I’m regularly irked by Gym-Bars alike, these upselling outlets, preparing herb-infused juices to promote “healthy” choices with absolutely no understanding for combining ingredients that harmonize from a medical viewpoint.

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Lesson: You either try to loose weight or you want to convert fat into energy… You will regain even more fat if you falsely attempt Keto is a weight-loss solution… Besides, it is a dangerous a trend!

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On my travel out to New York, I sat in the plane next to a lady who, after a quick introduction, involved me in a deep discussion about “food and depression.”

It was not one of those agonizing in-flight stories; Actually, I would have loved to converse with her for hours more! People living in busy urban environments all know of others suffering from loneliness, having introverted torturing thoughts, and being pained with inadequate feelings… I, too, sometimes feel “downtrodden” or not as perceptive as I know myself to be. However, I have several methods of “coping” with the onslaught of depression. One of them is changing the “interior monologue” from bad to positive: Instead of allowing my thoughts to assume negativity, I willingly adapt to “correct” my dark spooks. I point in the mirror and say: ‘Hey you, I love you!  I will make you laugh’. When I frown back, I actually crack a smile…

In TCM, we recommend taking a daily cold morning shower, meditate. Adapt a two-minute yoga stretch because these actions initiate change; simply getting out of bed, opening the windows, allowing oneself to be happy by not drowning in “darkness” changes the path. Instead of watching NEWS listen to your oldies (loudly), take a quick dance step, lift your chin high and say something nice about yourself: “Hey! I’m the shit!” Talk to your plants. Point at your pet and tell them they are loved!

DO NOT sleep with your cellphone next to you. Please turn it off when you go to sleep until you’re up, out of bed, and awake!

managing depression

We are clearly the result of what we do and what we eat. Food is a major factor in how we feel; here is your blog that might encourage you to change a few things to curve your mood and for the wise one to avoid losing your mind.

First off, if you are a moody person, cut back on sugar and never, NEVER consume anything that contains Aspartame. Let’s learn something about the chemistry that directly influences our neuro-receptors in the brain. This is important to understand when activating your full brain function while studying or preventing inherited genes from “freezing” our mental capacity. Whilst we are at the NEVER consume power-drinks named fittingly “Monster” or “Booster” – you kinda know they are bad. It’s just not totally respected how horrible their side-effects are. Manufacturers quickly jump onto modern science to create supplements based on isolated information. They will express (advertise) that we are all made from the same matter and react uniformly. These drinks are especially horrid when you’re depressed!

That’s when I am telling you to turn the NEWS back on and realize we are NOT the same. Made of equal matter, similar prepositioned in mobility but limited by genes and gravity – certainly not similar when acting outside human compassion towards others.

“Brain foods” are obtained from eating high protein such as meat, dairy, avocados, soy products, and certain nuts and seeds. What makes them ideal for mental health is their high content of phenylalanine that, through proper combination and digestion, convert into tyrosine (another amino acid) used in protein synthesis. For the few I lost above: A healthy brain needs Kefir, hard cheese, avocado, lentils, chickpeas, seaweed, pumpkin, non-heated coconut fat, cold-pressed oils, and black sesame seeds. For the lesser vegetarian, there is lots of phenylalanine in meat, fish, and eggs. Artichokes, parsley and oregano (extract) contain apigenin, an antidepressant, and broccoli will help keep your liver healthy and detoxify.

In humans, phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that must be obtained from the diet and not from an isolated source (sorry, most isolated products have minimal benefit…). In contrast, tyrosine can be synthesized in your digestive tract from phenylalanine and is considered a non-essential amino acid. Both compounds can be altered into chemicals that affect mood and brain functioning by controlling the “side-dishes” you swallow simultaneously. We eat terrible combinations of foods; they are often deprived of natural sources for phenylalanine and tyrosine, so frequently, we take them as nutritional supplements. This is not ideal; it’s like a chest implant; it might look nice, but there is no strength or actual physical function. Juicing and fasting during depression is NOT healthy!

L-Phenylalanine turns into L-Tyrosine that is converted into L-Dopa (dopamine), which stimulates the brain to either “like” or “crave”… A healthy brain needs this to function! And here is a dilemma, it can be abused to make you addicted to the wrong foods if viciously added. Industries (as do drug dealers) keep you hooked when promoting you to consume a chemically altered substance… Some people suffer from a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU), in which phenylalanine is not metabolized. It can build up to toxic levels and cause retardation and death. The artificial sweetener Aspartame is one of the modern spikes for growing brain illness in babies! A combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine is a common component in diet sodas. I have clients with serious mental problems consuming daily sodas, popcorn and artificially enhanced products while medicated to prevent losing their minds. We are a weird species! I have a doctor friend that drinks diet coke daily and claims he is totally healthy…

Anyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s. Amyotrophic (ALC) Lou Gehrig’s and neurodegenerative diseases should never consume artificially modified food products. These restrictions include ALL artificial sweeteners… yes, Stevia included! Before you run to the health store and buy DL-phenylalanine synthesized supplements, try eating accordingly. Nature is chock full of healthy solutions that are tasty and cause no side effects. Health food stores hype their products with unlimited shelve storage dates and are far revoked from “natural” (even though it’s printed BOLD on their packages).

Changes in dopamine levels can benefit mood disorders such as depression and diseases such as Parkinson’s. People with PKU or who take antidepressants and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take supplements of phenylalanine.

manage your food to control depression

Start your day with a positive thought! Drink a glass of room temperate water with a slice of fresh ginger in it (ginger significantly enhances cognitive function) and eat bran cereal or oatmeal that is only slightly sweetened (honey). Eat plenty of berries and fruit but do not eat totally white bananas. They are not healthy and do not contain as much phenylalanine compared to “spotted” ripe bananas.

It would be best if you ate an avocado every week, increased your consumption of pumpkin, blanched kale, cooked broccoli, and bruised spinach. They are tough to digest raw! Eat chickpeas, hummus, lentils, and pumpkin seed whenever they are presented; It’s super-rich in brain oil. Consume a few sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, or any (unsalted) nuts; when feeling like “snacking,” they curve appetite and nourish your skin and lungs. Pumpkin seeds and freshly pressed oils are ideal if not roasted or baked… Avoid popcorn, sodas, and anything that is lazed with sweetener; it will probably block good dopamine effects and is merely designed to keep you hooked. When fermented (cheese, some yoghurt, and butter), dairy products are healthy and rich in brain-fatty acids. Milk is not. If you are already affected by a neurological disorder, you need to avoid too much soy product, avoid artificial starches (bread, pasta, pastries) and consult with your doctor about foods that might interfere with your medication.

I am working on recipes, specifically targeting foods that benefit the brain…

Until my flight back to Los Angeles… Enjoy and share!

TCMchef raphael


Botox, not what I expected…

In the past, my blogs promoted food products, TCM remedies, and travel experiences, all mixed with a touch of personal views and political ranting. As Private Chefs within the  Estate Managers Association we are super cautious when promoting personal services: We rely on hands-on experience and facts!  During January’s 2014 meeting of the EMC (Estate Manager Coalition), I was introduced to Clinical Director Lovely and her husband, Jake Laban from Skin by Lovely in Santa Monica. Yup, this is about Botox…

What a small world: I met a beauty professional in Beverly Hills! Ah, yes – I too look into the mirror with wondrous eyes: What the heck…?

Botox a skin by Lovely treatmentI express no fear of appearing original. As my close friends will quickly confirm, “there is hardly anyone as simple about their hair, fashion, and exterior …” Self-appearance to me is embracing seasons, waving off the notion of visual beauty by appreciating my aging, and foremost focused on how I reflect in the heart of others.

Working as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) chef in Hollywood certainly confronts me with every aspect of adjusting to life, intending to stay healthy, fit, and sharp. That includes the sometimes odd struggles we witness of public figures trying to defy vanishing good looks – by replicating an advertised “beauty-standard” of modern media.

My grandmother had such lovely “happy lines” (some know them as ‘wolf lines’) around the edges of her eyes –her beautiful face exhibited comfort, wisdom, and happiness.

I also remember the moments she carried me out of the bathtub, wrapped in a plush towel, kneeling to my level and gently applying cream onto my face while encouraging me to take care of my skin. Bathing was a spa moment. She, too, with all her simplicity, understood the need to take care of our body.

Now, having celebrated 50+ years rushing through life, I’m confident that those moments – when I engaged in caring for my exterior reflection – have preserved me from too much damage. Today I look into the mirror with the mindset of a twenty-one-year-old and ponder about the wrinkles. Hey, I’m not quite ready!

Why not boasting my ego a bit? Modern science provides us with simple and effective opportunities to improve our morals. From a TCM perspective, we encourage you to engage in soul-boosting activities. We live in a toxic world, and professional, gentile treatment by a qualified healthcare professional is a perfect solution.

This is not about “altering”  – the magic is in enhancing, preserving, and health.

skin by lovely botoxSKIN by LOVELY came highly recommended to me, I agreed to an appointment. Lovely and her Team invited me to their medical office in Santa Monica for a consultation. Walking from Wilshire Blvd into the tranquility of her office instantly reassured me that I was in professional hands. Aided by the chocolate truffles and coffee machine, I quickly found comfort in talking about the possibilities available. This is a perfect fit for VIP principals to consult any of their beauty questions.

The team is a stellar cast! Lovely herself is a leading trainer in her professional trade; I learned that Skin by Lovely is actually the busiest Botox clinic on the Westside and one of the busiest in the country, so I knew I was in the hands of a true expert.  Her second VIP office space is perfectly suited for celebrity treatments, with a discreet elevator entrance from a secure parking structure directly beneath.  Or, you can hire her specialized care for a ‘house-call.’ There were no uncertain moments, no pain, and I actually walked away as if I had a coffee break with a good friend. My comfort level was completely intact. I went back to work, having never used the word “vanity”…

Thank you, Lovely and Team!

chef raphael


It takes hours to prepare a dish you consume in minutes…

Life of a chef: I miss the jungle, that gypsy blood in me – inherited, I’m convinced… My love for TCM food is to prepare bites that give others pleasure, even for a few minutes.

It is truly odd coming back to Los Angeles after spending time in pre-Olympic Europe and Singapore. Tossed around by rain in London, hail in Switzerland, and the brutal humidity of South East Asia – I’m still wandering in a cloud of jet-lagged daze. Impossible to adjust to my craving for spicy curry… Good quality of life, healthy food, living without texting, cultural discoveries. A well-adjusted sense for business lacks in the US. Although I love living in California (yes, the weather), I tend to compare and wish to surround myself with only the best from other lands.

I rebound with familiar faces from the rwp (red, white & pure) days in Singapore. Not much seems to have changed. As life moves forward, we merely become wiser about the past and cautious about the future. A sense of belonging when dealing with EYS (Eu Yan Sang) mixed with a peculiar hesitation. I love the general intelligence, the kindness of Asia cultures. I do clash a little with my “pushy” American attitude, trying to add quick efficiency. Seemingly, my free-spirited and enthusiastic ways of adapting to the possibilities do not align with a corporate structure of a slow directive approach. Here at home, we are more expedited in developing ideas into reality but lack a sincere and logical business structure.

The need on both ends to come together and bridge a complex TCM conundrum is still the same. I have developed into a gifted, versed chef with the unique ability to incorporate simple herbal formulas into tasty food. EYS has the ingredients, the testing facilities, and production factories lined up and need my talent to produce intelligent food concepts that can attract a worldwide multi-generational clientele. How do we come respectfully together? The opportunity to learn Traditional Medicine is my lure…

My dilemma is still the same: It’s hard to promote oneself as a good chef; Until you have sat on my table, tasted my food, shared my compassion… my job’s best resume is a short-lived three-dimensional experience. What seems a quick “toss-together” of seemingly lucky gestures and choices is actually a professional methodic selection of actions to blend wisdom – years of study and struggle – into a dish. IT IS METHODIC AND WELL THOUGHT OUT when I form flavor, balanced taste, and target sensations. The critique is brutally quick. One bite, judged by a few seconds of lesser joy, and my entire reputation is murky!

An irate chef would burst into a defensive mode of reactions, insulted by the simplicity of the judging entity that seemingly excluded years of study, ignoring the artistic layers incorporated in a dish judged… Judged by a lesser compassionate palate, unaware of the circumstances that now counter against the master: The soils composition, the mediocre bare ingredients, the lack of tools and time… The personal facts, the judge’s physical momentary circumstances…? This instant measures one few seconds of tasting a nibble and a whole life.

I have long learned not to give in to such negative notions. One must look at the entire experience: Secured by my research, supported by my wisdom, and motivated by my drive to please the most common of palates, I embrace a challenge and provide solutions. The simplicity of merely cooking a meal to please and earn an income bores me. Today’s life dictates that we find healthy solutions and combine the best minds to create intelligent food without synthetic toxins. My motivation is not the business aspect, although I respect that money is vital to sustaining trade and production.

Back to the drawing tables – in my case, the test kitchen… I gotta get this right! My sense is to work, show my kind intentions, and trust that others will protect my rights.

At this point, I find myself newly motivated by the possibilities presented. It feels incredible to be a part of a development that sincerely caters to bring intelligent foods to the masses. Changing a world where most “nutritional” food is a farce. I welcome the opportunity to design TCM food for EYS again. This requires my artist side to bow to the slow-moving process of regulations and bureaucracy…

Is there a decent curry house in Los Angeles?

TCM chef Raphael