Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vegetarian Lotus Soup

I got this soup recipe from The Star newspaper a couple of months ago. Haven't had time to make this soup but since it's so easy, I thought I'd share this with all of you. Maybe you can try it and see how it goes!

I've always enjoyed vegetarian soups at Buddhist temples. There's one near my home and the soups are often clear and sweet!

Vegetarian Lotus Soup

1 whole lotus root or 200gm, washed, peeled and sliced thick
1 cup peanuts, soaked and rinsed
5 red dates, seeded
2-3 honey dates
50gm vegetarian chicken
1.5 liters of water
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pott and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add salt after 2 hours of simmering and serve hot.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Immortality Herb or Jiagulan, Southern Ginseng

I was at my favourite TCM shop (Veng Tatt Soon @ Campbell Street, Penang) two days ago to pick up some bee pollen for myself when I saw this packet of tea called Gynostemma pentaphyllum. Nic and I were looking to buy some nice Chinese tea, maybe Ti Kuan Yin, as our tea supply was running low and we were sick and tired of our regular brand.

The shop assistant told us that this Gynostemma tea (it looks like tea) is good for health. I like the honesty of the owners and shop people at Veng Tatt Soon (they also have a branch at Jalan Paya Terubong, Air Itam but I usually frequent this corner shop at Campbell Street) and I decided, sure, why not try it? At RM10 for 70gm, it wasn't very expensive.

Of course, I am often curious and when I got back, I did an internet search on what this gynostemma herb is about. What a surprise to find out that this herb is actually very beneficial for health - particularly for stress, cholesterol, blood pressure, immunity, antioxidant properties, the list just goes on and on. It is also called the immortality herb as regular consumption of this tea/herb gives you long life. In Japanese, it is called Amachazuru.

Other common names of this herb include

  • 5-leaf ginseng
  • poor-man's ginseng
  • southern ginseng
  • miracle grass
  • fairy herb
  • gospel herb

It comes from the cucumber or gourd family. You can see how this plant looks like at

Research has confirmed that this plant or herb can help with your cholesterol levels, and is effective in maintaining cholesterol levels. It was first found by a Japanese researcher who wanted to find an alternative sweetener. What he found was Jiagulan which showed properties akin to ginseng (contains saponins like ginseng) but was not ginseng.

It is also useful for weight loss but in the undernourished, it helps with nutrient absorption, hence it is much prized as an adaptogen. It also helps by calming the brain and nervous system; that's why it is a herb good for stress prevention and alleviation.

Basically jiagulan is a herb that's good for overall health maintenance.

Find out more about this amazing poor man's ginseng at

How to drink Jiagulan

We prepared the jiagulan tea normally in a teapot with boiling water. Steep for 3 minutes and enjoy. The taste is very much like ginseng, yet with a fragrance of its own. It goes smooth on the palate and leaves a tingling peppermint like aftertaste which isn't really unpleasant. It does take some getting used to, though. Me, I like the fact that it helps me with stress as the kind of website development we do is sometimes quite stressful!

If you find it in your supermarket, go on, give it a try. It might just be the kind of tea you need!