Tag Archives: Breakfast

IHOP: Hop Out!

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One of the perks of being an adult is the freedom of having breakfast for dinner—and not paying the price by sitting in the corner for missing out on the other horrid food groups. Pancakes, oatmeal—heck, even ice cream—eat whatever you like—no one’s going to jail for that, unless of course you get from my plate.

fort bonifacio global city

And so that was the plan, IHOP (BGC) pancakes and eggs for dinner as we watch the fading sun. Getting wasted on cream was an expectation, as part of our pre-football game tradition.  Walking it off, maybe. Maybe not.

However getting creamed was more like it.

chocolate chip pancake jenina gonzales

The Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes (2) were supposed to be dessert-and-dinner-in-one chocolate fantasy but regrettably turned out to be a mass of flour fury. Lackluster, powdery and extremely out of shape, it seemed like a practice batter out of my own kitchen, and believe me, I’ve made better pancakes despite my propensity to burn pans. It was a torturous lump to finish, and it did not help that the globs of syrup on the side held at least 100 calories per fl. oz. of serving.

I don’t suppose I will be dreaming of chocolate anytime soon. The chocolate bakemono perhaps.

cinna stack manila food

The CINN-A-STACK was the opposite, flavor-wise, with a maximum amount of sweetness, but sans the fluff factor; it was a gigantic and dry cinnamon flat-scuit. Is the IHOP kitchen experiencing drought which has led to the desert attribute of its pancakes? The powder  quality is impeccable and consistent, it makes me wonder why Aunt Jemima can’t share her secret with the international trade.

pancake lazy black cat

The New York Cheesecake Pancakes ought to be the bestseller and captured my interest the very first time I heard IHOP in Manila. Drought has conquered this dish too, not to mention the deficiency in the cheesecake (what monstrosity). With nothing left but batter and flour, this super ordinary dish topped with 3 sad looking strawberries deserves entry in the to-go bag.

Nothing I do can give life to those strawberries again. IHOP just killed them and they will find better peace in my stomach.

smokehouse combo

As for the non pancake items (Smokehouse Combo) I’d say they are the reason why IHOP’s existence is justified.

The scrambled eggs were whipped with buttermilk , making them the fluffiest ever mankind has ever seen—enough to make it an 80s icon. If the pancakes were this indulgent, then I would really welcome obesity as a life partner.

j.anne gonzales food breakfast

The Chicken Fajita omelette was a mega Mexican protein portion, complete with salsa and whipped cream enough to justify its 1,000 calories! Just mambo off the saturate fat, and we’re good to go!

smokehouse combo j.anne

The hash brown appeared like messy strips of greasy pik nik but were seamlessly cooked. Too bad IHOP had no mustard (it’s just me but you would love it with the usual catsup). The eggs and has brown went perfectly to the tune of an awesome breakfast. If only the pancakes sang the same song—perhaps they were tuned to fit a requiem—then this would’ve been one heck of big breakfast for dinner which I have always dreamed of.

jenina gonzales blog

However the pancakes, the stuff of which my dreams are made of, were just a dry disaster. And now there’s one less comfort food in my list and the new theme of my nocturnal paranoia.

Oh IHOP, keep on clucking—I’ll be back for those! And if you can’t find help from someone named Jemima, try someone close.. Jenina (cough, cough.. me). Promise to work beside a fire extinguisher.

football lazy black cat jenina gonzales

*An aftermath of the dryness disaster caused a chain reaction all the way to Emperador Stadium at McKinley Hill. Apparently it was not enough to ruin my digestion, my team got creamed as well. Ah well. I HOPe we learn from that flourry of mistakes.

 

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Shred the Sugar: Shredded Wheat

Off with the seasonal gatherings and dragon new years feasts. February signals the revival of the sugar allergy, fitness attempts and calorie counting. We ought to pretend that our goal is to end 2012 as athlete of the year (I wish, but that should be a crazy motivation). With V-day and Lent approaching, the sugar-free quest shouldn’t be a problem – as both occasions require abstinence, not celebration.

Fancy cereals (sorry, Special K with chocolate) are kicked out of the pantry, as we welcome the non deviant: Post Shredded Wheat. Original, not the Frosted one that brings shivers to your teeth.

In my quest for the low sugar cereal, I ended up with ZERO SUGAR – a jump-for-joy occasion like finding One Piece, or perhaps the Holy Grail for the more civilized readers. Not only that, a serving packs in 6g fiber, 1g of Total Fat and 170 calories.

Taste-wise, do not expect Chocolate Cheerios to start spreading chocolate goodness from your bland bowl. It’s 100% wheat that’s sugar-free so try to be more realistic: spiky wood chips drenched in milk. That’s more like it. Keep it soggy and it’ll be easier to swallow, but there’s a downside to it as well as it grows in size the longer it stays drenched and untouched. Yes, kinda like the Gremlins, but with fiber.

The cereal takes getting used to, and of course there are ways to garnish the earthy flavor to make it more edible and worth feeding those under 20. With its sugar-free composition, we could afford to add a little fruit, soymilk or mochi even.

Look at the upside, this is the last cereal anyone’s gonna steal from your pantry. Your investment is safe. :) 

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Bob’s Red Mill: Grainy Goodness

Whole grains and muesli are uncommon breakfast choices in the Philippines where fried rice, fried egg and fried beef rule the tables, menus and everyone’s wish list. Lately the cereal market has been booming, owning an entire aisle in supermarkets which is a great improvement, compared to yesteryear when I practically had to kneel to get a sight of a cereal box. Catered mainly to kids though, the market is fraught with cartoon characters, free toys and sugar.

Where’d the whole grains go? Most of you don’t but I do.

Meandering through S&R, I came across these 2 whole grain cereals that were promising in their see-through bags and well, were definitely inexpensive! Okay, I admit it was the cheap part that caught my attention.

Meet Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal and Old Country Style Muesli

Do not be fooled by the 10 Grain Hot Cereal‘s mini pellets that might resemble poultry feed. Let’s just refer to them as crushed oats – sounds better, right? The entire mix is composed mainly of Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Rye, Whole Grain Triticale, Whole Grain Oats, Oat Bran, and loads more of Whole Grain ingredients, including heart friendly Flaxseed. There is definitely no whole wheat deprivation in this package and thus the underlying feature we all love: rich in fiber! A serving boasts of 5g of fiber (25% daily value) that surely tops the fiber content of boxed cereals. A serving (1/4 cup dry) also imparts only 140 calories, 1g Total Fat and no sugar. 

Don’t expect the porridge to taste like chocolate pudding though. It took me several attempts to microwave it properly to achieve a smoother blend and at times, mixed it with banana and soy milk to greatly improve the texture and flavor.

And this brings me to Old Country Style Muesli. Again, another whole wheat bonanza with Whole Grain Wheat, Date Crumbles, Sunflower seeds, Raisins Whole Grain Rye and Whole Grain Barley topping the ingredient list. A serving (1/4 cup) provides 5g of sugar, inevitably contributed by the dried fruits. It’s so good and heartwarming though, it beats other muesli brands with its nutritional content: 110 calories, 3g Total Fat and 4g Fiber

There is of course a reason why they were bought and featured at the same time: I mix the two cereals for breakfast! Thus, sugar is limited, the flavor is shared and I get the perfect texture – a combination of almond crunch, fruity smoothness, a bit of chewy from the flaxseed and tender bites from the oats. This comforting meal does not even call for milk, banana or my favorite cinnamon. It tastes great on its own and with the Omega-3 and Fiber filling every meal, it makes the perfect breakfast.

Oh, and dinner too, if you’re as weird as me.

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Wake up and Smell the Cereal

Breakfast is the meal that I would shed tears for, should I miss it by waking up late or prevented by any nocturnal family member. Which is why cereal ranks as high as dessert in my beloved stash. It is one of the food items that I would waive my sugar aversions for and welcome in extravagance.

This has got to be my happiest stash yet:

- Special K Red Berries, Blueberry and Plain

- Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted and Strawberries

- Nature’s Path Organic Multigrain Oatbran Cereal and Oaty Bites.

I started the law of <5g of sugar per serving but so far, only the organic cereals and plain Special K fit the requirement—and I refuse to eat just them! Hence, the sugar waiver allows me to enjoy other Special K, Honey Bunches and Cheerios (not in picture) variants as much as I please, every morning. Also, the nutritional provisions of my stash are rather acceptable:  <1g total fat and average about 110-150 calories per serving. Add in unsweetened soymilk and a banana and that’s one lip smacking power breakfast that can surely beat pancakes and tapsilog (Filipino breakfast of dried beef, fried egg and garlic fried rice). A breezy, hasty and nutrition-packed breakfast—all the more reason to wake up early!

We shouldn’t revel in the sugary wonder of all cereals though. While discussing them all at length can be tedious, here are some brands your grocery carts and pantries should not contain: Froot Loops (Kellogg’s), Frosted Flakes (Kellogg’s), Trix (General Mills), Oreo O’s (Post), Fruity Pebbles (Post), Cookie Crisp (General Mills), Lucky Charms (General Mills), Cocoa Puffs (General Mills), Cookie Crisp (Nestle) —sweetly suicidal sans the nutritional value. Pair them with whole milk and welcome to Biggest Loserville! To know more about the nutritional info on these cereal brands, check out: http://www.acaloriecounter.com/breakfast-cereal.php

I know a lot of people who skip breakfast in their weight loss endeavor, but the opposite holds true. Breakfast is like the sinister sitter who lets you eat all the Oreos for dinner without telling mom. Breakfast gives us the perfect excuse gorge on sugary delights disguised as cereal. So really now, why ever skip breakfast?!

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Grain-ous Crime

Grains or oats are the new hotcakes. The idiom “selling like hotcakes” ought to be updated to “selling like grains” because that’s exactly what’s going on around us. Of course we couldn’t imagine people fighting over a sack of wheat but they would over the last bag of Nova. The grains phenomenon has affected almost everything—from crackers to drinks to cosmetics. Maybe we should rename this website as Fiber.com, might get more hits.

  1. Sun Chips (Frito Lay)

Sun Chips pioneered the grain-chip selection and has since then grown into a dieter’s indulgence. It contains less Sodium and Saturated fat than Doritos and packs in more fiber. Keep the serving to about 15 chips and you’re back on the road to fitness. Sun Chips is the saturated fat winner in this category—with only one gram per serving—should be enough reason to make us reach for the grain. Now that’s what we call keeping a sunny disposition.

 

2.Nova (URC)

What’s with naming these chips after meteorological terms? Science aside, what’s so cosmic about Nova is that it tastes nearly as great as Sun Chips and has a slightly thicker texture—for those who prefer a massive crunch. The individual pack has the acceptable caloric content, plus fiber! The other flavors may taste fuzzy but the cheese variant is enough to gratify any junkie craving sans the guilt.

 

3. Oheya! (Oishi)

Oheya! has only one draw to us buyers—its name, which I had to murmur about a million times before I got it right. With150 calories, 255 mg sodium and <1 fiber—we’re better off snacking on the big, bad tortillas! Too salty and zero on the flavor, people think it’s the cheaper version of Nova or Sun Chips, but in reality a bag only contain 20 measly grams. Do I hear rip off? Oheya’s attempt to dethrone local favorite Nova is just as close as me waking up with snow on our porch. That’s just great because we don’t even have porches in the sunny Philippines!

4. Skyflakes (Monde)

Skyflakes is the ultimate Filipino staple, from office drawers, sari-sari stores to high school uniform pockets. We’ve forever held this notion that saltine crackers = diet food, but looking through the stats dictates that we may even be better off with a real sandwich! The Oat variants (Oat Fiber and with Flaxseed) may add to the anorexic appeal, but are nothing spectacular save for their grainy texture. With more that 100 calories and saturated fat enough to fuel 10% of our day, (that’s for 3 crackers) this leaves us reaching for another pack to give us enough energy to even stand.

With vegetable shortening being the 2nd or 3rd most used ingredient for such a thin slab, we’ll know what to blame once our thighs start to bulge after eating 10 crackers too many.


5. Nature Valley (General Mills)

The Valley must be brimming with syrup because each bite of this bar attacks us with a bad case of dental caries. Calorie-wise though, this energy booster can revive the famished. However, going for a daily dose of the crunchy variety (Cinnamon, Oats ‘n Honey and Peanut Butter) would give your teeth enough stress you’d be saying: An Apple (Cinnamon) a day never keeps the dentist at bay.

As a consolation, you might think, “Why don’t we give our teeth a break and go for the Chewy Trail Mix instead?” Sorry to burst your bubble because if there’s anything that would invite the dentist to your doorstep, it would be this bar’s 14g of syrupy sweetness. With the 2nd ingredient listed as high maltose corn syrup, we’re sure to get a sugar high with every loaded bite.

6. Nesvita (Nestle)

The breakfast you can drink is bustling with heaps of nutritional essentials. Need a morning pick me up? Need a fiber lift? Need a vitamin boost? Nesvita’s got that all covered.

Do you need a monotony of flavors as well? Why, Nesvita’s the perfect choice! Taste one and you feel like you’ve tasted them all.

 

Nestle’s packaging is so craftily designed it brings our attention to highlighted areas such as Fiber and Calcium and veers us away from the nasty ingredients section.

With 11g of sugar (Original), this officially makes Nesvita the “SUGAR you can drink”. The Chocolate variant tries to ease on the bad stuff by adding only 7.9g sugar and more fiber.

What’s so preposterous about Nesvita’s nutritional label is that the table looks all cheery and tummy friendly but fails to distinguish among the fat groups(there are 3 kinds but it only lists FAT in general) and omits Sodium, which is a vital part of my graph. So start your day right, with a sugar rush and a deviant manufacturing food label—both courtesy of Nesvita.


7. Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bar (Pepsico)

With luscious flavors like chocolate chip and peanut butter, it’s so hard to resist a bar. Put in 100 calories per portion,and you probably can’t wait to take a bite out of it—but wait up, care to bring along the 7g sugar baggage as well? Sound the alarm because this baby’s got a tad more sugar than necessary.

Still can’t resist its chewy goodness? Re-christen the bar as dessert, and go around swearing by this new fact: This is the healthiest dessert ever! Ah yes, what people would do for the love of all things sweet. Count me in.

8. Nova Granola Bar (URC)

The Chips may be fab but we’d pass on the Bar. Imagine calling yourself a “Multigrain Snack Bar” with Glucose Syrup as the 1st ingredient, and on the 4th we find the synonymous sugar. Too much sweet going on for such a little fella. Why not go for the real Nova instead with fewer calories and half the sugar content?

Oh wait, I forgot to mention: Worst tasting granola bar. Ever.


9. Pringles Multigrain – Creamy Ranch (P&G)

Pringles is navigationally off course, trying to pass off its Multigrain series as an equal oat alternative. We all should have learned by now that not all oats are created equal and Pringles falls on the least fiber-filled sphere. With Rice Flour as its main component and hints of potato flour wedged in between, it’s just like snacking on the average Pringles—with the same amount of Fiber and nutrients. It’s still got the crisp crazy goodness of Pringles, so it’s all right to indulge—so long as you’re not on a strict, anti-potato diet.

Even with only a handful of products under this category, the honor and horror roll system cannot be ignored. Time to mete out the best and worst among the Oats/Grains Snacks:

In the Pantry

1. Sun Chips Original (Frito Lay)

With 140 calories, 3g fiber and only 1g saturated fat, Sun Chips is the reason why the Grain Chips category was born.The sun is definitely shining on this snack because munching on these crunchy and zesty thins can certainly make your day.

 

2. Nova – Cheese (URC)

While Nova ain’t exactly Sun Chips, it does manage to pack fewer calories and sodium and still serve a lip-smacking, crunchy chip. It makes the ideal single-serve snack and goes well with salsa too!

 

3. Nesvita – Chocolate (Nestle)

Chocolate-flavored Nesvita makes the perfect breakfast or snack to those who need the fiber and energy boost. It’s a malt-filled drink with 109 calories and 11g fiber—enough to rival the terribly sweet granola bars. Take it hot or cold, who couldn’t resist this nourishing, mildly sweet and flexible snack?


Down the Drain

1. Nature Valley Oat ‘n Honey (General Mills)

Nature Valley takes the word “Crunchy” so seriously, it does a better job at pulling off my teeth than my dentist. Add the ludicrously high sugar content of 12g, and watch your dentist ban you from his office for life.

 

2. Nova Granola Bar – Caramel Peanut Crunch (URC)

With nothing spectacular to boast about its nutritional content, there is no way Nova can EVER justify this horribly sweet slab disguised as a heavenly granola bar. I had to stomach 99 calories of pure torture just to write this down. Brand extension has never been this ridiculous.

 

3. Oheya! – Cheese (Oishi)

Trying to sound cool has been the only purpose of Oheya’s inception because if there’s anything to describe its nutritional content, well, it’s way uncool! Like Nova Granola Bar, I would rather waste the calories on something more sinfully delicious and filling at the very least.

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