A Few of My Favorite Things (mostly food-related)

I take pictures here and there of things I consume and of the simplest things I enjoy and/or find amusement in. There have been so many of these recently that I’ve lost track of which ones I wanted to dedicate an entire post to and which ones I wanted to mention briefly. Bottom line is, I just wanted to share them with you. And since I love lists and photographs and believe that the combination of both is highly entertaining, here is a photographic list of things I’ve been enjoying recently:

1. Korean Food
Although I’m 100% Filipino, I thoroughly enjoy Korean food way more than I enjoy Filipino food. It’s probably because my mouth always craves spicy, tangy, bold and fresh flavors. That may or may not describe Korean food, but regardless, I am in LOVE with Korean food. It may have started when my mom lived in Korea for 6 months and the rest of our family visited her and brought back with us a newfound love — kimchi. It gradually progressed as I met my longest, oldest and one of my best friends in 6th grade and we’d have play dates where her mom would feed me kimchi bokeum bap. Then in high school, I hung out with more Korean girls who lived in Koreatown and…the story goes on. My friend recently took me to a “dank” (her words, not mine) naengmyun place in K-town called Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun where I discovered my current favorite Korean dish pictured above, bibim naengmyun. Yeah go look it up if you’re curious about what exactly it is. All I know is that it’s spicy, semi-sweet, cold, delicious, and has gochujang in it (which you could also google ;)).

2. Sushi
Sushi is definitely on my list of top three favorite foods EVER (which includes ice cream and…other things, I promise! :D). And when I say sushi, I’m not talking about rolls dripping with mayo, deep fried crap and teriyaki sauce. No no. That ain’t real sushi. That’s fake Americanized sushi that I DO enjoy from time to time, but I love sushi mainly because I love raw fish and other sea creatures. Yep, that’s right. I prefer my fish as sashimi, fresh and left alone for their subtle, yummy fishiness to shine. (Uni, hamachi, toro and spicy tuna are some of my faves!) So for this year’s dineLA Restaurant Week, I coerced a friend to join me for a sushi lunch at K-Zo , an apparently popular, mid-price range and decent sushi restaurant. Read my yelp review here!
(***Fun fact: In my 8th grade English class, each student was required to write a 20-50 page research paper throughout the year on a specific topic and to prepare a 10-minute presentation on it. My final two choices were anesthesiology and sushi. Can you guess which one I did? I totally went around LA interviewing sushi chefs for the paper and put on a chef hat and made sushi for the entire class. Yup, I seriously thought I’d be the first legitimate female sushi chef. Now please go watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi and make a reservation with me!)

3. Brunch
Eggs benedict, french toast, waffles, bacon, fried herb potatoes. Need I say more? I’ve been slowly compiling a yelp list of breakfast and brunch places that I’ve tried in the Los Angeles area. These eggs benedict pictured above is from my most recent brunch-place discovery, Blu Jam Cafe, which I think is slightly overhyped but still pretty delicious.

4. Caramelized onions
On my pizza, in my sandwiches, in my omelettes, toast, soup…seriously I can go on forever. (New ice cream flavor? Okay maybe not) I especially love caramelized red onions, which I believe are a bit spicier and sweeter than regular onions.

5. Whole food discoveries
A friend shared this kale and white bean stuffed sweet potato recipe she found with me and it was actually REALLY delicious! I LOVE kale and sweet potato (because of its lower glycemic index than regular potatoes). The beans make it a bit too mushy and the dish could use more crunch (from bacon, perhaps? just kidding!) and I altered the recipe to make it more acidic and spicy. I think I’m starting to get predictable here. Beatriz loves sour and spicy.

Oh and then theres this quinoa, butternut squash, chicken stew that I made pretty recently that was DELICIOUS, hearty and totally healthy. I topped it with a savory Greek yogurt (aka Greek yogurt with a splash of horseradish and Tabasco). I totally meant to write a whole post about the process of cooking this dish, which was let’s say…pretty darn exciting and was going to be titled “Kitchen Battles.” Let’s just say I almost lost a finger, sliced my hand open and ignited a fire. Whoops.

6. Fruit. Cakes. White chiffon cake with mixed fruit!
Lately I’ve been buying pretty exotic fruits like kiwi and mango. Well they’re really not that exotic. But they’re not as ordinary as apples and bananas (no offense, apples and bananas!) They’re also the fruits that come in Angel Maid Bakery’s (the bakery I work at) famous cake, the white chiffon cake with mixed fruit. It also comes with strawberries, pineapple and peaches!
It was pretty darn good. Definitely could’ve used more whipped cream frosting, but otherwise really good. I used smitten kitchen’s white chiffon cake recipe and pretty much winged the rest.

7. French Macarons
Macarons are totally taking over the cookie world (if you even want to consider them a cookie!) and they’re EVERYWHERE from Paris to Malaysia and Hong Kong and most recently, at Angel Maid Bakery! I definitely bought myself a box after work one day and though they aren’t the best I’ve had, they hit the spot and are much cheaper than say, Bouchon or Bottega Louie. Oh and by the way, macarons with one O is different from macaroons with two O’s (the coconut based cookies). Is it snobby of me to get kind of annoyed at people who pronounce french macarons like “macaroons”? They’re extremely different! Stay tuned for a post about my journey to find the best macarons in LA!

8. Pizza
As you can see from my previous post, I kind of LOVE pizza. I’ve recently rekindled the desire to actually make them since I haven’t enjoyed pizza in LA as much as I’ve enjoyed it in the Bay Area. So why pay for ’em when you can make ’em? (I still have to try Pizzeria Mozza though!) I recently tried to make pizza using phyllo dough as the pizza dough and it was pretty…weird. My friends were probably just being nice when they actually ate it, but yeah it tasted really odd.

9. Jin Patisserie // Abbott Kinney Boulevard
There’s this small patisserie in Venice on Abbot Kinney Blvd. called Jin Patisserie that I accidentally discovered with my family back in high school. We were looking for a cake for my birthday and stumbled upon this little gem that serves tea and desserts out on a little outdoor Japanese-style patio. They make really delicious individual cakes, like this “passion” cake above. It’s a meringue-based cake with a passionfruit cream and mangoes inside. Um, those are only three of my favorite things in one CAKE, which is another one of my favorite things. Win x4. They also make the BEST lychee macarons I have EVER tasted. But then again, how many places actually make lychee macarons? Check them out before they move!

10. Monopoly Deal… + Beer & Wine
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of monopoly deal with my friends and it always brings me back to some wonderful memories in college of playing the game! I played it a good amount in college and it was the perfect break from studying. Whether it was on a patch of grass or inside a car, it was/is always fun! If you feel like adding some over 21 drinks like wine or beer, do so in moderation! I’m really into pear cider and have recently discovered Shock Top Lemon Shandy and Riesling. These are probably the least alcoholic-tasting alcoholic beverages ever, which is totally my thing!

And that concludes my first ever favorite things list, which actually really revealed a lot about me…hehe. Stay tuned for more!


Let’s Get Healthy!

I have a confession to make: I didn’t bake for a whole month! (I also didn’t update this blog for over a month. My apologies!) I lasted one whole month without combining flour, sugar and butter together! January was a tad busier than previous months, with friends visiting from out of town and a second part-time job (I now tutor low-income kids Math!), but I definitely had more than enough time to spend in the kitchen. It’s just that I chose to spend that time cooking instead of baking, more specifically, healthy cooking! While I didn’t formally make a list of New Year’s resolutions, there are some lifestyle changes that I carry out, several of them involving my health and fitness. Most people usually think of exercise when they think of health and fitness, but food is JUST as important as exercise to your health and fitness! I’ve seen this quote all over Pinterest: “A six pack is 10% exercise, 90% diet.” While I can’t exactly vouch for the accuracy of that statement and those numbers since I am no fitness expert, I do know that there is plenty of truth in that statement. Okay I probably learned the science behind this since I did study nutrition in college, but the explanation eludes me at the moment… But to get to my point, besides making it a point to exercise and keep myself moving throughout the week, I’m also intentionally choosing to eat healthier! Am I completely banning sweets and fast food from my diet? No…come on. I’m baking Bea, I have to taste my baked goods at some point! But am I eating fast food once a week or eating half the whole batch of cookies I bake? HECK NO! So what AM I doing? Well let me show you:

1. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast every morning within an hour of waking up.

oatmeal with blueberries and a dash of brown sugar, mango black tea and spinach scramble

a piece of toasted whole wheat toast, half a small mashed avocado and fried egg made with a spray of Pam instead of excess oil

2. Create delicious meals with whole foods and lean meats and making sure to eat vegetables with almost every meal (even breakfast!). I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa and lentils, exploring couscous and farro and using brown rice and whole wheat bread almost exclusively (thank goodness I always preferred the taste of whole wheat!). I’m also relying on salmon, tofu, chicken breast and beans for my protein! Quinoa also has more protein than other carbohydrate-rich foods! I’ve also been using more sweet potatoes over potatoes (which I don’t like that much anyways, except I love fries…) because they have a lower glycemic index – I’ll probably write a post on what that means later.

Pan-seared sockeye salmon (which contain lots of eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid AKA omega-3 fatty acids!) flavored with minced garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, soy sauce and a bit of brown sugar to brown it. Quinoa, chopped up spinach with fresh lemon juice sprinkled on top of everything. Please forgive me for this half-devoured picture. I was just ridiculously hungry and jumped right in before taking a picture. My bad.

Sweet potato, black bean, chicken breast, quinoa “chili.” I’m not really sure what characterizes chili, but this is definitely a much healthier version of it. Hearty and filling! I topped it with fresh avocado and a tabasco & dijon mustard greek yogurt. Recipe here (though I altered it quite a bit).

3. Consume healthy snacks! I’ve been eating lots of almonds, fresh fruit (especially berries!) and bananas (which I hate and totally makes me gag when I eat it, except they’re so damn good for you). I’m naturally not a heavy snacker (I prefer large meals instead) but I’ve been eating more smaller, frequent meals to keep my blood sugar steady throughout the day and avoid hunger pangs!

Greek yogurt is freaking awesome. So is honey. A cup of 0% Greek yogurt has only 130 calories and more protein than normal yogurt. It’s a great substitute for sour cream as well!

4. When eating out, make healthier choices and PORTION CONTROL PORTION CONTROL PORTION CONTROL. If you go to any other country, you’ll find that their serving portions are MUCH smaller. A small soda in America is equivalent to a large soda in the Philippines. A plate of food in America is half the size in European countries like Portugal, England and France.

Okay okay before you judge me for the Saltado de Mariscos pictured above, let me just say that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of good food, especially when eating at probably the best Peruvian place in LA with friends (Mario’s!) BUT eating out and good food is NOT an excuse to finish the whole gigantic plate of food. PORTION CONTROL! I also chose seafood over beef which is healthier, partially because I craved it but normally I would get the Lomo Saltado! Just make sure you’re not eating like this every freaking day and to balance it out by eating healthily during other meals!

Or you could just eat at healthier places like Native Foods when you go out, and order a filling and flavorful dish like this Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl above (it has quinoa, roasted veggies and tofu!).

5. When baking, share your goodies with everyone and refrain from eating half the batch! I recently tried this chocolate chip, oat & walnut cookie recipe from my new Tartine cookbook and only kept three cookies for myself (: Sharing is caring!


These are just some of my healthier lifestyle choices for this year, but don’t get me wrong, baking bea won’t stop baking. But perhaps you can call me healthy-eating bea as well? :) What are some of your New Year’s resolutions that pertain to food, nutrition and fitness?