Skip to content

Magic Bullet Diaries # 1

July 30, 2013

Hello, I’m back!!! I made a magic bullet shake for breakfast this morning with the following ingredients:

1 banana
1/2 apple
1 celery stick
4 baby carrots
fat-free plain yogurt
flax seed powder
little bit of milk

It was yummy!

Thanks to my mom for giving me her great Magic Bullet!

Homegirl cafe

December 29, 2011

Since the Holiday season still lurks among us, I want to feature a community enterprise that captures the spirit of this season of giving. Recently, I have eaten Saturday brunch at Homegirl Cafe in Chinatown LA. Homegirl Cafe is one of the ventures of Homeboy Industries, which helps at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated folks of color get back on their feet in society through training in the culinary industry. Many of the staff and cooks at Homegirl Cafe are trainees of this community service program that has been started by a Jesuit priest in Boyle Heights by the name of Father Greg Boyle. Before she officially opened the doors of Homegirl Cafe (the original at Boyle Heights in April 2005, then moved to Chinatown in 2007), Chef Pati Zarate has been preparing homecooked meals for the Dolores Mission community.

Chef Pati’s experience and passion in food and community can be tasted in the food and also seen in the way the meals are prepared and served. I thoroughly enjoyed my m’jas con papas with pork chorizo, which is a Homegirl classic. This dish has scrambled eggs with crisp tortillas, shredded seasonal vegetables, potatoes & roasted tomato salsa. I also love the mango upside down cornbread which comes with warm milk and fresh mangoes. The Saturday brunch menu also includes tacos with tortillas that can be substituted with a grilled nopal (cactus leaf). I loved eating there! I also got to shop some of their homemade fruit jams and blended teas.

After our scrumptious brunch, my friends and I walked over behind the restaurant and found a mini farm where about 30% of its produce are used by Homegirl Cafe. Upon entering the space, we were met with warm and friendly faces, as well as a table full of fresh and natural food. There were potato salads, pomegranate salad, kale salad, hand-picked tangerines, and fresh vegetable and mango juices. While we ate and bask in the SoCal sun, Chef Pati entered the garden and charmed us with her laughter and stories. Thank you Chef Pati for being a wonderful woman! I feel very blessed to have met a pillar of our local community!









Home-made holidays: Tannia’s tortilla soup

December 27, 2011

The Holidays is a time for busting out some homemade recipes. My friend Tannia invited me over for dinner…specifically for some yummy tortilla soup! She got this delicious recipe from her dad, Juan Olivera of Ventura County in Southern California. It took Tannia a few hours to prepare this dish which included cooking lots of fresh vegetables & using a blender to name some of the steps. It was definitely a labor of love! Thank you Tannia for a lovely dinner! And thanks to Mr. Olvera for starting a great family tradition!

Scroll down for the ingredients!


Tortilla Soup Ingredients:
-7-8 tomatoes
-1 onion
-3 California Chiles
-1-2 Jalapeno
-12 fried or toasted tortillas
-1 whole head of garlic

-a couple branches of epazote herb (find at a Mexican market)

Add salt and paprika to tortilla soup in a pot until all ingredients are cooked.  After simmering in pot, put soup in a blender & serve in your favorite dish bowl!  Finally, add toppings to the soup!

Remember that toppings are all optional, but here is a list of what we have added to this soup:
-Grilled Chicken
-cheddar cheese
– fried tortilla chips
– dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt
– grilled veggies of your choice

5er in Bangladesh: Jovial for Jackfruit

July 22, 2011

Upon arrival, one of the first things I learned about Bangladesh is that jackfruit is the national fruit of this country.

Jackfruit = the national fruit of Bangladesh

I like jackfruit, Filipinos eat that in the Philippines.  I usually eat jackfruit as it is, freshly cut from the tree.  In the U.S., I could usually find it in Asian stores.

Jackfruit Yummyness

I didn’t realize that the people of Bangladesh are really serious about jackfruits until I had it for lunch yesterday.  I ate this dish (photo below) that has parts of the jackfruit that I have never eaten before.  This dish has jackfruit seeds cut into strips (the forms with purple color), the jackfruit rind (the greenish semicircle forms), papaya, potatoes, and some kind of local fish.  It was delicious!

Homemade dish by my wonderful host family!

I would probably get to eat more jackfruit dishes, so tune in for more ways of celebrating the versatility of the jackfruit!


5er in Bangladesh: Breakfast Time

July 21, 2011

5er goes international! I am in Bangladesh for a couple of weeks, so I will hopefully have the time to share my fruit & veggie encounters here! This morning I had my first breakfast at my host family’s home in Dhaka, the country’s capital. My host family is very warm and hospitable. This morning, I absolutely enjoyed eating:

Aloo (papaya, carrots, potatoes)

The bananas I had were actually half the size of these bananas.

* spicy egg omelet (a scramble with spices and onions)

* roti/chapati (homemade flat bread)

* fried aloo pepe (grated potatoes, carrots, and papaya with some kind of yellow curry and spices)

* little bananas (tastier than regular sized bananas)

* cha (tea)

Well, this post is just to welcome you to Bangladesh!

P.S. The first moments of this video shows a lady cooking something similar to aloo pepe:

Cantaloupe Soup? You better believe it!

September 9, 2010

Cantaloupe AKA Melon

I loooove cantaloupe!  It reminds me of tropical times in the Philippines, where they refer to this fruit as “melon”.  Over the weekend, I posted about making a yummy soup that is made from the Community Services Unlimited (CSU) produce bag of fresh vegetables & fruits.  I listed what was in the produce bag & 1 of my Facebook friends told me:

I never thought of adding romaine lettuce or cantaloupe in soup though.

To which I replied:

The cantaloupe was in the produce bag that I bought from the community garden, but I didn’t put it in the soup. That would have tasted interesting LOL.

Well in my Twitter timeline, I saw a re-tweet by @byanygreens:

Sweet & Lushes Chilled Cantaloupe Soup By GreenChef Alice Savorelli

So yeah check it out:

Click on the image for the actual recipe

Here is the actual recipe from GreenChef Alice Savorelli:

For the Recipe

1 ripe cantaloupe pulp, seeds removed, cut into cubes

2 cucumbers, peeled

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 cm fresh ginger root, peeled

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons apple vinegar

half a teaspoon whole sea salt

ground white pepper, to taste

ground paprika, to taste

red chili powder, to taste

1 red pepper, diced

half a cup filtered water

fresh oregano, for garnish

1. In a blender, puree all the ingredients except the diced red pepper.
2. When smooth stir in the diced red pepper, divide the soup among serving bowls and drizzle with olive oil.
4. Top with extra red pepper cubes and chili powder and add some oregano if desired.
5. Serve chilled.

You can follow this vegan chef on Twitter as well @gliving

I’m really interested in making & tasting this soup!

My Grandma’s cooking & my 1st produce bag from Community Services Unlimited, Inc. (South LA, CA)

September 5, 2010

Image via Wikipedia

Earlier this evening, I prepared a vegetable soup from no particular recipe: string green beans, garlic, sea salt, water, red potatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, poblano peppers, & rosemary all mixed and boiled in a large pot.  Later on, my aunt raved about the soup, even going far as to compliment how the taste reminded her of my Lola (grandmother)’s cooking in the Philippines.  Her praise stunned me since I never expected such a response.  I also tend to not cook much, especially vegetarian dishes.  She remarked,

This soup tastes like something that your grandpa likes, it tastes like your grandma’s cooking, so fresh.  It has a natural, delicious taste.

I replied,

But I didn’t put anything special in it.  I just boiled all the ingredients.  Maybe it was the poblano peppers?  Or, the rosemary?  The fresh rosemary!  I got that from the produce bag!

The rosemary, the poblano peppers, and half of the vegetables in the soup came from the community gardens and urban mini-farms run by the organization, Community Services Unlimited, Inc., in South Central Los Angeles.  Last Thursday afternoon, I picked up my first small fresh produce bag order at CSU, Inc.’s weekly farmer’s produce stand in front of the EXPO Center Pool Stadium on Bill Robertson Lane @ Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in L.A.  For $10 (the community neighbor’s price for a small bag), my produce consisted of:

  • Poblano Peppers
  • cantaloupe
  • strawberries
  • zucchini
  • red potatoes
  • corn
  • romaine lettuce
  • rosemary
  • Italian basil
  • poblano peppers
Actually, I ended up buying other items in the food stand, such as squash, mugwort, carrots with sesame seeds, and a very delicious apple/plum sauce with no added sugar (my favorite!).  I am happy about signing up for the weekly produce bag now, especially after my aunt enjoyed my vegetable soup, which I prepared and seasoned with locally-grown food by CSU staff, volunteers, and students, who are mostly elementary school pupils.  The org runs various programs in the community, such as providing hands-on education on how to grow your own food and becoming sustainable urban farmers.
Here is an introductory video about CSU:
I learned about CSU’s work when I met Neelam Sharma (Executive Director), Dyane, Heather, and Lawrence (the rest of the staff) in East Oakland back in 2007, when I was volunteering at a food party thrown by Oakland Food Connection (OFC).  Neelam and her crew prepared the vegetarian Indian food that night.  Their cooking was so amazing that I remembered to contact them when I moved back to L.A. recently.

According to the CSU website:

Our mission is to foster the creation of communities actively working to address the inequalities and systemic barriers that make sustainable communities and self-reliant life-styles unattainable.

CSU creates programs that aim:

to create a sustainable local food system where food is grown, distributed and bought within our own community, incorporating training and educational programs, the creation of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities and supported by partnerships with regional farmers.

Well, I can’t wait for my produce bag next week!

I believe that even though my veggie soup uses only some of the ingredients that my grandma would have used, I feel joyous that my creation’s freshness has invoked memories of my grandma’s delicious cooking in the tropical islands.

And I also decided to continue my food justice volunteering by signing up to help at upcoming gardening days at CSU, such as the following:

  • September 11th – John Muir Mini Farm Work Day  – 9am to 1pm

Dress for the dirt and heat, wear a hat and bring water to drink. You cannot imagine how incredibly rewarding it is to work together outdoors for a few hours and then look upon the results. Get some exercise, learn and teach, and help out CSU in the process.

Where: John Muir
Arrive at John Muir Middle School, main entrance on Vermont Avenue near Cage, enter through side gate located on 60th Street near Budlong Elementary
RSVP: or call Heather at 323 299 7075
In partnership with John Muir Middle School:

For more info on CSU, visit:

Webisode #1: Spice Lady

July 3, 2010

Welcome to the 1st 5ers webisode featuring the Spice Lady!!!

The legendary Spice Lady at the San Francisco State University’s farmers market shows us some of the herbs, spices, & teas that she uses to prepare her veggie dishes.

I met her through my friend Angel, so thank you Angel for connecting us.  Angel is on a journey to law school.  In the meantime, she frequents farmers’ markets all over San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

My other friend Jainee Lewis helped me as well by handling the camera.  An Oakland native, she is an up&coming molecular microbiologist who likes getting involved in my video projects!  Thanks for helping me out.

5ers is all about getting folks involved and communing for food & wellness.  Stay tuned for more!!

Happy New Year! Enter the Dragon Fruit AKA The Bruce Lee Fruit

December 31, 2011

While probably almost half of the world have already welcomed 2012, the West Coast have about 12 hours left to bring in the New Year.  In the Chinese calendar, 2012 is considered as the year of the dragon.  I thought it would be appropriate to feature the next year’s dragon theme in today’s post.  Hence, enter the dragon fruit!


English: By Etsai from en: The pitaya, also kn...

Dragon Fruit


English: A red pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) fru...

Cross section of a dragon fruit


Dragon fruit, which is sometimes called “pitaya”, comes from several cactus species of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas).  These species are native to Mexico, Central America, and South America, although it has recently been cultivated in tropical Asian countries, such as Philippines, Bangladesh, and Thailand.  The dragon fruit looks like a pink dragon ball from DragonBall Z, doesn’t it?

I am not sure if I’ve ever had dragon fruit as a child, but I would like to try it!  Trying a dragon fruit is my first goal for 2012.

Interesting facts about the dragon fruit:

  • Its flower only blooms at night.
  • Despite its eye-catching color, the dragon fruit is only mildly sweet like a melon or kiwi.
  • It is used as a diabetic supplement to rice in Taiwan.
  • It may heave health benefits, such as aiding in excretion of heavy metal toxins, and lowering blood pressure & cholesterol.
  • It also contains phytoalbumin antioxidants, which prevent formation of cancer-causing free radicals.

So, not only are dragon fruits pretty and possibly yummy, they are also healthy.  They could even fight ailments!  Dragon fruit could be the Bruce Lee of fruits!

Enter the Dragon...Fruit!

Grow Veggies, Go to Jail!

July 13, 2011

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan is facing a misdemeanor charge and 90 days in prison for growing vegetables in her own front yard garden outside Detroit!  It sounds outrageous!

Do you think your own city can incriminate and stop you from growing your own vegetables?  Check out these videos with Julie Bass:

%d bloggers like this: