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.

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 saut√©ing 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).