Saturday, May 29, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (6)

During the early days at VSS,
there were very few exco members
who could speak fluent Mandarin.

Hence, along with Yueh Ting,
I frequently represent VSS at radio interviews.

It was from then on, I met 95.8FM DJ Wong Lee Jing,
who later proposed to get me on radio to teach vegetarian cooking!

I wasn't really good at vegetarian cooking that time,
altho' I already had some experience
demonstrating some simple veg cooking
at Thong Kheng Senior Activity Centre (Queen's Town).

All by good will of spreading vegetarianism (via the mass media),
I accepted the invitation/challenge to teach vegetarian cooking on air...

The cooking show was the very starting point for me
to type out all my recipes and organising them systematically.

Without Lee Jeng's special request,
the prototype for Simple Vegetarian wouldn't have ever existed.
-- but then, I still didn't think I would write a cookbook at all.

A year or two later,
I was recommended to submit a vegetarian recipe, on a monthly basis,
to For You Buddhist Magazine.
Tho' exciting, it was quite a commitment to me,
when I received such a request.
-- because, other than the ingredient list and method write-up,
I had to put together the pictures of the final product
as well as some description about each of the dishes.

During the process,
the editor then, Li Rong, was very supportive.
She gave me a lot of advice in term of photo taking and description writing.

Li Rong was probably the last critical person
who drifted me into compiling all the recipes write-up into a cookbook.
After submitting to For You mag for about a year or so,
I naturally thought I might as well publish a cookbook to
perpetuate the effort put in thus far.
Also, I believed it would be a convenient way to promote healthy
vegetarian diet "off hand"...

Towards the very last phase of the 'project',
it involved many other good friends,
to do proof-reading, translation, formating and even fund raising.

Throughout the entire process from conception to publishing,
to marketing, to revised digital-download version now,
I saw how so many things have to come together
just to make one event successful.
That experience made me feel grateful about just anything on Earth
validated an old saying : Nothing comes easy.

I hope that "Simple Vegetarian" now in digital format
could reach even more people and
propagate further the concept of healthy vegetarian eating.

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (5)

During Chinese New Year 2005,
Jessie invited both Glenis and I for vegetarian Yu-sheng dinner
at an organic cafe -- Synbiotics @ Stanley St, Tanjong Pagar.

That evening was an extraordinary one;
because for the first time in my life
I tasted such a high quality raw vegetarian food
and uniquely yummy Yu-sheng!

That extraordinary evening,
also unexpectedly set a new path for me
when Jessie introduced me to the owner and chef, Ms Sim Nget Seer.
It was from that day onwards, I started to dive into detoxification and biogenic diet
under the guidance and influence of this wonderful teacher.

Ms Sim (in her 60s) isn't just another magical chef.
She is a holistic healer, herbalist and naturapathic nutritionist.
She heals patients via unique detoxification and nutritional regimes.

Ms Sim isn't a person whom anybody can get close with.
She has certain attitude that initimidate people
(including myself when I first met her).
However, I believe it was by gratitude and sincerity,
that Ms Sim soon accepted me in her circle of life.

At Ms Sim's cafe,
dinner was not usually served (ie closed after 3pm);
but she often invited me over for dinner.
Hence, for many evenings (over several years),
I spent quality time communicating with Ms Sim
over the dining table.
That's how I gradually pick up concepts and skills
like detoxification, nutritional healing, biogenic diet,
flower essence, remedial juicing etc...

Out of all that I have learnt from Ms Sim,
one most important concept (that Ms Sim repeatedly emphasized)
is the nutritional value of our day-to-day meals.

The major reason why Ms Sim wanted to set up her organic cafe
was to heal people from the very foundation.
Often, I heard Ms Sim mentioning that
usually when her patients came to see her
for detoxification or to heal any diseases (including cancers),
it was already too late.
She attributed that to the poor diet most people are adopting nowadays.

She wanted to service the public with good nutritional food,
but not many people could appreciate
(many complained that her set meals @SGD10 were too expensive
but as I guess they were just a bit too calculative)

In 2008, Ms Sim's cafe unfortunately had to close down
due to the lack of support.
Since then, I couldn't see Ms Sim as frequently as before.

Ms Sim is travelling around the world to help
people to do detox to revamp their health,
and she constantly reminded me that
I should continue to educate people on
the concept of good nutrition,
in order help them to face the challenging future to come.

This was how the momentum to write "Simple Vegetarian"
slowly built up.

But there were still two more critical factors (ie two great friends) that
dictated the creation of "Simple Vegetarian".
Without them, "Simple Vegetarian" probably wouldn't have existed.

more stories to come...

With love,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (4)

During the days I frequented Jessie's outlet
for free healthy food tasting,
I was introduced to another fabulous women.

Her name is Glenis Lim.

Glenis like myself was often invited by Jessie
to go support organic veg places
and attend health seminars,
except that she is much senior than I am
and she is already a knowledgeable healthy vegetarian.
Her humbleness and continuous learning attitude were remarkable.

From time to time, she would share with me with
her latest reading about wellness technology
from MRET water to probiotics, to inulin, to hGF, to colonic irrigation, to Vitamix etc.

Another reason why Glenis was introduced to me by Jessie,
was that Glenis was also a very good cook.
She used to run a healthy veg stall at Ubi Avenue and
her food stall's business was so good that she decided to close down
due to exhaustion!

Again, same drill, I invited her to teach at VSS cooking class ;)
Know what, her cooking skill was more than good.
More than amazing.
More than magical.
I call that wicked!

I couldn't help engaging her 9 lessons for my VSS cooking series,
teaching delicacies of Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thai, Vietnam etc!!!!!!
-- I am now drooling when I recall her vegetarian Som-Tam and Otak-otak :P (drool...)

Glenis was also a compassionate teacher to me.
She was the one who started me off on ideas of organic travel business
when she personally invited me to go KL for organic food tasting
(ie to crawl from one organic cafe to another)
and also a wonderful organic tour in Chiang Mai.

At both KL and Chiang Mai,
I was exposed to a variety of organic/healthy veg food of different flavours.
My "organic dictionary" was since enriched.

Glenis also had very high standard when it comes to food.
While I have always been learning to go easy on taste (influence of dharma),
Glenis reminded me on what the public would anticipate in term of food quality.
That established a baseline for me when I teaches vegetarian classes in days to come
and also the recipe formulation for "Simple Vegetarian".

In the most recent 2 years,
Glenis' influence on me went beyond organic-nism and vegetarianism.

She introduced me to life-coaching workshops
by Anthony Robbins, T. Harv Ekers etc...
My life subsequently went through a pivotal change
because of Glenis' good will to put me through
continuous personality improvement (the secular way)
and financial freedom awareness.

Another important remark about Glenis is that
she is always busy at her age of ~50+ (and she has retired long ago).
I could only catch up with her several times a year,
due to her frequent traveling
for Anthony Robbins' workshops and Vipasanna and holidays..

She is a good example to me
as in what it takes to become a financially-free vegetarian.
She is a women who inspire me to take on big ideas
and pushes me to become a go-go vegetarian.

The fourth influential women in my life
is somebody who is also extraordinary.
She is not someone easily get along with.
But we become close friends...
more to come in the next chapter =)

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (3)

One of the lovely traits of Jessie
was that she liked to go around island-wide to support vegetarian and organic businesses/events.
(Perhaps she understood the hardship behind and it could also be the influence of her dharma learning -- subconsciously I now inherited this trait from her!)

I didn't know why she did that inititially anyway,
but she had high tendency calling me up from time to time
and ask me go visit organic/veg places and attend health seminars.

One organic veg places she suggested was
an organic cafe "Friends of Earth" at Shenton Way
(now closed, it has been so long that I may have mistaken the name too).

It was a partnership between a few strong women
Beng Khim, Mei Li and Sophia Teh etc.

Sophia Teh who was the chef of the cafe then,
caught my attention.
It's not just because of her refined culinary skill,
but also her knowledge about the nutritional values of food
plus her sunshine personality!

I naturally invited her to teach
a few VSS cooking classes at Buona Vista CC,
and since then fell in love with her magical cooking.

Soon after, the organic cafe at Shenton Way closed down
due to the taxing workload, and Sophia was then out of job.

At her age of ~50+, she didn't just stay put/ keep idle.

You can't believe that she called me up one day
and invited me to her place for a free meal.
-- Why? It's a marketing skill of hers to inform me that
she sold organic brown rice set meal from home! ;)

She even organised cooking class at her place
to earn some income to pull through her tough times.
That fortified my respect and admiration upon Sophia!
After a while, with some loan from her brother in Malaysia,
she revived her organic cafe at 4th Floor, Fortune Centre (Bugis)
which she lost out 10s of thousands to her dishonest partner
before she joined Friends of Earth cafe.
She renamed the revived cafe the "New Green Pasture".
I was excited with her passion
but at the same time concerned if her cafe would survive
with her sole effort (after seeing so many organic cafe closed down).
So, I volunteered to help her out with some administrative stuff
like clerical work, menu artistic design and minimal publicity.
In return, Sophia asked that I set a VSS donation box at her cashier counter.
For every bowl  of soup she sold, she donated 100% of the proceed (SGD1) to VSS.
This practice hasn't stopped since her cafe revived and
it's still there at the same old spot today.
(except that the box has recently been re-designed by Clarence, a VSS exco member)
-- this donation box is also the only permanent VSS donation box in Singapore =)
Sophia told me that she also set up donation box
for the blessing of her workers at her shop.
Because it's her workers who cooked the soup and they would get the merits.
Sophia practised dharma in real life, no doubt.
After a year or so,
Sophia started to expand her shop.
That was very good news and it's only then
I felt relieved that her cafe stabilised
and started to slow down my personal publicity for her cafe.
(I kept bringing friends to Sophia's cafe when it started, just like Jessie taught me)
During the course of these few years,
I tasted a lot of, not only Sophia's magical culinary skill,
but also her positiveness, creativity, perseverence and integrity.

Without Jessie, I couldn't have known Sophia.
Without Sophia, I couldn't have known a true example of a vegetarian.

As I write this blog, I could feel my heart weaken
and appreciate how blessed I am. ~What more do I ask in life?

With gratitude,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (2)

Not long after I became a vegetarian,
I started to explore organic food.
I guess it was a natural next step,
as one of the reasons I went veg was health concern.

One day, I dropped by this cozy organic retail
at B1 @ Lucky Chinatown Plaza
to get a few simple organic grocery.

That's where I met one of the four wonder women in my life,
Jessie Cheong.

Jessie was the owner of the organic shop.
At first sight, she was just a down-to-earth middle-age lady.
We didn't quite interact much initially.
In fact I was a bit uncomfortable in the beginning
due to her slight pushy-ness over her organic products.
(I later understood that organic business is really difficult!
She made a LOSS of 10s of thousands of dollars and finally closed the shop
several years after.)

Subsequently when I visited her shop more,
we became a bit more familiar to each other,
exchanged phone numbers
and Jessie started to invite me from time to time
to her shop for free healthy food tasting.
--Guess what, those home-made food that she prepared,
was the best vegetarian food I had ever tasted!

It may seem like a means to market her organic products,
but after knowing Jessie more,
over multiple sessions of food tasting,
I began to see her sincerity to make friends
and pass on healthy education to her customers.

From Jessie, I learnt a great deal
about  healthy vegetarian cooking, holistic living, organic concepts.
-- Jessie is a big fan of Dr Lai Chiu-Nam's teachings,
hence most of the information came from Lapiz Lazuli Light.
And, that was precious to me,
because then I couldn't afford to attend pricey courses by Dr Lai.

Jessie didn't only just taught me healthy organic vegetarian living.
Along all these years,
she also nurtured my personality development (in line with buddhism),
and played a pivotal role in my circle of life
-- meaning she was the one who introduced to me
the next 3 wonder women of my life.

More wonderful stories to come...

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The stories behind Simple Vegetarian (1)

When my first cookbook "Simple Vegetarian" was released
on 8 Jan 2009, I couldn't quite believe that it happened.

While the book signified a milestone along my vegetarian path,
it wasn't truly something that I planned for from the very beginning...

The conception of "Simple Vegetarian" started as far as the moment
I took up the voluntary post of veg classes coordinator
for the Vegetarian Society of Singapore (VSS) in 2004.

That time, I had to arrange monthly cooking classes and health seminars,
in collaboration with Buona Vista CC Youth Executive Committee (BVCC-YEC).

It was a very precious opportunity
initiated by the vice president then, Mr Wong Loke Yeow,
who aspired to do something along with VSS
for the welfare of animal and public health,
after watching a vegetarian anthology  "Seeds for A Better World"
compiled/produced by VSS.

With this year long collaboration with BVCC-YEC,
I gradually (and unknowingly) submerged myself in an intensive learning process,
absorbing a great deal of vegetarian wellness knowledge and cooking skills.
-- simply, as a coordinator, I had "attend" all of the seminars and cooking classes I organised.

During the year, I met a lot of amazing teachers.
To name a few (and to pay tribute to them):
.Richard Seah (Macrobiotics guru),
.Lee Qi Hai (TCM sinseh),
.Wang Song Ji (Organic guru),
.Dr Ho Soon Lye (Veg GP),
.Oh Chong Fah (Healthy veg chef)
.Dr Tan Pik Yee (Veg GP)
.Dr Mark Chan (Veg Pastor) and many many more..

My foundation of vegetarian wellness amazingly started that way;
however, not quite reinforced,
until I became close friend to 4 wonder-women (and veg "oracles") of my life.

... to be continued.

Well regards,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday Meatout to Fight Global Warming

A few friends and I had a short conversation
at the Aljunied MRT station after Dharma class last night.

We were complaining how the weather had gone so warm
and one of us was even wondering how life is going to be
if the 35C daily temp is going to stay on..

When the train arrived,
we hastily rushed in to grab the cool air cond.
That subsequently triggered the remark of
how air cond is even more crucial these days.

However, taking one step back,
looking at the big picture,
it's not hard discover that air cond doesn't really solve the
escalating warm climate
-- in fact it will aggravate the situation,
and slump into a viscious cycle..

The weather 'warming' up is actually a warning sign from Mother Earth,
expecting us do something, not shying away from the problem...

So I took the opportunity to bring up the topic of
meat-induced global warming/warning.
I suggested to cut meat consumption by 10%
and explained that it's more signficant
than many other measures (e.g. less driving, less plastics etc)
due to the gigantic carbon food print of meat production.

Rachel who was among the conversation,
added that it could be easily done by refraining from meat just once a week,
like the Meatout Thursday that NUS students are campaigning.

I applauded =)

Happy Thursday Meatout,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}
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