Tag Archives: drinks

On bloating, bananas, and one yummy smoothie

A week or two ago I came up with a hypothesis regarding my uncomfortable daytime bloating: that the cause was neither beans nor lentils, but… BANANAS! Yes, the healthful, dependable, seemingly innocuous banana. I realized that on days that I brought a banana to work for my morning snack, or quickly scarfed one down before my morning commute, the bloating would emerge and persist loudly through the workday and into the evening. (TMI? heh.)

I looked it up online and found a few pages about bananas (esp. not fully ripened ones) causing indigestion, but the correlation didn’t appear very strong. Either way, I started holding off bananas in the morning and sure enough, I’ve been bloated at work less often.

But I still like bananas, so what to do? Why, have one AFTER work, of course! Which is just what I did today, in the form of an ice-cold choco-banana smoothie.

Simple, creamy, and refreshing — not to mention a convenient way to use up hot chocolate mix left over from the winter — this might not be your most healthful smoothie, but it’ll get you a serving of fruit and the satisfaction in knowing that it only cost you 2 RMB, whereas a glass of basically the same stuff would sell for over 10 times the price at some western joint.

The recent spell of prematurely hot weather has had me dreaming about ice cream almost every day, especially while I’m on my bike on my way home, but this is a great alternative on days I manage not to cave in to my cravings :) And if it makes me bloated for the rest of the night, then so be it.

Choco-banana smoothie

1 ripe banana
1/3 cup water
4-6 ice cubes
2 tbsp hot chocolate mix
Splash of milk (optional)

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients until ice is fully crushed. Enjoy immediately.

Makes one large glass.


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Soymilk in a bag

I’m not turning vegan, but lately have been minimizing dairy consumption in a last-ditch attempt to tame my skin. In my search for a substitute for milk, I’d been surprised and disappointed by the absence of the cartons of soymilk — both Chinese and western brands — that can be found in supermarkets all over North America, and feared for a while that I’d have to buy a machine to make it myself (like many Chinese do, apparently) if I wanted it regularly.

Luckily, a tip from the Shanghai Vegetarians Club website pointed me away from the dairy section to the tofu aisle (duh!)… where they sell Tramy brand soymilk by the bag!

At Trust-Mart, it’s a bargain at 2.7 RMB/three 395mL-bags. They also have slightly pricier black bean and sweetened varieties, but the latter contains 3-4 additional ingredients on top of the added sugar, which is never a good sign. Fortunately, the unsweetened version — made only from water and soybeans, if the label is to be trusted — is rich and delicious without any of that burnt bitter taste you get sometimes from the street-side stalls. Having been a devotee of sweetened soymilk all my life, I was surprised to find it palatable… and even pleasurable.

It’s very satisfying on its own, but also right at home in a frothy fruit smoothie.

…Honestly, I’d like to avoid advertising for Trust-Mart (which is owned by Walmart), so I’ll just suggest looking in and around the tofu section of your local supermarket. The bags will keep for five days in the fridge, which makes it more practical for home consumption than the kind packaged with a built-in straw.


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Mid-week brunch

Since I accrue a generous 1.75 days of vacation a month, I was “forced” to take a day off before the end of March, which also happens to be the end of the fiscal year. My boss sort of just decided that I’d take it on Wednesday, which was perfect since Sean also didn’t have work that day. So we made brunch, using up all the produce we had lying around:

Sean usually lets me do my thing in the kitchen, but that morning he joined me and it was fun.

Chives & eggs (韭菜炒蛋):

Basically an omelet using the fragrant/pungent Chinese chive. Normally a dish served with rice, we decided this could also be a breakfast food.

Blueberry-banana-pear smoothie:

Smoothies are Sean’s specialty. He’s been drinking them almost daily, even in the dead of winter, ever since we bought a blender back in 2009. It’s simple, refreshing, and, as he likes to say, a quick and delicious way to get in multiple servings of fruit. Our 99rmb blender has withstood the abuse pretty well.

Home fries:

We don’t eat potatoes as much as we’d like, because it’s a bit of a pain to cook (wash-peel-cut-boil-fry), but we lurve our homefries! We didn’t have onions so we threw in a bit of extra chives for flavour. We also accidentally left the potatoes in the pot too long so they got mushy, but the two of us still gobbled up all six potatoes.

Chives and eggs

A handful of Chinese chives (I don’t weigh my food, sorry. A good measure would be as much as you can wrap your fingers around with leaves extended)
4 eggs
1/2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt

We used a variation of this Chinese recipe.

1. Wash chives thoroughly, removing any bits that are brown or yellow. Chop into 5cm lengths.
2. Heat oil in pan, throw in chives and add cornstarch. Fry for about a minute.
3. Beat eggs and milk in bowl.
4. Arrange chives in pan into a thin flat layer. Pour eggs evenly into pan, add salt, and let cook for about a minute.
5. When bottom of egg begins to solidify, flip the mixture (cut it into 3 pieces with spatula first if need be), pressing lightly on egg to force water out.
6. Continue flipping until both sides are cooked and water has evaporated.

Fruit Smoothie

1 cup milk
2 ripe bananas, peeled and broken into quarters
1 pear, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces
A handful of blueberries (or strawberries), washed

1/2 cup sweetened yogurt (optional)
Ice cubes (optional)
Honey (optional, if fruit isn’t ripe/sweet)

1. Put fruit and milk (and optional ingredients) in blender.
2. Blend for one minute (longer if you use ice), or until smooth.
3. Drink immediately. (You won’t be able to resist anyway!)
4. Adjust proportions to your preference.

Makes 2 large glasses.

You can pretty much use whatever fruit you like in addition to bananas. We prefer berries, (Asian) pears, peaches, and mangoes, whenever they are in season. (We’ve noticed that a lot of fruits only appear in fruit stores at certain times of the year. Thankfully bananas seem to always be in season!)

Home fries

4-6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion (or green onion or chives), peeled and cut
1 green pepper, peeled and cut
Olive oil
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp other spices (paprika/chili flakes/basil/dill/cumin/etc.)

2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

1. Boil a few cups of water in large pot. Add potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, depending on size of potato pieces.
2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in pan, put onion in and fry for 2 minutes.
3. Add green pepper and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4. When potatoes are almost cooked (before they turn mushy!), turn off heat and drain. Throw them back in pot and add salt, pepper, spices, 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss until evenly coated.
5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan, add potatoes. Move them around every 30 seconds until sides are browned. (If not using non-stick pan, flip them more frequently so they don’t burn!) Add more oil if necessary.
6. When potatoes are sufficiently browned, pour onion and pepper mixture back into pan. Remove from heat when potatoes are fully cooked.
7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with ketchup.


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