No more free shipping with iHerb

I was trying to put together new order on iHerb, and i was startled to find that the shipping is no longer a flat US$4 for orders below US$40, or free for orders above US$40, as it had been for the past 6 years during which i have been a loyal customer. I’ve only just placed an order on 25 Dec 2016, but, apparently, iHerb has overhauled the business from 2017.

There is, unfortunately, no clear explanation about the exact change in the shipping fee calculation on the website, which is a shame. The claim in their announcement about what’s new in 2017 is this: “significantly lower prices across the majority of our products, better shipping rates to your country–or both!”. Yeah, right. The supposedly lower prices (i checked, some items are around 10% cheaper, but others are the same price or even more than before!) may not offset the shipping fee. Continue reading No more free shipping with iHerb

iHerb product recommendation – supplements

I know it sounds lame, recommending supplements from iHerb. Supplements is almost entirely what iHerb is about. I suppose when iHerb started, they were selling mostly supplements, from which they probably derived the name iHerb, rather than the literal herbs (for cooking). Well, they’ve expanded their product offering a lot since then, selling toiletries, snacks and even toys.

Well, i have recommended getting fish oil from iHerb, and to date i am still taking fish oil as supplements everyday. No harm since it’s a very small cost. We (my wife and myself) have slowly expanded our daily supplement intake to include other things now, which is probably needful as we age. The other supplements that i have felt helpful are the ones for joint (knee) support. Continue reading iHerb product recommendation – supplements

iHerb product recommendation – dish soap

You must be thinking, why ship dish soap from the US when you have tonnes of choices in the local supermarket? Well, if you want dish soap made mostly of natural ingredients, then there isn’t much choices available in the local supermarkets in Singapore really. Does it make much difference you ask me, between chemical based and natural plant-derived dish soap. The answer is a resounding YES.

Better Life Dish It Out Dish Soap

I have actually been using Better Life’s Dish It Out dish soap for some time. It works really well on cleaning, and seems really gentle on my hands. It used to come in Sage and Citrus scent, which is rather strong but still pleasant smelling, to me at least. Now, iHerb seems to stock only the Lemon Mint scent, which is much more subtle and i think more appealing to most people. Continue reading iHerb product recommendation – dish soap

iHerb product recommendation – toiletries

This may sound crazy but i often ship toiletries from the US through iHerb. I mean, why not, since, for a flat fee of US$4, you can ship up to 6.3kg worth of stuff each time? Some of these products are simply cheaper on iHerb, and some are just not available in Singapore. Take for example, Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner (US$3.82 ~S$5.23) which i like to use on the dining table and kitchen countertop. The price in Singapore is $7.90.

RedmartMethod

ecover

Ecover Natural Stain Remover (US$3.80 ~S$5.20) which is very effective on my kids’ soiled clothing. Price in Singapore? $10.90.

ecoverredmart

There are plenty of choices (especially environmental friendly ones) on cleaning liquid for dish washing, kitchen and bathroom.

tomsofmaine

I also buy toothpaste from the US. I especially like Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste. It leaves a very clean and refreshing feeling. The price on iHerb for this product is a little steep though, and i usually buy 4 pieces at a time to get a volume discount of 12%.

Check out iHerb.com now for products you will be using day to day.

iHerb product recommendation – flour and baking needs

Believe it or not, i often ship flour from iHerb.com. They carry flour mostly from 3 brands – King Arthur Flour, Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. If you’re into baking, you would have come across the acronym KAF when you browse forums on baking. After a while you’d realize that KAF stands for King Arthur Flour, a highly regarded brand for flour. Naturally, you pay a premium for this branded flour, and unfortunately iHerb only offers the much-more-expensive organic variant (US$9.20 per 5 pound/2.27kg bag). The Market Place supermarket, and sometimes Cold Storage sells the non-organic 5 pound bag of Unbleached flour at S$10.30, so if you swear by KAF, the Market Place supermarket is your best bet (just for comparison sake, it’s only US$3.98 ~S$5.45 on Walmart).

BobsAP

Any self-respecting baker will recommend the use of unbleached flour. While i can’t confirm this, i presume that most, if not all the local branded non-organic flour are chemically bleached (since they do not state otherwise) Update: they now label their flour as unbleached. If you care about eating non-chemically treated flour, you could, again, buy from the Market Place/Cold Storage supermarket, or iHerb. The Market Place/Cold Storage sells Pillsbury Best (from USA) Unbleached All-Purpose (S$7.40 S$8.05 for 5 pounds) and Waitrose branded (from UK) range of flour. Update 4/3/2016: Fairprice Xtra or Finest also sell Pillsbury Best Unbleached, for only S$7.20. On the other hand, the cheapest unbleached All-Purpose flour on iHerb is this one – Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached All-Purpose White Flour (US$5.64 ~S$7.75 for 5 pounds). These unbleached flour are just slightly more expensive than the local branded flour, definitely recommended.

iHerb offers a very extensive range of Bob’s Red Mill products. While they are also sold at Cold Storage, iHerb’s is probably more comprehensive. You can have fun trying them out – whole wheat pastry flour, kamut, spelt, flax seed meal etc.

buttermilk walnutoil shortening

Other items you might be interested to get from iHerb for baking are buttermilk powder (saves you a lot of hassle from having to buy the fresh ones from the supermarket which you may not be able to use up each time), oilshortening (don’t use Crisco!), vital wheat gluten and baking powder (i find that the local brand Bake King Baking Powder has a tart taste, and more importantly, it does not state that it contains no aluminium, which poses a health risk).

Update: it appears iHerb may not ship Bob’s Red Mill’s unbleached all purpose flour anymore. It is forever out of stock, but when you check the stock availability with your location set to the US, you will discover that it is available. I suspect it is due to exclusive distributorship agreements, whereby iHerb is no longer allowed to ship to Singapore. Anyway, since unbleached all purpose flour is now readily available from local supermarkets, and the price is reasonable, there is no need to buy from iHerb.

Update 24/3/2016: I managed to ship Bob’s Red Mill’s unbleached all purpose flour from iHerb again. I find that it smells and taste better than the Pillsbury flour sold in local supermarkets, which is also imported from the US.

Update 16/8/2016: I think my shipment of Bob’s Red Mill’s unbleached all purpose flour in July was the very last one. iHerb has discontinued the product, as well as most other flour products for Singapore customers.

Update 2 Mar 2017: My current favourite flour is CJ Beksul, which is sold for S$2.10 per 1kg at NTUC Fairprice. I have no idea whether it is unbleached, but it tastes pretty good to me and is actually cheaper than those local branded flour. Anyway, here’s an interesting experiment on comparing KAF and Beksul.

CJ Beksul

Check out iHerb.com now for more products you will be using from day to day.

iHerb product recommendation – spices and foodstuff

If you’re ordering stuff on iHerb.com and have spare capacity for the shipment (up to 6.3kg), you might want to consider getting herbs and seasoning. There are plenty for you to choose from. Even if you don’t have anything in mind to get, you could try searching for the best rated or best selling herbs to see if anything piques your interest. That was how i ended up getting the Drogheria & Alimentari Organic Provence Herbs Mill which is made up of some of the commonly used herbs in French and Italian cooking. It works great in pasta. The pricing on iHerb is competitive (or cheaper in some cases) with what is found in local supermarkets, so if you want to try products from a different brand than those commonly found here, you can do so through iHerb.

A sample of other herbs i have gotten from iHerb:

chives
Frontier Natural Chopped Chives US$3.87 (4g), tastes close to fresh chives, handy and probably a lot cheaper to have it in dried form.

nutmeg

Drogheria & Alimentari Nutmeg Mill US$3.29 (40g), cheaper than what is found in the supermarket. Going to try making steak marinade with this.

taco

Frontier Natural Taco Seasoning, Salt-Free Blend US$2.93 (66g), for a Mexican/Spanish taste occasionally.

If you’re a health freak (i’m somewhat one), try Himalayan Pink Salt. The pricing on iHerb doesn’t compare favourably with what you find on Amazon (still within reasonable range though), but Amazon doesn’t ship Himalayan Pink Salt to Singapore, so iHerb is still your best bet (definitely cheaper than what’s available in Singapore). The best value Himalayan Pink Salt are Aloha Bay Himalayan Crystal Salt, Coarse US$5.90 (510g), which requires the use of a salt mill, and Fun Fresh Foods Himalayan Pink Sea Salt US$10.70 (909g) which comes in fine crystal form.

alohabayhimalayan funfreshhimalayan

Or try Celtic Sea Salt, which is “Doctor Recommended Since 1976”. I buy the ‘Light Grey Celtic’ version which is coarse and i grind it directly onto food for seasoning. You do have to bake the crystals to dry it before use because it comes in a slightly moist form.

celticseasalt

The other food product i recommend getting is Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey US$17.86 (1.36kg). This is an organic, true raw honey. It isn’t the best honey available out there, but it is probably the best value. It is super thick and creamy, doesn’t smell nor taste so good on its own actually, but great when made into a drink, with lemon for example. Once you’ve gotten used to this you may not want to go back to those processed and watery honey.

rawhoney

These are just a small sample of herbs and foodstuff on iHerb. Check out iHerb.com now for more products you will be using from day to day.

iHerb product recommendation – kids and babies products

brownriceceral

Baby products are easily available in any departmental store, where they usually devote a large section to housing baby products (lucrative business), i know. So why buy online from iHerb.com? Well, for me it’s the convenience factor, plus the availability of brands that are not generally found here.

iHerb.com carries supplements, snacks and toiletries for kids and babies. In my previous post, i have mentioned fish oil as being a good buy from iHerb. Besides that, you may want to get baby’s first solid food, like Happybellies Brown Rice Baby Cereal (US$4.99 198g). I have the impression that the baby’s food found in the local supermarket have a tendency to be sweeter, and they are expensive, given that i normally expect products sold in the supermarket to have a more “mass market” pricing. Just for comparison, here is a comparable brown rice cereal product from a local supermarket:

ntucbrownriceceral

iHerb sells this product as well, for US$4.99 ~S$6.83, but due to regulations, it cannot be shipped to Singapore. As you can see, for the price you pay here, you can get a superior product from iHerb.

earthsbestoatmeal

Another healthy baby snack i like to get from iHerb is Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal ($US 4.13 227g). It promises no added salt and sugar, nor Artificial flavors, Colors or Preservatives.

Other items i recommend from iHerb are Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel (US$6.14 50ml) and RADIUS Pure Baby Toothbrush (US$3.59). Weleda is a very reputable brand which is not widely available here. The RADIUS baby toothbrush is made of 100% Vegetable Based Bristles, which just sounds so safe to me.

weledatoothgel  radiustoothbrush

Check out iHerb.com now for more products you will be using from day to day.

iHerb product recommendation – fish oil

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA. This was the first product i bought on iHerb.com. It was while searching for fish oil for my then pregnant wife that I came across someone recommending to get this product, from iHerb.com. We opted for this instead of the one from the gynae as this seemed better quality. If my memory doesn’t fail me, the fish oil sold by the gynae was extracted from tuna. This one is from anchovies and sardines. To be honest i don’t know if that makes it much better, but anchovies and sardines do have much lower levels of mercury than tuna. Anyway, as the name suggests, Nordic Naturals was founded by a Norwegian (from the land of salmon and cod fishes), and focuses on making fish oil. I think the products can’t be worse than those from typical large pharmaceutical companies.

While nobody can make a conclusive statement about the benefits of consuming fish oil for young children, a lot of people would err on the side of caution, as did we. And so we bought Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA, which we dutifully fed our first child, but by the second child we got lazy, and of course my second child displays absolutely no sign of being inferior in any way. If you’re thinking of fish oil for your baby, you can give it a try.

I personally take fish oil as a supplement as well, after being diagnosed with having borderline high level of cholesterol (since years ago actually and i did nothing about it). I decided to do a little experiment by taking fish oil for 3 months and do a lipid screening at the end of 3 months to see if things improved. To my amazement my cholesterol level fell within the normal range. Again, i can’t conclude that this is fully attributed to taking fish oil, as i also consciously avoided high cholesterol food during that period, but i’m inclined to think that it did play a part. The fish oil product i used was Now Foods Super Omega 3-6-9.

There are many fish oil products on iHerb.com. Among the cheapest are Now Foods Omega 3 Cardiovascular Support (US$9.95 for 200 Softgels) and Madre Labs Omega-3 Premium Fish Oil (US$4.95 for 100 Softgels). At this kind of pricing, i think everyone can afford to take fish oil as a daily supplement.

Check out iHerb.com now for more products you will be using from day to day.