Archive for Low-Carb

My Love Affair with Tofu

My love affair with tofu started with my first attempt at making vegetarian adobo.

Tofu Adobo

Garlic spears from Michelle's garden. Where can I find some in Manila?

Enjoying our healthy Filipino dinner at Jim and Michelle's lovely home.

Since tofu is very bland, I knew that your usual adobo marinade wouldn’t do. So, to add more flavor to the dish, I baked it with lots of garlic, some rosemary and garlic spears, freshly picked from our friend’s garden. This dish turned out to be a huge hit, even with my tofu-hating boyfriend. The tofu was so flavorful and actually had a meatiness to it. None of the carnivores at the table seemed to miss the presence of meat.

The tofu adobo went very well with this veggie dish - beans and squash cooked in coconut milk and some curry powder.

I’ve also found that the success of this dish is highly dependent on the quality of tofu that you get. Firm tofu works best with this recipe since it bakes nicely and easily gets that crunchy texture. Last night, some friends and I tried re-creating this dish with some tofu that I found at the weekend market. The tofu that I bought wasn’t as firm and was more like silken tofu. It didn’t bake as well but was still delicious. We figured that with the softer kind of tofu, sauteing would work better. With that in mind, I tried something new.

Stir Fried Tofu with Broccoli

I had another pack of the softer tofu that I got from the market so I experimented with a new and easy recipe. On a very hot non-stick pan, I drizzled about 2 tablespoons of oil and sauteed the tofu until it was golden brown on all sides. I, then, sprinkled it with some green Thai curry powder for flavor. I added some broccoli, salt and pepper.

This dish was so good, eating it felt like an indulgence. I am now thinking of other ways to cook tofu.

Any ideas?

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Quality Time and Quality Eats

Salad ingredients sans the lemon

Since I arrived in California, I’ve been preoccupied with only two things – family and myself. I am loving every moment of my slow-paced holiday as I catch up with my brother, sister and all their kids. I could not be happier about being here and am filled with gratitude and contentment.

I am also thrilled that I am able to focus on myself. I’ve been catching up on sleep (aka jet lag), eating healthily and working out. I am happy to report that I have already logged in two runs and intend to work out five times a week. Since there isn’t any work to do, I don’t see why it can’t be done. I am also making a conscious effort to try to eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

Speaking of healthy eats, have you tried eating quinoa? Quin-what, you say? Quinoa is a grain that originates from South America. It looks a lot like couscous but has a different texture. Unlike couscous, it is not filled with starch and is in fact, very high in protein. I made a quinoa salad yesterday to accompany my sister’s fried fish and it was absolutely delicious! It’s always a delight to discover such delicious and simple food and I’ve been very excited to share it with everyone. So here it is…

Quinoa salad with fish. Yum!

Quinoa Salad

1 cup, cooked quinoa 
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
fresh lemon juice, according to taste
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate. I find that the longer it marinates, the more delicious it becomes.
This salad can be eaten on its own or as a side dish. 

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Tom Yum Curry Monggo Soup

Monggo soup is a staple dish in Filipino homes. It is usually cooked with either dried shrimp or pork bits and topped with pork rind (chicharon).  You also accompany this dish with bitter gourd (ampalaya), sweet potato (kamote) or morniga (malunggay) leaves and is also usually paired with chicken or pork adobo.

When I was in Dumaguete, I learned a new way of making monggo soup. In Nikki’s kitchen, monggo is cooked with lemongrass, coconut milk and little slices of squash. A wonderful new take on a simple dish that easily became a crowd favorite.

The tom yum powder gave the monggo soup a nice hot and sour kick!

I didn’t have all the ingredients in the refrigerator but I had enough to work with. No squash but I had one carrot. No lemongrass, just tom yum and curry powder. No moringa, bitter gourd or sweet potato leaves but basil leaves instead. And so, the experiment began.

Use available root crops like carrots or potatoes to make a rich soup base.

As I waited for my monggo to soften and cook, I sat in the kitchen and listened to the torrential downpour that suddenly hit Manila. It was a little frightening but I couldn’t help but be thankful for the relief from the insufferable heat. I was also thankful for a quiet an uneventful Sunday.

Tom Yum Curry Mongo Soup

1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. tom yum powder
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 1/2 cup uncooked monggo
1 tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup coconut milk
3 cups broth
basil leaves, chiffonade 
In a stainless pan, sweat the onions and tomatoes in some oil until soft. Add the garlic and the uncooked monggo and pour the broth. Add the tom yum powder, curry and coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until monggo is soft.
In a separate pot, boil the carrots until soft. After boiling, puree carrots in a food processor and add to the pot with monggo. The carrot puree will add a rich texture to your soup.
Add basil leaves and season soup with salt and pepper. Serve hot. You may also add more curry or tom yum powder according to taste. 

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Kitchen Detox

I don’t like it when people use the word “toxic” in referring to extremely hectic days. I don’t understand why they can’t just use words like busy or frantic, until today. Exhausting and frustrating are just not enough to describe the work day that was. It was so TOXIC that I so desperately needed to DETOX with some alone time one the road, running.

Successful with my run, I got home and craved for a nice, light dinner.  I also found a bit of respite in quietly and slowly assembling my meal.

My version of chicken fajitas

Hoping for a more positive tomorrow.

Chicken Fajitas

For the salsa:

  • 1 can corn kernels
  • 2 small red onions
  • 1/4 of a cabbage chopped
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. lemon or lime
  • salt and pepper
  • flat leaf parsley

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

For the chicken:

  • 1/4 kilo chicken breast fillet, diced
  • 1 can baked beans, drained
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cayenne

Marinate chicken with spices for a few minutes. On a hot non-stick pan, cook chicken for about 8 minutes. Add beans.

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Diet Food

curried tofu and sauteed bean sprouts, packed for my lunch tomorrow

tomorrow's lunch: curried tofu and sauteed bean sprouts

I’ve been bad. I have been careless about my food in take and feel that I am starting to put on a little weight. So before I pack on the pounds and sink deeper into that ‘my-diet-starts-tomorrow’ attitude, I am back into a more disciplined eating regimen. This means, rice only when necessary (meaning, only when I have a run), more vegetables and protein, and if possible, no fried food.  As for beer…well, let’s just not go that far.

Whenever I want to lose a few pounds, I always turn to my favorite diet food – tofu and bean sprouts. I was a little tired of eating it together, yasai itame style. So tonight, I fancied my tofu up a bit and turned it into curried tofu. As usual, I made my own curry paste consisting of garlic, onions, lemongrass, corriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Making your own paste makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to taste and you definitely want your diet food to be appetizing, right?

So this is me committing to being good again. As I post this, I promise myself to be a healthier eater (ba-bye, duck and starchy white rice) and to keep off the weight I worked so hard on losing.

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Rainy Days and Muffins

IMG_5310I was supposed to join today’s Earth Run at Mckinley Hill, but early morning rains prevented me from doing so. I told myself that attending a seemingly poorly organized event alone, in the rain was not worth getting sick over and getting up for on a Sunday. I tried consoling myself with the thought that my registration fee went to a good environmental cause, but there’s something about looking at an unused singlet and race number that makes you feel uneasy. Runner’s regret, perhaps? A part of me was thinking, “What if it turned out to be a good race?” or “What if today was the day I set a new PB?” I knew there was no point on pondering on these thoughts so to distract myself from staring at my untouched singlet, I baked.

The recipe I’m featuring today is from a blog that is easily becoming a favorite. Noble Pig highlights interesting recipes with humorous writing to boot. I’m sure I will end up recreating more than one recipe from this food blog.

I tweaked Noble Pig’s recipe for Crunchy Maple-Banana-Pecan Breakfast Muffins and excluded the chocolate chips and replaced the pecans with walnuts. These muffins were moister than my whole wheat muffins since the recipe called for a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. The mashed bananas were surely a factor, as well.


This and a glass of fresh orange juice will be perfect for breakfast tomorrow. Let’s hope the rains let up so that I can run outdoors again.

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Sunday Dinner

I am a carnivore and cannot imagine living my life without hamburgers, hotdogs and steaks. But just because I love meat, it doesn’t mean I cannot love vegetables and fruits just as much. I am quite proud of being a very balanced eater, always making it a point to have a serving of vegetables with every meal.

This Sunday, I prepared (an almost completely) vegetarian meal for dinner. Whoever said that vegetables can’t fill you up should try to prepare these dishes and see that they can have the same gratification as a meat-filled spread.

Stuffed tomatoes

Stuffed tomatoes

I wanted to make use of the tomatoes that my Mom brought back from Baguio and made something similar to my couscous stuffed peppers, except this time, I added a little protein in the form of chicken breast. This was actually a meal in itself, but knowing my family, I had to prepare something else. I paired these tomatoes with a roasted garlic and potato soup that was naturally creamy and had a slight sweetness that came from the roasted garlic. With so much tomatoes available, my Mom also decided to make a  tomato basil bruschetta with kesong puti.

garlic is good for managing your cholesterol.

garlic is good for managing your cholesterol.

After having a little bit of everything, I was substantially full and happy.  There’s something about filling yourself up with healthy eats that makes you feel good about yourself.

I’m off to my regular Sunday badminton game now… Have a healthy Sunday, everyone!

Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup

  • 3 garlic heads, roasted          IMG_5208
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk or all purpose cream
  • rosemary or basil (optional)

In a pot, saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil until soft. Add cubed potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  Add garlic, milk or cream and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Blend mixture using an immersion blender or a food processor.  If soup is a little too thick, you can choose to add more chicken stock.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, garnish with herbs and serve.

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