Tag Archives: food

gardening with kids

when they touch the soil and witness something growing from it, they learn how much they are part of this earth..

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Farm and garden work are very much part of our every day life. For one, we are running an organic agriculture enterprise. At the same time, we are growing as much food as we can in our own backyard because we want to eat fresh and healthy all the time. This has rubbed off on our kids, and in fact, they now play a bigger role in tending to our backyard garden.

You might wonder, what kind of gardening work can young children actually do? Pretty much everything, I would say. Continue reading gardening with kids

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the daily soup

soup diet, anyone?

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I started a new fad in my household. We now eat soup more times in a day than we have dessert. Not kidding. I love soup. Ari likes soup but only occasionally, like every time we eat out 🙂 Uri hates it. Turo is so-so about it. But hey, I’m the President of my kitchen. I do the grocery and get stuff from the market and pay for takeouts and I set the meal plan for the week. In short, I wield a lot of power over everyone else’s food choices. So one day, I woke up and said, we’re gonna eat soup everyday. And so we did.

Every morning, I wake up, cut up vegetables, simmer them in water, add a pinch of spices, a sprinkle of herbs, maybe some milk or yogurt or cream, grated cheese when I’m feeling fancy, or egg when I’m feeling exceptionally hungry. And then the rest of the pack wakes up to a bowl of soup each, with toast or crackers on the side. That’s what we have for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY for about a month now.

Nobody’s complaining. Who could resist my I-don’t-have-to-fix-my-own-breakfast offer? So y’all might think I’m dragging my entire household into this diet revolution, but there’s more to it than trying to lose pounds or belly flabs.

Why go on a soup diet? Continue reading the daily soup

the life we live daily – conscious consumption

Practicalities in everyday living need to be just that – practical.

Four years blogging and I cannot instinctively say that my life has changed drastically since. There had been changes — some major, some hardly noticeable. And this blog was a likely witness to most of them. So, in honor of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I start a series of posts that will hopefully serve as a snapshot of my life at the moment, which I know I would lovingly look back to in a year or more.

The first post in this series I call “the life we live daily” speaks of a topic close to my heart, environmental preservation, and the real and doable things that we do in order to make a positive difference to our well-loved earth.

I have written plenty in this blog about changing our purchasing and consumption habits so that we could reduce our negative environmental impact.

The food that we eat

The local food project

Lifestyle check: reduce, simplify and reduce

Ilog maria finds

Greener gift giving

Diaper duty 

This commitment to environmental preservation through conscious purchase and consumption, is not only a personal advocacy, but one that we try to do as a family. We realized that food expenses lead our consumption pyramid and by changing the way that we eat, we can make a significant difference in the way and in the amounts we consume.

Our food prioritization principles are simple.

  1. What we eat should be organic.
  2. If we can’t get organic, these should at least be locally sourced, and best if we personally know the farms or sources where these are derived. By locally sourced we mean coming from the same province or region we are in.
  3. We choose products that use less packaging, therefore less waste, and have gone through less processing.

Below I list down a number of basic food categories, our sources and the reasons why we choose to buy religiously from these sources. Please note, however, that some of these products may be significantly more expensive than conventional ones, while some are practically free (eg. plants we grow ourselves); but that we choose to purchase them for the overall environmental and health benefits we derive from them. Towards the end of the table I also include non-food products that we use regularly that we source in a similar way.

Products Source Reason for buying
Dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB only pasteurized products coming from grass-fed carabaos; non-homogenized, non-UHT, which means more nutritional content than dairy products in groceries
Eggs Micah’s Eggs

micahseggs.com

Pila, Laguna

we know the farm to be environmentally compliant and to maintain high standards of quality and freshness
Meat Herb Republic

http://www.herbrepublic.biz

Bay, Laguna

antibiotic and growth hormone-free pork and chicken
Deli (hotdogs, mortadella, bratwurst, etc.) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB a selection of preservative-free sausages made from carabao meat
Rice (upland organic black rice) La Trinidad Organic Producers Association, Benguet we mix black rice with regular sinandomeng rice to supplement nutrient content
Culinary Herbs (basil, Italian oregano, mint) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Medicinal Herbs (lagundi, native oregano, calamansi, gynura) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Fruits farm-grown bananas

seasonal fruits from neighboring towns

Cooking oil Minola coconut oil

San Pablo, Laguna

 

coconut-based, which is abundant here, and locally sourced
Bath products (honey propolis shampoo & body wash) Ilog Maria Farms

http://www.ilogmaria.com

Silang, Cavite

organic and biodegradable soaps from propolis (a by-product of honey production). we found these products to be effective cleansing agents without stripping the skin or scalp of necessary oils or proteins. we also use calamansi slices as hair conditioner.
Laundry products Champion Natural

Perla white bar

we use a biodegradable detergent and a coconut-based laundry bar soap. we also use fermented rice washing to soak soiled clothes before washing with detergent.

the food that we eat

the truth about healthy eating is now sinking in..

I have mentioned quite a few times in this blog (here, here and here) how we are trying to revolutionize the way we live to fit into what can be considered a “sustainable lifestyle.” While moving out of the city was the biggest influence for this change to happen, we also realize that at the core of this sustainable lifestyle are choices that has to do with the food we eat. Because these are choices that we have to make everyday, and with every meal.

our children have developed an acquired taste for carabao milk products. we have a preference for carabao milk and yogurt, which we purchase from a local source, because we know these went through less processing than milk products you would often find in supermarkets.

Looking at where we stand financially, it would seem an unlikely move to be shifting to an organic, natural and whole foods diet, considering that such food options command premium prices in markets at the moment. But the thing is, this lifestyle shift I’m talking about is not just a trend that we’re trying to jump on, but it is in fact our commitment—to be able to live well—and our investment—to have healthy minds and bodies for years to come.

Whole foods is the general term for foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or foods that are processed and refined in as little ways as possible. As a rule, we make it a point to buy fresh food items from the market and avoid the grocery altogether as most of the items found here are commercially processed and make use of a lot of synthetic packaging. Our family loves cooking and eating at home, and refraining from “instant” and “canned” and “processed” food items was not really difficult. What was more difficult, in fact, is changing our mindset that going for groceries is an essential part of our day to day living.

Natural foods are those grown naturally without the addition of harmful chemicals such as pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. We are blessed to have a small piece of land to till where we grow some of our vegetables, so shifting to a diet filled with organic and chemical-free vegetables came in quite easily.

The last but major item in our diet revolution is shifting to all-organic meat. Since the previous month, more than 50% of the meat we cook and eat came from farms employing natural and sustainable farming practices. We are lucky to be networking with enterprises whose objectives are similar to ours—that is providing healthy and natural food sources at the most affordable prices possible. We have started purchasing organically raised chicken and pork, eggs from organically fed ducks and hens, and ocean-caught seafood.

The thing is, the prices of some of these items that are now staples in our food list cost several times as much than their conventional counterparts. To give you an idea, here are the prices of some of the food items we buy from what we consider healthier sources, compared with their price if we bought them at regular sources.

Regular market price Price of organic/natural Price difference
Pork PhP 170/kg PhP 195/kg >15%
Chicken PhP 120/kg PhP 170/kg >25%
Rice PhP 34/kg PhP 120/kg >250%
Fresh milk PhP 50/liter PhP 95/liter >90%

Indeed, some of the food items that we purchase are that much more expensive. Considering that these are food staples, a lot of you may wonder how we are able to afford such food choices. The key is in finding portions in our food budget that we can spend less on. Like vegetables, for example, because we grow some of our own, we can spend as much as nothing on vegetables on some meals in a week.

When it comes to fruits, buying local and seasonal fruits is key. Fruits in season are always at their cheapest. We had just left rambutan season, now we are thriving in calamansi before prices start to climb up again. Lansones also come in cheap nowadays. And we have banana and papaya trees so we have free fruit sporadically throughout the year.

Another tip is to finding less expensive alternatives to these expensive food staples. When it comes to meat for example, because organic meat is definitely more expensive, we are now trying to expand our protein sources to include more beans, legumes, nuts and soy. This way, we can cut down on our organic meat purchases without sacrificing our protein requirements. For rice and bread, there are plenty of local food crops that can be as filling, as healthy but much less expensive. Take cassava, camote, saba bananas, these are very cheap sources of carbohydrates that some of us often overlook. And when my children won’t eat boiled cassava? I make them into muffins, and they’d have no way of finding out that they’re eating some of the best calorie sources there is.

The good thing about maintaining an organic, natural and whole foods diet is that you are assured of better nutrition because these foods contain more complex micronutrients than processed or refined products having the same ingredients. So even if you skip meat on a meal but eat organic potatoes and parsley instead, you will still get your protein and vitamins and minerals because these contain a fairly balanced amount of nutrients.

So yes, we have made another step forward towards a truly healthy lifestyle. The first steps are really the most difficult. Still, it can be done. We are a normal, middle-class family, and yes, we can afford this kind of lifestyle. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a matter of choice.

sisig kapampangan

I’ve always placed sisig under the category of “bar foods” but my mother-in-law tells me otherwise.

For the longest time, and probably for many of us, sisig is just about equivalent to anything you eat while drinking ice cold beer. So long as it is piping hot, because it is served on a sizzling plate with a newly cracked egg that’s supposed to get cooked from the dish’s own heat, is fine and I never really cared enough to pay attention to how it tastes.

Sisig is of Kapampangan origin. And so is my mother-in-law. And just recently, she opened my eyes to the real deal–that Sisig is a tradition like no other, and just like any other delicacy, you need to be under the tutelage of an elderly Kapampangan to master. Here are 3 unbelievable myths about this specialty. Try to keep your eyes from rolling in disbelief as your read them. Continue reading sisig kapampangan

a pizza feast for my favorite baker

i am both proud and mortified by the fact that my grandmother is the greatest cake baker of all time..

It was my grandmother’s seventy-nth birthday and we threw a pizza party in her honor. Too bad she didn’t have a birthday cake to blow that day. I dare not get her some store-bought cake that she would only pretend to like, and all the more could I not bake her a cake that pales in contrast to her own masterpieces. I still don’t have the guts to pull that off, although I know she would appreciate it if I do. Maybe next year.

Continue reading a pizza feast for my favorite baker

how the dough’s not as tough as before

 My grandmother is a baker by profession. She’s tried to teach me to bake cakes since I was in grade school. But I cursed baking ever since my first (flop) pineapple upside down cake, and the rest of the flop cakes and flop cookies that followed.

For reasons I could not explain, Turo and I find ourselves with much more free time now than when we’d lived in the city. We’ve started to enjoy lazy weekends even when we have more housework now than when we lived in my parent’s house. Before we had a laundrywoman and an ironing lady, now I am both. It used to be my parents who took over house repairs and garden work, but in our tiny apartment, this was Turo’s domain. In addition to the usual cooking and cleaning and looking after the kids, now we also take turns fetching Ari to and from school.

Running a household on our own certainly means a lot of work. But it’s the kind of work we lovingly attend to however physically exhausting it gets. Still, at the end of the day we get to sit down with a cup of coffee or a couple bottles of beer before getting some real rest. And in the morning we are woken by our hungry little monsters clamoring for breakfast that we all enjoy without the rush.

I also found myself accessing the internet less, reading more, bonding with my kids more, even cooking more. Proof of this is my recent reunion with la germania. After years of enjoying my lola’s perfect pastries without ever having to learn to make them myself, I realized I still wanted to learn how to bake—bread in particular. I love bread, I love herbs in my bread, but gourmet bread is not as easy to find here. No Rustan’s, no delicatessen anywhere close. If you can’t buy them, why not bake them yourself.

After some serious consideration and more second thoughts, I signed up for Italian Bread, Pizza and Pasta lessons in Sylvia Reynoso-Gala’s Culinary Studio. Up until the first day of my cooking classes I felt reluctant to go. What if I start baking perfect flops again?

But my hands found themselves kneading dough for the first time that day. I felt liberated and satisfied.

Continue reading how the dough’s not as tough as before

diggin’ daet

My recent trip to Bicol was long and sad, but it gave me a fresh look into Bicolano culture, economy and cuisine.

This entry zooms into the really great things I experienced while I was in Daet, bypassing my other Bicolandia stops in Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur. Daet is the provincial capital of Camarines Norte, which can be reached via the legendary “bitukang manok.” With the construction of the Andaya Highway, Manila-Legaspi bus routes no longer traverse this infamous path, leaving bitukang manok territory with well-paved roads, forested mountain views and undercommercialized towns. There is no SM in Daet, which to me is an indication of a booming local economy and active local markets. These are the kinds of places I especially enjoy visiting.

The most memorable stuff for me in any trip is eating local specialties and shopping for local products. Here’s a list of some of the best things I discovered in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Continue reading diggin’ daet

blueberry breakfast

I finally woke up early. I didn’t get to jog. But I finally got to make those blueberry pancakes I’ve long planned to make.

Yes, some wild variety of blueberries grow in this country. I bought a few grams of fresh blueberries when we were in Baguio last Feb. I love blueberries because they’re among the superfoods. Together with avocados, apples and pomegranates, they’ve got tons of antioxidants and lots of anti-aging properties, including fighting memory loss. These little berries have also earned the distinction as the fruit with the greatest anti-cancer properties, compared to other fruits.

Continue reading blueberry breakfast