vinaigrette, place olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon-style mustard, garlic, salt and black pepper in a screw-top jar and shake well.

3. Tuscan Tuna Salad
For this salad you will need lemon, cannellini beans, albacore tuna packed in oil, red onion, arugula or mixed spring greens, grape or cherry tomatoes, salt and ground black pepper. Juice the lemon and set aside the peeling. Combine cannellini beans, tuna and onion in a bowl. Add the lemon, lemon juice, arugula and tomatoes. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

These salads, along with most, can be adjusted to have more protein or more veggies. Just add more chicken or tofu then you’re good to go. Hope this list helped you plan out you’re lunch for the week. Enjoy those greens!

Fool-Proof Methods for Making Your Own Alkaline Water

Thinking of ways on how you could naturally boost your metabolism and decrease the acidity level in your bloodstream? If so, then think of incorporating alkaline water into your diet. But apart from investing on a rather pricy alkaline water ionizer, you can actually create this ionized drink right at the comforts of your home. Believe or not, you homemade remedy can be just as good – if not better – than some product brands in Singapore. So with that in mind, here are some of the common methods on how you could possibly alkalize your water at home.

Method 1: Determine the pH Level before Alkalizing the Water

• Check the pH Level of Your Water Beforehand

Be sure to check the pH level of your water before and after alkalizing it. This will tell you how much adjustment you need to make on your water. Tap water is typically has a pH level of 7, but the impurities found on the drink tend to tip the scale more into the acidic range. Alkaline water, on the other hand, has a pH level of eight or nine, making it an ideal drinking water for most of us.

• Purchase a pH Kit

You can find and purchase a pH kit at almost every health store in Singapore. Make sure that the kit you are buying comes with a pH colour chart and several pH strips for your water testing.

• Test Your Water Using a pH Strip

Allow your pH strip to sit for a moment, then compare its colour with the colours found on the chart. Take note of what your tap water’s pH level is and then alkalize it using the method of your choice. Once you are done alkalizing your water, its pH level should now be between eight and nine.

• Understand Your Water’s pH Level

Water that is above a seven on the pH scale is basic, while water below that is already considered acidic. You want your drinking water to be somewhere between seven and nine for it to be considered healthy and pure.

Method 2: Alkalize Your Water Using Certain Additives

• Add Baking Soda

Baking soda is known for having a high alkaline water content, making it a good additive to use when alkalizing your tap water. To use it, simply add 600 mg (1/8 tablespoon) of baking soda to an eight oz. glass of water. Be sure to vigorously stir or shake the mixture to ensure that it thoroughly mixes with the water. If you are on a low-sodium diet, however, health experts suggest that you use another method for alkalizing your water.

• Use Fresh Lemon Juice

Lemons are known to be anionic, which means your body will react with the anionic properties of the fruit, turning the tap water to alkaline water as your body digests it. All you’ve got to do is full one pitcher with clean water. Filtered water would be the best choice, but if you don’t have a water filter, tap water will do just fine. After that, slice the lemon into eights and add it to the water. Once you are done, let it sit overnight for eight to 12 hours at room temperature.

• Make Use of pH Drops

Just like pH kits, pH drops can also be purchased online or at some health food stores. These drops contain potent alkaline minerals, so make sure that you follow the directions indicated on the bottle about the number of drops you should put into your water. Just remember that the pH drops will only turn tap water into alkaline water, and not filter out chemicals like fluoride and chlorine.

Method 3: Use Filtration Systems

• Invest in a Water Ioniser

If you have the budget and don’t much time mixing solutions to create your own alkaline water, then investing on an alkaline water ioniser machine might be a good option for you. This filtration system works by electrically enhancing the water, and separating it into acidic and alkalized water. The latter makes up about 70 percent of the produced water and can be used for drinking; while the acidic water can be used for washing your body to kill any bacteria that is living on your skin.

• Buy an Ionizing Water Filter

Unlike an alkaline water ionizer, these filters are cheaper, easily transportable, and works similarly as a normal water filter. All you have to do is pour water into the filter and let it sit for a few minutes. The water is then sent through a series of filter, and after passes through these filters, it will sit in a pool of alkalizing minerals.

• Purchase a Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Also known as a hyperfilter, a reverse osmosis water filter uses an especially fine membrane for its water filtration procedure. Its delicacy allows it to capture more elements than a regular water filter, which aids in completely alkalizing the water. These filters can be found and purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores in Singapore.

• Use pH Drops and Water Distillers

A water distiller works by boiling the water placed into them, destroying the bacteria and any other impurities found in tap water. It can slightly ionize your water, but to fully alkalize it, add in a few drops of your pH drops.

If you are already tired of filling your body with harmful toxins, then you should start alkalizing your beverages before consumption. Each of the aforementioned methods will help you enjoy the benefits of alkaline water, so be sure to choose one that best suits your budget and needs.

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