Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Drop Those Fatty Foods

Today, life has become very easy for the modern man. At this day and age, there are a lot of instant, packed, processed and preserved food. For people-on-the-go, they find it very convenient to simply pass by a convenience store and grab something.

I love it when I shop for staples at our local supermarket. I recall my friends yelling "What are you looking at? Don't be so picky!". I find it very interesting to compare fat, sodium and sugar contents of certain foods, I sometimes wonder if these measurements are even accurate! I'm very particular about the fat content. So, when can we say we are consuming too much of it before we could notice symptoms of heart disease? First of all, let's take a closer look at the world of fat.
Check out the label

There are two main types of fat - saturated and unsaturated. Together, the two are called, Total Fat. Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol the most. Over time,this extra cholesterol can clog your arteries. You are then at risk for having a heart attack or stroke. This kind of fat is present in fatty cuts of beef, lamb, pork, poultry skin and dairy products like butter, cheese and lard. Some certain oils like palm kernel oil, palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter contains high amounts of this kind of fat. Unsaturated fat, on the other hand is a form of fat that is liquid at ordinary temperatures. Common unsaturated fats are derived from oily fish such as herring, tuna, sardines, and salmon; as well as from vegetable oils and nuts. While fats have a bad reputation among the general public (they could pose serious heart disease), they are in fact essential to bodily health, providing protection for vulnerable parts of the body, maintaining warmth in the system, disseminating vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K, helping to keep the hair and skin healthy, and acting as storehouses of energy. These fats are high in calories so they should be consumed in moderation. Thank goodness there are foods that can lower cholesterol levels.

1. Have some fiber for breakfast. Try that oatmeal pack sitting in your pantry for 3 weeks. Eat whole wheat bread products and whole grain waffles and pancakes.
2. Eat Beans! Don't throw them out the window and wait for a beanstalk to pierce the sky. Soy protein in soy products like tofu is very healthful. Try having beansprout soup or a hummus sandwich for lunch.
3. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Don't substitute fruit juices to whole fruits. Juices are fruits minus most of the fiber!
4. Befriend garlic. Raw or cooked, garlic contains compounds that hinders cholesterol production in the liver. Hah! Good thing I overdose my fried rice with garlic.
These tips are just some of a few,so simple yet I find it really hard to follow. Sometimes being hungry is like having an amnesia. Most of the time I forget all about this and if I do remind myself, I tend to bypass 'firewall' and 'security protection', haha. Well, anyway the bottom line is - you need self discipline if you want to have a low fat, low cholesterol diet.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Korean Food Craze!

I met a Korean girl while I was playing an online game. We started chatting about each others' country and I can't recall how the conversation went on but we eventually found ourselves talking about food! I just discovered that Koreans also use blood in most of their dishes like that of our very own dinuguan. Here it is:
This dish is called Soondae. This is a Korean pork blood sausage, it is stuffed with rice and sweet potato noodles. It is sliced and served with a dry dipping mix of salt, pepper, and ground chili pepper flakes. There are also other versions of this treat. This is often seen in Koreanovelas served by pojangmacha or street vendors. It is a very popular street food.

There's only one thing that kept me licking this picture off my computer screen...
Fried Kimchi Rice
The mere fact that kimchi is spicy and I hate anything spicy but this one looked so good, reminds me of tapsilog. This is Korean Fried Kimchi Rice. The name says it all - it's Korean, it's fried, there's kimchi and there's rice! Ahaha! There are a lot of interesting Korean dishes, try them out at your local Korean resto!

Bananas for Breakfast?

There's a new diet craze booming in Japan. It's called the "Morning Banana Diet".

Good Morning, Banana!
A Japanese opera singer named Kumiko Mori revealed she lost 15 pounds in just 6 weeks!

The whole concept of this diet is to eat a banana in the morning for breakfast and for the rest of the day, you could eat normally. Note, the term used here is "normally". Cut your rice intake in half and find a substitute for fried foods. The only liquid you can drink is water at room temperature (not hot or cold). You should eat dinner between 6-8pm, go to bed before midnight and have enough sleep. There was a study that lack of sleep could actually contribute in weight gain! So people, count your Zzz's and befriend atleast one sheep. Haha. These are just some of a few reminders in doing the diet.

So, what's with the banana you ask? Actually you could substitute a banana with another fruit, but then again, you can't call it "Banana Diet" would you? Haha. Well anyway, Bananas contain resistant starch, which ferments in your large intestine, creating by-products that block conversion of some carbohydrates into fuel. A University of Colorado study found that an increase in the amount of resistant starch contained in a meal "significantly increased post-prandial lipid oxidation and therefore could decrease fat accumulation in the long run." Replacing 5.4% of ordinary carbs with resistant starch could boost fat burning by up to 30% Practically speaking that means eating two bananas in the morning could enhance fat burning for hours.

This kind of diet is proven effective based on scientific findings. The good thing about this diet is it doesn't require exercise. Well, you could exercise if you want to, I think it would be better. This diet is also good for chronic breakfast-skippers for it provide metabolic boosts. I'm really interested in this kind of diet, if I won't go for vegetarianism I might consider this.


Friday, October 17, 2008

What's in a Cream Puff?

A year ago, I bumped into a cream puff bakery and I took a good look at them... very closely. They looked plain and boring but out of curiosity I bought some and when I tasted them, it felt like a breath of fresh air. That was the first time I went crazy over something unexpected. I loved how the creamy filling melt in my mouth, I just couldn't describe it. It was love at first taste. Since then, I regularly buy these heavenly pastry but I realized it was hurting my pocket. For four plain cream puffs, it would cost me 125 pesos. So I searched online for a simple recipe I could follow. Here it is:
cream puff
Cream Puff Pastry
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup boiling water
1 cup flour
1/4 tspn. salt
4 eggs
Stir butter and water in a saucepan over high heat until melted and until mixture is boiling rapidly. Add flour and salt, raise over flame and continue stirring until it forms into a ball. Cook for 30 seconds, remove from heat then beat in one egg at a time. Form batter into balls and bake at preheated oven for around 35 minutes at 356 degrees F.
creamy goodness
Cream Puff Basic Filling
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tspn salt
2 pcs. egg yolks (beaten)
Melt the butter, add sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly add milk then boil it. Add the egg yolks and cook for two minutes longer, add vanilla and stir constantly.

There you have it! You could also fill your cream puffs with flavored whipped cream and fresh sliced fruits for a simple touch, glaze them with egg yolks for a dramatic shimmer, and sprinkle a lot of things like powdered sugar of candy sprinkles, cinnamon, etc. You could also fill it with your favorite ice-cream flavors! I recommend vanilla and drench it with chocolate syrup.... Mmmmmm... Yummmmy! Cream puff is something that is new to us Filipinos, try it so you'll know what you've been missing.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Not Into Vegetarianism

Our family had dinner last week at a restaurant in Mall of Asia. Although I have been to this gigantic mall a couple of times, it never ceases to amaze me. This mall is the 4th largest in Asia, hence the name, I suppose. It is so huge, you could definitely lose your way here. That is if you have a bad sense of direction like me.

Anyway, I had a hard time biting off one of a broccoli's microscopic "branch" due to my newly operated tooth, so I just munched on a soft carrot and I said: "Hey! This chopsuey is really good!" And as always, I had a self-realization. Almost all of my college years, I've been struggling with weight problems. I don't eat a lot at times, but I still feel like I'm getting bigger everyday. Then it suddenly occurred to me. What if I submit myself to vegetarian diet? I tried a number of times, but I end up forgetting about it. How bout getting serious this time? Hmmm....

Conventional Cooking

I tried looking on the internet about this vegetarian thingy and I just found out that there are many kinds of vegetarians. Talk about complicating things.. Anyway, here are a few:

Lacto vegetarians - vegetarians that also eat dairy products however, they do not eat eggs. So I suppose they spread the butter and drink milk. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are like lacto vegetarians (reminds me of lacto basilai shirota strain or yakult or whatever), except they include eggs in their diet. Pesca vegetarians however, eat everything that lacto-ovo vegetarians do but they also consume fish. So I'm starting to think that if you include one more thing you consume other than what the mentioned type eats, your vegetarian name evolves.... again. Funny, people really want to make some things official. Above all this vegetarian jargons, this type is the one I really had in mind - "vegans". I don't know if they worship Vega but one thing's for sure, they only eat plant based foods and consume no animal product of any kind. I don't think I could handle this kind of diet. Geezz... what an exciting life they have!

Most people are turning into vegetarian diet for many factors like medical condition, religion, etc. but most of the time, I encounter people 'showing' they're in this kind of diet because of twisted reasons like I don't know, maybe they feel like they are fabulous and classy everytime they pierce their lettuce with their salad fork or maybe being a vegetarian is an indicator of being rich?! Let me quote something interesting and quite true from this one is by Donner and goes out for vegetarians trying to convince everyone that they are better than common omnivores:

When was the last time you saw a cauliflower flavored piece of bacon? You ever see a carrot flavored roast or a apple flavored steak? The answer to all of these questions are no... why? Because no one is interested in that kind of crap. However, as I look around the vegetarian side of things, I see hamburger flavored mushrooms, I see tofu that looks and tastes like bacon, and meatless ribs made out of God knows what. My question to you is, if vegetarianism is such a great choice, why the **** are you trying to make your food look and taste like meat?

I don't think a day would pass without me eating an egg or simply consuming any kind of meat. Most of the world's delicious foods have meat in them and I don't wanna die missing any of them. I don't have anything against vegetarians, but for those true blooded ones, I salute you, people.

Let's Eat Tapsilog

Italy boasts its pasta, Japan introduced sushi to the world, and Mexico is famous for its tacos. Well, for us Filipinos, we have our own rising star. Among the local dishes, nothing beats this trinity of heaven. Behold...

Heaven in a Plate

The perfect breakfast meal for many, comfort food for most. I myself, am a fan of this original Filipino dish - TAPSILOG. A combination of tapa or cured beef jerky ("TAP"), fried rice ("SI" from sinangag) and egg ("LOG" last syllable of itlog) best eaten with coffee or juice and a few tomato slices. And as always, wordsmiths are able to substitute that "TAP" for "LONG" (longganisa), "CHICK" (chicken), "CORN" (not corncob, it's cornbeef), "HOT" (hotdog), etc. Possibilities are endless and I'm sure future foods will have its own SILOG versions. Tapsihans or Tapsilog houses are scattered all over the metro, I'm sure you won't get hungry, some are even open 24 hours! Talk about convenience.

Now if I were asked how to describe life in general, I wonder how could I connect it with Tapsilog. Hmm... First of all, not all people would accept tapsilog like how I claimed it to be, the words I used above to describe Tapsilog may not be as heavenly to others. Therefore I could say Tapsilog is like life. Not everyone sees life as a gift, a wonderful thing. People look at life differently. Some people choose to live their life in disgrace, some answered God's calling, some are easy-going, others are too serious, etc. Just like the different varieties of tapsilog, people have teir own ways and means in their lives. You can't just tell someone that the path they chose is wrong the same way u would convince me that your corned beef is better than my tapa.

I prefer my sinangag with a lot of garlic and slightly toasted with a little zest of calamansi. I figured that each ingredient should be symbol in life. Sinangag is like a typical Filipino family. You can't call rice if it is just a single grain, right? Like in this country's family setting, it doesn't end with the youngest child, it extends up to your tito, tita, lolo, lola, cousins, 2nd degree cousins and family dog all bundled up in one house. Families go through a lot of difficult trials in life, yet they still stick to each other and the bond just kept getting stronger, just like sinangag which is slightly brown because of frying.

Eggs symbolize life itself, a beginning of something great. These are long-term goals that requires constant perseverance and commitment to achieve. I prefer eating my tapsilog with two eggs. Sunny-side up please! Well as for the tapa, it's my favorite. This is my tapa, the choice that I made. You can't say that I made the wrong choice. After all, only I have the right to say: "Ayoko na. Sawa na ako sa tapa ko." I would opt for another variety by that time but as for now, I'm still munching on this great invention.

Indeed this asian jewel should be known all over the world. Truly Filipino, simply amazing, definitely satisfying. So be proud! Next time you eat one, try to connect it with your life, then maybe, just maybe... it would taste better.