Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 (a book review)

What makes a city? It is more than just the mortar and stone in its buildings, or even the very people populating it. A key aspect of a metropolis is its supply lines for food and resources, which is the very thesis of Daniel F. Doeppers’ book, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945.

 

Doeppers, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has retold some of the most intriguing chapters of Manila’s history in terms of how its inhabitants regularly (or not so regularly) ate, drank, and sourced their basic needs from nearby provinces. The book goes into interesting details ranging from how the waterways of Bulacan and Malabon were changed to accommodate the rice trade, all the way to the rise of the popularity of chocolate as a beverage, and how it was displaced by coffee. Everything from animal and human diseases, fishing practices, and the potable water supply makes its way into the text.

Apart from these bits of trivia, Doeppers’ text also documents the rise of families and companies involved in the food industry, many of which are still big players in commerce to this day.

 

Although lengthy and at times tedious with its emphasis on economic trends and statistics, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 provides a fresh look into life in the city of Manila, especially for the denizens who hardly get a mention in textbooks. One gets a vivid sense of the ingenuity, tenacity and good humor characterizing the residents of this old city, all the way up to the devastation that befell it during the Second World War. It reminds people that much of human history is associated with the realities of existence such as feast and famine, all of which go on despite upheavals and grand events.

 

This book is a recommended read not only for anthropologists and scholars of Philippine History, but even for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. It is well thought out and spaced under easy to follow subject headings, making it suitable for earnest study as well as casual reading. Since we at Team Glasses Food Blog are not only foodies but also history geeks, this book was a particular treat.

 

Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 is available from the Ateneo de Manila University Press at Bellarmine Hall, Katipunan Avenue. More details may be found at www.ateneopress.org.

(featured image from wikipedia)

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Strawless Saturday

One concern that has crossed our minds time and again is the amount of plastic and other waste that is inevitably generated whenever we go out to eat. While opting to ‘dine in’ instead of taking out our food ‘to go’ saves a great deal in terms of plastic bags, paper cartons and other packaging, there are still other ways that plastic is unnecessarily used in restaurants, cafes, and other establishments. One example is the use of plastic straws, to the point that these plastic tubes seem like de rigeur garnishing to one’s iced tea and fruit juice.

 

It was estimated by National Geographic that 500 million straws are used each day in America alone. Although plastic straws are only a small portion of the plastic debris generated each day around the world, they pose their own form of danger especially to marine life. Oftentimes plastic straws are not recycled and thus end up recklessly discarded in places such as our waterways. When plastic straws make their way to the ocean, they can end up being ingested by turtles, fish, and even birds who mistake these for food. Plastic straws can also entangle animals, making them suffer painful injuries or even maiming them for life. Since plastic straws do not decompose easily, they can stay in our oceans indefinitely.

 

This is why we at Team Glasses practice what we have nicknamed “Strawless Saturday”, which is basically not using plastic straws when we dine out. Sometimes it is just as simple as asking the wait staff to refrain from giving us straws in our drinks. Of course, this practice isn’t limited only to weekends; even on our weekday or after school jaunts we eschew straws too.

 

At first it was not easy to start our Strawless Saturdays. Reaching for a straw had become part of our muscle memory, and it took a little reminding for us to learn to do otherwise. However, we soon got used to sipping our drinks the old-fashioned way, setting the straws aside altogether.

 

Nevertheless, we know that there are some people who, for health or hygiene reasons, insist on using straws in their drinks. Thankfully, alternatives to plastic straws are now becoming hip and available, such as metal straws. These durable and reusable straws are safe for culinary use, and are as easy to carry around as personal cutlery. Some restaurants we’ve visited such as Bucky’s and Wild Poppy are also regularly using metal straws for their beverages and desserts.

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Note the metal straw

Metal straws can be ordered online from stores such as Sip PH, or services such as Lazada. This little step can go a long way in keeping our oceans safe, not only for humans but for all creatures that live in it!  

Featured image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org

Reflections and a cheat sheet for Buffet

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Photo by: Spenser195; Disclaimer: No edits / CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Around five years ago, going out to all-you-can-eat buffets was a treat, especially when buffets became a trend here in Manila. With my lanky frame, I would shock people with how much food I can put down in one go. Be it sushi rolls, sauteed garlic shrimp, or plates of rice, desserts and the like, I would make each trip worth it by taking on heaps of food and come out on top.

However, after I was diagnosed with heartburn, buffets weren’t as enjoyable as they used to be. In fact, it felt like a waste to bring me along. I simply wasn’t able to eat the same amount of food as I used to.

From then on, I had to change my lifestyle. Instead of gobbling things down in one go, I would chew slowly and thoroughly. Instead of taking on spicier foods and eating bird-eye chili whole, I removed these from my diet. I incorporated probiotics with my everyday meals. And most especially, I had to watch the volume of the food I eat. Less is more.

But recently, when my uncle came home for a short visit here in the Philippines and brought us to a well-known buffet place, I had a realization and came up with some tips for dealing with heartburn at a buffet.

 

Grilled beef steak in Cala Pí, Mallorca, Spain

By JIP (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Heartburn is not the end of good quantity of food.

Initially, I thought it would be the end of mine. For more than a year, I felt I had to struggle with what kinds of food I can eat, even with the Team Glasses Food Blog project Kat and I have. Buffets felt like a waste of money, since I ate less than half of what I could scarf down back then. I even had to note down trigger foods, and rewire my brain to process my food on what seemed to be an agonizingly slow pace.

Eventually, I hit my stride with some help from Kat, and life has been relatively close to my old foodie normal. Heartburn eventually became something that wasn’t as big a monster as I put it out to be.

 

Friedchicken

DougsTech at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Stay away from the fried stuff.

Buffets, being a business still aiming to get a profit, have their ways and means in squeezing money out from us. One of them is serving deep fried food, such as tempura or breaded fried chicken.

Aside from getting you full as soon as possible, the oil which coats these types of food are a pain to deal with. The combination of oil and the breading is harder to digest. In turn, this leads to the acid shooting up quickly to compensate.

 

Sunday Roast Rib of Beef

Photo By: Roderick Eime (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rodeime/15768155194/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Roasted meat is your friend.

If you’re like me and still like some meat along with your salad, sushi rolls, and other viands, go with roasted meat. Be it beef, fish, lamb, or chicken, the oils aren’t as saturated and you’d still get to enjoy the protein feast without the worry of burping uncontrollably.

 

Greek salad from supermarket

By Gesalbte (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Go easy on the dressing.

The point of salad is to enjoy a light appetizer to ease you in before a large meal. Drowning it in salad dressing is counterintuitive. Use those sparingly, or replace it with some grated hard cheese or feta if they have it, or maybe some salt and pepper, or alternatively, olive oil. Maybe you can even do without and just use greens along with the meat to form another good plate.

The dressing normally used in buffets is meant to be heavy in the first place. The same mechanics apply from No. 2.

 

  • Remember that a buffet is a marathon, not a race, your training matters.

Lastly, always remember that tackling a buffet is a marathon, not a race. It doesn’t matter who eats more at the get go, since the goal is enjoying the different viands at your own leisurely pace. Combine this mindset with keeping away from your trigger foods, the tips I’ve given above, and chewing your food slowly, and you should be set up for getting the most out of your time at the buffet.

Now go have fun with your next buffet and let us know what you think in the comments below!

The Great Brown Rice Switch

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Kat:

A meal cannot be said to be complete in many parts of the world without a heap of piping hot, soft white rice. In fact for many people, rice cannot be any other color but white. So when the idea of eating brown rice was first mentioned at home, for the sake of health benefits, I could not help but inwardly hope that this would only be a temporary state of affairs. After all, the idea was so alien, and literally not easy to swallow.

 

As it turned out, brown rice was not entirely unfamiliar. Brown rice is actually whole grain rice, which means that it is rice that has only its outer hull removed. Its color comes from the bran layer and cereal germ, which are also removed when milling white rice. In a sense brown rice is analogous to whole wheat bread, while white rice is akin to white bread.

 

One thing that takes some getting used to when it comes to brown rice is the taste. Unlike white rice, which has a soft and mild flavor, brown rice is nutty and occasionally with some earthy overtones. Brown rice also has a less polished consistency, which sometimes makes it difficult to partner with sauces and soupy dishes. In my experience, light cream sauces or curries go well on brown rice. Thick hearty stews such as sinigang, or rich gravies are also great with brown rice. Tomato-based stews have limited success on brown rice, while au gratin is a disaster!

 

Another challenge I face with brown rice is simply with cooking it. Unlike white rice, which is relatively easy to manage whether in a traditional pot or rice cooker, brown rice requires a little more care to get to the right consistency, owing to its more complex layers. It may also need more water to cook. This is one kind of rice that cannot simply be left to boil unattended. Nowadays I am able not only to boil brown rice, but to rejuvenate cooked brown rice by lightly frying in oil with garlic. This is a great way to take brown rice from dinner to breakfast.

 

What makes these trade-offs worthwhile? Compared to white rice, brown rice has higher amounts of rice, Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin), Vitamin B6, and micronutrients such as selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Brown rice is also considered a complex carbohydrate, which means that it takes longer to digest and metabolize than simple carbohydrates found in white bread, white rice, and candies. This allows for better control of blood sugar, which is excellent for preventing unexpected spikes and crashes. Brown rice is also a great source of fiber, which helps keep things running smoothly in the digestive system.

 

It’s been around eight or so years since I’ve made the switch to brown rice, at least for meals at home. My body can definitely tell the difference on the days when I do not have brown rice; for one thing I get hungry more quickly in its absence. Of course having brown rice as a healthier substitute to white rice does not mean I can eat as much of it as I like. Even with this, moderation is necessary to stay in good health.

 

Lee:

And then in my case, it was a wake up call to be more health conscious. On a texture and taste standpoint, it isn’t as sweet as white rice and the texture is coarser in comparison. However, after plenty of times eating brown rice, it helped make my bowel movements feel regular during the times that I ate these. Admittedly, it takes a while to get used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s the type of rice you’d look for and it also helps set you up for other types such as red rice.

 

Featured image from: https://pixabay.com/en/brown-rice-risotto-mushrooms-699836/

Feeding the Speedy Brain: On Diet and ADHD

2017 was a year of plot twists, and one of my biggest would come in the last weeks of the year. Although I had known for some years that having epilepsy had certainly wired my brain a little differently, it did not explain everything that was going on in my everyday life like my inability to keep still for even a short period of time. After getting myself checked, I finally learned that I was one among several million adults worldwide coping with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or more commonly known as ADHD.

Most persons living with ADHD have been diagnosed in childhood. In many cases, this arises from parents and teachers noting a child’s difficulties with schoolwork or other behaviors requiring much attention and focus. However, there are some persons (such as yours truly) who remain undiagnosed all the way into their adult years. This can be due to an adult’s increased insight and awareness about one’s behaviors and their consequences, or because seemingly ‘minor’ quirks and impairments in childhood become more apparent or a cause for concern in an adult’s environment. As of now, there has been no one cause or etiologic agent pinpointed for ADHD. Much still remains to be learned about this condition.

There are several approaches to managing ADHD, ranging from the use of medications and behavioral therapy, as well as lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise. Yet there is still this question: what can people who have ADHD eat, and what foods should they avoid?

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Photo from: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

One food that may be beneficial for people coping with ADHD is omega-3. Yes, that same fatty acid that is ‘good for the heart’ may also be ‘good for the brain’. Omega-3 may be found in fatty fish, as well as in flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans. For most people, it would not hurt to have a few servings of these foods each week, to help both the heart and the brain work better!

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Photo from: https://pixabay.com

It has also been suggested that probiotics may help manage ADHD symptoms. However, there are still few studies regarding the connection of gut bacteria to ADHD, and whether probiotics do have any benefit. All the same, probiotics have other health benefits even for people without ADHD, as intake of these ‘good bacteria’ also help improve digestive function and the immune system.  

Previous studies conducted in the US and UK have suggested that food additives such as artificial colors were associated with hyperactivity in children. Other studies have also suggested that high sugar intake may also be associated with hyperactivity. At present though, this evidence is not yet strong enough to show that intake of these foods causes or worsens ADHD symptoms. Nevertheless, regardless of whether one has ADHD or not, it is still a healthy practice to reduce intake of foods that have high amounts of additives. Cutting down on sugar is also considered good dietary advice for all ages, especially as part of preventing heart disease and other disorders later in life.

Some people claim that caffeine intake may help their ADHD symptoms. While it is true that caffeine may work in synergy with some of the medications used to treat ADHD, it does not work the same for everyone. Other patients claim to have no benefits from drinking coffee, or claim that this only makes their situation worse!

Regardless of these prescriptions and prohibitions, the general advice for people with ADHD (or with most other conditions for that matter) is to continue to eat healthily: hydrate, have adequate intake of fruits and vegetables, have enough protein both from plant and animal sources, and avoid excessive sugars, fats, and above all trans-fats. That is advice that we can surely stand with!

So what does this mean for us at Team Glasses? As it turns out, nixing the soda, chips, and fast foods might have been one of our better ideas. All the same, we probably won’t be going back on coffee any time soon since this still triggers attacks of GERD or epileptic seizures.

Just like with all conditions, ADHD manifests differently for each person, and no two persons have the same exact treatment. It’s just one thing to contend with in this never-ending quest for wellness in the life of two gourmands. All the same, we began this blog to help readers like you to deal with this, while still enjoying great food.

(note: featured photo from: https://goo.gl/images/2VNTpu)

Turning the tables: Capsaicin for people with heartburn

 

 

For many of us dealing with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spicy food is a thing of the past for most of us because it triggers the acid and burping. There are exceptions of course, which I’m grateful from an extra pinch of ground pepper to some wasabi paste, but nothing quite beats the heat chili peppers bring.

However, a 2016 study titled “Influence of capsaicin infusion on secondary peristalsis in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.” by Yi et. al., shows that repeated intake of capsaicin / chili peppers may help reverse the effect of heartburn, as far as people who have triggers with chili peppers are concerned.

According to the said study, people who ate a meal with chili peppers makes the symptoms flare up at the first instance, but repeated exposure to capsaicin may reverse the effects of heartburn. Yet despite these findings, there are still a number of people who complain that consuming chili in any form makes their reflux symptoms flare up. When it comes to GERD, there’s no really telling what sets one’s symptoms without a little carefully thought out trial-and-error.

 

Before one hits the pickled jalapeños, one has to keep in mind that mild chili peppers are the ones best suited for consumption for most people, with or without reflux. In fact some of the hottest peppers can even give chefs and cooks slight burns just from touch.. Tasting and handling aside, the best way to check a pepper’s heat level is with the Scoville Heat Scale. The higher a chili pepper is on the heat scale score, the hotter the pepper is.

 

 

 

Scoville Heat Units Chilli Pepper
1,569,300 – 2,200,000 Carolina Reaper Pepper (PuckerButt Pepper Company, Fort Mill, South Carolina).
350,000 – 577,000 Red Savina habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 350,000 Habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)
100,000 – 225,000 Birds Eye pepper
50,000 – 100,000 Thai pepper (Capsicum annuum)
30,000 – 50,000 Cayenne pepper (Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum frutescens )
30,000 – 50,000 Tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens)
5,000 – 10,000 Chipotle, a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked.
2,500 – 5,000 Jalapeño (Capsicum annuum)
100 – 500 Pepperoncini, pepper (also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, and golden Greek peppers.
100 – 500 Pimento
0 Sweet Bell pepper

Unfortunately with heartburn, nothing is completely certain since different people have different reactions to their own set of personal triggers, so on one hand, there is hope that repeated attempts to eat chili peppers will increase resistance effects in the long run. On the other hand, it could also give one a pain in the neck after trying something out and the acid shoots up crazier than before.

Personally, I think it’s worth a shot at least once, not because YOLO, but the long term benefits helps one with heartburn live a step nearer to normalcy. Think of it as someone trying to adapt by increasing resistances to an allergy like seafood. But as a precaution, keep heartburn medication on hand in case it doesn’t pan out. Good luck and we hope this helps you out.

References:

http://www.refluxmd.com/turn-heat-turn-heartburn/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28018112

https://www.chilliworld.com/factfile/scoville-scale

 

Knackering for a crunchy snack: Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar

It’s no secret that Kat and I love learning new things about science, and it sure was a treat seeing advances, advocacies, and innovations during our adventure in this year’s National Science and Technology Week by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

To our surprise and delight, the said event also gave us more than mental stimulation; it also helped us to find food we can actually eat due to our respective conditions. In the same place we discovered RiMo Curls, we found the Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar, a locally produced and healthier equivalent to the rice krispies snack.

IMG_4549Compared to regular rice, brown rice is a good source of dietary fiber, and also includes vitamins and minerals like B6, magnesium, niacin, thiamine, and manganese. Typically, it has a more chewy texture, which is something Filipinos are not quite used to compared to white rice. Given this particular problem (even if it’s the healthier option), how to get Filipinos and especially kids to eat more brown rice?

 

NutriDense Corp, along with technologies by the DOST – Food and Nutrition Research Institute, came up with Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar. It’s made out of brown rice crispies, honey, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, soy protein, and iodized salt.

My first bite reminded me of the Kelogg’s rice krispies cereal, but with contrasting flavors which improved it all together. The dried fruits added a touch of sweet and sour to the overall texture, while the sesame seeds and nuts gave another layer of crunch. Thankfully it was only mildly sweet because the makers used honey instead of refined white sugar. However, the nuts and soy ingredients pose a concern to those who have allergies to these ingredients.

We also have the energy bar’s nutritional facts in the image below. Given this, we think it’s a good step in the right direction since most of our locally-made snack bar selections are not on the healthy side of things.

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Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar is manufactured and distributed by Nutri Dense Food Manufacturing Corporation. For more information, please contact the company at:

2/F UP-ISSI Bldg. E. Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St., UP Diliman Compound, Quezon City, Philippines

TeleFax No: (075) 600 8251

Mobile No/s: +63 999 729 0234 / +63 916 641 8611 / +63 923 703 2198

Email: nutridensefmc@yahoo.com.ph