Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Best-est Gluten Free Waffles

As you noticed I'm claiming to have the recipe for the best-est gluten free waffles. Walang kokontra, ok!:) Hahaha! But I strongly encourage you to give my recipe a try. I promise you will agree with me that it is indeed the best-est! Even my son who is not gluten intolerant have found a liking to this particular GF waffles.

Gluten-induced eczema

I've mentioned it too many times already that my girls suffer from gluten-induced eczema. All three of us went on a gluten-fast for three months, some of us more diligent than the others. Proud to say that we survived that!

My youngest daughter is so proud that ALL her skin rashes cleared up within a few weeks of gluten starvation. She used to have these marks on her upper arms, similar to the ridges on the surface of a basketball. When they appear, they would be so itchy that when she started scratching, she couldn't stop. If your kids suffer from eczema, I'm sure those itching and sugat are also not new to you. I try to limit putting steroidal cream, reserving those for the worse of attacks, which happens every now and then. The scratching would leave raw wounds on her arms, with blood staining her uniform and bed sheets. Not an exaggeration!

I am very happy to update you all that my youngest hasn't had an attack from March until now. That's four months of being itch-free!!! Woohoo! We are now slowly re-introducing gluten back to our diet. I started serving gluten once a week, then twice, then thrice. I think twice to thrice a week would be a fairly good standard to maintain.

I love baking and my kids love to eat what I bake... so I've been trying to come up with gluten-free alternative to my baked goods THAT ACTUALLY TASTES GOOD! Mahirap ha!

Gluten-Free Flour Endemic to the Philippines

Personally, I don't want to be stuck with a pantry full of expensive, imported flours which no one will touch, so I researched on gluten-free foods that are endemic to the Philippines.  And it led me to cassava starch, rice flour, sticky rice flour (malagkit), potato starch, corn starch. all of which are readily available in any local grocery, at very affordable prices.

Best-est Gluten-Free Waffle Recipe
One flour only + No Xanthan Gum

Finally! Gluten-free waffles that even my son and husband, who are not GF, are begging for

Recipe loosely adapted from here and here:
Makes for a very big batch, because batch cooking is the only way I remain sane with the way my kids eat.
*Best eaten right after cooking.

Dry Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup white rice flour*
1/2 cup corn starch*
3/4 cup potato starch
1-1/2 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1-1/4 cup yogurt + 1/2 cup milk  ( I use the BTIC brand because of its thick consistency)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
non-stick cooking spray

*If you are not on a gluten-free diet, then just replace the items marked with "*" to all-purpose flour.

1. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together white rice flour, cornstarch, potato starch, baking powder, granulated sugar, salt. In small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract until smooth.
2. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Blend until batter is smooth. No lumps should remain.
3. Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions. Spoon batter onto hot iron (amount of batter will vary depending on your iron) and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 4-6 minutes.

1. This GF recipe works well because of the combination of the rice flour + starches. Potato starch is added to make the waffle light and fluffy. Cornstarch makes for the crispy exterior.

2. Rice flour is the cheapest available gluten-free flour. Not only is it the cheapest, it is also the one that closely resembles wheat in taste. Try to not use rice flour that's labeled as superfine because they soak up too much of the liquid and you will end up with a very watery batter.

3. The consistency of the batter is highly dependent on the texture of the yogurt and milk mixture. I adjust the yogurt-milk ratio based on the thickness of the yogurt I'm using.

Severin Waffle Maker

I am thankful that modern kitchen gadgets have simplified most of my cooking related chores because let’s face it, kitchen tasks are often time-consuming talaga ha!

Another important thing when making waffles is the kind of waffle maker you have.

My latest addition to the kitchen is my Severin Multi-Sandwich Toaster, which also doubles as waffle maker. It comes with 3 removable plates: sandwich plate, panini press plate and waffle plate.

But for now, I use my Severin Multi Sandwich maker primarily as a waffle maker. If I make my waffle batter thinner, then the waffle comes out in squares.

If my make the waffle batter thicker, then I am able to use the waffle maker and make these round waffles.

When my daughters and I first started eliminating gluten in our diet, the first to go was bread and pasta. Breaking from pasta was hard, but it was doubly hard when we had to let go of bread. So thankful for this waffle maker plus this waffle recipe.

I'm enjoying using my Severin Waffle Maker. My kids are also enjoying all the waffles that I have been making!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Parenting Emporium

When I first got pregnant in 1999, I remember getting the book, What To Expect When You're Expecting. Back then, getting online was still through dial-up, and information was not really readily available to pregnant ladies who have a myriad of concerns and questions. When I gave birth, I then bought the book What To Expect The First Year. It became my go-to book for child safety and development.

Parents nowadays have it easier as almost everything is available online. But not really, because there's too much information available that it is quite hard to choose which information to listen to anymore. 

It's a good thing that parents nowadays have The Parenting Emporium to help them out.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Philippine Holidays 2015 + Wishlist: Pinatubo Day Tour

Grabe! My viber inbox was full yesterday from co-parents happily announcing that November 18 & 19 has been declared non-working holidays for us living in the NCR to give way to the Apec meeting.  Naturally, my kids are all so excited for it, too!

Ang daming holidays, ha! It's tempting to plan to go on a short trip to a local destination. A day trip or an overnight stay, perhaps?

On top of the ones listed above, we have another 2 days in November for R&R. Wahoo!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Can You Really Catch A Cold by Getting Wet in the Rain? + A Euky BearGiveaway

I've heard my lola say it, I've heard my mom say it, and now, when we are headed out and it's raining and my kids refuse to open up an umbrella, I say it, too: "open your umbrella or you'll get sipon."

But can you really catch a cold by getting wet in the rain?

I turned to one of my local favorite authors who is also a physician for answers. "Ha-Ha-Hatsinggg!" is a book writtten by Luis Gatmaitan, MD.  It answers kids curiosities about what makes us sick in the first place. I bought the kids this book from the bookstore, and the kids and I read it one night. The author, also known as Tito Doc, is a practicing physician. He is also a four-time Don Carlos Palanca Memorial awardee for Literature. 

The answer to this age-old question is complicated. But Tito Doc simplifies it for us.
Tito Doc says: No, not directly. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, its just that your immune system is often more run down when you are out in the rain and cold and shivering, and so it is easier for you to catch something.

Long story short, the author shares with us what we should do to avoid getting a cold:
1. Avoid crowded places.
2. Always sneeze into handkerchief when you have colds to avoid spreading the virus.
3. Wash hands frequently.
4. Don't forget to bring an umbrella or raincoat during the rainy season.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Brotzeit KinderKoche

Since I am in the kitchen most of the time, my kids gravitate towards the kitchen, too. They love to join me, most especially when they know that I am baking something sweet. They want dibs on the yummy home-baked treats!

Ever since they were old enough to handle holding the kitchen utensils on their own, I've let them join me... make a big mess in the kitchen. I think they knew how to hold a spatula even before they learned how to write with a pencil. teehee!

One of their favorite things to help with me when they were younger was to help me bake 
and frost cupcakes. The photos above were taken way back in 2008. Ang tagal na!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Baguio For Kids: What To Do + Where To Go

Because of its cold climate, Baguio is always one of the Filipinos favorite local destination for a quick getaway. Baguio City may not be what it used to but the City of Pines is definitely back on the tourist map, especially with the SCTEX and TPLEX making Baguio just a few short hours away.

Below is a list of activities that your kids can do in Baguio:

1. Mt. Cloud Bookshop

My kids are all readers, so it's but natural that the first thing we'd do in Baguio is to drop by a bookstore. What we love about Mt. Cloud is that most of the books on the shelves are not wrapped in plastic, so the kids can leaf through the book, and even read a few pages to decide if the book is interesting enough to be purchased.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Where to Eat in Baguio

When I think of Baguio, it's always about food, plenty of food. I am lucky that my childhood includes lots of memories about Baguio.

I grew up in Davao, where my Dad's family is based; but every summer we would visit our maternal relatives in Pampanga. Because of Pampanga's relative proximity to Baguio, my lola and her friends would often plan a trip to Baguio. Lola Luring would often bring  us along wherever she visits her friend, Mang Esther. My sister, a cousin and I are the traveling companions of our Lola every summer. We would stay in Mang Esther's house for days, and we would stuff our tummies with ube and strawberry jam, lengua de gato, and fresh strawberries.

I think the cold weather in Baguio makes the food somehow tastes better. Don't you think so, too? I eat more every time I'm in Baguio. During my last visit this summer, we ate out at every meal. Allow me to share with you photos of some of the food we ate while we were in Baguio.

I'm warning you in advance that this post is heavy on photos, after all we were in Baguio for three days!:)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Where to Stay in Baguio: Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay

It's been years since we've last been to Baguio. We stayed at The Manor the last time we visited, which was almost a decade ago, and I was still pregnant with my youngest then. I don't really know why we took so long to go back, but it could be because there was a time in the last decade that I had 2 car seats and a booster seat in the family van. That doesn't make for fun road trips, noh. But now that the SCTEX and TPLEX are operational, and I'm done with car seats and booster seats, travel to Baguio is much more tolerable.

A pregnant me with my 2 girls in Baguio during our 2004 visit. How tiny they used to be!

My tummy is still not showing, but I think I'm around 4-5 months pregnant already that time. The Manor garden still looks the same, noh? In fairness, ako din, I still look the same after a decade. Teehee!:)

* * *

Last summer, my side of the family went to Baguio together. We know that we wanted to stay somewhere in Camp John Hay so that we can enjoy the relaxing Baguio atmosphere and the fresh scent of pine trees. We were choosing between The Manor and its sister hotel, Forest Lodge. But the one thing that we were definite on is that it has to be inside Camp John Hay.
We wanted to be surrounded by pine trees... lots of it!
Baguio is highly commercialized already in some areas that sometimes it feels like Manila. 
We don't want any of that because that's what we were going away from, di ba? 

When my sister booked four rooms for our entire family at Forest Lodge, she convinced everyone that she made the right decision by sharing that Forest Lodge share the same management with The Manor, and some of the amenities were shared, too. The rooms were much newer since it is still a relatively new establishment, plus room cost was also definitely lower.

Superior Room

This is how our Superior Room looks like. It is worth every money at less than P3,000.00 a night. The room is spacious and had two queen beds in it. My husband and I, and  two younger kids stayed in this room comfortably.  While J stayed in another room with 2 of my sisters.

It has a writing desk, LCD TV, and a sitting area.

The room also comes with a mini kitchen. It's just really a small sink, mini ref and a small counter area with the usual complimentary water bottles which are re-stocked daily, cups and saucers, an electric kettle and a mini-ref.

The bathroom comes equipped a hot/cold shower, an adjoining dressing room with a hair dryer, iron & ironing board.

Because this is Baguio, most hotels do not offer A/C. The rooms are fitted with celiling fans, instead.

One-bedroom Suite

This is how the one bedroom suite looks like. My sister got this with the idea that everyone can gather here at night to play board games before heading to our respective rooms.  There is a small dining table, and a living room with LCD TV.

The bedroom has 2 queen-sized beds, and is separated from the living area by a door.

The mini-kitchen can actually be a working kitchen as it has a microwave oven. The generous counter area is also perfect for families who are traveling with infants and toddlers. I'm just thinking sterilizers, and other baby necessities.

My parents and brother got the one-bedroom suite initially, but the unit given to them was actually a loft. Because of their age, my parents did not want to go up and down the stairs anymore, and the hotel couldn't provide a one-level suite for them being that the hotel was fully booked, they just requested to be transferred to a superior room instead. The photos shown above are from a one-level suite beside our room taken on the day we checked-out.

* * *

The Forest Lodge sits right beside The Manor, and has very similar features. It even shares the beautiful garden with Manor, which can be accessed by a hidden pathway.

The garden is as beautiful as I remember it.

We took this time to take some family photos. J wanted to "direct" our photo shoot, kailangan "fierce" daw. It took several tries before we could get our "fight" faces on... 

This is more what J was thinking... channeling Taylor Swift in Bad Blood daw...

As for me, I still wanted a traditional family photo of all of us smiling for the camera.

Shempre, the bookworm cannot be stopped. While J was busy directing our poses, this li'l girl stepped aside to read. Haay!

* * *

The cool Baguio weather even encouraged my kids to do some early morning run. They really planned to do some running so they packed their running shoes and shorts, and woke up early for this.
Running a trail as beautiful as this doesn't need that much convincing!

To know more about Forest Lodge:


Monday, July 6, 2015

Ogalala World: A System in Play

"If they can't learn the way we teach, 
then we teach the way they learn."
 - O. Ivar Lovaas
Child Development Expert

Because I have three wonderful kids with different personalities, I am made aware that each child grows and learns at his or her own pace. Children who achieve certain milestones early are not necessarily smarter or healthier than children who achieve them a few months, or even years later. The range of what is normal development is quite wide.

I have one child who started talking at nearly 2, but when that child started, she was already talking in sentences. Yes! Plural... sentences talaga! Super daldal. In fact, she is the chattiest among all my kids now! She graduated from grade school early this year with high academic honors.

With proper nutrition and guidance from us, our kids will achieve their own milestones at the right time because not all kids develop at the same time. The wide development range is one reason that it is important to pay attention to each child’s abilities and to plan activities that match and expand those abilities.

It is with that in mind that Ogalala is formed.

Ogalala is a multi-branded System in Play developed by Internationale Globale Marques Inc. (IGM), distributor, manufacturer, and licensee of leading children’s global brands for the past 30 years. Taking its cue from play and parenting insights that integrate learning to play, Ogalala’s Play and Learn System develops the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional skills of a child from birth to 12 years.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Organic Baby Wipes Product Review

Even if my kids are all grown already, it has become my habit to carry around a big bag full of essentials... a tiny first aid kit, a mini make-up kit, a few candies, small pack of hand sanitizer, and baby wipes.  Yes, even baby wipes. I noticed that even if my kids are not babies anymore, they still need baby wipes for a lot of things.

I recently discovered Organic Baby Wipes.  Organic Baby Wipes are infused with organic aloe vera, known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Because they are organic, these baby wipes contain no harsh chemicals and are hypoallergenic. Perfect for my kids who have sensitive skin and also suffer from eczema. Organic Baby Wipes have no paraben, no alcohol, no chlorine and no harsh chemicals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

{Weekend Footnotes} Marufuku Japanese Restaurant

Marufuku Japanese Restaurant in Ortigas is one of our fave places. The restaurant is not that big, and we usually have to call in for reservation to make sure we get a table. There's an open kitchen fronting the bar, and if you don't mind eating on the bar stools, then you can also enjoy watching the Japanese chef prepare your meal in front of you.

When my daughter graduated from grade school last March, the husband decided to celebrate the occasion here. We were very pleased with her as she was able to accomplish her goal of graduating with honors. Only 30 of them girls went up the stage to get their medals out of a batch of about 300. Great job, B!

Great job also to the Phenomenal Papa for doing a wonderful job with ordering! Everything was LOVE!!! Please do not judge the number of food we ordered. It was way past 12 noon, and we were hungry. Looking at it now, it looks like an exaggerated amount of food, but the kids really are BIG eaters. Don't worry, they swim about 5,000 - 8,000 meters a day, so they pretty much burn everything they eat.

Being that we were famished, I wasn't able to jot down most of the names of the food that we ate, too. Just enjoy the photos, and believe me when I say that it is good!

We all loved the salmon sashimi, even the kids, that we had to order another platter. It was fresh and kinda like melted in our mouths.