Tag Archives: sugar

Coffee: is it good or bad for your health?

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved coffee. No matter how much I love my frappuccino, I still prefer coffee hot even on a warm day. I used to take it BLACK. Just plain coffee, no sugar and no milk. But then, I started feel palpitations hehehe 🙂 Seriously, I thought that if I’d drink coffee often, I should at least enjoy it with sugar and a little bit of milk or creamer.

People who know me would often send me free/complimentary 3 in 1 coffee mixes, and to be honest, I can be a perfect endorser for some of these products. Not like with my chocolate cakes, I drink almost any brand of coffee. Of course I would have my favorites, and coffee is really much better if it’s brewed, but I’m a very mobile person so I just bring packets of instant coffee mixes with me.

Since I need to know what I put in my body, I did some research about coffee. I was surprised that there’s a lot of difference when you French-pressed it instead of using the ordinary paper filters. One leaves more oil therefore there’s a big chance of raising your bad cholesterol when you drink it often.

There’s a lot of debate about whether drinking too much coffee is good or bad for your health. There are also studies conducted by several universities to prove that coffee consumption is either detrimental or beneficial to one’s health.

While reading some of the results, I was analyzing my own health. Am I really over doing my intake of coffee? How much is too much? Which is healthier, hot or cold coffee? These questions kept on popping in my mind while reading.

Well, one study shows that drinking coffee will lessen one’s chances of having Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. That’s a good thing, right? And oh, in Taiwan, research showed that coffee actually helps in preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

These are just about coffee… I haven’t even touched on the subject of regular coffee (caffeinated) and decaf. I can’t stand the taste of decaf; I feel like I’m cheating myself with it. It’s like you’re drinking coffee but you’re not. Maybe it’s a psychological thing for me, but I do want to be informed on exactly what the differences are between these two.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, some people drink coffee to keep them on their toes. But for someone like me whose blood is half coffee, I don’t get stimulated by coffee anymore. But I don’t really have a normal sleeping time either. My dorm mates, on the other hand, depend on coffee whenever they need to be up all night.

Help me with this please, because as much as I would want to continue with my coffee habit, I still consider my health as my top priority. Maybe if you know something about coffee, we could exchange ideas in here, and maybe share some recipes too. I don’t normally bake, but I know espresso really makes a difference when baking anything with chocolate. ‘Til next time!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

Pickling fruits

Peeled santol
Peeled santol

Pickling is a way of preserving a certain type of fruit and or vegetables. In some countries they do this process because not all fruits and vegetables are in season all-year round. They usually do this process during summer or spring time, in preparation for the winter and fall season.

In Asia, pickling is done for different reasons. In the old times, they pickle their food to prevent it from spoiling. Since not most households have refrigeration, they would put their meat/fruit/vegetable in brine solution so that they could preserve them. (I’ll give you a recipe of the brine solution later.)

In countries like South Korea, pickled foods play a big part in hansik (Korean food). Kimchi is a staple in every meal, and it’s the best example of pickling. Most popular kimchi is cabbage, but they pickle almost everything in that country.

In the Philippines, we’re used to pickled papaya, or better known as achara. My aunt makes the best achara, and she doesn’t put raisins in it. And because of that reason, unconsciously, I hated pickling. I can’t seem to make that perfect brine even though I follow her recipe to a T. Besides, I’m not fond of pickled fruits or vegetables, even though I love kimchi. I like to use fresh ingredients as much as possible. If it’s not in season, then I work with whatever ingredient is available in the market.

But pickling is really convenient for all households. Aside from the fact that it’s good as a side dish, it also helps busy mommies save time and be able to preserve those ingredients that they use often but are not always in season.

Santol fruits from the Philippines
Santol fruits

A few weeks ago, my dad brought home more than a dozen of unripe santol. I love fruits that that a sweet-sour taste, but these santols are still bitter. He didn’t want to throw them out. My first suggestion was wrap them in old newspapers and keep them inside our rice dispenser, but my mom said I should just pickled them so that we can use them for sinigang. As Kapampangans, we love sinigang so much that we use all sorts of vegetables and fruits to provide the sour flavor. Aside from santol and the staple tamarind, we also use kamias (kalamias, or bilimbi), and miso.

I have two kinds of brine mixtures, the salt-based and the other, sugar-based. Of course, vinegar is a key ingredient too in your brine. My culinary friends will use high-end types of vinegar, but I always believe that not all kitchens are supplied with expensive ingredients in their pantries. So, I make with what’s available and make some necessary adjustments.

For the santol fruits, I did both salt and sugar brine mixtures, just in case one of my family members decides to munch on them. I’m really not good with measuring so I always go with equal parts of water and vinegar. But, you have to make sure that your vinegar is not too acidic. If that happens, then make it 2/3 water- 1/3 vinegar. My measurement for sugar and salt is also the same. I usually add in 10 tablespoons of sugar (and or salt) per 1 liter of liquid (vinegar and water combined). Of course, you have to taste it as you do the process.

With salt, I put it on top of a low-heat fire, just so the smell and acidity of the vinegar evaporates. I let it simmer, just like with the sugar, until all the particles get dissolved. Turn off the stove and by this time, you can add in whatever aromatics you want to add. Cloves and star anise are ok too. They’re good agents in pickling. But I like mine simple. Just salt (sugar), water and vinegar unless I’m doing achara.

One very important thing in pickling is that the jar you’re going to use is very clean. You don’t want any bacteria entering or seeping through your brine and fruit. I suggest you boil your jars first, them clean them dry with a cloth. Store your pickled stuff in a cool area. You don’t need to put them in the fridge, just an area in your house that’s always cool, but not damp.

Update: Here’s my pickled vegetables recipe.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.

How to cook fried stuffed Bangus

I like to cook. Some people say do not cook when you’re sad or in a bad mood because it’ll reflect on the food you’re cooking. I, on the other hand, cooking is my remedy for stress and bad moods. Cooking makes me happy. It brings me back my sanity when the world around me seemed insanely chaotic. If I stop cooking, that’ll be the end of me.

My whole family is my willing victims when I’m experimenting with food. There are some hits and misses I tell you, but nothing worst so far as to one of them losing totally their sense of taste. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in culinary school is that “know the basics rules first before you start breaking them”. That’s what I always apply whenever I’m trying a new dish or tweaking an old recipe.

Last week, my mom requested Fried Stuffed Milkfish (Bangus). My dad and my sister are both carnivorous and it’s rare that we serve fish in the dining table. They only eat a handful of seafood dishes, and it’ll be such a waste if we cook too much dishes for just the four of us.

You’re aware that frying the milkfish is a dirty job. No matter how hot the oil is, there will always be splatter. And I hate oil splatter on my kitchen. It irritates me to death. So, I found a way on how to avoid splatter by wrapping the fish in aluminum foil. (Not all food can be wrapped in aluminum foil when frying, avoid any acids if possible.)

I sliced the Bangus in half, but not entirely, just so I can insert the stuffing. For the stuffing, I put mix in onions, garlic, tomatoes salt and pepper, siling haba (optional) and sometimes if I feel like making it extra special, I put in some slices of red eggs. But to each its own. Whatever you fancy, go ahead and I won’t take it against you 😉 I minced chopped everything so that the cooking time will be the same for everything that’s stuffed in the Bangus.

Grease the aluminum foil very well with salt and or some dried herbs if you have. I usually use dried thyme or rosemary. Wrapped the Bangus carefully, make sure that the Bangus is well stuffed. Depends on the size and weight of the Bangus, usually I give 5-7 minutes cooking time on both sides of a regular-sized bangus. I don’t put the temp too high, just on medium heat because you’re in a way steaming the fish inside first.

The fried Bangus is good with soup or sautéed vegetables. I usually accompany it with my simplified version of chopsuey. For the spicy food lover in me, I prepare a special hot dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi juice, sugar to taste and a lot of siling labuyo. Yummy!

In cooking something, it should always come from the heart. If I can advice someone about cooking, don’t cook when your heart’s not into it. No matter how expensive the ingredients are or how easy the recipe is, if you don’t feel like cooking, it won’t work. Annyeong!!!

This post was written by Rita Salonga.