Why did I start this blog? I have been having episodes of inflammation in my hands and fingers, feet and toes, and joints for some time now. I’ve consulted the doctor and have had tests done. It’s not rheumatoid arthritis and my uric acid is normal (tho at times borderline normal). In an effort to determine which food triggers the inflammation, I have been systematically eliminating certain foods from my diet and then bringing them back. After several years, I have now come to the conclusion that I seem to be reacting to animal protein in general (like some sort of allergic reaction). Different animal proteins affect me to different degrees; some cause inflammation faster than others. So I have decided to reduce my intake of meat. No, I am not going vegetarian; maybe semi-vegetarian if there is such a thing. I will be adding interesting and not too difficult recipes here as I find them. I will also include arthritis management tips that have worked for me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Silken Tofu

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been travelling some. After I got back I've been excitedly engaged in my new-found hobby – quilting! But the other day we discovered something new and I’d like to share it with you.

My husband and I were driving to San Pablo City when we were pleasantly surprised by the sign on the roadside. There was a newly opened restaurant; it was called YouTofu. My hubby just loves his tofu while I look upon tofu as a healthy alternative to meat. So although we had just eaten lunch, we turned into the road to check out the place.

The place was owned by a couple (Filipina married to a Taiwanese) who made their own tofu; there were two varieties – soft tofu and tokwa (fry-able tofu with a “skin”). The packaging was impressive. They even had soy milk!

Among the dishes on the menu was a tofu dessert. Perfect! When the silken tofu was brought to the table, we both reacted, “Oh wow, that’s a lot!”, but the wife reassured us that we would have no trouble finishing it off. It was a whole block of their soft, silken tofu that had been sliced and then doused with sweetened condensed milk and topped with small cubes/rectangles of “gulaman” (agar jelly). They also gave us a pot of their (house) hot tea (to contrast the sweetness of the dessert, according to the wife). The sweetness was just right for us tho and it did not take very long for us to clean the plate!

We also ordered take out for dinner. The wife said that “rushy tofu” was their best seller so far – it consisted of cubes of tokwa with slivers of pork in their special sauce. It was yummy! Their soy milk was good too! We will definitely go back there!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Meat-less Japchae

I  wanted to prepare japchae, a Korean noodle dish, and followed a recipe that I found on the internet (Source). However, I made a few tweaks. Since I did not want to use any meat, I omitted the beef. For the white mushrooms, I used oyster mushrooms. I also did not have any spinach on hand so I decided to substitute the spinach with pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) which was growing freely in my backyard (see previous post). The dish was delicious, if I may say so myself!


Starch noodles (“dangmyun”)
150 grams of beef (I omitted this)
1 bunch of spinach (I used pansit-pansitan instead)
1 medium size carrot
1 medium size onion
mushrooms (5 dried shiitake and 1 package of white mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms)
3 cloves of garlic
7-8 green onions
soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, and sesame seeds


Soak 5 dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for a few hours until they become soft. Squeeze the water out of them and slice thinly.

Slice a package of white mushrooms (2 cups worth).

Cut a carrot into thin matchstick-shaped pieces 5 cm long.

Cut 7 -8 green onions into 7 cm long pieces.

Slice one onion thinly.

Slice 150 grams of beef into thin strips. (omitted)

Boil 2 bunches of noodles in boiling water in a big pot for about 3 minutes. When the noodles are soft, drain them and put in a large bowl. Cut the noodles several times by using scissors and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Mix it up and set aside.

*tip: When you drain the hot water from the pot, don’t discard the hot water. Put it back into the pot so you can cook your spinach quickly.

In the boiling water, add a bunch of spinach (pansit-pansitan) and stir it gently for 1 minute. Then take it out and rinse it in cold water 3 times. Remove any grit or dead leaves thoroughly while rinsing. Squeeze it gently to get the water out, then cut it into 5 cm pieces. (I just boiled the pansit-pansitan and shocked it in ice water; no need to cut)
Add ½ tbsp soy sauce and ½ tbsp sesame oil and mix it and place it into the large bowl.

On a heated pan, put a few drops of olive oil and stir fry your carrot strips for about 30 seconds.

Place a few drops of olive oil on the pan and add your sliced onion. Stir fry until the onion looks translucent. Put it into the large bowl with your carrots.

Place a few drops of olive oil on the pan and add the sliced white mushrooms. Stir it for a bit and then put it in the large bowl.

Place a few drops of olive oil on the pan and add your green onions. Stir for 1 minute and put it into the large bowl.

Place a few drops of olive oil on the pan and add your beef strips (I omitted this) and your sliced shitake mushrooms. Stir it until it’s cooked well, then add 3 cloves of minced garlic, ½ tbsp soy sauce and ½ tbps sugar. Stir for another 30 seconds and then put it into the large bowl.

Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 3 tbsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of sesame oil, and 1 tsp of ground pepper to the large bowl. Mix all ingredients, then sprinkle 1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds on the top.

Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Salads Galore

When I’m travelling, it’s a bit of a challenge trying to eat food that’s best for me. I usually end up eating more meat than I should and I flare up. So every chance I get, I eat salad. I will order salad at restaurants; when I’m in a home setting, I make up my own. I mix salad greens with other veggies (carrots, bell pepper), fruits (fresh – strawberries, kiwi, papaya, oranges, grapes; or dried – blueberries, cranberries, prunes), nuts (almond, pistachio), cheese (small cheddar chunks or grated parmesan sprinkled over) and occasionally, bits of turkey. I usually stick to vinegar- and/or olive oil-based salad dressings (store-bought or made from scratch). I recently discovered Kraft’s light raspberry vinaigrette; I’ve put it on many salads that I’ve concocted and it tastes great!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Low fat peach cobbler

I found an easy recipe for peach cobbler (source); it takes only a few minutes to prepare and is low fat too. I tweaked the recipe a bit. I used canned peach slices (instead of frozen) and Sprite. To keep it low fat, enjoy it as it is or if you really must, top it with low fat yogurt instead of vanilla ice cream.


1 can (12-14 oz.) peach slices
1 cup (8 oz.) Sprite
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
4 Tbsp. light butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange the peach slices in a single layer in the 9-inch round glass baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda and (optional) salt. Using a fork, incorporate softened light butter to the flour mixture, until it is crumbly.
Sprinkle crumbly flour mixture over the layer of peach slices. Slowly pour the lemon lime soda pop evenly over the peach slices and flour topping mixture. Bake about 40-45 minutes. Let cool about 10-15 minutes before serving 8 servings with a large serving spoon.

Servings: 8

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quick Vegetarian Paella

I watched Gwyneth Paltrow show Ellen Degeneres how to make vegan paella on “The Ellen Show” just the other day. The recipe is in Gwyneth’s new cookbook , “My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness”. Since the segment was definitely under time pressure, the demo went fast. I’m always on the lookout for easy vegetable recipes and the finished vegan paella looked delicious so I went in search of a similar recipe. Here’s what I found

2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups (1-inch) chopped green bell pepper
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking brown rice
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed, or ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chopped tomato
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in rice and next 4 ingredients (through thyme); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in tomato, green peas, olives, 2 tablespoons parsley, black pepper, and artichoke hearts. Cook 3 minutes or until rice is tender and mixture is thoroughly heated. Garnish with additional chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

YIELD: 5 servings (serving size: about 2 cups)

Gwyneth’s recipe had eggplants in it; I guess you can add some in this recipe too. She also made her own vegetable stock.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Talinum Dip

In one of my previous posts, I talked about talinum (Talinum fruticosum). This herbaceous, succulent plant grows abundantly in the area where I take my early morning walks and just the other day I picked a big bunch. The plant has nice tiny pink-purple flowers and looks lovely in a flower vase. Then my daughter found this recipe for a dip that calls for spinach and I thought, why not use the talinum instead of spinach? After all talinum is also known as Philippine spinach.

Since the recipe uses frozen chopped spinach, I blanched the talinum leaves first, then shocked the leaves in iced water. After thoroughly draining and squeezing out the excess water, I had my spinach substitute.

Here’s the modified recipe. Blend together 2 cups yogurt (I used my home-made low-fat yogurt), 1 packet of soup mix (your choice of flavor; you can also use “ginisa” mix), ½ cup chopped spring onions, a few cloves of garlic and about 1 ½ - 2 cups of chopped talinum leaves (previously blanched, and thoroughly drained). Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may add grated cheese for added flavor. Refrigerate for a while to allow the flavors to come together.

The dip goes well with corn chips, slightly toasted tortillas or pita bread, or vegetable sticks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tomatoes and onions omelette

Recently I had the urge to make some cream puffs (see Foodshoot.blogspot.com). The recipe for the custard filling called for three egg yolks. So what to do with the egg whites? I did not want to make another dessert (like meringue). What did I have in my kitchen? There were the onions that my husband had brought home (lots of onions); I also had some tomatoes on hand. It was close to lunch time so I figured why not make an omelette? I just added one whole egg to the three egg whites and here’s what I came up with. Fast, quite delicious and healthy too!

Here's how to make a low-fat omellete.

Low-Fat Omelet on FoodistaLow-Fat Omelet

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)

Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are high in protein and is a good substitute for red meat. They are also high in fiber and can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels. Garbanzos are also high in minerals (like iron, copper, zinc, and magnesioum). They also provide a good source of molybdenum, a trace mineral needed for the body’s sulfite detoxification mechanism. (Note: Sulfites are preservatives commonly used in wines and processed meats.)

Hummus is a popular Middle Eastern dip that is usually served with pita bread; it also makes a great healthy snack when seved with vegetable sticks (like carrots, celery). Tahini is an important ingredient of hummus; tho it cannot be substituted, it can be omitted. So you can prepare hummus with or without tahini (Source). 

Here’s another chickpea dip you may want to try; it incorporates yogurt.

Garbanzo Dip on FoodistaGarbanzo Dip

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pako (Athyrium esculentum)

Pako (aka Fiddlehead fern) grows widely along the banks of streams, especially in less disturbed areas. Many of us are familiar with the use of ferns in flower arrangements; the roots are also used for growing orchids. Folkloric medicine has used decoctions of the rhizomes (see note) and young leaves as a cough remedy. The young fronds are eaten (raw or cooked) as a leafy vegetable; pako is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B.

Note: Rhizomes are horizontal underground stems that strike new roots out of their nodes, down into the soil, and that shoot new stems out of their nodes, up to the surface. This rhizome activity represents a form of plant reproduction (Source).

When I chance upon pako in the market, I always buy a bunch. The young fronds and soft stalks make a great basic salad. I simply slice up some tomatoes (you may add your choice of salad ingredients) and drissle it with vinaigrette dressing. For an easy vinaigrette recipe, check this out

Easy Vinaigrette on FoodistaEasy Vinaigrette

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guyabano (Annona muricata L)

The fruit of the guyabano (aka soursop, guanabana, graviola) is usually ovoid; it is covered with small spine-like structures. The pulp is fleshy, soft, white and fibrous; it is high in carbohydrates and contains considerable amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, potassium and dietary fiber. Guyabano is low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium.  

The fruit, seeds, and leaves have a number of herbal medicinal uses among indigenous peoples of regions where the plant is common. It is considered to be antispasmodic, sudorific and emetic. A decoction (boiling in water) of guyabano leaves is used to kill bedbugs and head lice. The decoction can also be taken internally to reduce fever; leaves added to bathing water is also said to have the same effect.

Crushed fresh leaves may also be applied to skin eruptions to promote healing, with less scar formation. A poultice of young guyabano leaves applied on the skin may help alleviate rheumatism and other skin infections (like eczema). It can also be used as a wet compress to provide relief for swollen feet and other inflammations.

The juice of the fruit can be taken orally as a herbal remedy for urethritis, haematuria and liver ailments.

There are studies being conducted to look into the healing properties of guyabano against cancers. Initial findings show that certain compounds and chemicals extracted from guyabano leaves, seeds, fruit and bark appear to kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells remain unaffected.

For more information on the health benefits of guyabano, check out the following links

Regardless of the many benefits that can be derived from guyabano, I have always enjoyed eating the ripe fruit as it is or making it into a shake. For the shake, I blend together the fruit pulp (remove the seeds!), low-fat yogurt, honey and some calamansi (for added tang). 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica)

Kangkong, Ipomoea aquatica, is a semi-aquatic (grows in water or on moist soil) tropical plant that is used as leaf vegetable. It is also known as kangkong (in the Philippines), water spinach, water morning glory, water convolvulus, or swamp cabbage. It flourishes naturally in waterways and is used in many Southeast Asian dishes. There are different ways of cooking kangkong; one can simply stir-fry and then season with your choice of condiment (like fish sauce, shrimp paste, fermented bean curd, oyster sauce, soybean paste) and spices.


In the Philippines, “adobong kangkong” is prepared by sautéing the kangkong (leaves and soft stalks) in cooking oil, along with garlic and onions. Then vinegar and soy sauce are added as seasoning. Kangkong is also commonly added in meat and fish stews (sinigang). As an appetizer, the leaves can be coated with batter and deep-fried to make “Crispy kangkong.”

Once considered a vegetable of the “poor”, kangkong dishes have found their way into restaurant menus. One of my favorites is spicy kangkong in oyster sauce. Another variation is found in the link below.

Stir Fry Belacan Kangkung (Dried Shrimp Paste & Water Spinach) on FoodistaStir Fry Belacan Kangkung (Dried Shrimp Paste & Water Spinach)

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Version of Fried Tofu

You can purchase firm tofu in blocks. I find it so much easier to slice the block so that it is about ½ inch thick and frying the whole tofu block in a generous amount of oil (no need for deep-frying really) until both sides are crisp and golden brown . Then I slice the block into bite-size pieces (the inside remains soft and white). This method is so much more convenient than frying each small piece individually.

For the sauce: mix vinegar, honey, soy sauce, chopped basil leaves, chopped onions, and chopped garlic (sorry, I can’t give exact measurements and quantities because I do it all by taste). Season with salt and pepper. Just pour the sauce over the tofu pieces.

Soya Bean Recipes on Foodista

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Talinum salad

Imagine if all plants were edible; maybe then no one would go hungry. I was recently introduced to a plant that grows freely around the area where I live and whose leaves are edible. The plant is called Talinum which is a genus of herbaceous succulent plants. Talinum fruticosum grows widely in tropical regions as a leaf vegetable. It can also be grown as an ornamental plant because of its foliage and tiny pink/purple flowers. As a leaf vegetable, T. fruticosum is rich in vitamins (including vitamins A and C) and minerals (such as iron and calcium). I prepare the Talinum leaves as a salad; sometimes I use it in sandwiches in place of lettuce. Pictured here is a simple salad made from Talinum leaves and carrots, topped with some chunks of low-fat cheese and vinaigrette dressing. A slice of bread (here, a mini ciabatta) completes a simple and healthy lunch or dinner. You can add more of your choice ingredients to the salad (for example, mango slices, almonds, grapes, dates, etc).