Rice the Right Way

Rice trivia, cooking methods, and other things every rice lover should know

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Rice is an everyday part of our lives as Filipinos. We love it so much that even after rice consumption decreased in the Asian region, our per capita consumption of it grew.

The crop has a very long and rich background, so naturally it has become a big part of Asian culture. Did you know that rice has been feeding mankind for the past 5,000 years? The first known account of using rice was traced back to China in 2,800 BC, making it the oldest known food still being consumed today. Rice ranks second to corn as the most highly produced crop in the word for human consumption.

In the Philippines, our love for the crop transcends necessity. A number of our festivals are dedicated to it such as the Panagyaman Festival celebrating a good harvest and the Ani Festival in Ilocos Norte. We even have a National Rice Awareness Month celebrated every November.

In the culinary side of things, the Filipinos’ creativity and love for food have found a variety of uses for rice. We turn it into a snack like our favorite steaming bowl of champorado or even as a dessert like sapin-sapin. But did you also know that there are different ways to cook rice depending on their variety?

Using the stove top is how many of us cook rice.  Rinse the rice till water runs clear and put it into the pot. Pour water on top of it. When it comes to measuring water, one very common technique to do is the “finger method” where the water can be measured one finger tip above the rice level. If you want to be specific with proportions, however, you can also follow the 1 cup rice: 1 1/4 cup water proportion, or simply adjust the amount of water to your liking. Once water is added, cover the pot, bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and cook till done.  This method is preferred for white and other long grain rice. Rice of the aromatic varieties also work well with this method of cooking because it better seals in the aroma.

Healthy, unpolished rice such as Black rice, for example, can be cooked using the stove top method. To prepare it, rinse and then soak in water (1 cup rice: 2 ½ cups water as guide) for 30 minutes. Turn on stove to bring to a boil and reduce heat and cook till done allowing cooked rice to absorb all the steam in the pot.  Fluff and serve.

A rice cooker/steamer makes cooking rice a bit simpler because after putting in the rinsed rice and right amount of water, you flip it on and it shuts down and keeps on “warm” automatically.

Not known to many is cooking rice using a microwave. Yes, you can use your microwave to cook rice. This is most ideal for those who want their meal fast and in smaller quantities. Combine a cup of rice with 2 ½ cups of water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a glass lid, and cook in high power for five minutes. Keep the bowl covered for three to four minutes before finally serving. Long grain and medium grain white rice can be cooked using a microwave.

Burnt rice a problem?  It may be caused by the pot.  Go for a heavy-based pot to keep the bottom of your rice from scorching and use a tight-fitting lid to keep the steam in. You can also place a clean kitchen cloth between the pot and the lid to better seal it.

We often overlook the proper storage of rice.  Uncooked rice should be stored in a clean container with a tight lid and placed in a cool and dry place. For unpolished rice, Sunnywood Superfoods Corp., the distributor of Jordan Farms Black, Red and Brown Rice, strongly advices that this type of rice be refrigerated to keep the rice fresh and free from rice weevils.

Leftover cooked rice, on the other hand, should be refrigerated to avoid spoilage. When it’s time to reheat, simply add a bit of water to it before popping it into the microwave.

To get the most out of your meals, choose rice varieties that are packed with flavor, nutrients, and are easy to cook. Harvester’s and Jordan Farms offer a wide variety of rice, from your favorite Dinorado to a wide variety of special rice such as short grain Japanese rice, Thai Jasmine and Basmati. Being healthy a priority for you?  Then go for organically grown unpolished Black, Red and Brown.  These have more antioxidants, fiber and multivitamins to help build a strong immune system for the body.

There is no doubt about rice being serious business for us Filipinos. Level-up your love for it by trying the above cooking methods as well as new varieties to add to your shopping list.

For more information about Harvester’s and Jordan Farms rice, head to their website.



How Busy, Hardworking Moms Create #PocketFullofFun Moments with their Kids

For these superwomen, finding the best sidekick is key.

Moms nowadays are such multifaceted individuals. On top of managing housework, their careers, and their kids, they also have to make sure that their parenting styles are not overshadowed by their hectic schedules.

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These superwomen may be masters at multitasking, but sometimes, they do reach their limits. That’s why they need extra help when it comes to making sure that they take care for their little ones well.

Take for example Pearl Paguio, a mother of three kids who also works as a freelance writer. As a woman who also has to balance her career with her other responsibilities, it is the little parenting details that she has to worry about sometimes. “One of my constant concerns is what to give them for baon or snack time,” she shared on one blog entry.

Stay-at-home Serene Shikukeza behind the blog “The Super Momma” has the same concerns. The mother of three shared, “Being a mom to three children with no help is really a challenge for me. Every day I have to think of ways on how to manage time in between household chores and feeding them properly, [as well as] giving them the best and healthy food there is.”

However, she started feeling more of the pressures of motherhood when her eldest started going to school. “It was a big challenge for all of us. I had to adjust everything since we were just laid-back and not having to worry [about what] we do here at home before. Things suddenly changed when I had to wake up early every day to prepare him to school. Time is fast-paced.”

For these moms, time constraint is the primary problem. Combine it with the pickiness of children when it comes to their ‘meriendas’ and it is not surprising for these superwomen to feel challenged sometimes.

These challenges are exactly what Gardenia’s Pocket Sandwiches cater to. The new pocket snack from the household bread brand is a handy, nutritious sandwich perfect for kids’ snacks every day!

“The most challenging part…of being a mom of a school-aged kid is to prepare him healthy food [for] school. My son, who became a picky eater has limited food choices. Good thing he likes bread so much,” explains Mommy Serene.

Mommy Pearl and Mommy Serene were both delighted by the pocket sandwiches not only because of its kid-friendly and all-time favourite flavours —  they come in peanut butter, chocolate, cheese and strawberry pastillas — but because of the time they save from having to prepare their little ones’ meriendas.

The cheese and strawberry pastillas flavours are actually new! Like the peanut butter and chocolate variants, these additional variants are made with soft and creamy fresh-baked white bread sealed with rich, luscious fillings.

Pocket Sandwich Cheese and Strawberry Pastillas are both high in Vitamin B1 and contain Vitamin B3 which may help release energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They also have Vitamin A which is essential for the functioning of eyes, Calcium that is needed in maintenance of normal teeth and bones, and Iron which contributes to the normal formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin.

On the other hand, the Peanut Butter and Chocolate variants are high in Iron and have vitamins A, B1, and B2.

Mommy Serene shares, “I am up for anything that will make life easier, especially [one] that is a healthy choice for my my children. [The Pocket Sandwich] saves me a lot of time when preparing sandwiches because I just have to stuff it inside his bag.”

Moreover, saving time opens a whole new world of bonding opportunities for these mommies. “With the new Gardenia Pocket Sandwich, I spend less time preparing their snack and spend more fun times with my kids. It… allows us to enjoy our favorite sandwich anytime and anywhere!” said Mommy Pearl.

She specifically shared how it saved her from thinking of snacks to give her children in between playtime and school break. She even shared how she sometimes enjoys a pack herself whenever she goes around doing her own activities.

Mommy Serene agrees. For her, it is the perfect snack for families like them who are always on-the-go. “We will just open a pack and enjoy our activities together with it. We don’t have to worry where to stop next just in case we get hungry along the road. That means more time for stories and bonding with the kids without all of us getting hungry.”

There is no doubt that mothers can be superwomen. But as Mommy Serene puts it, “No matter how I try to be on top of everything, I always fail at some point.” Failure in one thing, however, does not necessarily mean failure as a parent.

After all, just like the superheroes we love, they also need efficient partners. And this time, it can very well be found in a pocket of Gardenia sandwich.



Cool Kidz On the University Block: Keep Your Calm at the End of the Academic Season with Fisherman’s Friend

Ah, university life. It’s that stage where you are old enough to make big decisions—like deciding on your course that will kick off your future career—yet young still to be free from life’s biggest responsibilities. Still, one should never underestimate the pressures that college brings. Think: juggling tests with org activities PLUS trying to keep an active social life is no easy thing.

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If you were to be asked about the meaning of what a cool student is, how would you describe it?  Would you define it by the many impromptu hangout sessions with your blockmates? Or perhaps you feel more fulfilled by making sure you stay in the honors list and executing meaningful programs with your student organization?

The thing is, any student’s success (and enjoyment) is all about balance. College is meant to teach you something knowledge- and experience-wise, after all.  So how do you do this? Simple: by approaching the most stressful parts of college as cool as you can be, so you can enjoy the rest of your experiences.

But how do you do this during an especially hectic time like the tail end of the academic season? Below are a few tips to keep cool despite the overwhelming requirements:

Give yourself a break.

Studying hard is a must-do, but remember to give yourself break times, no matter how quick they are. This is to make sure that you can refresh your mind and keep yourself from suffering from information overload. Even resting your eyes for fifteen minutes for every hour of studying can help.

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Moreover, giving yourself a break and taking extra care of yourself can actually prepare you more for your other requirements. Got a thesis defense or other big presentation coming up? Even something as simple as taking lozenges, which can help give you comfort during the strenuous parts of your preparation, can do you some good. An extra perk: having a modulated voice during your presentation will earn you extra brownie points from your professor for being confident and well-prepared.

Involve your friends.

Sure, your weekly hangout should be on the down low during this season, but you don’t need to always go out to enjoy with your friends! Involve them in a study session instead. It might be easier for you to remember and understand things if you have other people you can banter with about a subject.

Treat yourself.

Just because it’s hell week, it doesn’t mean you should torture yourself. Giving yourself a treat, even with the smallest things, like eating out or popping a soothing mint candy like Fisherman’s Friend lozenges after long hours of rehearsing your presentation can help a lot. These lozenges, which come in a variety of flavors like Original, Strong Mint, Sugar Free Lemon, Sugar Free Mint, Sugar Free Mandarin, Sugar Free Cherry and Sugar Free Spearmint, can help calm your throat and also give you something to thoughtfully nibble on, in case you are the type of student who prefers eating something while studying.

Grab a pack of Fisherman’s Friend from leading drugstores, convenience stores, and supermarkets nationwide for as low as Php44.75. You can also check their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FishermansFriendPH.

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Fisherman’s Friend Gives Us Another Reason to Love Our Lemons

They say that if life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But why stop there? Did you know that outside of food and beverages, lemons can be used as a natural beauty ingredient? Lemons are so versatile that there are a hundred ways you can use them! From being one of the most popular flavors used in products (be it food or beauty essentials) to a now iconic pop culture reference (thank you Hubbard and Beyonce!), these zesty little fruits prove that there are more to them than just being a juice stand favorite.

Health benefits of lemon

Lemons help improve the immune system with its vitamin C component. Other benefits include helping muscle function thanks to its calcium and potassium components, and promoting weight loss through pectins that make you feel fuller. Its antioxidant properties also help clear the kidney when added with water by increasing your urine’s citrate levels.

Lemons are packed with nutrients that make them a wonderful first aid and health ingredient. They are widely popular as a sore throat remedy, thanks to their acidic nature that increases the acidity of the throat area which kills the bacteria and viruses causing the discomfort. The astringent juice also helps bring down the inflammation by shrinking swollen tissues and reducing mucus. When mixed with honey, the latter will help coat the throat with its own antibacterial properties that can help soothe the soreness. Just add a teaspoon of lemon juice and honey to a cup of warm water for instant relief.

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Don’t have time to create your own lemon cure for sore throat? Go for lozenges with lemon in them! Try Fisherman’s Friend, a trusted brand, which started its history back in 1865 when pharmacist and founder James Lofthouse decided to create a lozenge form of his liquid formulation to make them easier to carry at sea. In 1997, Fisherman’s Friend finally released its Sugar-free Lemon-flavored lozenges —the first on its roster with a fruit flavor.

In the Philippines, Fisherman’s Friend comes in other fun flavors like Original, Strong Mint, Sugar Free Mint, Sugar Free Mandarin, Sugar Free Cherry and most recently, the Sugar Free Spearmint which was launched locally in 2016. Each pack tastes so good you won’t think they’re lozenges! Grab a pack of Fisherman’s Friend from leading drugstores, convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide for as low as Php44.75. You can also check their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FishermansFriendPH.

Lemon as a beauty ingredient

The antibacterial properties and alpha hydroxyl acids in lemon juice make it an effective ingredient used in beauty products formulated to help clear skin. Lemons also help lighten dark spots and remove blackheads with its citric acid component. Got oily skin? Get a cotton swab and damp it with a few drops of lemon juice to manage it.

Lemon also has amazing benefits for hair and nails. Try going DIY and whip up your very own hair mask by mixing its juice with olive oil, coconut oil, and honey to cure your dry scalp and dandruff problem. A mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, on the other hand, can help whiten and strengthen yellowing and brittle nails.

A cook’s secret weapon

Are you one of those who love adding a dash of lemon to almost everything you eat? According to the pros at food website Epicurious, there is a solid reason why you love using this fruit as a secret ingredient.

The trick is actually a secret of many fancy chefs who use lemon juice to transform a dish. Not only does a splash of citrus make the flavors of a recipe come together, it also sharpens them without overwhelming the palate. So the next time you are planning to host a dinner party, pull off this trick to make your dishes taste a little more extra.

From health to beauty, lemons are truly a very versatile ingredient that can cater to a variety of needs.  So the next time life throws you lemons, you have to make the best out of them.