Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Spaghetti, American Style

Matt Norris was a Rotary Exchange student who stayed in our Lahug home in the early 1980's. His father, a chef, had taught Matt well. He shared his homemade spaghetti recipe with me as well.

Three weeks ago, I was in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where I made a modified version of this recipe. Since I didn't think it was as good as Matt's recipe, I'm sharing this one with them.

May you have a great spaghetti supper sometime!


Extra virgin olive oil, for sauteeing
1/2 kilo (or 1 lb.) lean ground beef
1 large onion, minced
2 large cans peeled whole tomatoes (drain the liquid)
1 "tall" can of tomato sauce
1 "small" can of tomato paste
worcestershire sauce, to taste
chopped basil, to taste (you can used the dried version)
chopped oregano, to taste (you can used the dried version)
garlic salt, to taste
Montreal Steak seasoning, to taste
1 can of sliced button mushrooms (drain the liquid)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheeses OR extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese (I use Cabot's)

1. In a wok or dutch oven, start with very little extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tbsps.) and brown the beef, chopping up the pieces so they don't clump into "hamburger buns" or meatballs. Add onions, cut-up whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Toss in the mushrooms.

2. Add your spices and worcestershire sauce to taste. Let simmer in low heat until done (about 20 minutes or more).

3. Boil water in a dutch oven. Add some extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt into the pot. Add one package of spaghetti noodles or other pasta noodles. Cook until "al dente."

4. Drain the water off of the spaghetti noodles in a colander.

5. Put the noodles in a pyrex dish or pasta serving dish.

6. Either pour the spaghetti sauce on top of the noodles OR set the sauce aside in another container for the people to serve themselves.

7. Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheeses. You can also use extra sharp cheddar cheese, especially for Filipino taste buds.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fresh Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

This is my innovation and revision on a recipe given to me by Sharon Sweeney when we were work colleagues at Brook Furniture Leasing and Sales. This is an uncooked sauce that is heart-healthy, meant to be prepared at least an hour before serving, refrigerated, then allowed to stand at room temperature so that flavors blend well. I've successfully made the sauce a day before serving it at a party.

1. Parboil 3 large ripe tomatoes in a pot of boiling water to loosen its skin. After peeling the skin, de-seed (yes, take off the seeds!) and chop these tomatoes in a food processor (I use a Cuisinart). Set aside the tomatoes in a glass bowl and refrigerate (yes, use a plastic wrap to cover the bowl).

2. Using the same food processor (no, you don't need to wash it), process the following ingredients, one after the other. NOTE: You can use your own ratio of ingredients. For instance, I tend to use more cilantro (chopped off from its stems with kitchen scissors) and I therefore adjust the amount of olive oil I use (meaning, I add slightly more olive oil).

a. chopped sweet basil, 2 tbsps
b. chopped fresh chives, 1 tbsp
c. chopped cilantro or chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, 2 tbsps
d. finely grated Fontina or Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup
e. finely-chopped fresh garlic, 3 cloves

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the tomatoes and ingredients (in step number 2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate the sauce in a covered glass bowl. Let stand at room temperature one hour before serving.

4. Cook 8 ozs. (1 package) of dried or 12 ozs. fresh spaghetti or any desired pasta until "al dente." I personally prefer fusilli.

5. Combine sauce and hot pasta in a pre-heated bowl.

6. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

This recipe generously serves 4 people.
The pasta sauce takes about 15 minutes to make.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Bachang or Bak Chang

This recipe is certainly not for people who are in a hurry. Whenever I pass by Chinatown in San Francisco, and peer at the display windows to salivate at the various dimsum products, I would spot leafy triangles in a steamer, wrapped in twine or kitchen string. I smile because I remember that a long time ago, I had this Chinese (Fookienese) boyfriend who taught me what his favorite foods were. He even went to the extent of bringing me some expensive Chinese black mushrooms for this recipe. I did some research on "Bachang" (there were no online recipes then) and found a basic recipe I liked. I revised the recipe for the Filipina cook's taste buds and availability of resources.

I found a Malaysian blogger, Hochiak! Delicious Asian Food, who seems to describe best about my then-boyfriend's love for Bachang, Bak Chang, or Bak Zhang. I checked's Creative Commons Attribution to see if I could share some of the website's tips with you to complement my own efforts.

Bak Chang (or Zongzi), meat enclosed in glutinous rice filling, is traditionally eaten in June for the Chinese. It stemmed from the Dragon Boat Festival which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu who lived during the Warring States period. Of course, in this day and time, eating Bak Chang is more of a “seasonal food” though it is not uncommon to see Bak Chang being sold all year round.


circa 1984

4-1/2 cups glutinous ("Malagkit") rice
30 bamboo leaves (or substitute with banana leaves)
1/2 kilo pork (or 1.1 lbs.)
5 pieces Chinese black mushrooms*

Mixture I.

1/4 cup plus 1-1/2 tsps. soy sauce
1/3 tsp vetsin (monosodium glutamate; see quote below)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp rice wine
1 to 3 tbsps minced and sauteed shallots

5 yolks coming from salted eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps dried shrimp

Note: For those who want to make homemade salted eggs, the recipe is also found below.

Mixture II.

1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp vetsin (monosodium glutamate; see quote below)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper

Optional: Pandan leaves (screw pine leaves) for the cooking pot.


* Pre-condition mushrooms. Soak them in warm water until soft. Remove stems and discard. Use the mushroom caps as directed.

1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Drain and soak rice for one hour. Drain again slightly (leaving the rice with some water).

2. Wash bamboo leaves and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. If you are using banana leaves, pass them over a fire until slightly wilted and soft. Wipe dry.

3. For the Filling:

Cut pork into 15 pieces, then cut each piece into 5 pieces.
Cut previously-soaked mushrooms into 15 pieces, then cut each piece into 3 pieces.
Mix pork meat and mushroom pieces with Mixture I and soak for 20 minutes.
Cut salty egg yolks into 15 sections.
Equally divide above ingredients into 15 portions.

4. Cooking Procedure:

Heat frying pan and add 1/4 cup and 2 tbsps cooking oil.
Stir-fry dried shrimp until fragrant. Add rice and Mixture II.
Add any remaining sauce from marinated meat (Mixture I).

Stir-Fry over medium heat until almost dry and the sauce has almost been reduced.
Remove the shrimp-rice mixture from the fire and separate into 15 portions.
From my test kitchen, that's 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps per portion.
Let cool.
Add 5 pieces meat and 3 pieces of mushrooms per portion to the shrimp-rice mixture and blend thoroughly.

5. For Assembling:

Place 2 bamboo leaves or banana leaves together (about a foot long). Use the smoother side of the leaves for the inner portion.
Fold the leaves into a cone shape. However, one top should be longer than the other.
Add 1/2 of a rice portion, pressing rice gently to line cone.
Add a portion of the filling: a piece of egg yold, meat, and mushroom.
Then, cover with the other 1/2 of the rice portion.
Fold over the long end of the leaves to form a cover and encase rice and filling.

6. Wrap and bind with string. Place the leafy cones in a pot with water to cover and some pandan (screw pine) leaves. Cook covered over medium heat for 1 hour.

Number of servings: 15

BONUS: A Youtube video showing how to wrap the Bachang. (I don't need to re-invent the wheel, so thank you,!)

I have also linked's recipe for Bak Chang for those who want to compare notes.


1. Boil 6 cups of water and 12 cups salt (I prefer sea salt). Cool.
2. Carefully place 12 chicken eggs in a wide-mouth glass jar.
3. Pour the salt solution in the jar. Weigh down the eggs with a plate or cup to keep them from floating to the surface.
- Instead of a jar, you could use a sealed plastic bag (a huge ziploc bag could work!) filled with salt solution.
4. Cover the mouth of the glass jar with perforated paper. Keep in a cool, dry place.
5. Try an egg after 12 days by boiling in water. Taste it to see if the saltiness suits your taste buds.
6. Soak the eggs again for 5 more days if you feel that the tested egg isn't salty enough. You can also use duck's eggs but you have to soak them for a longer time.
7. After 5 days, the eggs should be salty enough. Boil a test egg, just to be sure.
8. Boil eggs in water for 5 minutes. Let stand for 10 more minutes.
9. Color eggs, if desired.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified MSG as a food ingredient that is "generally recognized as safe," the use of MSG remains controversial.

MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. Over the years, the FDA has received many anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. But subsequent research found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and the symptoms that some people described after eating food containing MSG. As a result, MSG is still added to some foods.

Continue reading about MSG at

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ham-Tomato Fried Rice a la Vinicius

Thanksgiving 2008 will forever be known as "Vini's First Thanksgiving and Black Friday Celebration." Our regular house guest, Vinicius, arrived from Brazil on the eve of Thanksgiving, not realizing that his two-day adventure with us would include a rice dish named after him, a gift from a Filipina American cook.

Since my husband and I decided to celebrate a quiet Thanksgiving, I was also in the mood to create a recipe for the occasion. I unearthed my ancient rice cooker (yes, I don't normally eat rice like any good
Filipina because I like couscous). I also used a teflon-coated dutch oven type of a pot, not a wok, because the citric acid in the sun-dried tomatoes does not work well with any aluminum-based cooking vessel. Lastly, I am known as a lazy cook. The goal was to use only ONE pot in this cooking process while maintaining my healthy cooking lifestyle.

I also modified the fried rice methodology of cooking. Regular instructions for cooking would include: "Add 1 tablespoon oil, swirling so that the bottom of the pan is coated. Add the rice. Stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes, until the rice is heated through." Watch how I modify this method in the recipe's instructions. What I love about this dish is that you can use freshly-made rice (which I did, for this occasion!).

We hope Vini can also cook this recipe for his wife in Brazil. This dish makes an excellent potluck dish, too!

Bon Appetit!

Ham-Tomato Fried Rice a la Vinicius


Extra-Long Grain Rice, 3 cups (raw)
Water, 3 cups (to cook with the rice)

1. Measure 3 cups of raw rice into the rice cooker's container.

2. Under running water, rinse the water with your hand, draining the white-colored starchy water from the side of the container. Keep doing this until the water looks almost clear.

Note: If you've noticed the cooked whitish to brownish scum at the bottom of a rice cooker, that's probably the result of the starch resting at the bottom of the cooking vessel. This is my own theory, of course!

3. When you drain the last of the water from the rice cooker's container, you might have retained about 1 to 2 tbsps of water with the raw rice.

4. Add 3 cups minus 2 tbsps of water to the rice.

5. Cook your rice as usual.

6. When done, fluff the hot, cooked rice with a fork so that the rice doesn't clump. Shut off the rice cooker. Allow the rice to go to room temperature.

Note: You can cook the rice a few hours before you cook the fried rice. You will notice that I have not added any salt to the rice.

If you are simply cooking rice to accompany your meal, here's something my college cooking teacher taught me: Trickle a tablespoon or more of extra virgin cooking oil in a circle-like, clockwise motion on top of the rice. Fluff the rice with a fork. Now you know why the rice looks so glossy and appetizing!


Pine nuts, 1/4 cup
Extra-virgin olive oil, about 1/4 cup
Coarsely-chopped white onions, 1-1/2 cups
Chopped left-over baked ham, in 1/2 inch cubes, 1-1/2 cups (or less)
Balsamic vinegar, about 1 tbsp or slightly more (I use Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinegar of Modena; Filipino cooks can use sukang Ilocos)
McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Sundried tomatoes, julienne-style, about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup (not coated in oil)
Water, 2 tbsps. To 1/4 cup
Frozen green peas, about 1/3 cup
Finely-chopped basil, 2 tsps. (I use Dorot's basil cubes from Trader Joe's)

1. Heat a teflon-type (or use a non-aluminum, non-cast iron pot) 4-quart (16-cup capacity) cooking pot. Use medium heat throughout the cooking process.

2. Add 1/4 cup of pine nuts. Toast the nuts, stirring the nuts with your wooden spoon until light yellow. Do not burn the nuts since they might taste bitter. Immediately transfer the nuts to a glass (non-metal) bowl.

3. Add about 2 tbsps of extra-virgin cooking oil to the pot. Heat through, then add the 1-1/2 cups of white onions. Stir-fry until the onions turn translucent. Transfer cooked onions (with its oil) on top of the toasted pine nuts in the glass bowl. (Vidalia onions are also nice to use for this recipe.)

4. Add about 1 or 2 tbsps of extra-virgin olive oil to the pot. Start with 1 tbsp of oil, heat it, then add the 1-1/2 cups of ham cubes. If the ham absorbs all of the oil immediately, add another tbsp of the olive oil. Stir-fry the ham cubes. Add about 2 tsps of Montreal Steak Seasoning. Then, add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. After the ham cubes absorb the vinegar, check the taste of the ham. The salty taste of the ham should disappear. Add a little more vinegar if the salty taste of the ham is still predominant. Add about 1 tsp of white pepper, if desired. Transfer the cooked ham cubes into the glass bowl, on top of the pine nuts and onions.

5. Add 1/3 or 1/2 cup of julienne-style sundried tomatoes to the heated pot. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot about 1/4 inch high. The goal is to extrude some of the tomato juice from the sundried tomatoes and to soften the tomatoes at the same time. When softened, add 1/3 cup of frozen green peas straight from the package. Cook until the peas have softened and the water is simmering. At about the same time, add the frozen basil cubes and allow to defrost. Then, season with about 2 tsps Montreal Steak Seasoning or to taste.

6. Lower the heat of the stove to low heat.

7. Using a rice spoon (a plastic-type of spoon that normally comes with a rice cooker), transfer the cooked rice to the pot. Mix in the liquid of the tomato mixture evenly throughout the rice.

8. Add the rest of the glass bowl's ingredients (pine nuts, onions, and ham cubes) to the cooking pot. The flavored oils from these ingredients are now transferred to the rice. Make sure that each strand of rice is evenly mixed with the flavors. You don't want to see white strands of rice. Taste the rice dish to see if you need to add any more seasoning. The dish shouldn't taste vinegary.

9. Transfer the rice to a glass container with a cover. Set aside. Serve immediately or reheat contents in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes.

10. A few reminders: Although ham has been cured, thus it doesn't get spolied easily, my personal rule of thumb for meat dishes is: Don't leave your dish in room temperature for more than 4 hours.

11. Store leftovers. Reheat in the microwave.

Some defintions:

Dutch Oven
A large, heavy pot or kettle, usually of cast iron and with a tight lid, used for slow cooking.

Ilocos vinegar or sukang Ilocos
This famous Philippine vinegar is made in the northern province of Ilocos out of sugar cane with some samak (Macaranga) leaf added. It is dark and pungent and used as an ingredient in Vigan Longanisa sausage as well as in many other regional recipes, as a dip and for medicinal purposes (disinfectant and on the forehead for fevers). Industrial Balsamic vinegar has been suggested as a substitute when the Ilocos product is not available.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Lorna's Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo

This recipe is my easy version of Spanish Rice with Filipino and Italian influences. Since I'm a lover of pine nuts and basil, and my husband loves lots of garlic, I decided to include these ingredients. No onions for this dish, though, although I wouldn't mind adding lots of Vidalia onions (for the sweetness).

It's the spice mix I use that makes a difference. Since I make the rounds of ethnic-type markets, I watch out for interesting spices. In this case, I used a natural condiment for paella, meats, and fish, named Bijol, which contains corn flour, cumin, annatto (yes, for the yellowish color), yellow no. 5, and red no. 40.

Ingredients: Prepare in sequence.

1-1/2 cups couscous (follow instructions for cooking the couscous; set aside; this can be done a few hours before)
4 pieces Flipino chorizo, Pampanga-style (a more sweet, spicy chorizo or longaniza; this can also be cooked beforehand but I like to do this when I start cooking); or if you don't want a sweet, sticky chorizo, use chorizos from Lucban (Quezon), Vigan, or Baguio (Dipasupil), or my favorite longaniza from Cebu (check out my sister's (Noemi Dado) recipe of skinless longaniza if you want to make your own)
1 large tomato, cored and diced (1/4" cubes are fine); set aside in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator
1 heaping tbsp. chopped garlic (ok, I like using bottled chopped garlic)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil to fry the pine nuts (until light yellow); however, I like to use the left-over oil from the chorizo
1 heaping tbsp. raw pignolias or pine nuts (I use Trader Joe's Nuts which is an 8 oz. or 227 gm. package)
2 cubes of frozen chopped basil, Dorot brand (I buy this at Trader Joe's)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (to stir-fry the couscous in)
1/4 tsp. Bijol condiment (found in many Mexican groceries or other Latin marketplaces)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Prick the chorizo pieces with a fork. Parboil the Filipino chorizo in a little water over low-to-medium heat in a skillet until it renders its own fat. Continue cooking (with a splatter guard) as it fries in its own fat. Be careful since the chorizo caramelizes quickly (thus, burns quickly). This could take around 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Slice diagonally into thin slices. Set aside.

2. In the same chorizo oil, fry the raw pine nuts until light golden yellow. Add a little extra-virgin olive oil if you want to. (You can also roast the pine nuts in an iron skillet.). Set aside.

3. Fry the chopped garlic in the same oil until golden yellow. Add the frozen cubes of chopped basil and cook until the cubes dissolve. (Note: You can use extra-virgin olive oil in a separate teflon skillet that is large enough to mix the couscous mix in it.)

4. At this point, transfer the fried garlic and chopped basil mix to a large teflon or stainless steel skillet. Add 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or more, according to your taste). Add the Bijol condiment. Add the sliced chorizo pieces (if you need to re-heat them). Add the cooked couscous.

5. Finally, add cooked pine nuts and the tomatoes at the final stage of cooking. Mix well. (This means that you don't need to add the tomatoes and pine nuts until just before serving.)

6. Season with fresh ground pepper.

Serve with my Mediterranean Chicken Stir-Fry.

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Lorna's Mediterranean Chicken Stir-Fry

This is a healthy, no-nonsense dish that I made with Trader Joe's Individually Frozen Boneless, Skinless, Ice Glazed Chicken Breast Meat with Rib Meat. The package has about 14 pieces, weighs 2 lbs. and 8 ozs. (or 1.13 kilos). The seasoning mix, a specialty of, is a Persian-style spice blend, containing onion, citric, acid, salt, pepper, paprika, saffron, parsley, and other spices.

This recipe and its accompanying dish, Lorna's Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo, was specially created for my husband and his midnight shift companions during the stressful week of late August 2008 when their company instituted a corporate lay-off of about 20-22% of the employees. Since they didn't know who among them would be laid off that week, I decided that home-cooked meals (not take-out pizza) would help ease their work-related stress.


1.5 lbs. chicken with or without skin, defrosted and cut into 2-inch cubes (this is about 7 pieces, if using Trader's Joe's Chicken Breast Meat with Rib Meat)
1 package (1 oz.) of Sadaf Chicken Kabob Seasoning
extra virgin olive oil for stir-frying


1. This can be done several hours before cooking. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the seasoning (I use a freezer ziplock-type bag). Shake well until all pieces are well coated. At this point, you can transfer the marinated chicken pieces to a plastic or glass bowl (a non-reactive bowl, which doesn't react to acid), cover, and refrigerated for 10-15 minutes. I don't do this but instead, I use the same ziploc bag (much more efficient, and when I have time, I turn around the pieces inside the bag).

2. For cooking: You can grill, bake, or fry the chicken pieces. You can also use this as barbecue-style chicken with green or red bell peppers. If grilling, brush chicken pieces with oil or water during the grilling process. If baking, use a oil-lined pyrex dish (or glass dish for oven baking), and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the pieces once in a while for even cooking. This might take about 30 minutes only.

In this case, I like to stir-fry.

Heat a non-reactive skillet (not an iron skillet or aluminum skillet because of the citric acid found in the spices) such as stainless steel or teflon-type.

Add about 1 Tbsp. (or more) of extra virgin olive oil until heated through.

Then, add the marinated chicken pieces and stir-fry over medium heat until done.

Serve with my Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

From Wii Fit, We Like

Do you remember the Dance Revolution craze that a lot of Asian kids really hyped up at the end of the 20th century? A friend of mine, Jackie Oei, recently wrote an article about the latest trends in physical fitness in one of the magazines I represent, (see pages 42 and 43 of the May 2008 issue), a print and digital publication.

I am reprinting Jackie's article here because Wii Fit is a 21st century pop culture innovation that motivates people "to get physical!" in a most entertaining, relaxing way.

Here are some videos for us to explore.

The Wii Fit Commercial

Wii For All

Wii Fit -- full trailer from E307

A Wii Fit Demonstration By Nintendo Before a Live Audience

Wii Fit, We Like

By Jackie Oei
Reprinted with permission from Kabari

I applaud anyone and everyone who exercise regularly. I, for one, will need to exclude myself from this health-conscious and energetic group of people. My personal attempt at any form of workout is often short-lived and inconsistent. Maybe it’s the hefty price tag of gym memberships or the unpredictable San Francisco weather. Whatever the reason, fitness training is something I know I should do yet I seem to avoid it all costs. Luckily, the geniuses at Nintendo have created a game that is well-suited for people like me.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Wii Fit!

Scheduled to make its debut in the United States on May 19, 2008, the Wii Fit has received enthusiastic reviews from both fans and skeptics in Japan, Europe, and Australia.

Brian Ashcraft at commented, “Let's get this out of the way: Wii Fit does work. Why wouldn't it? It's based on time-tried exercises. Stuff like doing sit-ups, push-ups and jogging. Well, jogging in place.”

A complement to Nintendo’s Wii Game Console, Wii Fit is a gaming bundle that includes a game disc and Nintendo’s first ever Wii Balance Board. It is priced at $89.99 for the United States, somewhat costly, but it seems reasonable for the quality of both the software and the board.

The company’s Senior Managing Director, Shigeru Miyamoto, created the initial concept of a game focused on exercise and checking one’s weight on a scale-like device. Balance became the essential ingredient needed to pull Wii Fit through a grueling process of research, development, and numerous test runs. The idea came from observing sumo wrestlers needing two scales laid side by side to weigh themselves. After two years of preparations, the new balance board became a wireless, rectangular foot panel with four sensors to detect the slightest shift in weight.

What may seem like a simple idea is actually ingenious because it takes video gaming to a whole new level. When Nintendo introduced their Wii console back in 2005, it broke conventional game standards by using wireless motion sensors in its controllers so game characters can mimic a player’s movements. Now with the Wii Balance Board, attention will be focused on the players’ hands and feet.

“I don’t think Wii Fit’s purpose is to make you fit,” Miyamoto explained. “What it’s actually aiming to do is make you aware of your body. That’s why we wanted people to talk with their families about Wii Fit, and become aware of these things together as a group. If you’re standing still, and it tells you 'Your body is swaying', you can see on the training results screen that your body has been shaking. But I think you’d never realize that your body is shaking in day-to-day life. I think becoming aware of things like this about yourself is quite interesting.”

Here is how Nintendo describes the Wii Fit:

- Learn to block soccer balls, swivel hips to power hoop twirls or balance to hold the perfect yoga pose. As users stand on the Wii Balance Board, included with Wii Fit, their body's overall balance is tied to the game in a way they've never experienced before.

- Wii Fit also uses the Wii Balance Board for daily tests. These evaluate two key measures that a household can track via progress charts:

- Body Mass Index (BMI): A weight evaluation based on a ratio of weight to height.

- Wii Fit Age: The Wii Fit Age is measured by factoring the user's BMI reading, testing the user's center of gravity and conducting quick balance tests.

- Wii Fit includes more than 40 types of training activities designed to appeal to all members of a household. Training falls into four fitness categories:

• Aerobic Exercise: 10-minute exercises that are designed to get the heart pumping.
• Muscle Conditioning: Controlled motions using arms, legs and other body parts.
• Yoga Poses: Classic poses that focus on balance and stretching.
• Balance Games: Fun activities, such as ski jumping and heading soccer balls, that challenge the player's overall body balance.

Wii Fit is an amazing piece of equipment, but not everyone is impressed. Devoted gamers have expressed concern that the program detracts from true, traditional gaming with analog controllers and virtually-advanced graphics. Miyamoto has responded by encouraging all gamers to try something new. Wii Fit opens the market to casual and hardcore gamers alike, even to those who have never played a video game before.

“I think we'd gotten to a point where video games were something that everyone could no longer enjoy. As a designer, I'm always focusing on what is fun -- ideas that people can enjoy. For me, I'm trying to entertain as many people as I can, creating games that the widest number of people can enjoy.” Miyamoto said.

People may also get a bit embarrassed if they are spotted swinging their hips or jogging in place within their own living room. Just be sure to close the blinds, if that is the case. Initially, the idea of weighing yourself in front of the television sounds absurd, but those who have tested the component realize that it does make one aware of their own bodies and how they are living their lives. It is more than a DVD work-out program because the game tracks one’s progress, thus acting like a personal trainer.

Overall, Wii Fit and the Wii console are living up to their “Revolution” strategy to challenge mainstream perceptions about what video gaming looks like. Who knew that exercise and Nintendo could work so well together? They are, indeed.

© May 2008,

John Robbins and the Diet For A New America

Warning: Read this blog posting when you are not eating. The videos can be quite graphic. I was visibly disturbed by my own research (yes, I am literally shaking because I am a carnivore with an emerging vegetarian interest). All I seek is balance in my outlook and a re-evaluation of my own values.

Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, a Filipina Breastfeeding Advocate/International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a practising vegetarian these past 17 years, turned me on to the "Diet for A New America." As I strive to live a more healthy lifestyle, I also take the time to gather research and knowledge from people who can help me with my Diabetes Type 2 condition.

PETA TV has a thought-provoking, compelling video that features John Robbins, son of the founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire, who shows us why animal-based diets are killing Americans. You can also check out the YouTube videos (Part 1 to Part 8) of the same PETA TV documentary here.

Here is Part 1 of this YouTube video.

As a kid, John Robbins had been paralyzed from "the waist down" due to polio. Thus, his continuing interest in healing his body using a plant-based diet is John's prime directive.

What I learned from John is that: the food choices that are healthiest for our bodies, kindest to animals, environmentally-friendly, and ecologically-virtuous are vegetarian and vegan. John's "statement of consciousness, compassion, and care" resonate with my determination to be wiser about my lifestyle choices.

I am still in a state of shock. It will take a while before all of the knowledge and opinions I just imbibed will truly sink into my psyche. In the meantime, please take the time to check out the videos below.

Special Interview with Mr. John Robbins, Part I

Special Interview with Mr. John Robbins, Part II

Nona Andaya-Castillo is very busy bringing people and organizations together to organize the Second Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide Event, scheduled on October 11, 2008, as well as its launching during the World Breastfeeding Week on August 1 to 7, 2008. She is looking for public service, corporate, non-profit agency, and community-based partners.



Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, IBCLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
The Breastfeeding Clinic: Your Partner from Pregnancy to Parenting
Telephone: 632-444-4716 632-271-0954
+63-919-839-5555 and

Nurturers of the Earth
A support group for vegetarians and vegetarians-in-progress

Children for Breastfeeding
Mobilizing children to promote earth-friendly parenting

P.S. Here is something I learned from Nona about Formula Milk made by Wyeth that is supposed to be recalled in the Philippines. Very controversial!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hummus is A Dieter's Best Friend

Hummus and pita bread are such healthy choices in my life that my food shopping always include these delicious items. The Filipina in me loves the lemony after-taste in the hummus. I particularly favor the hummus spreads from Trader Joe's --- and although I also enjoy my Trader Joe's Naan bread, I've been buying their Middle-Eastern flat bread recently.

I substitute hummus for any wraps that ask for cheese spreads or sour cream.

In May of 2001, I had to prepare vegetarian sandwiches for my friends when we attended HH The Dalai Lama's teachings at the Shoreline Auditorium in Mountain View, California. Since Noam, one of my friends, was a real vegan, I was challenged to come up with my own recipe just for him. I used the classic Hye Roller Bread, a standard in making Vegetarian Hye Roller Wraps at that time. Today, there are more types of wraps that keep me interested...

There is going to come a time when I will make my own hummus at home. I found a really good YouTube video from Dede's Mediterranean Kitchen, a website on easy, healthy, Mediterranean Cooking. Thank you, Dede! I'll be using your recipe as a guide to making my own Lorna's Hummus.

Here is Dede's Famous Hummus, courtesy of!

From Dede's website: The Famous Hummus

1/4 Cup Yogurt
1 Can Garbanzo Beans "Chick Peas"
1/2 Cup Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1/4 Tsp citric acid "if you need more lemon taste"
2 Tbs water "if to thick"
3-4 Fresh Mint Leaves "for taste"
2 Tbs of Fresh Parsley "for garnish"
1 Tsp of Cayenne Pepper or Paprika "for garnish"
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil "for garnish"

Mix first 9 ingredients and blend until smooth and to desired thickness. Garnish with parsley, cayenne pepper and olive oil.

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Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread, The Original Flourless Low Glycemic Whole Grained Bread

It's been more than six months now since I first started eating this wonderful bread. It's available at most health-related food shelves in a supermarket. I buy mine from Trader Joe's.

Although I would like to change my diet to a more plant-based one, this is a time in my life that I'm learning to balance my carnivorous desires with vegetarian delights. Thus, this is my renewed effort at updating my blog with my own fresh discoveries and realizations.

For instance, I just read from about some of their tips on how to switch my diet to a plant-based one. I did not agree with their non-recommendation of coconut oil since the Philippines has made great inroads on the virtues of virgin or extra-virgin coconut oil.

I'm quoting a paragraph here to make you salivate!

"Try to keep lunch to soup and bread, salads, or sandwiches. Spread a no fat wrap (Ezekiel makes an easily available one) with lots of a zero fat hummus (there are two we have found, one made by Oasis Classic Cuisine the other by Sahara Cuisine or you can make your own without tahini using chick peas, lemon, garlic as a base.) then put chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, thawed frozen corn, maybe beans, rice, cooked broccoli, mushrooms, etc. and top with lots of spinach or lettuce. Roll it up into a sausage like shape, cut in half, put on a baking sheet and bake in a high oven about ten minutes at 450 until the wrap is crisp."

Back to Ezekiel.

I was researching on why this particular brand name is Ezekiel until I found out that "Ezekiel bread is the recipe God gave Ezekiel in Ezek 4.9 and told him to eat for 390 days."

I found a recipe from for those who want to make Ezekiel Bread from scratch.

Scientists also tested the Ezekiel bread recipe. Here's a quote from one of the posts at

"A modern day interpretation of the Ezekiel recipe calls for the following: 20 parts wheat, 12 parts Spelt, 4 parts Hulled Barley, 2 parts Hulled Millet, 2 parts lentils, 2 parts Pinto Beans, 1 part Great Northern Beans, 1 part Kidney Beans.

Modern Food scientists have found that Ezekiel Bread is surprisingly complete in nutrients, containing all 8 essential Amino Acids. It only lacks the vitamin provided by sunlight that converts cholesterol in the skin into Vitamin D, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream.

Ezekiel Mix can be ground into flour to make Ezekiel Bread, used to make Soup, Stews or Porridge. Ezekiel Flour can also be added to other bread flour recipes to enhance nutrition.

You can make your own Ezekiel Mix, or do as we do. We purchase the mix from Walton Feed. They sell Ezekiel Mix in 25 pound bags, #10 cans with oxygen absorbers and Super Pails. (6 gallon air tight plastic food grade pail, containing the mix in a sealed mylar bag with oxygen absorbers.)

To grind the mix into flour you must use a grain mill. Because of the beans in the mix, you cannot use a stone mill because it will plug up the stones."

Nutrition facts are found here. Each slice has 80 calories (5 unsaturated fat calories, 18 grams carbohyrdate calories), certified organic.

Quoted from

Ezekiel 4:9® Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Products are:

* Flourless, * Complete Protein,
* and Sprouted Whole Grain

Food for Life discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. There are 18 amino acids present in this unique bread – from all vegetable sources – naturally balanced in nature.

Ezekiel 4:9® Bread, made from freshly sprouted organically grown grains, is naturally flavorful and bursting with nutrients. Rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and natural fiber with no added fat. Try it served warm to release its exceptionally rich nutty flavor.

Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Organic Sprouted Raisins, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Filtered Water, Fresh Yeast, Sea Salt, Cinnamon.

Dairy free, Vegan, Kosher

There are infinite possibilities for this bread. Use your own combination. Here are some of my recipes.

Masala Veggie Burger with Mango Chutney on Cinnamon-Raisin Ezekiel Bread

From Trader Joe's, buy:

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger (vegan)
Cinnamon-Raisin Ezekiel 4.9 Bread (vegan)
Alfafa Sprouts
Organic Vine-ripened tomatoes
Trader Joe's Organic Micro Greens
Organic Earth Balance Whipped Buttery Spread, 100% vegan

From Cost Plus World Market or other places, buy:

Patak's Sweet Mango Chutney, A mild chutney with a fruity, tropical sweetness


1. Lightly oil a preheated pan or cast-iron skillet (I use a skillet). You can use Earth Balance for a buttery taste.

2. Heat a masala vegetable burger for 3-4 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated. Set aside.

3. You can toast two slices of the Ezekiel bread at this time


3. Using the same skillet, add about 2 tsps. of Earth Balance and lightly toast the bread slices, turning them over to make sure the other side gets the melted "butter."

4. Assemble your burger sandwich.

On each slice of bread, spread about 1 tsp. of the Patak sweet mango chutney.
Add some alfafa sprouts.
Add two sliced tomatoes.
Add the micro-greens.
Add the masala vegetable burger.

Since I oftentimes crave for something sweet, the explosion of sweet and spicy in this veggie burger is to die for! This tastes good whether served warm or at room temperature.

Ezekiel 4.9 Cinnamon-Raisin Toast with Non-Fat Cheese Spread (Made from Non-Fat Yogurt)

Prepare the "Cheese" Spread two days before using:

1. Buy a small container of any low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt. The brand I use is from Trader Joe's: FAGE Total 0% All Natural-NonFat Greek Strained Yogurt.

2. Using a double layer of cheese cloth (or for the Philippines, "sako sa harina"), empty the contents of the container (yogurt) into this make-shift strainer. The goal is to gently strain the water out of the yogurt and make your own cheese spread.

Since I have cheese cloth bags that fit over a large glass comfortably, I am able to put the yogurt inside the cloth bag, and there is still space in the glass for the water to accumulate.

3. Cover the glass or strainer with plastic wrap and tie it up with a rubber band so air doesn't get into the mixture. Store inside the refrigerator.

4. In two days, you can see a nice cheese spread forming.

5. You can mix herbs with your cheese. Anything from minced onions, chives, garlic, whatever.

For your snack:

1. Toast your Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel 4.9 bread slices.

2. Spread lavishly with your homemade cheese spread.

3. If you have a sweet tooth, add a "no sugar added" type of jam. I love using Stonewall Kitchen's Fig and Ginger Jam.


I found other recipes using Ezekiel 4.9 Cinnamon Raisin Bread. I am including them here as well.

Ezekiel Organic French Toast

Lorna's notes: Even if you don't have Ezekiel bread, whole wheat bread is a wonderful substitute.


8 slices Ezekiel Bread
1 Large container Organic Cream Cheese
8-10oz Organic Strawberry Preserves
1 Organic large brown egg
2 Tbsps Organic milk
2 Tbsps Organic butter (Lorna uses Earth Balance)


1. Beat egg and mix with milk.

2. On 4 slices of bread, spread cream cheese and cover with remaining bread (like a sandwich).

3. Dip in the egg and milk mixture and put in a frying pan of melted butter (Use Earth Balance - Lorna's advice).

4. Brown on both sides.

5. To hasten the cream cheese to melt, cover a few minutes.

6. Serve immediately with warm strawberry preserve spooned on top of the French Toast.

*Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with a fresh strawberry.

Recipe for Home-Made Ezekiel Bread
Excerpts from

Ezekiel's Six-Grain Bread

This recipe is found in Ezekiel 4:9, where God tells the prophet,
"Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them
in a single vessel and make bread out of them".

Yield: 2 loaves

2 C warm water
2 pkg yeast
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C graham (whole wheat) flour, divided
1/4 C lentil flour
1/4 C white bean flour (fava, navy, etc.)
1/4 C barley flour
1/4 C millet flour
1/4 C spelt flour
1 1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
2 to 2 1/2 C bread flour
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

Combine water, yeast, honey, oil, and salt in a large bowl, stir to
dissolve. Stir in 1/2 C of the graham flour. Beat thoroughly. Let
stand 10 minutes, or until foamy.

Sift the remaining 1 C graham flour, lentil flour, bean flour, barley
flour, millet flour, spelt flour and coriander together. Stir until
well blended.

Add flour mixture, about 1 C at a time, to the yeast mixture,
stirring thoroughly after each addition. Add enough of the bread
flour to make a stiff dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 to 12
minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise 1 1/2 hours, or
until dough has doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough. Knead lightly, then let dough rest 5 minutes.
Divide in half and shape into two round loaves. Place loaves on a
lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 30 to 45 minutes, or
until doubled. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 350F. If
desired, lightly brush the tops of risen loaves with water and
sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes, or until tops are browned and loaves sound hollow when
tapped. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks.

Note: to make the bean or grain flours, grind dried beans or whole
grains in an electric blender or food processor. Do not grind more
than 1/4 C at a time

and take lots of breaks so your machine doesn't overheat. It will
take quite some time to grind the flour. Sift the ground mixture
though a fine sieve before use, or use a regular flour sifter if you
want a coarser blend.

These various flours absorb moisture at different rates, so be sure
to follow the directions about sifting them together before adding
them to the yeast mixture. Pearl barley can be used to make the barley flour.

From Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, by Father Dominic Garramone


Ezekiel Bread (Ezek 4:9 NKJ Version) 1.5 lb (Bread Machine)

This bread recipe is for Ezekiel bread, which is the recipe God gave
Ezekiel in Ezek 4.9 and told him to eat for 390 days. This recipe is
made easier in that you can use cooked beans rather than grinding
beans as a lot of other Ezekiel bread recipes are. However, a batter
bread is probably closer to what Ezekiel actually ate. There are
additions such as honey, salt, olive oil, and a little gluten flour to help it out in the bread machine, but then the text doesn't mention the water that would be needed to make bread either. Since I am not good at making bread by hand, I've modified the recipe from the verse for the bread machine. I started with other
recipes and modified them for the NKJ version. I used this version because it agrees with Strong's concordance, and others. The Old English in the KJV had fitches, which was translated various ways by some. say is spelt).

"And take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and
spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself
. . . This is the first time I have posted this recipe with the
nutritional information (and the 2nd time altogether). 14.2% calories from fat.



Vegan - from Trader Joe's

Products that are free of all animal products and /or by-products, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, gelatin, lanolin, confectioner’s glaze and carmine

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Can Gastric By-Pass Surgery Force Diabetes Type 2 Into Remission?

This is something new that just came out of Yahoo News! today, a snippet from 60 Minutes. If there are more advances in this area, it would be wonderful!

Click here to go directly to