INSALATA CAPRESE: THE BEST AND SIMPLEST MEAL

I always have this delusion that I must have been Italian in my past life, only because I love Italian food! I can live on pizza and pasta everyday and I can munch olives like they were peanuts.

Five years ago, I got a little lucky and found myself to be walking on the cobbled streets of my imaginary homeland, Italy.   Aahh, authentic Italian spaghetti.  I had to keep reminding myself not to look for hotdogs on them, undeniably very Pinoy hehehe 🙂  It was during this trip that I discovered a salad that would be my new favorite from then on, the INSALATA CAPRESE.

Made from the freshest ingredients, Insalata Caprese is a light and healthy salad that’s perfect for health-conscious individuals.  Perfect too for our Balik-Alindog project.  It’s very simple and easy to make plus the ingredients are readily available in your supermarkets, and the best part is… it’s NO COOK!  Here it goes…

WHATCHUNID:

MAIN INGREDIENTS:  Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

MAIN INGREDIENTS: Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Basil Leaves, and Tomatoes (cherry / grape variety or regular tomatoes)

Dressing:

Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Chilli Flakes (optional)

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

Olive oil, salt & pepper are the main Insalata Caprese dressing. I just like putting balsamic vinegar and chilli flakes for that extra kick.

HOW TO DO IT?

Just like any other salads, you basically just have to toss everything together, chill and it’s done.  This can already be your light dinner or, as I recently discovered,  you can pair it with Beef Salpicao or with your favorite steak.

Easy peasy, isn’t it? No-cook dinner in minutes!  Buon Appetito! (in my fake Italian accent)

If you're using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.

If you’re using cherry or grape tomato variety, cut them into half.You may use regular tomatoes too.

You may use regular tomatoes too.
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WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU LEMONS, DETOX… And Decorate

For almost ten years now, lemons have been a staple item in our household. Apart from its usual use as ingredients for cooking, making tea and juice, we use it for our daily lemon water.  Dear Hubby and I started the habit of putting lemons to our pitcher of water when we learned that it actually helps clean toxins out of our body, not to mention it has Vitamin C content and can help in weight loss (well, well, well!).  Commercial alkaline water can be expensive and I think lemon water is the closest and least expensive alternative.

When we moved to Jakarta almost three years ago,  we discovered other variations of detox water and incorporated it with our usual lemon water fix.  We added Cucumber and Mint Leaves and we liked the fun twist on it!  I recommend that you try it and make it a habit.  Enjoy!

LEMON WATER

Health Benefits:
*source: energiseforlife.com,

  • Lemon: Lemon water makes for a powerful detox drink; lemon juice helps to cleanse and alkalize the body.  It has excellent digestive properties and can ease heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems.

Lemons are  loaded with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which aids the body in weight loss. Antioxidants are known to remove toxins (such as fat cells) from the body, which is why lemon water is such a good aid in weight loss.

Additionally, Vitamin C found in lemons is known to boost the immune system.

  • Mint: Mint adds a touch of sweetness without the sugar, and it also helps settle your stomach and aids in digestion. Mint is also loaded with strong antioxidants found within the leaves and stems, as well as vitamin A, calcium, folate, potassium, and phosphorus…making it a helpful aid at preventing disease and illness.
  • Cucumber: Adding a few slices of cucumber to your water makes for excellent rehydration, and cucumber contains anti-inflammatory properties.

And while you’re at it, here’s a couple of suggestions on how to creatively store your lemons and mint leaves.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in.  It makes a great center piece too.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in. It makes a great center piece too.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase.  It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase. It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

HILOT AND OTHER DRUGS

I’ve lost count how many times this annoying flu bug has bitten me this year. It sucks when you’re stuck in bed with your itchy throat, runny nose, fiery eyes, sore body and worst of all, conked out taste buds!  Thanks to this tried and tested combination of meds and massage,  I was blissfully knocked out in coma for a few days and hardly minded any pain:
Bioflu (from the Philippines), Berocca (double dose),  and a wintergreen hilot (traditional massage).  The latter is my favorite as I am a sucker for massages and I’m happy to share with you one of our best discoveries here in Indonesia: Balsem Otot Geliga.

We fondly call this badass babe “Otot”

Our Indonesian helper uses this on her joints every night and once had me try it during one of my migraine attacks, that was the beginning of our love affair with Geliga.  It’s actually an ointment for muscle pains but it somehow has magical effect on me when used as a massage ointment for my headache, even Dear Hubby keeps a bottle on his bedside table because it relieves him of muscle pains from his sports and workout.  Now this may sound funny to the Filipinos as “otot” has a different meaning to us, it may mean “muscle” in Indonesia but it means “fart” in the Philippines.  However it elicits a smile on our face every time we mention the word, this mean babe is everything but a joke.  It means serious business and we swear by it.  It feels hot(!) when rubbed on your skin but eventually gives that soothing cool feeling afterwards.  Any massage with Geliga leaves me in deep slumber and gives me a refreshed feeling the next day.

At a risk of this blog entry sounding like an advertorial, I still highly recommend it.  If you’re in Indonesia and suddenly felt a need for your good old Katinko or Vicks but don’t have it, pick Geliga from the nearby drugstore for that guaranteed body ache relief.  It’s the best smelling “otot” too :).

EASY & HEALTHY RECIPE: PAN-SEARED TUNA

It’s no secret that aside from long legs, great kitchen skills are the gifts that I am not really blessed with.  Case in point: I can’t make a decent pancake and once burned Ginisang Munggo (sauteed mung beans).  That’s why I used to leave the cooking to the able hands of a helper or Dear Hubby (when he’s free).  But we haven’t had a help for a while now so I gotta “face my fear” and channel my inner Giada De Laurentiis and Nigella Lawson.  Yes, I sort of invoke their spirits to come upon my kitchen each time I had to cook :).

My objective is to make very simple and easy-to-do recipes to avoid any more kitchen disasters.  Recipes should also be healthy to complement my Balik-Alindog project, a self-imposed program to a healthier lifestyle (click here for more information).  This is my version of Pan-Seared Tuna.

WHAT YOU NEED:

MAIN INGREDIENTS:  FRESH Tuna Sashimi cut, ground pepper, salt,

FOR THE TUNA DIP: Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Sugar and Wasabi Paste. **Measurements would be according to your liking.

Greens of your choice

Your preferred salad dressings

You may top your salad with Feta Cheese too (optional)

WHAT TO DO:

Step 1:  Generously season the tuna with ground pepper and sprinkle with a little salt.  Let stand for about 15 minutes.

STEP 2:  Sear the tuna on a very hot pan with about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil (canola or olive oil are a healthy choice).  With this particular cut, searing should take 1 minute ONLY for each side (top and bottom).

STEP 3:  Cut the tuna in bite pieces and serve with veggie salad (with a dressing of your choice).

TUNA DIP:  Combine Kikkoman soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and wasabi paste together in a bowl.

Believe me, this recipe is sooo easy it only takes about 30 minutes to make.  If I can do it, you can definitely do it too! 🙂  Enjoy!

OF POOP AND PUKE

image courtesy of parenting.com

WARNING: As the title suggests, this post might have contents that may challenge your senses. 🙂

I’ve been remiss in my blog updates because, as some of you may have heard, Little Boy caught Rotavirus which caused his Stomach Flu or Gastroenteritis .  It started happening one morning when he woke up (unusually early, that is) and announced he had pooped on his pajamas.  Thinking it was just an “accident”, I cleaned up the mess, gave him a shower and prepped him for school.  And as we were about to leave for school, the “accident” happened again, this time he started throwing up too.  This is not good, we have to see his doctor. Thank goodness for leftover disposable diapers from 2 years ago  and stocked discomfort bags in the car (sometimes it pays to be a pack rat :)), we survived that 30-minute ride from our apartment to the clinic.

Anyone who has heard of Stomach Flu or Gastroenteritis would know that this is a major poop and puke alert.  And poor Little Boy, who threw up even the anti-vomiting medicines, had to be admitted to the hospital and dextrosed – food and meds had to be administered through I.V.  to avoid dehydration.  It’s heartbreaking for any mother to see her child throw up on that basin like he was possessed, or groan in anguish on his 7th diarrhea episode just for the afternoon, or cry in pain from all the shots.  I could only give my tender lovin’ care (TLC) and channel my inner Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale on the times  when I would have him lean on my chest, touch his forehead and murmur soft comforts. Don’t worry baby, you’re going to be well soon.  And when I would have to wipe the edge of the toilet when he wouldn’t make it and assure him that I wasn’t mad for the mess.  It’s alright hunny, it’s not your fault.  And when I had to keep an encouraging front as his weight dropped a pound each day and he became skinnier and skinnier. Oh your appetite will come back and you’ll be healthy again.   Aaaand most of all, when I had to open that soiled diaper to collect (watery) stool sample for lab test– this last one, my dear friends,  could be the ultimate test of a mother’s love for her child. Of course this is an exaggeration but the clearer message is: Oh you kids out there, love your mothers!

The good news is that, while uncomfortable (and let’s face it, gross) in most kids, a stomach bug is not a serious illness and will resolve on its own after re-hydration efforts and TLC.  Re-hydration: check.  TLC: double check.  He’s now back to school and back to his regular activities, that means I’m back on the grind too :).   I join every parent’s prayer on trying moments like this: Please let me have my child’s illness so he won’t have to suffer.  And to even add to that: … and the weight loss too.  Oh let me have it. Please, God! 🙂

Catch you again soon… Stay healthy and safe, everyone!

DOMESTIC DIVA’S TRAVEL DIARIES: Off to Hong Kong

It couldn’t have happened at a better time, it was Little Boy’s term break and Dear Hubby suddenly had to attend meetings in Hong Kong.  So when I was asked if I wanted to tag along, I said… I’ll think about it… I mean, my wardrobe.  I’ll think about my wardrobe.  You can’t say no to this chance, can you?

AND THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

They say “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”  So my real adventure began during my preparation for this vacation. Learning about this trip 6 days before departure date is quite a challenge if you’re packing for a family, which is like packing for a whole army.  Wait, do they even worry about how many shirts to bring in the army? 🙂 Anyway, what I’m saying is, I only had a few days to complete my mommy travel checklist: vitamins, medicines, camera charger, plug adaptor, the favorite teddy bear, toiletries, etc.  Someone’s gotta think of and prepare all these things you know.

Being the obsessive compulsive (OC) traveler that I am, I Googled the weather forecast  in HK for the duration of our stay and it said “generally foggy… average of 15-20 degrees Celsius”.  To someone who’s from the Philippines and  currently lives in Indonesia, this is COLD. And save for some scarves and light sweaters, I hardly have clothes for this kind of weather.  This means I have to avert this  wardrobe emergency in six days! Dear Hubby couldn’t quite dig the concept of mixing and matching, layering, etc. thus the need for a little shopping before leaving (hey, I gotta buy my Little Boy some cold weather clothes too hehe).  I’m only bringing two pairs of shoes: my ultra comfy black ballet flats and my ever reliable and versatile Chucks.  In hindsight, this fashion situation could be the universe’s way of telling me “Hey girl, you don’t have a beach-ready bod so Imma take you where you can wrap up!”.  I’ll take that 🙂  Besides, it saved me some pedicure time and money as well 🙂

These shoes are made for walking!

THE ADVENTURE GOES ON…

The empty Changi Airport in Singapore at 4:00AM

Dear Hubby was supposed to fly via Cathay Pacific with his colleagues but since he was taking me and Little Boy with him and the company would only pay for his airfare, he took a budget flight via Jetstar with us.  What would have been a comfortable 5-hour straight flight for him became a 7-hour trip with layover and NO MEALS.  Ooh, what we do for love! 🙂

Friday Night.  We took the 10:00PM flight because that 7-hour trip was the shortest among the flight schedules they had, we were supposed to arrive in Hong Kong around 6:00AM.  We were thinking that maybe Little Boy will just sleep and get rested during the entire flight.  We were wrong.  The flight was delayed for FOUR HOURS and there weren’t even any announcements of the delay.  We boarded at 2:00AM,  arrived in Singapore at 4AM then boarded another plane to HK at 6AM.  The stress and fatigue made the Little Boy very sick the entire time that I had to change his soiled clothes twice. It didn’t help that he had a cold that time.

AND ON…

The Airport Express, our ride from the HK airport to the Central Station of the MTR.

Saturday Morning.  When we finally reached the HK airport, we found out that our stroller wasn’t loaded on the plane.  Imagine another waiting time for desperately waiting for it on the conveyor and hopping from one desk to another asking for assistance.  Missing baggage was eventually declared. Off we went to our hotel… with me taking care of our suitcases and Dear Hubby lugging our sick Little Boy.

The hotel staff were saying it had been raining the past few days and today that the sky is clear is a perfect day for strolling.  No, thank you.  We stayed in our hotel room and nursed Little Boy’s high fever until the next morning.

THE FUN BEGINS HERE

Sunday Morning. Who would have imagined that our first destination on this trip would be the doctor’s clinic?  Miraculously, Little Boy’s fever went away but still had some heavy coughing and was just given some medicines.  This little trooper declared that he’s up for some good time so this vacay has officially begun! Let’s gerrrit ooohhhnn! 🙂

Taken right after we went to see the doctor. The fun vacation begins!

JUICE DO IT!

As part of my continuous Balik-Alindog Program, I’m getting more serious about living and eating healthy this year.  Well, if I want to be looking and feeling Forever 31 then I should start right about now.  For everyone’s benefit, balik is the Tagalog word for return or bring back and alindog is our Tagalog counterpart for charm or allure.  In today’s language: HOT!  Okay, that’s far-fetched but I dream big hahaha… Besides, beauty and health go hand in hand and I’m starting with ze juice.

Dear Hubby and I started drinking apple-carrot-celery juice last year when I stumbled upon an article about its health benefits.  Uhm, I guess you gravitate towards these kinds of reading materials if you’re a few years closer to turning forty 🙂  Anyway, I made it one morning and was prepared not to like the taste at all.  But lo and behold,  we never thought healthy could taste that good!  So let me share with you the very simple ingredients and procedure…

INGREDIENTS:  It’s called Apple-Carrot-Celery Juice for a reason, hehe!

The stars of the show

NOTE:  You may use red or Fuji apples.  I just preferred green because they say it’s healthier, but it’s more sour though.

Then, chop away…

Then, let’s Rock n’ Roll…

Use a blender or a juicer. Add WATER and SUGAR according to your liking.

Then, ENJOY!

Cheers to a HEALTHIER 2012!!!

According to Livestrong.com, we can enjoy the following health benefits from this juice:

DISEASE PREVENTION.  Coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer have all been associated with deficiencies of vitamin C found in apples.  The high volume of antioxidants in vitamin C gives momentum to the regeneration of disease-fighting capabilities of other antioxidants, including vitamin E.

VITAMIN A.  Apple, carrot and celery juice can contribute to the overall health of your eyes, skin and body tissues due to an abundance of vitamin A.

BONE HEALTH.  The combined efforts of celery and carrots offer a magnified approach to bone health. The “Natural Medicine Journal” says that insufficient amounts of vitamin K have been shown to increase the risk of hip fractures in elderly men and women.”

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