When you're just too on the go to even care to prepare a healthier meal, you resort to the easiest and fastest way to gobble up. Yup, fast food.

At Singapore's Changi airport, we didn't want to spend for white-linen rates for our non-fried choices, so we crossed our fingers and headed to the nearest Mc Donald's and thankfully there's a grilled chicken option! How nice, a lesser evil.

Mcdo has been receiving bad press for bringing unhealthy stuff to the table. The movie-documentary Supersize Me gives a sarcastic summary. So I'm sure the power fastfood chain has been churning out some healthier choices. But none in Jollibee country. So this is me asking Mcdo Philippines: Can we have this in the Philippines please? I will opt you over Jollibee if you do. Haha.
 
How hard is it to pick healthy while you're at the mall? Well, very if you are somewhat like me who is very easily teased by junk food. But thank God for Eastern choices!
The Gai Yang, Thai boneless grilled chicken at P270 is very good! Juicy! We had to remove the skin though. We very well know that the bad fat gets sponged in by 'em.
Another healthy delight is the Tom Kha Gai or the Chicken Lemon Grass Soup at P140. The single serve of lush coco milk with chicken breast is spot on!

I'm thankfully not feeling bloated by my better choices. I would have gone vegetarian if I didn't have a love affair with my gai - chicken in english.

MY THAI KITCHEN
Eastwood Mall Veranda
Orchard Road, Bagumbayan, Libis
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
709-2127

 
After a client meeting at the Fort, and with the path towards healthy eating in tow, Melvene and I have become instant hunters of all things leaning towards the veggie side.

So we found ourselves at Suzhou Eastern Chinese Cuisine.
For our healthy choices, veering away from anything fried, we ordered the Special Xiao Long Bao at P115. Tasty compared to the other XLBs I've tasted.
Then we opted to go for the Suzhou-style vegetable at P180. Not bad with the generous portion of shitake mushrooms!
And lastly we ordered the Mushroom Fish Fillet at P290. We asked the server if they fried the fillets and thank God they didn't. Just boiled to Chinese perfection.
All in all, the whole eastern chinese experience was good. Good service, good food and a good restroom. They have sofa seats too so that made our stat comfy!

There are nice booths with cushioned seats for private meetings. They serve beer, too for those who'd benefit from a little alcohol. Hahaha!

SUZHOU EASTERN CHINESE
Bonifacio Global City. 2/F Crossroads Complex , 32nd St Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
 
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Power puffs!
When I first saw my friend Lea's baby munching these - putting puff after puff in his mouth with his little sure hands in utmost ease, (and he's not turned one then), I was sold! I knew I had to try giving the stuff to Issa then. I didn't want to give her sugar-stuffed cereals and I'd been looking for a healthier alternative aside from her normal finger fruits. So with these puffs, Issa learned to put food in her mouth some 6 months ago. Yey!

Organic Puffs comes in other flavors such as strawberry, sweet potato, apple, banana and greens. Well of course nothing beats fresh but at least the label says that it's all organic, sweetened by 100% fruit juice instead of the evil white sugar. Plus it claims that sugar's half compared to other puffs.

Issa who is now very good at putting all things in her mouth, still enjoys this as snack. She reaches out to the container and I know she's yearning for a quick snack. I would recommend for those who want to teach their babies how to put food in their mouths by their lonesome. And those who are flying with their babies so they have something to munch on as the plane takes off to avoid ear pops.

A jar is worth P285 each at Healthy Options. Quite steep well, health is wealth yes?
 
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Uggghhhh!!!!
In my many years of novice kitchen adventures, I still have yet to find a more decent can opener. I've tried too many! Any suggestions?

The one I'm currently using has been, for years, an epic failure. I need a winner. Help!
 
Star Cafe is one of the oldest restaurants in Baguio. Their sign says since 1940! That was even before the Japanese occupation in 1942. Now that's what you call historical!

My dad would bring me, mom and my sister here when we were young, when riding horses was one of my to-do's. That was way back!
I love the old photos on the wall! Just as how the old Pinoys would do their sala: pictures of achievements displayed in full glory such as diplomas and grad pictures.

On Star Cafe's walls, the presidents from Marcos to Aquino and big politicians do come by for some good ol' Chinese food. At least here, for once they agree on the same thing: that the food is mighty good. No squabbling about that!
It ain't photogenic but so what! This, I think, is the best tasting egg pie to my knowledge. At P250 for the whole thing, that's a bargain!
Located at Session Road. Surely you won't miss it.
 
When we were driving towards Eve's Garden, I was thinking: Oh boy, this should be worth the looooong trip, the gas and the effort of almost getting lost. If this will turn out to be one of those overly hyped, lousy lunches, I'll hate myself for dragging ourselves out here. 

It's been a long drive down Naguilian Road, some 30 minutes from the Baguio City proper and since Melvene and I are pretty bad at map navigating, it has already started to feel like a task.

But when we'd finally stepped into Eve's Garden, it was as if we were whisked into old rural Europe! The view of pine and mountains over the glass windows was nothing short of breathtaking. It was grand!
We were rewarded with the best view of the resto. It's as if we're celebrating our anniversary or my birthday - both very distant dates by the way. It felt that special! We're all praises and we haven't tasted anything yet! I just wished I wore a more apt attire like a summer dress so everything would seem like it came out from a movie reel. But the black boots and the black shirt would just have to do.

The spot by the window is the best table to take photos! The natural light is perfect. For food or for your companions! For natural lighting, big windows are your best buds! Whenever I see big windows, I get pumped up to take a photo! 

All my photos here were taken with my iphone friends. No, I really don't take out my DSLR for a spin unless the assignment is work. What I'm saying is that you don't need a fancy camera or lens to take pretty pictures. Good light will produce good photos. And a big window gives you just that!
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Here's my date!
For starters, we were both given a glass of freshly squeezed lemon-pineapple juice with mint and sage sweetened by mascovado. Far from your typical iced tea. This one's really refreshing! It looks ordinary, but it's not!
Then the soup. Ah, the soup with the base of onions and squash with seven herbs (a la KFC?) with parmesan and cream. We were so delighted by it! Bursts of surprising flavors with each mouthful! Fireworks! We're in love!
Next off is the salad. Eight lettuce varieties with carrots, turnips, walnuts, raisins and a dressing made from organic flax, olive and sunflower oils. If there'd be a vote, this will win the most photogenic and the most charming awards by a mile! Added pluses: it's tasty and interactive, too! 
Check out the size of this thing!
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Crazy huge!
So let me show you the interactivity of the salad. How do we eat the darling?

Step 1: Pick your greenery.
Step 2: Fill your leaves with the good stuff: flowers, nuts, raisins, turnips, carrots.
Step 3: Spread in some of the yummy green dressing!
Step 4: Roll it up like a ... Did you really think I'd say the word joint?
Step 5: Enjoy with a lot of love.
For the main course, Eve texted the choices: Grilled chicken with pesto or grilled tenderloin soaked in saki strawberry wine, honey and herbs, or steamed norwegian salmon with caper dressing.

So obviously, you will need to call at least a day in advance to book your reservations. Everything here is prepared by Ms. Eve herself. Eating time from 11:30AM until 2:30PM only. And they won't allow in too many people so that they keep the quality. They once had to decline Manny Pacquiao and entourage since they're coming in by a herd of 42 people!

Anyway, I picked the tenderloin and everything on that dish was heavenly. The beef was juicy, juicy!
Melvene who loves fish picked the salmon! Ooohlala! Seasoned right and moist. The capers with the salmon, a perfect marriage.
The whole meal ends with an oatmeal dessert, partnered with either coffee or tea. It doesn't look as poetic as the other servings, but we thought it was perfect. The meal need not end with a bang, but with a little quiet - balancing the whole meal experience with the serene surroundings. 

The entire full course is at P650/head. I'd honestly be happy to pay more than that for the whole experience!
And as if we haven't had enough buzz yet, we were very fortunate to have a happy chat with Eve's husband, Bond - Edgar Bond. When he saw we weren't taking the introduction too seriously, he showed an old ID card. Indeed, this is Mr. Bond. And to live up to his name, the 78-year-old restaurant owner-server-ex-colonel was an ex-sniper who taught how to use pistols and cannons in his heyday. He did represent the country on several competitions as a fast gun and also as a coach. Yes, the olympics under his belt.

He narrated how the resto came about. A stroke led his to paralysis of a side of his body. Too much balut and steak he fondly recalled. His wife Eve made him well by feeding him healthy. They ditched Manila to live in cold city, and they never looked back since. Now that's a wonderful story to wrap up the day and our Baguio stay.

Until next time, Mr. Bond.

EVE'S GARDEN
132 Upper Lamtang Road, La Trinidad, Benguet
0920-9476264/0917-5066264
 
Okay the title may seem like as if I've eaten too many asado mami dishes to have made such a bold statement. But maybe I have.

No I'm not Chinese. I'm probably an eighth or a sixteenth part Chinese and some say I look like one. For the background: my dad loves Chinese food. I mean really love it that he would bring us to all the old Chinese restos when I was young - to the point of dread. Almost all our childhood family Sundays were spent in one.

Anyway, Luisa's Cafe is said to be the hangout spot of journalists. It reeks of history, its old walls serving witness to the countless of stories shared here. Regulars stay here longer than mainstays of Starbucks. Not for the wi-fi though. Mornings start with coffee and breakfast, afternoon snacking with pansit, days end in beer while Frank Sinatra serenades softly in the background. And everyone here knows each other by first name, it's like a community of sorts.
This is the Asado Mami, good for two people if snacking. For one if you're having this for lunch. At P120, this is more than a fair price for its taste.
Here's Melvene who's doing a hating-kapatid sharing.

Anyway, for those with really adventurous tastebuds ask for the Samlok. And do tell me how the experience came out for you because I won't tell what it is and I really wouldn't say. Hahaha!

LUISA'S CAFE
53 Session Road, Baguio City
 
This place, I've been going here since I was in college. I would paint/draw here while my folks would roam around the city. It was quiet then, and I won't tell anyone about my hideout except for other artists since I wanted Oh My Gulay to never be commercialized in any way.

When Melvene and I arrived, we'd decided to seat at my favorite corner of OMG, the one with the big window and with the best view of Baguio. Memories! I hear sound tracks of my life playing in my head.
The view from the window makes you want to tambay for hours!
So obviously this is a meeting veggie-spot for artists, since Kidlat Tahimik, the multi and international-awarded indie filmmaker who owns this wonderland is a whole-hearted vegetarian. So healthy is a good adjective to describe this art-filled place.

There weren't too many people who knew about this cafe some years back which made it a conducive venue for my painting sprees. But now, it's quite packed. Thanks to all the blogs out there. And thankfully we have an art venue that is supported by locals and tourists alike.
The second floor of the boat installation has a nice view of the resto itself and Baguio as well.
Art gallery on the second floor.
There's Baguio art everywhere to greet you. The ifugao bounty-providing deities called bulols sure help with the longevity and the coming in of orders.
View from the stage.
Food is more than affordable. Check out the drinks!
This one is called mansanas. Crepe filled with caramelized apples with cinamon is yummy! The warm filling contrasting with the vanilla ice cream will make this a happy finale for the kids and kids at heart. Like us!
Sugar-high smiles!

OH MY GULAY CAFE
La Azotea Building, 108 Session Road, Baguio

 
PNKY Travel Cafe has been one of my fave Baguio spots since I had learned about it some seven years back, for its good food, artsy-quaint ambiance, clean restrooms - all check.
With photography and travel as the resto's themes, there's lots of good vibe and interesting details everywhere - fit for happy trip conversations.
Issa particularly loves the lomo wall counter, pointing to her favorites.
Meanwhile, Bruno Mars here is enjoying our spot. Haha!
There's an option to eat out, too! But we decided on staying in to contain our curious toddler.
The pumkin soup comes with our ordered main courses. Oooh I love the hint of tarragon!
My pa-healthy meal option, Dory a la Roma at P270. Grilled fish with salsa and ensalada side. Fish was a bit dry. Salad was nice. A plus for me since I prefer colored rice. White rice make my sugar go haywire. Next time I'll try a different course.
Melvene opted for the Cheeseburger at P185. The homemade bun, the patty and fries were spot on.
Yummy strawberry fruit shake at P95 to cap off the meal.
So the verdict: I'm a fan! And we'll definitely come back with more travel stories to tell.

PNKY Travel Cafe is located at 13 Leonard Wood, Baguio City
Visit their website at: www.pnkyhome.com

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