Tag Archives: snack

Bathroom Buddy: Fiber Plus

A sucker for anything Fiber – without any hint of hesitation – Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Antioxidants (Dark Chocolate Almond) found itself in my shopping cart and straight to my office drawer. Without even having the time to acquaint itself with my stapler, it became morning snack #1.

Chewy and studded with chocolate and almonds in every bite, Fiber Plus is a delightful diet snack with 130 calories, 5g saturated fat and, 9g fiber and 7g sugar per bar. I must have eaten mine in 4 bites – quite a record for someone who prefers tiny, slow nibbling over the ravenous mastication. Promising 35% of our daily fiber, it also makes the pledge to make us full longer.

Promise fulfilled. Plus it tasted more like a dessert bar.

In my haste to gobble it down before Willy Wonka could snatch it from me, I forgot to check the ingredient list, which I managed to do only post meal. Ingredient number 1 is Chicory Root Fiber, to be followed by Rolled Oats and Crisp Rice – the carby bunch.

Does Chicory Root Fiber ring a bell? It does to me, being a proponent of teas, and this one makes it to the “diet” tea bunch. You know, where diet is synonymous to digestive.

How funny it was to learn about this relevant piece of dietary information after finishing a bar in the office. Googling it further, I uncovered numerous bathroom jokes on Fiber Plus and Chicory Root. You do know where I’m getting at – well certainly not the bathroom. While Fiber Plus may have spawned quite a bathroom population in certain gluttonous regions – no, I’m not part of it – this should be met with good news as to its fiber-rific claim. At least here’s one granola bar doing its job on promoting health and cleansing our system.

As to the bathroom jokes, best to snack on this when you’re at your fiber low. One bar at a time. Nice and easy.

Tissues might come in handy as well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Fancy Cakes

When I peeked at Fancy Cakes (Magiting St.) with the best that my mundane eyesight could do, I spotted no Angry Birds or Plants vs Zombies cakes in the chiller. No Twilight-themed cakes either or I would’ve dashed so fast even Edward couldn’t catch up. It was just cheesecakes and chocolate cakes staring back at us. I knew the coast was clear. 

The cakes were less than frilly, as one would expect, but with delectable-sounding cheesecake and chocolate cake variants staring back at you, this is fancy enough for me!

The chocolate cakes I spotted came in 3 variants: Decadent, S’mores and Romeo and Juliet, all priced reasonably at P70 a slice, while the cheesecakes at P80 per slice were just as mouth-watering: Nutella, Blueberry, and Oreo.

Romeo and Juliet (Black and White)

Romeo and Juliet was the black and white cake, with dark and white chocolate filling the layers, making a really pretty picture. The taste wasn’t all that fancy (or maybe I’m not much of a white chocolate person) but all right for its price range.  Of the chocolate cakes <P100 per slice, this one makes it to the top list. Competitors within range offer spongy, chiffon-like cakes or overly sugary batters that are heavily commercialized and far from satisfying.  At least at Fancy Cakes, there’s a “comfort food” vibe to the place, especially with neighboring Moonleaf Teahouse, so nearby residents may consider this for their next tea time.

Nutella Cheesecake

The Nutella Cheesecake had mini swirls of nutella, but the hazelnut flavor was barely discernible. The cheesecake was about an inch and a half high, firm and on the cheesy side (vs creamy which I hate). Despite its seemingly minute serving, it was rather compact and filling. The cheesecake base was great because it didn’t get all oozy or crumbly. The crust was thin but at least not bathed with sugar, which made the cheesecake the central part of well, the cheesecake – which ought to be the case.

If I ever get lost in the Magiting-Maginhawa area, which is very likely to happen, I’d most probably try the Oreo Cheesecake, and of course cross over to Moonleaf for an Oolong fix. Now that’ll be one cheap, fancy treat!

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Nuts About Soy Butter

There was a time when peanut butter was banned entry in our fridge because it triggered the rise of our adolescent bestie, the zit. Poor Peter Pan and Jif had to live a life of neglect along with the vegetables, as we favored cheese and eggs for our sandwiches.

Lately though, Peanut Butter has slowly been making its way back in our sandwiches, being protein-deprived most of the time. Lounging around the supermarket aisles and reading nutritional labels of peanut butter brands gave me a pretty clear direction on future purchases.

Actually, the peanut butter mantra is rather simple (I apologize in advance for committing treason):

  •  NO to local brands, unless you want a weekly visit to the dentist (and we do admit that an annual visit is already a pain).
  • As for foreign commercial brands, NO to Goober and my childhood sweetheart, Peter Pan.
  • YES to Skippy Natural (the one with “no need to stir” printed).
  • YES to Laura Scudder Organic Peanut Butter (love)!
  • MAYBE to PB Co. Dark Chocolate and Green Tea Peanut Butter because they’re new and I only bought them because they’re so kawai and cheap!
  • Last but not the least, NEVER to crunchy peanut butter! Damn, you make chewing such a difficult task!

I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter and Skippy Natural

By default, the calories and fat level of peanut butter are normally high, so for those seeking a “healthier” option, go for an ingredient list that shows mainly Roasted Peanuts, as is the case for organic brands like Laura Scudder.

In the supermarket though, I’ve found that Skippy Natural already presents the least damaging nutritional data with 190 calories, 18% Saturated Fat and 3g sugar for every 2 tablespoons. That serving isn’t particularly diet-variety, so you can probably imagine that what to expect from other brands: flab or an early death.

Healthy Options, the store, provides other ” nut butter” categories that are health-friendly but on the budget-averse side. Seriously, I am still in the process of saving up for the almond butter, which costs as much as a facial (see why I’m torn) so I’ve settled for an interesting alternative: SoyNut Butter.

I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter has a dubious sound to its name and blue jar but with 170 calories, 8% saturated fat and 3g sugar for 2 tablespoons and without a speck of NUT, it’s an adolescent’s dream cream. Soybeans replace the nuts, so the protein content isn’t compromised. For anti-nuts, pimply kids or soy aficionados, here’s the sandwich spread we’ve been looking for (I’m the anti-nut, soy aficionado).

(Left) I.M. Healthy and (R) Skippy Natural

I.M. Healthy Soy Butter, Peanut-Free!

Don’t expect it to taste like peanut because it’s soy. The soy butter resembles the texture, color and overall “feel” of peanut butter but with hints of the soy flavor.

Don’t know what this “soy flavor” I’m talking about? Think soy milk or taho (for the Pinoys) and incorporate that taste with peanut butter.

Weird? Not really, my stash is half empty already.

Whether it’s peanut butter or soy or even to-die-for almond butter, what’s important is that every jar contains mainly these nuts or soybeans and less of the non essentials (like sugar, salt and other ingredient we more than 3 syllables). Even if I did look like a fool reading every jar in the grocery, I’m glad I found what I wanted: Skippy Natural and I.M Healthy Soy Butter. 

Glad to have you in my fridge. Now if only we can keep you long enough.

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Shakey’s Ultimate Cheese and Garlic

Shakey’s finally got it right! 

We’ve been battling with burnt crusts and absent cheese for some time now, but luck finally pushed through with this Shakey’s Ultimate Cheese and Garlic, Thin Crust. Of all places, the Domestic Terminal. Way too far from home but thank goodness, the road trip to Manila was worth it.

The cheese toppings were thickly and generously spread; each bite was made chewy and garlic-zesty. There were no craters from lack of cheese, and the crust was baked just right and veered away from cracker-dom. A far cry from the Margherita that would make its namesake cry out in frugal shame.


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Ciao Gelato

Show me another frozen yogurt stand, and get ready for a barrage of not-too-pleasant banter, with resonating words like uncreative, mainstream, and so yesterday. Indeed, froyo is so 2010. It’s time to revert and find folly in the good ol’ classics, in ice cream and more specifically, gelato.

Before any verbal insurgency starts to label me as old-fashioned, bear in mind that the gelato I’m talking about isn’t the usual fat laden and tooth-decay-sweet that once kept our hippies plump. Today’s gelato is almost fat free, comes in more exotic and adventurous flavors and is available in sugar or dairy free versions. Our generation brings bliss to those harboring the unquenchable sweet tooth, and gelato can easily kick froyo out of the top spot in the almost-healthy dessert list.

A fact deliberately ignored: frozen yogurt comes with sugar and cream and almost always, the toppings are an inevitable companion to ward off the sourness that most Filipinos hate, and will never learn to love. But gelato is au natural delight—tastes superb on its own, with no need for extra toppings, cones or that repulsive whipped cream.

Gelatissimo, for example, offers 90 to 97% fat free creations, sorbet, sugar free and dairy flavors and a rotating assortment that includes quite an interesting number such as Pannacotta, Pineapple, Rum and Raisin, Apple Pie, Truffle, Hazelnut, Green Tea and Lemon Cheesecake. The list is endless, and for a scoop (P110) or two (P160), a gastronomic feeling of astonishment and sweet fill can make us forget frozen yogurt was ever born. PETA-approved dairy-free dark chocolate is a universal favorite, while flavors with a hint of liquor can surely draw in the mature crowd. Mind you, my dad went for the Rum and Raisin and ordered that ever since. Not even the lure of Hazelnut could change his mind.

Italian favorite Affogato makes a heartening treat, complete with the lush tray, while fruity flavors (lemon, lime, strawberry, raspberry, etc) will make a dieter’s best friend with their low calorie content. I can probably go on about every flavor, but there’s just one thing I want to say: Why go on a monotonous froyo binge when you can enjoy an adventurous feast with gelato flavors? If you’re going to be spending the same amount anyway and ingest the same amount of calories/sugar, just go for the real thing.

Once spotted in its corner spot in Greenbelt 5, Gelatissimo has found (not so) new homes in Serendra and TriNoma (just fabulous). Now, we northern folks can expand our territorial choices, which were once composed of just Cara Mia, Stick House, Sebastian’s and of course, the ubiquitous froyo stands.

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Promenade Picks: BonChon Chicken and Happy Lemon

After years of non-existence in my mental malling destination, Greenhills Promenade finally makes a grand entrance with the opening BonChon Chicken at its ground floor foodcourt-ish section. Alongside Singaporean and noodle stores and with Happy Lemon manning the revolving doors, it’s Asian food bliss.

Despite the lengthy queue and the spiteful stares of the standing crowd—hoping to grab a table in the foodcourt’s limited seating capacity—BonChon Chicken’s debut finally draws in people by the hordes. For once, we don’t have to force ourselves on Mexicali, Pepper Steak or Hizon’s. Hurrah for the chicken homecoming!

BonChon Chicken, with its twice fried chicken and special sauce, has been hailed the Best Chicken in America. The Chicken Chops are tender, sweet and mildly crisp. The batter is chewy and compact, making the 4-chop serving very filling. Pair it with fries for a zesty sidekick. With the fares a bit (okay, greatly) on the oily side, there’s a reason why Happy Lemon is just around the corner.

As expected, only Happy Lemon can match the queuing length and time at BonChon Chicken. With the in-line May-I-Get-Your-Order personnel and the vibrating flying saucers, you might think that efficiency is finally brewing at Happy Lemon, but not really. Compared to our previous visits, the Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese has dwindled in taste (the tea concentration, more specifically) and the Crispy Cocoa Matcha with Brown Jelly  and additional Aloe had too much ice and NO cocoa and aloe. Checking the receipt—Hey, I paid P10 for thatI want my aloe!

Hopefully, this lackluster experience will not be the service norm. Coming up with nicknames is my specialty and I’ve already brainstormed the following: Zero Intensi-TEA, Where art thou, my Aloe?, Matcha Misery, and of course, the apt no-brainer: Unhappy Lemon.

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Revel Yell (Revel Bars at Parvati)

Entirely an accidental aftermath of eating a gigantic cheese omelet for lunch, I considered it imperative to pay another trip to Parvati at Trinoma to look for something randomly sweet.

Cheesecake was the first that came to mind but strangely enough, the ones I pointed to were all out of stock. Those available were puny and blueberry – not quite a match for my post work leviathan appetite.

Hence, I reverted to my original favorite: revel bars. Parvati’s selection, baked by Sweet Beginnings Patisserie, made it impossible to ignore. Temptingly named Dark Chocolate Walnut Revel Bars (P90 for 4 bars), no further introductions are necessary to identify what these glistening bars are made of. Immediately captivated by the flowing silky carpet of brown, the revel bar is mostly dark chocolate – a welcoming improvement to other local competitors. Each bite is interspersed with chewy oats and walnuts, so despite its miniature size, it takes a while to finish the entire box. Chewy, semi sweet and erratically crunchy – there is no overwhelming sweetness or nuttiness that seeks to dominate the overall flavor. 

Small but sinfully blissful. This one’s definitely worth a revel yell: More, please!

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Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila

Just last year, people barely cared about tea, considered it a post meal obligation and called it a Chinese influence – which was weird because I was actually drinking Japanese matcha.

After being snubbed for centuries, fast forward to the present: Filipinos welcoming and bombarding the milk tea joints with the same Pacquiao intensity. Strange what these Asian popstars can do to our dietary preferences. From frozen yogurt and gelato to chai latte with pudding—much better though, wouldn’t you say?

Scouring through the Metro you will spot them everywhere, with names that have nothing to do with tea to a myriad of adjectives that could possibly describe drinks. Let’s not be fooled by flashy names and pink colored teas though; TASTE still matters. Oh, and location as well.  

Here are my Top 5:

1.       Chatime – Found in some SM Malls, Chatime provides fast, cheap and cha-rming (“tea”) drinks with customizable ice and sugar settings, not to mention the plethora of toppings that includes rainbow jelly, coconut jelly and aloe vera. With huge servings and a vast menu selection, you’ll never get tired of this place and neither will your wallet. With oolong tea, chrysanthemum tea and a host of Oriental pop teas included in the selection, and the mousse variants that will take straight to froth heaven, you’ll find yourself asking: So, when’s our next Cha Time?

 2.       Happy Lemon – Insanely popularized by Chris Tiu, females first flocked to Happy Lemon for the purpose of a celeb sighting. However, with its casual ambience and trendy, enticing and fancy offerings, everyone has been raving about Happy Lemon, the place and the owner—an added bonus. With innovative drinks including malt, yakult, yogurt, blueberries, coffee, and an assortment of teas, one trip is never enough. First timers encouraged to order the bestseller Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese can only say, amidst frothy smiles, “This rocks!”

3.       Serenitea – One of the pioneers in the local milk tea scene, Serenitea fuses organic and fun tea drinking in its giant swirly cup. There’s something very zen about the sight of real tea leaves (genmaicha, oolong, assam, black, green, jasmine—you name it) being scooped from their tranquil homes and brewed to our desired tea concoction. Savor the aroma that’s enough to summon Buddha for a sip of Grass Milk Tea or Passionfruit Fruitea. Straightforward and simple, de-stress at Serenitea with its peaceful atmosphere, yummy tea drinks and delightful menu fare. Yes, they serve delish snacks as well.          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-z1zR5QEKf7w/Tdp4IMBR0XI/AAAAAAAABhM/mrwMu5jIaSc/s1600/0147%2BTealogy%2B006.JPG

4.       Tea.ology – Unfazed by the stocking dilemma at Mercato Centrale, I fled to Tea.ology’s Il Terrazzo branch for a queue-free experience. Undulating patience required, drinks are concocted to match each buyer’s tea and sweetness preference. With an atmosphere that mimics local cafes—complete with magazine racks, tempting product visuals and ornate sounding drink names—Tea.ology provides the less sinful alternative to the local calorific hangouts. Who can resist Roasted Barley Milk Tea, Dark Chocolate Milk Tea or Kyoto Matcha Milk Tea? This place is something even tea novices would pay their respect to. Amen to that. 

http://foodplace2go.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Kozui-3.jpg5.       Kozui Green Tea Café – Winner of the “Going Green” campaign is awarded to Kozui’s teas which are mainly—what else would you expectmatcha/green tea.  Not to be outdone by the more prominent milk tea joints, Kozui  (Tomas Morato) offers its green tea blend in various concoctions and fruity flavors. Not to be missed, the ice blended Korichio ventures to the “frappy” drink but with fruity fusions and of course, whipped cream! While Kozui’s food selections may be short on the so-awesome-I’ll be-back department, its tea drinks can certainly boast of the delicious tea twist. Green, but certainly not mean.

Will the Philippines be in the running as the next Tea Capital, perhaps in Southeast Asia? At this rate, I should hope so. Forget the frozen yogurt shops and coffee joints that are making us fat, pudgy and too chatty for our mates.

This time, let’s make time for tea!


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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bread Monster?

Not me. I’m actually rather fond of it, and I bet you would too, if you give it a pet, errr… taste.

First spotted in the Ateneo de Manila University cafeteria, Bread Monster roared into existence as a school-based kiosk that specializes in cookies, cupcakes and pastries. Famous for its Blue Eagle Brownies and other thematic goodies, Bread Monster has clawed its way to the mainstream trade, finally showering its treats outside the Eagles’ lair.

A mainstay stall at the TriNoma Ground Floor (near Mercury Drugstore), Bread Monster offers the same set of sweet treats, sans the penchant for blue. Bestseller S’mores Cookies (P130 per pack) dishes out everyone’s favorite in a chewy cookie form, made more gooey with its marshmallow infused batter. Other cookies in the fare are just as luscious and chewy—from chocolate chip cookies to the traditional oatmeal cookies.

Not to be outdone, the Chocolate Cupcake is just as divine—not the best way to describe a monster but taste it and lash out words such as heavenly, blissful and indulgent. The chocolate cupcakes are moist and rich but without the excessive sweetness that would make you reach out for your toothbrush. It may not be leviathan in size, but it’s monstrously packed with chocolate goodness; even just one can take you straight to Cloud Nine.

Last but not the least are the best tasting bars the Bread Monster has hatched for our snacking revelry. Seek no more, Bread Monster’s Revel Bars (P160 for 8 pieces) are guaranteed to unleash our predatory instincts, no matter how hidden they stay, no matter what diet you think you’ve pledged yourself to. Rich in chocolate and oats with its delicate sweet base, each bite is sure to bring you to a delectable high. Watch one box sink into a mouthful abyss. Heat it up and pair with ice cream and get that dessert kick. Unlike other commercial revel bars that crumble even before they’re halfway near your mouth, this is one monster you’d want into keep in your pantry, fridge and bedside.

Don’t be afraid of the Bread Monster. It’s cheap, conveniently located and bellowing with baked goodness.

And best of all, it’s wicked!

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It’s Cha Time! (Chatime @ SM North)

Chatime Philippines Jenina Gonzales
There was a time when Happy Lemon single-handedly reigned supreme among the Taiwan-based Manila milk tea joints. Sure we’ve got Serenitea, Kozui and Quickly but they seem clumped in the Greenhills area, quite a distance from the Northern clique. It’s not that I hate going to Greenhills, it’s just that a weekly spree in the area (as much as I love it) can cause quite a dent in my pocket, and a very shallow pocket I have at the moment.

At this time of economic and tea deprivation, a lifesaver finally brews at SM North EDSA. Chatime, properly situated near the entrance of the Sky Dome and just a short walking distance from TriNoma is finally open and ready to dish out our favorite tea drinks!

Craving for taro milk tea or something more exotic like a passion fruit green tea brew—Chatime’s exhaustive menu listing is enough to compete with Happy Lemon, sans the fancy sounding names. Not only can we adjust the sugar settings (100%, 75%, 50%, 30% and zero), we can also choose how much ice to place in our drinks! Pretty neat, considering that half the population is nursing either a sore throat or a cold on account of the monsoon season. 




Always a first choice, I mindlessly selected the Matcha Mousse (large, 50% sugar, 70% ice with P15 pudding = P110), while my brother went for the Oolong Tea Mousse (large, 50% sugar, 70% ice with P15 pudding = P105). Call it sibling revelry, even if for a day. I was first expecting a frap-like concoction, judging from the name “mousse” which ought to have been a no-brainer, but what was served was a gigantic glass of frothy whipped tea swimming with awesome pudding.

At P95, large is well, an abysmal treat for any tea lover. Blending well with matcha or oolong tea, the pudding’s mild sweetness complements the tea’s delicate bitter taste (we did choose 50% – and no regrets, whatsoever).


The mousse-froth, as it turns out, is Chatime’s version of the Rock Salt and Cheese of Happy Lemon. The result is a delirious mix of flavors that makes one brilliant, flavorful and gigantic tea drink. Next time (I suppose there definitely will be one), I will try out the 30% sugar, so that I can enjoy more of the “tea” and its kick and less of the sweetness (aka calories).

At a more affordable price than Happy Lemon, a more convenient location than Serenitea and a premium tea selection compared to Quickly (and other cheap milk tea joints), Northern dwellers ought to make time for Chatime. The walk from TriNoma (should you park there like we do) may be quite tedious, but rest assured, the trip home would be on Froth 9.

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