Saturday, May 30, 2009

Organic dairy farmers needs your help

This New York Times article informed that organic dairy farmers haven't been fairing very well lately. This is in part due to rising organic feed prices, falling milk prices, too much organic milk in the marketplace, which leads to lower demands. Organic milk comes from organic cows that have not been treated with antibiotics and synthetic hormones, so it doesn't contribute to the growing problem of bacterial resistance. Also, from a ethical point of view, organic cows are free to roam the greens, rather than cooped up behind bars.

However, there have been debates on the benefits and necessity of cow's milk. Many have gradually switched to soy milk, rice milk, or other nut milk. We are also the only species who still consume mammal milk beyond childhood. And how about all these propaganda with the "Got Milk?" ads? I personally tried to wean myself off from milk, but it's really difficult for me because I enjoy my daily cereal with milk and my share of yogurt. Though I do feel a bit bloated sometimes when I've too much dairy. What's your opinion on this topic?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Party Dessert

Tomorrow my workplace is having a company party to celebrate several special events and happenings all in one. Someone got married, travelled abroad, engaged and graduation. But it's important to take a break from work and have the opportunity to drink some champagne and chat with your colleagues 'officially'.

Volunteers were asked to bring in some treats and goodies. I for one enjoy baking, but I realized I still have some pudding mix and a pie crust on hand, so I decided to be lazy and made a no baked chocolate pudding pie. After layering the pudding into the crust, it just looked kind of bare, so I decided to sprinkle some rice puff cereal on top to make it brighter and more appealing.

It's not an elaborated project, but it's something simple and easy to put together as an impromptu contribution.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A tribute to the man who gave me Dannon yogurt

Before the Greek yogurt craze, our source of dairy calcium (besides milk and cheese) was mostly from yogurt and Dannon yogurt was the most widely consumed brand in the US. Now, the founder of this versatile food has passed away recently and I wanted to pay him a tribute on this Memorial Day (even though it's not military related).

Read this article to learn more about the spoonful of yogurt you may put into your mouth. When I'm on a budget and can't splurge on another tub of Greek yogurt, my default would be Dannon since it doesn't use any HFCS. I also love the variety of flavors it offers and my all time favorites are black cherry, key lime, and french vanilla and the recently newbies pineapple coconut and pomegranate berry. What's your favorite yogurt flavors?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Are you listening?

How often do you dine out? Daily? Weekly? Once in a blue moon? What pleasure do you get from dining out? The bold flavor? An excuse to consume alcohol? Not doing the dishes? For me, it's the opportunity for others to serve me and be pampered. I think this is a personal treat that we often overlook. While we're often busy 'serving' others, whether it is a mother who cooks breakfast for the entire family plus getting ready for her full time job, a social worker who worries about a client's problem during the off-hour, or of course, a waitstaff who attends to a customer's dining needs, we sometimes forget that WE deserved to be served too.

I usually order my 'usual' in a restaurant - a clearcut macro plate. This frustrates my dining companions because they think I'm boring and why go out when I can make the same thing at home. Yes, I am tempted to select the world-renowned surf and turf at a steakhouse (that is if I eat meat, but I don't) or cave into a decadent slice of new york cheesecake (though I've lost my sweet tooth), but for me, the main purpose of dining out is to be pampered. I enjoy the moments a waiter poured me a glass of water instead of me getting up and grab a pitcher from my kitchen. I love the details of someone clearing my used plates and scrapping the crumbs and remnants off the table. I also use this as an opportunity to step away from technologies (except for the cell phone) and totally engage into a conversation with my dining companions or just submerge within myself during a solo meal.

Yes, a salad is nothing extraordinarily special. As much as I adore a home cooked meal, it is important to treat yourself to a meal because you deserve the attention and you deserve the absence of workload after your meal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer is *almost* here!

My goodness...I thought warmth would never reach NYC. While mother nature has been tricking us with a roller coaster-liked temperature pattern, I'm glad this week is finally warming up. How do we equal summer with health? Dieting! Now, there are probably more people ordering salads for lunch than good old "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink" meal. The number of gym-goers and Central Park joggers will also increase, which is good because we all need some fresh air and build our muscles and stamina. I buy the idea of exercising, but when it comes to resorting to a few leaves of lettuces as a meal to shed a few pounds, that's just doing more damages to the body. Studies have shown that the body goes into starvation mode when a person eats less than the minimum number of calories needed for body functions, so by dipping to a low number would only sabotage one's diet and health, resulting to binging or creating other illnesses.

As always, moderation is key. Perhaps some people do get better results from certain diet plans (ex: Atkins, South Beach, or pre-packed meal plans), but when it comes to funky diets, I believe it's a poor short-cut to reach a number goal.

Diet is a lifestyle, not a phase. So don't follow a plan that you don't believe you can live with. Choose a lifestyle that fits your needs and treat your body with respect and love.

What are your plans to stay fit and healthy?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Love and Hate - In The Name Of Brunch

You can say 'brunch' is a very "American" dining feature. What is it anyway? Is it a meal meant for people who slept in and passed the 'breakfast hour', but still too early for lunch? But then what's the point of creating a brunch hour between 11-4pm? Perhaps brunch is an early dinner if I were to take advantage of the brunch menu at 3:59pm?

New York is known for its brunch scenery. During the weekend, diners lazied around a restaurant with friends and families to catch up on the latest gossips and news or just as an excuse to extend more drinking from previous night. AYCD deal anyone?

Nevertheless, there's a love and hate feeling toward the idea of brunch. Some people don't like it because there's a long wait. When you've just waken and haven't eaten, a half an hour wait could seem like an eternity. Also, the brunch scene could be so chaotic that the kitchen, waitstaff, management and even the diners are all stressed out. Another issue is that the brunch menu is often limited to eggs and other carb-loaded dishes such as pancakes, waffles, and french toasts. Lunch menu is rarely served during the weekend.

For someone like me who don't eat eggs and shy from sweet and carb heavy meals during lunch time (I prefer to load up on carbs for breakfast instead), the brunch selections never satisfy me. I often have to resort to a small selection of salads, which again, are rarely vegetarian-friendly. But I can ask the kitchen to make changes, right? Well, I've tried, but since some places are just too busy, substitutions aren't honored. So how to satiate my appetite on a merely pile of greens? Well, I don't. I often need another snack an hour after my brunch, whereas my dining companion is still bloated from an obscene consumption of bacons and eggs.

That's why I would rather dine at a restaurant that serve lunch menu. Not only are there more creative dishes (and not just eggs, eggs, eggs), but you can truly experience the personality of the restaurant. However, I still like the brunch scene because I love to see diners eating and laughing, businesses doing well, and to enjoy a weekend without me cooking and cleaning. Eating out isn't only about the food (although that's a priority), but it's also the atmosphere and experience. I just have to arm myself with a piece of string cheese.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Your Source of Protein

As a semi-vegetarian (I still get occasional cravings for salmon), I'm always being questioned on if I'm getting enough protein in my diet. I never believed the concept that meat is the only source of protein, as studies that have proven that not only we overestimate the amount of protein we need daily, but we can get sufficient amount of protein from plant-based foods as well. Some great representatives include: dark greens, beans, soy, nuts, and quinoa.

Do you have a protein base that you mostly rely on daily? Luckily, I love beans (particularly chickpeas and black beans) and I can munch on them like snacks!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pineapple cake

It's my best friend's birthday, so what should I get her? What should I buy for her? Today, when we think of presents, we often resort to what to 'buy'. Oh, let's get an iPhone for her birthday or let's just treat her to brunch and the worst (in my opinion)? The extremely impersonal gift card. It's almost as thoughtless as cash, but a step up because at least it takes efforts to purchase the gift card.
I prefer to create things for special occasions. Not because I'm cheap (although I'm on a budget) or I've nothing better to do, but I find joy in making things, especially with baking. When I was little, I used to make cute, little stationery gadgets for my elementary school teachers. Thought they could make good use of them. I also enjoyed knitting friendship bracelets for my BFFs. You remember those jewelries, right? However, I was never into folding roses. Too 'typical' you may say.
So for my best friend's birthday, as always, I made her baked goods. Previously, I've done banana bread (one of her all-time favorites), molasses cookies (quite easy to make!), and pumpkin pie. This time, I've got canned pineapple in hand, so I thought I could give pineapple cake a try.
Not too difficult to make. Just got to make the batter, pour it with the fruits and then bake it. This one isn't hers. The one I gave her is actually more presentable. This one is for my mom. No, not Mother's Day present, since I'll be treating her to brunch. Hey! I always make her things, so I'm not eating my words. :)
Enjoy your weekend everyone. Finally, some sun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nature's Candies

What's your favorite candy? Mine? That wold be nature's candies - fruits.
Yes, I never thought of fruits adn a sugary addiction, but ever since I weaned myself away from HFCS-invested candies, my cravings for Now & Later, M & M or Skittles also got banished. Now, when I'm craving for something sweet and tart, I grab a piece of fruit, but my very very favorite would have to be apple. Why? I love...

*texture - crisp, crunchy, and a bite to it
*taste: sweet, moist, and tart

There are so many variety of apples, but I prefer Red Delicious and Fuji, but when it comes to cooking with this amazing fruits, different type yield better results. For example:

Red Delicious: salad
Granny Smith: baking pie, sauce
Braeburn: baking
Honeycrisp: baking
And of course, apples are great by themselves. So munch or crunch away!

"How do you like them apple?"
Check out this great website for more apple information.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Must each day

Besides the usual suspects of water and air, what's one food and one task you tend to repeat day after day? I just realized what a routine I've been carrying recently and no matter what happens, I'd get a craving for a specific food at a certain time on any given day (4:01pm) or had to complete a certain task before the day ends (for me, that's 10:30pm).

I get an 'almond' craving in the late afternoon. I may be full, but without this nutty goodness, I'm just not satisfied. Also, I HAVE to check my blog...even though nobody comments on my posts. @_@

What are your MUSTs of each day?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Organic Shopping List

With all the recent bacteria outbreak and now the ominous H1N1 (aka swine flu) scare, you can't help it but wonder what should we put into our mouth nowadays. Recent studies have shown that some produce items are more subjected to pesticide contamination than others. These 'dirty' produces are actually some of my favorite food in the whole wide world, so knowing that I shouldn't be eating them just really saddens me. However, by going organic, you can avoid the germs and chemical residues and safely consume the fruit of the looms. But I understand that not everyone can afford to buy organics items, but if possible, do buy these organic because really, if we literally see the germs on the skin of these produces, that would surely convince us to splurge a little to keep our health.

Fruits: Peaches Vegetables: Celery

Apples Lettuce

Nectarines Spinach

Strawberries Pepper

Nectarines Potatoes

Check out for a complete report.