Must visit places when you are in Bicol

Nope. I am not from Bicol nor too near from the region. I am located 8-15 hours away but nonetheless fell in love with the place. I’ve been travelling the Philippines for quite some time and this region has a special place in my heart. And after the crisis and when everything is okay, you might consider these places and who knows you might also find yourself falling in love with their people, food and view.

1. Cagsawa Ruins

The remnants of a 16th century Franciscan church built in the town of Cagsawa in 1587 will make you reminisce your ‘Sibika at Kultura’ book (well for me that was what happened).

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This is a popular attraction and historical landmark in the province of Albay. From this point, you can see the beautiful Mayon volcano (they say if you see the volcano completely cloudless, you’ll marry a Bicolano/a). Well in my case, look at that clouds that hid the view of Mayon. LOL.

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Upon entry, you will need to pay entrance fee. Aside from enjoying the view, you can also ride an ATV (PhP 500-1000), eat sili ice cream and buy some souvenirs.

2. Sumlang Lake

One of the newest attractions in Albay. Ride a bamboo raft and enjoy the relaxing view while traversing the 9-hectare swamp.

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This place was once just filthy waters covered with water lilies. It was ignored for years. But, residents decided to develop the place and I guess they made the right decision. The ugly duckling Sumlang lake is now a beautiful swan. Isn’t it inspiring?

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If you are not a fan of moving bamboo rafts, you can just sit on those abaca-made furnitures and admire the majestic view of the lake and Mt. Mayon. Food stalls and souvenir shops are also present near the lake.

3. Deer Farm

Ever dreamed of seeing Santa’s deer? You do not need to go to North Pole or wait one miraculous Christmas Eve (LOL) to see them. This deer farm is located in Ocampo, Camarines Sur just at the foothills of Mt. Isarog.

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The farm was established by the local government of Camarines Sur in 1996 for commercial purposes. You do not need to pay for an entrance fee but you can donate for the maintenance of the place. Bring food and water when you go there because there are very few stores in the area.

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You can literally have a close up encounter with the deer. They are so tamed you can even take a selfie beside them. Expect the ‘deer’ smell. BTW, Ruldoph the red nose reindeer wasn’t there if you’re wondering. LOL.

4. Lola Sayong

If you are the type of person who does not like crowded surfing camp, then this place is for you. Their surfing instructors and lesson are beginner-friendly. I do not know how to swim and it was my first time surfing  but still I was able to do it after a few tries. My instructor was surely very patient that time! LOL.

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I just love the vibe of the place. The resto’s interior is superb – they even have books to read as you wait for your food or  if you are just resting after a day’s surf. They also offer decent rooms for accommodation.

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Wake up with a beautiful sunrise and let the waves sing a lullaby as you go to sleep. You couldn’t resist staying outside at night watching the stars while hearing the sound of the waves and the wind as if they are singing a duet.

5. Daraga Church

If you failed to see Mt. Mayon with cloudless sky at the Cagsawa Ruins on your Bicol Trip Day 1, consider inserting this one to you itinerary. This Roman Catholic Church built in 1772 is located in the town of Daraga, Albay or just 9.8 km away from Cagsawa Ruins (around 20mins away if you are riding a car).

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Admire the the mix Mexican Baroque and reconaissance Gothic architecture of the church. Let your worries be washed away with the peace the place offers. You can even say a prayer.

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In 2007, the site was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Historical Institute. This spot is perfect for those thinking of a budget-friendly and easy-to-go travel destinations in Bicol.

6. Caramoan

Are you fond of the show ‘Survivor’? If yes, you’ll know why this destination is one of the known tourist spots in our list.

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You have 2 ways to choose on how you want to go to this tropical paradise when you are already around Bicol Region. First is by water wherein you ride a speed boat at Sabang port (takes 1.5 to 2 hours). Second is by land – from Cam Sur, you need 3.5hrs to get there and the road is kinda bumpy. I highly suggest that you choose the first one.

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Do not just search for ‘Survivor: Caramoan’, pack your bags and experience what the ‘tribe’ had. The clear water, rich seafood and beautiful rock formation will be more than enough trade to your 10-12 hours travel.

7. BIGG’S Diner

It is the biggest food chain in the region which offers a wide variety of food selection. Satisfy your craving for Bicol flavours and American food. You do not just get a full and happy stomach upon dining, the vintage design of the place will feed your starving eyes (and IG page).

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The food chain was born in 1983 and in 3 years time, they will celebrate its 40 years. If you are curious, BIGG stands for Beautiful, Intelligent, Gorgeous, and God-fearing.

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For some it is just a where-to-eat-in-Bicol destination – well, partly true. Still, this is a must visit place when you are in Bicol.

8. Ligñon Hill Nature Park

Ligñon Hill is a prominent hill in the city of Legazpi. It is known as the city’s protector as it serves as barrier against the lava and lahar during times of eruption and heavy rain.

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The recreational park that sits in an elevated place offers views of the entire Legazpi City and Mt. Mayon.

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You need to pay PhP 20 in the main gate before entering. The things you can do there include souvenir buying, relaxing while sight seeing, zip lining, and hanging bridge crossing.

9. Calaguas

Are you a city dweller and backpacker seeking to be away from everything? Situated in the province of Camarines Norte, the site is perfect for camping and swimming.

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Calaguas is a group of islands comprised of Tinaga Island and Guintinua Island, and other minor islands. You can find the famous Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga Island.

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Before sunrise, you can exercise and do a light trek to Calaguas Hill and get vitamin D through healthy sun exposure.

 

The places listed in here are the ones I visited myself. There’s a lot of treasure to explore in Bicol – they have so many beautiful beaches, mountains, hills, restos, lakes, rivers and parks.

 

Milk Tea Pearl Farming: How to grow tapioca/cassava?

Did you know that your favourite milk tea tapioca pearls came from trees? LOL. Just kidding. We do not pick the pearls from a tree.

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Tapioca or cassava is a perennial woody shrub which has diverse usage – from feed, food to other industrial purposes.

Here’s a quick guide on how to grow your pearls.

1. Choosing growing area

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Cassava plants love fertility, sandy loam to clay loam soil with medium  soil fertility. The area should also have enough water and good drainage.

2. Land preparation

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If you are just going to plant less than 10 plants, you just need to remove weeds, loosen the soil and dig a shallow hole (with 1 m distance from one another). Large scale farming which involves hectarage of land will require you to use tractors to implement plowing, harrowing and furrowing. You also have to create shallow holes. Distance between furrows is 0.75 – 1 m.

3. Preparation of planting materials

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Choose healthy and free from insects and diseases planting materials. In cassava production, stems are used as planting material. Cassava with low cyanide should be your choice if you are going to use it as food (e.g. milk tea pearls). Cut the stems into pieces (20-25 cm long).

4. Planting

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Distance between plants or the distance between holes is 1 m. Put ample amount of fertilizer (i.e. 14-14-14) and cover it with soil before putting the cuttings, then cover again the cuttings. You can place the cutting horizontally, vertically or slightly inclined if the soil is dry, wet or has enough moisture, respectively.

5. Irrigation

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If irrigation is not available, try to plant when the soil is still moistened or when there was rain a few days before planting. Irrigation can be done after planting and during the vegetative stage of the plant. Cassava can thrive in adverse condition but if you want to get optimum performance from your plant, you need to provide them with best cultivation practices.

6. Fertilizer application

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Application of fertilizer can be done before planting (you can use 14-14-14) and during the vegetative stage (or 2 months after planting, use 46-0-0) of the plant. But, cassava can still grow even in low fertility soil.

7. Pest management

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Weeds, insects and diseases are the things you need to look out as it will significantly affect your harvest. Weeding can be done 2 months after planting and before harvesting, and when necessary during the entire growing period – be very careful in removing the weeds.

On the other hand, the common insect pests of cassava are leaf miners and red spider mites, most cassava plants can survive despite the attack of this pests. Applying insecticides should be the very last thing you will consider in controlling these insect pests.

For the diseases, try to plant clean materials and in areas with no known disease/s. One of the diseases you should look out for is the witches’ broom disease. The disease can drastically decrease your yield.

8. Harvesting

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Harvesting can be done 8-12 months after planting. Each cassava plant can be uprooted manually or harvesting rod can be used. Be careful not do damage the roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

newbie gardener OOTD

I remember the first time I had field work. It was a 2-ha field of corn. I was there almost the whole day for harvesting and data gathering. It was a very hot day!!! And do you know what I wore? – yep – a cotton green T-shirt, pants and a pair of purple New Balance shoes! I didn’t even wear a cap! Hooray! I ended having sunburns and exhausted body. I realised that it was not just the heat of the sun and the whole day field work, me not wearing the proper attire was a big factor.

So here’s an OOTD I would recommend if you are going to the field:

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Wear cap, it will protect your head from heat. You can also wrap your head with white cloth or shirt before putting your cap. White cotton shirt provides additional sun protection.

Wear long sleeve shirt, it will protect your arms and upper body against the sun and dirt.

Wear pants, it will protect you from the sun, insect bites and sharp/thorny weeds.

Wear boots, also wear thick socks. This will protect you from snake bite if you accidentally stepped on them. It makes walking on uneven surface easier.

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Make sure to protect yourself while enjoying farming/gardening!

 

1 week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 7 -mixed veggies you can easily make or even modify

We are now on our 7th last day of the 1 week ulam/viand challenge…yey for me! LOL.

DAY 7 of 7: Mixed veggies

Ingredients (P 92 if you are gonna buy them but all the ingredients are from our garden except sayote, ginger, onion, garlic, salt and pepper):

7 pcs okra, sliced (P 10)

1 cup himbabao (P 30)

1/2 cup malunggay leaves (P 10)

3 pcs medium size tomato (P 15)

1 pc medium size sayote (P 10)

1 pc thumb size ginger, pounded (P 5)

1 pc red onion, chopped (P 5)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (P 5)

1 tsp salt (P 1)

1/4 tsp black pepper (P 1)

2 cups chicken or pork broth (if you don’t want to buy pork or chicken to make the broth you can just use plain water)

Preparation (5 minutes):

Allow sayote and tomato to get cooked first in the broth then add all the other ingredients and boil for 1 minute.

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Note: we already know the benefits of okra, malunggay, tomato, ginger, onion, and garlic – you can check out previous posts. for the himbabao, it is rich in vitamin A, thiamin, phosphorus and iron.

Did I just say you can modify them? Yes you can! Whatever veggies available in your garden or the nearest market will do. What I love about this dish is that you are making a healthy meal the easiest way.

I usually use low to no salt and oil as much as I can because we are surrounded by unhealthy food already. Your body will thank you for making your own healthy dish.

**good for 4-5 people

***in my dishes, I do not always measure my ingredient, I usually estimate them. If you are new in cooking, do not worry, the measurements I made in my previous posts won’t make your dish too salty but it can be bland (which I prefer) to some. Make sure to taste your dish before serving them. *wink*

1 week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 6

Day 6 is a little bit challenging but I did it so surely you can do it too!

DAY 6 of 7: Ginataang kalabasa and home-made burger patty

For the ginataang kalabasa:

Ingredients (P 72):

2 cups kalabasa, sliced (P 20)

1 cup sitao, cut (P 10)

1 cup malunggay leaves (P 5)

1/2 cup sili leaves (P 5)

1 cup pure gata (P 25)

1 cup 50:50 gata:water (free)

1 pc onion (P 5)

3 cloves galic (P 5)

1/2 tsp salt (P 1)

1/4 tsp pepper (P 1)

Preparation (9 minutes):

In a pot, boil kalabasa, sitao, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in the gata-water mix until the veggies get half-cooked. Add the malunggay, sili leaves and pure gata, then simmer for 1 minute.

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Note: kalabasa as we all know is rich in vitamin A. sitao is an excellent source of vitamin C and K, good source of folic acid and protein. malunggay leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins and other essential phytochemical. coco milk is rich in vitamin C and E.

Fot the home-made burger patty:

Ingredients (P 156):

1/2 kg ground pork (P 90)

1 medium size carrot, chopped into tidbits (P 15)

2 eggs (P 14)

3 tbsp flour (P 10)

1 pc red onion (P 5)

3 cloves garlic (P 5)

1 tsp salt (P 1)

1 tsp pepper (P 1)

1/2 cup cooking oil (P 15)

Preparation (15-20 minutes):

In a bowl, combine ground pork, carrot, eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix everything until you get that burger consistency. Heat the pan and add oil. Fry your burger patty until it turns golden brown.

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Note: ground pork is high in protein. carrot is good source of vitamin A.

 

**good for 6-7 people

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 5 – the easiest to prepare chicken sotanghon

Day 5 is soup day! This can serve as viand and snack. Still a no brainer, healthy and won’t break the bank ulam/merienda you can make.

Day 5 of 7: Chicken sotanghon

Ingredients (P 159):

3 packs of sotanghon (1.04oz/pack) (P 36)

1 carrot, chopped (P 15)

1/2 head of cabbage (P 20)

1/4 kgs chicken liver (P 40)

1 pc leg-thigh chicken, boiled then shredded (P 35)

1 pc onion, chopped (P 5)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (P 5)

1 tsp salt (P 1)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper (P 1)

1 tsp oil (P 1)

10 cups of water

Preparation (15 minutes):

Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil. Add the liver and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add water followed by the sotanghon. Wait until the noodles become half cooked before adding the carrots and cabbage. Boil for a minute. Serve hot.

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Note: carrot is rich in vitamin A. cabbage is packed with vitamin C and K. garlic has antibacterial properties while red onion contains antioxidants. chicken and liver are rich in protein

**serving is good for 7-8 people

 

***sorry forgot to click the publish button yesterday

1 week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 4

We are now on our day 4 of our challenge. Yesterday was pretty challenging. And for today’s menu…one of the easiest ulam to to make in our week..we have fried fish (pritong galunggong) and steamed ladies’ finger (okra).

DAY 4 of 7: Fried fish (galunggong) and steamed ladies’ finger

Ingredients (P 127):

1/2 kg galunggong fish (~4-6 pcs medium size galunggong) (P 80)

1/2 cup cooking oil (P 10)

1/2 tbsp salt (P 1)

1/2 tsp pepper (P 1)

16 pcs okra or ladies finger (P 30)

2 cups of water

1 tsp bagoong (optional) (P 5)

Preparation:

Fried fish: Season the fish with salt and pepper. In a frying pan, heat oil. Fry the seasoned fish until both sides of the fish turn brown.

Steamed okra: Place all the okra in a steamer. Steam with water for 2 minutes. Best served with bagoong or alamang.

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Note: okra contains magnesium, folate, vitamin A, C, K and B6; it is also high in fiber and source of natural laxative that strengthens the digestive tract. galunggong is your source of protein; it is also rich in DHA and omega 3.

**good for 4-6 people

 

 

 

 

1 week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 3 with toge (mungbean sprout)

Yesterday’s viand is a quick one, right?

You did not read it wrong. Day 3 is when I made 3 lumpia dishes from toge. But do not worry, day 3 will still be healthy, easy-to-make and budget friendly.

Day 3 of 7: Lumpiang toge

Ingredients (P 130):

1/4 kg toge or mungbean sprouts (P 20)

2 pcs porkchop, cubed (P 40)

2 pcs chicken liver, chopped (P 20)

1 /4 cup tokwa/tofu, cubed

1/2 cup cabbage, chopped (P 10)

1/4 cup carrots, chopped (P 12)

1/2 tsp oyster sauce (P 10)

1/2 tsp honey (optional) (P 10)

1 tsp soysauce (P 5)

1/2 tsp salt (P 1)

1/4 tsp black pepper (P 1)

1 tbsp oil (P 1)

1/2 cup water

Preparation (10 minutes):

In a pan, fry the tokwa in 1 tbsp oil until golden brown. Set aside. While the pan is still hot, fry the cubed fatty part of the porkchop until it turns brown. Set it aside. Remove excess oil. Sauté garlic and onion. Add the fried fat, tokwa, remaining porkchop meat, and chicken liver. Add water. Let it boil until the meat is cooked. Add oyster sauce, soysauce, honey, salt and pepper, then mix the toge or mungbean sprouts. Simmer for 2 minutes before adding the cabbage and carrot. Mix everything and cover.

1st dish: Lumpiang hubad

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How to make the sweet sauce (additional cost: ~P 10): In a pot, dissolve 1 tbsp cornstarch in 2 cups of water. Add 2 tbsp soysauce and 1/2 tbsp sugar. Boil the mixture until it thickens. Add 1 tbsp chopped garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Sprinkle some fried garlic on top if you like.

2nd dish: Lumpiang sariwa

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How to assemble (additional P 7 pesos for 5 pcs lumpia wrapper)?: Remove the excess liquid in the lumpia mixture. Simply wrap the mixture in the wrapper. You can make your own lumpia wrapper. But because we want to save time, I just bought one. Add some sweet sauce. Sprinkle with crushed peanut or garlic on top (optional).

3rd dish: Pritong lumpiang gulay

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How to assemble (additional cost for the lumpia wrapper, oil and vinegar)?: You just need to deep fry the wrapped lumpia mixture. Wait until it turns golden brown. Serve with your favorite spiced vinegar.

 

Note: carrot is rich in vitamin A. cabbage is packed with vitamin C and K. mungbean sprouts contain antioxidants and amino acid, protein, fiber, folate, manganese and magnesium. tokwa, chicken liver and porkchop are source of protein. garlic has antibacterial properties while red onion has antioxidants.

 

**good for 7-8 people

 

 

 

1-week ulam/viand challenge: DAY 2

Yesterday or my first day of healthy, easy-to-make and budget-friendly viand/ulam challenge I had ginisang ampalaya and greaseless fried porkchop. Here is the link of my previous post 1-week healthy, easy-to-make and budget-friendly viand challenge: DAY 1 if you want to try it.

Today’s viand is super easy to make!

Day 2 of 7: Sautéed tahong with pechay

Ingredients (PhP 100)

1 kg tahong or mussel, washed (P 80)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (P 5)

1 pc red onion, chopped (P 5)

1 thumb-sized ginger, chopped (P 5)

1 tsp salt (P 1)

1/2 tsp pepper (P 1)

1/2 tsp patis (P 1)

1/2 cup water

1 bugkos (approx. 2 plants) pechay, chopped (P 10)

Preparation (9 mins):

Make sure to wash the tahong (soak them for 30 minutes before cooking so that it will excrete some of its waste) and the pechay (to remove any fertilizer or pesticide residue).

You can opt to sauté garlic, onion, and ginger first before adding the tahong. But, because we are trying to make each viand in this challenge a little healthier, I will always try not to use oil in cooking.

In a pot, mix all the ingredients and wait until it boils (5-6 mins). Then, check if the tahong/mussels, if most of them are already partially open, add the pechay. Mix everything and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Note: red onion contains antioxidants, garlic has antibacterial property, ginger is rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium, pechay has high vitamins A and C, mussels are low in fat and can be your source of protein , vitamin C and iron, and VERY RICH in cobalamin (vitamin B12).

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**good for 5-6 pax

 

 

 

 

 

1-week healthy, easy-to-make and budget-friendly viand challenge: DAY 1

I am challenging myself to post a blog entry everyday for a week and I decided to post our viand per day during this week…because…why not?

Viand or ulam is a meat, seafood or veggie dish that accompanies rice in  a typical Filipino meal.  I’d try to make healthy (to boost our immune system), easy-to-make (so that you can still do extra work within the day) and budget-friendly (let’s be practical) dishes.

DAY 1 of 7: Ginisang ampalaya and greaseless fried porkchop

For the ginisang ampalaya:

Ingredients (cost: P38 or 108 if I include cost of ampalaya(60) and tomato (10):

3 medium size ampalaya or bittergourd fruits, sliced (free from our garden)

3 garlic cloves, chopped (P 5)

1 pc red onion, chopped (P 5)

2 pcs tomato, sliced (free from our garden)

1/4 cup ground pork (you can also use ground beef, chicken) (P 20)

1 tsp oil (P 5)

1/2 tsp salt (P 1)

1/2 tsp patis (P 1)

1/4 tsp pepper (P 1)

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Preparation (10 minutes):

Put 1 tsp oil in a preheated pan. Sauté garlic until golden brown then add the onion. When the onion becomes translucent, add ground pork and wait until it turns brown. Add the tomato and wait till it is completely mixed with the pork. Then, mix the ampalaya, cover the pant for 30 seconds. While you are waiting for the ampalaya to get cooked, beat 2 eggs in a bowl and add it to mixture. Continue stirring until the egg is cooked.

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Note: tomato is rich in lycopene, garlic has antibacterial property, red onion contain anthocyanin, ampalaya is high in vitamin C and A.

For the greaseless fried porkchop:

Ingredients (P 157):

3 pcs porkchop (P 140)

1 tsp salt (P 1)

1/4 tsp pepper (P 1)

1/2 tsp dried oregano (optional) (P 15)

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Preparation (30 minutes):

Sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano on both sides of the meat. Leave it for 10 minutes. In a pan (preferably non-stick), place the marinated meat. Cover the pan. Flip the meat every 5 minutes or until golden brown.

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Note: porkchop will be your source protein. Make sure not to eat the fat if you have hypertension.

 

**good for 5-6 pax