Moving On To A New Blog

I have admittedly been quite lacklustre in writing in this blog. I just upload when I have time and I have been trying to make it into a diary of sorts. I thought I could turn it into my happy place, where I write about pretty places and food that inspire me. But apparently, it is not my forte. I rather suck at descriptive writing, and my spirit isn’t just in it.

I have decided that my best writing happens when I write about my own personal issues.

Hence, i will write what I know and make it relatable to others.

Here is my new blog: https://craycraysometimes.wordpress.com

The Happiness Trap

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The HAPPINESS TRAP – I’m GUILTY of this. “I can ONLY be happy if I go to Europe…”, “I can ONLY be happy if I live a more glamorous life…”, “I can ONLY be happy if I get to take that Instagram-worthy picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in a vintage dress and post it on Facebook for all of my friends to like…”

This has been my mantra (should I say, whines?) for the past few days. It is a bit disconcerting and unhealthy and it is like I have this bottomless pit of desires I can never really satisfy.

It’s funny how we always, always hanker for that which we don’t have. I always thought that was a good thing. I thought a bit of envy would propel me to move forward and strive for more. But too much of it can lead to a dark cloud all over your head and it can affect the way you interact with people who have what you want. It becomes difficult to be happy for them and you end up resenting them.

My boyfriend called me out on this behavior just last night. It’s natural to be envious, but it becomes a trap if you’re ALWAYS envious. Hence, the HAPPINESS TRAP. “I’ll ONLY be happy IF I HAVE WHAT SHE HAS. Why does she deserve it??? What has she DONE? WHAT ABOUT ME???”

This dialogue in your head goes on and on until it snowballs into this huge storm and you really just feel horrible and you can’t see the things you do have in your life.

Can anybody relate to this?

Well, here’s a little reminder for all of us, then:

Happiness isn’t this huge production where you have to have ALL the things you want ALL the time. There will always be someone with more than you have, and someone else with less. It’s not a ploy of the universe to make you feel bad about yourself or to give you the license to brag. It is just about acceptance.

Life DOES get better with your acceptance. Happiness comes in salty water, in that not-so-perfect sunny-side-up you made this morning (but your little sister loved because you made breakfast), in the 75%-off pair of cute wedges you came across at a random shop, in the crazy antics of your colleagues who always make fun of you (but who do accept you and respect you and work well with you), in that nasty cold that magically disappeared after a good night’s sleep and a bowl of dumpling noodles. HAPPINESS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE FREAKIN’ INSTAGRAM-WORTHY EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Acknowledge envy, but move on. Don’t be a black hole and a pain in the neck with all that whining. Choose to see the little things that are in your life.

Happiness is not a big fat high. It’s quiet, steady acceptance of what is going on in your life right now. Have a little appreciation, for Chrissakes!

That Secret Vietnamese Resto in La Union

One hardly thinks of Vietnamese food when you wonder what’s there to eat in La Union. I’m from there, and when you ask me for foodie advice, I’d usually rattle off a list of beachside restaurants to choose from.

The perfect things to eat are of course fresh seafood and cuts of meat char-broiled to the point of being smoky on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside, paired with lots of rice, eaten in a state of wild hunger with bare hands. Finish it off with fruit that’s just been picked, my favorite being ripe golden mangoes that go down the throat smoothly and sweetly.

But, my point here is to open your eyes to little secrets in the beach town I grew up in. And this little secret is nestled in a nondescript commercial building along 744 Mabini St. in Catbangen in the capital of San Fernando City.

This is the secret that the owner, Ms. Kim, has been brewing since the restaurant opened a few years ago. You wouldn’t notice it, but for the sign that says, Pho Saigon.

 

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When you enter, you feel like you are transported into a simple Vietnamese home, and what’s striking is that even the girl who takes your orders is dressed in a figure-flattering Vietnamese tunic, traditionally known as an ao dai.

 

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The owner, Ms. Kim, treats you like a guest in her home, and she can converse in fluent English and in very convincing Filipino and even in the local dialect, Ilocano. She has lived in La Union since the 1970’s so she has many stories to tell, from the time she left Saigon when she was 19 up to the time she married a Filipino engineer in San Fernando City and how she has managed to adapt to life here.

 

 

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Ms. Kim proudly declares her food to be authentic, as she has hired a Vietnamese lady as her cook, and we wait in anticipation for the feast.

In the meantime, I marvel at her smooth, milky-white complexion, asking her what her secret is. She laughs and says that Vietnamese food is very healthy, and that she keeps away from fatty and oily food. Oh, and she swears by exercise.

Suddenly, our animated conversation is cut off by the arrival of the food.

 

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First comes the seductive scent of sinigang. It’s still very familiar, the sour smoke coming from the pot, but it’s also mysterious, because I smell something like herbs I cannot name, something subtly sweet as well, and I just have to have a taste.

At first sip, the soup is to die for. I cannot describe it with full justice. It’s very powerful and addicting, tasting even better than the way it smells and I proclaim it to be the best sinigang I’ve ever tasted. There are many kinds of sinigang, and this time, it’s sinigang na tanigue. Try this and you will never see sinigang the same way again. A Vietnamese twist to an undying Filipino classic. Bravo.

 

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The next dish is light yet refreshing. Spring rolls!!! Crisp, colorful vegetables and soft, plump shrimp wrapped in a blanket of Vietnamese rice wrapper.

 

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Then comes clay pot fish. The star for this dish is rich, rich, rich FATTY salmon. This tastes so decadent because of the yummy fat! But it’s salmon so it’s packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. There, there. Now we can have one more spoonful, without feeling horrible about eating all that fat. Recommended with steaming hot rice because the sauce is very savory.

 

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Don’t forget the pad thai! It’s sharpened and spiked up to another notch by the addition of chopped bird’s eye chilies mixed into the noodles. Ooh, watch out for those fiery bites!!! I like that the sauce has been made with a lot of peanuts so the texture is very authentic.

 

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Last of course is the classic pho. There’s something calming about pho. The Japanese have their ramen, which is comforting and familiar at the same time. The Koreans have their spicy ramyun, which keeps us warm and gasping for gulps of cold water because of the wonderful kick of the spicy red soup.

Pho is really simple and clean and healthy-tasting. It’s really the perfect end to a Vietnamese meal, because the hot broth goes straight to the tummy and leaves no aftertaste. The chunks of beef, tender with bits of pink from being plunged fresh into the broth, coupled with the sprinkled bean sprouts, complete this soup.

Ahhh, to cap everything off, make sure to have a tall glass of iced Vietnamese coffee and take sips between each dish. The strong caffeine is mellowed by the condensed milk, giving a jolt just enough to keep you in a pleasant state.

Pho Saigon gives a whole new meaning to authentic Vietnamese cuisine. It’s the real thing, it doesn’t skimp in the amount or the quality of its ingredients, and the taste has not been watered down to please the mainstream tongue.

Come here because it’s not so well-known yet – it’s laid-back, quiet, and tucked away in a less-busy part of the city.

 

 

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You will feel like an exclusive guest dining here, or like an insider to the hidden gems of La Union. And if you’re lucky, you might be able to bump into Ms. Kim, and she will enthrall you with her stories, back when she was a young lady in Old World Saigon.

Eating at Pho Saigon is what I like to call quite an experience – you eat and taste with your senses, but you go here also to open up the mind.

 

La Union Surprised Me: Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel

I’m a sucker for all things colorful, whimsical, and look like they came straight out of my imagination.

 

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I absolutely can’t resist quirky places and whenever I travel, I’ve always got a spot or two in my head that I intend to visit. See, whenever I have a trip coming up, I’ve already gone through countless websites, relying on reliable bloggers and Instagram to alert me to hidden gems in an area.

 

One such gem I still get excited over is Haji Lane in Singapore. It’s this tiny alley in Kampong Glam little known to tourists, literally bursting with color, character, and crazy jolts of creativity. I go there not just to check out vintage clothes, but also to stimulate myself visually and go crazy with my camera.

 

Armed with my camera (really just my iPad mini or my Samsung Grand S2) and getting some good lighting, I can really be absorbed in capturing the vibe of a place. It’s my soul therapy, my energizer, my happy break from the demands of real life.

 

So when I came home to La Union a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drop by the Flotsam and Jetsam hostel.

 

 

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Frankly, I was quite stoked to learn that there IS such a place, just a few minutes away from where I grew up. I mean, what happened to La Union after I left for college and went to medical school? It slowly, gradually transformed itself into a cool spot to get away to for the weekend. It’s not as crowded and high profile as Boracay, not as far as Siargao, and offered just enough distance to be away from Manila and yet civilization wasn’t too cut off. You could meet all sorts of people on the beach: surfers, artists, backpackers, yoga enthusiasts, travel writers, college kids and yuppies out to try the waves and drink under the stars.

 

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And perhaps, the magical place to be, when you’re on the beach in La Union is this place with that familiar-sounding-yet-catchy name.

 

 

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Don’t you just love the chill atmosphere? It’s very laid-back, bohemian, and very much attuned to its surroundings. I liked the huts, the bamboo furniture, the hammocks, the vibrant lanterns, and the inviting beanbags strewn all over the place!

 

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I’d go to this place over and over again, just because it is pure EYE CANDY. This is the kind of place that just makes me HAPPY.

 

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I didn’t have time to try the drinks at the bar, but I didn’t mind, because I knew I’d go back for more the next time I’ll be in La Union. I heard, though, that what you should also come here for is the PIZZA. For a foodie like me, that’s all I needed to hear.

 

But, really, Flotsam and Jetsam is more than just a pretty place to stay with great views and even better food. Its website, http://flotsamandjetsamhostel.com/home/flotsam-and-jetsam/, says it is “a living space brimming with art, music, style, design, happiness, and imagination.”  It’s really a community for artists, travellers, and people who want to break out of the routine and do something soulful for the weekend.

 

Various festivals are regularly held here, be it about music, travel, yoga, or writing, so it’s always a good idea to watch out online for updates. It’s the perfect place for these special gatherings  – once you step inside, you feel transported into a world where you can be free and young and playful. I felt a lot like Alice in Wonderland when I was here. Its founders are Mia Sebastian, Carla Suiza, and Joncy Sumulong, whom I hope to bump into someday when I wander around this enchanting place again.

 

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Like a breath of fresh air, Flotsam and Jetsam definitely surprised me. Being a local who got whisked off to the big city nine years ago, I thought I knew everything there was to know about La Union. I was wrong. Many exciting things are happening to this place, and Flotsam and Jetsam is sparking that growth.

 

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Going Home to La Union: Lunch by the River

When I hopped on a bus bound for La Union at almost midnight last Tuesday, I was literally just holding on to my few remaining bits of sanity. The last time I was there was over a year ago, and so much had happened since then.

 

I’d undergone an intensive and rather taxing year as a medical intern at an infamous government hospital, went on to graduate as a doctor of medicine, and then came the toughest phase after five years of post-grad: preparing for the medical boards. It really made me go crazy, those months of forcing myself to sit still in a library and through months of review classes! Thankfully, I earned the license to practice medicine in August 2014.

 

As if these were not enough “milestones”, I didn’t yet take my break after all that. I then proceeded to apply for a residency training slot at the same hospital and it took almost six weeks to prove myself worthy of getting in. By this time, I was mustering just about the last of my energy reserves already.

 

When I eventually got in and finished preparing for a conference with my new colleagues, I finally, FINALLY heaved a sigh of relief last week and only had one thing on my mind: GETAWAY!!!

 

So yes, I grabbed my backpack and trusty sundresses right away and prepared myself for the 6-hour bus ride home.

 

Home, for me, is the sunny province of La Union in the northern part of the Philippines. It’s now quaintly known as the Surfing Capital of the North, a fact I’m rather proud of. I love it when tourism slowly, gradually opens up a place. Kind of like how a rough diamond is cut and shaped bit-by-bit to reveal its true beauty.

 

So, I’d like to start my journey home with you by showing you little bits and pieces of La Union. I’m not a sporty, surfer chick so I’ll show you the quirky places, which are off-the-beaten-path.

 

Let me begin by taking you to lunch by the river I used to pass by every day on my way to school when I was a kid.

 

 

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This is the Baroro River. If you happen to be whizzing by in a car or using public transportation and you come across this river via the Baroro Bridge, it only means one thing: you are nearing the town proper of Bacnotan. It’s the town next to San Juan (if you’re going further north), the now-famous surf country in the area.

 

If you want a “countryside” experience of eating by the river and feeling the breeze waft over your sunkissed (or sunburnt?) face after a day of surfing, this is the place to go to.

 

 

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This is the Riverfarm restaurant, owned by the Ocampo family, namely Cesar and Malou Ocampo. I’ve known Tito Cesar and Tito Malou since my high school days at Saint Louis College. Their kids then also went to the same school, and my Lola became a good friend of Tita Malou, because they used to wait together for the grade school classes to end. My Lola would fetch my sister and Tita Malou would fetch her kids.

 

Back then, Riverfarm was not yet the Riverfarm most tourists know now. It was named Alvin’s Restaurant, after the youngest child of the Ocampos. I remember going to one of their family parties in the restaurant, which started then as one cozy, nipa hut structure, and marveling at the fish cages breeding black tilapias and golden tilapias! My most vivid memory was the ambience of sitting by the river, with my hair blown about by the wind. And eating grilled seafood all afternoon!

 

That was circa 2004 and now, ten years later, Riverfarm restaurant has come a long way since then!

 

 

 

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Riverfarm expanded the number of huts so it’s not really just one big floating structure. It consists of small floating huts so each little hut can be a private dining area. This makes for a heartwarming family lunch, an interactive meal with friends, or an intimate and romantic dinner with a special person. I like that it’s very conducive to just savoring the moment and enjoying the food and the conversation.

 

 

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Cruises along the Baroro river are also offered, and diners can choose whether to cruise in a cabana or in a wooden raft (if you’re brave enough).  Of course, fresh seafood cooked to your liking comes with the cruise, along with healthy vegetable dishes (if you’re health conscious) or wonderfully grilled meat.

 

My family opted to enjoy a hearty lunch that day in one of the floating nipa huts. I was with a lot of grandparents, who were tired from a morning of touring around grape vineyards (more posts about that soon) and wanted to eat already.

 

I couldn’t take pictures of the whole spread, because we were all ravenous, but we ordered a set meal for a group consisting of a variety of seafood, vegetable and meat dishes. Their sinigang is a seafood feast with crabs, shrimps, squid and fish all in one soup. And their spring rolls are crispy and filled with crunchy veggies!

 

 

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I definitely recommend this place. We paid a reasonable price for the food and for the refreshing ambience! The eldest son of the Ocampos was there that day, Cesar Jr., who was one of the topnotchers of the recent architecture licensure exams. He was very happy to promote Riverfarm and told us to try their river cruises next time. Kudos to Architect Ocampo for the close-to-nature design of the place and congrats to the Ocampos for a distinctive restaurant so close to home.

 

 

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P.S. Riverfarm restaurant has been featured in Manila Bulletin (https://ph.news.yahoo.com/bacnotan-offers-floating-cabanas-river-cruise-170110852.html), and by the homegrown surfing champion Luke Landrigan (http://www.inflight.ph/places/luzon/la-union/surfing-la-union-2/).

Pockets of Progress: Wholesome, Hearty, Healthy Food at Green Pastures

Green Pastures is making this wonderful concept a household term for all of us: farm-to-table. It means that everything you eat on your plate has come straight from where it was produced. No fuss, no middle man, no prolonged and commercial process – just pure freshness, back to the basics, and a simpler way of doing things.

 

I personally appreciate this concept because I am no stranger to it. 

 

Heck, I grew up with it. As a girl raised by old-school grandparents in the province who owned a farm, our meals at home were literally farm-to-table! From the rice we produced to the some of the veggies and herbs that came from our backyard to the freshly-caught seafood peddled by fishermen’s wives roaming around the neighborhood, everything was really straight from the source. 

 

My grandmother would combine all these into her good, old, traditional home-cooked meals. There was a lot of clean-tasting veggie broth, sinigang, rich Ilocano meat dishes, and grilled seafood with sweet, juicy tomatoes and little red onions. What I appreciated was the simple goodness of it all, the healthy factor, and the fact that it was pure and devoid of preservatives and artificial ingredients.

 

So when I heard of Green Pastures and how they are redefining what it means to eat healthy, organic food, I knew I just had to try it. I wasn’t looking for that familiar food I learned to love at home, I was looking for something different, something new, something made of the same good stuff but with a certain twist to it.

 

See, I always believe that good food should not just be delicious and unpretentious – above all, it should be ingenious.

 

Good food must surprise you, because it is far from routine and it should come as a shock to your tastebuds. A strange but pleasing sensation, a burst of flavors, a feast of textures, and an orgasmic meal, to sum it up.

 

And this was what I was looking for when I came to Green Pastures, based on the rave reviews I’ve read about it.

 

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I liked the warm, wooden ambience of Green Pastures when I saw it. I liked the wall of greens that greet you when you enter it and the wide, airy, open space that doesn’t make you feel that you are actually inside a mall. The plaid-shirt-and-jeans attire of the staff was a quirky touch, adding to the farm-life atmosphere. 

 

We arrived there a little after lunchtime on a Saturday and my, oh, my, the place was packed! Good thing I arrived an hour and a half ahead and had my name listed so we were reserved a table by the time we got hungry. I always take it as a good sign when a restaurant is crowded – it simply means the food is fabulous and there’s a reason to keep coming back there.

 

I had one thing on my mind, as soon as our waitress at us down to our table. This was the main reason I wanted to try Green Pastures:

 

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HOUSE-MADE RICOTTA CHEESE AND ONION JAM!!!

 

If there’s one thing in the world I adore, it’s CHEESE. I love, love, love that cheese has so many varieties, makes ANYTHING taste great, melts in your mouth, and it is always, always rich, creamy, and exciting and comforting at the same time. And if cheese is lovingly and thoroughly made from scratch, instead of just the processed and store-bought kind, you can bet I will be dying to try it.

 

The house-made ricotta cheese of Green Pastures did not disappoint. Wala akong masabi. It’s creamy without being too heavy and it has a smooth, easygoing texture that glides down your tongue then your throat. 

 

Best of all, it goes perfectly with the onion jam. OMGGGGG. Kinikilig ako. This onion jam is like caramelized onions, jelly, and French onion soup all rolled into one. It’s true what the reviews said, they should definitely have jars of this on sale here – sooo good to take home and just spread on everything. It’s addicting, especially when combined with the cheese.

 

As if that were not enough, there was a whole head of roasted garlic on the side. They thoughtfully left the garlic open so you could just pluck out the roasted cloves with your fork and spread it with everything else on the toasted sesame loaf bread, which was soft on the inside but with buttery crunchiness on the outside.

 

Ahhhhh, maybe this is what they call a food coma. I swear, each bite sends shivers down my spine. Nakakakiliti sa sarap.

 

I’d go back to this restaurants just for this!!! And this is just the appetizer…

 

My mom, sister, and I enjoyed this so much we asked our waitress for two extra servings of their house bread because we wanted to finish up all that cheese, practically cleaning the plate.

 

After that very satisfying teaser, we soon got down to the main course. Being stuffed happily from all that bread (!!!), we decided to just try two main courses.

 

This was the first one:

 

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THE SHRIMP SCAMPI AND CHORIZO PASTA

 

My mom was the one who chose this. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the shrimps they used here were beautiful, fat ones. It made for a meal I would consider sulit (worth your money). Not all establishments serve shrimps this size and at first bite, the shrimps were flavorful and cooked just right, not overdone. The sauce was a bit spicy which complemented the thin pasta and which did not take the center stage off the shrimp. The chorizo played a supporting role – I expected to find sliced chorizo bits, but instead, the chorizo looked like ground meat scattered all over the sauce. I was glad they were not too intense and kept the focus on the fat, fat shrimps.

 

After finishing the pasta, we were nearly full! But then came our last order:

 

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DUCK-FAT FRIED CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO FRIES

 

I was curious about how duck fat could transform the fried dishes we know so I ordered this. Okay, I’ll be honest – I gleaned from a review of that the duck-fat-fried fries were out of this world. I wasn’t sure if that was indeed the exact dish  but I saw the words “duck fat” and fries” so let’s hope I got it right.

 

I have to say, sweet potato fries are much better than the regular potato fries. I am a French fry addict and so, it takes a lot for me to say this. I like this version of sweet potato fries more than the classic version I’d always eaten in Max’s ever since I was a kid. The sweet potato fried weren’t soggy at all and they retained this quality all throughout the meal. The edges were crisp and not at all oily. Hurray.

 

The fried chicken was impressive in that it was not greasy at all. I am not sure what is special about duck fat, but the skin of this friend chicken was crispy and encrusted with herbs, so that there was a lingering flavor upon chewing the soft meat. It didn’t leave you with that salty craving fix you get when you devour a whole bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken or any fast food fried chicken. They did the impossible feat of making fried chicken taste….clean. I liked the sauces that came with it, the sweet tomato ketchup and the green one that was like mint jelly. The green one was my favorite, as it was sweet and herby and went very well with the chicken skin.

 

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MY MOM WAS OBVIOUSLY HAPPY WITH HER FOOD.

 

 

 

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I WAS SATISFIED AND RARING TO WRITE ABOUT IT.

 

 

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VERY CLEAN PLATES – OH YES, WE WILL BE BACK VERY SOON. 🙂

 

Congratulations to Chef Robby Goco and his team! Months after this restaurant opened, the waiting lines are still very long and you have to wait at least two hours to be seated. This is truly an indication that this restaurant is well-received, and organic food, prepared in an ingenious way, is definitely here to stay!

 

I applaud Chef Goco for bravely putting up a restaurant that advocates the farm-to-table concept. May this be very sustainable as this is a sign of progressive times. I hope more establishments follow his lead. Healthy living is so much more interesting if you’ve got these gamechangers challenging the way you eat.

 

As a doctor, my advocacy is to enjoy life and eat cleaner, healthier, and better.  I can’t wait to have my private practice a few years from now so I can recommend innovative places such as this to my very own patients. As they say, spread the good news!

 

P.S. Do check out Green Pastures here: 4th Floor, East Wing, Shangri-la Mall, 1650 Mandaluyong, Philippines. Browse their website to get a visual treat: https://www.facebook.com/greenpasturesresto.

Pockets of Progress: Delicious Detox at Juju Eats

I have never been a fan of detox until I went to medical school.

And I don’t mean that just for health or dieting reasons.

I believe in detox now because I have come to realize it is a necessity. It’s akin to cleaning up a very cluttered room, or having a much-needed facial when all the comedones (blackheads and whiteheads in plain, non-medical,English) have come out full force on your face. Or, in my case, it is like a flushing mechanism (no pun intended) when I’ve binged and stuffed myself silly with salts, sugars, and oily, lardy temptations when the craving strikes or when stress gets the better of me. You see, after the “stuffing session” is over, I usually end up feeling REALLY FULL, but at the same time, really bloated, ugly, and worst of all, sluggish and cranky, ready to eat yet another bag of greasy fries or a packet of potato chips.

So, after a period of crazy eating, it is only healthy to restore balance by eating something nutritious and that actually rids your body of the toxins you’ve accumulated, hence, a detox

I’m no detox expert here, so I will not elaborate too much on the topic. I will just tell you about a very satisfying afternoon I had at this salad and juice bar in Chino Roces Avenue in Makati.

If you’ve heard of the Juju Cleanse (http://www.jujucleanse.com/) craze a year or two ago, it probably conjures up images of stick-thin ladies going on this famed juice fast, having nothing BUT juice of course for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “Why would I put myself through such torture??? Eating is so much fun!!!” That’s what’s most likely going on in your head now, right? 

Well, what if I tell you, that if you’re not too comfortable with the idea of a juice fast, you can do a YUMMIER KIND OF CLEANSE? One that lets you eat well and with satisfaction, but it is still a detox.

Do read on and stay with me, as I take you on my short visit to:

 

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Juju Eats is brought to you by the same people who created the Juju Cleanse. According to its website (http://jujueats.com/), it is the country’s first dedicated salad joint.

What I like about Juju Eats is that it gave people a yummier option for detox. Personally, since I’m someone who, quite frankly, has a voracious appetite (matakaw, in short), I can not do juice fasts or any kind of fasting in general. I am also afflicted with gastro-esophageal reflux disease, so any form of abstinence from eating will just worsen my hyperacidity and will make me burp noisily like a frog from uncomfortable acid reflux. So when I heard of a place that offered meals you could use for detox, I was curious.

 

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Juju Eats makes the salad the star of the meal. The idea is to eat a salad so filling and so delicious it leaves you feeling like you already ate enough for a meal. Heck, it IS your entire meal. And instead of feeling bad (“Aww, poor me, I just had some measly leaves for lunch. I must get something big and heavy for my next meal to compensate for the hunger pangs. Oh, wait, a buffet sounds like a good idea…”), you feel light and healthy and…CLEAN.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll share what I had:

 

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I had what they call the, ahem, BIG BOY SALAD.

Exactly what is a Big Boy Salad? It is a mixture of Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, bacon (YES, BACON!!!) , hard-boiled egg, sun-dried tomatoes, red kidney beans, and roasted red pepper – sprinkled with grated Cheddar cheese and tossed in French dressing. To make it more interesting, I decided to have it done in a wrap. For more fiber, I asked for a whole-wheat wrap. 

I am proud to say that this is my very green yet very hearty lunch:

 

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It was so flavorful and tasty (the bacon was lip-smackin’, I tell you and the sauce was like a better version of mustard) I almost felt like I was eating a cheeseburger! And for the drink, I had one of the Juju Cleanse cold-pressed juices. It is what is called The Greenbomb. The Greenbomb belongs to this family:

 

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The Greenbomb is a very concentrated mixture of your ever-popular leafy fruits and vegetables, namely: Romaine lettuce, celery, moringga and spinach, with cucumber and pineapple for some added green points 🙂 Now some people can drink this for their meal, I choose to swig it WITH a meal. Its taste is very clean and very far from boiled leaves or herbal concoctions (no horror stories coming true for the leafy haters out there). Just a sip is actually very calming and energizing, at the same time!

This meal made me a very happy girl, even my sando-and-scarf get-up complemented the “Clean ‘n’ Green” afternoon:

 

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I wish I could eat food like this everyday! Unfortunately, life inside a government hospital isn’t very supportive of an “eating healthy” campaign. Ironically, working in a hospital, in impossibly-long shifts,means we basically eat to survive. It means ordering from fast-food joints or buying greasy, swimming-in-a-tub-of-oil,home-cooked meals from the lone, lone canteen in our infamous hospital. 

If only I had time to whip up salads like these every day (or I had the money to have it delivered to my doorstep everyday hahahaha).

Going back to Juju Eats, my companions were also very happy with their meals:

 

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My sister had a Roast Pumpkin Salad Wrap. It’s the house mix of greens, made more special with roasted pumpkin, feta cheese, bacon, Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and coated in balsamic dressing. I took a bite of it and it was very rich. I liked how the roasted pumpkin and the feta cheese added definition to the whole thing.

My mother went for her own mix of Romaine lettuce, corn, and Cheddar cheese on mango-pineapple dressing.

It’s a nice thing that my family is supportive of my quest to eat healthy, if only on my days off from the hospital! My sister was so delighted with the place she wanted to bring her friends there.

I was so delighted I decided a photo op would be a fab idea:

 

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My mother, ever my partner in picture-taking, followed suit:

 

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I think the best compliment I can give to Juju Eats is that when we left, I couldn’t help but order some more to bring home. I just couldn’t get enough!

 

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This is, hands down, my ultimate favorite. I was inspired to get this because of blog posts raving about this (Ms. Patty Laurel-Filart’s posts about this lovely pasta salad can be found here: http://www.pattylaurel.com/2013/11/get-your-juju-on.html and http://www.pattylaurel.com/2014/02/juju-thanks.html).

This is none other than the Tuna Nicoise Salad. Fusilli pasta, tossed with tuna flakes, hard-boiled egg, French beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and black beans in the bewitching honey mustard dressing. TO DIE FOR!!!

Thank you, Juju Eats, for being a pioneer in our salad industry. The title of this post should’ve been “THE ONLY BAR I GO TO: JUJU EATS SALAD BAR.” Because I can live without the drink-and-dance kind of bars, but not without THIS salad bar. Bar none (again, no pun intended). 🙂