Wednesday, May 27, 2015

{TPM Kitchen} CLEANer EATING: Chia Meatball Recipe {Gluten-Free + Egg-Free + Dairy-Free}

Since the start of 2014, I've started becoming interested in substituting ingredients for healthier alternatives when I am cooking.  It just started with using less sugar and/or dairy, until I made the full transition to stop using white and brown sugar altogether, and only exclusively use organic coconut sap sugar.  I've also started using less eggs, and started using chia seeds and ground flax seeds as my egg substitutes. I find it very rewarding to be able to cook a meal or bake a treat that is more nutritious and healthier for my family.  

My kids all suffer from varying degrees of eczema, which are all brought about my certain food intolerance; specifically wheat, eggs, dairy. On our best days, we just deal with the minor discomfort of itchiness; worst days, we change bed sheets often because one kid cannot control her scratching, which leads to open scabs and blood marks on the sheets.

What I am aiming for is a healthy balance of all the food groups, and minimize (not cut out) the consumption of sugar, dairy and egg...all the usual suspects in eczema flare-ups.  I noticed that the flare-ups usually follow after we binge on pasta/bread.  If they consume too much wheat from bread and pasta in consecutive days, then they start to get a little bit of itch on their arms, so I've always been the "evil mom" who puts their consumption of wheat at a minimum.

I share my recipe for my version of Chia Meatballs that is Gluten-Free + Egg-Free + Dairy-Free

I mentioned in a previous post that I have added a new section to the blog called, CLEANer EATING

Healthy Ideas & Yummy Recipes tested in the TPM Kitchen
What To Eat When You Want To Eat Clean

BUT let me just be clear that we are not going vegan/vegetarian... we love meat too much! Neither are we hopping on the paleo bandwagon... we also love our carbs as much!  The purpose here is just to manage our food intolerance.

One of the "healthier alternative ingredients" that has been making the rounds in my kitchen is Chia Seeds. I use to just sprinkle them on our yogurts as a topping, or make into a pudding to go with my minatamis na saba.

But while I was doing research on how to go egg-less in cooking and baking, I was delighted to learn that Chia work really well in place of eggs. When soaked in water, it produces a gel like mixture that makes for a great binding agent.  I've used chia to replace eggs on many instances since then.

There are many health benefits to adding chia seeds to your diet, which you can read in this article by the Huffington Post.

Chia Meatballs Recipe
Gluten-Free + Egg-Free + Dairy-Free

I am now sharing my recipe for Chia Meatballs. This is one of the very first recipes I've played around with... taking out the eggs, adding chia gel; taking out the breadcrumbs, and adding flaxseeds and rolled oats.  Even with all the healthy modifications, it is still very flavorful.

I make a big batch, and store them in containers good for one serving. Depends on how I am going to use them, I adjust the sizes of the meatballs. Sometimes, I make them bigger than what is shown. And when I know that I am going to use them for Shepherd's Pie, I do not bother to shape them into balls anymore.
 When I am pressed for time, I do not even shape them into balls, I just put them into containers to freeze. Take them out at a later time and shape them just before cooking.

I always double the recipe because I use this as my basic meat filling. I make them into fist-sized balls and turn them into burger patties for the kids' merienda. I can also just add some curry sauce over the patties and have Hamburger Curry Rice.

I serve with spaghetti sauce on top of pasta (or quinoa pasta if they are in the middle of an eczema attack) and call it Spaghetti Bolognese.  Sometimes, I add mozzarella cheese in the middle of the balls and make some marinara sauce to make Italian meatballs.

The kids also love it when I simmer the meatballs with some chicken broth and add some veggies. The mixture of chicken broth and beef from the meatballs, makes for a really tasty soup. Add some cheese before I serve, winner talaga with the kids!

I pour mushroom sauce over it and top with truffle oil and some more mushroom for variety.

I forego rolling them into balls and use them for the meat base of my Shepherd's Pie. So many things I do with this recipe! We also eat them as is! Yummy when dipped in raspberry or mango-pineapple jam.

I take them out whenever the kids say, "We're hungry!" It has saved me countless of times when I run out of ideas to serve them for lunch baon, or when I get home late and there's not much time to prepare for dinner.

CHIA MEATBALL RECIPE (No Eggs, No Bread Crumbs)

Meatball mixture:
500 gms ground beef ( I use sirloin)
500 gms lean ground pork (I use lomo or kasim)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sage
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chia seeds mixed in 2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup oatmeal (make sure it's labeled gluten free if you are trying to avoid gluten in your diet)
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp soy sauce / Bragg's Liquid Aminos

* If you have a hard time looking for chia seeds, flax seeds, Bragg's Liquid Aminos in your grocery, you can get them at Healthy Options like I do.


1. In a cup, whisk together the chia seeds and warm water and let stand for about 20 minutes. Make sure to mix once or twice as the chia seeds tend to clump together as they start to form into a gel.

2. Mix together all the dry ingredients for the meatball. Add in the meat and the liquid seasoning. Make sure to mix well to evenly distribute the seasonings.

3. Divide into half and place in freezer safe plastic containers. alternatively, you can also roll them into balls.

4. Keep in freezer until ready to use.

Try it and lemme know how yours turn out!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scott's #Momazing Moments


That magical moment when our child surprises us with a milestone they achieve for the first time and we feel a powerful mix of emotions - pride at their flourishing development, and reassurance that we are doing a great job as a mom. It is that time when he writes his name for the first time; when he reads on his own; he got into the school varsity team after training endlessly; or when she graduates with high academic honors, when she bakes a cookie on her own.

These are just a few of the special instances with the kids that spark a sense of pride, accomplishment and joy in moms. In that moment, we feel surprised, happy, fulfilled. In that moment, we feel #momazing.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DOLE-licious Quinoa Pizza Crust Recipe {Gluten-Free}

Thank you to WhimsicalSushi for creating this custom illustrated recipe for me. 
For inquiries, email

Everyone in my family loves pizza! We regularly have pizza nights at home, with the toppings all lined up so everyone can just make their own pizza by liberally piling on whatever they wish. The kids love it, and consider it a treat. And I also love it because it makes dinner prep easier for me.

DOLE-licious GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!!!

 If you're a long time reader, then you must have seen that when we do pizza nights I try to serve up an assortment of toppings, from gourmet to the simple. But I've noticed through the years that my kids always request for their tried and tested combo of ham, bacon and pineapples. My kids all love Hawaiian pizza because the combination of flavors from the tomato sauce, the salty ham and bacon, and the sweet pineapples is just a winner!

Why the need for Gluten-Free?

There are more and more people who are discovering that they are intolerant to wheat and gluten. My two girls are intolerant to wheat. It triggers an eczema / skin asthma attack, so bad that sometimes it leaves my little one scratching at night that her sheets are stained with blood in the morning. If you have kids who suffer from eczema, then you surely know the heartbreak and frustration that I am feeling.

When I got the results from my Food Intolerance Test, it showed that I was intolerant to wheat, as well. That's the reason for my feeling bloated all the time. Plus my headaches were becoming more frequent.

That's when I began researching on how to use alternative flours. At first I was a skeptic because most gluten-free baked goods ask for a variety of flours. I am not a fan of having too many kinds of flour in the pantry because I know each recipe only needs a small amount of each kind of flour and most are quite expensive. Nakakahinayang if I just end up throwing them away because I couldn't use them all up.

I also know that most of them taste yuck! Let's be honest, we all heard how gluten-free food taste like, right? Dirt dry. Boringly bland. In other words, nothing we would eat if we didn't have to. Certainly nothing worthy to post in a blog about.

So I researched a lot about gluten-free recipes just so my girls and I can still enjoy our pasta, bread, cookies and pizza, but now made gluten-free! I read about a pizza crust using cauliflower, but that sounded like too much work. I found another one that said substitute with all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, xanthan gum and psyllium husk... teka lang, ano daw? xanthan what? psyllium what? Di bale na lang!

So the past few months I started experimenting. I researched online, baked, tweaked the recipe. Repeat. And then I came upon a gluten-free pizza crust recipe using only 4 ingredients. Boom!

And this one doesn't taste like it is gluten free... which means it is not yuck! Promise!

Enter the Quinoa Pizza Crust

Why you should give this a try:
1. The dough only requires 4 ingredients (quinoa, salt, water and olive oil)
2. It is very simple to make.
3. Unlike some alternative pizza crusts, this one closely resembles "the original" in taste and texture.\

The dough requires only 4 ingredients (quinoa, salt, water and olive oil) and is amazingly simple to make. It does involve a little planning ahead because the quinoa needs to soak overnight; but other than that, it’s as easy as making pancakes.

When I plan to make it for dinner, I simply just soak the quinoa first thing when I wake up in the morning to make it ready for dinner time prep. Or if I want to make it for lunch, then I just soak the quinoa after I've eaten dinner and just leave it on the kitchen counter overnight.

I used a mixture of red and white quinoa because that's what I have on hand. But you can also use just white quinoa, and the end product will have a "whiter" appearance, which will resemble "regular" pizza even more.

After soaking for about 8-12 hours, the uncooked and soaked quinoa is blended in a high-speed blender with salt, water and olive oil until smooth. The resulting mixture resembles a very thick pancake batter that bakes into a chewy, golden crust that tastes just like pizza crust made from wheat flour.

DOLE-licious Hawaiian Quinoa Pizza Recipe
illustrated recipe done by whimsicalsushi

Makes: One 10 x 15 pizza crust.
recipe loosely adapted from here

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup water, add a tablespoonful at a time if dough is too think.
2-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Soak uncooked quinoa with enough water to cover for 8-12 hours. Rinse quinoa
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the baking pan with heavily oiled foil. This step is important because the quinoa crust can be difficult to remove when you don't oil and line the pan.
3. Add water and salt and process in a high-speed blender until the mixture resembles a thick pancake batter.
4. Pour the batter into a baking pan covered with heavily oiled foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
5. Take out from oven and put desired pizza toppings. See below for a list of toppings for Hawaiian Pizza. But feel free to put anything you want. I've tried this using a pesto base instead of tomato, and piled it with mushrooms and cheese.
6. Put back into the oven and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Phenomenal Tips:
* Optional: For a more flavorful crust, seasonings can be added. I've tried adding 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp homemade celery salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan / or nutritional yeast ( cheese alternative if you want to make it dairy-free / vegan)

* I cannot stress enough that you have to oil the pan - heavily! After baking, I take the pizza with foil and slice the entire pizza on a wooden board. Then we peel off the foil as we get our individual slices. I find that to be the easiest way.


1 cup (8 oz.) Dole Sweet Italian Garlic and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce
3/4 cup (2 oz.) sliced bacon, cooked
3/4 cup ham, cooked
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can (8 oz.) DOLE Pineapple Tidbits, drained

1. Spoon Dole Sweet Italian Garlic and Mushroom Spaghetti Sauce over crust. It is optional, but I noticed that when I simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, the flavors intensify. But if you are in a hurry, you can skip that.
2. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. 
3. Top with ham, bacon and Dole Pineapple Tidbits.
4. Bake at 425ºF., 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Such a simple recipe for a gluten-free pizza... that closely resembles the "original" in taste and texture.
The quinoa crust is stable enough to hold all the toppings, too!

DOLE-licious Hawaiian Pizza Recipe

Since not everyone in my family has to go gluten-free, we also made two pizzas made from a "regular" store-bought crust.

You can still use the recipe I shared above, but just start with the steps for the Dole Hawaiian Pizza Toppings.

The toppings are lined up on the dining table and everyone gets a free hand on how they want their pizza to be. I usually just use our favorite store bought pizza dough, Village Gourmet's pizza base for extra convenience. Often enough, I also use tortilla as pizza base when my family want their pizza ultra thin and crispy. See my previous post on how to use tortilla for pizza and call it tarte flambee.

DOLE-licious Blog Giveaway!
I want to share the DOLE love with you, me dear readers. So I will be giving away 4 baskets to 4 winners!
4 winners will win a DOLE-licious gift basket containing: 
1 can (822g) Pineapple Tidbits
1 can (822g) Pineapple Chunks
1 pack (1 kg) Tomato Sauce
1 pack (1kg) Sweet Style Butter & Cream Spaghetti Sauce
2 cans (240ml) Pineapple Juice
2 cans (822g) Tropical Fruit Cocktail
1 Pot Holder
1 Microfiber Kitchen Towel

Easy to join:

1. Like DolePh and The Phenomenal Mama on Facebook and Instagram
2. Post a photo on Facebook and/or Instagram (you must do at least one to qualify). It can be a photo of a dish you made at home, or a photo showing you are having fun in the kitchen. It can be solo with food or with others. Set to Public so I can see your post.
Just follow the easy steps in rafflecopter to make sure your entires are counted:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raffle period is from May 23 - June 5, 2015 midnight.
Posting on both Facebook and Instagram earns you more entries. It can be the same photo on FB and IG.
Four (4) winners will be drawn via Rafflecopter one week after the contest ends, and will be notified via email.
Winners should reply to email within one week from notification date. If no reply, another winner will be drawn.
DOLE Philippines will ship the gift basket to each winner.
Open to all The Phenomenal Mama readers with a valid Metro Manila delivery address.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

TPM Kitchen | Phenomenal Tip: Homemade Bacon

How do I love bacon? Hmmm... Let me count the ways...

Ever since, I've started on the path to CLEANer EATING, I've consciously tried to look for ways to cut out the "poison" in the everyday meals I serve my family.  I just want to lessen the preservatives in the food we eat.  We don't have any intentions of turning vegan, vegetarian, etc. Just a healthy balance of everything.:) Which means that we don't really give up bacon... we just don't eat the processed one from the grocery.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Electrolux Do More with Less + Salmon Onigiri Recipe

One of the things I enjoy most about being a homemaker is that it gives me so many opportunities to be practical and resourceful when it comes to managing my home. I find happiness when I am able to look for a way to make the most out of our household budget or upcycle something that seems unusable at first glance. Not only am I able to save, but more important than that, I am able to model for my kids how it is like to be a good steward of our resources.

One of the areas of managing my home which needs a lot of thought and planning is the managing of food. Meal planning is important because without it I am often faced with forgotten leftovers, unused ingredients rotting away in the ref or products way past their expiration date in the pantry.

Electrolux knows Filipino moms are inventive, practical and resourceful especially when it comes to managing their homes. From transforming last night's leftover dish into a deliciously, mouthwatering meal to upcycling .... Moms truly know how to wisely maximize their resources at home. And after attending the Electrolux event wherein they encourage everyone to Do More With Less, you can be sure that I will be inspired to do leftover makeovers more often.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Recipes for Home Cooked Meals with Dole Chef Mom

As someone who is in charge of cooking and doing the groceries, I always feel like there is a heavy burden on my shoulders to choose the best of what's available in the supermarket. As a home-chef, I feel like I am expected to be the maker of all things wonderful and healthy for my family.  I want to prepare healthy meals, but I don't want to be stressed in the kitchen preparing it.  So I try to be a wise shopper and choose products that are healthy and at the same time convenient for a busy mom like me.  I believe that cooking healthy meals should be fun and easy, so I can also spend time with my family.

As a mom who cooks, there are certain brands that I trust, and Dole is one of them. When I learned that Dole wanted to partner with me for their Dole Chef Mom program, I knew instantly that it was something I wanted to be part of, a campaign that I am proud to be part of.

Here I am with my personalized Dole Chef Mom apron, which I now wear when I cook in my own kitchen. teehee! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Calima Jewellery: Pre-Columbian Jewelry

Like any other woman, I appreciate fine jewelry and accessories. I always feel more polished when I am wearing one. So when I got an invite to visit the Calima Jewellery showroom in Makati with some of my friends, I immediately said yes.

Calima owner, Claudia Hernandez is a Colombian native and a long-time Philippine resident. She brings her Colombian roots to the Philippines through her brand of pre-Columbian jewelry, Calima. Just in case you are wondering where the name Calima comes from, it is named after an indigenous group in Colombia.