Jan 09

Bitter Melon: Nature’s Answer to Diabetes

Have you had any bitter fruit in your diet nor have you eaten anything bitter before? How does a bitter melon sound to you? You must be grimacing right now.

   Momordica charantia Linn., commonly known as bitter melon or bitter gourd in English, is a tropical and subtropical vine of the Cucurbitaceae family. This vine is  widely grown in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for its edible fruit and leaves. The bitter melon fruit  is among the most bitter of all fruits. Essentially, there are many varieties that differ  in the shape and bitterness of the fruit.

This wonder fruit is known in various names. It is  kǔguā or 苦瓜, which means “bitter gourd” in Chinese.  In Japanese, it is called goya (ゴーヤー) or nigauri (from a native Okinawan language).  In Tagalog (Philippine language) it is called ampalayá, likewise, it is called arela/karella (in Indian and Nepalese languages, respectively),  muop dang (mướp đắng) or kho qua (khổ qua, in Vietnamese).1

Did you know that majority of Asians have this wonder fruit in their diet?

In China, bitter melon is commonly stir-fried with pork and tofu. They also serve it in soups, and also as tea. Indians mostly prepare it with any of the following: curry, mixed with grated coconut, roasted coconut, or deep fried. To offset the bitterness, they serve yogurt on the side with some potatoes. In Pakistan, a whole bitter melon is boiled and stuffed with ground beef served with hot bread, lentils and rice.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, country folks use the fresh juice they get from squeezing a handful of clean, fresh bitter melon leaves to purge a month old infant. It is a practice that is still observed these days. They claim that it would cleanse the baby’s digestive system and it would help keep the baby healthy. When the child is ready for solid food,  bitter melon is gradually introduced in his diet, starting from bitter melon leaves added to stir-fried mung beans cooked with minced pork or chicken flavored with fish paste. Eventually graduating to the real fruit itself stir-fired with browned pork or any kind of meat with sliced onion and cloves of garlic. Other common recipes include stir-frying the bitter melon fruit  with ground beef and oyster sauce, fish paste or fish sauce, or with eggs and diced tomatoes. In the Ilocos Region (located in Luzon), bitter melon is the main ingredient in a popular dish called Pinakbet, which consists of tomatoes,eggplants, lima beans or stringed beans and other various regional vegetables altogether sauteed and then stewed with a little fish paste (bagoong).

The Philippine Department of Health conducted a study in 2007 and determined the bitter melon’s crucial role in managing, preventing or counteracting diabetes mellitus type 2. The study stated “that a daily dose of 100mg per kilogram of body weight is comparable to 2.5 mg/kg of the anti-diabetes drug glibenclamide taken twice per day”. Under the trade name Charantia, tablets of bitter melon extract are sold in the Philippines as a food supplement. It is now exported to many countries.

Ampalaya (bitter melon) was found containing polypeptide-P, a plant insulin that can lower elevated blood sugar level. Nutritional analysis showed that ampalaya is rich in iron, calcium, and Beta-carotene. It also contains some vitamin B, C, and phosphorous. 2

Bitter melon also contains a lectin, which helps lower blood glucose concentrations. Its insulin-like effects to the brain also suppresses appetite. Hence, incorporating this fruit in your diet would do wonders for your over-all health whether you are diabetic or not. Additionally, bitter melon is also believed to be an effective digestive aid, an antihelmintic, antimalarial, antiviral, immunomodulator, and anti-cancer.

How about the bitter taste?

Yes, it is definitely bitter and it is an acquired taste. But since it is available in tablet form you can always take it as a supplement. And if you are a tea drinking person, you can also get it from a Health Foods store or from your nearby Asian store. If you prefer the organic, all natural kind, you can always plant one in your backyard.

Sources:

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_melon

2http://www.gmanews.tv/story/35962/Ampalaya-tablets-out-soon-for-diabetics. Retrieved January 9, 2011.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/bitter-melon-natures-abswer-to-diabetes/2011/01/09/

Dec 22

Saying Your Vows – 10 Things to Consider Before Doing It

Mahal kita (Tagalog). Ti yu bạn (Vietnamese). Aku mencintaimu (Indonesian). Ich liebe dich (German). Je t’aime beaucoup (French). I love you very much (English).

No matter how you say it, it’s the sweetest thing couples tell each other. It gives both the satisfaction of loving and being loved. It fulfills the human desire to hear what the action shows you and reaffirms the love and dedication you have for one another.

Most transplants marry while they are abroad and commonly, they marry a partner from another ethnic background or race. How do they get along, what adjustments need to be done, and who does which? These are few questions they sometimes overlook once they started falling in love. When you are in love you tend to overlook the crucial part of the relationship. Your judgment gets clouded by pheromone-induced euphoria, hence, your grasp of reality is obscured.

Further complicating matter is the fact that foreign visas come with expiration dates which creates an externally imposed time constraint that is absent with couples who have the luxury of time due to common citizenship. Thus, courtship may be shortened to the extent that the things that are usually sorted out while dating may be postponed until after the wedding. You do not have much time to really get to know each other well. And while most inter-racial marriages grow and flourish, there are some which are terminated due to incompatibility. Therefore, before you delve deeper and invest into a lifetime commitment, you might want to consider these things. Meanwhile, if you are already married, think of ways to work around these factors and make a more meaningful relationship together.

1. Common Interests. Do you have hobbies that you both share? Do you have the same preference when it comes to movies, music and activities for your leisure time? While you don’t need to share every thing together, it is a huge advantage to have a common ground because when the going gets tough, this could be your tool to reconnect and stay intact.

2. Education and Experience. The average individual wants to be able to freely associate with another gender intellectually and emotionally. If both partners have almost the same level of education and experience in life, they tend to be able to relate with each other better. The more educated and experienced the individual is, the more chances there are for that person to be welcoming of others’ opinions. Likewise, this individual tends to be better at problem-solving, hence would bolster the strength of a union. Moreover, you can both have more things to talk about that are common to both of you.

3. Family Upbringing and Dynamics. Your past tells you how you are or will be in a relationship. The past, being your childhood experiences and your upbringing could help make or break your relationship depending on how well you work around your ‘unfinished business’ or baggage. ‘We are drawn to people whose issues fit perfectly with our own in a way that guarantees a reenactment of the old, familiar struggles we grew up with’ (The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work by Terrence Real). Moreover, we subconsciously crave for the familiar dynamics we grew up with and eventually we realize we married our father or mother – we become them. It is wise to practice awareness on this aspect if a relationship has to succeed for a lifetime. You can use this awareness to avoid pushing the buttons that don’t work for both of you and do something differently to address the root-cause of the issue at hand.

4. Personality and Preference. Which is more important: character or chemistry? When a woman is attracted and made excited by a man, she assumes that the man is “the one”. Further, she expects it to last forever and that is a good recipe to failure.This is the reason why it is best to know each other first before sleeping together.

Introvert vs. Extrovert – which one are you? There is no such thing as absolute introvert or extrovert. There is a little bit of both and it is during trying and stressful occasions that the predominant style comes out. Why do you need to know your partner’s style? It is crucial to learn your partner’s preference for you to be able to interact better. It also gives you a heads up whether you can deal with his/her quirks or not.

5. Language and Culture. Are you willing to learn your partner’s language or some of his or her culture’s nuances? If he or she is not fluent in speaking English, how would you provide accommodations so that good communication for both parties is guaranteed? You don’t have to bend over backwards but it is sweet that the partner who speaks English takes initiative to learn the other partner’s language or at least learn more about the culture. Failure to do any of these could hinder you in resolving simple misunderstandings in the future (i.e. why he or she does not look at you in the eye; why he or she cannot call your mom by her first name; why he or she needs to send money back home even if you’re married; why he or she likes fish paste, etc.).

6. Willingness to Compromise. When you are single, you don’t have to worry about anybody else but you. You do what you want, you eat when you wanted to, you go where you please and nobody could stop you – at least if you are of legal age. Until you have a special someone in your life, things are done according to what you want and that’s it, right? But when you decide to be with someone, be engaged or be married, you have to meet half-way. There is no way that “I am right, you’re wrong” attitude could get you somewhere either. Do not even think of getting a girlfriend or a boyfriend if you cannot compromise because once you are married, every waking moment is a compromise, and yes, even when you are sleeping (especially if your partner snores, and you just learned about it later in the relationship).

7. Distance. Maybe you met online or somewhere in the States but you live hours away from each other. Distance takes a crucial role in building a relationship. If he or she is living in another country and you are constantly communicating, you may rack up phone bills per month – little things add up, too. You may want to check out Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook or check with your phone service provider about their lower long distance rates. It is very challenging to pursue a long distance relationship but it is not impossible. Trust, loyalty, honesty, respect and communication are needed for the seeds of love to grow and stay nourished.

If you are a man and still tend to check out that ‘hottie’ who just walked in to the bar where you are silently drinking your Fat Tire, then you shouldn’t even be thinking of pursuing a long distance relationship or marriage. You might think being a man, you can look and as long as you do not touch, you’re okay. Wrong. If this has been a habit you have cultivated in your bachelor days, you need to stop. Once you are with her – in flesh and blood, you cannot do this anymore. Let your away time be a practice in taming your urge to look at other ‘menus’. A woman has a good peripheral vision, she will notice you doing it. And while she might not tell you, she feels disrespected and less valued, and the worse thing that could happen is that her respect for you might diminish, much more her love and trust.


Your first remittance to the Philippines fee-FREE.

8. Financial Stability. Are you financially capable to support another person with your income right now? If not, can you find a second job or a different one that could pay more? Aside from communication costs you are incurring while staying miles apart, getting someone a fiance’s visa and/or green card, whether the person is in or out of the US costs so much money. The entire process may range from $3,000 to $3,500 with an immigration lawyer, excluding the costs of procuring the required documents for your application. Even if the individual you are sponsoring is currently in the US, worked for two years on a J-1 visa prior to your sponsorship, that person has yet to wait for a work permit before being able to apply for a job, notwithstanding the “under-the-table” jobs which is not encouraged in this site.

9. Time. If you want someone from the Asian region, someone who was raised there, you are most likely looking at a more traditional type of courtship you are not accustomed to in the West. This is not saying that women in those places are not going with the time, but they prefer to be courted and pursued and not the other way around.

Usually, they do not initiate phone calls or text messages, instead, they wait for the man to do it first. Giving gifts is welcomed, but it does not define you. The time you spend thinking of her, on how to please her counts a lot.

10. Effort. How much of you are you willing to extend? Would you do the laundry, wash the dishes sometimes, pick up the slack, massage her back (if you’re a man)? For most women, it is their default, but for a man, it is rare to find one who would be willing to do such things.

In some traditional (Asian) cultures, when a man is proposing marriage, the man has to stay with the girl’s family for a week or two to show the parents that he is capable of taking care of their daughter. If the girl lives in a more remote place where modern living is a holy grail (i.e. water system and faucets, hot and cold showers, gas or electric stoves), this entails a labor-intensive courtship to the tune of fetching water, chopping firewood, helping the family gather vegetables or helping in meal preparation. In other regions, bringing gifts for everybody in the family is also good when you visit, but again, it does not define you. You can scratch that off of your to-do list if you’d like. Effort involves all the things you do to show how special your loved one is to you and how much you appreciate her parents for raising her well.

Do you think you have what it takes? This is just a broad example of what you might face if you are planning to find someone with a different cultural background, especially the ones who are raised in their home country. While you are on your quest, it wouldn’t hurt to have these things in mind. Meanwhile, if you already have a better-half or special other you consider marrying, why not reevaluate things and do something different taking these points into consideration. This would positively add a new spark to your relationship, improve your understanding and cultivate a special appreciation for your partner’s exotic and endearing qualities.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/saying-your-vows-10-things-to-consider-before-doing-it/2010/12/22/

Dec 21

Anniversary Omelet


For all of you men out there, here is something within the realm of any man which will do wonders for your relationship on your anniversary. (It might even get you out of the doghouse if you were obtuse enough to forget). My husband made this for me during our 1st year wedding anniversary, and it tastes heavenly!

Ingredients:

2 eggs (per omelet)

1 tbsp of soy milk

1 tbsp of butter

* seasoned salt and pepper to taste

Filling:

Any vegetables that could be easily diced. Here are some vegetables, but feel free to be creative.

1/8 cup of diced green pepper

This is the actual omelet that my loving husband made for me during our wedding anniversary.

1/8 cup of diced red pepper

1/4 cup of diced onion

1 cup of fresh spinach leaves, washed and drained well

1/2 cup of sliced fresh mushroom

1/2 jalapeno pepper with seeds removed, finely diced

1/8 cup of diced pepper jack cheese

1/2 tbsp of butter

Garnishing:

sliced green onion

sliced cherry tomatoes

cilantro

shredded cheese

Procedure:

1. Saute all the vegetables in 1/2 tbsp of butter on low heat until the spinach has cooked, about 10 minutes.

2.  While the veggies are sauteing, beat the eggs in a bowl, then add soy milk and seasonings.

3.  Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a separate frying pan, 8 – 10 inches in diameter.

4. When the butter has melted completely, pour the egg mixture into the pan (remember low heat), and let cook until the mixture begins to solidify.

5. Take your vegetable mixture and spread evenly on the middle third of the egg (make sure that most of the egg mixture is solid, a very thin layer of liquid on top is acceptable).

6. Sprinkle the diced pepper jack cheese as the egg begins to cook. Add seasoned salt and pepper to taste. (You can also use other cheese of your choice).

7. Carefully pick up the edge of the egg with a flat spatula and fold approximately halfway over the filling, and from the folded edge, then roll the same side over, looking like a burrito. Cook it in the pan until it is done, about 5-7 minutes.

8.  Carefully pick up the omelet with a flat spatula, place it on a plate and sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

9.  Arrange the sliced cherry  tomatoes on top of the omelet, then accentuate with some sliced onion leaves. Finally, add a sprig of cilantro on the side as (an optional) garnish. Serve warm.

Note: This recipe was made by my husband and it surely won him 5/5 stars. He surprised me by serving it for breakfast. Try it, and tell me how it goes.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/anniversary-omelet/2010/12/21/

Dec 20

Fitness is a journey shared

Fitness is a journey, a process that can be daunting to most of us. Day after day, we make a decision to whether or not pick up ourselves, Fitness is a journey sharedget out of bed, go to work, run, walk, or workout. As busy as we are, it seems that the idea of working out is cumbersome. However, there are those who succeed amidst the unique challenges in schedule, in mobility and ability or in overall (and current) health and mental state of mind that beset them. No matter where you are in the spectrum, realize that you are not alone. What I have learned from the day I decided to work on my well-being is that it is easier to tackle an enormous challenge when you have someone to turn to for support. I highly encourage you to take advantage of what Team Beachbody has to offer. I am not here to sell a product, though I must admit that I get commissions if you buy. I am here to offer you my support, because I want to pay it forward. Learn about my struggle if you sign-up here. If you want free coaching from me, sign-up for a FREE Team Beachbody account and start as soon as possible. For those who want to share their experiences with others as you work on yourselves, click here to become a Team Beachbody Coach and receive mentoring from me and the coach leaders in my team. Remember, fitness and well-being is a journey worth sharing with those you love and those who want it.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/fitness-is-a-journey-shared/2014/12/20/

Feb 20

Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

If Sauerkraut is to Germans, Atchara is to Filipinos – only sweeter. That’s the closest description I can give you. And since I have been craving for it for a very long time, I decided to make a trip to an Asian store to get my main ingredient, the green papaya. I tried looking for it in ordinary grocery stores but they only have ripe papaya so, I guess I am justified to drive for two hours just to get what I need.

Without further ado, here is the recipe for those who have been in a foreign land for so long and have yet to make their first ever Atchara.

Prep time: 1 day to dehydrate the papaya; 15 minutes to prepare all ingredients

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

Ingredients:

- Main ingredients:

1 medium green papaya, about 3 – 4 lbs, julienned

2 medium carrots, julienned

1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

10 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and then thinly sliced

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ red bell pepper, cut in thin strips

1 knob ginger, skinned and julienned

¼ cup salt (to dehydrate the papaya)

1 medium chayote (optional)

¼ cup raisins (optional)

- For the syrup

2 cups apple cider vinegar or your choice – some prefer white vinegar

1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

Directions:

Day 1

1. Place the julienned papaya in a large glass bowl. Combine ¼ cup salt with the papaya. Mix until evenly absorbed.

2. Using a cling wrap, cover the bowl and place inside the refrigerator overnight. The purpose of this step is to dehydrate the papaya, so you don’t have to repeatedly wash, rinse and drain it.

Day 2

1. Place the julienned papaya over a cheesecloth on a strainer, rinse under running water. If you prefer to use the traditional way, you can add water in the bowl where the papaya was originally stored and squeeze the water out of the papaya you can grab by your hand and then put it on the cheesecloth as stated above. Do this twice, then using the cheesecloth, squeeze all the remaining water out of it.

2. Wash the bowl and dry. Put the papaya back in it and combine with the rest of the ingredients.

3. While mixing the ingredients until well blended, heat the saucepan. Pour the vinegar and bring to a boil.

4. Add the sugar and 1 ½ tsp salt then stir until well diluted.

5. Turn the heat on low and add the mixed ingredients, making sure that the syrup is well distributed. Let simmer for about 10 to 20 seconds while still mixing or stirring. Turn the heat off and let your atchara cool.

6. Spoon the atchara (green papaya pickles) in a sterilized airtight jar and flatten the very top to make sure that the mixed veggies are immersed in the syrup. Seal properly. You can also can this if you prefer.

7. If you are not canning, place the sealed jars in the refrigerator. (You can consume this right away since the flavor has already seeped in because you simmered it). Ideally, wait for about a week or 5 days to achieve the traditional texture and flavor you’re accustomed to.

Serve cold with fried or grilled dishes. Others use this as their dessert, while some eat it with rice.  Whatever you prefer, it’s always good. Enjoy.

Author’s note: You can make your carrots decorative by cutting them in strips and some of them in flowerets. I went for the short route this time by not canning it, but I will start canning my next batch.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/atchara-pickled-green-papaya/2011/02/20/

Feb 17

Things Filipino Teachers Can Do to Teach Abroad – Part 1

Every year, Philippine universities and colleges produce an average of  69,000 teachers*. Most of these graduates either teach in city schools or go back to the province, while the remaining fraction end up unemployed or underemployed.

Those who get hired after graduation have a head start with regard to acquiring experience in the field of education, while those who do not, suffer the pain of rejection and the agony of waiting – maybe not. If you think you are unlucky for not getting the job sooner, think of it this way. The situation might work on your favor. See how you can turn things around -  read on:

1. Go back to school. You actually have more time to broaden your scope of expertise and marketability if you earn a Masters Degree. Choose to major in the field of Math, Science, Special Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or Speech Pathology. By so doing, you can get a higher pay when hired, skip on the promotional ladder or teach abroad.

2. Work with dignity and dedication. If you did not make it to the teaching field right away like the rest, you can still find a good or even better paying job. Send out your resume to tutorial centers, call centers, restaurants, offices or stores. You might be underemployed for some time but the sacrifice will pay off. Besides, you do not want to depend on your parents to feed, right?

3. Volunteer. Go out, branch out and network while helping the needy. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and be desperate,  opt to be useful to the society. Teaching in itself is social work, so by volunteering to Habitat for Humanity or Red Cross, you can treat yourself to a ton of feeling good vibe while helping people. Your resume could also use some of those additional qualifications, or better yet, you might meet your new boss or new co-worker in one outreach program.

4. Prepare your documents. You never know when the opportunity comes, why not welcome it all the time? Be sure to have your passport, authenticated copies and original copies of your transcript of records and diploma (college and high school), birth certificate on security paper, immunization record and resume ready. Likewise, choose your references wisely. Your baccalaureate or higher degree transcript of records need to be evaluated for the equivalency of courses, grades, credit hours, and degree earned by evaluation centers approved by the Commission for Foreign Transcript Evaluation. Each State in the US vary in their preference for an evaluation company, so check with the specific school district you are applying with.

5. Prepare for computer-based tests. Aside from testing fees involved, be sure you know how to work the computer mouse (of course!), read or skim for specific details and write an essay directly on the computer under time pressure. Test taking does not only require knowledge on a particular subject, it also requires a vast amount of skill. Decide a country of focus and find out the licensure requirement/s. Most likely, before you get considered for an interview, you will have to pass an English proficiency test, which involves Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking (i.e. TOEFL and IELTS). It is crucial that you have good spelling, grammar and knowledge of conventions. Once you hurdled this initial hoop, considered for an interview, passed the interview and eventually get hired, you will once more find yourself a new set of test-de-jour for a teaching license. In the US, requirements vary from state to state and so do other countries. Some require a series of PRAXIS tests, while others partnered with evaluation systems that are locally designed.

These are the first five items you need to consider for now. Part 2 will follow soon. Good luck and enjoy the adventure. You may browse through the resources/links available below to find out more or do your own research online. There are other places – states or countries to try.

Resources:

Teach Overseas

Teaching in California, USA

Credentials

Kansas State Department of Education

Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation

*NSO data from 2004 – 2007

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/things-filipino-teachers-can-do-to-teach-abroad/2011/02/17/

Jan 31

Pork Pinakbet (Pork ‘n Vegetable Stew)

Pinakbet is infamous for its bitter melon and regional vegetables stewed in fish paste locally referred to as ‘bagoong’. Who loves to eat something with fish paste but Asians, right? This fish paste is well-loved by mostly Ilocanos (people who are from the Ilocos Region in the Philippines). It consists of freshly caught anchovies and/or other varieties of small fishes or fingerlings salted and fermented for 3 months.

The way Filipinos love this murky paste is comparable to how the Koreans love their Kimchi and not only that, they are almost alike in terms of the undesirable odor yet considered deliciously delectable. It’s an acquired taste (and smell), I tell you. Henceforth, Pinakbet, the Ilocano’s beloved dish is never going to be extinct even in this modern world, because wherever the Ilocano goes, so does his cravings for Pinakbet and anything edible dipped in fish paste.

Ingredients:

* Makes 2 – 4 servings

1 cup pork (or any meat or seafood), minced or cubed*

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

¼ inch ginger root, crushed and minced

½ cup onion, chopped

2 tbs. olive oil (or butter)

1 ½ tbs. fish paste (substitute with either fish sauce or salt to taste)

¼ cup water (adjust accordingly)

½ cup bitter melon, sliced diagonally

½ cup eggplant, sliced

½ cup tomato, sliced and seeds removed

½ cup squash or Asian pumpkin, cubed

½ cup long stringed beans, cut 2” long

¼ cup okra (optional)

+ other seasonal vegetables if desired

* You may also use chicharon (chicharones or pork rind)

Direction:

  1. Preheat pan for 1 – 2 minutes on medium heat. Add oil.
  2. When the oil is dancing, add garlic and sauté until light brown. Add pork and sauté until light brown. Add onion and ginger. Sauté for 1 minute. Add 1 tbs. of water and let simmer until pork is tender.
  3. Add tomato, squash or pumpkin and stringed beans. Let simmer until almost tender.
  4. Add the remaining water, adding some more as needed. Add all the other veggies with the bitter melon as the very last. Simmer for 2 minutes or until bitter melon is almost ready. Do not stir the pot (no pun intended).
  5. Add the fish paste (or its substitute) and adjust saltiness by adding more if desired. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve warm with rice or Quinoa (keen-wah).

Photos:

Still wondering why fish paste is so enchanting? I don’t really know. Filipinos love it so much that they used to risk smuggling a small jar through the airport to bring with them abroad. With the new security measures though, this could pose a huge burden and shame on the part of the so-called smuggler, so they resort to buying them from Asian stores or online.

Thai cuisine also uses fish paste. I once had shredded green papaya with fish paste on it. It was a great appetizer. The fish paste also serves as a dip for green mangoes and other fruit. It’s really hard to explain why we can enjoy a meal or anything with this stinky fish paste. I guess it’s part of the heritage.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/pork-pinakbet-pork-n-vegetable-stew/2011/01/31/

Jan 31

Chicken Tinola (Chicken Stew)

The cold winter days are here again and tropical rats such as myself, crave for some comfort food, while at the same time indulge in a low-calorie diet.

Chicken Tinola, more popularly known among Filipinos as ‘Tinolang Manok’, is a chicken stew with green papaya or an Asian squash, such as chayote. This remarkable dish is accentuated with a handful of fresh green pepper leaves and a good size of crushed, minced ginger root, flavored with a hint of fish sauce. This unique blend of ingredients provide a distinct aroma. Coming home from a long day’s work,  the smell and taste of a home-cooked meal such as this more than just another chicken soup.

Ingredients:

1 cup chicken thigh or breast, skinless

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

¼ inch ginger root, crushed and minced

1 cup onion, chopped

1 medium chayote or 2 cups papaya, sliced diagonally ½ inch thin

1 celery stalk, sliced diagonally

1 cup green pepper leaves*

½ cup fresh cilantro

½ cup onion leaves, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

2 tbs olive oil (or butter)

2 tbs fish sauce (or salt to taste)

3 cups water

ground black pepper to taste

crushed red pepper to taste (optional)

* Substitute green pepper leaves with baby Bok Choy or spinach, whichever is available. You may also add green beans if you want more veggies. You may also replace with bitter melon leaves for the greens. The only thing that would change is the addition of a bitter taste. If you’d like it spicy, you may add some jalapenos.

Direction:

  1. Preheat pan for 1 – 2 minutes on medium heat. Add oil.
  2. When the oil is dancing, add garlic and sauté until light brown. Add chicken and sauté until light brown. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
  3. Add fish sauce, chicken broth and ginger root. Simmer for 7 – 10 minutes on low heat or until the chicken is tender. As needed, add a little bit of water to keep the ingredients from sticking on the pan.
  4. Put the heat on medium. Add sliced chayote or papaya, whichever is available. Let simmer until tender.
  5. Add other veggies if using, except the greens. Add celery. Simmer for 2 minutes, adjusting the taste of the broth according to your preference.
  6. When ready to serve, top each serving with your greens: onion leaves, cilantro, and green pepper leaves, baby Bok Choy, spinach (or bitter melon leaves).

Makes 2 -3 bowls of yummy goodness. Without the rice, a medium bowl gives you about 270 calories.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/chicken-tinola-chicken-stew/2011/01/31/

Jan 26

Bitter Melon, Mung Beans Stir-fry

Bitter melon is a fruit that helps regulate our blood sugar. If you are sensitive to the bitter taste, you might need to prime yourself by going easy on the amount of bitter melon leaves or fruit to add in your recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup meat (pork, chicken, beef and/or seafood), chopped or minced

1 whole roma tomato, sliced (seeds removed, optional)

1 celery stalk , sliced

2 cloves garlic, mashed

½ cup onion, chopped

¼ inch ginger root, crushed and minced (substitute with powdered ginger)

¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

⅓ cup mung beans, pre-soaked or boiled

1 medium bitter melon fruit, sliced or 1 cup bitter melon leaves, washed and drained

*fish sauce or salt, ground black pepper to taste

2 cups of water (for the mung beans)

½ cup chicken broth or chicken bouillon

2 tbs olive oil or vegetable oil

Direction:

1. Boil the mung beans until the beans are almost ready to burst. To make the boiling cost efficient, you may immerse the beans the night prior to its preparation. Drain the beans, but set aside the broth.

2. Heat  the cooking oil in the pan. Once the oil starts to dance, add the garlic. Stir until light brown. Add the onions.

3. Add meat and sauté until light brown. Add tomatoes and ginger root. Add mung beans and keep stirring to avoid sticking on the pan. Add the broth and celery. Simmer for 2 minutes.

4. Add the seasonings according to your preference. Some want it to be spicy and a little salty, some do not, so feel free to adjust the amount of seasonings.

5. Add bitter melon fruit (if using) or bitter melon leaves. If using the fruit, simmer until the fruit is done. If using bitter melon leaves, simmer until leaves are wilted a little bit. Serve warm over rice or on its own.

Photos:


If no bitter melon is available, you go can without. Mung beans and other veggies can stand alone. Some people even add tamarind soup base to jazz it up a little bit, while others use coconut milk.

For those of you who are beer aficionados, especially the pale ale drinkers, you might find this fruit as a reminder of your favorite drink without the carbonation. And hopefully, you can graduate into becoming a bitter melon addict and stay away from alcohol for good.

Share how you like this recipe by adding your comments below.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/bitter-melon-mung-beans-stir-fry/2011/01/26/

Jan 26

Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Pad Kee Mao is an interesting version of a rice noodle recipe. Thai food is known for being spicy and delectable. ‘Pad’ means to stir-fry, while ‘kee mao’ means someone who likes to drink too much, hence the English name, Drunken Noodles.

My first encounter with this cuisine is at Gindi Thai & Japanese Restaurant, which is one of my favorite restaurants that I had to leave behind when I moved to a different State. Before I left town, I visited my favorite restaurant and bade my restaurant friend-servers, including its owner, goodbye and asked for the recipe. He gave me the basic information and the rest I figured out – “the secret is in the sauce”.
Ingredients:
1 tsp white sugar
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tbs fresh peppercorns, ground
½ onion bulb, chopped lengthwise
½ cup baby corn (about 6 ears)
½ cup meat (pork, chicken, beef) and/or seafood (shrimp, squid, crab, clam – optional), and/or tofu, pressed(optional)
½ lb wide rice noodles, thawed and drained
½ cup holy basil, packed or substitute with dried basil (does not compare with the fresh one though)
1 tbs smashed small thai chillies, (sliced in rings if using large) or crushed red pepper
1 tbs orange chili, sliced
1 tsp black soy sauce
1 ½ tsp golden mountain soy sauce (optional)
1 tbs white soy sauce or fish sauce to taste (optional)
1 ½ tbs oyster sauce
¼ tsp rice vinegar
About 4 tbs water or more (as needed)
*Since I love veggies over meat, I added some shredded carrots, sliced celery and broccoli, snow peas, green beans. You may also add mushrooms if you feel like it.

Direction:

1. Peel the noodles apart one at a time. Since most “fresh” noodles are sold frozen, wait till it’s fully thawed before peeling apart. Drain.
2. Pre-fry tofu until light brown if you prefer to use it.
3. Add oil in a preheated pan. When the oil is hot, turn the heat on medium. Add garlic and light brown. Then add chilies and green peppercorn. Keep stirring to avoid burning the ingredients. Add a little bit of oil if ingredients start to stick.
4. Add the meat (if you are using some), and brown before adding seafood (if using). Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and tofu (if preferred). Sauté for another minute.
5. Add rice noodles and keep stirring. If noodles start to stick, add a little water. To avoid the noodles from getting mushy, do not add too much water.
6. Add vinegar. Add basil and stir to mix. Keep stirring until ingredients are well mixed. When the basil is wilted, it’s ready to serve.

There are so many variations of this cuisine. For me, this is good enough. If you do not have chilies, do not substitute with red bell pepper, it will alter the flavor. Use crushed red pepper instead or jalapeno.
Makes 3 -4 servings.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/thai-drunken-noodles-pad-kee-mao/2011/01/26/

Jan 21

Beating the Financial Crunch – 5 Things You Can Do

Staying afloat during this day and time can be very challenging. The worries of whether you can keep your job or not and how long you can  keep it,  coupled with the stress of day-to-day, paying bills here and there, life has become more overbearing and complex than it was back then. Consider the following options to alleviate your load from this day forward.

1. Live within your means, avoid incurring more debt. How much do you earn right now? Is it enough to help you make it through till the next payday? Do you really have to borrow money or use your credit card to buy something? Living within your financial capability means you have to leave behind some comfort you were used to. You may need to put off buying a house or doing some home improvement for a while or better yet, rent an apartment. When you have a pay raise, stay within the same level of frugality you have practiced when your pay was lower so you can pay off some existing debt.

2. Use public resources available in your area. You love to read books, watch movies, and access the internet. The public library is the answer, not Netflix, or Family Video. Not that these places are bad but if you want to lower your expenditure on entertainment, you might as well look around for something free without infringing copyright laws. If you have a laptop, you can bring it with you to the public library and spend unlimited hours of free internet access or at least until the library closes. How do you think I manage writing online for you?

3. Make an inventory of your immediate needs, not wants. Grocery items cost little if you look at them individually. However, little things could add up to more than how much you are ready to spend money on for that particular week. Make an inventory of your needs by listing items on a paper. Decide whether or not each item is a necessity for survival or just something you want to have. Needs and wants are two different things. Being able to prioritize your purchases, bringing your list with you when you shop and sticking to it could impact your financial health in epic proportions. Likewise, use coupons – there are tons of them online and on newspapers or promo prints in the mail.

4. Pay off your credit card debt one at a time. Here is another one that requires a list. Write down your credit cards, the interest you pay, and how much you owe on each one. Make a decision to pay one of them with more than the minimum payment and do so until you pay it all off. Meanwhile, pay the rest of your credit card debts with only the minimum payment. There are various arguments whether to consider the interest rate or the amount you owe when deciding which credit card to pay off first. Whatever you choose, stay on it until you finish and do the same scheme with the next card until you are close to exterminating your credit card debts. Do not fall prey to credit card consolidation schemes or credit transfer and pay – after – 12 months – with – no – interest scheme. While some may offer legitimate help, you’ve got to always read the fine print and find out what the catch is.

5. Develop a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy and be more active. Falling into depression or moodiness could spiral into something you do not want to happen. Medical bills could easily skyrocket and your job performance may be jeopardized. Staying out of excessive alcohol consumption and/or recreational drugs is a must during these days. Like a dependable machine, when all you can rely on is yourself, you don’t want your machine to break down and fall apart when you need it most.

Survival to the fittest, elimination of the unfit. If you do not gear up and become resilient enough to withstand this predicament, you are the weakest link.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/beating-the-financial-crunch-5-things-you-can-do/2011/01/21/

Jan 17

Pizza ala Monde: Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

Every now and then, we crave for a certain food. In the area we live in, we could not find the food we want elsewhere, because they are not prepared the way we wanted or just plain and simple – we are in the middle of nowhere. Pizza parlors in our locality serve pizzas which are very salty and greasy compared to what we like – the gourmet type – well balanced flavor, so we decided to make our own. My husband and I made our very first homemade pizza with our own bare hands with only the basic kitchen tools we already have.

The pizza dough recipe we used was taken from the book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart (Pizza Napolitana). The end product is a lean, rustic pizza dough. It takes a total of 2 days to make it, but is worth all the hard work. For the rest of the toppings, we just used our old time favorites. Feel free to unleash your creative palate.

 

Our first homemade pizza.

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

*Makes 6-oz pizza crusts (9″ – 12″ diameter)

4 ½ cups unbleached high-gluten, bread or all-purpose flour, chilled

1 ¾ tsp salt

1 tsp instant yeast

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (optional)

1 ¾ cups water, ice cold (400F)

Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Directions:

The directions here are modified from what the book has described. We did what we could to do exactly what was required. But with what available materials we had, it was necessary to improvise, hence this simplified version:

1. Mix the flour, salt and instant yeast together in a 4 – quart bowl. Stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is  all absorbed. In circular motion, mix the dough by hand (or with an electric mixer) for 5 to 7 minutes. Reverse the circular motion a few times. This will help develop the gluten further.

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough. At this point, you may make a jelly roll for the dough and evenly divide them into six sections with a metal dough scraper. Take one section at a time and roll in a ball. Coat some vegetable oil (Crisco) all over the dough balls. You may store the dough balls individually in a food grade plastic bag or together in a sheet pan covered with a food grade plastic seal.

3. Keep the dough balls in the refrigerator overnight to let the dough rest and seal in more flavor. You may store the dough in the refrigerator for 3 days or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Ready to make the pizza:

  1. Two hours before making the pizza, thaw your frozen dough or remove from the refrigerator, depending on the number you want to make.
  2. Mist the counter with spray oil and then dust with flour. Dust your hands with flour as well. Press the dough gently into a flat disk (½-inch thick, 5 inches in diameter). Loosely cover the dough with cling wrap and let rest for 2 hours*.
  3. Preheat your oven at the hottest possible temperature it could. Most home ovens would only go up to 5500F, some would go higher. If using a baking stone, preheat the stone with the stove. In this attempt (of ours), we used the back of a sheet pan without preheating it.
  4. Dust the back of your sheet pan with semolina flour, corn meal or ordinary flour generously (we used the latter).
  5. Make the pizza one at a time. Dip your hands including the back of your hands and knuckles in flour. Lift a piece of dough with a scraper carefully. If you are confident, you may toss the pizza dough or you may use a rolling pin (like we did since we are not confident in tossing the dough).
  6. Lay the dough on the back of the pan, making sure that the pan has enough semolina flour or cornmeal. Top the dough with pizza sauce – we used Classico Spicy Tomato and Basil for the red sauce. Keeping in mind that ‘less is more’, top the sauce with a combination of the following cheese, grated: mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and feta (optional). You may follow with any of your favorite toppings such as mushroom, olives, pepperoni and/or beef.
  7. Put the pan in the oven on the lowest rack. If you are using a baking stone, slide the pizza on it. Close the door. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes. Rotate the pizza 1800 as needed.
  8. Once your pizza is ready, remove from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Allow the cheese to set slightly (3-5 minutes). Use a pizza slicer. If you do not have one like us, you may substitute it with a sharp knife. (We bought a proper slicer the next day.)

The finished product:

 

This is a wonderful pizza dough recipe. It’s the best pizza crust I’ve had from homemade versions. My cousins used to make their own pizza as well, but it’s not the same as this one.

I apologize as it appears that I have grangerized the procedure. If you want the full copy, you should buy the book. It’s available in bookstores near you or online. The book would give you a comprehensive discussion and description of every step  and nuisances there are in bread making. I give this book 5/5 stars.

Footnote:

*We did not let our pizza dough rest for 2 more hours as stated. We were so excited that we missed that last phrase, but the pizza still turned out good.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/pizza-ala-monde-homemade-thin-crust-pizza/2011/01/17/

Jan 16

Benefits of Eating Seasonal Fruits

“Winter, spring, summer or fall….” , and so the song goes. There are so many things that follow the seasons – fashion, temperature, weather and climate, foliage, illnesses and allergies, and of course, the proverbial seasonal fruits. Have you ever wondered why there are fruits that are “in season” ? Did you know that when you eat fruits in season, your body benefits tremendously?

1. Seasonal fruits are abundant, so they are cheaper than the ones that are not . There are so many fruits that are abundant only during winter and scarce or nowhere to be found during summer, and vice versa. If you don’t believe, next time you go grocery shopping visit the produce aisle.

The supply of seasonal fruits is high when they are “in season”. When the supply is higher than the demand, what happens to the price? It goes down, right? Since this is what happens, isn’t it smart to take advantage of the lower prices? When you do this, you do not only cut back on your grocery expenses, but also lower  your risk of gaining more weight from eating junk food. As a result, you are more inclined to stay on track with your healthy diet and weight-loss regimen. When you lead a healthy lifestyle, you are less likely going to visit your doctor as often as you used to, hence, you also cut-back on your medical bills.

2. Seasonal fruits are juicier  and more delicious when they are “in season” than when they’re not. The climate and all the factors involved to make a plant grow, blossom, bear fruits and help the fruits mature and ripen are also accountable to the fruit’s taste. So when you buy a fruit during its season, it is likely to be in its peak of flavor.

Any seasonal fruit that you buy from the grocery store during its season would be tasty and as the season approaches its end, the “in season” fruits diminish in flavor. Grapefruit taste their best during winter because they are “in season” during that time. When you buy them during their “off season”, say for example, May or June, they would taste bland.

3. Seasonal fruits give the body what it needs the most during a particular season. During Winter, the fruits that are in season are grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemon, and mandarin, among others. Likewise, anywhere from late October (Fall), through November to March, you could easily catch a flu, sore throat or the common cold. It is this time of year when you need more vitamin C. Where would you get it from? Of course, from the pharmacy – WRONG. You may buy those sugar pills from your friendly pharmacy but nothing compares to natural and organic sources.

During Summer, what types of fruit are abundant? Fruits which would supply your body with more water and electrolytes such as cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, melon, tomatoes, strawberries, and peaches, among others are all over the place. And they are in their best flavor as well. When you are out in the sun for long periods of time, consuming watermelon throughout the duration of exposure would help you avoid getting heat stroke. Watermelon helps regulate or lower your body temperature and blood pressure. It also gives you sufficient electrolytes so that your body can cope with the heat, especially when you are doing some lawn improvement and you cannot put it off for long.

This is not to say that we should only eat what’s “in season”. What most people fail to recognize is the logical relationship of creation. Like the animals – when do they start breeding? Animals start breeding when their prey are of abundance. They need the food supply to feed their young so they can grow healthy and strong as scheduled or else they become frail and die. Therefore, it is but fitting that produce have a particular time or season to grow, blossom, bear fruit and mature so that the human race can rejuvenate, stay healthy, live long and prosper.

Permanent link to this article: http://theresilienttransplant.net/benefits-of-eating-seasonal-fruits/2011/01/16/

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