Tag Archives: food

Rice 101: The Scoop on Skin Benefits. – Metta Murdaya

25 May
Metta in a rice paddy in Borobudur, Indonesia

Greetings from JUARA Girl Metta in a rice paddy in Borobudur, Indonesia

So you think you know about rice? What’s your favorite? Brown, white, black or basmati? Short grain, long grain, jasmine, or sticky? The list goes on and on from types to preparations and flavorings… BUT – how much do you know about what it does on your skin?

Rice is a staple of so many cultures’ diets that given its prevalence around the world, it’s no surprise that it has made its way into skin treatments.  Overall, we know rice is good for your skin, but what it does really depends on what part of the rice makes its way into your skincare products. Let’s go on a quick exploration on the different parts of rice and what it does for your skin.

Rice bran oil: Rich in Vitamins B and E, rice bran oil increases elasticity of your skin and keeps it hydrated and soft. Rice bran oil is unique in that it contains different kinds (vs just one kind of) Vitamin B and Vitamin E, making it a more complex and wholesome ingredient for your skin. You can find it in our naturally anti-aging Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer, and our Sweet Black Tea Eye Creme.

Rice starch: Women in Indonesia traditionally wash rice grains in water and then use the milky rice water to rinse their faces to get smooth, soft, supple skin. The rice starch that coats the outside of the rice husks have an extraordinary ability to hold in moisture, and its benefits are felt immediately on the skin. This oil-free humectant helps hold moisture to skin, and can be found in our sulfate-free JUARA Rice Facial Cleanser and JUARA Rice Facial Scrub. Why is in there? Rice starch is the secret ingredient that will keep your skin smooth and soft after you wash it, and helps prevent overdrying , which can lead to irritation and that uncomfortable, taut feel.
*LIMITED TIME SPECIAL: Get the JUARA Rice Facial Scrub + Rice Facial Cleanser for a special value price HERE!*

Rice bran extract: This ingredient helps calm skin and reduce redness. You can find this in our Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner. Though it’s not in the name of our product, this powerhouse of an ingredient makes our toner perfect after washing your face as it not only hydrates but also soothes and calms – especially if you have redness, irritation, or even (or especially, actually!) sunburns on your skin – both on body or face. It also double-duties as an alcohol-free aftershave, soaking the skin with delicious oil-free hydration while soothing the shave. Plus, no cotton ball needed! Just pump into hands, and apply to face.

Do you have favorite products that also include rice?

Getting Creative with Kombucha – Metta Murdaya

25 Jan

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to not only eat healthier, but to drink healthier. No, this isn’t something that means adding fresh fruits to the martini or drinking more bloody marys, justifying its health benefits to lycopene-laden tomato juice. I suppose one could, but I’m talking about kicking out the soda and upping my intake of homemade Kombucha. For those of you not familiar with this health tonic that’s been known to do everything from curb the munchies, improve your digestion and immune system, give you more energy, and even help with migranes, check out this article. Or for a more scientific breakdown of Kombucha, see this. I’ve offered some untraditional ways to gourmet-ify this tangy treat, and I have a few more to add.

For beginners: Mix with any of the following (or mix it up!) You can add this to Kombucha from the store or from a homeade batch. Just make sure you don’t mix the mixers below in the brewing container with the scoby! Mix with Kombucha in a separate container.

To sweeten the drink and make it fruity, add one or a blend of the following:
– Apple, Cranberry, White Grape juice

To keep the flavor but add a twist, add to the Kombucha:
– Coconut Water (yes, believe it!) to make it milder and a little more round, plus it has great electrolytes!
– Sliced Ginger: To give it a heaty, spicy, exotic touch. Cinnamon – never tried personally, but I hear it’s good.

For a little more gourmet flavor, mix 1/2 to 2/3 container (or glass) of Kombucha with:
– Chamomile Tea sweetened with Elderflower Syrup. (Ikea has a nice, cheap one that’s tasty): Makes it ‘pretty’ tasting. Sounds odd, but the light floral notes and sweetness will make you smile, really!
– Chai tea & sugar:  Makes it spicy and aromatic, but still oh so delicious!
-Lemonade + Tea: Kind of like a super-healthy Arnold Palmer with a fizzy tang. Refreshing, indeed!

Where to get Kombucha? If you’re not a home brewer, get some at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and many a supermarket in the natural drinks section. The pros of making it at home is the cost is 6 tea bags and a cup of sugar for a gallon of brew, whereas at the store, a 12oz bottle can cost upwards of $4.99. But most people just don’t drink that much Kombucha in a week, the store-bought are great for convenience and variety. 2 brands I like:

Synergy – One of the best known brands. Pulls no punches, this Kombucha is pretty flavorful and tangy. Maybe too tangy for home-brewers, like it’s ‘overdone,’ but you’ll feel the effects. I when I get the muchies, a swig of this powerful stuff will curb that craving. Lots of good flavors too.
Kombucha Wonder Drink – blended with green tea, this is a milder tasting Kombucha. It’s smoother/easier to drink, might be a good  Kombucha for those who want a more palate-friendly version.

There are many other brands out there, Carpe Diem, Honest Kombucha (from Honest Tea,) Katalyst, etc… I say experiment and compare! I’m still experimenting with my own batch; right now, I’m playing with maple syrup to add to the mix somehow… Of course, I still love Kombucha straight, and drink some everyday, but this is great when you have a large batch and want to have some variety – especially great for guests! Talk about a conversation beverage…

Anyone have any suggestions too? Let’s get creative!

Ginger – Whacked, Shaken or Stirred? – Metta Murdaya

10 Dec

When I get the signs of a cold, have an upset tummy, or just need a little soothing but zingy pick-me-up drink, I drink ginger tea. Ginger is a wonder ingredient common in Asian food, beverages, and beauty treatments because of its great medicinal properties. In Indonesia, we consider it a ‘heaty’ ingredient that warms you up (great when you have a cold), helps digestion with its anti-bacterial properties, and can also be used in body-wraps used in spa treatments. When you’re done with these treatments, ginger tea mixed with palm sugar is also served as a traditional beverage. But I want to know – why does the ginger tea in Indonesia just taste so much more fragrant and richer than when I make it at home in NY?

I‘m in Indonesia now, and I learned an Indonesian secret in how they make their ginger tea super aromatic and delicious, so if you’re a ginger tea fan, listen up.
Normally, I make ginger tea by slicing ginger and boiling it in water, but the secret for really bringing out the aroma and depth of the flavor is to cook and whack it. That’s right. Cook and whack it! First, you have to pan-sear the whole (or large chunks of) ginger until parts of the skin are black. Don’t use oil; you’re basically just roasting the skin in a dry pan. Now peel the ginger skin off the best you can. Then, instead of slicing it into bits, whack the whole ginger chunk until it’s smashed near flat, like when you smash a garlic clove with the side of a knife. Then boil away in a saucepan covering the ginger with only a few inches of water. I personally err on the side of strong tea that I can always weaken with more water if needed. Sweeten with honey, sugar, or palm sugar – which tastes like a combination of flowers and brown sugar with a tiny pinch of salt. Delicious.
My theory is that the pan cooking heats the ginger to release the aroma more, and whacking it brings out the juices, but whatever the reason, it works.

Here’s another fun, inexpensive use of ginger in a beverage that I concocted: For a JUARA event at Fashion Week in NY this year, we made JUARA cocktails. One of them was a ginger tea cocktail in which I sliced a whole ginger (very thinly, no smashing needed) and put it in a full bottle of vodka (minus the volume of the ginger.) Leave 3 days, and voila – you have an instant ginger vodka infusion. It looks really pretty with the ginger slices floating, and tastes oh-so-spicy good. Chill and mix with tea, and you’ve got a ginger-tea cocktail. I also like mixing ginger slices in my Kombucha for a little variety, and am looking for other fun uses in drinks!

At JUARA, we use it in our oil-free Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer, where the ginger works as an oil-control/anti-shine ingredient, so if you want to try that out, check it out here.

Anyone have any creative uses for ginger in beverages, food, or beauty treatments?

Turmeric: The Ancient Wonder Ingredient – Metta Murdaya

18 Oct
Healthy Turmeric - Strong Antioxidant

Tasty and Good for you!

So there’s this ‘new’ ingredient that’s popping up in the US in health supplements, skincare, and exotic dishes that’s raved about as uber healthy with anti-cancer properties: Turmeric. We often nod “oh, yes, that plant.” But what is it, and why is it so awesome? Oh, let me count the ways. For one, it’s one of Indonesia’s most revered spices/ingredients used in its herbal medicinal tradition and beauty rituals for centuries, but that’s not all. Hopefully this brief overview will leave you the most interesting person at your next dinner party when you can quip up on the wonders of this spice – and leave people wanting to try it out!

What is it? Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a 5000 year old herb in the ginger family, and is known to grow wild in Southern Asia including India (oldest origin), Indonesia, Indochina, nearby Asian countries, and even in Hawaii. It is less fibrous than ginger, and has a nutty, slightly funky herbal/gingery smell to it and a nice, peppery and warm flavor.

What is it used for? Many things. Its roots are used in cooking as a spice, medicine, and even dye to color fabric/food. Known for its bright yellow color that can stain, turmeric has been used as a food colorant and dye for cloth historically as a less expensive alternative to saffron.  Indonesian and Indian cuisine frequent this ingredient, especially in curries, because it is not only yummy but healthy! In Indonesia, we use Turmeric in hundreds of healthy concoctions from a princess spa ritual to brighten skin to drunken medicines to help cleanse blood and liver. In Bali, a traditional healer mixed turmeric with sandalwood and water to create a paste he massaged in my sprained ankle to help reduce swelling and induce rapid healing! (For those of you who saw Eat, Pray, Love, yes – those healers do exist, I can personally attest to it!) Turmeric is also widely used in Indian Ayurvedic systems, most widely used to purify blood.

What’s the magic ingredient? Curcumin is the power ingredient in Turmeric that has many of the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and blood purifying properties. Though studies conducted are still in the early stage, curcumin has shown positive effect on preventing cancer through its ability to suppress the proliferation of a wide variety of tumor cells and to inhibit harmful molecules and enzymes. Topically, like in our Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask, the curcumin in our turmeric complex brightens skin and naturally fights discoloration and age spots naturally. It gives your skin a natural glow – just try it! 15 minutes and you’ll notice a difference.

What does it do, in a nutshell? Overall, turmeric is an amazing antioxidant, thanks to an ingredient in it – curcurmin. Turmeric can detoxify the liver, reduce cholesterol, brighten skin complexion (see our Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask), is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial, and does a whole lot more. So take your dose or turmeric – in capsules like a health supplement, fresh, or in a spice powder, in Jamu (Indonesian tonics), or in our JUARA Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask. Enjoy!

Duking it out: Chia Seed vs. Flax Seed – Jill Sung

31 Mar

What seed am I?

Metta came back from Expo West natural trade show with promises of improving our nutritional health and renewed vigor to turn a “pretty healthy” diet into “Healthy!” One of the healthy additives that she’s been raving about is Chia seeds, which I’ve been eyeing at the health food stores with a personal interest to try once my flaxseeds are used up. I currently add a tablespoonish of golden flaxseeds (I heard, though unconfirmed, that golden has more vitamins than red) to my almost daily smoothie. I experiment a bit, but it’s more a healthy smoothie of convenience consisting of Scobie Bryant’s (my Kombucha’s nickname) miracle tea, an apple (skin included), frozen berries if no other fresh fruits of the season are gracing my kitchen, yogurt/milk if available and it cuts the light vinegar taste of the Kombucha, and that tablespoonish of flaxseeds. But let’s get back into the ring…

FLAX SEEDS: high in Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber, minerals: folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, etc.

I use whole flaxseeds because they can be stored up to a year whereas flaxseed meal can only last up to a week at room temperature because the unsaturated oils can go rancid easily. But I grind the flaxseeds before using them because that releases the goodies. Toasting flaxseeds is helpful too because it breaks down the small amounts of natural cyanide in them (also found in cashews and some beans). And according to US agencies and research, the recommended safe dose is anywhere from 2-6 tabespoons a day. Just don’t go overboard as both of these are high in fiber! If you’re a fan of the oil, just remember it does not contain the phytochemical antioxidants or the fiber.

CHIA SEEDS: high in soluble fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals: potassium, calcium, amino acids

The soluble fiber in gluten-free chia seeds is so evident that if you mix up a cup of water and tablespoon of powder, you can get a  gel in half an hour! That’s great for controlling food intake, carbohydrate to sugar absorption conversion, and diabetics where blood sugar level is particularly important. Plus chia seeds help keep you hydrated because they absorb water (a must for healthy skin and inner body health/healing). More than 20% protein, chia seeds are filled with a good mix of essential amino acids that your body doesn’t naturally make. Recommended dosage varies, but 3 tablespoons, 3 times a day is commonly recommended. Excellent place to purchase online: http://salba.com

Incidentally, a great website for checking out nutrition data is http://www.nutritiondata.com. It covers everything and has useful tables and comparisons.

So the winner? Undeclared. After researching both of these, I’d love to incorporate both; they serve different purposes and complement each other well. So my future smoothies will have both… It’s a win win for everyone.

Healthy Holiday Sweets…Yum! – Jill Sung

13 Dec

carrot mini cupcake

Not into holiday weight gain, but love the holiday sweets? I don’t actually love eating sweets, but I love baking…  And it’s fun to bake for holiday parties or as gifts to friends.  My current favorite, carrot cake. It’s pretty healthy as cakes go, and I’ve melded together a few recipes to create a healthier version that tastes great and is really moist without making me or the gift recipient feel guilty about indulging. Makes about 20 servings. Per serving: Calories with frosting: 219.4; without the frosting: 152.8. (You can check nutritional info for almost anything you make with this recipe calculator: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4  cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup apple sauce, unsweetened
  • 3 egg, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots(fine grating disc of food processor works well)
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained


  • 6 ounces, neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
  3. Pour into 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
  4. Frosting: Cream the butter and neufchatel/low fat cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.Mix in orange peel.

You’ll notice I replaced the vegetable oil with apple sauce and cut the sugar in more than half. Sometimes, people will partially replace the sugar with natural replacements like agave syrup (from the agave plant, doesn’t increase blood glucose levels) or xylitol (from birch tree – kills cavities)…but I haven’t tried these yet.

I love making this in mini-loaves, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes (the smaller the size, the fewer the calories and sugars per serving – you’d be surprised, but people will eat less when things are served in smaller sizes). For Yoshiko’s baby shower, we combined a plate of mini-cupcakes, and decorated the icing with a crying baby (that’s Metta’s artwork above!). Hope you love the recipe. I’ve gotten rave reviews, over and over again. Let me know your secrets for healthy baking or just your favorite recipes!

Snack Food for the Busy! – Jill Sung

19 Nov

dried gooseberriesSometimes when my plate is full, and my schedule is too jam-packed, I want to snack, but don’t have the time to make anything. When heading to work, I just grab and go! I’ve done the old standbys like baby carrots (dipped in hummus is tasty), grapes, grape tomatoes, granola, etc. But lately, some nuts and new dried fruits have caught my eye…

“raw” cashews – full of  “good fats” with an optimal healthy fat ratio of 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, they are less “fatty” than peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and almonds. Filled with phytosterols, copper and magnesium, cashews have been found in large health studies to kill bacteria often found in the mouth, decrease gallstone disease risk by 25% in women, lower the risk of developing type II diabetes and protect from diabetes complications by supporting healthy levels of triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

Eat 1/4 cup, 1-4 times a week. Less than 200 calories.

gooseberries – each one of these sweet and tart berries has more antioxidant vitamin C than an entire orange! If you can take the tartness, eat alone, or mix with nuts, but these berries are filled with anti-inflammatory bioflavanoids, soluble dietary fiber-filled pectin, and vitamins A and C. I love that these Incan fruits are dried with no added sugar or juices.

Eat 1 oz, 1-4 times a week. ~80 calories per oz.

For other easy snacks, try yogurt with natural preserves or fruit and agave nectar. Until the next nibble! Enjoy!