Saturday, March 8, 2014

Visit to Terra Biodynamic Organic Farm

Organic Wellness meetup @
mud house Terra Farm
Just last weekend,
I gathered some members of Organic Wellness Meetup
and a few of my nutrition course students to
visit Terra Biodynamic Organic Farm @ Blue Valley
which is about 1.5hr drive from Cameron Highlands.

I heard so much about Terra Farm
for a long time,
be it for their famous mud house, exotic "tree-motel"
or their vibrant, tasty organic produce.
But never did I find a decent time to visit them
due to the distance of travel and my busy schedule
until recently.

Despite the long distance of some 250km from Kuala Lumpur
and having to rush to and fro within a day,
it was a very rewarding one day educational trip!

At the farm,
we received 2hours biodynamic farming lecture
and another 1 hour of farm touring conducted by
the farm owner, Mr Ng
who opened our eyes to more indepth understanding
about organic farming
and biodynamic skills to boost life force of organic produce!!

Some of the important points I gathered from Mr Ng:

1. A strong and healthy crop can naturally wade off pests on its own,
due to strong defence system.

2. The life force and health of a crop rely on the health of the soil.

3. Conventional organic composts
do not supply good enough amount of nutrients,
to offer life force to the crops and help build up their defence systems.

4. Biodynamic organic skills focus on fermenting nourishing compost
which "stores" nutrients in colloidal form in the soil.

5. The colloidal form of nutrients prevent over absorption of nutrients
during evening time, otherwise will cause intoxication of the crop,
and easily leached away .

6. Crops that grow on biodynamic compost
have got two distinctive features
i. webby feeder roots which penetrate colloidal soil structures for nutrients
ii. naturally waxy leaves

7. Biodynamic compost is different from normal organic compost,
in the process of fermentation where, over-heating and over-tossing
are avoided, to minimize nutrients loss (oxidised).
It's meant to imitate humus top soil of primitive jungle.

The biodynamic lecture mainly focused on topics of soil health and compost,
But, there are actually many other ways to grow a crop biodynamically,
In fact, biodynamic farmers also apply other techniques
to boost the growth and life force of crops.
As Mr Ng briefly mentioned,
there is a natural technique to make the soil more reflective of sunshine
to encourage more photosynthesis,
so that the plants grow faster and strong naturally
(just like plants that grow by the seaside receiving more reflective sunshine)

Mr Ng and tour mates
in mud house living room
Mr Ng, delivering Biodynamic Lecture

After the enriching lecture,
we all had a buffet style organic lunch,
which was prepared by Mr Ng's wife, Ms Wanjing.
The Biodynamic vegetables were truly tasty
even cooked plain, with only sea salt (ie no other condiment)!

The vegetables themselves had their own flavours,
as Mr Ng emphasized.

Biodynamic Buffet time
Biodynamic dishes

After lunch, we had another lesson in the field,
checking out
how biodynamic feeder roots look like,
how the naturally waxy leaves were shiny and robust,
how biodynamic composts were colloidal, moistened and spongy.
Absolutely intriguing!

Biodynamic Veggie
with Feeder Roots Systems
Waxy leaves of healthy
Biodynamic Coffee Plant
Biodynamic carrot with
strong flavour & aroma

This one day trip was truly a learning experience.

The organic agriculture has always been accused of being
inefficient in yield and uneconomical.
we were provided evidence in front of our eyes,
that organically grown crops could robust, big and strong.
The critical point lies in the faith and
the passion to research for better ways to nurture organic crops =)

May organic agriculture prevails!

Feeling blessed,
Kee Yew

. Terra, Organic, Biodynamic

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Stories Behind The Nurturing of Vegetarianism (3) -- The Veg School Moving On

Presentation at Veg Congress
@ Kuala Lumpur, Oct 2013
The Veg School (TVS)
was first conceived late 2010,
and officially started up in May 2011,
as an effort and good will,
to advance vegetarianism in the region,
by teaching scientifically sound procedures
to adopt a plant based diet and lifestyle.

After returning to Kuala Lumpur in 2012,
I was still required to travel to Singapore
to teach Vegetarian Nutrition for a few Buddhist Associations,
including Sagaramudra Buddhist Society,
80-Gallery (Mahaboddhi Monastry),
and Bliss and Wisdom Society.

TVS was still progressing steadily in low profile
despite my frequent absence in Singapore.

In 2013,
TVS' Signature Vegetarian Nutrition Course
reached out to some 150 students;
TVS' new course, Vegan Culinary Certification Program
also successfully trained two batches of healthy, vegan culinary students.

As TVS is getting a little more well-received,
I decided to expand TVS vegetarian teachings
to Kuala Lumpur, since I am already physically here.

Oct 2013, I gathered some courage to step up my veg effort,
by ending the contract with RPA Academy,
and docking onto full time establishment of TVS programs in KL.

After some intensive meetings and discussions with collaborators
and potential students,
The Veg School will officially conduct
Veg programs in KL starting Feb 2014,
as per some highlights below:
Detox Retreat @ Titi Eco Farm 3-7 Feb
Advance Veg Nutrition & Healing (Private classes) Mar-Jun
* Veg Culinary Workshop (semi-volunteering @ Tzu Chi) Mar-Jun
* Yoga and Nutrition for Digestive Health (collaborating with Yin Yoga Asia) 4-6 Apr

In 2014, TVS also continues to add value
in the vegetarian communities in both KL and SG
by creating a free Mobile App
accessible/downloadable at

harbouring the following features,
with which I hope to mobilize more people into health vegetarian living:

* TVS Events Calendar

GPS-assisted Map of Healthy Veg Eateries in KL and SG 
TVS Veggie Map @ KL and SG

* Health Vegan Recipes
Free Healthy
Vegan Recipes on the go

* Vegetarian Info Downloads
Bite-size Veg Info Downloads

Looking forward,
I am hopeful that 2014 will be a promising year
for The Veg School to advance vegetarianism
in Malaysia and Singapore =)

Have a Horse-some New Year :D
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Stories Behind The Nurturing of Vegetarianism (2) -- Leveraging from Home

Sunset at Home
@ Sungai Long, Kuala Lumpur
At the age of 14,
long before I receive formal Buddhist education,
I was blessed enough to meet a good teacher (Mdm Inthira)
who taught me to look deep within
and leverage from the strength within.

Since then, along some years of
learning and practising Buddhism,
the same teachings and guidance
surface every now and then
whenever I need to gather strength to move on,
whether in my own life path or
in the path of vegetarianism.

I knew, since very early days in Singapore,
that I need to return to my place of origin one day.
Because that is the place I should locate myself
to harvest strength from within.

After quitting from biotech research,
my plan was to return to Kuala Lumpur.
I gathered this is only natural
given the philosophy that,
if one were to leverage strength from within one's own heart, in micro-sense,
one would have to leverage from one's
own home, own family, own country, in a macro perspective.

That was why when Bamboo House
manifested the lack of ability to sustain,
my instinct drifted me back to Kuala Lumpur
to work with RPA Holistic Wellness Academy
to teach nutrition courses.

Some close friends were a little startled,
especially friends in Malaysia
who thought it would be tough for me
to make a living in KL
where salary is relatively low
culture is a bit different from that in Singapore.

With faith on Buddhist teachings,
I was positive and prepared to tackle any hurdle
to make my transition back to KL
well cushioned,
despite the reality of cutting my absolute income by 70-80%.

After returning to KL, teaching at RPA,
my experience was very encouraging and joyful!

In contrast to the belief by many,
I had a very understanding and kind boss,
very caring and friendly colleagues,
very enthusiastic and diligent students,
and didn't experience tightness in financial situation.

As what I learnt in Buddhist text,
with sincerity, true effort and humble lifestyle,
a lot of hurdles will dissolve on their own.

Returning home,
actually renewed me another contract
to put effort in my own family,
fostering closer bonds with my siblings,
and spending quality time with my mum.

Returning to Kuala Lumpur,
actually offered me another chance
to contribute to my home land,
helping people closer to home
and catching up with my old friends.

During new voyage in Malaysia,
I verified a few precious teachings
that I have learnt from Buddhism:
-- in order to achieve more, one need to give up more personal attachment
-- in order to serve more people, one need to lower personal desires
-- in order to be more free and liberated, one need to grateful with what one already have (at home)

I made the right decision,
by surrendering my seniority in biotech research.
Otherwise, I wouldn't have the opportunity
to start up Bamboo House,
although for just that 13months.

It's a pleasurable decision
to pace my path back to KL.
Otherwise, I wouldn't have the chance
to teach healthy vegetarian and nutrition
at RPA Academy.

Back home,
I truly have gathered more strength
to advance vegetarianism further =)

With deep gratitude,
Kee Yew


{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Stories Behind The Nurturing of Vegetarianism (1) -- Bamboo House

Ex-Bamboo House
Vegan Eatery @ Hougang
It has been quite a few years
since I had some update on this blog
about some exciting vegetarian endeavors
that I have been participating.

The past few years have been
awesomely hectic,
but also enriching, heart-warming and eye-opening.
While things now are taking a relatively slower pace,
I thought it's a good time to review together
some important events in retrospect.
This may also help clarify my mind
and reaffirm how things are going to evolve in the next steps =)

Japanese Private Dining
In 2011, I officially left academic biotech research
and started, along with two friends,
a small vegan restaurant, Bamboo House,
in Hougang, Singapore,

Given the financial education I had between 2008-2011,
I knew very well, that time wasn't an appropriate time
to start a F&B retail;
-- due to poor economy, and
especially healthy vegetarianism in Singapore
was still in the infancy stage.

However, I decided to plunge in,
to not just give it a try, due to curiosity,
but also and mainly,
to experience the true colours behind vegetarian F&B;
-- although the official explanation was that
Bamboo House could serve as supportive wing
to The Veg School which just started in 2011.

Also, the landlady of Bamboo House,
who was a Buddhist friend of mine,
offered a lower-than-market-rate premise rental,
along with other incentives
e.g. free rental of kitchen equipments, crockery, restaurant furniture etc..
It was worth taking the chance, amidst hostile weather towards vegetarian biz,
given the precious blessings from the landlady.

Bamboo House kicked started after very short 1.5months planning,
including minor renovation, recipe testing, minimal publicity
and pooling of relatively small capital (below SGD20k).

Business for Bamboo House wasn't rosy as expected,
from the every beginning.
The residents at Hougang were concerned about
the middle price range at Bamboo House
and skeptical about the taste of meatless diet,
with low salt, low sugar content, without any fried items...

One of Bamboo House partners left within the first month
due to her family pressure and prejudice that it was a wrong investment
and my stubborn resistance not to compromise
the way I design the menu and manage the restaurant...

The path became tougher, left with just Siaw Wei and I.
It took both us for about 6months to harmonise
upon external criticisms on the lack of food variety, location, pricing etc.

All throughout, Bamboo House couldn't breakeven every month.
We added a bit more variety, invested more money in marketing and publicity,
organised value-adding Holistic Meetup events to boost the crowd.
But we still couldn't close the loss gap.

We later noticed that it's mainly due to a very small vegetarian market in Singapore.
In order to boost our revenue to breakeven point,
we decided to adopt two strategies:
i. food delivery service island wide
ii. private dining program

Business revenue chalked up drastically and
the loss gap narrowed during the month
with bookings of food delivery and private dinings
and we were hopeful that we will eventually breakeven in another 1year..

However, our cash flow were soon running out.
Both Siaw Wei and I had been topping up every month
and certainly was concerned of digging deeper into our personal saving reserves.

I then started to talk to different private investors and big companies
to pull in fundings.

We were almost successful in convincing a private investor
who had a big heart for organic movement,
but in the end the investment didn't take place.
The reason given by the investor was that
I couldn't spend full time in Bamboo House
and was worried that Bamboo House will not run well without my supervision.

-- I was a bit ashamed of myself,
as that time, due to zero income from Bamboo House,
I indeed agreed to collaborate with an academy in Kuala Lumpur
to teach Nutrition courses.

With such agreement,
I would be spending most time in Kuala Lumpur,
and Bamboo House would have to be supervised
by an inexperienced staff (which the investor is not confident with)
-- Siaw Wei was still keeping her full time job then,
so, with my departure to KL,
she definitely couldn't handle Bamboo House alone.

Bamboo House eventually sustained for some 13 months
till the monthly cash top up hit our "stop loss".
Actually, without some small amount of funding from two good friends of mine,
Bamboo House would have closed earlier.

When Siaw Wei and I made the decision to close down Bamboo House,
we were still hopeful that Bamboo House will succeed
given a longer period of stabilisation.

We figured out food delivery and private dining were
two promising factors.
But funding was a critical issue.

At the juncture of renewing the rental contract with the landlady,
Siaw Wei and I were discussing whether we could adjust our stop loss,
but after putting in all factors in consideration,
especially when F&B was taking too much time to manage,
etching into Siaw Wei's family time, my teaching time at The Veg School
and avenues of basic income,
we had to close it.

Bamboo House is physically gone,
but the spirit is still around,
for the birth of Bamboo House had never been
an agenda of profiteering
but a mission to nurture vegetarianism in Singapore.

Up till today, consciously or subconsciously,
I tell people around me,
if ever anybody have the passion and a deep pocket
to start up a healthy vegetarian eatery
(and don't mind losing for a few years),
I am ever ready to be the consultant,
to transfer the experience, culinary skills and healthy recipes ^.^

For friends who had been supporting Bamboo House,
this is a deep down the heart expression of gratitude
to have allowed Bamboo House
to pull through the difficult times
to have a precious 13 months to learn and serve the vegetarian community!

All in all, Bamboo House had been a blessings!! ^.^

Kee Yew

. Bamboo House

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A simple recipe to restore gut health

Purple Dream
-- gut friendly smoothie
Very often,
we hear complaints about
gastro-intestinal problems
from stomach upset, stomach flu,
to heartburn, indigestion,
to loose stools, constipation etc...

These conditions actually
could be healed naturally
without medication sometimes.

Simple foods like
. pineapples (for indigestion),
. white radish (for constipation)
. chamomile (for bloatedness)
. cabbage (for gastric ulcer)
do the healing for us naturally
without the side-effects of drugs :)

Here, I would like to share
one simple yet delightful recipe
for friends with poor GI tract.
It's a recipe taught by a friend, Mei Er,
with whom I recently did "food research" together ^^

Purple Dream Smoothie
Purple/Red Cabbage     --  2 medium leaves
Ripen Banana        --  120g
Cold filtered water --  200mL

-- Blend the above ingredients, and serve fresh ^^

Cabbage is a superfood
which is high in glutamine
-- an amino acid which promote the repair
of gatro-instestinal track lining.
With that,
cabbage juice is capable of healing gastric ulcers.

Cabbage, like other Brassicas (e.g. brocolli, cauliflowers),
also contains organosulfurs
which could be converted in our body
into anti-bacterial, anti-oxidative and anti-cancer metabolites.
Hence, regular intake of cabbage juice or cabbage soup
will improve the general wellbeing of our gut :)

Hope you enjoy this colourful health drink!!

Toast to good health,
Kee Yew


{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just how do you resist that craving for coffee? (6)

Roasted Barley as
Coffee Substitute
There is definitely a cure for coffee "addiction",
as the root has been identified,
and the methods have been pin-pointed ^^

However, there exists a group of
coffee lovers out there
who drink coffee
as a means of enjoyment/indulgent/relaxation...

For these group of coffee lovers,
in order to reduce the harm of coffee,
as suggested in earlier posts,
it's good to take coffee once every week or every fortnight.
And, the coffee must be organic! :P

For these coffee lovers who
don't rely on caffeine to perk up their everyday life,
the following strategy is recommended :)

Strategy C:
Cheat yourself!

Yes! Cheat yourself with
coffee substitutes!!

There are a lot of
fantastic and healthy "mock" coffee out there
which mimics quite well the taste, the texture, the acidity, the aroma
of coffee, such as:

i. Roasted Barley Grains
ii. Roasted Cassia Seeds (决明子)
iii. Roasted Chicory Roots
iv. Roasted Dandeloin Roots
... and many many caffeine-free herbal formula.

Here, I introduce to you an great recipe
of coffee substitute
invented by a good friend of mine, Jennee
-- which is very healthy, nourishing, satisfying, aromatic, thick body, low acidity......

Healthy Coffee Substitute Recipe

Nourishing Ingredients:
1 tbs Roasted Barley Powder (to mimic the fragrance/aroma of coffee)
2 tbs Walnut Powder (to give the drink some thickness and satiety)
2 tbs Amaranth Powder (as creamer, to give more creaminess)
1 tsp (or to taste)  Agave nectar (as sweetener, optional)
250mL boiling hot water

Stir all in and brew until the essence is out. Sieve and serve fresh and hot!

-- The original recipe taught by Jennee 
used instant powders of roasted barley, walnut and amaranth, 
so there was no need to do sieving and to add sweetener 
as the instant amaranth and walnut powders were already lightly sweetened. 
If you can't access to these exotic instant powders at your local organic mart, 
doing it in a traditional way suggested above could be fun too :)

-- also, try add small amount (1/2 tsp) of molasses, 
that will also the enhance the mocking of coffee aroma!

Hope this series of posts on coffee
is of some help to readers
who would like to bring their health to a higher level
as these write-ups pointed out
the balanced way of herbal administration,
the inconvenient truth behind coffee and
the root cause of coffee cravings
as well as the respective natural "remedies" ^^

Many blessings!
Kee Yew


{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just how do you resist that craving for coffee? (5)

Humble lemon can save people
from coffee intoxication
Curing craving for coffee
is long a process,
especially when  it is
coffee-holic's relatively low life force to start with.

Before one's life force foundation is revived,
one can try the following temporary quick fixes
which in principle recommend alternatives
that boost one's energy level and alertness =)

This is very suitable for people
who truly want to quit coffee
but haven't yet the foundation of life force.

Strategy B:
Quick energy boost

(i) Lemon-Molasses Drink (click on link for recipe)  
    which contains citric acid and minerals
    that stimulate the metabolism of liver.

    Liver is an major organ that store and control blood flows.
    When fed with citric acid (liver's favourite food)
    and minerals (from molasses),
    our liver will increase blood circulation volume,
    giving a temporary boost of energy and alertness.

    Sour juices like orange juice, pineapples will
    have similar effect ^^

(ii) Cold pressed oils
     which provided a decent amount of
     short chain saturated fats (SCSF)
     to increase the metabolism of liver.
     Same drill, SCSF which is easily combustible fuel
     is another favourite food of the liver.
     Given the nourishment,
     we will also experience a temporary boost
     of vitality and alertness

      Any type of first cold pressed oil will work
      as SCSF always appear exclusively
      in first cold pressed oils.

      Some examples are
      cold pressed olive oil,
      cold pressed coconut oil,
      cold pressed grapeseed oil etc

Some people who are determined to quit coffee
may mistakenly tempted into
eating high sugar, high proteins, (bad) fatty/oily foods
to also temporarily boost alertness.

But the side effects of taking those macronutrients
as a temporary boost of energy
can be harmful in long term,
as we all already know,
excess of macronutrients cause body acidity
and eventually all kind of degenerative diseases!

Next, we will look into one more strategy
to resolve coffee craving problem.
This will be a strategy for those
who drink coffee for
the aroma, fragrance and gastronomical indulgement =)

Kee Yew


{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}
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