Friday, May 27, 2016

Wedding Day Shape-Up: Nourishing Snacks

It’s wedding season once again and many brides who are getting married this June or this year are really trying their best to look great, whether that’s getting in shape or eating well for glowing skin.

There are so many ways you can stay healthy and nourished on your big day but let’s focus on snacks for now. The secret to healthy snacking is to plan ahead of time and making sure they are within reach. Think of it has having a mini take-out section at your own home. Second, it’s important to focus on high protein snacks because they help you control your total calorie intake. So, stock your chiller, freezer and pantry with healthy and nutrient-dense foods, that way it’s easier to fill up your body with nutrients than empty calories.

My struggle 3 years ago was to really find the time to make healthy snacks or even meals for myself and my fiancé. Going out to eat, which is what we usually do is an option but it would save you a lot of money if you do your own.

Below is a great graphic from on how to reach your wedding goals



Either you eat them as is, as toast with high protein bread or use them in your protein smoothie and dip. Avocado is everyone’s favorite because of its satiety value.


My husband loves dips such as hummus, tapenade, baba ghanoush, white bean dip, labneh, spiced carrot dip, yogurt spinach or black bean dip just to name a few. They are great to have on stock in the chiller and make sure if you have some crackers on hand such as ancient grain cracker or seed crackers along with some cut-up fruits and vegetables.

Chia Pudding Parfait or Overnight Chia and Oats

Pumpkin Seed Chia Pudding (Photo by

This one doubles up as a snack or breakfast. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the chiller for a week days. The ratio is 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid plus extra liquid for the chia seeds. You can use any milk you like. The simplest procedure is to combine them in a jar with a healthy sweetener and let it sit overnight. To make it more fancy, you can fold in some dried fruits, seeds or nuts, then top with fresh fruits the following day. It's also a great vehicle to add flavor into the mixture such as roasted pumpkin, apple or bananas, cherry, mango or blueberry puree or even matcha and chocolate.

Fruit and Nut Bar/ Granola

Almond Granola 

If having granola with Greek yogurt and fruit is too common for you then make them into bars. It can be filled with oat or quinoa flakes or just pure fruit and nuts. A raw energy bar is made with pureed dates and nut butter as a binding agent and they are molded into a baking pan, chilled, before cutting into bar or just form them into balls. Sometimes they are baked for a crunchier texture. Here’s a great homemade granola bar recipe.

Miso Soup 

Something unusual for your snacks but it’s a great tummy filler. Miso soup with wakame, tofu and green onions is a classic but adding some poached eggs and a bit of green vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or watercress would be a great way to ease up your hunger. I usually skip the dashi stock and use water or chicken stock if it’s available. The miso paste is quite tasty enough.


Definitely more soups. I love to make a big batch of soup and freeze the rest for emergency purposes. They are very helpful to satisfy your cravings and hunger giving you lots of nourishment and of course satisfaction. Pair it with ancient grain/seeded crackers or roasted chickpeas as your croutons for added texture. Some kale chips would be a great accompaniment too. One of my favorites is the French green lentil soup or roasted tomato soup.

Cheesy Kale Chips

Lettuce Wraps 

This is another dish that can be made in advance for your lunch or dinner but it can also be a great snack in smaller portion. Cooked protein such as grilled chicken or shrimp, some quinoa or bacon tempeh is wrap in romaine, lollo rosa leaves or even kale leaves then topped with more raw vegetables and herbs. Don’t forget the sauce. It can be a pesto sauce, nut sauce, a vinaigrette or a yogurt sauce. The sky’s the limit and there are so many variations you can make. This a fresh alternative to using tortilla wrap as well as the leafy vegetables are hats-off higher in nutrients.

 Roasted Chickpeas 

Roasted Golden Chickpeas (Photo by
It’s like eating nuts or seeds but something different. They are high in protein and low in fat. If you love eating nuts and seeds for snacks, you would love roasted chickpeas for a change. They can also be flavored in so many different ways like you would do with nuts and seeds.

Now, that you know what to eat, there's no more excuse not to have them on hand. Each snack has many possibilities, but for now, let's keep the preparation simple and you can explore more recipes after your wedding day. Remember it's not a diet but a lifestyle that you will bring with you for a lifetime. Don't forget to read about healthy snacks and high protein snacks  at for more information, recipes and idea. Finally, make sure you have inner peace because what's inside will eventually come out. So smile, relax and enjoy your wedding day.

Are there any healthy snacks you would like to add?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

When Life Begins at 40

God's message to me on my birthday. Around 12:30am May 11. Psalm 66:12

Six months ago, I told myself that I would get back in shape and take a photo on my birthday with a toned body. It never happened. I got "pregnant" last January but later found out last March that I had a blighted ovum and had to undergo D & C last April. After D& C, I felt that I'm still having pregnancy symptoms carried over for the month of May. I also got oven burns twice on my arm while baking banana and zucchini bread. Now I have more stories to tell to my future grandchildren on how I got those burns. Also, I am still not over with the unnecessary hospital bill  asking God why it happened. So, I guess, turning 40 is not really exciting after all. Yet, despite all those challenges that my husband and I faced for the past few months, I know the big 40 has a bigger meaning than just having aches and pains all over your body. At this age, being able to conceive is so much harder and more difficult to handle. I may never have  my pre-pregnancy body back and my energy levels may not be the same as before. To give me a bit of credit, I was working out a lot before and I only realized now that I could have been a teacher in the fitness industry. Pilates would be my choice. I ended up cooking more and even eating more and more instead of being physically active. Muscles sag if you don't use it and I can't even do a full push up anymore not even one. So, it only means starting all over again every single day.

God's word a few weeks after my D&C. Always a comfort to read the Word of God. 1Peter 5:14

They said 40 is the new 30 and I would believe that I look younger than my age. That depends on the type of lighting being used though or maybe I'm just in denial that I'm halfway through my lifespan here on earth. I actually became lazy doing workouts and just prefer to read a book or take a nap after putting my little one to sleep. The thought of working out came to mind but I keep putting it off for tomorrow. In other words, I procrastinate. I have a lot of reasons not to do it. As a stay-at-home mom, I may have the luxury of time but in reality, I don't. I take care of the house and I have a small business that I need to expand which has long been overdue. 
As a late bloomer, I have to put things off for the sake of other people: taking care of my late-father and now, taking care of my son. Something's got to give, I can't be all and do all, all at the same time. I've learned to accept that there's a time for everything and that everything can't happen all at once. It taught me a great lesson the hard way when God would send a circumstance to humble me just because I'm too proud of what I've done so far.

Being 40 is always associated with mid-life crisis but wouldn’t be better if we associate it with mid-life celebrations? If you’re in your 20’s and you’re still figuring out what to do with your life because you feel you’re going nowhere and haven’t really accomplish anything, then you’re on the right tract. You’re still young so don’t worry about it.  If you’re almost 30 and you dread saying goodbye to 29 because it’s either you’re worried you won’t get married at all or your resume is not impressive enough to get you a job, don’t worry about it also because God knows and He has a better plan for you. If you’re almost 40 and you fear and felt that you haven’t done significant with your life or you had another setback, congratulations, you just made it.

So, yesterday morning, I woke up sneezing and sniffing that lasted until afternoon. I also have to make granolas. Thank you to God’s Grace Farm. I am thankful that God has kept me busy during the day but I was really tired even after putting Nate to sleep. By the time Nate is asleep, I'm no longer sleepy so I started writing asking God if I could extend my birthday (because time flew so fast that I wasn't able to enjoy it) by not doing anything except to be taken care of, to scribble on my journal about my dream cafĂ© and food boutique and to have one on one undivided date with my husband. It was simple but I have to remember what the last 40 years have been most especially on what God has done for me.

God's surprise to me on my birthday: Make Granola. It was really an exhausting but grateful for the provisions.

Since I have to say to goodbye for being 39, hitting 40 doesn’t mean that I’ve achieved everything already. Honestly, I am still figuring out what I really want to do with my life. We have dreams and desires we want to achieve and sometimes we have to put them on hold because there are more important things we need to attend to first. Being the late bloomer and always the second best, I felt that my work has never been recognized or complimented that much. I don’t promote myself or advertise my work as much as people do. Yet I remember the video that my sister sent me. It’s not important for other people to know what you have done because God knows what you have done and that’s the most important thing.
Nevertheless, 40 is a great number. No need to hide because everyone will get to that number somehow. I have to be proud of it and embrace it. Women shouldn’t be afraid to say how old they are nor be ashamed of the things they haven’t accomplished. It only means that we are getting wiser every single day because of the experiences we’ve been going through. It also means that we are getting closer and closer to the day that we will meet the Lord. Not there but almost there.

Here's a few thoughts to ponder from Faith Street:

Life begins at 40 because’ you’ve traveled just enough to know what your life is, what it has been and what you want it to be on down the line. Sure, some people know that earlier, and over the years I’ve looked with envy at those who seemed to know it sooner than me. But for the rest of us, 40 is a nice round number.

Still worried about your age? I hope not because life indeed begins at 40. Celebrate it.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Zucchini Fritters with Spinach Yogurt Dip

A few days before I was confined at the hospital, I went grocery shopping so I can cook a few dishes ahead of time. So I thought I would make beef, pork and chicken to cover the days that I wasn’t around. I also had cut up vegetables and chicken stock prepared for soup and some fruits in the fridge drawer. All of these are mostly for Nate. But what I’ve failed to do is to prepare more vegetable dishes for him. My concern is that if I do prepare it ahead of time and the person who is reheating is not so knowledgeable about it, the vegetables would become a waste and Nate might not eat it. With John’s mom not around, John and I have no choice but to leave Nate with the trusted helper. Yet with vegetables, instead of being at the bottom of the food pyramid, it has become an occasional side dish. When I came home from the hospital, I almost forgot if Nate had his bowel movement already. So, the following day, when I learned that he didn’t have one for three days, I decided to make these Zucchini Fritters.

I made these a few times before and he really likes it very much. I usually serve it with tzatziki with all the grated cucumber, onions and garlic except no dill or mint. What he will do is that he will spoon the sauce into his mouth forgetting that he has to dip the fritters in the sauce. There were days that I would make this for him most especially if I don’t know what to feed him. Yes, I also ran out of ideas too. So, sometimes his tzatziki sauce would only just be Greek yogurt, lemon and salt. Surprisingly, he would still eat it. I’ve trained him how to eat Greek yogurt before he turned one. I would always pair it with steamed potato drizzled with honey. Praise God he still eats it until now.

Well, Nate wasn’t able to have his bowel movement on the 4th day, so we have to insert a suppository as advised by John’s sister. He was such a pity to look not knowing what we are doing to him. Eventually, it came out after a few minutes and we felt relieved.

I wanted to add more greens to his diet so instead of serving with tzatziki, I’m serving him this spinach Greek yogurt with golden raisins.

Zucchini Fritters with Spinach Yogurt Dip

300 grams spinach
2 shallots
2 tbsp golden raisins
½ tbsp olive oil
¾ cup (200g) Greek yogurt
½ tbsp lemon juice

2 pcs (350 grams) zucchini
½ white onion
1 garlic clove
½ tsp sea salt
25 g Greek feta
1 egg
3 tbsp (25 g) plain flour
2 tbsp (15 g) cornstarch
2 to 4 tbsp olive oil for pan frying

To prepare the dip, boil a pot of water for blanching. Remove the leaves of the spinach, finely chopped the shallots and roughly chop the golden raisins then set aside. Prepare an ice bath for blanching. When the water has boiled, add some salt and blanch the spinach for 20 seconds, then transfer in an ice bath to cool, then drain and squeeze out the excess water. Finely chop the spinach.

In a small pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the oil and the shallots and sweat for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the golden raisins and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, combine the spinach, the shallot mixture, yogurt, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with more golden raisins.These can be covered and stored in the refrigerator until it's ready to serve.

To prepare the fritters, grate the zucchini, onion and mince the garlic Combine with salt and place in a colander set in the sink and set aside for 20 minutes to soften. Crumble the feta with a fork, crack the egg and measure the flour and the cornstarch.

Squeeze excess water from the zucchini and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine the zucchini, feta and egg. Stir in both of the flour, season and stir to combine.

To cook the fritters, heat oil in a large non-stick pan. Then, drop in tablespoons of the batter and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate with a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Continue cooking the rest of the batter.

Serve the fritters, warm or at room temperature with the dip.

Prepare all the ingredients first for the dip. Then prepare the fritters and when the fritters are ready, combine all the dip ingredients together.

Now that I'm back, he's bowel movement is more regular and I hope that he would continue to eat his vegetables and explore new ones.