vegan chocolate ganache rouxbe

Worth it or not? Rouxbe Online Cooking School

I remember when I was debating whether I should enroll in an online cooking school called Rouxbe.  The tuition fee costs $1,500 for a six-month plant-based cooking course and I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money. After all, there are tons of free information online, right? Most of my friends and my boyfriend Chris were skeptical because they haven’t heard of the program and they think I don’t need it. Still, I researched and took the free trial. I had always wanted to go to a plant-based cooking school but the closest one is in New York! I don’t want to be that far away for six months. Rouxbe seemed more practical for my schedule and lifestyle.
After taking the free trial, I got a better idea of what it’s all about. I grew very excited! Still, I was on a budget. I called Rouxbe and learned that I could pay in three installments. I thought that was a good deal so I finally enrolled. Super fast forward to six months later, I’ve gotten my certificate of completion.

So is Rouxbe plant-based online cooking school really worth it?

The short answer is yes, the long answer will explain why.


cauliflower steak pistou rouxbe

My Cauliflower Steak with Olive Pistou, on the unit of ” Plant Based World of Flavors”.

ROUXBE IS COMPREHENSIVE.  Rouxbe covers a range of topics such as understanding cooking techniques, making your own staples, culinary wellness, the science of good plant-based cooking, and so much more. While you could definitely learn from online articles, YouTube, and cookbooks, the learning material on Rouxbe explains the science of good plant-based cooking like no other platform. It not only explains how it works but also why it works. As a result, the knowledge will give you the confidence to explore and experiment in the kitchen. Even if you prefer to stick to following recipes, you’ll understand the framework and thought process behind the recipe instead of blindly following it.

morroccan chickpea tagine rouxbe

My Moroccan Chickpea Tagine on the unit of “Plant Based World of Flavors”.

vegan pho soup for rouxbe

My vegan pho soup on the unit “Plant Based Staples”

SO HOW DOES ROUXBE WORK?  After enrollment, you’ll login with a username and password. You’ll then see the course dashboard and click which lesson to study. Each lesson has multiple teaching formats: text, videos, and live video conferences. You could post questions in the student forum as well as post questions for the live event. If you end up missing the live video event, you could still go back to watch the recorded version.

By the end of each lesson, you’ll have a written exam and cooking assignment which contribute to your overall grade. The assignments require you to cook, take photos, and write descriptions. The instructors, Chef Chad Sarno, Chef Ken Rubin, and RHN Barb Thomas will review your work as well as grade it with a short explanation behind the grade. You could appeal the grade though I never felt I needed to.

no oil dressing rouxbe

My roasted beets and yam with no-oil dijon vinaigrette on the unit “Oil-Free and Low-Sodium Cooking”

gluten free dish for rouxbe

My gluten-free spaghetti with olives and tomatoes on the unit “Gluten-Free Cooking”

ROUXBE INVITES EXPERT GUEST SPEAKERS. During live video conferences, Rouxbe invites guest speakers to talk about their expertise. We had Julieanna Hever to talk about nutrition, Dr. Neal Barnard about reversing diabetes, Raghavan Iyer about finding one’s culinary path, Margaret Wittenberg about exploring heirloom legumes, and many more experts. I think this is a great educational bonus on top of the materials I was already learning in the course.

vegan chocolate ganache rouxbe

My chocolate ganache torte on the unit “No-Heat Cooking and Raw Gastronomy”

udon from scratch rouxbe

My udon soup with homemade udon noodles on the unit “Pasta and Noodles”

SO WHAT DID I LEARN? Rouxbe covers a broad range of information from the basics such as steaming, roasting, stir frying, basic knife cuts to advanced techniques such as raw gastronomy, global flavors, making my own staples, pasta, and noodles, and plant-based entertaining, just to name a few. It also covers a lot about culinary wellness like gluten-free cooking, no-oil and low sodium cooking, diabetes support, cardio-vascular support, gastro-intestinal support, and many more.

Whenever I would get overconfident and assumed that a lesson was something I already knew and does not need reading, Rouxbe has these assessment quizzes to show how much I thought I knew about the subject, how much I actually knew about the subject, and after learning the subject -how much I know now.

no oil rouxbe

My garlic mushrooms on the unit of “No-Oil and Low Sodium Cooking”

vegan manicotti rouxbe

My vegan manicotti on the unit “Pasta and Noodles”

ROUXBE IS LENIENT AND FLEXIBLE. I could skip and jump around lessons (though I don’t advise it). Skipping assignments was convenient for me when I didn’t have the time to cook. Incomplete assignments could pile up though so I try to knock em out as much as I could.

ROUXBE IS WORK. A lot of work. Just because you could skip around lessons does not mean that Rouxbe is easy. In fact, hard work is needed to get the grade. It requires a lot of cooking. A big chunk of your schedule will go into cooking plus photographing, writing, and reading. But who is afraid of hard work? If Rouxbe is easy, it won’t be worth the tuition fee.

sambal tempeh goreng rouxbe

My sambal tempeh goreng on the unit “Plant-Based World of Flavors”

I THINK THE ONLY DOWNSIDE was that the instructors obviously could not taste the food that I made. It would have been nice to get a critique from them based from the taste. But like I mentioned before, the instructors explained the grades they gave me so I was reassured they knew what I was trying to do.

All lessons lead to the final exam which consisted of 200 questions. Very scary! Good thing every chapter had flash card practice and I could watch the video lessons again.

After much preparation and studying, I took the timed final exam. After about 45 minutes, here’s how I did:rouxbe course dashboard
After completing 100% of the course including all activities, quizzes, and final exam, I was ready to get my certificate.
This certificate is not just a piece of paper (or .jpeg). It’s a symbol of my achievement and I’m extremely proud of it. Another reason to be proud is that Rouxbe is recognized by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation as a Quality Program so I’m reassured this program is legit.

My only regret is that I didn’t interact with the other people in the class. Rouxbe has a page where you could talk to other students, exchange questions and answers, “like” each other’s photos and many more. I just joined the Rouxbe plant-based Facebook group so hopefully I could do some catching up.

How about you? Have you taken the Rouxbe plant-based cooking course? What do you think of it? If you haven’t taken it yet, has this blogpost given you better idea of Rouxbe?

I believe because Rouxbe is online, you could apply from anywhere in the world. I took a quick peek at the student list and found some people were also from Canada and the United Kingdom.

Bottom line, I suggest to give it a shot and see if it works for you. It definitely worked for me. I feel more motivated now to cook and produce more quality content for Astig Vegan.

millenium closing wide shot

Dining at Millennium Before It Closes Down

Bittersweet news. The vegan fine dining restaurant, Millennium in San Francisco is closing down. Bittersweet because it won’t be renewing its lease but it will move to another location, possibly in the East Bay. So while it’s not really goodbye but see you later, my friends and I still decided to have dinner here for one last time in its original location.


crusted mushrooms app at millennium 2

My must-have, Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms appetizer with “Arborio rice dredge, cabbage salad with lime vinaigrette, citrus-habanero jam, Szechuan pepper sesame salt”

Seared Brussels Sprouts appetizer with "pickled chiles, smoked tofu, orange miso".

Seared Brussels Sprouts appetizer with “pickled chiles, smoked tofu, orange miso”.

stuffed dates appetizer at milllennium 1

Pistachio Stuffed Dates appetizer with “orange, cinnamon, Aleppo chile”.

red potatoes at millennium

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes appetizer with “roasted garlic-chile Urfa tahini, Castelvetrano olives, zaa’tar”.

january salad at millenium

What our friend Cobi ordered, January Salad with “little gem lettuces, watermelon radish, tarragon, caramelized garlic, Prosecco-Meyer lemon vinaigrette, croutons, fried capers”.

What our friend, Whitney ordered, Rendang Tempeh. I believe the menu had it originally as Rendang Tofu but she kindly requested to sub tofu for tempeh.

What our friend, Whitney ordered, Rendang Tempeh. I believe the menu had it originally as Rendang Tofu but she kindly requested to sub tofu for tempeh.

What our friend, Abigail ordered Seared Artichoke with “pumpkin seed picadillo filling of Castelvetrano olives, lacinato kale, farro verde, cranberry beans & currants, creamy cashew-pumpkin polenta, almond-espelette chile Romesco, toasted alond gremolata, frisee & citrus salad”. She requested to have it gluten-free to which Millennium happily complied.

What our friend, Abigail ordered Seared Artichoke with “pumpkin seed picadillo filling of Castelvetrano olives, lacinato kale, farro verde, cranberry beans & currants, creamy cashew-pumpkin polenta, almond-espelette chile Romesco, toasted alond gremolata, frisee & citrus salad”. She requested to have it gluten-free to which Millennium happily complied.

What our friend, Rosie ordered: Vegan Tamales. One of the winners of the night.

What our friend, Rosie ordered: Vegan Tamales. One of the winners of the night.

What I ordered, Mushroom En Papillote served on top of barley risotto. Black chantrelle and trumpet mushrooms were baked inside the paper bag or the “papillote”.

What I ordered, Mushroom En Papillote served on top of barley risotto. Black chantrelle and trumpet mushrooms were baked inside the paper bag or the “papillote”.

What half of the table ordered for drinks, a vegan Creamsickle with “Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Vanilla Agave, Coconut Milk, Soda”.

What half of the table ordered for drinks, a vegan Creamsickle with “Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Vanilla Agave, Coconut Milk, Soda”.

We were feasting and having a great time and next thing we knew it was almost midnight and we were the last table left! Our server didn’t rush us at all. In fact, we even got a complimentary dessert to go with the dessert drinks we’ve ordered.

Complimentary dessert! Seasonal Sweet Ending with “chocolate-peanut butter buckeye, coconut-pineapple biscotti, peach, brown sugar & pecan oat crumble, orange brandy & mint chocolate truffles.

Complimentary dessert! Seasonal Sweet Ending with “chocolate-peanut butter buckeye, coconut-pineapple biscotti, peach, brown sugar & pecan oat crumble, orange brandy & mint chocolate truffles.

My dessert drink, Digestive Elixir with chamomile, lemon, ginger, agave, and mint.

My dessert drink, Digestive Elixir with chamomile, lemon, ginger, agave, and mint.

Empty Millennium after closing time. Apparently we were the last ones to leave. Time flies when you’re having fun. We’ll miss you Millennium!

millenium closing wide shot

millenium closing 3 millenium closing


It was my first time meeting Whitney at Eco Vegan Gal and Abigail at The So Abby Show. Both of them were so nice and friendly, it felt like we’ve already been friends. Of course, it’s always fun to see Cobi at Veggietorials again. She’s super awesome and personable online and in person. And the one on the far right is one of my vegan partners in crime, Rosie at @rose_petalz.


millennium group shot with friends


After 20 years, Millennium will be closing its doors on April 30, 2015. If you’d like to catch it before it closes, I highly suggest to make a reservation.

Thanks again for the memories Millennium! I’ll never forget them. Looking forward to your revamp at your new location!




What I know now about Balsamic Vinegar

The kind folks at O Olive Oil Company sent me some of their premium California Balsamic Vinegar for me to try. But before reviewing them, I researched and dug up some information about the proper handling and usage of balsamic vinegar so I could properly deliberate the products.


  • When mixing with olive oil, the proper ratio of oil to balsamic vinegar is 3:1
  • Use dark-colored balsamic vinegar in ingredients with bold flavors like spinach, spring mix, etc.
  • Use white balsamic vinegar in ingredients with light flavors like lettuce, avocado, etc.
  • Make sure the greens in your salad are dry before adding the dressing so the salad won’t be watered down.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar to the salad just right before serving. Don’t let it sit for a long time because the vinegar will wilt the greens.
  • Generally, the older the age of the balsamic vinegar, the more delicate it is. A well-aged balsamic vinegar is ideal for flavoring foods that have been cooked as well as deliciously paired with fruits like strawberries. A younger balsamic vinegar (less than 12 years old) is ideal for dressings, dips, and sauces.
  • High quality balsamic vinegar are traditionally labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena”, which means they passed the standards created by the Italian city of Modena. However, there’s also been a concern about lead potentially found in European balsamic vinegars. O Olive Oil company barrel-ages its vinegars in Sonoma California to comply with The California State Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or Proposition 65. To learn more about Prop 65, check out:




Flavors: rich, sweet, tangy, and smooth.

Perfect for: dips (mixed with olive oil), salads (mixed with olive oil), fruits such as strawberries and pears.

Verdict: out of all the vinegar sent to me, this is my favorite because it’s the most versatile. This balsamic vinegar is as classic as it could get.





Flavors: light, citrus-y, mildly sweet

Perfect for: salads with mild flavors. Here, I mixed the white balsamic with lemon infused olive oil.

Verdict: I think this white balsamic is best on a warm weather when refreshing salads are the perfect accompaniment. With that said, I couldn’t wait for spring!





O OLIVE OIL PORT BALSAMIC VINEGAR 1Flavors: Sweet with hints of plum

Perfect for: baked apples and other baked fruits. Here, I baked apple slices and raisins and seasoned them with brown sugar and port balsamic vinegar.

Verdict: The port is a pleasant surprise considering I was used to having it as dessert wine instead of balsamic vinegar. I particularly like this vinegar for adding sweetness and depth of flavor to the dish. Take heed that port balsamic is sweeter than the standard balsamic vinegar.






Flavors: Sweet with hints of, you guessed it, figs

Perfect for: adding sweetness to salads and marinades. Here, I drizzled quite a bit on red onions. I heard it’s good on vanilla bean ice cream too.

Verdict: Probably even sweeter than the port balsamic, this fig balsamic is ideal for sweet desserts and side dishes.









Flavors: light and aromatic

Perfect for: salads, soups, and dips.

Verdict: I love the convenience of having my olive oil already infused with citrus -organic meyer lemons even! I wouldn’t have to worry about buying another lemon to go with my salads and soups. I just need to drizzle this olive oil. I think this could also make a great gift for the olive oil aficionado.





Overall, I was extremely pleased with what O Olive Oil has sent me. I’m a purist by heart so my favorite was the classic oak-aged balsamic. But don’t let me stop you from exploring other sweet and interesting flavors O Olive Oil offers in the market.

Speaking of markets,  I spotted O Olive oil and balsamic vinegar at my local supermarket, Rainbow Grocery. From the looks of it, Rainbow was having a sale. I’m not sure if the sale is still going on but it’s worth checking out!


I’m disclosing that O Olive Oil sent these products for me to review. All of the views stated here are my own and I was not compensated for this blog post.


wide shot new year potluck

Recipes and Ideas for a Vegan Brunch Potluck

To ring in the new year, my friends and I got together for a vegan brunch potluck. For the theme, we went with brunch because we love breakfast food.

Breakfast food is typically loaded with meat, eggs, and dairy but veganizing it is surprisingly attainable. As long as you do your research, you’ll find the recipe you’re looking for.

For example, some of my friends made:


Here were some of the dishes at our potluck:

tofu quiche med shot

Broccoli Quiche from the cookbook “Isa’s Vegan Brunch”


Banana Walnut Waffles from the cookbook “Veganomicon”

fruit salad

Colorful Fruit Salad with kiwi slices, raspberry, strawberry, and pineapple. 

quinoa with nuts and candied fruits

Breakfast Quinoa with Pecans and Currants

Half of the fun of cooking is experimenting and creating your own dishes. My friend Roshi cooked quite a feast of delicious Indonesian-inspired dishes such as “Indonesian Vegetable Sushi Rolls” and “Indonesian Cauliflower Tofu”. She used my beer batter recipe for frying the tofu. You could get that recipe from my YouTube tutorial here.

cauliflower with battered tofu

Roshi also made “Kale Lebanese Salad”. My friends and I were joking that we didn’t have to bring anything after all because Roshi cooked so much delicious food!

indonesian salad

The dish I brought was (surprise surprise) a vegan Filipino dish. Particularly, it was a veganized version of a Filipino breakfast combo called “Longsilog”.

The combo included Filipino sausages called “Longganisa” (the “Long-” part of “Long-si-log”), Garlic Fried Rice called “Sinangag” (the “-si-” part of “Long-si-log”), and Egg Scramble called “Itlog” or in my case, Tofu Scramble (the “-log” part of “Long-si-log”).

vegan longsilog

Vegan Longsilog. Top left: vegan Filipino sausage called vegan “Longganisa”, Top right: Tofu Scramble, Bottom: Garlic Fried Rice or “Sinangag”.

I made the vegan Filipino sausages from scratch. After few failed recipe tests, I was happy with the version I took to the potluck. Ultimately, it was up to the people at the potluck to decide whether my “Longganisa” sausages were good.

Thankfully, my friends loved the dish! One of them even said that eating my vegan version of “Longsilog” brought her back to her childhood. Others who never tried it before said they loved the flavors of the sausages and would love to recreate the recipe.

I hope this post inspires you to make a vegan breakfast dish or put together a vegan potluck with friends. Kain na, let’s eat!





pineapple parsley smoothie

New Year’s Resolutions To Keep

Some people say having a New Year’s resolution list seems pretentious because no one gets to keep them by the end of the year.

While I’m against phony promises, I think it’s the intention to make changes and following through them that matter. I believe goal setting never hurts anyone and attempting to improve yourself is never a bad thing.

Here are some of my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 and the years to come:

  1. Drink smoothies regularly. Having more energy in my day would be great so I’ll make it a habit to blend my fruits and vegetables. I’ll probably do more creative smoothies and juices than the usual green smoothie recipe so I wont drop my smoothie habit. Plus it’s healthy to absorb a variety of nutrients anyway.
  2. Wake up early in the morning (6am). I love love to sleep in but I also love the feeling of getting things done. With my current schedule, I always feel like I’m running out of time to complete my daily tasks. By getting up early, at least I won’t feel like I didn’t give myself enough time to seize the day.
  3. Be more mindful and in the moment. This is probably the most challenging for me. I’m a day dreamer and my mind always gets sucked in by what I read online, watch on tv, and what I see on my phone (hello Instagram and Facebook). But I have to kick the habit of not being present. During those rare times when I am in the moment, I feel happy, grateful, even excited, that similar feeling when you’re on a vacation at somewhere foreign. I think that’s why people go on vacation, to get that feeling. I think I don’t have to travel far to encapsulate that butterflies-in-your-tummy feeling. All I have to do is take a deep breath, use all my senses, and pay attention to my surroundings.
  4. Exercise regularly. I don’t want to lose weight, and no, that’s not a humble brag. I honestly don’t want to lose weight because of that stereotype, “those skinny vegans”. I’ve always looked skinny even though I weigh around 120 pounds. Yet, just because I don’t look overweight that doesn’t mean I’m automatically healthy. I want and intend to exercise to be healthy and well. Besides, going to the doctor could get expensive, it’s practical to be healthy and stay healthy.
  5. Finish reading the books I bought (before buying a new one). I am such a hoarder of books. I go to the bookstore, library, thrift store, places where I could buy books then I buy a book that I would swear I would read because it would change my life. I get home, read and devour the first half of the book then never read it again. Why do I do this to myself? This fickle habit has to go. From now on, I won’t be buying any new books until I finished the ones I have in the house.


How about you? What are your thoughts on having a New Year’s Resolution? What are your New Year’s Resolutions?






pili nuts in a bag

Shelled Pili Nuts

I got a bag of shelled pili nuts from my good friend TJ who went to visit the Philippines. Silly me, I thought the shell was just skin so I soaked even boiled them thinking they would soften!

Good thing I tested only a few because after being disappointed for not getting any results, I threw the nuts away (I feel horrible now for wasting such perfectly good nuts). Then I found this video online and realized the nuts are still covered with hard shell and I would have to crack them open. Duh!

Look at how the guy cracks the pili nuts open, how fast and precise and not to mention dangerous he handles them. The guy meticulously opens the nuts one by one with such ease. Now THAT’S Astig!

Pili nuts are indigenous in the Philippines and are exported mainly from the Bicol region. Because I grew up in Cavite, I never saw pili nuts in their raw shelled form. Pili nuts are usually sold roasted and heavily coated in sugar which I never liked.

Pili nuts have high fat content,  I heard even more than macadamia nuts. It’s best to store pili nuts in the fridge to keep their freshness. I suggest culturing them to make nut cheese.

Here’s the bag of pili nuts that my friend gave me. I’ll need a nut cracker to open these bad boys and perhaps make nut cheese or ice cream.

shelled pili nuts

shelled pili nuts close up

I’ve made pili nut cheese before so I knew what the raw nuts looked but I simply assumed the ones I recently got were just bigger in size. Well now I know!

chickenfriedcauli wide shot

Fourth Year Anniversary Date at Millennium San Francisco

For our fourth year anniversary, Chris and I celebrated at the place where we had our first date, Millennium restaurant in San Francisco.

Millennium is one of the best vegan fine dining destinations in the country if not the best. It offers innovative, inventive, and artisanal vegan concoctions.

Every dish at Millennium has an element of surprise-in a good way. I thought I knew what the mushroom dish would taste like until I took a bite and got blown away by its delicious complexity. You would scratch your head wondering how the heck Millennium does it.  Even if you have a slight idea because Millennium has released a cookbook, it would be wise to leave it to the chef to create such complicated work of art.

You might think because Millennium seems gourmet it’ll serve tiny portions. You’d be surprised that the servings are hearty, filling, and multi layered yet very gourmet in taste and flavor.

Because of Millennium’s popularity, I recommend to make a reservation to avoid waiting in line. I called ahead of time and mentioned that it was going to be for an anniversary. Luckily the host got us a somewhat secluded spot, away from the tight tables and compact corners.

Tricky parking is probably the only downside because it’s almost impossible to find a parking spot in San Francisco. After circling around to no avail, Chris dropped me off so I could claim our spot while he continues to search for parking. I recommend heading there early to give yourself cushion to park your car. You could also take public transportation.

While waiting for Chris, I went ahead and ordered us starters. I asked for bread with a side of spread (lentil pate at the time), which are complimentary but available only upon request. I also ordered the “Crusted King Trumpet Mushrooms”, Chris’ ultimate favorite dish at Millennium.

crusted king trumpet mushrooms

Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms Arborio rice dredge, cabbage salad with lime vinaigrette, yuzu ponzu, citrus togarashi.

Chris also loves their carbonated water so he was bummed out to learn the carbonated water machine was broken. The server then offered endless club soda from the bar for free, which I thought was a nice gesture.

I don’t really drink alcohol so I ordered the “Love Potion no. 9″ which is a nonalcoholic mix of pomegranate juice and lemonade. The drink had the perfect balance of sweetness and tart.

The mushroom appetizer arrived and did not disappoint our high expectations. I think this dish could rival calamari and would win.

love potion 9 millenium

Love Potion #9: Pomegranate Juice and Organic Lemonade

We also got “Black Rice” dish which reminded me of the flavors of the Filipino Bistek. This hearty dish tasted savory and slightly sweet with a firm bite.
black rice cake millenium

The second entrée was ” ‘Chicken’-Fried Cauliflower”, with battered and fried cauliflower, grilled mushrooms, butter beans and pecans, cashew remoulade, and pickled persimmon salad.

Although Millennium named this dish to highlight the flavor and texture of cauliflower, I thought the grilled mushrooms stole the show. The mushrooms had a dry rub seasoning instead of a liquid marinade which may have transformed the mushrooms from good to exemplary. The rest of the components on the plate was also delicious but the mushrooms were the superstar.

chicken fried cauliflower millenium

“Chicken”-Fried Cauliflower sweet pepper étouffée, butter beans, pecan & mushroom dirty red rice, collard greens, grilled oyster and maitake mushrooms, Aji chile cashew rémoulade, pickled Fuyu persimmon.

chickenfriedcauli wide shot
We would have ordered desserts but we were so full. Plus I had bought Chris four cake slices as surprise gifts after dinner. I tried to make him skip dessert for the big surprise. Each cake slice has it own flavor (carrot cake, chocolate, vanilla, and mocha). I bought four to commemorate the number of years we’ve been together. I got the cakes from Whole Foods.

The bill came and it wasn’t cheap which is expected at such fine dining establishment. Entrees run from $22- $24 each, which are not bad when celebrating a special occasion like an anniversary. Maybe not so much for a first date. Well…yes, we did go to Millennium for our first date but I was bluffing when I dared Chris! Obviously the bluff turned serious and four years later, we’ve become inseparable.

couple photo millenium

Chris and I, celebrating our fourth anniversary at Millennium SF