Monday, January 30, 2017

How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh with Proper Storage

Eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables can be pretty expensive, and not knowing how to properly store them can make it even more so. With so many people chucking a huge chunk of their fresh produce mostly due to spoilage, it comes as no surprise that billions worth of food are wasted every year.

There are plenty of ways to keep fruits and veggies fresh, and if you learn how to do it right, you might just help prevent food waste and save yourself some money.

It’s Pretty Simple, Really

Just because they’re grouped together as produce doesn’t mean they’re supposed to be tossed together into the produce drawer. While some fruits and vegetables fare better on the countertop, others keep longer when stored in the fridge. Then there are certain foods that shouldn’t be stored together at all because some give off high levels of ethylene gas that the others may be sensitive to, speed up their ripening process, and cause them to rot.

Whether you’re just picking up a few at the farmer’s market or you’re growing them in your own garden, this quick guide will help ensure your fresh produce stays fresh until meal time.

With fruits making up the bulk of ethylene producers, and vegetables being generally ethylene-sensitive, it makes perfect sense to never store them together. If you’ve been storing your apples and bananas with your eggplants and dark leafy greens, then this explains why they tend to go bad quicker.

In or Out?

Sure, it’s almost always tempting to immediately place all produce in the fridge; however, it’s imperative to know the proper spots to store them to keep them from wilting into a soggy mess. Know what goes where, and you’re all set to keep your fruits and veggies fresh and flavorful for longer.

Countertop or Pantry: Fresh produce suitable for storage on the countertop or in the pantry typically keeps for 3-7 days. Store them in a bowl or a paper/plastic bag with small holes to speed up ripening; never in a sealed bag, as the lack of oxygen increases off-odors and speeds up decay.
Some items to store include apples (that are not too ripe), bananas, potatoes, whole pineapples and melons, avocados, and stone and citrus fruits (for slow ripening, move them to the fridge).
Fridge and Cool Storage: Fresh produce suitable for storage in the fridge has different needs. While some prefer to be exposed to the air, others are best kept in airtight containers. They can be pretty picky about temperature, too, and sometimes require special care.
Some items to store include chopped fruits and veggies, ripe fruits you want to keep fresh longer, root veggies (carrots, beets, and radishes), leafy greens and herbs, berries and mushrooms, and corn.

Fruits and veggies are the most commonly wasted food items in households. The good news is, it’s nothing a bit of planning and proper storage can’t fix. Follow these proper storage tips, and you’re guaranteed to contribute in cutting food waste—all while saving money and enjoying great-tasting food all year round.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Five Benefits of Dining In

Despite the rise of cooking shows, blogs and vlogs which promote home-cooking and dining in, many people choose to buy prepared meals or to eat out, especially during a busy work week. Driven by their desire to save time, these people tend to overlook the many benefits of eating meals at home and preparing their own food.

Keen to know how you can benefit more from dining in than from eating out? Here are some quick insights.

Dining in helps you save money. Cooking with raw ingredients at home costs less than buying prepared meals, which usually include packaging costs, taxes and other charges. Home-cooking also allows you to buy ingredients in bulk and easily prepare food in large quantities. So you can take your home-cooked leftovers to work the following day instead of buying lunch.

Dining in helps you save time. It might take you 2 to 3 hours to drive to a restaurant, to wait for your order and to return home. That's enough time to cook a three-course meal while doing other chores. If you have a busy schedule, you can prepare your meals for the whole week on a Saturday or Sunday and store them in the fridge.

Home-cooked meals have less salt and trans-fats. Dishes served at restaurants are tastier because restaurant chefs use a lot of salt and trans-fats in preparing them. By making your own meal, you can control the amount of salt and oil used in your dishes. This will help you manage your weight and protect yourself from diabetes and heart disease.

Eating meals at home protects you from food poisoning. Eating at restaurants exposes you to the possibility of eating food made from cheap ingredients and prepared by inexperienced handlers. You're therefore more prone to ingesting harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses from contaminated food. Dining in allows you to consume food that is safe to eat and lets you enjoy your meal in a healthy environment.

Dining in and home-cooking brings family together. Cooking and eating meals as a family is a great way to bond with your children. You can share stories and plan family activities while cooking or having dinner. Preparing meals right in your own kitchen for your loved ones is an opportunity to express your love and to impart the importance of healthy eating habits to them. These are wonderful values which your children can pass on to their future children.

If dining in has never been a part of your lifestyle, it's not too late to include it in your daily routine. You can start by dedicating two or three days a week to eat meals with your family at home until you’re able to do it daily. Instead of having dinner with friends and relatives at restaurants, invite them to enjoy home-cooked meals at your place. You will be surprised at the amount of money you can save and the strong bonds you’ll form with family and friends.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kinilaw Recipe – Northern Mindanao

I was already an adult when I had my first kinilaw meal in Cagayan de Oro. I must admit; I ate because I was curious. Kagayanon kinilaw looked different from the simple vinegar dipped dish my Cebuano relatives prepared.

Aside from a whole heap of condiments, Kagayanons also use the juice of the tabon-tabon, a fruit found only in some parts of Northern Mindanao and the Visayas. The fruit juice is apparently able to remove the fishy smell and feel of the fish and can prevent indigestion.

To sweeten the dish, my father-in-law’s personal recipe includes using freshly harvested sweet coconut vinegar along with the more sour stocked vinegar.

The video below shows J preparing his father’s recipe.


Fresh fish, cubed
Sweet coconut vinegar
Sour coconut vinegar
Tabon-tabon juice
Onions, chopped
Ginger, chopped
Chili pepper
Green onions



1. Scrape some of the tabon-tabon meat and add a few teaspoons of vinegar. Press the tabon-tabon meat until juice is extracted. Set aside.

2. Wash the fish with a little vinegar. Drain. Do this quickly and don’t overdo. Otherwise, you’ll end up cooking the fish.

3. Add salt, ginger, onions and two types of vinegar. Mix thoroughly.

4. Add calamansi, tabon-tabon juice and lime. Mix.

5. Top with green onions and chili. Serve immediately.

The tabon-tabon


All ingredient measurements must be estimated by the person preparing the dish. There are no hard and fast rules, but the dish is best served while the fish is still opaque and not cooked throughout.

Want to know more about the dish? Read kinilaw’s origin, history and evolution here.

Wife’s Verdict: Eating kinilaw oddly gives me the feeling of carefree abundance. This dish is the manifestation of nature’s bounty and is the offspring of the marriage of freshness and taste. Exquisitely divine.

J’s Quip: "Don't let it wait."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Baked Layered Bacon and Eggs

This was another one of his dawn breakfast masterpieces that left me stunned and unable to speak. It might have been my cholesterol levels kicking up a notch, but I'd like to believe I was simply mesmerized by the heavenly bacon in a cloud of fluffy eggs. 


Bacon strips
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
5 pcs. egg
¼ tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
Chopped green onions


1. Coat a square baking pan with olive oil.

2. Arrange a layer of bacon on the pan. Top with another layer of bacon perpendicular to the first layer.

3. Repeat the process up to the desired number of layers.

4. Bake in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for five minutes.

5. Beat eggs, add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add parsley and green onions.

7. Pour over bacon strips and cook for another five minutes.

Wife's Verdict: I could be biased, but I think baked trumps fried. I was too busy stuffing my face to have jotted down more taste observations.

J's Quip: My wife has grown in wisdom and width.

Friday, January 9, 2015

French Beans with Yogurt Mint and Blue Cheese Sauce

J saw Jamie Oliver prepare yogurt and mint sauce on TV and thought, “Let’s add some blue cheese in there.”

Regretfully, dawn meals and cheap cameras make for awful food photos. J said he’d recreate this for me so I can take a better shot, but he and I have been so busy, we’d probably have to schedule that reshoot ten years down the track.

So yeah, this awful image does not do this dish justice.


French beans
Mint leaves, finely chopped
Half a cucumber
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. blue cheese


1. Steam beans and set aside.

2. Peel the cucumber and use the peeler to shave thin slices. Do not include the core.

3. Add salt to the cucumber. Squeeze and discard the juice from the cucumber shavings.

4. Mix yogurt, cucumber, mint and blue cheese.

5. Season with salt to taste.

Wife’s Verdict:

I start work at dawn, but because I was a cat in my past life, no amount of sleep, coffee and enforced habit are ever enough to keep me fully awake and enthusiastic before sunrise. Amazingly, this dish woke me up. I suspect the mint was responsible for the nudge, but it could have also been the uniquely perfect mix of yogurt and blue cheese. I’d put this recipe under the eye-popping category.

J’s Quip:

“Great cooks don’t stick to rigid rules and measurements.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

Asparagus with Honey Garlic Sauce

I prefer my asparagus steamed, but J served this for breakfast, and he never has time in the morning for steaming. Every day we wake up at dawn. I start work at 4 a.m. while he has to be at his company bus stop by 5 a.m. Before he travels, he makes sure the kids and I have edible stuff in our food bowls. He has roughly 30 minutes each day to whip something up. Hence, ingredients invariably end up in the frying pan. Looking at this beauty, I don't think that's a huge deal breaker.


Asparagus, cut
3 tbsps. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 tbsp. honey
20 grams butter
Salt and pepper


1. In a small bowl, coat asparagus with 1 tbsp. olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Fry garlic until golden brown.

4. Add honey, mix and remove from heat.

5. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and fry the asparagus for approximately 4 mins., making sure to turn the stalks constantly.

6. Remove asparagus from the heat, arrange in a plate and pour sauce.

7. Garnish with minced onions.

Wife's Verdict: I am decidedly neutral towards asparagus. To me, it's one of those veggies you just have to eat for its nutritional value. I suppose the secret to making it more appealing is the sauce. Most recipes I've tasted pair asparagus with some type of cream sauce, so this sweet innovation is a welcome change.

I'd imagine this would have been overpowering if sugar was used, but honey gave it a more subdued tone, mixing perfectly with the mildly bitter garlic and the moderate sharpness of minced onions.

J's Status: Working to perfect the honey sauce.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Baked Meatball Sandwich

When Jan feeds me breakfast like this, he says he has an ulterior motive. He says he wants to fatten me up. For what reason, I'm not sure, but I can almost imagine him channeling the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel. Kidding aside, I know why he does this. He simply enjoys it.


½ kilo        ground beef
3 tbsp        tomato paste
2 cups        diced tomatoes
1 cup        water
2 tbsp        dried oregano
2 tbsp        dried basil leaves
2 tbsp        olive oil
1 cup        chopped onions
Salt and pepper
Aluminum foil
Mozzarella cheese slices
Thick slices of bread



1.    Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent.
2.    Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
3.    Add water.
4.    Add half the dried oregano and basil leaves.
5.    Add salt and pepper to taste.
6.    Let it boil in slow heat.


1. Mix the remaining basil leaves and oregano with the ground beef.
2. Add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
3. Form into balls about 2 ½ inches in diameter.
4. Brush aluminium foil with butter and arrange meatballs.
5. Preheat oven for 15 minutes at 200oC and cook the meatballs.

Sauce and Meatballs:

1. Spread tomato sauce on two slices of bread.
2. Arrange 3 meatballs on top of one slice.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce over the meatballs and cover with a slice of cheese and the second slice of bread.
4. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Wife's Verdict: Jan's taste often veers towards salty but this one was noticeably subdued. That was just as well though. I think meatballs with tomato sauce are supposed to be low in salt so the real stars of the dish can shine through.

Jan's Quip: "This is how spaghetti sauce should taste like."
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