Why did I just find this “Caspian sea” yogurt!?

This amazing “Caspian sea” yogurt has been sitting in supermarkets for years. I have seen it but never ever picked it up. And now I feel guilty. Only until a couple of days ago I ran out of yogurt and somehow decided to buy this home. The next morning the Aha moment happened to me when I dipped a spoon in the tub and lifted it. The waterfall of rich and creamy yogurt stretched from my spoon into the bowl. Never seen anything like it. Not as concentrated as the greek yogurt, but very stretchy and creamy like glue. (okay that is just to give you a mental picture)

There are 2 brands of caspian sea yogurt I spotted and tried recently:

1. Glico’s non-fat caspian sea yogurt (left)

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This “Caspian sea” yogurt is so dense, so creamy, so soft, and yet so low in calories! Per 100 grams, it contains only 40 kcal with 0 g. of fat. Unlike other “non-fat” yogurt, it doesn’t contain sugar either! WIth equal proportion of carbs and protein (about 5 g. each) it is actually an ideal yogurt to support the morning routine. Again, normal non-fat yogurt needs a lot of added sugar to compensate for the lack of fat, hence making it high in carbs and is unnaturally sweet – almost to the point of too sweet for some of the brands. This added sugar also liquefies the yogurt, making the texture very watery. When poured out of the tub, you can observe water coming out first.

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2. Fujikko’s Mochiri (right)

This is smaller in size and has some sugar added. One serving is about 100 kcal, 10 g. carbs, 5.5 g. of protein, and 4.5 g. of fat. This is SUPER DENSE AND CREAMY AND CONCENTRATED. YOU NEED TO TRY THIS. Period. No more I could say. It’s so good and satisfying. If you’re hungry in the middle of the day or have a late night working day. Go to any convenience store and grab this little magic in your hand. Your tongue and stomach will love you for doing so. It has 1/3 calories of normal cream cheese, and is suggested as the alternative thereof to spread on a baguette. As dense as greek yogurt, but the texture in your mouth would be different.

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If you spot these fancy blue tubs of yogurt in any supermarket, just be brave and give them a try!! I think they will be really good for baking as well! Indulge people!

A little bit more about Caspian sea yogurt itself, you can read more here: What is Caspian sea yogurt?

A short excerpt from that website: 

Caspian Sea Yogurt is different from regular yogurt in its viscous texture and mellow taste. The viscous component EPS is produced by Cremoris FC. which is found to have many health benefits:

  • Improve of constipation
  • Prevention of declining skin condition by stress and other skin disorder, like Atopy
  • Increase the activity of cells related immune system in the body and prevent from disease
  • Suppression of cholesterol and its absorption

Dr.Yamori, Honnor professor of Kyoto University investigated the foods consumed in the Cocassas region, the birthplace of this Caspian sea yogurt. Among several yogurts, he found that Caspian sea yogurt might be the long kept secret of the people’s long longevity.

Innovative containers: Morinaga VS Meiji: 新鮮な「しまるボトル」森永 VS 明治

Recently, Japan has been really innovative about how containers look like. In part, I think they stimulate interest in consumers, making them pick up the product and hence increase the possibility of the first trial. It’s really refreshing to see this kind of innovation starting to pick up the pace in Japan. While flavors and contents of drinks are always changing depending on the seasons, their containers have remained the same for the past years. Only recently that Morinaga has started the trend.

First and most exciting innovation would be PREMiL! New concept of milk targeting those in their 40s-60s. There are 2 types of product options: one with fortified calcium and protein but still creamy (in blue color) AND one with added fiber and BB536 bacteria (purple color).

Now..look at their packaging! People thought these are yogurt drink at first…because the color and shape is similar to the existing package of some yogurt brands. When they picked the product up, read about it, the surprise factor came in when they realized it’s actually milk! The idea is that it would be easy to open, to pour (so the milk won’t spill if you squeeze the bottle too hard), and to keep. Some complain that it might be difficult when you need to cut the bottle for recycle purpose. Read more here: PREMiL

And then…Meiji followed suit with this bottle series…called “Shimaru bottle”. Shimaru is to close something – in this case the bottle.
Recently launched in combini are 2 variations of dairy drink: super creamy latte and matcha latte. Claiming that the cap allows you to keep the milk from spilling and to keep it for later consumption in case you don’t finish the whole thing. (the term “re-cap” is used in Japanese) Most products in the market are in the form of tetra box, so once you open you can’t really keep it long. Read more here: Shimaru bottle
Here is how the “Shiro no hito toki” (creamy latte) and matcha latte look like:
明治白のひととき 430ml辻利 かほり抹茶ラテ 430ml

They look pretty similar, no? What do you think? Do these new shape of bottle makes you wanna buy more?

Eat these to stay young! Anti-aging food you can eat everyday!

Anybody out there worrying about getting wrinkles? I know we girls are anxious about getting older and aging and all that stuff. Behold! There is no more to be worried about. I’m going to introduce food in each category that contains the highest ORAC value. The higher the value, the higher anti-aging power the food has. (ORAC = oxygen radical absorbance capacity)

Let’s remember some of these food in the below list and incorporate them into our everyday food! (I skip some in the list. Just the ones you could buy in the supermarket here…)

Here are some examples!
– Choose spinach salad (baby spinach) and include some pecan nuts or walnuts, slices of apple or avocado.
– On top of your yogurt, remember to include some blueberries/raspberries and sprinkle with cinnamon.
– When making your curry, choose beanssss instead of meat for a good change, include variety of spices and some awesome veggies in the below list.

Veggies you can find here in Japan (in order fro highest): raw spinach, grilled potato, raw broccoli, raw purple onion

Fruits

Acai (25 grams) = 25675 >> This explains the boom in “Acai bowl” in Japan during these recent years
Blueberry (1 cup) = 9700 >> don’t forget this amazing berry when eating your yogurt!
Raspberry (1 cup) = 6000
Fuji apple (1 apple) = 4700
Plum (1 plum) = 4100
Banana = 1000
Avocado = 700

Drinks

Blueberry juice (1/2 cup) = 3600
Red wine (Cabernet ½ glass) = 7400 >> We still have to give it to red wine
Red wine (table ½ glass) =5700
Green tea (1 glass) = 3000
Orange juice (1/2 cup) = 900
Apple juice (1/2 cup) = 500
Water with lemon juice = 400 >> an easy way to jump start your day with a few squeezes of lemon!
White wine (1/2 glass) = 600 >> Compare this to the red!

Beans

Black beans (1/2 cup) = 7800 >> It also is a resistant starch which – in simple words – is good for weight loss and diet
Lentil beans = 7500 >> my FAVOURITE beans! So high in protein and good for your body ><
Soy bean = 5400
Edamame (3/4 cup) = 5400 >> Good for snacks
Chickpeas (1 cup) = 1700 >> also very good for snacks but watch the calories (and carbs)

Nuts

Pecan nuts (4 nuts) = 2500 >> not used so often in Japan, but you can find it in cooking/baking section
Walnuts (3.5) = 1900 >> awesome crunch! but watch the calories
Hazelnuts (8) = 1000
Almonds (10) = 500 >> it may lose a little bit when compared to their nuts friends above
Peanuts (15) = 500

Chocolate: Dark chocolate (28 grams) = 5900 >> A serving a day could save you!

Spice >> This category has exceptionally high anti-aging effect!

Cinnamon (1 teaspoon) = 7000 >> sprinkle this on my yogurt every morning! 
Clove (powdered 1 tsp) = 6600
Oregano (dried 1 tsp) = 3600
Turmeric (1 tsp) = 3500
Curry powder (1 tsp) = 1000 >> I put so much of this in my stir-fry as well as tomato stew
Ginger (1 tsp) = 500

PS: my mom was happy to know this…No need to use too much anti-aging cream. You can just start from within!

“Coke Life” : the Latest product from Coca-Cola boasts stevia as a health hero : 「コークライフ」

“Coke Life” : the Latest product from Coca-Cola boasts stevia as a health hero : 「コークライフ」

You are going to spot this soon in Japan too!(if not already) Look out for the green label with familiar font written “Coca-Cola Life”
One bottle has 89 calories less than 140 kcal in normal version. However, it still contains more than 4 tablespoons of REAL sugar.
Why launched this? As more research attacked diet coke and coke zero (actually anything soda with the name “zero”) that it may contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss and “artificial” sweeteners are not warmly welcomed either (they are charged with the same penalty)…Coca-cola turned to the only sweetener that is exempted from health critiques – STEVIA!! Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from plant, thus, it is “natural”.

I don’t think the flavor would be that different. In the end, you’ll be drinking Coke. You’re just gonna buy it with less guilt! (well, supposedly so…)

Diet survival tips: Thai food!! : 【タイレストラン版】ダイエット中のフードガイド

Maybe some of you would think that Thai food is always safe when it comes to diet (or safer than Chinese at least). As a Thai, I would really urge you to think again. Each restaurant makes food differently and calories might vary from one to another. However, as the standard way of making some basic menus is quite the same, I wanna share here about the calories behind the most popular Thai dishes in Japan. And you be the judge!

1. Kapao Kai (minced chicken and basil stir-fried with fried-egg) 鶏肉のバジル炒めご飯

I can’t deny: this dish is the most popular, flavorful, and quickest that you can order. Especially, if you go to the place where they make fried-egg in Thai style for you, it will even harder to resist. (Thai style fried-egg is VERY crispy around the edge as the egg is drop into a wok full of lots of oil, as pictured above) The amount of rice might vary but would definitely be more than the average amount we eat in Thailand. Thus, this would add up to the calories unfortunately. Normally, Kapao dish would range between 550 – 630 kcal, but might go up to 750 if you order Oomori in Japan! However, if you look at the components of the dish, it gives you pretty good amount of protein!

How to go about Kapao if you’re on a diet?
1) Use tissue paper to absorb all the oil left on the fried-egg. You’ll wanna pat it dry! If possible, also pat dry the oil around the plate left from the stir-fry
2) Ask for small amount of rice (少な目にする)or ask for a separate dish, then HALF (or more) your rice. What is left on your plate would be what you’ll eat.
3) If cucumber is provided, you can try ask for more. If soup is in the set, drink the soup first so you’ll be full easier; help stop yourself from eating unnecessary calories that could be left behind.

2. Pad-thai (stir-fried noodles with egg/tofu) タイ風やきそば(パッタイ)

Another popular dish that is served in almost all Thai restaurants here. And as Japanese love for noodles is second to none, they usually add more amount of noodles in this Pad-thai dish than is usually served in Thailand. It ranges from 545-600 kcal and can go up to more than that if more noodles. Why are the calories so high? Well, if done in the traditional way, we use a wok and fill it with lots of oil, then go a couple of eggs, tofu, noodles, bean sprout, dried shrimps, etc. and seasonings such as (quite a lot of) sugar, peanuts, a bit of chili, and so on. We usually have several kinds of veggies to eat on the side but those are rare in Japan so the plate usually come out pretty bare here. The way Pad-thai is made here might vary and some may not be as oily as others, but still, you should keep in mind that this menu is one of those with high calories.

How to go about Pad-thai if you’re on a diet?
Sadly, I would just say SKIP it or HALF and SHARE it with your friend. You can order some salad or soup as a side dish and have half of your Pad-thai. (some girls who’re on a diet do that in Thailand)

3. Green curry (chicken) 鶏肉のグリーンカレー

From being a basic menu in Thai cuisine, green curry has ascended into a more international rank: it’s served in most of the cafes in Japan and has so many kinds of variations. However, the authentic one would incorporate real coconut milk, chicken, eggplant, and lots of different herbs. It is generally a healthy menu! And I’d recommend your order this as one bowl of this would be about 240 kcal. Not too bad, right?

How to go about Green Curry if you’re on a diet?
1) Generally it is safe to order green curry. HOWEVER, be mindful of the amount of rice! Because in Japan, soup usually comes in smaller bowl than rice (it goes the opposite in Thailand), so HALF it before you eat. (And put a bit of fish sauce on the rice cuz it tastes sooooo gooddd!!! ><)
2) DON’T DRINK THE SOUP. When you’re done with the meat and veggies and rice, and there’s some soup left, you don’t need to drink all of that. Why? Because although coconut milk receives some halo that it’s good for your health, it is high in saturated fat so the right amount is the key. You might save yourself a hundred calories sans the soup!

4. Kao Man Kai (steamed chicken with oily rice) ゆで鶏のせ炊き込みご飯(カオマンガイ)

This healthy-looking dish needs your attention! The steamed chicken is, YES, healthy. BUT the rice is definitely not good for your diet plan as it is full of oil which gives it the amazing aroma and taste that goes so well with the chicken! One dish ranges from 596 kcal and up. This does not take various sauces into account. Generally, it CAN be a very healthy menu that you want to order. Just keep in mind that if there’s another variation of this, called fried-chicken with oily rice (Kao Man Kai Tod), just ditch it altogether.

How to go about Kao Man Kai if you’re on a diet?
1) Ask for normal white jasmine rice. HALF it if it’s too much. This saves you hundreds of calories so it is a MUST!
2) Ask for more cucumber. More veggies is always good for ya!
3) See if you can get okawari for the soup. Usually it is a special kind of soup that is only served with this menu. You should drink the soup first to start your meal. See if the soup is oily, if not you might ask for the second serving to replace the rice that is if you halved it.

There’re still a lot of menus here that you need to know so I’ll just make a short list of Dos and Donts:
Donts:
– Any kind of fried rice (oil is added to rice so the calories start at 550 kcal upward. Not a good choice. Half it/share it/or ask for smaller portion of rice)
– Dense desserts (such as the pumpkin in coconut syrup (185 kcal) or pumpkin San-ka-ya cake (288 kcal per square!) or dumpling in warm coconut milk (223 kcal)…Just don’t order desserts with coconut milk in it. period. Order something that’s served with ice and have clear soup. Don’t drink the syrup.)
– Anything with stir-fried noodles (usually heavy sugar and oil)
– Anything deep-fried (such as deep-fried spring rolls, shrimp cake/fish cake…though sound healthy, they are just NOT)
– Thai milk tea (the one with orange color. You’ll be drink pure sugar, baby lol)

Dos:
– Noodle dish with clear soup! (Ask to change the noodles to Harusame (the transparent and slim noodles), choose the menu with lots of protein like pork or meat, ask for more toppings if it’s free, ask them to EXCLUDE the crispy-fried garlic as it comes with oil)
– Tom Yum Kung (Yes, the most well-known menu of all time! It’s good for you as it includes so many herbs and chili that helps speed your metabolism. Also the veggies and seafood is diet-friendly. Just be sure NOT to order it with RAMEN. Just have it with jasmine rice. Perfect!)
– FRESH spring rolls (See if the shop puts too much noodles and rice paper or not; try to choose spring rolls with just veggies inside and watch the dipping sauce!)
– Tropical fruits! (just cuz they’re awesome!)

Now enjoy the spice and keep your diet on track!

Chitosan: how it really works as diet pills? : 「キトサン」って本当にやせる効果があるの?

This post is for those of you who have tried out several diet pills that are highly popular in Japan. Many foreigners visit chain drug stores and buy loads of different diet pills back home. I would say I had my own experience as well until recently I started to get curious of how these pills are different from each other and do they really work?? One day I visited a Matsumoto Kiyoshi store in Harajuku and was examining this particular diet product called “After Diet” (アフターダイエット)that claims to work when you take it AFTER meal. (Normal pills require you to take BEFORE meal). (Picture below) And the counter guy told me that “actually there is a more effective product if you’re looking for this particular ingredient.” He referred to Chitosan. What he suggested me instead is another popular product in Japan from a brand called Livita; it’s called Chitosan Aojiru (キトサン青汁), looking like green powder that you use to mix in water. (second picture below)

What I learned from talking to this guy is that the “Livita” product could guarantee more results. From the picture, you can see the circle logo with a stick-man inside. That is called “Tokuho” logo, which is given to products that are guaranteed to be effective and safe for general consumption. Anyway, that all brought my attention to what Chitosan really is and why is it used so much in different diet pills.

 So what is Chitosan?

From WedMD: Chitosan is a sugar that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp. It is used to treat obesity, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, “tired blood” (anemia), loss of strength and appetite, and trouble sleeping (insomnia).

From Wikipedia: Chitosan is widely marketed as diet pills as a “fat binder” which is supposed to limit fat absorption in the body. In an experimental model of the digestive tract, chitosan was shown to interact with oil, which inhibited absorption and enhanced lipid excretion, but the interaction between chitosan and fat is still not well understood. It is also under research for several potential dietary applications. One of them being as a soluble dietary fiber, causing the movement in your digestive tract to slow down, hence slowing down your sense of hunger. It is relatively INSOLUBLE in water, but can be dissolved in acids, which would make it a highly-sticky dietary fiber to say in plain word. Such fibers might inhibit the uptake of fat by increasing the thickness of inner layer of the intestines (observed in animals).

Well, this is the origin of why chitosan is being advertised as capable to “slow down the absorption of fat” (脂肪の吸収を抑える). You can actually see this claim everywhere now. Go to combini and you will see so many brands of tea with the “Tokuho” logo, claiming that the tea could slow down the fat absorption and should be drunk together or after an oily meal. Another type would be the “body metabolism enhancer” (脂肪を燃やす) type, which I’m not gonna talk about today.

Basically, chitosan acts as a very cool type of fiber that interferes with the fat absorbing process after you eat. That is pretty much all there is to the claim in terms of weight loss and diet pills. Of course, it has many other useful applications in other fields.

Some considerations to think about when taking chitosan:

1. Fiber is good for you and can help with your constipation problem. But taking too much fiber can also be the CAUSE of it. Too much is never good.
2. If you have allergy to seafood like crab or shrimp, then you shouldn’t really risk.

Notes:

– You can’t really obtain chitosan even though you eat seafood. That is because chitosan is extracted from the shells and not the flesh that you eat.
– The claim that chitosan would attach itself to a fat particle, wrap itself around it, and together would be excreted from the body has not been sufficiently supported by evidence. It could do that in WATER, but not in acidic environment, which is basically that of your intestinal tract.

As is the case with other ingredients, diet pills make chitosan sound amazing and give us high expectation that it would really work. However, I think the best way is to incorporate it with a healthy lifestyle; not relying solely on the effect of pills that is going to vary depending on each person’s condition. Train yourself to choose good food is always better than indulging in oily food then taking 3-4 pills hoping that that would be all it takes to stop the fat from entering your body.

Source:
http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/252955/2/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitosan
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-625-CHITOSAN.aspx?activeIngredientId=625&activeIngredientName=CHITOSAN

Lawson’s new “Uchi Cafe” product: Granola Acai Cheese Bar! : ローソンの新発売「グラノーラ アサイーチーズバー」

On the news just this morning is this new cheese bar by Lawson launched on April 22. Targeting mainly ladies who want to grab quick delicious breakfast with a bit of health concern in the morning, this granola acai cheese bar seems to be the easy choice (the package suggests it as suitable for morning treat). It consists of 2 layers: first is the cheese layer which incorporates acai juice (including cream cheese, acai, casis, and yogurt); the second layer is the granola topping (including wheat flakes, oatmeal, quinoa puff, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries). With the two layers in one bite, I don’t think the flavor could go wrong! One bar is 157 kcal, sold at 180 yen.

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I think Lawson is trying to raise up as many “health keywords” as possible in order to market this product. The keywords to be aware here are “acai”, “granola”, “quinoa”, “oatmeal”, and other fruits… This cheese bar also claims to have fiber and vitamin, making it a clear choice of sweets for girls who want to enjoy without so much guilt.

Personally speaking, sweet is still sweet. It is NOT equal to a bowl of oatmeal topped with yogurt and berries. It is not a bad or fake product, but is clearly riding on the health trend. Before making it a routine morning grab-and-go, make sure you read the label and check out the SUGAR content and fat content in it. Well, cream cheese plus sugar is cheese cake in a disintegrated form, isn’t it? And acai and casis are in the form of “juice”, which is another term for “sugar”, so girls…just be careful not to pair it with some high sugary drink!