Friday, August 27, 2010

Join Lea and Be a Souperstar :-)

Being a teacher, one thing my kids' parents always ask me is how to get their kids to have better eating habits.Often times, they complain about how they can't get their kids to finish their food or to eat healthier food options. They also talk about how difficult it is to get kids to eat something other than fried chicken, chicken nuggets or hotdogs.

My answer has always been the same: there are three steps to good eating habits.  These are setting a routine, firmly and consistently observing this routine and being creative with what you give them. For example, getting kids to eat vegetables can be a challenge. Rather than giving them the veggies as they are, incorporate it into other dishes, such as adding shredded carrots to burger patties. Also, kids love soup on their rice, so they can definitely use this to their advantage. This is made even simpler with one of the most widely known and long-trusted soups, Knorr.

However, coming up with new and interesting recipes on a daily basis can be difficult for busy moms and homemakers. In comes Lea, who describes herself as a "domesticated Carrie". As the Souperstar of the blogosphere, she shares here experiences of trying to juggle everything a busy mom has to deal with on an everyday basis in her blog. She also shares different soup recipes in her blog. Her recipes are not only about soups, but also about how you can use the different Knorr soups in various recipes that kids will surely love.

Join Lea Souperstar in her continued quest to be the best mom she can be :-)


Friday, August 6, 2010

Homemade Tofu Burgers

Because I've been trying to diet (yes, totoo na!) I tried out tofu burgers because I've been craving for the real thing in a major way! But because I am determined to lose weight, I compromised.

I must say, these burgers taste better than they look, and seem for that matter.

Before making this, I Googled various recipes for it but I ended up just making one up along the way :-) This is my recipe. However, since it was an experiment, I didn't really measure stuff.

1/2 a block of tofu (the firm type. if you're using the small squares, two of those would suffice, I suppose :-)
a handful of oyster mushrooms, diced
1 slice of bread, chopped into small pieces
1 egg
5 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Crumble the tofu in a large bowl.
2. Add in your garlic, mushrooms, and bread.
3. Mix well. Add in the egg until incorporated well. Season as you desire.
4. The mixture appears a little wet, but it holds when shaped into a patty (not as nicely as a meat patty though)
5. Fry in olive oil (regular oil will suffice).

That's it :-) Even Bubba enjoyed sharing my burger. When I share regular fried tofu with him he spits it out, but this he liked.

Some other recipes called for breadcrumbs instead of the bread that I used, and some added onions to it, but since I've been too lazy to go to the grocery, I ran out of onions!

An alternative I plan to try in the future is making it a Turkey Tofu Burger. Yum!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happiness is a great bowl of tom yum!

After swearing off food events for the past three months in my quest to be a Fat Girl No More, I broke my fast for a Taste of Thailand at the Marriott Manila last night. And boy, was it a wonderful break!

My tummy is still reeling from all the sumptuous food I sampled!

As I told Chef Thanathorn Krobsuay, Thai cuisine is by far my most favorite in the whole world. In fact, it was even what I wrote about in the Yummy contest last year. When I saw the dishes in front of me, I immediately went into "takaw" mode, but I quelled that by taking photos first.

Initially, I was a bit disappointed because I did not see my favorite dish on the table, Tom Yum Goong. Well, apparently I was wrong because it was there! The reason why I thought it wasn't there was because I was looking for the signature red broth of tom yum, but what they had was the white one (which I understand is made of coconut milk). As soon as I tasted it though, I was in heaven. Yes, happiness indeed.

There were also a host of other Thai dishes on the menu:

And for dessert:

For a Thai food lover like me, I would have to say that The Flavors of Thailand buffet at tha Marriott Hotel Manila is by far the closest I've been to Thailand while in Manila. The buffet  is available for lunch and dinner daily at Php 1,350 (Php 675 for children). Sunday Brunch runs at Php 1,650.

Besides the authentic Thai spread, diners can also enjoy a wide array of other very delicious dishes. From fabulous appetizers to indulgent desserts, an evening at the Marriott Manila will definitely be a belly-filling experience!

For more larger, more detailed and higher resolution photos, check out my Flickr page :-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

On A Diet Daw turns One!

I didn't realize how quickly time flies! It's hard to believe that one year has passed already since I started blogging in this domain. If only I had been more aware (or perhaps paid more attention!) I could have hosted a contest! The reason why I actually realized that my blog had turned one year old was because I was thinking of cooking up a contest and I was browsing on what merchandise to use as a prize. I wanted to do something like what the site Patay Gutom did with their key chain promo.

Anyway, although I may not use it for this particular blog, I thought about mugs or perhaps custom t shirts as promotional materials and prizes for my future contests.I liked looking through the music tshirts category because they had cute slogans and designs, but for my purpose, I probably would use something in the food or education sections. I know I don't really have a large fan base yet, or have something to really advocate for at this point in time, but I guess this can be handy information in the future. For example, my cousin Inaki, who is running for a counselor seat in his home province this coming elections, can sure use inspiration from the T-shirt Guy to come up with a catchy and effective campaign t-shirt.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Divine Old Vine

this is the long overdue part two of a pre-Valentine blogger treat sponsored by the Old Vine and Kuse restaurants, located at the Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill. 

Before I started my blog post on the pre-Valentines dinner for bloggers, I said the two restaurants that sponsored the event deserved two separate blog posts simply because their food was fantastic :-) And I'm not just saying that because I was invited to the event! Seriously, these two restaurants are must-try's.

I particularly enjoyed the dishes served by Old Vine. As the title of this post goes, it was divine!

For starters we had the Tessie Tomas Salad (Php 295 for the regular, Php 595 for the large), Seared Tuna Tataki (Php 220/410)and Salmon Carpaccio (Php230/420) . All three were great but I enjoyed the Seared Tuna Tataki best.

For the main course, my favorite was the Poele Lamb Spareribs. It comes with a cilantro-curry sauce with mushrooms and vegetable risotto. I liked how the curry sauce was not too overwhelmingly-curried. The risotto was also nice and flavorful.

I am not a big fan of dory, particularly because I don't like the texture of the fish. However, the Baked Cream Dory in Old Vine made me change my mind. It had a very good flavor that compensated for my dislike for the texture of the fish. This dish is served with angel hair pesto.

During our pre-Valentine dinner, we also got to sample the Peppered Steak and the Chef's Quarter Steak. We also got to sample some great desserts! Boy was I full!

Old Vine is located at the Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill, Taguig.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Summer Kitchenomics

Being a part-time teacher, summertime means no salary. As such, I have paused to take stock over my financial situation and was appalled by the fact that over half of my salary goes to food. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Suffice it to say that everyday that I go to work, I spend about (at the minimum) Php 120.00 for meals and drinks.

Making baon is not always the easiest thing to do but I have decided that over the summer, I will try to figure out a way to make mealtimes more economical and practical. Also, I think preparing my own meals will be healthier, right?

One way I plan to do this is to experiment on quick and easy recipes that I can keep handy so when classes start up again, I will have them on hand and ready to go. I remember when I was younger, I'd grab a bunch of those Del Monte Kitchenomics recipes in the grocery by the meat or dairy sections. Most of my favorite Del Monte recipes would include pineapples and tomato sauce in the dishes. Although I dislike fresh pineapples, I seem to like it in some cooked dishes, like adobo. I haven't seen those in a while but a quick Google search led me to an upgraded version of these recipes :-) Yup, they're online! Those recipes I used to get in the past were quite helpful in teaching me how to cook, which was a good thing because my mom was never much of a cook. The online portal, on the other hand, seems like a more interactive approach compared to the past paper versions because mom's (or pretend mom's like me!) can share recipes and tips on how to make their mealtimes more affordable yet still delicious and healthy. Promos, resources, and new products can also be found in the site so this gives members a heads-up on what's out there. There are also games and articles that can help make kids aware of the importance of healthy eating.

So, come June, I hope to be more consistent in preparing meals to bring to work. Hopefully this can help cut down on my expenses and better yet, help me live up to the statement: I'm on a diet! A healthy one, that is :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tea Party for Two

photo by Janine

Watching the movie Alice in Wonderland recently made me think back to the time when I was still a little girl and I'd have tea parties with my dolls and stuffed animals. Now that I'm older, my tea parties have evolved, but it still is a great way to catch up with old friends. My tea parties are now in one of the local coffee shops (yes, they do serve tea!) where I get to enjoy lots of different kinds of teas. I particularly like chai tea lattes but nothing really beats dipping tea bags or tea leaves in a pot of hot water and pouring it right out of a teapot to a little matching tea cup. I remember that when I was younger, I wanted to start collecting tea sets because of the cartoon Beauty and the Beast. Remember Mrs. Potts and Chip? They were so cute!

A popular trend nowadays are the instant green teas that come in all different flavors. It definitely is a refreshing and healthy alternative to the carbonated soda craze that was the norm for most of my growing up years. Compared to sodas, green tea is known for it's health benefits that can help lower cholesterol. It is also known to be helpful for many diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and other diseases. It can also help with weight loss.

With tea becoming a popular beverage nowadays, people are surely becoming more aware not just of the benefits of tea, but also the different kinds of teas out there. There are tea stores now where you can get an assortment of leaves and the like. These are great gift alternatives, in fact. Rather than Over the holidays, my cousin made a lot of hand painted tea chests that she gave out to our aunts. It was a big hit! I kinda wish she gave me one too. I'd fill mine up with mint teas. What about you, what's your type of tea?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Taking the Green Step Forward

Last night before catching the special screening of Alice in Wonderland, my blogger friend Earth and I had dinner at El Pollo Loco. It was the first time I had tried that restaurant and I was quite disappointed for two reasons. For one, I was expecting something different when I ordered the nachos but I ended up with something that was too fried/oily for my taste. To be fair, the soft taco I ordered was tasty, but not as good as I was hoping it would be. I think Earth liked the taco she ordered though, because when I finally arrived, she went to get another one. What disappointed me though was that almost everything we ordered came in styrofoam boxes. And take note: we ordred for dine-in.

Albeit, comparatively, I am not a very staunch advocate for the environment, but I have realized that each one of us has to take responsibility for our share of destruction to our environment. This is why I applaud restaurants that make an effort to make their carbon footprint impact less. For example, when I was in Cebu last week, the Taters store I ordered in had a big sign encouraging customers to not take too many tissues and plastic bags. Starbucks likewise has that sign posted by their tissue dispensers. 

During the recent Superbowl, there was an ad about the audi green police and it was nice to see that even these companies are trying to make an impact on changing the habits of people around the world. Even though the ad was a bit of a caricature of the Green Police, which are environment advocates and in various parts of the world, the Audi Green Police tries to help consumers make more environmentally-appropriate choices, such as whether to use paper or plastic.

The real Green Police is an environmental task force that aims to monitor citizens of New York (there is also a UK counterpart)  and their waste management habits as well as their CO2 emissions. I hope we can have something to this regard also here in Manila. I think we are a little to callous and careless about our wastes and while I do see the convenience plastic, styro and the like give us, it needs to be changed or else we will have another Typhoon Ondoy disaster in the making.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bloggers Take on Yoshinoya

Yoshinoya, the home of the famous beef bowl, recently graciously hosted a dinner for some food loving Bloggers.
some of the foodies
photo credit: Iris Camille Mejia-Acosta of

I had tried Yoshinoya once for take out and it was quite a pleasant experience but since that time, I never had a chance to go back, mainly because there is no branch near my place. Suffice it to say I was really glad to have gotten the opportunity to come back and sample their menu once again. 

There are so many options to choose from! I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to try so I opted for one of the Jumbo plates, which is a bed of rice topped with their famous Gyudon Beef plus either Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Yakiniku, or Ebi Tempura. I tried the Jumbo C (P165), which is a combination of the Gyudon Beef and Tempura. 

I enjoyed the dish a lot! It was really good. Though the beef may not look like much (partly due to my not so good photography skills!) but it is really tender and tasty. I like how there is a bit of fat in the beef, but not too much that it makes it nakakaumay
A big hit for many of us that night was the Japanese Fried Chicken with Karaage Sauce. The yummy vinegar dip was perfect with the crispy chicken. I liked how the chicken was not oily at all, which is generally the case for many fried chicken dishes.

It was a belly-filling night for sure! I am a big Japanese restaurant fan and I love how Yoshinoya makes many of my favorites pocket-friendly AND high-quality. They definitely did not sacrifice quality for affordability.

However, for those who are watching their weight, I asked what would be the best option for a dieter. It was suggested to me that if you are on a diet, try the Chicken Teriyaki rice bowl.
It looks yummy, doesn't it? With a good mix of chicken and vegetables, the toppings are enough to fill you up.

Yoshinoya also offers Shu Mai, Yoshinoya Skewers and and several desserts. Do try the Citrus Green Tea which is simply delicious and very refreshing.

Visit Yoshinoya in the following venues:
SM Megamall Building A
Robinsons Galleria
SM North Edsa
Greenhills Carpark 2
SM Mall of Asia
Sta. Lucia East
Park Square 1

Friday, February 12, 2010

Take a Love Bite with Krispy Kreme!

This Valentine's Day take a love bite with Krispy Kreme's limited edition heart shaped doughnuts.

 Indulge in this sweet Valentine treat while enjoying the Krispy Kreme-approved movie for this love season: the romantic comedy Valentine's Day starring Oscar award winning actress Julia Roberts, heartthrobs Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift. 

Check out the new Krispy Kreme Heart Shaped doughnut with Hershey's Kisses chocolate available only from February 8 to 14. Old favorites like the New York Cheesecake, Hershey's Dark Chocolate, Hershey's Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter & Kreme, Blueberry Cheesecake, Snickers Classic, Chocolate Custard Filled, Sugar, Caramel Kreme Crunch and Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles also come in the limited heart-shaped edition. Take home a dozen for only Php 365.00.

Krispy Kreme is located in the following malls:
Bonifacio High Street
SM Mall of Asia
SM Megamall
SM San Lazaro
Ayala Avenue
Robinsons Galleria
Gateway Mall
Glorietta 4
SM City Annex (North EDSA)
Annex 2 SM Fairview
Marquee Mall

log on to to get updates on your favorite treat :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rediscovering Filipino Cuisine with Kusê

this is the first of two parts to the fabulous belly busting pre-Valentine feast we bloggers were treated to at Old Vine and Kusê located at the Venice Piazza Mall at McKinley Hill, Taguig.

There's really no substitute to honest to goodness Filipino food. Last week, I was among several bloggers treated to an early Valentines feast by owner Larry Cortez and by nights end, I was stuffed beyond belief! I was so full I had to pass on two of the dishes they had served us, the classic Bulalo and inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly). It smelled so good and I really wanted to eat more but there was no way I could. And that's a lot coming from me!

My favorite dish for the evening was the Fried Pla-pla with burong mustasa, balo-balo, escabeche and tomato salsa. I don't really know what escabeche is but I definitely LOVE balo-balo which is a (if I'm not mistaken) Kapampangan delicacy. It is a concoction made of fermented rice and generally has a very unpleasant smell. The one we had in Kusê, however, was not very stinky. It was perfect with the salsa and the fried fish. At first I though the fish was Tilapia and was surprised at how big it was! This dish costs Php 295.00 and for me, is worth every peso, seriously!

 It also complemented their best-selling Garlic Dulong rice nicely.A bowl of this yummy fried rice costs Php 95.00 and is good for sharing.

An interesting dish I sampled that night was the Paco Salad sa Laguna (Php 165.00), which is served with kesong puti and red eggs. Paco is, as I understand it, a kind of plant that thrives in the cool climate of Laguna.

For dessert, Kusê offers an different but definitely delicious sapin-sapin.

Overall, I would rate my dining experience at Kusê as excellent :-) An added bonus to dining at Kusê is that it is adjoined to Old Vine, so if you are craving for a more international flavor, you can just walk on over and order from that menu too.Watch out for my Old Vine review!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Healthier Options at TGI Fridays: Shanghai Chicken Salad

One of my favorite dining places has always been TGI Fridays. Albeit on the more pricey side for everyday, going to Fridays is always is a pleasurable dining experience. However, since I have been trying to work on having a healthier diet lately, I had to think twice about what I would order from their menu. My standard favorite has always been the Chicken Fingers, which are hand battered chicken tenders, fried to a golden brown and served with a honey mustard dipping sauce. It is served partnered with a plate of fries just the way I like it: thick with the skin on. While the chicken tenders may sound relatively heathy, I think the fried part plus the side dish of fries takes away whatever healthy features it may have. So today I decided to get the Friday's Shanghai Chicken Salad (Php 440.00).

I know ordering salads can often be a trap because not all salads are technically "healthy". While the greens may be good, the add-ons plus the dressing can be heavily laden with calories. Take for example a Ceasar's Salad. Salad, but lots of calories! The Shanghai Chicken Salad, on the other hand, seemed to be better choice given what it has on it.

The Shanghai Chicken Salad is a mix of Romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, Mandarin Oranges, chilled fire grilled chicken strips tossed lightly with a yummy cilantro lime dressing. The dressing is oil based as compared to other dressings which are creamier or more on the mayo side. I opted to have the dressing on the side so I can cut down on extra calories, which I did by using only half of the dressing served. I love this salad a lot because it has a nice balance between sweet and tangy. It's a refreshing and light salad, with just enough protein to make it filling and satisfying

The only downside is that their lunch size serving is no longer on the menu.While I finished the entire salad (after about three hours!), it's a little on the expensive side for an ordinary lunch date on your own. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sun, Sand and a Minute Maid: Instant Refreshment!

When Noemi of Pinoy Food and Other Cuisine posed the question about how you can best enjoy Minute Maid, I thought long and hard about it. It would be great on a picnic, as she so aptly wrote in her blog. It would make a fabulous punch with some chopped fruits for a little soiree. It could also be a fun drink for a tea party for little girls to enjoy! A Minute Maid Pulpy Orange drink could also be enjoyed after a long, hard days work or as a picker-upper when your mood starts to droop. It would be great to fight off colds and as a soothing and refreshing quencher when you are feeling feverish as the icy cool juice slides down your hot throat. There definitely are so many ways to enjoy Minute Maid but for me, the best way is to take a half-frozen bottle of Minute Maid Pulpy Orange (or Mango Orange if you prefer) down to the beach for some well-deserved R&R.

With a Minute Maid on hand, I get to cool down after lounging in the sun and soaking up the beauty of nature! It's fresh taste and pulpy bits helps quench my thirst plus keeps my well hydrated. What's great about Minute Maid Pulpy Orange is that it's flavor is as close to nature as you can get. It doesn't have that fake orange-y taste at all. The pulp bits are plump and juicy and in abundance throughout the entire bottle.

There's something, in my opinion, very primal about sitting in the sand. It's kinda like going to the very core of my soul. The Minute Maid I am drinking is kind of like that, I'd like to think. It's like going back to the very core of nature. Why? Because of the freshly squeezed taste of that natural orange goodness plus all the refreshing and juicy pulpy bits. Every gulp is definitely cools you down, inside and out! That's how I best enjoy my Minute Maid Pulpy Orange!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Got Sango-ed!

I've read many a Plurk, Tweet and status message about how people are craving for Sango burgers but I never really had a chance to try it because it's kinda hard to access. There are only a few branches and those were only in the malls I never really frequented. However, this morning after work at Shangri-La mall, I was walking towards Starbucks when I saw in the corner of my eye the newly opened Sango restaurant. I wasted no time getting Sango-ed!

I asked the waitress what the Sango specialty was and she said it was the Sango Master Burger (Php 125.00) and the Yakiniku Rice Burger (Php 125.00). It was hard to decide what to try today because both looked good, and they've both been given positive reviews by people I know. For some reason, despite my strong craving for a good burger, I ordered the Yakiniku Rice Burger. 

I was slightly disappointed with my choice, not because it wasn't good, but because I had not satisfied the burger craving! Nonetheless, the Yakiniku Rice Burger was good and very filling. The meat was tender and had just the right amount of fat that I like when I eat beef. It was also very flavorful: sweet and slightly salty but not not overwhelming. The rice was not as sticky as I wanted it, but had the typical Japanese rice quality to it.

Over all my first Sango experience was a pleasant one. The waitress was accommodating and took the time explaining the differences between their specialties. Despite having this for take-out, my burger was still pretty good even after the forty-five minute car ride. It smelled so good it took every ounce of effort on my part not to eat it while stuck in traffic!!!

Sango The Burger Master can be found at the following locations:
Rockwell Power Plant Mall, 1st Level, Makati City
Creekside Mall, Ground Floor, Amorsolo cor Herrera Sts., Makati City
Alabang South Supermarket, Alabang Zapote Road
Shangri-La Plaza Mall, 6th Level (near the Cineplex), EDSA cor. Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City

Ensuring Clean Tablecloths with Cheap Tumble Dryers

If there is one thing I cannot stand, it's seeing crumby food stains in my tablecloth. While this cannot be avoided, I always tell my companions that we should all take responsibility for ourselves and clean up after we eat. Some suggestions I've made are as follows:

1. Pick of the dropped food item with a paper table napkin or paper towel as soon as it happens.
2. If sauces or dips spill, wipe with a dampened paper towel asap.
3. Use one of the plastic placemats we have so we can avoid the hassle of having to clean up the table cloth after every meal.

To be fair, when it's daily dining, we are able to keep this in check most of the time. However, during parties or our weekly family day, there always seems to be some kinda mishap. I know it's difficult to wash and dry our tablecloths since we have a large 12-seater table so I promised to check out some Cheap Tumble Dryers to make cleaning up easier and quicker for all.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cucumber with Yogurt Dressing

Inspired by the Greek appetizer tzatziki, this cucumber with yogurt salad is an very refreshing and nutritious alternative to a green salad. There are many variations of tzatziki. Some add dill to it or even grated cucumbers but being the lazy cook that I am, I enjoy just making a simple yogurt dressing to throw over fresh cucumbers. It is also a good variation to the typical cucumber salad with vinaigrette that we Filipinos serve. Making the yogurt dressing is the simplest thing: just mix the unsweetened natural yogurt with crushed garlic, season with salt and pepper and viola, instant dressing. I sprinkle it with a little bit of sugar just to give it a sweet-sour taste. It is best to peel and remove the seeds of the cucumber before mixing this together because the seeds and the center of the cucumber kinda water down the dressing a lot. I love serving this with fried fish because the flavors mix so well. It also goes well with pork chops and inihaw na liempo or grilled pork belly. But to be honest: even on it's own, it's wonderful. An added bonus: great for weight watchers!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scrambled Tofu: A New Way to Enjoy an Old Favorite.

I have to give credit to my colleague L's mother for introducing me to the idea of scrambled tofu. The first time I heard it, I was a bit skeptical. I had never thought of cooking tofu this way. However, after trying it once, I was hooked! I can honestly eat this for days on end. What I like best about it, besides the fact that it is uber healthy, is that cooking it is so easy and flexible.It can be prepared totally vegetarian or mixed with meats or hams for those who want the added flavor. I have mixed this up with so many different ingredients and I have yet to find one that does not sit with me well. My favorite add-on to this is fresh shitake mushrooms.

This is how I prepare my scrambled tofu:


  • 2-4 squares (or 1 big block) of tokwa (I prefer the local tofu compared to the Japanese kind because it is firmer), crumbled
  • half of a large white onion, chopped
  • tomatoes (amount depends on you. I like lots of tomatoes in my dish), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter (may be
  • spring onions (optional)
  1. In a pan, melt butter and sauté onions and tomatoes.
  2. Add in crumbled tofu. Mix until tofu is cooked, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in spring onions and whatever add-on you prefer. 
Possible add-ons:
  • strips of Spam (I love the hot and spicy kind!)
  • fresh mushrooms, Shitake being my favorite!
  • cooked shrimps
  • ham or bacon bits
  • whatever floats your boat! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All Natural Homemade Yogurt

For my blog readers who have been following me for quite some time, I think it would be safe to say that you know how much I love frozen yogurt. Regular yogurt is another big favorite, whether on its own or as a dressing for salads. Soon, I promise to post one of my favorite dishes with yogurt, but for now, let me share with you a new source of healthy, all-natural and freshly made yogurt.

Based in Paranaque, Nanette Saenz started cultivating her yogurt initially for home consumption but soon, family and friends began asking her to make some for them and before long, she began offering this to an extended network. When asked what makes her yogurt different from commercial ones, this is her reply:

The milk we use is from New Zealand and/or Australia because if I'm not mistaken, they do not pump their cows with hormones and unnecessary antibiotics, as other milk-producing countries are said to do.  Also, we use whole milk, not powdered and reconstituted.  We would be hewing more closely to nature if the water component of the milk came from the cows themselves, rather than from our water supply, well-filtered as it might be.

Unsweetened yogurt gives you the most flexibility.  Toss in chopped sweet fruit, raisins, nuts & roasted oat meal and you have a delicious breakfast or snack.  Those with sugar issues can sweeten it with sugar substitutes.  It can be used as a base for salad dressings or as an alternative to sour cream or mayo.

The honey we use is extra virgin dark tropical honey.  It contains Vitamin C, catalase (an enzyme we need) & selenium (promotes good cell function).  Pinocembrin, a potent antioxidant, is unique in dark honey.

The fruit in our yogurt is canned without harmful preservatives and artificial (or, as some product labels read, "nature-identical" ) flavors.  Soon, we will be producing variants with fresh fruit and dried fruit.  Frankly, from a consumer's point of view, it would be best to purchase just the yogurt and add the fruit yourselves.  In this way, you not only save price-wise but you also eat the freshest fruit possible.

It takes 3 cups of regular yogurt--and thrice as much time--to make 1 cup of Greek yogurt.  The resulting product, however, is well worth the trouble and expense.  It is eaten traditionally with honey and chopped pistachios or walnuts.  An order of this, about 1/2cup yogurt served in nice stemware, costs P170 in a leading Greek restaurant in Manila.  It makes an excellent base for tzatziki, the Greek salad dressing, or the Middle Eastern white sauce that accompanies shawarma.

Yogurt freezes very well, by the way, so you can stock up without risk of spoilage.  Freezing the fruit variants are a great way to get the kids to eat healthy.  Also, yogurt is the answer for those with lactose intolerance who need the goodness of milk.  The microorganisms in it digest the lactose and convert it to lactase, which is readily acceptable to the digestive system.

The cup in the price list below is a standard measuring cup.  The quantity of the most saleable supermarket yogurts is 1/2 cup or less.  Do the math and you'll see that you'll be paying less for much better yogurt.

Price list

Unsweetened         P42/cup
With honey              48/cup
With fruit                 58/cup
Greek                   126/cup


Unsweetened         P46/cup
With honey             52/cup
With fruit                62/cup
Greek                  138/cup

In support of the environment, you are encouraged to bring your own containers.  Any container with a good lid will do--glass, Tupperware, reusable plastic tub; the only requirement is that it be very clean and very dry.  For those who prefer to purchase their yogurt in plastic cups (1/2-cup capacity) or tubs (1 1/2-cup capacity), there's an additional charge of P4 and P7, respectively.

For more details and orders please email At present orders are exclusively for pick-up only. Do feel free to drop her a line anytime!

Happy, healthy eating, everyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Smoke Resto

Trying to find a good yet pocket-friendly place to eat along the famed White Beach of Boracay Island is like looking for a needle in a haystack. To be fair, there are new places all around the new D'Mall that are more affordable than the restaurants on the main beach, but if you're looking for something different from what you can normally get here in Manila, try out Smoke Resto. It's a bit of a walk from the beach, but it is so worth it!

I first discovered Smoke way back in 2005 on one of my spur of the moment trips to Boracay. My cousin was still living in the island and she introduced me to the "cheap" alley where great meals are waiting to be explored! Back then, however, it was much cheaper than today. However, for about Php 80-125, meals are still cheaper than in the beachfront restaurants. It was so cheap, in fact, that one year, we ate almost all our meals there for the duration of our stay.

My favorite order is the Beef Salpicao, now priced at Php 90. It is a bowl of rice topped with tender beef strips, slightly spicy and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I love the flavor of this dish. It is not too salty nor too plain for my taste. This time however, I ordered the stuffed squid with vegetables. I would have preferred the squid to be grilled and seasoned a little more, but when dipped in soy sauce and vinegar, it was pretty good. I enjoyed the huge serving of vegetables though.

In the past few years, the menu of Smoke has grown a lot. I have yet to try many of their new dishes. I can't wait to go back to the island to do so!

Smoke Resto is located a few meters away from the Hey! Jude RESORT (not bar!). 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oodles of Goodness at Goodles

One of my favorite comfort foods is pasta. Be it smothered in a garlic and tomato based sauce or thick and creamy white sauce, it surely hits the spot for me. Despite my being a big pasta lover, I tend to shy away from ordering pasta whenever I am out for two reasons: one, I cook really good pasta (I will share one of my favorite recipes soon!) and two, really good pasta, I mean with the authentic, honest-to-goodness fresh taste at an affordable price is hard to come by. However, after trying out Goodles, a new and hip pasta place down at Robinson's Galleria, I changed my mind.

Goodles offers a wide array of innovative and sumptuous pasta dishes. Even the old classics such as carbonara and pesto are given a tasty new twist. To top it off, all pasta dishes range from only Php 130 to 170 only. What makes Goodles different from just the ordinary pasta place is that it offers fast, fresh and healthy choices in easy-to-go cups. This makes it perfect for a quick and easy meal. I can even take this in with me to a movie without worrying about how I'm going to eat it!

I initially ordered the Garlic Shrip and Chorizo pasta, which is described as "a slightly spicy olive-oil based sauce with juicy white shrimps and flavorful Spanish chorizo. Tossed into liguine noodles and topped with parmesan cheese". It was delicious! There was a generous amount of shrimp and chorizo althrouout my dish and not just on top.

During the soft launch where we bloggers were invited, we got to sample many of the other special dishes goodles have to offer. Looking at the cup may give the impression that it does not contain much, but when poured into a plate, you will be proven wrong! Just take a look at this order of Chicken Vodka:

Among the many dishes we sampled, this ranked second in my favorites list. I loved how the cream-based sauce was not so overpowering and thick, and yet super tasty and yummy! The one I loved best was the Grape Carbonara. Yup, Grape Carbonara. When I first read the item off the menu, I was a bit dubious because I never thought of grapes as something I would put on a cooked dish. I mean, we all eat grapes raw and on its own right?!?  However, after trying it out, I realized that this is a great variation of an old favorite.

Goodles is the brain-child of owner Shar Tan. I must admit, I never thought of packaging pasta the way she did! Many, many thanks for the invitation to a great pre-Christmas dinner treat, Shar! Thanks too to Fran of for organizing the wonderful blogger dinner at Goodles!

Goodles is located at the 4th Level of Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas Avenue corner EDSA, just a stone throws away from Movieworld.

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