Tag Archives: organic

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

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organic for a cause

we’re rooting for local organic farmers (ourselves included), and we get a basketful of veggies in return. sweet.

Today we received our first farm “share” of locally produced organic vegetables. We subscribed to a community-shared agriculture (CSA) scheme where we paid 4 weeks’ worth of seasonal, organic produce from farmers organized by Good Food Community. GoodFoodCo. is based in Quezon City, but recently, a group of young, organic farmers (including us!) from where we live here in Los Banos, thought of replicating this CSA scheme here.

What is CSA and how does it work?

Community Shared/Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A farmer, or an organized group of farmers, offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Interested consumers purchase a “share” or “membership” or a “subscription”, which is a lump sum amount paid in advance, and in return receive a box/bag/basket of seasonal produce every week throughout the farming season. This arrangement benefits farmers because they get a sure market for their produce and they receive payment at the start of the planting season, which helps to have a stable farm cash flow.

our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep
our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep

In the GoodFoodCo. CSA scheme, each share can be one of 3 options: a bayong pambahay (roughly 3.5 kg of cooking vegetables good for a family of 4), a salad pack (roughly 500g of salad greens and herbs, with occasional fruit in season), and a juice pack (a choice mix of juicing vegetables good for approx. 500ml). We are currently subscribed to the juice pack, and this week our basket included celery, cilantro, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, lemons and ginger–all for PhP 370/week!

our veggie smoothie
our veggie smoothie

Nothing beats fresh, organic vegetables, pureed with bananas, papayas and yogurt. That’s our recipe for a high-fiber smoothie, which we usually have for breakfast or afternoon snack. And for less than 400 bucks a week, Turo and I can have this every day, plus a few sips each for our little boys.

Joining a CSA makes getting a variety of freshly harvested, organic produce super duper easy. No need to go to a farmers’ market as you get your veggie load delivered right to your doorstep. It’s also a great way to pack more vegetables into meal planning. Since we’re now only subscribed to the juice pack, next month we’ll subscribe to the bayong pambahay so we can also have fresh organic veggies to cook with. Really, this has simplified our dilemma of eating organic exclusively at a price we can comfortably afford. And soon enough, our farm will be part of this CSA program as we’ll be providing organic lettuce for the salad packs!

Read more about how we transformed the way that we eat and our healthy lifestyle choices from these posts:

The local food project

The food that we eat

Conscious consumption

Small and sustainable

ilog maria finds

And I continue to be a sucker for everything local, natural and hand made.

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Ilog Maria is a honey bee farm in Silang, Cavite. Just a few minutes drive from our in-law’s home in Dasmarinas. We’ve been seeing signs of the place each time we head to Tagaytay via Aguinaldo Highway but never really took the effort of going there. That was until last January. And then suddenly, we were honeybee lovers.

beeswax bars
beeswax bars

We already have a local source of wild organic honey at the Bee Project here in UPLB’s Institute of Biological Sciences. But Ilog Maria opened our eyes to a whole range of useful, everyday products made from all things bees.

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They have handmade soaps made from honey, beeswax and propolis, with variants like lavender or rosemary which are supposed to be great for energizing morning showers. Or charcoal which has a deodorizing effect.

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This time I bought the calamansi, sandalwood and charcoal variants, all three are supposed to have some kind of antibacterial or deodorizing effect. If it was just me taking showers in my household I would have done with just about any organic soap you can find in the market. But with my 2 rowdy boys and a farmer-husband, I need an everyday soap that has a good dose of antibacterial powers to keep my boys clean. So far I’m still on an active search. Let’s see how Ilog Maria soaps fare with respect to the germs in my boys’ bodies.

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They also sell beeswax candles. These are all handmade and when you hold them, the texture is just glorious. They are a bit expensive but the quality of the product easily speaks for its price. It was good thing I didn’t bring extra cash or we’d end up with going home with a manger-full of beeswax statue candles. But I swear, I’m going to buy candles on our next visit here. And if I can afford to, give them away as gifts for Christmas.

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Because it was a weekend of getting something for myself, I bought this handmade, beaded curtain which I plan to drape around the smallish entrance to our new kitchen (did I mention we’ll be moving to a new apartment?). The curtain wasn’t made from bee products or anything, but I did validate that it was made by a local community also in Silang. Still local, which is a good thing.

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I think I’m doing a good job of converting my household, and my extended family, into fans of all-natural products. Or maybe it’s just a matter of finding organic products that are of really good quality. Turo is now a huge fan of Ilog Maria’s Honey & Propolis Shampoo which he uses everyday together with 2 slices of calamansi as his conditioner.

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Just in case you’re headed for Tagaytay, you may want to pass by Ilog Maria farm and take a look at the range of honey bee based products they offer. You just might find something you can use everyday, and take the first steps to a chemical-free lifestyle.

 

To all things natural and crafted by hand!

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.