Thursday, January 8, 2009


My parents, my younger brothers and I at my grandparent's house with our
Morris Minor car in the background

I used to always look forward to a celebration as a kid because I get to drink lots of sugary soda, lots of "air sirup" which is really nothing more than artificial rose flavored syrupy water and orange cordial.

However, this year, I plan to change things .... drink a lot less of these diabetic inducing drinks and drink more clean, fresh water and delicious raw juice. I would bet that just a simple change like this will likely help me keep my weight at bay.

So anyways, I was thinking about what drinks to serve to guests who come to visit this Chinese New Year aka CNY.


Orange cordial?

What would you offer to your guests when they come to visit?

My two brothers. Sitting just long enough for a snapshot

Every since I was born, every CNY, my parents, me, my two brothers and practically 20 other people would congregate at my paternal grandparents' house in Seremban. We did this every single year without fail until my granny's passing a few years back. There, us kids would helped our self to granny's stash of cans of soda at the back of the kitchen and glugged down bottomless amount of choice stuff like 7 Up and Coca Cola. My brothers and I would all be so stuffed up from all that sugar in our bodies, not to mention sugar from cookies, cakes and sweets as well. Many a time, we would have a glazed look watching mindless Cantonese musical concerts on government tv channels, then known as RTM1 and RTM2. Later, my grandparents discovered the joys of the video machine, and mindless Hong Kong Cantonese serial dramas was all we could watch. To wear off all the sugar, our parents would dump us upstairs to bounce from wall to wall, maybe to play cards, scare each other with ghost stories or just whack each other until we collapse in exhaustion.

Watching tv

The TV

I have a theory why my parents allowed us to "coked up" in sugar. It's not that they want us to drink these "poisons" because, think about it, it made us hyper, it made us unreasonable, it made us little terrors who made hell seem like a fun holiday place.


I think, back then, my parents were just plain too tired to stop us. You see, every year, they had to drive 10 hours from Kelantan to Seremban through small winding roads to visit my grandparents with 3 lovely but ultimately stir crazy, yapping kids in a very small car by today's standards.

Fun stuff.

And on good days, the trip may even take up to 16 hours, many times because we were stuck behind slow moving vehicles or because of the endless pee stops. Now that I have kids of my own, I can imagine what a torture it was. See, in those days, there were no DVDs in cars. No air conditioning units. My dad would crank up his favourite Jim Reeves yodeling cowboy songs to drown out our voices squirming, crying, bored-out-of-our-minds throughout that mind numbing journey.

Oh joy!

I'm surprised my mum didn't turn bonkers from all that noise and complaints. I'm surprised my dad never uttered a curse word .... right till today, though mum did once or twice finally screamed .... SIT. DOWN. NOW.

There were no seat belts then.

I suppose they just grinded their teeth and accept this annual journey through hell as their karma! Now that I have kids of my own, I understand. Even a 3 hour trip to a shopping mall feels so exhausting. If I was in their shoes, believe me, all I would do is to sleep for the rest of the holiday and not come out from the bedroom. OK, maybe come out occasionally for some air, sustenance, beer and brandy. Who wants to deal with kids high on sugar and nothing much else after a long arduous journey?

So, where was I?

Oh yes, CNY.


The fact was, sugar did nobody any favors. Not for the kids, not for the adults.

During CNYs, my paternal grandparents would offer orange cordial and orange squash drinks to visitors who come for a visit. It's an auspicious thing, you know, and anything out of a bottle was an easy drink to make when you have like a hundred visitors to entertain during the first week of CNY. But the problem, as we now know, orange cordial is nothing more than sugar and artificial flavorings pack full of "chemical goodness". Frankly, those orange juice packs we get at the cold food section at the local supermarket aren't that great either. Some contain high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners as well as artificial colors and preservatives. Many of the pesticides used for growing the fruit are in fruit juice as well, and in concentrated forms. By the way, not all fruit juices sold are 100% juice. If you look at some of the juice boxes, you will notice that many use reconstituted concentrate juice. That's really complicated English, isn't it? What it simply means is that those stuff are nothing more than processed drinks. Also, 100% organic bottled or boxed fruit juice that you find in health food stores is still pasteurized and stripped of most of the valuable nutrients and enzymes of fresh juice. What's left? Sugar! And don't let me start on my childhood favorite frizzy canned orange soda like F&N Orange or Mirinda Orange. All these sugary drinks are just totally bad for everyone's teeth, and can really spike the body's insulin levels.

I'm pretty sure the answer to the above is fresh, raw juice. Alternatively, there are raw, dried herbal teas that we can all serve as fabulous, fresh tasting teas. Easy to make, doesn't really need sugar of you use quality stuff. Let the fragrance and taste of the tea speak for itself.

But in those days, nobody knew what we know today. But since I do know, I'm cranking up my new blender this month. This baby can pulverize a carrot. Really awesome! My eldest kid and my niece think they are drinking juiced carrot when in reality, they are drinking the entire carrot, with the pulp, together with some flax seed thrown in to boost the drink's nutritional value!

Cool right?

Don't think I won't drink any soda, mind you. I will, cause I love them, and it's really hard to shake off this childhood comfort food, if you may. I'll just drink it in moderation.

So what's your drinks menu during a festive holiday?

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