What’s intheBOX? – April

With all the hoo-hah about bloggers and ethics lately, I thought it would be apt to start off with a disclaimer. (Well if you haven’t already, you could check out my blogging principles so you know where I stand on this issue!)

Disclaimer: The BOX was kindly sponsored by intheBOX, however, as with all my reviews, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!

Perhaps we never outgrow our childhood selves. I was like a little girl all over again, excitedly guessing the contents of this mysterious parcel delivered by a Ninja van. Yes, you read that right, a real Ninja van dropped this off at my house. (There’s actually a delivery company called Ninja Van)


IntheBOX is a Singapore-based subscription box service, which operates on a quarterly basis. Each quarter, a box will be delivered to your doorstep by the folks from Ninja Van. Each box contains a carefully curated selection of trial sized, high quality, natural, healthy and eco-conscious products. The intheBOX team chooses the products carefully for their good ingredients, integrity, effectiveness and eco-friendliness — its a simple equation really: good values + good company = good product!

Each quarter’s box is a limited edition since many of the products are not available in mainstream shops. Don’t you feel honoured to be part of this exclusive community?

Here’s what the folks behind intheBOX have to say:

“We advocate a more considered lifestyle, thinking before we buy, how our personal and professional actions are impacting those around us, and how they impact our future generations.”

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As much as I would like to start off on a high note, I must admit, the box was rather underwhelming. There wasn’t even a logo on the top, and it really just looked like what you see in the photo.. a plain cardboard box.

But, we must never judge a book by its cover. 

So let’s jump right in to my favourite part! The unboxing 😀

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Like it’s very… how should I put this.. “minimalist” or non-existent rather, box design, the first thing you’ll see is a very simple greeting card atop dark green lining paper.

In line with their eco-conciousness, their card is made of recyclable paper as well! If I’m not wrong, their box is recyclable as well. Kudos to them for that!

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Beneath the green veil lies an amazing selection of health and wellness products. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer variety that the box contained! I was definitely impressed at this moment, despite my initial disappointment by the packaging. It would be nice if they could include a motivational quote or a quote about health/wellness/eco-friendliness on the interior/exterior of the box to make it less drab though.

Let’s take a closer look at the products!

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There’s a good mix of both health foods and beauty&wellness products, so all your needs will be catered for! I think this is a great way for us to get exposed to new brands and to decide if we want to use them in the future.

But wait, they don’t just have products, they’ve even got vouchers for you too!

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Considering the value of the products in the box, in addition to the vouchers provided, intheBOX is definitely value-for-money.


Castile Soap

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Olive oil soap? I never even knew that was a thing! But I’m excited to try this. I’ve heard that Castile soaps are the mildest soaps around and are suitable for extremely sensitive skin like baby skin! SoTrue naturals was started by a mother who was searching for a soap that her babies could use for their sensitive skin… so you know you can trust this company, after all, mother knows best!

Frangipani Body Polish

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I found the idea of body polish quite funny to be honest. When someone mentions “polish”, I immediately think of shoes. But turns out its kind of like cream, and is used to achieve smooth skin. With the added benefit of being free from harmful chemicals and preservatives? I’m in! Say hello to nicer skin 😀

Aveda Style Prep

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Yet another all natural product to boast about. Aveda uses organic baobab and babassu oil and macadamia nut to help seal, soften and moisturise your hair, and helps to maintain your curly tresses through Guar bean and plant-derived cellulose. Even the scent is created using certified organic lime, lemon, bergamot, orange and many other pure plants and flower essences. I’m impressed.

We’re always told to avoid long ingredient lists, but this list seems to be long for all the right reasons!

Kalahari Melon Body Lotion

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More love for my skin Africa Organics are 100% natural and are certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. I’m so glad that there are more and more companies who are taking ethics into consideration and not just on a blind hunt for profits. These are the companies that we should support! It’s good for us, and good for the earth too 🙂

Blackmores Echinicea ACE + ZINC

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I’ve heard of Blackmores before. They are one of Australia’s leading natural health brands. I wasn’t expecting a full-sized bottle of their Echinacea tablets (YAY immunity boosters!) though. Way to go, intheBOX, for exceeding expectations. I just keep getting more and more impressed.


Mekhala Vegetarian Pad Thai

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I love pad thai! It’s probably one of my favourite Thai dishes after the Steamed Chilli Lime Fish and Tom Yam Soup!

The thoughtful team even attached a recipe at the back of the packet. I can’t wait to try this out over summer 😛

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Honey Spree Teas:

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There were also three tea bags included in the box, each with a different purpose. The green tea bag was to ease constipation, the purple tea bag was for rest and relaxation, and…

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…the red tea bag (my absolute favourite) was for menopause. Hahaha, I gave it to my not-so-pleased mother as a joke.

The Hunter’s Kitchenette: Cashew Nut Butter

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I’m a huge fan of nut butters, from peanut butter to almond butter and even cashew butter. Each are unique in their own way, and I’m looking forward to trying Hunter’s Cashew Nut Butter to see how it fairs compared to Meridien’s nut butters.

Hunter’s Kitchenette is started by the Salim Family who live strongly by the adage that “if you can’t recognise an ingredient, your body can’t either.” They are passionate about making good food choices and stick by their beliefs. Rather than buying off-the-shelf spreads that are highly processed and loaded with sugar and vegetable oils, Herbert makes his own.

I’m definitely excited about this one… I just wish it came in a bigger bottle though, or perhaps several nut butter variations in this sampler size.

Island of Coconuts: Coconut Oil

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I’ve saved the best for last! I’ve always wanted to get myself a jar of coconut oil, but somehow never got round to it. Imagine my sheer joy when I saw this in the BOX!

Island of Coconuts produces virgin organic coconut oil to retain all the goodness and nutrients of coconut oil. If you don’t already know, coconut oil is good for you both inside and out. It makes everything taste pretty darn delicious, and you can use it to moisturise your hair and even on your skin and lips. It’s heart-healthy and can be used as a substitute for butter. Perhaps my favourite thing about coconut oil is that it smells like heaven.

My mouth is watering just thinking of the recipes that I can make with this! I’m thinking along the lines of coconut banana pancakes and waffles… yummier.

Despite my initial reservations because of the rather boring packaging, I must say that intheBOX did a really great job with this quarter’s box. I was very impressed by the variety and quality of the products, and it really shows how the team carefully chooses each product.

I definitely recommend intheBOX to everyone!

Note: The box in the review is the Signature Box,  but I’ve heard that they have a Fitness Box as well, so some of you fitness junkies may want to check it out here: http://inthebox.sg/the-box/

Well, nobody’s perfect. As with all good things, there are bound to be some not so good aspects. So I thought I would make a few suggestions to intheBOX for their future boxes.

1) The design of the box needs to be more catchy! Even if you’re going for a minimalist approach, there should be your brand logo on the box at the very least so your subscribers can easily identify your brand. (Woohoo increased brand recognition!)

2) It would help if you could attach a little description on all of the product samples so we know what we’re getting. Some of the products do have that now, but it would be better if we had more background about the product and its company rather than having to do our own research. (The less a customer has to do, the happier they’ll be)

3) You may want to work on the standards of delivery with the folks at Ninja Van, cause my box was delivered upside down. Considering that nothing was broken, that’s fine by me. But there were a few glass bottles inside, so perhaps for the sake of your future customers, you could put your logo on the top end of the BOX so that they can easily recognise which is the top/bottom?

But on the whole, fantastic job!

Thank you intheBOX for the opportunity to review your BOX 🙂

Project Acai: It’s pronounced ah-sigh-ee

WordPress has failed me 😦 I typed out a nice lengthy post on this on Friday, and it disappeared T.T

Anyway, here’s a redone post, so hope you enjoy!

Have you heard of the Acai Berry? It’s pronounced ah-sigh-ee not ah-kai-ee, like most of us would pronounce.

Project Acai is the new kid on the block in Holland Village, and is located in an unassuming corner next to Subway.

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I love the colour of the shop front, I mean, what’s not to love about turquoise and lilac right? The font is pretty funky as well.

When you first enter, the shop has a very clean, minimalist feel to it. Much like the menu!

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Currently, they are only selling Acai Bowls (Small, Medium and Large) and Smoothies. I think this is good for now, as they are a new business, so shouldn’t try to have a menu with a repertoire that is too wide. But in the long run, I think it would be good to have a wider menu with unique dishes that incorporate the Acai Berry into it! I’m thinking Acai Berry French Toast 😛 Wonder if that actually exists!

I got an Acai Bowl (Medium) which costs $9.30 to try 🙂

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Let’s start with presentation. I loved how the staff painstakingly took the effort to arrange the meticulously sliced fruits in a pretty design. I was the only customer though, and it took them quite a while to serve my order. I wonder what would happen if the cafe was filled.

Nonetheless, I appreciate the nice presentation, and I wouldn’t mind waiting for it!

photo 2-16It came adorned with sliced bananas, desiccated coconut, blueberries, a lone grape (yes, just one), sliced strawberries (or perhaps it was just one), sprinklings of chia seeds and cacao nibs and goji berries, and topped with diced mango, dragon fruit and pineapple as well! Hidden beneath all that is a layer of crunchy granola atop the acai smoothie.

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The counter top is like Subway or those yogurt shops where you can choose your toppings, just that in this case you can’t choose your toppings. I loved how they used fresh fruits as their display ornaments all over the counter (See the whole row of unripe banana bunches!)

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Acai doesn’t have a very strong taste to it. It tastes like a cross between grapes and berries. But since the flavour is far more muted, it leaves me with a feeling as if I still can’t quite put my finger on the exact taste.

The texture of the smoothie was nice, it was icy, and thick enough to scoop up with a spoon, but too thick to slurp up through a straw!

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What won me over was the texture combinations. I loved the icyness of the smoothie, the softness from the sweet fruits, the crunch from the desiccated coconut, cacao nibs chia seeds and the sweet crunchy granola… the bursts of flavour from the blueberries. It all worked very well.

Even in terms of flavours, there was so much going on! The bitterness from the cacao nibs, the coconutty taste, the sweetness of the mango, and the sour tang from the pineapple. I liked it. I think there’s even Bee Pollen on it, but I couldn’t really taste it.

But I must say though, it definitely tasted healthy. If you’re looking for decadence, this isn’t it. This leaves you feeling very virtuous about yourself, especially with its very clean aftertaste. It’s a good option for a healthy dessert.

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They even sell Acai Berries for you to blend at home, if you’re the kind who likes to “eat clean, train mean”. They come in a pack of 4 popsicles, which you can eat as it is or blend up in a smoothie with some water (I wonder if coconut water would work well) and fruits and pretty much any topping you like.

A pack goes for $12, and two packs go for $20. They even sell Acai Powder as well.

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This place will definitely be a favourite for gym-junkies and the health-concious… not to mention the instagram community, since their acai bowls are so very instagram worthy (And that’s all that matters nowadays right? Haha)

That being said, the acai bowls are definitely pricey. I couldn’t afford to eat this on a  regular basis. I’ll probably come here for an occasional treat, but spending more that what I would spend on a meal on dessert alone wouldn’t really make sense. I’ll probably stick to good ol’ fruits in the meantime. 

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Perhaps they could offer some loyalty cards (I’m sure the gym-junkies would love that) and even student discounts (YES). All in all, I think this is a nice place that has potential to succeed, especially with the growing health&fitness community. Costwise, maybe I’m a student, so it hits me harder than most, but I’m pretty sure >$9 for a dessert is not something you would have on a regular basis.

If you have a friend (hahahaha, this is pretty redundant, everyone has friends… I hope) that is willing to share with you, it’s more economical to buy a large which comes at almost twice the size of the medium, but is about 1.5 times the price 🙂

Rating: 7/10
(+1 for the super-healthy factor, -1 for the price — You calculate based on what matters more to you!)

Eating Healthy In College: On the Run!

My healthy college series is back again! I’ve covered eating healthy on a meal plan, and eating healthy on a budget… Now it’s time for eating healthy on the run! Here’s my post as seen on Project Made Real 🙂

Number 3 of my Eating Healthy in College series is something that would resonate with two kinds of people. The late-risers who are always rushing to class cause they woke up late, or the over-achievers who never have time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal cause their schedule is packed.

Okay, jokes aside, I’m sure many of us have struggled with eating well on the go, especially with fast food outlets sprouting up everywhere. Today, I’ll share with you seven tips, as I always do, on how to keep up with your health even as you rush between classes.

However, I don’t encourage eating on the go all the time. Try to set aside enough time to sit down and enjoy your meal rather than rushing from place to place. You’ll feel more satisfied and recharged as well 🙂

Eating Healthy On the Run

1) Snack Smart!


I’m infamous for having food with me all the time. I carry muesli/granola bars, crackers and trail mix with me pretty much all the time. These help to tide me over until the next meal, and ensures I’m not ravenous and ready to inhale anything in sight when I get to eat my meal.

It’s really easy to make your own trail mix, just combine dried fruits and nuts and voila! I like cranberries, raisins,  (dark chocolate coated) goji berries with walnuts, almonds and cashews. Feel free to mix anything you like, it’s your trail mix after all. Some people like adding M&Ms/bits of dark chocolate to satisfy their sweet tooth, while others like to throw in pretzels for more crunch.

Hardboiled eggs are an awesome snack too.

2) Drink your veggies!


It’s rather hard, not to mention unglamorous, to eat vegetables when you’re on the run. Even veggies in sandwiches tend to fall all over the place. My tip for you guys would be to drink your veggies instead. I like to drink Apple-Beetroot-Carrot Juice or Carrot-Green Apple or Carrot-Orange, or basically any flavour combination you like 🙂

3) Plan Ahead!


If you know you have a busy day ahead, why not pack a healthy lunch for yourself to eat on the run? A tuna and egg sandwich is a good choice. PBJ or PB-Banana sandwiches are keep well too! Enjoy your sandwiches with a fruitshake (fruit + milk + ice blended = fruitshake!) for a healthy and satisfying meal. Or perhaps drink some warming soup to go with your sandwich. Mmmm.

4) Healthy Takeouts!


Fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy. You could grab sushi on the run, a sub from Subway, a rice ball filled with ingredients (QQ Rice), wraps/sandwiches from any nearby shop. Add on a juice/fruitshake or a nice cup of soya milk perhaps and you’re good to go.

5) Start your day right!


Having a substantial breakfast in the morning helps me to get my day going, and ensures that I don’t end up starving before lunch. Starting your day with a balanced meals of eggs, beans and toast, or oatmeal or a sandwich and a hot drink is good to help you focus and to get in important nutrients early in the day.

If it’s going to be your only sit-down meal, make sure you eat a proper wholesome breakfast, and not just a bowl of cereal to fuel your day! When I say balanced/wholesome, I mean in terms of protein, carbs and fat… don’t eliminate one or the other, they are all good for you.

6) Opt for the nutrient-dense option!


Since you probably don’t have much time, you should aim to get more bang for your buck (or bite haha). Opt for nutrient-dense foods like avocados, nuts, milk and eggs. Protein helps to keep you full too, so your tummy won’t be growling and distracting you from your work.

7) Eat Regularly!


One thing people end up doing when they are short on time is to skip meals. On the contrary, you shouldn’t skip meals as you’ll end up hungrier and will eat more at the next meal, and may even opt for the unhealthier options cause you are simply starving.

Even if you’re on the go, keep up with your meals, and snack in-between to keep your blood sugar stable and your focus up 😀

As I always say, don’t go crazy on the food rules. Give yourself some room to enjoy yourself and eat what you like!

Well, there you have it! 7 simple ways to eat well even on the go 🙂

These tips are for those crazy days, but I still strongly recommend giving yourself a break during mealtimes, and actually taking the time to sit down and enjoy your meal. Even better? Ask some friends along, and energise yourself over lively banter. Don’t get too caught up in the fast-pace in college (or in life for that matter), it’s important to stop and smell the roses too!

HEALTHY IN A HURRY: Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Tuna Sandwich

As the editor for Project Made Real, it’s my ‘job’ to come up with healthy recipes that can help you guys in your quest for a healthier lifestyle by eating well and nourishing your bodies. I’ve been trying to share more healthy recipes, but I haven’t had much time to experiment with proper recipes (those that actually involve heat, you know, the oven/stovetop). Nonetheless, I still found some time to create a healthy meal for myself, so I thought I would give you all some ideas for those days when the thought of turning on the stove is far from appealing.

(As seen on Project Made Real’s website)

Eating healthily doesn’t always have to be expensive, you know. This simple, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink recipe uses ingredients that you will probably already have on hand!

Sometimes, all you want is an easy meal that can be thrown together without having to fuss around with pots and pans. Well, for me at least, speed is a very big thing, cause I’ve been really busy living on campus and have barely had time to try out new recipes 😦 In fact, cooking has been out of the question, especially since I have a catered meal plan. Can’t wait to play around in the college’s pantry once things have settled down.

Well, to sound more atas, I would call this a deconstructed tuna sandwich. But actually, it’s only deconstructed since there was so much tuna I couldn’t possibly fit it nicely into a sandwich. So an open-faced sandwich it was!

Here’s what you need: (Serves one)
1 125gram can of tuna chunks in water
Lemon juice
1 diced tomato
Some diced onions
Dash of Tabasco
Ketchup (to your liking)
Mustard (to your liking)
Pepper to season

All you have to do is mix everything together in a bowl, and serve it alongside with two slices of bread.

Personalise it:
I just added whatever ingredients I had on hand, but you could always switch things up by…
-Swapping the ketchup and mustard out for any condiment of your liking (mayonnaise works too if you’re a tuna mayo kind of person)
-Adding Greek yogurt and sliced grapes add an interesting twist to this otherwise savoury dish
-Replacing the tomato with diced bell peppers for more crunch
-Making two open faced sandwiches, and topping each with a slice of cheese before toasting it in the oven. Tuna melts anybody?
-If you’re going for mayo, trying adding in a hard-boiled egg, and a dash of white vinegar and you get the best of both worlds. (Egg mayo and tuna mayo)

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This recipe, like all my recipes, are super easy to make, and healthy too! Healthy eating on a budget is possible 🙂 I don’t give the exact measurements for the condiments/seasonings cause the fun lies in adding whatever amount you like to suit your tastebuds. The ingredients are just there as your base, you get to enjoy the process of designing your own masterpiece.

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Tuna is loaded with protein and healthy fats, and will keep you full for a longer time. Also, by adding in diced vegetables, you get a nice change in texture and all the benefits of the nutrition and fiber. Tasty and quick, you can’t ask for more ;P


RECIPE: Tropical Oatmeal Bars (Oil-free and Sugar-free)

I was never a fan of baked oatmeal aka boatmeal. I guess I never really liked the texture of baked oatmeal compared to the chewy creamy goodness of a hot bowl of oatmeal. But, ever since I’ve tried Weelicious Oatmeal-on-the-go Bars, I’ve never looked back. I’ve made her recipe so many times, since they make the perfect grab-and-go breakfast, and they even keep for up to 4 months in the freezer!

After dabbling around in the kitchen, and perfecting my own version of healthy oatmeal bars, I’ve finally come up with my own recipes — these healthy goodies you are about to be introduced to. This batch of oatmeal bars were my best creation yet, they even received a seal of approval from my dad!

These bars taste and look brilliant, if I may say so myself. The vibrant red goji berries add to the tropical vibe, while the sweetness of the mango transports you to a lovely summer day lazing by the beach.


Close your eyes. Oh wait don’t. If not you won’t be able to read this.

After you’ve made these, close your eyes when you taste them. You’ll experience something like this:
The tantalizing smell of cinnamon wafts across the living room. The bars are ready! You leap up and hurry to the oven, opening the oven door carefully to release the hot steam. Ahh, browned to perfection. Better take it out of the oven to cool. Yes, great, it’s cool, now slice it up quickly. Snap a few quick photos. No, no time for that. Let’s just dig in.

On first bite, you taste the sweetness of the dried mango the moment it makes contact with your tongue. Mmmm. Then the chewiness of the baked oatmeal gets to you. Just like a candy bar. The sweet goji berry is determined not to be forgotten, and the rich flavor bursts through the oatmeal like mini fireworks. Oh, it’s not over. The sweet mango is back again, complementing the goji berries this time. You smile. You’re back on the beach, one hand holding a freshly opened coconut as the cool sea breeze blows across your face. Ahh. Sheer bliss.


I rarely use flash, but it was late at night when I baked this, and the lighting was horrible. Not all was lost though, since the flash really helped to bring out the colour of the mangoes and goji berries. I mean, look at how those little gems are studded all over the oatmeal bars, they are like sunny jewels buried in the sand.


My favorite way to eat these are cold, right out of the fridge. That’s when they are chewy and cool, almost like a dessert. If you freeze them, be sure to take them out to thaw in the fridge 24 hours in advance so that you can taste the flavours.


Tropical Oatmeal Bars
Makes 18-24


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups milk (any kind of milk, not flavoured milk though) 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup goji berries 
  • 1/2-3/4 cup dried mangoes (chopped up)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp honey or agave (sweetener of choice)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius/375 F
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring the dried fruits in at the end
  3. Pour the oatmeal mixture into a 7×11 baking dish lined with baking paper (no mess!)
  4.  Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden.
  5.  Cool, cut into squares and serve.
  6. After the bars have been fully cooled, you can pack them into individual servings in small ziploc bags to pack in the freezer. About 3 bars in each bag. These will keep for up to 4 months!
    Before consuming them, allow to defrost in fridge for 24 hours.
  7. Refrigerating the bars will make them last up to 5 days.

Switch things up!

  • Sub the dried fruits with any other dried fruits of your choice
  • Add a mashed banana in for added sweetness and moisture
  • Throw in an additional 1/2 cup – 1 cup of some nuts, seeds, dessicated coconut, chocolate chips… anything you like really!
  • Add some peanut powder or black sesame powder to make it even more flavorful
  • More honey or agave can be added to suit your tastes

These bars are so healthy (Oil-free, butter-free, sugar-free and can be lactose-free and gluten-free if you make the necessary substitutions) there is no reason not to make them. They are ideal for lunchboxes too. Pack a couple of these with some veggies sticks + hummus and some fruit and you’ve got a good lunchbox for your fussy eater. Even a glass of milk with these would make a nutrition packed breakfast to kickstart your day!

Hope you liked this recipe 🙂

The Living Cafe: RAW-some dessert

I’ve passed this simple, sleek cafe nestled in the corner of 5th/6th avenue countless times, but never stopped by to try it. On the last day of my A levels, I headed down with my classmate to celebrate! After much deliberation, we finally settle on a Raw Lemon Tart and a Raw Chocolate Tart.

Raw Lemon Tart ($8.50)


The lemon tart was actually pretty yummy. The tart base was rather chewy, possibly due to the use of dates. There was coconut, pistachios and cranberries added to it as well, all of which added a nice variety of textures. Not much crunch, but a whole lot of chewiness. The lemon curd itself was smooth and tart.

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They sprinkled the top of the tart with more cranberries and pistachios too, probably just to add colour since the pistachios were rather soggy, and the cranberries became hard after being exposed for too long. All in all, this was not bad for a raw dessert!

Raw Chocolate Tart ($8.50)


This didn’t fare very well, compared to the Raw Lemon Tart. The base was very crumbly, and could barely hold itself together…it resembled sawdust! I think it was made of shredded coconut. As for the filling, it was very rich, and intense. However, it was let down by the grittiness and overpowering sweetness which made us sick of it after a few bites. Skip this dessert, and go for the Lemon Tart instead.



I must have had rather high expectations of this eatery, since I felt rather let down by the tarts that I tried. I always imagined it to be really yummy, given the rave reviews by the healthy foodies around. Maybe their tastebuds have been accustomed to the sweetness of stevia or the usage of dates, coconut and cacao in their desserts.

Nonetheless, it was interesting trying out raw desserts, although they are rather pricey. I reckon you pay for the extra time and effort that goes into making and purchasing quality ingredients for these raw desserts. I’m not a raw food convert though… and I wouldn’t be back again for their tarts. With their lovely clean eatery, chill ambience and helpful staff, I’ll probably return to try their savouries. These raw treats aren’t the same as indulging in a proper slice of cake. Yes, that means eggs, sugar, butter, flour… the works. If you’re going to indulge, might as well go all out and satisfy your craving eh?

Rating: 6/10

FOODWISE: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf VS Spinelli Coffee Company



People often flock to Coffee Bean or Starbucks or Spinelli for a quick cuppa to start their day right. Some even go there for afternoon tea, allowing that splendid slice of cake transport them away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

But how many people actually go there for their food? More importantly, how’s the standard of their food? In chain cafes like these, the food is more often than not pre-packaged, and merely heated up in the microwave or toaster oven on request.

I decided to try Grilled Chicken Sandwiches from two cafes, to compare the standards. Here’s my verdict:

Spinelli Coffee Company
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At Spinelli, they call their Grilled Chicken Sandwich the Bountiful Chicken Sandwich (or something fancy like that). I was a little apprehensive before I ordered it since the sandwich looked rather stale sitting in the glass display.

Before heating my sandwich up, the barista added one or two measly slices of lettuce and probably squirted on some mayonnaise.


The bread was well toasted though, and crispy to the bite. In fact, it remained crispy right until the very end. The grilled chicken came in a generous portion, and even had the skin on it. My guess would be it was the chicken thigh. The chicken meat was a tad dry. The bread became a little soggy on the inside due to the mayonnaise and butter, but it was still flavorful. I would eat the bread on its own actually!

However, a major downside was that this cost $10.30. Just for the sandwich, no drink, no side salad. There are much better lunch sets elsewhere than this!

Beanstro/The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Note: Beanstro is run by CBTL as well)


This was from Beanstro. It cost $10.50, just a tad more expensive than Spinelli. I was really impressed by this Grilled Chicken sandwich though. First off, the dish was nicely presented as you can see. The ciabatta was crispy, and the chicken was moist and well-marinated. The ciabatta became pretty hard after awhile, and was a chore to cut through. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this sandwich, even more than Spinelli’s since the chicken was tender and tasty. The chicken used here is skinless and doesn’t have much fats on it.

The side salad was made with fresh crisp vegetables and the sandwich was filled with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It was good 🙂


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
On another occasion, I tried the same sandwich again, but this time at Coffee Bean, rather than it’s cafe concept, Beanstro. This, unlike the earlier sandwich, was a complete disaster.

There was way too much gravy, the bread was soft and soggy. By the time I was halfway through my meal, the bread was utter mush, and the whole dish was an oily mess. It was far from appetizing. The side salad was overdressed which made the whole dish even soggier and disgusting. This was the worst sandwich I have ever eaten.

It’s funny how the same dish can differ so much at different outlets. 

So who does it better?

I would choose Beanstro as my first choice, but since Beanstro doesn’t have as many outlets, it may be less accessible. So if you can’t find a Beanstro near you, Spinelli would be a better bet than The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Well, there you have it! I hope FoodWise has helped you make the wiser food choice when you dine out.

Thunder Tea Rice: What’s that green stuff?

Many of you may have heard of Thunder Tea Rice and its numerous health benefits, but I’m pretty sure many of you have yet to try it. After all, you have no idea what’s in that bowl of green soup… and the dish just looks so… healthy. Put it next to a plate of piping hot Char Kway Teow or Carrot Cake, and I’m sure you’ll go for the Char Kway Teow/Carrot Cake.

I have been similarly daunted by this bowl of unfamiliar ingredients. So many toppings, so many ingredients that I wouldn’t think of combining. I tried it once before, at a food court. It wasn’t too bad, to be honest. I liked the texture and flavour of the dish. But the green tea soup was horrible. It was bitter, and really herby, I felt like puking after I drank a spoonful of it. I found out that the green tea soup is made from blending tea leaves and herbs to form a paste. Hot water is then added to it to make a soup! Now you know what the weird green stuff is.

Only after a long time was I willing to give Thunder Tea Rice another go, and I’m glad I did.


This was from a vegetarian stall at Bukit Timah Hawker Centre, and it cost $6. Before you dismiss this completely, read what I have to say! I know it is rather pricey for a vegetarian dish, but take it as a worthwhile investment in your health.

The dish is served with brown rice, not too much, so even the ladies can finish this portion on their own. They add a bit of taukwa, beans, chye poh, cabbage, asparagus peas, and bok choy, and top it all off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. They usually add peanuts as well, but I omitted them this time.


I gave the dish a good mix, making sure that all the ingredients were nicely spread throughout the tupperware. Then  I took a bite, without any green tea soup. It was delightful! I loved how there was a slight saltiness from the stir-fried taukwa, and the chye poh, which went so nicely with the crunch of the fresh vegetables. The textures and flavours of all the toppings came together brilliantly. It was an explosion of flavor in my mouth. I loved it!

Then I added some of the green tea soup, rather cautiously since I had a nasty experience previously. On its own, the green tea soup is slightly bitter, but not as bad as the one I tasted previously. But when you pour it over the rice, it adds a whole new dimension to the dish. Without it, the dish is good, but Thunder Tea Rice isn’t exactly Thunder Tea Rice without the ‘tea’ right? Personally, I prefer spooning the green tea soup over the area I’m about to eat, instead of pouring all the soup into the bowl and mixing it, like how you are supposed to.

One minus point would be that at $6, it is quite costly compared to healthier hawker fare like Fish Soup and Popiah. Also, since this dish is something you can easily recreate at home, for the Asians that is, you may not find it worthwhile to spend so much on this dish.

Even after finishing the whole bowl, I felt satisfied, not uncomfortably full, but satisfied. It was filling, yet light at the same time. I definitely felt healthier and more nourished after eating it. Give it a try, and let me know how you like it!

Rating: 7/10 (+1 for health factor)

Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre
116 Upper Bukit Timah Road,
Singapore 588172.

Living (wholesome vegetarian food)
Stall #02-188

GastroNOMia Da Paolo: Fast and fresh

I’m sure many of you have heard of Gastronomia da Paolo? They have several outlets around Singapore, and they offer a wide variety of pre-packaged food which can be easily brought home as takeaway, or reheated for the dining in option. In addition to their pre-made food, such as lasagna, salads and cakes, Gastronomia da Paolo also offers freshly prepared food such as pastas, all-day breakfast and sandwiches. They even cater to the tea-time crowd with their wide array of sweet treats, ranging from ginormous meringues and croissants, to dainty cupcakes.

I like how their concept is similar to many cafes in London, where sidewalk cafes make the option of dining in and takeaway very easy for consumers.

My dining companion ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese ($15.50) which was served in a large paper box, similar to the chinese takeaway boxes you see in movies. While the paper box somewhat cheapened the whole experience, considering we were paying cafe price, the food was thankfully up to standard. My dining companion was very satisfied with his generous portion of pasta.


I’ve tried their sandwiches on two occasions, and here’s what I thought:
The first sandwich I tried was the Grilled Chicken and Brie on Crispy Ciabatta. I do not recall the exact price, but I it was definitely more than $10. It’s cheaper to buy the whole sandwich rather than half, since you only pay about $3-4 more for the full sandwich. You could always keep half for your next meal! (Frugal foodies alert)

The chicken was rather dry, and the crispy ciabatta was tough and hard to bite through. The brie added some moistness, and flavour, which helped give the sandwich a fuller flavour. This sandwich wasn’t particularly memorable.

Now, this is what I call memorable. Despite the lack of meat, the Grilled Veggies and Brie on Soft Country Bread ($8.50 for half) was a much better sandwich.


The bread was nicely toasted, with a crisp exterior, yet it remained soft and fluffy on the inside. I would recommend that you order soft country bread instead of the crispy ciabatta.

The grilled veggies was made up of an assortment of grilled vegetable salads I saw on their display counter. There were fresh lettuce and tomatoes, in addition to the perfectly grilled brocolli, pumpkin and brussel sprouts. Speaking of brussel sprouts, I have had one too many bad experience with these mini little cabbage babies, but this time, they won me over! Roasted brussel sprouts are the way to go.

photo 3 (96)

The whole sandwich came together beautifully. The flavours of the roasted veggies went well with the melted brie, and the crunch from the fresh vegetables added another dimension to the sandwich. I was surprised by how good a vegetable sandwich could taste. So long veggie patties, I have found a new love for roasted/grilled vegetables!

It is a pity that this sandwich is so expensive though. While my tummy may be happy, my wallet is crying out in pain. I have to recreate this at home, with my new Panini press.

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My friend also ordered the Cafe Latte (if I’m not mistaken, I forgot the actual name). While I’m not a coffee drinker, my friend said that the coffee was strong, and of good quality. So, a word to all of you who need your morning cuppa… you could drop by to get your wake-up call and grab a croissant, or two, on your way to work.


Blueberry Scone
The serving sizes at Gastronomia da Paolo is over the top. Most of their dishes can be shared by two, and their scones are no exception. The scone is the size of two clenched fists!

(Tangent: Their croissants are even bigger, but they are filled with air, so they won’t sit in your stomach like a rock. The croissants are not very oily as well, so that’s another good option for tea)

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The scone was not impressive though. Although it was large, it was rather dry and tasteless. There wasn’t the buttery rich flavour that a good scone gives you. The blueberry flavour was barely there as well, in fact, you could see it more than you could taste it. I would rather a smaller, better quality scone from one of those atas high-tea places, or even Four Leaves Bakery. If you are on a search for the best scones in Singapore, you could try the scones from Fosters at Holland Village. Those are pretty good.. but I would prefer a less crumbly scone. (As you can tell, I have high expectations for my scones)

Gastronomia da Paolo is a nice place to chill at anytime of the day since they serve all kinds of food to meet your needs. While their food may be on the pricey side, at least you know you can be guaranteed with fresh, hot quality food with minimal waiting time. For those with a sweet tooth, you may like to know, I’ve tried their chilled cakes and tarts before as well, and they were worth a try.

Rating: 7.5/10 (-0.5 for pricey food)