Honey Nutribar: The Future Disaster-Relief Snack

In a country where natural disasters happen often, food that’s both filling and nutritious is a necessity. Unfortunately, most relief packs from donations consist of either crackers and biscuits, canned goods, or things like noodles or rice which require potable water. The last two options have downsides to them, which are the problem of artificially made preservatives, as well as the lack of sustainable potable water or water-filtration systems in evacuation centers and in ground zero.

If my guilty pleasure of watching people who eat military or civilian Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) has taught me anything, ready to eat foods need to meet certain criteria.  Since its purpose is to be ready to eat even after a year of storage or more, an MRE pack should remain edible despite being stored  for a long period of time. It should be easy to transport without crumbling apart readily. And most importantly, these should have a healthy amount of calories and nutrients to make one survive the grueling day or have a substantial meal in a pinch.

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While we don’t have locally-produced MRE packs like in the US or Indonesia, I would have to say that the Honey Nutribar is a step in the right direction.

Created by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), the Honey NutriBar is made out of pinipig (pounded glutinous rice), honey, rice krispies, dried fruits, and pectin. What sets this bar apart from the commercially available ones is the process that’s involved in preserving it.

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Each bar is vacuum-sealed in laminated aluminum foil, and then irradiated at a dose of 1 kilogray gamma radiation at the PNRI’s Multipurpose Irradiation Facility. Now one asks him or herself, “Irradiated? Isn’t that toxic?”. Unlike what happens in nuclear meltdown and accidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima, the irradiation process does not turn the food radioactive, and in fact makes it safer for consumption.

Now what is irradiation exactly? It is the process wherein the food (in this case, the Honey NutriBar) is exposed to electron beams or gamma radiation. Here are some benefits to the irradiation process.

  1. Preservation by destroying or deactivating the organisms that speed up spoilage and decomposition.
  2. Elimination of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella and E.Coli.
  3. Sterilization. Sterilized food last long in storage and a useful source of food for patients with severely-impaired immune systems.
  4. Irradiating does not change the taste or consistency of food.

Currently, the said product is still in development. The team at PNRI has managed to get the Honey Nutribar’s shelf life at nine months, but the staff in the PNRI conference area told us that the team is aiming to make it shelf-stable for two years.

With a bit of help from individuals and groups willing to invest in this research, the Honey Nutribar will soon be able to provide a readily available and tasty source of food during natural disasters and other emergencies. Since these are packed with nutrients and sufficient calories, these snack bars are also great for athletic events and outdoor activities.

 

For more information on the Honey Nutribar, please contact:

Ms. Zenaida M. De Guzman

Head, Biomedical Research Section, Atomic Research Division

Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

Tel. No. 929-6010 to 19 loc. 273

Email: zmedguzman@pnri.dost.gov.ph

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

The Social’s Kashmir

To celebrate our recent triumphs in passing our respective applications to the university we both wanted, we decided to go back to something right up Lee’s alley, and that is to dine with Indian cuisine.

After walking through the Poblacion area, we find ourselves in the midst of the colorful hues of the refurbished steel containers that contrasts the LED lights, palm shrubs and artwork, all found in a small food and art place called The Social. The place does not only feel like a place for expats as most places are in this side of Makati, it also feels like a place where young professionals or college students can grab a bite and some brews after a long day at work or school.

Inside its gated compound, we picked Kashmir and ordered up Lamb Curry with salted lassi for Lee and Palak Paneer with sweet lassi for Kat.

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Lamb Curry

The Lamb Curry’s taste is adjusted to the Filipino palate, slightly sweet but with a bit of a kick to it. With its thick consistency, it reminds us of caldereta. At the same time, the lamb is firm and tender which perfectly suits the pita bread that accompanies it.

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Palak Paneer

The Palak Paneer on the other hand is a mix of spinach and cottage cheese thickened into a gravy or curry-like stew. One could say that it was a good idea that we actually ordered some extra pita bread for this dish, which would make a great side dish as well as an appetizer. The Palak Paneer had a full, hearty flavor, but one that was not overwhelmingly spicy. It was the sort of dish that would whet the appetite further, perhaps in preparation for a heavy main course like roasted lamb with rice.

As a matter of preference, since the food is generally either spiced or salty, in hindsight, maybe Lee should have ordered sweet lassi too to pair better with his lamb curry. The sweet lassi that Kat ordered was mild in flavor, with a hint of sourness from the yogurt.

All things considered, we definitely enjoyed our dinner here and as a nice place to hang out and have a relaxed and fun meal with friends.

 

Food Score: 4/5. The balance of flavors was pretty good for the meal itself, but I think the pita bread could be less doughy to better absorb and complement the meal.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Except for the cigarette smoke here and there since the place is an open space without smoking restrictions, the place is vibrant and neat with attentive servers in and around the area.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. The food was quite good, but at the same time, the spices may throw off people with heartburn, depending on one’s own triggers.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Although the food is not heavily spiced, some seasonings may not be very friendly to a few diners. There is a great selection of non-alcoholic and non caffeinated drinks, both in this stall and throughout the rest of the food park. The dining area, though brightly lit, is still friendly on the eyes and unlikely to trigger seizures.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, Kashmir is a welcome experience for us and a great venue in celebrating our recent successes together. After all, great food, good ambiance and a selection that suits people with or without our medical conditions.

Sick Day Specials: Phát Phơ

 

If one’s a regular reader of our blog, one would immediately see a trend. Ever since Kat introduced me to Phơ, we’ve been going to Vietnamese spots for a decent bowl of Phơ when one or both of us is sick.

As of this writing, we both have the snuffles and a bit of a cough (not sure if it’s going to go into an actual flu, hopefully not); so we decided to have a change of pace and try Phát Phơ at the Power Plant Mall.

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Seeing that it was only late merienda (afternoon snack) or early dinner, we both ordered the smaller portions of pho. I kid you not, small portions it was not. Kat had the Pho Bo Vien, flat rice noodles with beef balls. I, on the other hand, had the tried-and-tested chicken noodle soup solution by the name of Pho Ga.

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Pho Ga

For the Pho Ga, the broth was mild but still full of flavor, setting the canvas for the crisp vegetables, firm and chewy rice noodles, and tender chicken slices to shine. With each bite, one is able to savor the flavor of all its ingredients. This may look light on the stomach in a smaller serving but incredibly filling.

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Pho Bo Vien

The Pho Bo Vien was not too strongly seasoned, thus allowing the beef and vegetables’ flavors to come through. It was also another filling, hearty dish worth savoring on a not so great day.

And then we ended our early dinner with some hot lemon tea, perfectly suited to cleanse our palate after our meal.

In summary, we definitely needed the pho break and I leave you a picture of the aftermath of our bowls to describe how good it really was.

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Food Score: 4.5/5. The pho bowls we had hit the spot of what we needed for the afternoon and our respective less-than-stellar health.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. While the place feels a little cramped due to space considerations in the mall, it still had the vibe and feel of a chic fusion Vietnamese restaurant with the subtle hues and color combinations. The servers were thankfully attentive to our needs.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. As someone who has to deal with GERD, I’d have to say that if you’re not doing smaller portions of the meals here, it’s best to share a bowl or meal with someone else. Other than that, I appreciate the fresh ingredients and well flavoured meal we had. Phát Phơ also offers plenty of other options which is something I also appreciate. (One more thing, keep your hands off the Sriracha, no matter how tempting or perfect it might be on the pho.)

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. The caveat with most broths is that one does not know all the stock’s ingredients, so some sensitive diners may be upset or thrown off. That being said, Phát Phơ has other dishes that may be more appealing to diners with specific food limitations.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. All things considered, we enjoyed our meal here at Phát Phơ, something one or a group can enjoy on a rainy day even if you have one or both of our conditions. Pho is not just noodle soup; its ingredients are akin to many used in Filipino cooking, and thus can make the soup more of a hearty stew. We do hope that more people will consider and try out this dish.

P.H.A.T. Pho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gotti’s Ristorante

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Away from our usual haunts in Makati, we found ourselves in Megamall with dad and his business partner for a surprise dinner, and with a challenging budget of 300 per head, we decided to take a chance at Gotti’s Ristorante at the Atrium 4th floor.

The place reminds one of the different modern casual dining areas here in the metro, from sleek designs of solid red mixed with pictures of Italians, to the wooden chairs and cushioned leather seats, as well as the restaurant being lit and pleasant to the eye.

 

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Margherita Pizza

So for dinner, we shared a Margherita pizza. Aside from that, I had the Gambino Gamberi, Kat had the Salisbury Steak with rice, and then dad and his business partner had the Grilled Chicken Pesto and Creamy Basil Bacon pasta.

As we see it, one gets their money’s worth here in terms of volume. The pizza was more or less alright with its crisp thin crust sides, the cheese complements the tomato base and I would say, a guilt-free margherita.

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Creamy Basil Bacon Pasta

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Grilled Chicken Pesto

The grilled chicken pesto and creamy basil bacon pasta had well-cooked pasta for both. As for the taste however, I have to say that it’s a little uninspired and too overdone in either creaminess or the oily feel to the tongue. However, these are things that can be improved on in the future.

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Gambino Gamberi

With the Gambino, it’s quite filling and the stone-baked rice meal concept is actually quite interesting, especially in keeping our meal warm. At the same time, I’m quite a sucker for seafood and they cooked this one well enough.

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Salisbury Steak

The Salisbury steak on rice was served piping hot, with enough cheese on top to make the first bites delectable. However a little sauce coating the rest of the dish would not have been amiss. Nevertheless for a solo dish, this was a pretty tasty deal.

There was actually a lot of food left over from the two pastas that we took some home too. That said, if one wants to be full and hang out with friends at a budget, Gotti’s Ristorante is a good place to dine in.

Food Score: 3.5/5. The food here is a testament to the adage you get what you paid for, with decent taste suited for the Filipino palate and decent serving sizes, but there’s some room for improvement with some hits and some misses here and there.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Gotti’s ambiance is pleasing to the eye, from clean lines and welcoming appearance, it’s a treat to dine here every now and then. The servers were quite attentive as well, which is always welcome.

GERD Score: 3/5. One could say that each order of food is for sharing, so it can be a task for someone with heartburn to go at it alone. That said, there are thankfully some good options for selections, but again, for sharing.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. This is a case again of not knowing what exactly goes in the seasonings and flavorings. Unlike some other establishments, diners don’t have as much control over any dietary limitations and modifications to menu items. However there are enough food selections to cater to the preferences and needs for most diners.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. When one puts everything into consideration, Gotti’s Ristorante is a decent place to dine in on a budget, giving value for money with their serving sizes. The place is certainly great to bring some friends in for a casual dining experience. However, for people who have medical conditions such as ours, we believe they can do better.

Food in the Time of Conflict: The Marawi Siege Crisis, and How We Can Help

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© Mike Gonzalez, 2005.

Photo By Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee) (English Wikipedia) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Bullets and bombs are the most well-known, but not necessarily the most widespread of weapons during times of war and conflict.  Displacement, disease, and hunger affect both combatants and civilians, with the latter often winding up as refugees forced to make perilous journeys to safety away from the ‘Ground Zero’ of war zones, places that had once been home to them. In different parts of the world, refugees from all parts of the world are forced to make do in crowded temporary housing, camps, and evacuation centers. In these places, they often face shortages in basic necessities such as food, potable water, clothing, and medication.

One such ongoing crisis is the siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Philippines. Marawi was a beautiful city, the provincial capital with a rich history because of the heritage of its Muslim and Christian inhabitants. On May 23, 2017, a group of extremists known as the Maute group attacked Marawi City, leading to clashes with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Most of Marawi’s 220,000 residents were forced to flee to neighboring cities and municipalities such as Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City to escape the continuous firefights and airstrikes between government forces and the extremists.

At present, more than 55,000 refugees are staying in Iligan City and neighboring municipalities. The Department of Social Welfare and Development, as well as other agencies involved in the relief and evacuation efforts have to stretch limited supplies of food and other relief goods to meet the needs of refugees already being housed in 37 schools, multi-purpose halls and other buildings converted to evacuation centers, as well as newcomers who have just been rescued from or escaped the conflict zones in Marawi City.

One of the most immediate needs of the refugees is food, whether ready-made or in prepackaged forms. What makes this food crisis more challenging is that food donations for refugees from Marawi must be halal or prepared according to Islamic dietary laws. Halal foods are free from pork or pig by-products, therefore even vegetables and other foods fried in pork lard or fat are not permissible for consumption. Halal foods must also be free from blood, alcohol, and also involves a specific means of humanely butchering animals to be used for food.  

Apart from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, other groups involved in the relief efforts for the refugees from Marawi include the Red Cross, Alagang Kapatid foundation, Save the Children, Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, and the Office of the Vice President. Universities such as the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Naga, De La Salle University, and La Salle Academy in Iligan are also accepting and coordinating donations for the refugees. One group directly involved in preparing and distributing halal food to the refugees is the Art Relief Mobile Kitchen. The Art Relief Mobile Kitchen (ARMK) at present prepares 10,000 to 12,000 meals each day for the evacuees in Iligan City.

Art Relief Mobile Kitchen is no stranger to feeding refugees from calamities after all. Starting all the way back from the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) in 2013, ARMK set up a mobile kitchen near the area where refugees landed from Leyte and other typhoon-hit areas, with the efforts from volunteers and donations either in cash or in kind helped feed the multitude coming to Manila for safety.

Now the same case is happening in the evacuation centers in Illigan and Cotabato City almost a month in with the fighting in Marawi, where there are still reports of people in need of assistance and relief. Let’s not sit back and allow hunger to become a weapon of terror, help out in anyway you can, especially with addressing Art Relief Mobile Kitchen’s herculean task of feeding of our brothers and sisters in Marawi during Ramadan.

To learn more about Art Relief Mobile Kitchen and how to donate, one can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Food Truck Adventures: Flow

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With the heat and humidity in the Father’s Day event and our heavier-than-usual afternoon snack, some dessert was in order. Fortunately, there was one nearby, a handcrafted ice cream stall by the name of Flow.

Instead of the usual scooped ice cream placed on a cone with a Turkish man wearing a fez playing around before giving you your ice cream, Flow does “stir-fried” ice cream, basically using a cold pan or flat surface to turn a milkshake base of different flavors into the consistency of ice cream, flattening it out, and then scraping it out into rolls, served into a cup.

Their ice cream flavors also have catchy names such as Cookie Maltser to Rock Salt & Cheese. For this dessert trip however, we picked the Tsokolate-ughh and Avocadoe flavors.

The ice cream itself reminds me of an actual rolled-up cinnamon bark, which adds to the overall visual appeal of it. It’s light on the palate and bite, unlike typical ice cream that overwhelm one’s tastebuds in one spoonful sometimes.

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Avocadoe

As far as the Avocadoe goes, I’d have to say that the flavors were a bit too sharp for me and perhaps could be countered with a touch more salt or sugar, a matter of preference in my case. The texture was pleasing to the tongue however and cleans the palate well.

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Tsokolate-ughh

The Tsokolate-ughh on the other hand was bittersweet and a treat because of its tablea-like flavor which we appreciate.The consistency was smooth, making it easy on the tongue.

“Fried Ice Cream” is not a new innovation, however Flow Ice Cream takes it to a more delectable level. We look forward to see what else they’ll be stirring up soon!

Food Score: 4/5. The ‘stir-fried’ ice cream here at Flow is definitely good for an afternoon stroll at the park. With its appeal in both preparation and presentation, one can’t go wrong with it.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The stall and the people manning it were organized and the cold plate catches the eye well. The ice cream is served promptly, before it has a chance to melt on a hot day.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While dairy is one of my triggers, however it didn’t do as bad on my GERD as I thought it would, just a few burps and was good to go. If dairy isn’t a trigger, by all means, try their ice cream. I do hope they’ll explore the soy milk option later on.

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. Most of the ingredients used for the ice cream are fresh, without additives. Since it doesn’t undergo a long freezing process like most other ice creams, nor is it in ‘soft’ form there are no extra ingredients added to make it ‘gel’ or become light and fluffy enough for spreading on a plate. In short, it’s all good.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Flow hits the mark with its delectable selection of fried ice cream flavors and the ingredients they use to create the ice cream itself. Definitely worth a taste every time they set up shop in different venues.