December 2014–Urban Health Newsletter

Seema Bhatia Quinoa Salad

Andy’s Corner

Wow… In just a blink, a year is coming to an end and the beginning of a brand new one is upon us! Urban Health has turned ONE, and it has been an amazing journey so far.

Looking back to the beginning: From coming up with our name, purpose and aim to starting Urban Health; transforming what originally was simply a habit and personal interest into a business; expanding and spreading the love from a Facebook support group to the wider public; offering a space for local and world travelers to come enjoy safe, gluten free, allergy free dining experiences and cooking workshops; and striving to provide informative content to educate and bring more special diets to people everywhere…

Our aim was always simple enough, but it has not been an easy road.

None of the milestones along our journey would have been possible without the support of the like-minded friends we’ve met in the industry. Collaborating and sharing ideas with one another has been a big part of Urban Health’s growth and has made it one of the most rewarding years I’ve had personally!

Thank you all for your support, and do continue to stay tuned to our social media pages and newsletters – we look forward to bringing you more exciting collaborations and developments in 2015!

Finally, the Urban Health team would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy, exciting start of New Year!


Special thanks to our partners and friends!  Vivi Cheung at Dandy’s Organic CaféPunam Chopra at SpiceBox OrganicsIfat at Choice Healthy FoodsSeema Bhatia at Prana YumCalista Goh at Anything.But.SaladsAnita Cheung Carmen Mak at i-Detox , Sonalie & Tracy at Green Queen – HK’s #1 Green Living GuideHealthy Living Asia 亞洲健康生活Tracy at HK BioTek – Food Allergy Specialist 食物過敏專家 and many many more..

“Can Your Everyday Foods Make You Sick?”

By HK Biotek

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We are now approaching the coming new year of 2015 and would like to take the time to showcase one of our most treasured partners HK Biotek. At the beginning of this month HK Biotek had their press release at Locofama in Sai Ying Pun. Their presentation outlined the prevalence of different foods in terms of allergic reactions to the Hong Kong populace. Their findings were noteworthy to say the least, and help us to understand that food allergies are a prevalent and pressing issue to local communities. Urban Health would like to draw awareness to HK Biotek and their groundbreaking research heading into the New Year:

Research Findings on Food Allergies in Hong Kong

(Hong Kong, 3rd December 2014) HK BioTek Limited, based on the testing records in the past decade (2004-2013), randomly selected 2920 reports for research. By stressing on the analysis of data in 2005, 2009 and 2013, the trend of Delayed Food Allergy was investigated.

‘Delayed Food Allergy’ is increasingly prevalent and not negligible.

A British charity, Allergy UK, has revealed that 45% people are affected by delayed food allergy. But, locally, much less attention is paid to the chronic-and-hidden-symptoms-causing ‘delayed food allergy’. Dr. Tang explains that it is the allergic symptoms resulted due to inflammation of the immune system triggered by food allergens. Symptoms are diverse, ranging from eczema, diarrhea, headache and allergic rhinitis to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Dr. Hui also points out that improper diet worsens the situations of people with allergies and triggers allergic symptoms.

Top 3 Allergens: Eggs, Dairy products and Wheat Show an Upward Trend, Similar to China

2005 2013
Dairy 59% 67%
Wheat 18% 39%
Egg 67% 74%

According to statistical analysis, the top 3 most common delayed food allergens in Hong Kong are eggs (71.94%), dairy products (65.25%) and wheat (37.42%). Thus, the top 3 delayed food allergens are, in fact, what people eat food every day.

Meta-analysis of the studies done by medical schools in China shows eggs, milk and wheat present in top five delayed food allergens. Obviously, similarity, in terms of delayed food allergens, is seen in both regions.

Delayed Food Allergy Frequently Appears on the Skin while Eczema is the Most Common

Taking the data in 2013 as an example, the symptoms of delayed food allergy is mainly localized on the skin (71%), followed by respiratory system (10%) and then digestive system (6%). Among skin symptoms, eczema accounts for 44% cases. Other symptoms include allergic rhinitis, asthma and airway allergies, and intestinal sensitivities, showing the high prevalence of delayed food allergy.

Allergen-Free Diet is becoming the Global New Trend

Allergen-free Food Sharing Section

Allergen-free Food Sharing Section

Ms. Yolanda Che in organic industry notes that allergen-free foods is getting more and more popular both globally and locally, reflecting the increase in the number of allergy sufferers in the society. With the high popularity of avoiding food allergens to soothe chronic symptoms in Europe and USA, manufacturers actively develop new allergen-free products, making these products to have similar tastes and textures as the ordinary foods. Steven Wu, owner of a local organic restaurant, LOCOFAMA, says that restaurants shall possess a certain degree of transparency so that all staffs know all the ingredients in all cuisines, and provide allergen-free choices to cater the dietary needs of allergy sufferers.

The press release is published by HK BioTek Ltd. For enquiry, please contact:

Ms. Tracy Kwong            Tel: 2763 1488              Email:

Ms. May Wong               Tel: 2763 1488              Email:

HK BioTek is the authorized representative for US BioTek Laboratories, with over 10 years’ experience in providing high-end testing services. HK BioTek is committed to raise the awareness on personal health and wellness by organizing various events like public seminars and health booths. Website:

Posto Publicco Interview

IMG_2282 Last month, Andy caught up with Christopher Lauria, manager of the restaurant Posto Pubblico, located along Soho, Elgin Street – a stone’s throw away from the Urban Health home kitchen! It’s a rainy, lazy Saturday afternoon, and the pair of them are cozily ensconced in a corner of the restaurant.

A: Tell me about the concept of the restaurant. I’ve noticed the brick walled theme, the Brooklyn and Manhattan signs and the lovely wooden floors. Is this quite a US themed place?

C: Yup! The décor is definitely something I like. It has a comfort that a lot of New York and Italian restaurants have. Our restaurant concept is New York/Italian – our two owners both come from New Jersey, US. They came up through the industry in that part of the country and so they’ve tried to bring an American influence over here.

One thing about New York restaurants is that they are very neighbourhoody. Each little area has their own spots where the locals would pop in for a good bite to eat. It’s meant to be a local eatery. So basically we consider ourselves to be a neighborhood eatery. We believe very firmly in knowing every item that goes into your dish. We source all our produce locally, and it’s all organic

A: It’s all organic?

C: As much as we can possibly use them. The produce that we have displayed is all coming from organic farms up in New Territories. Homegrown Foods (pointing at the logo on some of the products) is actually our company. It’s an online ordering service as well. We source the in-season produce from the farms, you order them online and it gets sent to you in a box, to your doorstep.

Of course, being a part of Homegrown Foods, we use their produce, and believe very firmly in the fresh flavors of an organic product. This way we know that it’s sourced locally, we know that it’s the most flavorful and most healthy product we can get for you.

The thing with New York/Italian foods, people come in here and ask, is this Italian food? And the answer is, not exactly. There are Italian classics definitely, but once Italians immigrated to the US, they had to change the recipes.

A: It’s kind of like how Chinese food in America tastes very different from the Chinese food here.

C: Right, that’s exactly it, and you have different recipes based on how different local foods taste. The tomatoes may be sweeter here, the greens may be a bit bitter, so you adjust the recipes accordingly.

A: How long has the restaurant been offering gluten-free options?

C: I can say that, having started 9 months ago, that it’s always been an option. It’s always been something we’ve been conscious of and I think it’s been within the last two years that gluten free has become much more prevalent, even in the US.

IMG_2275A: That’s a good point. How did you find out about the public demand for this diet? Three to four years ago when we first got here, gluten free was almost non-existent. But in the last 2 years, there’s been an explosion in food and services providers that cater to gluten free eaters

C: Absolutely. One thing that pops to mind; when I was growing up, maybe a handful of kids in school would have peanut allergies, but now it’s so unbelievably prevalent. It’s just like here three or four years ago, maybe a couple of people would come in once in a while and say “I can’t eat gluten, what do you have without gluten?” and you start learning how to cater to them. The next thing you know, now there’re so many people coming in asking the same whether they cannot eat it or are simply choosing not to.

As a neighborhood restaurant you always want to be able to take care of these special requests, especially given the health benefits. So it’s been really beneficial for us to learn how to do this.

A: That’s a really good point you bring up, being part of the community as a neighborhood restaurant. What does it mean for those restaurants to be required to cater to these new requirements in people’s diets, whether it’s gluten-free or vegetarian or any other type of dietary restriction?

C: Poses a really fun challenge for the industry. How do you create new recipes that are exciting for people who face these restrictions? You always then want to be cutting edge and you will always be highly encouraged to move towards taking on more challenges that you might not even have thought of in the first place had these restrictions not become more prevalent.”

Chef Andy’s recommendations:

Spicy clams
Spicy tomato broth, a hearty yet healthy delight with a bit of a kick in tomato broth, with meaty medium-sized clams. Absolutely perfect to go with a glass of white wine.


Grilled zucchini, pecorino, chili and mint
Served in room temperature, I loved the cheese glazed on the top of the grilled organic zucchini and mint , it really adds a very nice texture to the dish.


Chicken Cacciatore with Grigliata (that means grill)
An authentic Italian American soul food, one of Chris’s personal favorite as this reminds him of what he grew up on! Chicken thighs and wings are grilled then tossed together with spicy tomato sauce, roasted pepper, button mushrooms, chilli flakes and basil!! I love this too, as I love my saucy foods! This just hit the sweet spot for me!

Holiday Recipes

Urban Health has some festive gluten free holiday recipes for treats. Try these and get into the gluten free holiday spirit this year.

“Festive Recipes”

It is the time of the year for celebration! True to our roots of cooking and sharing recipes and since it is also the season of sharing, Urban Health proudly presents some festive recipes to meet the occasion objective as well as encouraging all to enjoy delicious healthy festive food!

Many thanks to our two good friends who are both highly respectable in the health food world and are well-versed in delicious and healthy food to be the guest contributors for this segment of festive recipes Thanks Laura and Seema for the lovely recipes!

~ Chef Andy @ Urban Health Home Kitchen

Gluten-free Christmas Mince Pies (link)

Louis Mince piesIngredients:

  • 100g almond flour
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 150g biscuit and baking gluten free mix (or use buckwheat/oat flour)
  • 100g organic butter, chilled, chopped into cubes
  • 25g coconut mana
  • 1 tbs maple sugar Pinch Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 egg, chilled

Baking Process:

  1. Process flour, sugar, butter, coconut mana and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk egg and in a bowl with mixture until combined.
  3. Turn pastry out on to a work surface and knead gently to bring together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge. Pie is ready to serve.

Tips from contributor on the dish:

Gluten free pastry sometimes does not roll so well, so it is better to divide the pastry into balls and press into a shallow muffin tray which is around 1/2 cm thick. Spoon in the mince mixture (this year I had to buy some- next year I’ll make it from the scratch !) Egg wash round the sides and put a top on. I made lattice top! Egg wash the top and make a hole. Sprinkle a little coconut sugar if desired and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins.

Guest Contributor: Louise Kane Buckley

Louise bio

Quinoa Salad (with red and green to make it for the Christmas!)

Seema Bhatia Quinoa salad


  • 1 cup multicolored quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • A generous handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 -2 green chilies finely chopped (optional)
  • A good squeeze of lemon mixed with one teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Tempering
  • Oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafetida
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 6 curry leaves
  • A little bunch of coriander leaves


  1. Wash the quinoa & drain away the water.
  2. Bring it to a gentle boil in a sauce pan, lower heat and cover for ten to fifteen minutes until all liquid is dry and the quinoa is cooked.
  3. Empty the quinoa into a serving bowl and toss in the pomegranate seeds, coriander leaves, chilies if using & the sugar lemon mix.
  4. Give this a good toss and season with slat and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
  5. eat the oil or ghee in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. As soon as they start to splutter add a generous pinch of asafetida, the dry red chili, curry leaves and a little more coriander.
  6. Pour over the quinoa, gently mix and serve.

Guest Contributor: Seema Bhatia of Pranan Yum

10402689_407521069386721_460943866475848816_nSeema Bhatia is a Kenyan born Indian who is a dedicated foodie at heart. Born into a family food business she tells a food story that begins as early as the age of twelve. Her love for spices, their health benefits and the influences they have had on culture and cuisines pretty much sums up her own life’s journey on a plate..

Seema now permanently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and two daughters and loves to travel back home to Africa and within South East Asia. She sums up her fragrant journey into one simple phrase “Africa to Asia – a culinary safari that journeys between two continents”.

She has recently launched her own company called Prana Yum. A Sacred yogic foods and tea under the where she draws from ancient sacred schools of thought such as Indian, Balinese, Mayan, Egyptian & Chinese wisdom. Her focus is to keep things simple and as natural as possible and bring in ancient wisdom for today’s modern living.

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