Archive for January, 2010

Eat, Pray, Run

Several weeks into the new year and almost two months since I signed up at the gym, and I am feeling great. I was feeling a bit frustrated at the beginning since the scale wouldn’t budge but I knew that it was just a matter of time.  I am now slowly but surely shedding off the holiday weight and am feeling very strong, and not to mention, very hooked on running.

It’s been a year since I started running, and although I haven’t been as dedicated as I wished to be, I can say that I’ve improved in this sport. I am now doing 10k races and am training for my first 11k trail run in February.

Being this active has also made me eat a lot more, and healthily too.  Considering my need for carbohydrates and my fair share of skills in the kitchen, I was forced to get creative with my lunch box menu.

Aside from exchanging white rice for brown rice, I have learned to love couscous even more. This whole-wheat grain is a great low fat source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. On my more active days, I usually have this for my lunch with a large salad and my chosen protein for the day and I’ve never felt low in energy.

So I am quite happy to be coming into good terms with carbohydrates, no longer carrying that feeling of guilt every time I take a spoon full of anything starchy. And I hope that I’ve enlightened other weight watchers out there who think they have to completely cut off rice, pasta and bread from their diet. So go ahead and say this to yourself, “Carbs are not bad. Carbs are not bad…”

Couscous with Seared Tuna

For more tips on how to eat healthily, grab your free copy of The Bullrunner magazine and get yourself an instant food guide for runners, a 5k training program, a list of races for the coming months, an inspiring cover photo of Coach Ani de Leon and more. I haven’t stopped flipping through my copy since I got it.

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You Know You’re Old When…

Last Saturday night, the plan was to cook paella for the family and just curl up in bed and watch TV after. I successfully cooked the paella but I ended up in Makati afterwards for a drink with some friends. It was actually a very quiet evening which I found very enjoyable. And I was glad that we were heading home by midnight with everyone still walking in a straight line.  That’s when this list occurred to me and I thought of how I am bidding farewell to frequent late nights, because seriously, those mean hangovers are just not worth the trouble.

So here’s some light and hopefully humorous reading for your Sunday afternoon. 🙂

You Know You’re Old When…

Your idea of fun does not involve loud music and a crowded bar.

You wake up early even after a late night out.

Teenagers start answering you with “po” or “opo.”

Your knees start to hurt after prolonged hours of standing or walking.

The kids that you taught in pre-school are now almost as tall as you.

Sleep is more precious than anything.

You forget what you said or did just a moment ago.

White hair is not a novelty anymore.

You’d rather spend your Saturday night cooking at home.

What makes you feel old?

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Paella

2 cups of rice

3 cups of broth

1/2 cups home made tomato sauce

1/2 chicken, cut into small portions

1/4 k. shrimp

1 medium chorizo

3 strips of bacon

2 red bell peppers

1/2 cup green peas

1/4 cup olive oil

3 hard boiled eggs

lemon

home made tomato sauce

Begin with making your home made tomato sauce. I prefer home made rather than store bought because this way, you can alter the taste to your liking. I also realized that your tomato sauce can make or break your paella so you should really take your time in preparing this. The recipe that I used for my sauce was inspired by Marketman’s sofrito and I have to say that it made a lot of difference with the paella. It gave it a deeply-infused tomato and saffron flavor that permeated all throughout the dish.

Render the fat from the chorizo and bacon to give your paella a rich, wonderful flavor.

Next, heat some olive oil on the paellera and lightly brown your chicken for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In the same pan, saute’ bacon and chorizos until fat has rendered, about 5 minutes.  Pour in rice and mix with all the bacon, chorizo and oils for a deeper flavor. Make sure to mix quickly as they could stick to the pan and burn.  Pour in 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce and coat the rice. Add in 2 cups of broth, saving some for later.  Make sure that the rice is spread evenly on the paellera.  Add in chicken and cover paellera with foil for 15 minutes, on low heat.  Check the pealla once in a while to see if it needs more stock. Add if needed.  After 15 minutes, add in shrimp, bell peppers and peas.  Leave on for another 10 minutes then remove from heat.  Leave the foil on as the steam will still cook the shrimp and the rice.  Top with hard boiled eggs and garnish with lemon wedges.

I found that seasoning my paella was quite tricky. Since there are so many layers of flavors, you have to be careful in remembering what you did or didn’t add salt to.  Just remember that everything except for the bacon and chorizo need to be seasoned.  And also, if you’ve already put salt on your stock and tomato sauce, hold back on the rice.  I made the mistake of under-seasoning but I suppose that’s better than over doing it.

I was very happy with this dish, although my mom still had a lot to say. For one, she thought that maybe it would have been better to put the paellera in an oven rather than cooking it on a stove top. You really can’t please everybody. 😛

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Live a Little

Although I am on a (perpetual) quest to shed off some pounds, this does not mean that my quest for good food has to end. Inspired by a post about a new and obscure Chinese restaurant, I went off and broke my diet for a day.

Duck Hot Pot is very, very spicy!

Sauteed Chinese Cabbage was gone in a flash.

6404 Camia offers authentic Hunan cuisine which is known for it’s hot and spicy flavors. True enough, all the dishes, except for the white rice of course, were abundant in chili. So if your tolerance for spicy food is low, this restaurant might not agree with you. But if you’re willing to give it a try, bring a small carton of milk so you can easily douse the heat. 🙂

Steamed kuchay dumplings were good and fresh and there were more vegetables than the pork. But somehow, I still prefer Dong Bei's dumplings.

All beef stir fry. Tasted like there was a lot of cumin in it.

I went there with my heart set on the duck hot pot so with that, Mister M, Dr. O and C ordered Chinese cabbage, fried rice, steamed kuchay dumplings and another beef stir fry.  We were very pleased with all the dishes, most especially the duck hot pot. Turns out that this was one of their more popular dishes as most of the other tables had ordered this as well. With the total price of P1090 for food and drinks, the four of us were very satisfied.

Fried Rice. But the waitress actually suggested to just stick to plain rice "para mas malasahan ang ulam."

The restaurant was actually quite easy to find. We decided to walk to Camia street from Powerplant Mall which turned out to be a wise decision since parking was quite scarce. We arrived at 6PM to an almost empty restaurant but people started trickling in shortly and was almost full by 7PM.

It used to be that I had to travel all the way to Binondo for my Chinese food fix. Those days are now gone.  🙂

* See Our Awesome Planet’s post on Hunan House for directions.

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After a very spicy dinner, we decided to take a side trip to a nearby ice cream parlor in Rockwell, The Ice Cream Bar. Perfect for extinguishing the fire in our mouths.

Banana Split from The Ice Cream Bar.

Now, it’s off to the gym I go.

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Karen’s Kitchen

My cousin, Karen Young has been making amazingly wonderful sweets for as long as I can remember. If I remember right, she even made me my high school graduation cake. Nowadays, she is known as the culinary master behind Karen’s Kitchen.  Last Sunday, Ate Karen came over with boxes of sweets for the whole family. I would have been a fool to pass up the chance to try her other wonderful confections.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I tried everything, proudly in moderation. But her Sticky Toffee Pudding blew me away and didn’t allow me to have just one serving. A mouth-full turned into a full serving.  Sigh. But it was so worth it. I haven’t had anything so moist and perfectly sweet. The cake, which has a rich brown sugar flavor almost reminds me of food for the gods. The dates at the bottom of the cake have a tangy taste that give a nice contrast to the richness of the cake. And that toffee topping. Oh, that toffee topping. It’s like fudge, caramel and butter all rolled into one. Simply sinful but totally worth the calories.

I checked her site for this product but couldn’t find it and figured that it’s probably new. Hopefully it isn’t only available during the Christmas season.

Karen’s Kitchen
0917 KARENS-1 / 0917 527 3671
107B, #210 ZODIAC STREET, PALM VILLAGE MAKATI (new address beginning Jan. 18)

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Caramoan Adventure

Bicol, the home of the spicy laing and of course, Bicol express.  It was also my first destination for the year 2010 and I couldn’t wait.

My best friend and I agreed to go on a budget trip, which meant that we would veer away from travel packages and just wing it. I was honestly worried about how things would go considering that I thrive on plans and don’t really enjoy not knowing what to expect.

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Day 1:

A and I arrive at Naga and head on to CWC which would become our home base in Bicol.  Accomodations here are very affordable and the food is so-so but the ammenities are fantastic. A and I spent our afternoon at the water park where there was an inflatable obstacle course.  It was such good fun trying those gigantic water toys and I bet that we probably burned enough calories to be able to eat guilt-free for that night.

For P200, you can spend half the day here at CWC's water park. Now, that's god money spent!

For P200, you can spend the whole day here at CWC's water park.

After tiring ourselves our at the water park, we decided to get massages by the lake which cost us only P300.

Day 2:

Just recalling this day’s events is already making me tired…

This is where the fun starts. Taking from the receptionists instructions on how to get to Caramoan via public transportation, we head on to SM Naga and start our long journey.  The terminal for the commuter vans is across SM.  It’s very easy to find a van but it may take a while for it to fill up. We had to wait a good hour before we could leave.  This 1 1/2 ride to the Sabang Port cost us only P90.

At the Sabag Port, we had to transfer to a banka to get to the Guijalo Port. There’s a banka that leaves at 7am, every hour until 10am.  The last one leaves at around 1pm or until the banka is full.  It’s best to catch the earlier boats as the waiting can eat up a lot of your time.

This had to be the most eventful ride during that day. Other than being carried into the boat, I was also very worried about capsizing since the bankeros were overloading the boat. To make matters worse, there were no life vests available. I honestly thought that I would die that day. Thankfully, the boat never went out into the open sea and just went around the island.  But I have to warn you, this almost 2 hour boat ride is very uncomfortable. This banka ride costs P120.

Upon arriving the Guijalo Port at around 2PM, we take a very bumpy tricycle ride into the bayan. To ride a regualr tricycle will only cost you P20 but if you decide to get the “special” ride, you pay P150.

The bayan is very small and there’s only one main road which is called Centro.  We asked to be dropped off at any restaurant since we hadn’t eaten the whole day. Fortuitously, we were dropped off at the home-stay that was recommended by someone from our banka ride.  It turns out that this place has the best food in the bayan.

BED and DINE’s Chili Prawns (P190), Adobong Pusit (P120) which was the best i’ve ever had, and laing (P35).

BED and DINE’s food is unbelievably affordable and delicious.

Day 3:

Up at 5am, we took a 25 minute tricycle ride to the beach. Since tricycles only travel to the beach for special trips, you have no choice but to pay P150. Be prepared for a very bumpy ride.

At the beach, we met with our tour guide for the day and hopped on to our rented banka (P1,500 / whole day).

It started to be a gloomy day and the water looked very cold, but the Caramoan Islands still took my breath away.

Since we were to spend our day there, our tour guide asked us if we wanted food prepared and brought to the beach. Of course we said yes and ordered crabs, prawns, fish and laing!

Nothing beats eating by the sea.

The sun finally came out and stayed out long enough for us to get a tan.

After hours of tanning, our tour guide brought us to an island where we could drink buko for P10 each.

Day 4:

Considering the long journey unpredictable departure times, we decided to head back the next day.  There were still some waits in between rides but going back seemed a little bit faster.

We left Guijalo Port at around 930 a.m. and arrived in Naga at about 1:30 p.m. It was so good to be back in the city that we decided to spend some time in SM Naga and watch a movie. FYI, SM Naga is very nice and clean. We would have totally shopped if we weren’t on tipid mode.

Day 5 :

From CWC, we head back to Manila full and tan.

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I’m glad that I finally got to make the trip to Caramoan and am quite proud to have gone on my first “backpacker” trip.  Seeing a new place and experiencing new things was definitely a great way to start the year. I will definitely go back, but probabaly during he summer and on one of those expensive tour packages. 😛

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