Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recipe Redux: Filipino Rice Cakes

Happy first birthday to Recipe Redux!  What a great group to be a part of. Thank you to Serena, Deanna, and Regan for your wonderful leadership!

Filipino Rice Cakes (Puto)--they're really bite size, but look big here.
So, in celebration of Recipe Redux's first birthday, the theme of this month is "Small Bites to Celebrate a Big Event". Immediately I thought of all of the Filipino celebrations I have attended since birth and have always enjoyed the festive looking small rice cakes. Now before I go on, I must warn you. The real name of this Filipino dessert sounds like a Spanish not-so-nice-word, but please trust me, as I use it here I am not using it in the Spanish manner and Filipinos are not using the word to name this dessert something bad.;) Okay, so having said that, the name of this Filipino rice cake is puto.:) Alright, you can get it out of your system and laugh it all out!:-D

This Filipino rice cake is usually just white; however, I have seen it and eaten it in various colors. For Recipe Redux's celebration I have made them a few different colors. There are so many variations to this Filipino rice cake, especially when it comes to texture, but they all have the same, or similar wonderful flavor.

Since I didn't want to re-invent the wheel, I took the puto recipe of EntrePinoys Atbp., and modified it. Their recipe is good, but I like desserts not too sweet, just slightly sweet. I reduced the sugar a bit and coconut milk. Then I increased the rice flour content since I wasn't getting the texture I personally was envisioning. If you look at other Filipino rice cake recipes, they mainly use rice flour, but some use other flours. To me, the best flour to use for puto is rice flour which you can buy at an Asian or Filipino market.

2 1/3 cups of rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar

1.Mix well together the rice flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar together.
2.Add the coconut milk to the dry ingredients mixture
3.(Optional) I don't really use food flavoring on a regular basis, but for this festive look and if you would like, divide the puto mixture into equal parts into several small bowls depending on how many colors you want. Follow the instructions on the food coloring box to obtain the desired color you would like. 
4. Pour the mixture into muffin tins or pans. (I used small individual muffin tins, so they are bit size, but they don't look bite-size in the picture I took.)
5. Steam for at least 30 minutes or until a toothpick pulled out is clean.
6. Puto tastes best when served warm; however, wait to cool completely before placing in containers.

These Filipino rice cakes are very easy to make! Enjoy!!

Also, please take a look down below to see the other wonderful recipes my friends have developed this month.

What is your favorite Filipino dessert?
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Power Yoga and Hydration

If you've gotten yourself immersed in absolutely enjoying hot yoga (like I have!), then please do make sure that you're hydrating yourself well during class. For those of us who live in places where it gets warm and hot during the summer, we have to take extra caution. Especially when we take yoga classes in the afternoon after school or work, those few steps in between from work/school building to our car to the yoga studio can dehydrate us more during those warm months de-energizing months. Please be conscious and don't arrive to your yoga class in the hydration negative zone. Hydrate well, especially with water, throughout the day before class. If need be, have a small snack an hour or so prior to arriving at the studio to give you the extra energy to get through that power yoga class.

Now here's the thing, a lot of the hot power yoga classes are over an hour long...sometimes an hour and a half long or an hour and forty-five minutes long. Let's face it...they are endurance activities that are intensified with strengthening poses. These classes are not just stretching, kick-back classes. They are intense! Even more so during the hot months and doing long hot yoga classes, it definitely would not hurt to have your beverage beside your yoga mat be a sports drink containing important electrolytes, and, of course, carbohydrates to replace what you've lost. You would definitely feel a whole lot better throughout the yoga practice and after the class. For a yoga class only for an hour, water is sufficient. After class continue to hydrate and make sure you also have an adequate post meal.  Sometimes it sure feels like my yoga clothing ends up being a couple pounds heavier after class. It's a sure sign to replace, replace, replace!

Enjoy the wonderful world of power yoga!

What type of yoga do you enjoy doing?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reflecting On I Thought I Knew Best, But Was Wrong

By the time I was 22 years old, I thought I'd help God plan my life out by clearly laying out what I never, never, ever, ever want to do in life. There were three important areas where I clearly marked I will not enter! To start, I had wholeheartedly promised myself not to do a marathon, let alone a half marathon, or even a 10 K, or even a 5 K. I absolutely thought that it hurts to run...period. Second item I promised to never do was to teach at a university and not to teach at Loma Linda University. Now I had no idea why I thought this. I loved going to school at LLU and my teachers were all great and wonderful. There was no rhyme and reason to my ignorant, young mind back then. All I had planned as far as career-wise was concerned is that I will be a clinical dietitian forever! The third area of "never ever" is that I believed that going for a doctorate degree is extremely way too hard and that it really should just be left for the total intellectuals who are total nerds. By next month, it will be a whole twenty years later since I told God what I would NOT DO!!!

Before I go on, I just want to say, what a relief God didn't listen to me. I'm thankful God listened to my request that "God, my every day life is in your hands, so just take over." Ha! Little did I know what I meant when I let Him have control over my life.:) I'm grateful God made me swallow up all of my very own horrible words and immature thoughts. I sure have learned that you still keep growing and evolving through every decade of your life.

Almost two decades later, I am thankful for the enjoyment and thrill of completing two full marathons, four half marathons, two sprint triathlons, a 10K, and a little dinky 5K. I thought I'd be content just going to the gym, lifting those li'l machines and going to aerobic classes. The journey of preparing for a marathon is not easy, but definitely has provided life lessons which I wouldn't have learned just going to a gym. The opportunity to teach at LLU was presented to me and I'm very thankful for the other passion of life I now partake in, which I didn't know I had. Working with students is greatly rewarding and satisfying. The teaching part is not difficult, but what is hard is dealing with a few students every year who are difficult at times. However, we are blessed at LLU that most students are such wonderful blessings to have. I'm still shocked that I am working on this third degree. I am thankful that I have learned so much and have enjoyed all of the new ideas and concepts I have acquired in the past five years in the area of educational technology and e-learning. What truly has been difficult is working on my dissertation. There have been several times that I've cried...and I hate to admit, want to give up. With God's help though, I will not quit.

What have I learned from "detouring" in the areas I promised myself I would never get into? Well, I have learned even more clearly about discipline, patience, and endurance. Oh a whole lot more! God sure knew I needed way more growth in those capacities. I have learned that even if these three areas of "I don't want to go there" were God's will for me to get into, He did not promise all areas would be a rose garden. With all of the difficulties and challenges I continue to encounter in these scenarios of my life, God has always been there to help me get through one day at a time. God certainly has provided me with guidance, strength, courage, and fortitude. I know He will continue to provide that for me, because that's how much He loves me. The other thing I learned is that even though I can make my own plans, I'm glad when He takes over and has better plans in store for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know that plans I have for you. Plans not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope". So even if things don't work out the way you had originally intended, just know that when God is control, things work out for the better, because God knows best! He definitely knows me better than myself and He definitely knows you better than you know yourself. 

What surprises in life are you enjoying now that you did not originally plan for yourself?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Added Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners, and Natural Sweeteners

We are definitely bombarded with information regarding the consequences of consuming excessive added sugars. We can't fight what is reported. There is truth to what has been said. Then we read about natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners. There is reason to be concerned about intake of artificial sweeteners. However, reading about all that can be confusing and can drive a person up the wall.

Instead of living life around making sure you get your sweet-tasting fix from added sugars, natural, and artificial sweeteners, it may just be a better idea to train our taste buds to enjoy the authentic sweetness that comes from eating fruits on a regular basis. From birth, our taste buds are a clean slate. Then we trained it as we have matured and grown to either love more sweet foods or salty foods. So, why don't we train our taste buds to yearn for the sweetness in fruits, and just get use to eating less added sugar desserts and drinks. Who needs artificially or naturally sweeteners anyway? Seriously now, we don't need those "sweeteners" to exist or enjoy life. No deprivation required, just consume less of the real deal and up the fruit intake. Our taste buds do adjust to less added sugar or artificially-sweetened intake. 

Training our taste buds to enjoy less highly sweetened foods and beverages doesn't happen over night though. There is an adjustment period. This may vary from individual to individual. One person may easily adjust from a weeks, while another individual may adjust to less sweet indulgences for months. While the adjustment period may vary, the end result will still be achieved. The adjustment period may not be easy at times, but it can be done bringing desirable outcomes.

Part of life's enjoyment is delighting in a sugary, decadent dessert once in a while. Go ahead and enjoy it when you do. Just don't let life be centered on satisfying that sweet tooth at a heightened level every day. Anything in excess has consequences. Allow your taste buds to adjust. Consume less added sugars, enjoy the natural goodness of fruits, and reap consequences that are absolutely good for that body of yours.

As a treat once in a while, I absolutely enjoy and love ice cream sandwiches. What is your once in a while favorite dessert that you enjoy?

Monday, June 4, 2012

San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon 2012

To be completely honest, I had lost my motivation for the second full marathon I had signed up for. I really think it was due to being unable to maintain the long run mileage training due to unexpected interruptions. When I trained for my first full last year, I had no detours...I was able to stay right on track.  However, such is life with an unexpected death of a relative, death of a friend's father, my boss sending me to Slovakia to teach, and other situations that are all part of life...oh, and I forgot to mention that I'm also a doctoral candidate working relentlessly on my dissertation. Regardless, I still did the best I could when it came to training.

I did two major things to get me back on track as far as motivation was concerned. I expressed my decreased motivation to my students who are runners.  Boy oh boy...I sure got a really, really good pep talk from the two of them. Thank you, Aletta and Holly!! Their pep talk was just what I needed. They helped put me back in my place. The second thing I did, which I've never done ever was that I actually bought a new outfit to run in for the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. For some reason, this also worked in shooting up my motivation.;-) I decided to run this time in a skort.

On top of everything else, I got sick when I arrived back from Slovakia and since then I've had this lingering cough which was really wearing me out. However, I still trained through not feeling good and my cough and was really stubborn about that. I'm really thankful I did though! 

I started to get that excited feeling for the marathon back a week before the race. By the Friday before the run, I was fully back into motivation and excitement!

Being silly at the expo.
I am thankful I planned the logistics much better of where we were going to stay at this time. It is not easy to get to the start line for this marathon as I found out the year before. This time my careful planning paid off and made for an absolutely stress-free morning before starting the event.

Before the race at around 5:30 a.m. waiting for  things to get rockin' and rollin'!

The weather this year was perfect...cloudy and cool!  Oh yes! It was sunny and warm the year before and made for just an okay run. I loved every mile of the 26.2 course! I don't run for time (I can't! I'm naturally slow!), but I just run to enjoy the experience and finish! 

There were about 30,000 runners who were all participating to help support raising funds for leukemia and lymphoma. Not only were the runners important for this event, but the community of San Diego truly gave their unselfish support in making us be comfortable during the race. Thank you so much to all who volunteered for this event. They really helped us feel loved and cared for, which made the entire race so enjoyable and memorable.

The San Diego Rock and Roll marathon route is for the most part flat. Running through downtown San Diego is fun! I also like the part of going on freeway 163. It's uneven in certain areas, but it doesn't last long. I think it's absolutely cool to have the privilege of running on a freeway.:) Then running along Mission Bay is very soothing where we can see the water. There is not much running uphill.  In fact, this second time around, I didn't really notice running uphill anymore. However, the entire route is absolutely enjoyable and lovely.

I started out running with a friend of mine for the first  6 or 7 miles. I was excited to be running with her, then out of the blue, she said she was in pain and didn't feel good. We walked and stopped for a little bit until she was able to call her husband to pick her up. Once we knew her husband was coming, my friend told me to just go. (My friend went to urgent care immediately and found out she has plantar fasciitis and will be getting an MRI. I'm wishing speedy recovery for her.) So, I continued the rest of the race without her. At the same time, I was thinking about my other friend who came down to the race with me as she was doing the half marathon. I was hoping she was enjoying her race. They separated the half marathoners from us at around the third or fourth mile I believe.

Getting on mile 10 or so and was feeling so happy that day!:)
Despite all the detours I came across training for this marathon and getting sick and running with a cough, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually shaved off 26 minutes from my first marathon! I wasn't even pushing it.  I was just telling myself the whole time that I was doing this for my enjoyment and to bask in every step, which I definitely did! All I wanted to do was happily finish. My friend also improved her half marathon time from her first half. So, we both were definitely happy little campers...oops I mean, happy li'l runners.

My friend, Danelle, and I were both so happy to finish!
Once again, my nutrition regimen throughout the event was to take a small strip of peanut butter and jelly sandwich at every third mile up until mile 24. In between I had a chew or a chomp in my mouth. I took advantage of the water and gatorade at every aid station.

I'm thankful I didn't give in to my lost motivation. I'm thankful it came back and very grateful to have participated in such a wonderful event. I got emotional once again at mile 25...just overwhelmed with the fact that God helped me for the second time complete another full marathon. I was thinking about the verse Philippians 4:13 as I was running..."I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". He definitely did!

Are you signed up for any upcoming running events?  Or have you recently participated in one? Would love to hear your story!