February 2015–Urban Health Newsletter


Chinese New Year Celebrations in a Healthy Way

It is the time of the year where the Chinese get together to celebrate the spring festival, commonly known as Chinese New Year.

In this article, we look to provide insights to how we can celebrate Chinese New Year with the traditional Chinese food but cooked in a healthy way.

The recipe which we are introducing is a traditional Cantonese dish: “Dried oysters with black moss and mushrooms” (蠔豉髮菜冬菇).

The reason this dish is so popular during Chinese New Year is that the Cantonese name of this dish signifies “good things” (好事) and “flourish in wealth” (發財). You can find our healthier version of the recipe for the dish below, and also the nutritional value calculation for reference.

Recipe: Dried Oysters with Black Moss and Mushrooms

Ingredients for 2-3 servings

  • 8 dried oysters
  • 8 dried mushrooms
  • Black moss
  • ½ head of lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free oyster sauce (can be bought from Health Essential in Central)
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free cornstarch
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ½ knob ginger
Nutrition Information
Calories 209
Protein 13.5g
Carbohydrates 23g
Fats 8g



  1. Soak and rehydrate the dried oysters and mushrooms in water for at least an hour and soak the black moss for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mince the garlic cloves.
  3. Cut ginger into about 2-3 slices.
  4. After soaking, drain and rinse dried oysters and black moss in some clean water to get rid of any dirt and grit.
  5. Take mushrooms out of water but save soaking water for later use.
  6. Heat some oil in a pan or wok.
  7. Add in garlic and ginger.
  8. Add in oysters and stir-fry for a few seconds.
  9. Add in mushrooms and gluten free soy sauce, gluten free oyster sauce, white pepper powder, and sesame oil; stir-fry to mix well.
  10. Add in mushroom soaking water to cover completely and cover wok/pan with lid; let simmer for 30 min or until oysters and mushrooms are soft.
  11. Add in black moss and lettuce; cover with lid and let simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
  12. Add in some cornstarch and water mixture to thicken sauce.
    Serve mushrooms and oysters on top of a bed of lettuce.

Check here for the latest write up on “Have a Happy, Healthy Chinese New Year”, provided by HKBioTek. Check out the caloric value for a few traditional New Year favorites!

Tips on Healthy Chinese Home Cooking

Chef Andy loves Chinese food and he always looks for ways to whip up healthier Chinese meals at home or for his guests by using fresh ingredients and healthy cooking methods. Here are some tips from our resident chef on making healthy and authentic Chinese food at home.

  1. Stir-fries
    I own a cost iron wok and let me tell you, this is absolutely one of my favourite and I use this on an almost daily basis!  I suggest you all to get one too! It retains the nutrients of the foods due to the fast cooking method! Only requires a small amount of oil, stock up on some Organic Ghee and Coconut oil. I just LOVE making stir-fry with them, they are so tasty and healthy!
  2. Garlic, ginger, white pepper
    Stock yourself up with this in your pantry, so easy to add and use them in your stir-fry, or steam dishes to provide fragrant, and help drives the flavor out!
    Garlic – packed with antioxidants, helps give your immune system a boost;
    Ginger –helps with digestion, soothing colds and flu;
    White pepper – helps to boost your body’s metabolism, beneficial in blood sugar control.

Want to learn more, stay tuned to more of our Chinese cooking workshop on our Facebook page and website!

Gluten-free Journey


Urban Health would like to introduce our resident blogger Esther’s latest project. She has embarked on a gluten-free diet in Hong Kong and is documenting her journey in a new blog. In her blog, she reflects on the social challenges of going gluten-free in Hong Kong. She also shares some of her favourite new-found gluten-free food items around the country.

Her most recent blog discusses the widespread amount of gluten found in small treats shared among co-workers and friends. She also introduces some lovely treats she has discovered, including cupcakes from The Cup Cake Ministrel HK, delicious vegetarian “Chicken Tikka” from Grass roots Pantry, and finally their counterpart, Prune Deli’s delicious orange chocolate cake. All gluten-free, of course!

Take a look at her new blog here: http://ggfinhk.blogspot.hk/

Andy’s Corner


For this month’s Andy’s Corner, I would like to share with you my vegetarian, grain-free, 21 days fast experience.  At my church, everyone is doing a 21 day fast – and the rule is, we have to cut out items that we indulge in most. As a huge foodie, I have decided to go on a no meat, seafood and grain (foods like rice, noodles, bread) fast.

At the start, I said to myself, “Wow, how brave am I, to take on this challenge?” Little did I know that I had no clue how difficult this was going to be. For the first few days, I got hungry really quickly and easily.  As a big rice and meat person, it was all of a sudden a real struggle to think of what to eat.

As for physical challenges – I felt weak during the first few days. Suffering from a foggy brain, I could hardly think and function properly. I did get some advice from our in-house nutritionist as well as a vegan friend. After following their suggestions, I began to see improvements.  Simply having a bag of nuts with me and snacking on that between meals and having lots of fruits and juices to get some healthy plant-based fat and sugar have helped tremendously!

In terms of the environment, I found that being on a vegetarian and grain-free diet in Hong Kong is a HUGE pain! Similar to being on a gluten-free diet, there are not many options out there or local restaurants that would be suitable for this diet. Your best bet would be to cook for yourself – breakfast to dinner.  One of the most reasonable places to go to during lunch times are Nood, Life Organic Café and Little Burro in Soho.  They’re real life savers when I actually have to eat out, and they are all under HKD$100, which is quite reasonable for the area.

So what are the benefits? I’ve lost about 3kg in 21 days from clean eating, and learned that my body can actually function with no problems on a plant-based diet.  I’ve started to crave less meat now. This comes just as Chinese New Year is round the corner and I sure am thankful that I’ll be able to enjoy some traditional Lunar New Year dishes, yet I won’t go crazy on eating fatty stuff as my body doesn’t quite have the same appetite for that anymore.

I wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year and, have a PROSPEROUS AND HEALTHY year ahead!


Post Series: Newsletter

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