Whole wheat, brown rice burrito

Who doesn’t love burritos? They are made with the best spices, filled with savory beef, drizzled with sauces and cheese, and are so easy to pack for lunch or for a picnic. But burritos made in commercial establishments usually are also filled with bad carbs, sugary sauces, and very little vegetables. The solution: make my own.

Ingredients:

Whole wheat tortillas, 6 12-inch pieces
1/2 kilo lean ground beef
Tomato sauce
Cooked brown rice, three cups
Onions, garlic, and tomatoes
Spices
Hummus
Green pepper, diced
Lettuce or arugula
Vintage cheddar

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Healthy, brown rice, whole wheat burrito.

Procedure:

Saute beef in onions and grlic. Season to taste. Set aside.
Saute brown rice in onions and garlic. Add brown rice, then add tomato sauce enough to coat the rice but not make it soggy. Simmer and set aside.

Chop onions and tomatoes, and gren pepper. Arrange them in a serving platter with compartments.
Wash lettuce and cut cheese into thin strips. Set aside on a platter.

Begin assembling your burrito by laying 2 leaves of lettuce on a tortilla wrapper. Pile on 3-5 tablespoons tomato-rice, then add 2-3 tablespoons sauteed ground beef. Top with onions, tomatoes, peppers, hummus, and cheese. Roll halfway from one end, making sure that you fold the edges inward after half a roll. Continue rolling until burrito is snug as a bug. Bake for 5 minutes on low, then slice diagonally.

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Guide to Bike Safety

I remember the day I first took my sparkly pink bike for an errand. I had to brave the congested roads, riding beside trucks, and crossing intersections. It was terrifying. Seven months later, I feel much more confident on road, but I’m still learning. Here’s a good cheat sheet for road sharing, especially in the Philippines, where bikes and bikers are still considered 2nd class “motorists” on the road.

Be safe!

Healthy, Sugar-Free, Low-Carb, Flourless Brownies!

Disclaimer: If you’re not a health nut, this is not for you. If you are not into dark chocolate, then close your browser window. If you’re looking for a real sweet indulgence, then go elsewhere. This brownie is the kind of compromise I am most happy to do: I get my chocolate fix, nuts to munch on, without the nutrient-deficient carbs and unhealthy processed sugar.

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One bite is enough to satisfy me!

But really, these brownies are the best healthy indulgence I’ve made in weeks! Aside from my caveman bars, which were no-bake, this brownie recipe is the brownie recipe for those on a sugar-free diet, but who still want to chew on chocolatey stuff. I would personally add more dates next time, maybe half a cup more, and I’ll find a way to make the brownie a bit more gooey…maybe some applesauce for my next recipe will help? Any suggestions?

Nonetheless, I was surprised at how easy this recipe was…too easy that I had to double check for more steps after I had pulsed in the eggs and oil. That was it? Yup. Too easy. 20 minutes later, my brownies were cooling on the dining table as mom and I were making sushi, maki, and temaki. Wonderful.

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Mom and I were making dinner while the brownies were cooling. The recipe is that easy.

Here’s the recipe. Note, though, that I used baking powder instead of baking soda, and I used unsweetened cocoa powder instead of baking cocoa. I also used cashews instead of walnuts.

Have fun!

Beauty, Self-Acceptance, and Colbie Caillat’s “Try”

I’ve always loved Colbie Calliat and her songs. Her voice sounds so cheerful and positive, and the lyrics of her songs are often about living life simply, or about women being free to  express themselves. Although many of her songs still talk about love (sometimes unrequited), the overall vibe of her music is light, positive, and the type one would want to bring along to the beach or on a vacation. And if you’re like me, I wish everyday were a cheerful beach vacation.

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One of her album covers

When I watched this video, though, I found more respect for her, because this song is so empowering in itself…and the video, oh, it just beats so close to my alopecia-heart (see 1:31). Sure, the video was created to promote her new song, Try, but how many celebrities would dare to really take off their makeup and their hair extensions, and shoot a “naked” no make-up and limp hair video like the one you see here?

And the way that she used women of all ages, all sizes, all colors, all hair types—-all of them beautiful—-just makes my heart swell.

We are all beautiful beyond the standards of beauty we often hold ourselves up to. Just like the song says, “You don’t have to try so hard so they like you.” Do you like YOU?

I do.

Job Opening: Lifetime Partner


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A well-educated, cultured, and highly spiritual woman from the Philippines is now accepting applications for Lifetime Partner.

Qualifications must include: High EQ and IQ; kindness, compassion, and leadership skills; a love of nature, the outdoors, the beach, and lots of sunshine (or must at least be willing to suffer it). Must love reading literature and must enjoy playing geeky tabletop and party games with the woman’s equally geeky and quirky, but very lovable family. Must be willing to love and be loved immensely. Must have a high level of optimism, be a tough decision-maker, and must want to rear-up God-loving, God-fearing kids. No experience preferred.

Applicants who know their way around the kitchen and can whip up a mean pesto sauce or a batch of whole wheat pancakes will be given preference. Plus points also for applicants who can sport a higher degree without it getting into their heads, for applicants who are engaged in a healthy and active lifestyle, and most especially for applicants who display a sense of humility with regard to the Bible and spiritual understanding.

Compensation package includes: a woman who enjoys language and books and nature and gallivanting; a huge extended family; opportunities to expand ministries through church and missions involvement; intelligent debates over tea and yogurt concoctions, and evenings over wine and cheese. Cuddling and hugging are sure rewards for extended hours of service. Bonus movie and karaoke nights will also be awarded on occasion. Profit (and loss) sharing is to be expected as well. Expect long-term professional and personal development through decades of partnership and change, occasional arguments included.

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This opening is for a permanent position as sole lifetime partner. Applicants must consider that upon hiring, vacation leaves and resignation will not be allowed. Interested applicants should send their letter of intent along with a comprehensive resume that includes three character references. Short term applicants need not apply.

If shortlisted, applicants will go through a rigorous interview and internship process. Panel members for the interview will include the woman’s father, her brothers, and her mother. Applications are open until further notice.

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(Was joking around with my friend, Jackie (Jek), today. We were talking about my being single, and still waiting for the right person as I also continue to develop myself as the right person. If a lifetime partner were an actual job position (and it is, isn’t it?), this would be the ad I would post for the position that will be filled-in. We fill-in important organizational┬ápositions by filtering through a myriad of applicants. It makes sense that we also filter through applicants for the position of a lifetime partner. Jek, here’s the ad we were discussing! Hehehe. -S)

What is Beauty?

Standards of beauty are cultural, subjective, and, if I recall a scientific study I had read a while back, the universal standard is in fact a composite, a balance of the features we generally find pleasing in people. Noses have to be a certain height, eyes a certain size and color (with or without eyelid folds), skin color has to be (usually) light and blemish-free, hair long and shiny, legs without dimpled skin, a small hip-to-waist ratio, etc, etc, etc.

I find that looking at magazines, at media, at the world’s composite standard of beauty, it is impossible to be beautiful. There is always a flaw somewhere, a chink, something that makes us “less-beautiful” based on our self-imposed human standards. We have become too critical of ourselves and thus, we fail to appreciate the innate natural beauty that we have.

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Isn't acceptance the beginning of becoming beautiful?

This project of one journalist is proof that beauty means different things to different people, despite standards.

And yes, I am beautiful, as you also are. I decided a long time ago that I was beautiful. I am beautiful. With hair, without hair, over 130 pounds, or under 130 pounds, with a tan, without a tan, with red lips, or in pink lipstick, in a dress, in a bikini, or in pants; I am beautiful.

And for this, I quote Isabel Allende:

” I decided I was beautiful for the simple reason that I wanted to be.” -Eva Luna

The 1st Generation iPod Shuffle

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Given as a Christmas gift, circa 2005

It’s clean-up season for me and during the course of my hauling out odds and ends, this shows up: my old, well-loved iPod Shuffle. It brings warm memories of that Christmas when I excitedly held a small box, half-hoping yet not expecting that it was what I wanted; it was! I was in such a hurry to get back to my computer that evening and load up my new toy with music from my playlists…oh joy!

It’s quite bizaare to think that was almost a decade ago now, and the Shuffle has morphed and re-morphed into various new designs with larger memory capacity, and with a million dupes to the iconic mp3/music player of the early 2000s.

My shuffle is now long retired but the happy music memories remain. Grateful. So grateful.

What does it mean to grow old?

I stand at attention in the LRT train, and as passengers move in and out of the midday rush, I realize that my parents have gotten old.

By old, I don’t mean that they have become the iconic image of grey-haired, feeble-looking, hunched-up individuals tapping around in their canes to find their way around. They may yet come to that, but I digress. When I mean “old,” I mean that my parents have actually matured gracefully, and that the years have crept up on them, almost unnoticed; and the years have been good.

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Almost-senior and Senior enjoying an evening meal.

When had I last truly looked at my parents? It seemed only a few years ago that they were young and building their lives, reaching for career goals, and in the process rearing us up to prepare us for our own lives. It seems not so long ago that there were school meetings, and uniforms, and tuition and play rehearsal, entrance exams and graduations. It seems that the years have not only crept up on my parents, they have also crept up on me.

When I mean “old,” I mean that the past thirty years have been productive, fulfilling years for my parents. Time has patiently added (more than) a few pounds on their frames and interesting lines on their faces, but this is Time’s way of rewarding them for the life they have lived thus far. They days have piled up slowly and the daily grind has moved from the hectic pace of building their own careers, to making money to support three children, to the almost snail-paced trickle of the warm golden years: slow mornings and even slower afternoons and evenings pondering plans, celebrating adult milestones, or just sitting down for a chat. The past few decades have seen them birth three children and launch each child into the world and their children’s own careers. All things considered, my parents themselves have been quite successful in life.

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Lighter moments (karaoke) with their now-adult kids

Neither dad, nor mom, have long-term, debilitating illnesses. Sure, there are some health concerns, but nothing a little control and moderation cannot reverse. They have enough food on their plates, they have gone places, they have made lifelong friendships with good people. They have us. They have each other. Their faces still show the glow of health, the grey streaks of acquired wisdom, and more importantly, the reflection of joy; because looking back, life has been good. It was definitely not a bed of roses, and yet life has still been very gracious to them.

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Is sixty old?

Is this what it means to grow old? If it is, then I’d like to grow old, too, someday. I’d like to wake up in the morning and know that I have reared up children who are able to find their way in the world. I’d like to be able to take afternoon walks with such slow contentment, knowing that all is well and as it should be. I’d like to be able to spend time making good food and share meals on the table…without the rush of everyday concerns. I’d like to be able to look back and say, “I have no regrets” because the choices I made led me to a place of peacefulness, gratitude, and joy. I’d like to be able to kiss and hug my loved ones, my children (hopefully), and tell them I am proud of who they have become. I’d like to be able to discuss with them their plans, their loves, their passions, the yet-unknown but bright future ahead. If this is what it means to grow old, I’d like all of that too, someday.

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Graphic from the animated movie Up!

Who knows if a few decades from now, I and my brothers will also have children who will ponder our getting old. Will they also want it for themselves? I still have a lifetime of choices to make in order for that to come true. For now, it is I who wonder at the slow and steady glory, the warm glow that growing old brings.

Rowena’s Ube Tart

Paired with a mug of warm, black coffee, these not-too-sweet, creamy ube (purple yam) tarts will make your workday morning a bit of a dream. ^_^

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Magandang araw! (Good morning!)

I’ve always loved purple yam, but I am often disappointed with desserts that overwhelm the yam’s creamy, rootcrop flavor with too much sugar, or that outshine the purple yam with a too brittle, too thick pie crust. Rowena’s ube tarts are just the right sweetness, with a crust that is flaky and a bit chewy, and not too thick as well. Good for my health, and for my happy palate too! This is definitely dessert that’s worth sweating out for.

Rowena’s Tarts is located in Tagaytay City, at 152 Brgy. Francisco. Contact numbers: 0949 197 2835 or 046 4830717 or visit them at http://rowenas-tarts-tagaytay.com

Disclaimer: This is not a paid article or advertorial.