EGGPLANT SKILLET CASSEROLE: Removing traces of a shady past, the eggplant story.

savoryI only knew one kind of eggplant growing up in Manila – the eggplant that my mother used to cook or buy from the public market. Little did I know; there are so many varieties of eggplant to this day. The most popular variety available to most Americans is Italian eggplant.

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Based on Specialty Produce information page (a fresh produce wholesaler based in San Diego, CA) Italian eggplants are oblong and small to medium in size with bulb-like bottoms. The outer skin is glossy, smooth, and ranges from lavender to deep purple in color. The inner flesh is firm and ivory white with barely any visible seeds. Italian eggplants are tender and creamy with rich flavor when cooked. ”

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The Filipino eggplants that I grew up with look similar to Japanese eggplants. They are long, slender and sometimes curved with slightly visible seeds that are also edible. Compared to Italian eggplants, the Filipino eggplants have thinner skin with mild and sweet taste when cooked.

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Tilapia and Squash in Coconut Curry Sauce

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Let’s talk about good protein. All food made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. However, not all proteins are created equal.

According to Livestrong.com protein from animal sources are high in saturated fats which could raise cholesterol levels in the blood which could then lead to heart diseases if consumed “excessively;” and by excessively it means more than once a week. Some studies conducted by the American Cancer Society showed that red and processed meats have been linked to certain cancers and diabetes.

The good news is – there are good proteins! These are leaner cuts of meat, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, poultry without the skin, fish and other seafood, and plant-based sources such as  nuts, seeds, beans, soy products and whole grains.
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Bokchoy and Ham Stir-Fry

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Stir-fried vegetable is always a staple side dish in any Asian meal. I don’t know about other Filipino household back then, but I grew up with my mother cooking lunch and supper with a triad of stir-fried vegetable, steamed rice, and meat or fish for the main dish. It’s like a holy trinity of Filipino daily meal.

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Stir frying is very versatile and forgiving. You can never go wrong; there is no right or wrong combination. The more ingredients you add the better. If you have any leftover meat from previous meal, seafood or even deli meat you can add them in the stir-fry for added taste and texture.

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Salmon En Croute

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I can’t get enough of Salmon! So today, I have another special salmon recipe. This time it’s en croute style, a French term for anything baked in pastry.

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Baking salmon is quite challenging because it dries out easily. Yet, baking is a very common household cooking technique because it’s simple and easy. And it gives salmon a slightly firm flake instead of mushy texture. Baked salmon could turn too dry and hard though especially when overdone.

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Salmon and Potato En Papillote w/ Coconut Curry Sauce

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I don’t know how else to properly describe this recipe except that it’s healthy, clean and very light in the belly. The combination of coconut milk, curry, and honey gives it a very Southeast Asian flavor with a mild spicy kick of cayenne pepper.

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Besides the salmon, the rest of the ingredients are plant-based which dissolve easily in the stomach.

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help in keeping the heart healthy.  It is also an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, phosphorus and vitamin B6 for whole body wellness, strong bones and joints, brain and neurological repair, according to Mayo Clinic research.

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Bread-Crusted Salmon

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April is an important month for most Christians who still observe Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends Easter Sunday. This event is observed mainly in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic Churches.

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Where I came from, the observance of Lent is very colorful and elaborately ritualistic. Devotees are literally crucified to a wooden cross out of personal conviction and belief that by doing the crucifixion, they will be redeemed from their sins. I’m sure modern-day believers would raise eyebrows on these practices. But it’s a tradition and people from my culture have lived through such traditions for centuries that observance of the Lent has become more of a ceremonial rather than personal devotion.

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