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Thanksgiving Toast to the Turkeys

The past weekend, my friends and I headed to Harvest Home in Stockton to visit animals rescued from neglect, abuse, and other forms of cruelty.

It was my first time visiting an animal sanctuary so I was very excited. I had seen photos before but meeting the rescued animals up close and personal undoubtedly gave a different experience. For one, I got to pet them, feed them, and discover their individual personalities. Mohawk, the hog for example was very friendly and social. Monica on the other hand, was very weary and aloof. Apparently, Monica was rescued at a university after a group of frat boys made a big prank and abused her. I could understand why she doesn’t trust humans anymore. I wouldn’t either after that traumatic experience.

The most recent rescue were the chickens and the turkeys who were bought out from being slaughtered.

toast to the turkeys with henry and me
mohawk harvest home

 

kimo the turkeyOn top of interacting with the animals, my friends and I also enjoyed a vegan buffet, silent auction fundraiser, as well speeches from Harvest Home’s Christine Morrissey and guest speaker, Miyoko Schinner.

Toward the end of the event, all guests were given an apple cider drink and we all gave a toast to the turkeys. The silent auction winners were declared (I won one bid!). Afterward, we enjoyed a lovely spread of vegan desserts and ice cream.

The video below encapsulates my experience at the event:

This year produced the biggest attendance turnout yet for Harvest Home’s annual event. Hopefully next year the turn out would be even bigger.

Have you been to an animal sanctuary? How was your experience like?

 

 

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Vegan Coconut Pie “Buko Pie”

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without pies-warm, sweet, filling pies.

To change things up a bit from apple and pumpkin pies, I’ll be making and bringing Vegan Coconut Pie to the party.

Vegan Coconut Pie or Buko Pie is a delicacy of Northern Philippines primarily in provinces like Laguna and Tagaytay. Its coconut goodness will make you feel warm and cozy inside.

In the video below, I’ll show you how to make one. You’ll be surprised by how many stores carry fresh and frozen coconuts alike so feel free to check your neighborhood stores.

 

My friends at Coco Jack also sent me their Coco Jack tool to show you how it works as well as to offer you a 10% discount. Just enter the coupon code: ASTIGVEGAN

I hope you enjoy the video. Kain na, let’s eat!

 

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Roasted Caramelized Kabocha Squash

Recently I’ve been into oven roasting everything, roasting kale, roasting brussels sprouts, and now roasting kabocha squash.

I love that the process of roasting makes the vegetables taste sweeter and more charred, not to mention it’s also very simple to do. One of those “set it and forget it” type of cooking.

Healthwise, I think roasting is healthier than frying because it uses less oil.

Roasting kabocha squash requires minimal ingredients-only three to be exact. This dish is perfect as a Fall snack or as a side dish to your Thanksgiving meal.

 

ROASTED SWEET KABOCHA SQUASH

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 of one kabocha squash, seeds removed, cut to wedges
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • drizzle of olive oil

Note:

For easier squash cutting, cut the squash using a cleaver or a chef’s knife and cut down by hacking in and moving the top and bottom part of the knife in a seesaw motion until you’ve fully cut the squash. Lay the flat side down then repeat the seesaw motion to cut the squash in to wedges. You could also microwave the squash first for 3-5 minutes to soften the skin.

You could easily remove the seeds using an ice cream scoop or spoon.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay a piece of foil or parchment paper on a baking pan and place the squash on top.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the brown sugar all over the squash.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. During the 20 minute mark, flip the squash over to cook the other side.
  5. Serve as a snack, side dish or dessert.

 

roasted squash prep

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roasted squash on a plate

 

This dish is great as is or you may add more ingredients. For example, sprinkle some cumin, salt, or paprika. You may also drizzle some cashew cream on top before serving.

Serve with your favorite hot drink like coffee or tea. Kain na, let’s eat!

I submitted this recipe to the Virtual Vegan LINKY Potluck

 

 

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Vegan Restaurants and Food Demo in LA

This weekend I was invited by Pitzer College in Southern California to teach a class on how to veganize Filipino Food.

This was only my second time doing a demo so I was very excited and nervous at the same time. Plus, I was going to cook not just one but three vegan Filipino dishes so the idea was pretty nerve-racking. I featured: Vegan Roasted Eggplant Salad (Ensaladang Talong), Vegan Sisig, and Vegan Bibingka.

Professor Todd Honma, who organized the whole thing, asked me to emphasize the health aspects of my cooking so I did adjustments to my recipes by replacing natural sugar to agave, rice flour to coconut flour, and white rice to quinoa.

Below are snapshots of the demo:

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I love that the students were so receptive. The workshop took about four hours and they paid attention the entire time! The students asked tons of great questions and remained inquisitive all throughout the demo.

I felt so lucky and fortunate to have been there sharing what I learned about vegan Filipino cooking. I’m grateful to Pitzer College as well as Professor Todd Honma for their interest in my work.

pitzer demo

Before heading back to the Bay Area, of course I had to check out some vegan restaurants in LA.

It’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of vegan restaurants in LA. In fact, a new one just opened a couple of months ago: The Springs LA, an all raw vegan restaurant that houses a wellness center as well as an office for the organization, Farm Sanctuary. It also has sections for cute shops which I’m assuming also sell vegan products.

Here are some of the nice exteriors and interiors of The Springs:

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the springs stores

the springs entrance

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For food, we got the raw vegan carbonara, hummus and crackers, raw tea leaf salad, raw rangoons (made of dried coconut skin wontons!) as well as raw vegan green curry.

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For dessert, we got the raw cheesecake with blood orange ice cream, ice cream trio (black sesame, peach, and chocolate), and chocolate cake.

the-springs-desserts the-springs-ice-cream the-springs-cheesecake

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The place was spacious but homey. It also has a feel of both a luxurious loft and a tropical resort.

the-springs-ambiance wpthe springs dining

I went with my sister, my boyfriend, my uncle, and why yes, that’s Hiram Camillo at hiramc.com and Yvonne Ardestani at My Ecclectic Kitchen.

It was my third time meeting up with Yvonne and my first time meeting Hiram who was very nice and friendly in person.

the-springs-dinner wpThe executive chef also came out to meet us, Chef Michael Falso.
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The next night, my family and I went to Bright Star Thai Vegan restaurant. Interestingly enough, the sign “Bright Star” looks way too small compared to the sign “Thai Vegan”. I think that’s cool though that they’re proud to be a vegan establishment.

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bright star interiors

Bright Star reminds me of the vegan Thai restaurants in the Bay Area. It offers a variety of fresh vegetables and tofu as well as mock meats.

I highly recommend getting the orange tofu.

bright star orange tofu

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bright star meal combo

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Bright Star restaurant is a personal recommendation of my sister and her husband who both frequent this place.

On top of my photos, I also shot some videos from the trip. I’ve put the footage together for a quick two-minute video. Please feel free to check out the video below.

Thanks for watching!

Have you been to LA? What’s your favorite vegan spot?

 

Beer Battered Kang Kong Recipe

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Kangkong is a semi aquatic plant that also goes by the name water spinach. The main difference from spinach is that water spinach has crunchy stems, which is great for a beer battered recipe.

For my latest video recipe, I’m featuring just that: Beer Battered Kangkong.

The recipe takes less than ten minutes to make which is ideal for those who don’t have much time in the kitchen. But if you do have time to spare, then I suggest making tons of these because leftovers stay crunchy until the next day.

beer battered kangkong
You could also serve these crunchy Kang kong at parties and get togethers.

When cooking, just make sure that the oil is very hot and that you’re using light beer, not dark. It also helps if your greens were rinsed and fully dried before frying.

To remove excess oil, you may serve the Kang kong on layers of paper towel.

I hope you enjoy this video recipe as much as I enjoyed shooting it for you. Let me know what you think!

My Top Vegan Face and Bodycare

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I’m no fan of big label skincare that are expensive. There are ingredients in my kitchen that could also do the job at a fraction of the price. But when I do buy for skincare products, I go for the ones that are made of natural ingredients and vegan, and of course affordable.

Below are the products I’ve bought or made myself that I highly recommend for you. These products are tried and tested over the years and have personally worked for me with wonders.

For the DIY directions below, the amount of oil and astringent are ultimately up to you as each skin is different so feel free to adjust to your preference.

 

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Coconut oil as make up remover (among other uses)

Honestly, I think makeup removers are overpriced and they leave my face feeling gross. I use coconut oil instead. I simply swipe a cotton ball in coconut oil and gently wipe on my face. The coconut oil removes the makeup instantly and leaves a pleasant aroma. Depending on how heavy your make up is, you might need to use more than one cotton ball.

Coconut oil could also run expensive so I buy the ones that are in the lower end quality. I save the high quality ones for cooking and baking, but I wouldn’t mind grabbing some in the kitchen if I run out of the cheap kind. I just make sure to transfer to a different container so I don’t contaminate what I use in my food.

Sometimes, I also use coconut oil for my scalp and hair as deep conditioning cream. I’ve been lazy these days to do it but if you are inclined to try, simply dip a comb in melted coconut oil (make sure the oil is not hot), then comb through your hair. Cover your hair and scalp with a plastic bag to conceal the moisture, wait for at least 30 minutes then rinse.  I suggest trying this right before taking a shower.

There are TONS of other uses for coconut oil including: facial moisturizer, body oil, lip balm, etc.

 

tea sugar scrubTea Sugar Scrub

I love tea. I have it every morning as part of my morning ritual. Although I could drink a whole pot to myself, I sometimes end up with leftover.

Instead of throwing it away, I add about a tablespoon of sugar to about two ounces of leftover green tea then I scrub my face with the tea infused sugar.

Tea has tons of antioxidants. In fact, there are fancy skincare lines that brag about having green tea in their products, so why not use the tea directly to yourself and skip the fancy shmancy tea infused skincare?

 

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Baking Soda

I also swear by using this in the shower to exfoliate my underarms. I rub baking soda to my underarms and exfoliate well then I do a final rinse. As a result, I leave the shower very clean and odorless. My shower is never without a container of baking soda.

 

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Mineral Deodorant Body Spray

I’m very cautious of using vegan deodorants that don’t last long. Unfortunately almost all of the vegan deodorants I know don’t last long.

I remember in the Philippines, Filipinos use a crystal mineral called “Tawas” that act as a deodorant. I have used it before and it didn’t work well for me.

The only brand I could trust is Crystal Essence. I am not sponsored by this brand by the way, they probably don’t even know I exist but I’m telling you to use their product because it works.

Crystal Essence does have “Tawas” crystals but also other ingredients that keep me odor free for full 24 hours. I also like that this comes in a spray bottle. I got this product at Rainbow Grocery San Francisco. I’m sure you could grab one at similar stores like Whole Foods or online.

 

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Vegan and Natural Bar Soaps

When I was a kid, my family would use bar soaps as our main soap in the shower. Then on to my teens and 20s, I switched to using liquid body wash and body puff. Now I’m back to using bar soaps but with a little upgrade.

I’ve come to appreciate the natural, fragrant bar soaps similar to the French milled versions. I just make sure they are 100% vegetable oil based and the palm oil is sustainably sourced. Some brands like Pacifica would disclose this kind of information so you don’t have to do the legwork.

Anyway, I’m particularly fond of Rose flavored bar soaps that has a romantic, soothing aroma. Funny thing is, I used to despise this kind of scent because it smelled “old” to me, I guess I am getting old! If you’re not fond of the French Rose scent, I suggest to go with Gardenia, Vanilla, or Coconut.

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I hope you find this list helpful. The list has worked well for me over the years and I hope it’ll work for you.

If you have your own list, please feel free to share. I’m constantly learning and in search for great vegan face and bodycare products.

 

 

Vegan Soups Collaboration

Aside from this blog, I also share my recipes on my YouTube channel. At first I thought, because everybody uses YouTube I would have instant slew of subscribers watching my cooking tutorials. Little did I know that it takes a lot of hard work to produce a shoot and there’s no guarantee if somebody aside from your family and friends, whom you urged to check out your page, would organically click on your video let alone recreate the dish you’re featuring in the episode.

Despite the sobering realization, I kept at it. Slowly but surely, more folks discovered my channel. After my Sisig recipe, people on Instagram started tagging me showing off the Sisig dish they made from the tutorial. Of course I had to repost! It’s so rewarding and humbling to find out that people have tried my recipes and enjoyed them.

Another great news came when my YouTuber friend, Cobi at Veggietorials, emailed me asking if I’d like to participate in a vegan collaboration on YouTube, called “Soup-er Vegan Soups Collaboration“. I had the least number of subscribers out of everyone invited so once I again I felt humbled and honored.  Of course I said yes to the collab.

vegan soups collab

I knew the collaboration was going to boost my views so I thought I better step it up and produce a great episode with a kick ass recipe.

Cobi was so organized and detailed. She sent us deadlines for the beauty shots, recipe name, etc. Although she was very diligent and on point, she was also very flexible and pleasant, never pushy. No wonder she has tons of YouTube followers, Cobi has a great personality.

By the time we had to decide which soup to make, I chose to stick to what I know best: vegan Filipino. I chose a childhood favorite, rice porridge or Lugaw.  The traditional version is far from vegan. You would think that because it’s rice porridge, it’ll be easy to veganize. After all, similar dishes from other Southeast Asian countries have congee and juk. The Filipino version has great Spanish influence so we had only two kinds: the chicken and the beef kind. I thought it would be fun to do a vegan version.

My vegan Filipino Rice Porridge:

vegan lugaw side shot

vegan lugawAnd here’s the playlist featuring my vegan Lugaw recipe as well as recipes from Eco Vegan Gal, Veggietorials, Brown Vegan, Vegan Cooking With Love, Fellowship of the Vegetable, Simply Bakings, and Divine Hostess. I hope you enjoy!

 

From this collaboration, I’ve gained at least 80 new subscribers on YouTube. I’ve also seen more than five recreations of the Lugaw recipe on Instagram. The result is very encouraging and makes me very excited about making more videos.

Still, I have to remind myself that even if there’s only person who I’ve convinced to watch and recreate my dishes, then I have made significant progress.