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Simple Lentil Tagalog

simple lentil wideThere you are in front of your pantry, looking for something to cook or eat. You’ve looked shelf by shelf but nothing is available except canned vegetables, particularly peas and corn. The fridge may be better but alas, nothing but water and some wilted leftover from three days ago.

Okay, maybe I’m describing my situation but I think we’ve all been there before, hungry with no fresh ingredients to cook in the kitchen.

Sometimes I head to the nearest grocery store, but sometimes I go with what I have available at the time. One big thing I learned from being vegan is to be resourceful and times like these was no exception for being one.

I took my canned peas and corn and thought of cooking them with lentils. To be fair, I had bought organic canned vegetables- relatively healthier perhaps?

In the Philippines, you don’t really need a lot of complicated ingredients to cook a meal. We reserve those intricate dishes to big parties and special occasions. My lentil dish is based on my mom’s simple breakfast dish. My mom would use ground beef, peas, corn, egg, and spices. My vegan version had lentils instead of ground beef. I also omitted the eggs. I added Thai Chili or in Tagalog, siling labuyofor some mild kick.


Simple Lentil Tagalog

Serves 2-3

simple lentil


  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of red lentils, softened
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn kernels
  • 6-8 pcs. button mushrooms, cut in half
  • 3 pcs Thai chili (mildly crushed if you want a mild kick, or minced for a spicier kick)
  • at least a pinch of black pepper
  • at least a pinch of sea salt


  1. Heat medium pan over medium heat
  2. Pour oil and once oil is hot (it’ll create some ripples when you move it around), add the garlic.
  3. Once the garlic is light brown and fragrant, add the onions. Saute until tender.
  4. Add the soft lentils, mushrooms, corn, and peas.
  5. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Sea salt is better than iodized salt for this dish, and fresh cracked black pepper would be better than ready ground ones. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Drop the Thai chili and mix all ingredients well. Let the flavors marry for about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat and serve with rice.

You may add more vegetables if you’d like. Diced potatoes for example will be good in this dish. You may also mash the lentils to bind the ingredients and fry them as burger patties.

This lentil dish is best enjoyed with rice, but you could also eat it with bread. Kain na, let’s eat!






Vegan Wine and Cheese with Friends


Over the weekend, my friends, Jen, Rosie, Laura, and I got together for some vegan wine and cheese at Jen’s place in the city. The idea came from Jen who said she bought cheese from Door 86 that she’d like to share with us.

The vegan cheese: Brie, Sriracha Cheddar, Gruyere, and Candied Lemon, were all cashew based. Rosie made and brought her smoked cheddar cheese while I made and brought Pili nut cheese.

vegan cheese spreadAlong with vegan cheese, we also enjoyed some white wine and sparkling grape juice.

vegan cheese spread 2

But before we feasted over a beautiful spread of vegan cheese, we enjoyed a plate of Rosie’s salad which had spinach, arugula, fennel, grapefruit, rosemary, and more. Rosie said she got the recipe from Yvonne at @yvonne_deliciously_vegan.

arugula fennel salad

I also baked and brought vegan Bibingka, a type of Filipino rice cake. Bibingka is best enjoyed with cheese on top so I figured it’ll be a good dish to bring to our get together. The recipe could be found here.

bibingka We had a variety of bread to eat with our vegan cheese.


Laura baked and made some raw vegan chocolates. The delectable treats include raw vegan Snickers, raw vegan truffles, and raw vegan peanut butter cups-all topped with nuts of course. My favorite was the Snickers.raw vegan chocolatesHere we are, me, Rosie, Jen, and Laura. I had such a lovely time with these ladies-as always!
veg wine and cheese wide shot

Vegan Bicol Express Recipe

vegan bicol express wideNo it’s not fast food because it’s called “Express”, although it’s pretty simple to make. Bicol Express is a delicacy popularized by the Philippine province of Bicol, where you’ll find tons of delicious, spicy coconut curry dishes.

My vegan version cuts back the cooking time because you don’t have to worry about cooking pork. You will have to cook raw jackfruit but that just involves boiling it in water until it’s soft. You may find raw jackfruit fresh or frozen at your Asian supermarkets.

I relied heavily on the spicy notes of garlic, onion, black pepper, and chillies, and just simple seasoning of salt. If you’d like to make it more savory, feel free to also use black bean sauce.  As for the nice fattiness the pork version is known for, I used refined coconut oil instead. You may also use olive oil or vegan butter.

The traditional version also had more coconut milk. I wanted mine to just have a nice glaze. Feel free to add more coconut milk if you prefer it to be soupy.

jackfruit curry  med shot


Serves 4-6


  •  5 tbsp. refined coconut oil or 4 tbsp. olive oil or vegan butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried bean curd sticks (available at most Asian grocery stores).
  • 1 block tofu, cut into cubes
  • 3-4 tbsp. black bean sauce (or vegan bagoong, available here: http://astigvegan.bigcartel.com/product/vegan-shrimp-paste-or-bagoong
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 5-6 Thai chillies (2 of them minced)
  • a dash of salt
  • a dash of black pepper


  1. Remove excess moisture from the tofu using a paper towel. Heat a medium pan in high heat, add cooking oil then fry the tofu. (Tip: Fill the frying pan with tofu only half way. Never put alot of tofu all at once otherwise they won’t fry well. A splatter screen will help prevent the moisture from splattering all over your stove.) Once the tofu cubes are crispy on the outside, remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the refined coconut oil then saute the garlic until light brown.
  3. Add the minced onion and saute some more until the onion is slightly tender and translucent.
  4. Put the, tofu, dried bean curd sticks, and Thai chillies. Mix well.
  5. Pour the coconut milk. Season with black bean sauce, salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 15- 20 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and serve with rice.

jackfruit coconut curry cu

Even though I’m not from Bicol, I love to consider (vegan) Bicol express as my comfort food. Feel free to make one and you’ll find out why. This hearty spicy dish will make your day. Enjoy!


buko pandan medium

Something green was what came to my mind when I was brainstorming for my next recipe. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I wanted the recipe to be helpful for people looking for something to serve or eat for the Irish holiday.

I don’t know any Irish dishes but I do know Filipino dishes that have some green in them, particularly desserts that have pandan or screw pine leaves.

Pandan leaves are widely used in Southeast Asia for their infusion of aroma and flavor. Filipinos would take a strip of pandan, tie it in a knot, and incorporate it when cooking rice. Once the rice is done, it will give the rice such sweet aroma. To remove the pandan, we simply pull out the string; the knot will help not break the leaf upon removal.

pandan leaves

In addition to rice, Filipinos also use pandan in desserts such as in cakes, pastries, sweet salads, and ice cream. Pandan is often paired with coconut-either coconut milk or coconut meat or both. For my recipe, I’m featuring the widely popular sweet dessert: Buko Pandan or Coconut Pandan. The traditional recipe calls for heavy manufacturing cream which I simply replaced with coconut cream. Everything else was made in traditional way. I’m proud to disclose that our traditional gelatin is made of agar-agar and is vegan!

If you could find pandan leaves fresh at the market, then lucky you. But if you couldn’t find them fresh, you could also get them at the frozen section of a nearby Asian supermarket, which I did. If you couldn’t find either fresh or frozen, you may also get pandan extract, also at your Asian supermarket. Just follow the directions in the bottle for the ratio.



buko pandan medium shot

Serves 4


Pandan jelly:

  • 6-8 strips pandan leaves
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon agar-agar powder, available at Asian stores
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar

Buko salad:

  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup nut milk (almond or coconut or soymilk. I used Califia Vanilla flavored almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup shredded young coconut (better if fresh, but you could also find them at the frozen section of Asian markets, just thaw first before using)
  • 6 tbsp Nata de Coco (available at Filipino and/or Asian supermarkets)

agar agar shredded young coconut


Pandan jelly:

  1. Using a high speed blender or food processor, blend the pandan with water. Strain by using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
  2. Using a sauce pan or small pot, heat the pandan juice over high heat. Add a bit more water if you’ve significantly lost water during the blending (to maintain the 2 cups ratio). Let the juice simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the agar-agar powder and sugar. Constantly stir until the powder and sugar have fully melted.
  4. As soon as it starts boiling, turn off the heat and transfer to a mold, baking pan, or glass container. Let it cool then refrigerate to set (about 30-45 minutes).
  5. Once the jelly has set, remove the fridge. Cut into blocks and add them to your Buko salad.

Buko salad:

  1. In a serving bowl, mix the coconut cream, nut milk, shredded young coconut, and nata de coco. Add a bit of sugar if you’d like to sweetened it.
  2. Add the pandan jelly.
  3. Garnish with lemon (suggested serving)

buko pandan cu

Buko pandan salad tastes creamy, sweet, and refreshing. It’s great for parties or as a sweet treat after a long day at work. You could make a bunch ahead of time and just leave them in the fridge for a later snack. Anyway you want it, I’m sure you’ll be happy to discover the wonderful flavors of pandan. Kain na, let’s eat! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

buko pandan wide

Filipinos’ Ultimate Favorite Breakfast Food, Veganized!

For the American palate, fried breakfast food means bacon, eggs, and toast. For the Filipino palate, fried breakfast food means Tapsilog.

The word itself, Tapsilog, is made up of the combined phrases of the three components you’ll find in the dish:  “Tap-” for “Tapa” or seasoned beef, “si-” for “Sinangag” or garlic fried rice, and “-log” for “itlog” or eggs, which in this dish means fried eggs. To balance with the fried, savory flavors, Tapsilog dish is usually garnished with fresh tomatoes and vinegar dipping for the tapa.

vegan tapsilog wide (1)

Veganizing Tapsilog is alot easier than you might think. For the tapa, you could use dehydrated, textured soy protein. As for the fried eggs, you’ll find tons of recipes online on vegan scrambled eggs. I will also post my version of fried eggs here so feel free to choose which version you would like to try in your cooking. The garlic fried rice is already vegan so no need to stretch your creativity muscles there.

Whether you’re a morning person or night owl, Tapsilog on the breakfast table will get you up and ready for breakfast. In the Philippines, Tapsilog was my great motivator to be up at the break of dawn. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one because you’ll find Tapsilog restaurants or “Tapsihan” always busy and bustling with hungry customers. But you know what’s better than Tapsilog? Cruelty-free, guilt-free vegan Tapsilog that tastes just the same if not better. Here’s how to make Vegan Tapsilog:




  • 2 oz plain and unseasoned dehydrated soy protein (pictured below), found at Asian supermarkets


  • 4-5 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 medium bowl of warm water
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 3-5 tbsp. refined coconut oil (make sure it’s refined so it won’t have the coconut-y taste)

dried textured soy protein (1) soaked textured soy protein (1)


  1. Mix all the seasonings in a bowl of warm water
  2. Add the dehydrated soy protein
  3. Marinate for about 20-30 minutes. Mix every once in a while to make sure the soy pieces have evenly absorbed the marinate. You may bite the soy protein to check if the texture and flavor are to your liking. Adjust the marinate to taste. Remove the soy protein from its marinate and set aside for frying.
  4. Heat a medium pan over medium heat
  5. Add the refined coconut oil
  6. Once the coconut oil has fully melted, fry the soy pieces. It doesn’t take long to fry the soy pieces, probably about five minutes both sides.
  7. Turn off the heat and serve with vinegar dipping. Assemble with scrambled tofu and garlic fried rice


NOTE: We’ll use one part plain medium firm tofu chunks and one part pureed tofu mixture to achieve the custard-y, soft texture of scrambled eggs.


  • 1 block of medium firm tofu, divided into different chunk sizes. Feel free to use your hands to break down the tofu. Please don’t skimp on good, quality tofu. It does make a difference!
  • Another 1/4 block of medium firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch dissolved in 6-8 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. black salt, available at most South Asian/Indian grocery stores
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • cooking oil


  1. Using a high speed blender, puree the 1/4 block tofu with the potato starch mixture, tahini, salt, and nutritional yeast. You should have a thin but creamy consistency. The consistency will also depend on the amount of moisture of your tofu. So if you got a firmer tofu with less moisture, just add more water to the blender and puree again until you have a soupy mixture.
  2. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add cooking oil (you may use refined coconut oil or any cooking oil of choice). The reason why I suggested to use refined coconut oil for the tapa was to have that fatty flavor that could be found with the beef version. With veganizing fried eggs, it’s up to you if you’d like to have that fatty taste.
  3. Pour the puree mixture and let it firm up on both sides. You don’t have to thoroughly fry it like a pancake, just enough to cook the starch and tofu, so about 5 minutes each side.
  4. Add the tofu chunks and mix well. It’s okay if the tofu break apart as it is supposed to be scrambled. Add more black salt to taste. Fry for another 10 minutes or until you’ve achieved the desired texture.
  5. Turn off the heat and serve the scrambled tofu with tapa and garlic fried rice

vegan scrambled eggs (1)



  • one large bowl of leftover cooked rice. I used brown rice but you could use any kind of rice you prefer.  Using your hands, break apart the rice into pieces. Sprinkle some water to help divide the rice.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • cooking oil. You could use the same oil and pan you used to cook tapa so the rice could absorb some delicious flavors that’s left from the tapa fry.
  • sea salt


  1. Saute the garlic in oil over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown
  2. Add the rice and mix thoroughly
  3. Sprinkle some sea salt to taste
  4. Fry for about 5-8 minutes or until all of the rice portions are hot
  5. Turn off the heat. Serve with tapa and scrambled tofu

vegan tapsilog medium (1)

The recipe looks like there are a lot of steps to follow but really, it’s just all about frying the ingredients. You could serve Tapsilog with fresh chunks of tomatoes or pickled papaya slices called achara.  

A combo meal of fried food may not sound like the healthiest choice to start your day but at least it’s relatively a better option than meat Tapsilog or the typical bacon and eggs.

But who says it’s only good for breakfast? Enjoy a plate of vegan Tapsilog any time of day and you will be just as pleased. Happy cooking!

Menudo 2.0

Filipino Menudo is a stew of hearty ingredients like garbanzo beans, potatoes, carrots, hotdog, pork, and liver.  For my 2nd vegan version of menudo, I stayed away from using processed and pre-seasoned mock meats.  I used plain wheat gluten, which I got from an Asian store. I chopped the gluten like croutons, fried them, and included them to my stew. You’ll be surprised by how similar it is to meat texture.  To have a nice bitter taste of the original version, instead of liver, I used tempeh soybean cake.

tempeh seitan menudo med shot



tempeh seitan menudo wide



  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (preferably peeled)
  • 2 carrot sticks, diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 block plain wheat gluten, chopped
  • 1 block tempeh, diced
  • 1 medium can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4-6 tbsp. soy sauce


tempeh seitan menudo close up


  1. In a medium pan, fry the wheat gluten chunks until crunchy. Set aside.
  2. In a medium pan over medium heat, pour the oil and heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed garlic and saute until the garlic is light golden brown.
  4. Add the onions and bell pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes or until the onion is a bit translucent.
  5. Put the carrots, potatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
  6. Include the garbanzo beans,  wheat gluten, and tempeh. Mix well.
  7. Season with soy sauce. Add more tomato sauce or tomato paste to taste.
  8. Simmer for another 8-10 minutes in low heat.
  9. Turn off the heat and serve with rice. Enjoy!!

I highly recommend trying out fried wheat gluten as your meat substitute. Not only it’s healthier than mock meats, it’s also way more affordable. Plus, it gives the same great taste and texture. This hearty menudo is delicious proof!



(Almost) Raw Vegan Mango Pie

The new year has proved to be testing so far. I got a new job plus some video projects on the side. I also live back and forth between San Francisco and Hayward.  Life has been hectic. But when my friends invited me for a long overdue (vegan) get-together, I couldn’t resist saying yes and penciling it in to my schedule.

The theme was to bring a vegan dish we’ve never made before. At first, I thought I would never find time to research and cook something new especially with my current schedule.  I remembered reading a post on Oh, LadyCakes about a vegan pie recipe that does not require an oven or a dehydrator. Granted I still needed a high speed blender and a freezer, I knew the process would be fast and doable.

There was only one slight problem. I didn’t have the ingredients the recipe was calling for! I didn’t have time to shop. Except for dates and lemon, I had to replace everything. Instead of bananas, I used frozen mangoes and pineapple.  I did have some small bag of walnuts so I combined those with almonds. I also used almonds to replace cashews. And because I didn’t have time to soak my raw almonds overnight, I boiled them instead until slightly tender. As for added sweetness, I used mango juice and skipped making the salted caramel part (ain’t nobody got time for that!).

Here’s my version:

(Almost) Raw Vegan Mango Pie

Serves 6-8

raw vegan mango pie 3


  • 1 1/2 cup combined walnuts and almonds
  • 4-6 medjool dates, pitted

Mango cream

  • 1 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight (or in my case, I boiled them until slightly tender)
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup mango juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

raw vegan mango pie new

1. Using a high speed blender or food processor, blend the walnuts, almonds, and dates until crumbly.  Set aside. Ta-dah you have a crust.

2. To make the cream pie, using a high speed blender, puree the mango and pineapple chunks, almonds, mango juice, and lemon juice.

3. To assemble, place the crust on a serving pan and squeeze it down tightly. Top with the cream and distribute evenly. Put the pie to the freezer for at least 3 hours until the cream is slightly frozen.

4. You may garnish with fruit on top, or serve with vegan whip cream or vegan ice cream on the side.

I’m relieved the ingredients worked because it was a hit at the party! Feel free to try the recipe and let me know how it goes. Enjoy!