Thursday, May 21, 2015

Health and Culinary Benefits of Oregano

This summer heat is terrible. Everyone is complaining about it. This heat is making a lot of people sick. That includes me. I've been coughing for several days now probably because of sweating too much -- as the old people say, uubuhin ka pagnatuyuan ng pawis.

Since I always try home remedy first before taking pills, I decided to rely on my childhood cough medicine -- oregano.

When I was a kid, my mother would always boil oregano leaves whenever I have cough. Initially, I did not like the idea of drinking the concoction. But because of my mom's persistence, I learned to like it eventually.

When I was in high school, I found out that oregano is also used for other health purposes. Aside from healing cough and other respiratory tract problems, it is also used for urinary tract infections. They say it also aids in treating gastrointestinal problems.

They say all these is because it has antibacterial properties. On top of that, they also say it has antioxidant properties. Since it is has antioxidant properties, it is safe to say that you can drink this for prevention of different kinds of diseases.

What you need to do is to boil several oregano leaves until they become soft and the water turns greenish. My mom also adds other medicinal plants like sambong leaves and basil. Sometimes, she squeezes calamansi on the concoction to improve its taste (do this once you've removed it from fire).

Aside form health benefits, oregano also has culinary uses. I usually use it when I cook chicken using turbo broiler. I put oregano leaves together with basil, tomatoes, onions and garlic at the bottom of turbo broiler. It gives the chicken a distinct but subtle flavor. It also gives the chicken an appetizing aroma.

I have also tried putting oregano leaves in almondigas (albondigas)-- misua with meatballs. Since almondigas has a very simple taste, adding oregano makes it a little fancier.

I've also used oregano with grilled bangus (milkfish). I added it with the tomato, onion and garlic mix that I stuffed in the belly. My original intention in adding oregano was to mask the smell of the fish (lansa) but I found out that it also added an interesting flavor to it.

If fresh oregano is not available, you can use the dried oregano that's available in most supermarkets. You just rub it on the meat you're going to grill to make it special.

McRib - Ribs or No Ribs

I attended a whole day seminar about Behavior Management conducted by The Medical City Pediatrics Department yesterday. On our way back to Makati City from Pasig, my friend and I decided to drop by McDonald's first to buy something to eat because we knew it was going to be a long ride. It was 5 in the afternoon so traffic was really bad.

I ordered McRib since I've heard about it but have not actually tried it. There are two variants -- McRib and McRib Deluxe. The former has onions and pickles while the latter has lettuce. The former is sold at P129 with small fries and soda while the latter is sold at P149 also with small fries and soda. I chose McRib Deluxe.

At first bite I already concluded that it really tastes like barbecued ribs. The sauce tastes authentic. But I think the one pickles and onions would have been a better choice. I think pickles and onions would be a better match with the sauce. But it was still great.

While we were eating, my friend said she has some friends who didn't like the McRib. For them, it was not good because there's no real ribs. I was surprised at this comment. I mean who would actually think that they will put real ribs on their sandwich. Yes, that's what the name says but honestly, do you really expect them to put ribs there? Go to a fine dining restaurant or a steak house if you want real ribs. The price alone would tell you that it's just burger patty.

I saw on the internet a video showing how McDonald's make McRibs. The video shows that they use real meat which is different from the myths that say they use stuff other than meat.

Anyway, will I have McRib again? Yes. It tastes good for a fastfood sandwich. I'll have it again and this time I'll get the one with pickles and onions. But I'm not trying it again real soon. Probably I'll give it a week or two.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cabalen and Their Food Choices

I had dinner with some friends at Cabalen restaurant last Friday. It was an unplanned trip to the mall so we didn't make reservations. Fortunately, there weren't a lot of people when we arrived so we were seated right away.

The first thing I noticed with their dishes is that many of them were vegetables. There were still meat and seafood dishes but it felt like they were reduced. If you are not fond of vegetables, you will definitely feel shortchanged. The good thing is they still have lechon. And unlike in the past, their lechon has greatly improved. The meat tastes good even without the lechon sauce. The skin is also crispy unlike before when they were usually rubbery.

Dessert choices has also lessened. They still have the halo-halo that many people actually looked for. They also have chocolate fountain with nothing but marshmallows to dip. I didn't see sliced fruits so I had to ask for bananas which I always like to dip in the hot chocolate fountain. They gave me bananas -- unpeeled -- so I had to peel it on my own. Sliced apples would have been nice too but there weren't any.

I was happy with the lechon, sisig and spicy tahong but overall, I wasn't satisfied. I mean I ate a lot of these three so I left Cabalen full but I was not really satisfied with the limited choices.

I understand that it is priced lower than Vikings or Buffet 101 but those restaurants have so many choices you wouldn't really mind paying that much. Cabalen's buffet dinner is just P398. This is lower than the P888 of buffet dinner at Vikings and P899 at Buffet 101 on weekdays but it still feels more expensive because of the limited choices.

I do hope they will improve their food choices in the future so the P398 would feel more acceptable.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Arana't Baluarte -- Chandeliers and Arches

I was feeling sad last night since I was not able to go home to the province for the Arana't Baluarte 2015. It's a festival in honor of San Isidro Labrador. It's similar to the one of Lucban, Quezon's Pahiyas. But instead of decorating houses, what we have in our town are Baluarte or Arches where Arana or Chandeliers are placed. Each chandelier is designed with fruits and vegetables. This is like thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Remember, San Isidro is the patron Saint of farmers.

These arches line the major streets in town where the procession will pass by later in the afternoon. As soon as the procession pass by an arch, the chandeliers will be released/dropped for the people to get their share of fruits and vegetables. It can be rowdy at times because naturally, the people would want to get as much bounty as they can. But in spite of the rowdiness, it is generally fun.

In the past, the arches which are usually made of bamboo are kept plain and simple. But through the years, people started to design these arches such that they are now really fabulous looking. Then it became a contest. Each barangay or cluster of barangays has its own arch to design. Now, you'll really be amazed at the creativity of the people in charge of designing these arches.

I've compiled some pictures I got from facebook pages of my pamangkins for you to see. Thanks Karen and myleen.

Gumaca, Quezon

This arch or baluarte is near our house.

Arch by one of the barangay clusters.

Believe it or not, this is an arch.

The chandeliers or arana.

These chandeliers will be dropped as soon as the last part of the procession pass.

Although the main even is in the afternoon, many people are already going around town to see the arches.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Benefits of Guyabano Leaves

Last Monday, a friend gave me a bottle of El Shaddai luya oil and Guyabano (Soursop) leaves. While I know what the ElShaddai oil is for, I had to ask her what she wants me to do with the Guyabano leaves. She said she knows that I always have urinary tract infection or UTI and kidney stones problem so she decided to give me the Guyabano leaves to boil. She said her mom said it's good.

I know many are saying that Guyabano is good for the health but I'm not sure what exactly the benefits are. So this prompted me to ask around and here's what I got. Apart from being good for UTI, it also has cancer fighting capacity. An internet article said that it's even better than chemotherapy.

I also gathered that it also helps increase the immune system since it contains Vitamin C. It also aids in digestion and prevents constipation. I wonder if it can also help reduce weight.

It is also rich in B Vitamins so it's good for the nerves. Potassium is also listed as one of the contents of Guyabano so it is also good for those with heart conditions. Add to that the help it could give to athletes like runners who are into long distance running (fun runs are famous these days, right?) because it could help prevent leg cramps.

Manang, who I asked to boil the leaves for me a while ago said that in their province, Guyabano is believed to help cure skin infections. Those with rheumatism and arthritis also use Guyabano for that much needed relief.

Of course, these benefits do not come from the leaves alone but from fruits, bark and roots as well.

Guyabano Leaves
It looks and tastes like any other tea so no need to worry.
Anyway, what I was told to do is to boil the leaves really well and have it as my morning drink. I hope it helps (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ginataang Pako with Mussels Recipe

Last Sunday, a vendor passed by our house carrying a bundle of pako or ferns. I only know two dishes that can be made out of it, pako salad (ensaladang pako) and ginataan. I decided to cook Ginataang Pako with Mussels . I wanted another kind of shellfish but unfortunately, it was not available at the market that day so I settled for tahong. I usually see it sold at the flea market in our town every Thursday. Anyway, I haven't really done this dish in the past so like the many other dishes that I wrote about here, I invented my own recipe.

Ginataang Pako with Mussels

1 bundle pako
1/2 kilo mussels
3 pieces medium tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
1 cup water
salt and pepper

  • Boil mussels in a pan.
  • Once cooked, set aside.
  • Add the pako and chopped tomatoes where you boiled the mussels.
  • When the pako is tender, add 1 cup of coconut milk.
  • When the sauce is already thick, add the remaining coconut milk.
  • Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the mussels (shells removed). 
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. 

I am cutting down on rice but this dish made me forget about that for a while. Try it. 

Yakimix Greenbelt 3 -- My Favorite Yakimix Branch

I had dinner at Yakimix Greenbelt 3 last week. It's the 3rd branch I've been to and I must say it's my favorite Yakimix branch. I've been to Yakimix Tomas Morato (which is closed already) and Robinson's Ermita but this one is the best one for me.

What I like about this branch is the interior design. It has an elegant appeal to me. The two others seemed small and too crowded. Whatever "elegance" they tried to put was somehow lost in the sea of people.

Aside from the ambiance, I also like the fact that they have more sushi and sashimi choices in Greenbelt. They also have better dessert choices.

Another plus point for me is that they change the grill pan often. No need to request. They change it as soon as they see you've finished grilling.

 Try this branch out guys. You'll like their service.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Experimenting with Seasonings and Mixes

I started writing this piece early this morning but I got sidetracked when I saw a post about the Finals of Asia's Got Talent. The post was about the great performances of El Gamma Penumbra, Junior New System and Gerphil Flores so I watched them first. I was really stunned by their performances. El Gamma Penumbra's performance was touching. It brought me to tears actually. I was also amazed with Gerphil. Her voice was so powerful I thought the lights would break. And the Junior New System really brought the house down. Their stunts were amazing. There's another act from the Philippines but I'm gonna watch it later. Anyway, what I'm gonna write now is about seasonings and mixes. There's no connection at all. Lol

Last Sunday, I was talking to a cousin who also loves to cook. He told me that he does not use seasonings and mixes anymore. He's into healthy stuff right now. I told him I still use them occasionally. I buy some mixes like Kung Pao Chicken Mix, Sisig Mix, etc. But the thing is I do not use them for their intended purpose. What I mean is I do not use the Sisig Mix to make Sisig or the Kung pao Chicken Mix to make Kung Pao Chicken (I don't even know how to do this). 

I use these mixes to create other dishes. For example, I've used the Sisig Mix as marinade for barbecue. I tell you those who tried it had fun eating my barbecue. I once used it also for the ground pork that I topped our pasta with. Even the kids who like the basic red spaghetti liked it. But it wasn't for snacks though. We had it for lunch.
This is an example of the mix I use. This picture is from

The Kung Pao Chicken I used a lot experiments already. I used it for mixed vegetables with chicken strips. I also used it for a tofu dish. I just added shitake and button mushrooms. I also once used it as marinade for chicken barbecue. I even used it for fish sarciado.

What I'm trying to point out here is that there are a whole lot of things that you can do with these seasonings and mixes. You can create dishes that are out of the ordinary. You can make dishes that you've never tried before. This will make your husband or wife and kids excited about what you will cook for lunch or dinner. You can make great alternatives to the usual adobo, caldereta or menudo. Do not be afraid to experiment. Just do not be like. I mean I do not write down the things I've made so I am never able to repeat them -- expect for the barbecue. But then again there is nothing wrong with that. At least what you serve is always something new, right?

Thursday, May 07, 2015

5 Benefits of Honey

While traveling to Manila last Sunday, my nephew who was driving the car stopped at a gasoline station along South Luzon Expressway or SLEX. He was sleepy already so we decided to stay for a while. I went to Starbucks so I could sit comfortably while waiting.

I ordered Hibiscus blend which is my favorite flavor of hot tea at Starbucks. The guy at the counter asked me if I want to have honey for my tea. I normally do not put honey -- nor sugar -- in my tea but I said yes. He gave me two packs. After a couple of hours we left for Manila -- with the two packs of honey in my bag.

This photo of Winnie the Pooh is from Thanks.

Anyway, seeing those packs of honey last night made me recall the benefits of honey that I've heard from my parents and relatives while I was growing up. Here are 5 that I can recall.

5 Benefits of Honey

1. Honey is a good remedy for cough and colds. Whenever I would have cough and colds, my mom would always make me have her honey-calamnsi mix. She pours honey on a teaspoon then she squeezes a few drops of calamnsi on top. I always get better with her TLC (which includes the honey-calamansi mix) so I suppose it really works. There are also researches now that says honey has antibacterial properties.

2. Honey gives you energy or as my dad would say, honey is "pampalakas". I can't recall any specific incident when he made me have honey for it's energy giving capability but I know he did that a number of times when I was in high school. I think saying honey is "pampalakas" actually makes sense. Honey is sugar. Don't raise your eyebrows -- I didn't mean sugar as in processed sugar but the unprocessed kind. I think it's glucose. Or perhaps fructose. But whatever it is, honey is sugar so it considered as energy-giving food.

3. Honey can cure wounds. This one I haven't tried but my aunt said it does. She told me that when she and my other aunts were young, they had to stay in the mountains because of the Japanese occupation. She said whenever any of them would have wounds, they'd apply honey on it. I remember this because I told her they shouldn't have done that because honey is expensive. She laughed because she said they actually get honey for free. She didn't say how but I believed her. Good thing she didn't say they used honey to help treat wounded Japanese soldier because that would make me think this whole thing is just fairy tale. Anyway, this can is also probably because as said above, honey has antibacterial properties.

4. Honey helps relive constipation and indigestion. When I was young, my mom would make me take two tablespoons of honey whenever I would get constipated or whenever I would eat too much and have indigestion. As far as I can remember, it worked.

5. Lastly, honey can make your skin look beautiful. That's according to the same I aunt I mentioned above. And this is I think is really true because she and my other aunts were beautiful.

Now, I did not write these benefits to encourage you ask for honey at Starbucks or other coffee shops. If they find out, I might be banned from entering. I wrote this because it just feels good to recall the things I learned from my loved ones. Hey! Today is Thursday. Consider this as my #throwbackthursday or #tbt post.

I hope you learned something, honeys!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

PineCuT Salad (Pineapple, Cucumber, Tomato)

Last Saturday I was feeling so bloated I decided to just have salad for my meals. So I made myself PineCuT Salad (Pineapple, Cucumber, Tomato). I'd like to share with you my recipe.

PineCuT Salad

1 medium sized cucumber
5 medium sized tomatoes
1 can of pineapple tidbits (115 grams)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the tidbits can)

1. Cut the cucumber to about the size of the tidbits.
2. Do the same with the tomatoes.
3. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
4. Chill and serve cold.

Just so you'd know what to expect, this mixture with be a bit sour. And the salad will also be a bit more juicy than the usual salad given that pineapple juice was added on top of the small amount of mayonnaise. You can adjust the amount of pineapple juice and mayonnaise to suit your taste. 

By the way, I got the inspiration to make this salad from the salad I had from the calorie-counted food service I had last week.