Suchero, an all-natural sweetener

My Dad had Type 2 diabetes. This means my children and I may have a higher risk of developing diabetes if we are not careful with our diet and lifestyle.

The scary thing is that for many who are at risk of diabetes, or already there, the alternative has always been artificial sweeteners. Years ago, it was Nutrasweet and Equal. But aspartame, which is what both are made of, has had problems as recent studies are showing it to be more toxic to the body than helpful.

Now, the popular artificial sweetener is Splenda. But because there are still very few clinical studies using Splenda, it will be years down the road before we know if Splenda is indeed very safe to use or it will go the same way as Nutrasweet and Equal.

Recently, I was invited to attend the launch of an all-natural sweetener, Suchero. The invitation to the launch mentioned that Suchero was coconut sugar so that excited me. Here in the Philippines, we are very rich in coconut resources. Coconut is often called the miracle fruit because its insides and outside parts are all useful. Coconut has been transformed into shampoo, body lotion, soap, virgin coconut oil (VCO) and the husks are used in tropical countries as a floor cleaner for wood. Its juice, alkaline in nature, is drank by those with kidney problems and the flesh is delicious to eat.

Present at the launch were the 3 partners who are behind Suchero: Joey Villa, Antonio Magcase and Vida Pamatian.

Seated: Joey Villa & Antonio Magcase. Standing leftmost: Vida Pamatian

Joey Villa gave us the lowdown on how Suchero came about and what is exactly in this sweetener that they believe is a much better alternative to the artificial sweeteners in the market now.

What is so great about Suchero?

The best selling point for Suchero is found in its glycemic index or GI. GI measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Anything you eat (like carbohydrates) that release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream has a high GI; conversely, the better foods are those that release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream and have a lower GI. Food with a high GI tax the pancrease unnecessarily because when it senses all that glucose, it signals the brain to release more insulin. Consuming regular food with high GI levels can lead to diabetes.

Cane sugar has a glycemic index of 65; Suchero’s GI is only 35. Doctors who have tried and tested Suchero, Villa said, have been recommending Suchero as a substitute for white sugar for their diabetic patients or patients who need to manage high sugar levels. They are aiming to position Suchero as an affordable, low GI, all-natural sweetener that can help in the proper management of diabetes, weight control, and prevention of heart disease and obesity.

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President Aquino’s Inaugural Cake

As I was covering the post oathtaking of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III at Malacanang Palace, I entered a room leading to the venue of our media briefing when something caught my eye. There before me was a beautiful, fondant cake shaped like Malacanang Palace itself.

It turns out the cake was the masterpiece of Penk Ching and Shen Ratilla of Pastry Bin. I was lucky to bump into Penk, the master cakemaker herself, to get some initial cake details.

She was busy overseeing the moving of the cake so I got more details on the cake itself the following day. Here are some interesting trivia on the cake from Penk herself (as well as some other info I gathered from press articles):

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Tikoy Takes a New Shape in 2010

Chinese New Year is always celebrated by the Chinese on the 7th day of the 7th month according to the Lunar Calendar. This year, 2010, that day falls on still another big event – Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate the New Year, Chinese families usually buy glutinous rice cake (locally called tikoy) to give out to friends, family and colleagues.

Tikoy in the Philippines has truly evolved. When I was small, all we had was the usual white tikoy.

What used to be just plain white tikoy evolved into a brown version some years ago as more people preferred to eat brown sugar over white.

Then a few years ago, we began to see flavors that can only be found in the Philippines as these use locally found ingredients. Yup, you can’t find these in places like Hong Kong!

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Oodles of Pasta at Goodles!

I am a pasta lover. No doubt about it. And I love every opportunity to try out a new pasta place.

So when blogger friend Fran posted a sign-up notice for this new pasta place, Goodles, in Robinsons Galleria that her friend had just put up, I quickly signed up. It helped, of course, that I live close by. I also got to bring my girl C1 with me.

Sharlene Tan is the proprietress of Goodles. Shar explained the concept of Goodles to the bloggers present. It is simple, really – provide delicious, gourmet pasta choices ‘to go’. Now why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

Before Goodles, one would need to find a casual or fine dining pasta restaurant with a sit-down ambience. Then one would wait about 20 minutes after placing an order for it to be served. Prices of such dishes would also be in the P200 to P400 range per plate.

Goodles is not a brick-and-mortar type of pasta restaurant. Instead, it is located near the fountain area, in an open space, with simple tables and chairs for those who choose to sit down to eat while also offering the order-and-go style for those who wish to take the food out or who want to take something other than popcorn and chips into the moviehouse.

We got to try all the dishes they served up but my personal favorite that night was the Grape Carbonara. No kidding, they put grape halves in with the carbonara. Shar said that carbonara, which oftentimes comes out too creamy and rich, is complemented by the taste of the grapes which tempers the richness of the carbonara sauce. I must say that she was absolutely right. The grapes went very well with the carbonara!

C1 had the Seven Layer Lasagna. That was very good too. I dug into the layers upon layers of the chunky meat sauce topped with lots and lots of mozzarella cheese.

The Salsa Rossa Shrimp is good for those who can stand it a bit spicy hot. This is a creamy tomato sauce with white shrimps and sweet basil topped with fresh mozzarella bits. Chili is added for that hot ooomph!

All the bloggers who went that night were one in saying that the Goodles menu was truly value for money. Know why? None of their prices hit P200. Great pasta at a great price. That is the real deal!

We all vowed to come back again and again. Next time, I’m bringing my girl C2 who is a definite pasta lover like me.

Goodles is located at the 4/F of Robinsons Galleria (near Movieworld and in front of Pizza Hut).

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Taste Korean Food Festival (Nov. 19-23, 2009)

In the 80s I had the chance to live in South Korea for 5 months due to work. An assistant and I did computer audit work for an oil company and a multinational bank. I fell in love with Bibimpap, a complete meal in itself consisting of ground beef and various vegetables, together with a fried egg as rice toppings together with a special Korean hot sauce. Coming back to Manila, one of the first things I did was to try to find a Korean restaurant. I could not find any at all.

Fast forward to today in 2009. Look everywhere and you see Korean culture around us. There are so many Koreans in different parts of the country studying English, engaging in business, and many other activities. Korean restaurants, Korean hair stylists, Korean groceries abound everywhere. It seems that the Koreans have been able to integrate in some way with the Filipinos.

Last Friday, I came across a Korean food festival at the Atrium of Shang Plaza. The Korean culture through its food is available for everyone to see and taste test till Monday, Nov. 23.

I was able to interview Mr. Park Hyun Mo, the Co-Chairman of the 60th Anniversary of Korea-Philippines Diplomatic Relationship who gave this background of the festival.

Here are pictures I took at the festival. Go visit the festival this weekend and get a chance to taste real Korean food.

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Get Fit and Designer-Fitted with Nestle Fitnesse

Over a year ago, I discovered Nestle Fitnesse cereal. It went well with my being a yoga practitioner as it was light enough for me to munch on even before a yoga class without that heaviness that goes with eating. Yet, it provided the energy and fiber that I needed. It was a healthy snack that I always had around the house. In fact, while many take their cereal with milk, I took mine straight out of the box. It was something I could just continue snacking on.

When I took on a consultancy project, I found myself staying late in the office. Again, Nestle Fitnesse cereal was my constant companion. I had a resealable container in one drawer always filled with the cereal. I especially liked the variety that had fruit in it.

See? Here is my current supply of Nestle Fitnesse & Fruit!

Now, guess what! Nestle Fitnesse is offering a challenge to all of you to get into the FASHION AND FITNESS mode.

If you’re wondering what the “14 DAYS” is on the lower right of the box, that’s exactly how long one of my favorite snacks is giving you and up to 8 of your friends to lose some pounds and win an entire designer’s wardrobe. And I don’t mean just any kind of wardrobe. Handpicked by the country’s top editors, the shortlisted wardrobe is a dream come true for a fashionista. “For the prizes in NESTLE FITNESSE’s 14 Days to Show off Your Shape, we found out what some of the country’s most stylish people want to have in their closets,” shares Myra Garcia, Consumer Marketing Manager, Nestle Fitnesse . “And in doing so, we were able to shortlist what’s arguably the most coveted designer wardrobe to hit Manila.”

Start your way to a fit life and get rewarded with a set of clothes that will make you look good in a new body.

Take a look at 3 of the 8 designer items up for grabs by the winners:






Are you tempted already by these luscious clothes? I am!

The rules are simple and fun, actually. Here are the mechanics:

14 Days to Fitness and Fashion

So what do you have to do to get a crack at Manila’s most coveted designer wardrobe?

Simply form a team of 2-8 members, and using Nestle Fitnesse’s 14-day meal plan, everyone in the team has to lose at least 2 pounds in 2 weeks. “No, 2 pounds is not that daunting, it only needs a few diet tweaks,” quips Myra Garcia. She explains that participants only need to replace breakfast and one of the main meals – either lunch or dinner–for 2 weeks.  She adds that to exercise as well as eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and low-fat, carbohydrate rich foods is the best way to complement the 14-day regimen.

And as part of the challenge, participants also need to chronicle their 14-day regimen via an online “fitness diary” accessed at <> . The Top 10 most popular FITNESSE 14-day diaries will make it into finals.

The Nestle Fitnesse 14 Days to Show off Your Shape will kick off on November 14, Saturday, 9am, with the voting period lasting from November 15 to December 3, 2009.  And as adjudged by Manila’s top style icons the winners will be announced on December 10, 2009 in a special fashion show.

“People who’ll join this challenge will have nothing to lose but pounds,” jests Myra Garcia.   “Not only do they win the fashionista closet of their dreams, but they walk away with health tips, tweaks and tricks during their 14-day challenge and continue on living a healthier, fitter and a more runway-ready lifestyle.”

For more information about Nestle Fitnesse’s 14 Days to Show off Your Shape, please log on to <> .

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