Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pico De Loro Birthday Celebration

To celebrate our son's third birthday, me and my husband decided to go out-of-town for a family vacation. Last year, we did the same thing and celebrated his birthday at The Manor in Camp John Hay in Baguio. For his third birthday, I suggested that we go to the beach. We considered flying out to Cebu or Bohol, but since I'm already 7 months  pregnant, we chose a resort that is nearer to Manila. 

We finally chose to book for a 2 nights stay in Pico De Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas. We have stayed in the resort before when Caleb was 9 months old and we did not mind coming back. In fact, we liked the place very much because it is exclusive (not too crowded), accessible to Manila (only a 2-hour drive via Ternate, Cavite) and most importantly family and kid-friendly. 

Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club is exclusive to members and residential owners, while their hotel, Pico Sands is open to guests. We availed of their corporate rate through my husband's employer. A 2 nights stay at their Superior Lagoon View (with 1 queen-sized bed) costs P16,000 inclusive of buffet breakfast for 2 persons, F&B credit for P2,000, 10% discount on their spa and access to the country club and Pico Beach.

Because we booked weeks in advance and checked-in on a weekday, they gave us a corner room with 2 balconies.  Their rooms are cozy, clean and simple, but quite spacious. It is equipped with a LCD TV with Cignal HD channels, a small fridge, the usual hotel amenities, 2 bath robes and safety deposit box.

On our first day at the resort, we took Caleb to Club Pico. For just a P100 fee (weekday rate for guests), kids can enjoy unlimited play time.  Caleb  pretended to be an American Ninja Warrior while he climbed up, hurdled the obstacles and sneaked out of the holes.  It was a challenging course for a three year old, but he enjoyed every moment of it!

After his play time, we took a dip in the pool at the Pico Country Club. There were different pools to choose from, but we ended up in the pool with the fountains. While Randy was giving Caleb swimming lessons, I used the pool's fountain as hydrotherapy to massage my aching back.  What a perfect way for a pregnant mommy to relax!

Our second day in Pico was Caleb's birthday. To make it special, we prepared three simple surprises for him. As soon as he got up from bed, we gave him his first surprise.  Caleb opened his gift with much thrill and excitement! It may just be a simple gift, but the joy in his eyes was absolutely priceless! As it turned out, his gift - a big magnetic drawing board came in handy because it kept him busy while we were in the hotel room.

Prior to our stay, I requested for a small cake which the Pico De Loro staff gladly arranged to be delivered in our room. When I announced surprise #2 to him, Caleb was just ecstatic!  We sang him a Happy Birthday and he blew the candle with so much joy and appreciation. Too bad, we were not able to take a picture of it, but my husband captured that sweet moment on video.  After blowing the candle he embraced both of us and kept repeating I love you, I love you. We never expected how much that simple gesture meant to our little boy.

After breakfast, we went for a stroll around the lagoon to take pictures. Next, we headed to the beach for a day of frolic in the sun and sand! Much to our disappointment, it rained a lot while we were at the beach.  But not even the rain can stop our celebrant from having fun.  He was just content playing with his excavator, bulldozer and dump truck in the sand. The little rain left us enjoying the beach to ourselves. How sweet of God!

Still full from our buffet breakfast, we had a light lunch at The Reef Bar by the beach. After a quick rest in the afternoon, Caleb requested to play again in Club Pico. 

We went to Pico Restaurant at the hotel for dinner.  Randy ordered Spaghetti Carbonara and Spaghetti Amatriciana for me while Caleb chose Fried Chicken with fries. We were very much satisfied with the food and service at the hotel. Food was delicious and the waiting staff were friendly and courteous.  For hotel food, I would say that their prices are also quite reasonable.

Spaghetti Carbonara, P385

Spaghetti Amatriciana, P375

Fried Chicken w/ Fries, P300

The next day, we checked out after breakfast and headed back to Manila. Randy took the route via Ternate which saved us an hour of travel time, considering the heavy traffic in Tanza, Cavite. Just when Caleb thought his birthday was over, I announced that surprise #3 is waiting for him on his bed.

For his main birthday present, we got him an Emco construction block set. Our little engineer was over the moon as he and his daddy assembled the trucks and construction site. 

Our son had the time of his life! I was also glad that we were able to take this much needed vacation before I give birth in a couple of months.  Seeing our son so happy is a precious blessing. Truly, God is faithful! It was a simple celebration, but one that is memorable and special. And for a child, quality time spent with mommy and daddy is all that matters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mom And Baby Fair at St. Luke's Global City

Last August 15 and 16, 2014, St. Luke's Global City held the Mom and Baby Fair at the Henry Sy, Sr. Auditiorium in celebration of Breastfeeding Month.  Aside from vendors and exhibitors, the event also featured various talks from different medical practitioners about Prenatal and postnatal care, Anesthesia in pregnancy and Effects in Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding 101 and sponsored talks about Baby Care by Lactacyd and Cord Blood Bank by Cordlife. The event is open to all, with no entrance fee. Participants for the Mom and Me symposium held on August 16 were also given free snacks from de Original Jamaican Patty Shop and free lunch as well.

I attended a similar event three years ago during my first pregnancy but I was only able to stay for a couple of hours so I was curious to learn about new things in pregnancy and childcare. I was happy to find out that their program included separate talks for fathers and caregivers, particularly about their roles and participation in breastfeeding. 

The program started of with a Mother's Yoga Class, followed by a talk from the project head, Dr. Elisa Malvar-Cornelio on the hospital's breastfeeding policy. One of the reasons why we chose St. Luke's Global City is because they encourage rooming-in of newborn babies with their mommies to promote breastfeeding upon the child's delivery. 

What I especially like about the talks is that they open the floor for participants to ask questions from the doctor speakers. In the talk about Anesthesia in Pregnancy, I was able to ask about the chills I experienced when I was given an Epidural. The speaker anesthesiologist explained that one of the effects of epidural is core hypothermia or altered heat distribution in the body.  She assured me that this is pretty normal and that there's nothing that I should be worried about.

Since August is Breastfeeding Month, one of the event's highlight was a Kids' Fashion Show which featured the breastfed kids of St. Luke's Global City.

Another thing that I looked forward to in this event are the generous raffle prices given away by the sponsor merchants/vendors. I was looking forward to winning this time (like the high chair or stroller from Richwell Trading), but it was again not my lucky day :(

Big brands in Baby/ Kids' Essentials and Fashion displayed their products and offered hefty discounts.  Of course, I did not pass up the chance to shop for some of the baby items on my list.

Cribs and strollers at 30 to 50% off from Safety 1st

Mommy and Baby Care products from Mustela

Elle Kids and Chico shoes at 50-60% off

Other vendors include Baby Company, Chino Pino, Early Learning Center 
and Mothercare
Here are the items I bought: 

  • Avent One System Breast Milk Storage Cups, set of 10 reusable cups with lids (P1,141 originally at P1,629.75) 
  • Honey Suckle Breast Milk Storage Bags, box of 25 bags (P360)
  • Avent Replacement Nipples (P280, originally at P399.75 
  • Bug & Kelly Pajama Set (P300)
  • Elle baby girl shoes (P150 each, originally at P399)
  • Emco Construction Block set (P1,439, originally at P 1,799.75) - not in picture 

It was a long, but productive day for all the expectant moms. The event was well attended and I was surprised that a lot of mommies finished the program which lasted until pass 3 PM. Although I was already familiar with most of the things that were discussed,  I left the event feeling happy from all the new information I learned. I was also happy to see more merchants/ vendors who gave away a lot of freebies. I think pregnant mommy events like this never gets old.  Hmm...I wonder if there would be a third time for me to attend?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know about Glucose Screening (OGTT)

One of the tests that all pregnant women have to go through is the glucose screening test.  The first glucose screening test, known as OGCT or Oral Glucose Challenge Test is normally recommended by the OB Gynecologist between 16 to 20 weeks of gestation. 

The OGCT is given to measure the body's ability to utilize glucose as the body's main source of energy. It is administered by giving the pregnant patient 50 grams of glucose drink that has to be consumed within 5 minutes. After which, blood is extracted intravenously regardless of the time of the patient's last meal. Thus, no fasting is required for this test. 

If glucose levels are equal or above 130 mg/dl, your OB GYN will most likely refer you to a more rigorous and definitive glucose testing called the OGTT or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.  

I dreaded taking both glucose screenings because I developed gestational diabetes (GD) during my first pregnancy. My OB GYN, Dr. Elsie Pascua then referred me to an endocrinologist, Dr. Michael Villa who specializes in diseases of the endocrine and hormones.  She also referred me to a nutritionist who gave me a special dietary plan to help regulate my glucose levels after each food/ meal intake. Even though I do not really have a sweet tooth, I learned that our family history of Type 2 diabetes has put me at risk in developing GD.

From my 6th month of pregnancy until delivery and recovery, I was closely monitored by Dr. Villa. He gave me a glucose screening kit so I can monitor and log my glucose levels upon waking up and after every meal.  With proper diet and exercise, I was able to manage my glucose levels and did not have to take insulin shots. After I had given birth, I also had to go through an OGCT again to check if I had developed Type 2 diabetes. It was a blessing that I didn't, but given the history, it still puts me at risk of developing the disease. It also puts me at risk in having gestational diabetes again on my succeeding pregnancies. 

Although there are no known causes for gestational diabetes, some medical experts say that hormones from the placenta may block the action of insulin in a pregnant woman's body. This insulin resistance will cause glucose to build up in the blood instead of it being used as energy for the body. 

If untreated properly, GD can be harmful for your baby. This excess glucose can go through the placenta and give your baby high glucose levels. The baby's pancreas will work overtime to produce insulin and get rid of the excess glucose in his blood which may result to a fat baby. This puts your baby at risk for obesity and may also develop Type 2 diabetes later on.


I took the OGCT on my 20th week of pregnancy. The result was 175 mg/dl, which was obviously way over the acceptable blood glucose limit. My OB then recommended that I take the second glucose screening, OGTT on my 24th week. 

Because I had GD on my previous pregnancy, I was anxious about getting the results. I also dreaded the whole process of the glucose screening itself. The OGTT is a long and tedious screening and requires half day of fasting -- not a welcome idea for any pregnant woman. I was not prepared the last time I took this test, but I knew better this time. So if you're going to take this test, whether pregnant or not, here are some important things you should know about OGTT:

1.  OGTT requires 8 to 12 hours of fasting.  We had guests over in the house the night before I scheduled the test, but I made sure my last food and water/ fluid intake would be at 11 pm. I got to St. Luke's Global Pathology Dept. at 8 am the following day. Scheduling the test first thing in the morning is the best thing to do so you can avoid the long queuing in the laboratory and won't end up very hungry and heaven forbid, irritable! I was given a log slip that I just had to present when it was time for my next extraction.

2.  The standard test requires 4 blood extractions for 3 hours (unless the doctor specifies a 2 or 4 hour OGTT). The extractions are done every hour and no food or water is allowed in between extractions.

3.  The first blood extraction is for your fasting blood. After which, you are given a 100 mg. glucose drink that has to be consumed within 5 minutes. The drink is extremely sweet and can make you gag. It is important to prevent yourself from throwing up because this will make the test invalid.


4.  After taking the glucose drink, your blood will be extracted 3 more times every hour. During this time, no food or drink, including water is still allowed. I was also advised to refrain from too much walking. To pass the time, I waited in the different lobby areas of St. Luke's Global and the read the books I brought along. As I said, the process is long and tedious so you have to be patient.


Before the last blood extraction, I was already feeling a bit dizzy and super hungry.  It was almost lunch time so before heading home, I got myself something to eat in the car.  After more than 3 hours of passing time in the hospital, it felt so good to see my log slip all signed and completed!

After a couple of days, I downloaded the result of my OGTT online through St. Luke's eHealth Patient's Results - a very convenient advantage of having your results done in St. Luke's. 

And the result.....

I PASSED!!! I was so overjoyed! However, my OB advised me to take it easy on carbs (especially simple sugar) on my last trimester. While I can give in to my occasional banana walnut muffin craving, I could only thank God that I have one health issue to be concerned about in my pregnancy.   

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Healthy Alternatives to Our Favorite Dishes: Pork-Quinoa Meatballs and Fish & Tofu Kare-Kare

I love to experiment in the kitchen. When I plan the week's menu before going to the grocery, I browse through recipes books and also find inspiration on food sites online. I rarely follow the exact recipe though because I always like to add a personal touch to the dishes I prepare. But of course, just like any experiment, there are hits and misses. Thankfully, most of the dishes I try are much appreciated by my husband and son. Either that or they're just forgiving. 

I thought of sharing some of these recipes here in my blog. I hope that you can also find inspiration in preparing something new for your family.


I wrote a blog post about the start of my love affair with quinoa where I shared its many health benefits. Among others - it is a complete protein, high in fiber and is a known anti-oxidant. You can find a lot of quinoa recipes online, but here's one that is more familiar to our Pinoy taste. My son loves this so much, he was trying to sneak a bite while I was still cooking. This dish is so versatile. It will make a healthy baon for your kids, a filling pica-pica for wine and cheese night with your hubby or a great substitute for your Spaghetti with Meatballs. Just use with your regular spaghetti sauce recipe to give your kids' favorite dish a healthy twist.


For the Meatballs:

3/4 kilo Lean Ground Pork
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 medium-sized carrots, finely chopped  
3 eggs
pinch of oregano powder/ dried oregano
pinch of ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

all-purpose flour
Japanese breadcrumbs
corn oil for frying

For the Sweet & Sour Sauce:

1 pack Knorr Sweet & Sour Sauce
1 cup warm water
1 red onion, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, Julienne (cut into thin strips)

Cooking Procedure:

1.  Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and form into small bite-sized balls
2.  Roll the meatballs into flour and breadcrumbs. Fry
3. Meanwhile, dissolve 1 pack of Knorr Sweet & Sour Sauce (or any brand you prefer) in 1 cup of warm water 
4.  Saute the sliced red onions and green pepper and add the Sweet & Sour mixture
5. Serve on the side or pour over cooked meatballs

Pork - Quinoa Meatballs with Sweet & Sour Sauce 


The classic Pork Pata Kare-Kare is my ultimate favorite dish. Even as a young kid, I always requested my mom to cook this dish for me. I remember when I was 8 years old, I asked mom to cook this for me and she said that we don't have vegetables and ground peanuts. Determined to have that kare-kare I was craving for, I volunteered to buy the ingredients myself. At that time, our house was only a few blocks walk to the public market. Back then, it was also safe for kids to walk by themselves around the streets of Manila. Mom probably was not thinking I was that determined so she gave me the market list and money. I remember the look on her face when I came back with plastic bags of vegetables and ingredients which I bought from the public market all by myself! Looking back, I can't believe I did such a brave thing as a young kid... all for the love of kare-kare! That experience actually began my interest in cooking.

Fortunately today, we can find all we need to cook kare-kare in the supermarket. The only draw back to this dish is that it takes so long to cook! Well you can use a pressure cooker to easily tenderize the pork pata, ox tail or beef. And because the meat used for this dish is not too friendly to your cholesterol. Kare-Kare often comes as a treat and often served on special occasions only. 

Luckily, you can find recipes online that uses fish, seafood or just vegetables as substitute for this popular dish. For my healthy version of kare-kare, I added yet another favorite food of mine - tofu! If you like tofu, you're going to love this recipe. Not only does tofu add a different texture and flavor to fish kare-kare, it is also very filling like meat.  And because fish and tofu are easy to cook (no tenderizing required!), we can all enjoy kare-kare in just 30 minutes, less the guilt!


1 piece onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 kilo Dory fish fillet, drained and cut into thick slices,  
4 pieces regular tofu or tokwa, cut into 1/2 inch blocks
2 tablespoon Peanut butter
3 pieces eggplant
1 bundle string beans (sitaw), cut into 2 inch slice
1 bundle pechay
salt and pepper to taste
prepared bagoong/ shrimp paste, to be served on the side

1 pack Mama Sita's Kare-Kare Mix
250 ml warm water

Cooking Procedure:

1. Pan-fry tofu/ tokwa until lightly brown. Drain oil on paper towel and set aside.
2. Saute onions, garlic and add Dory fish. Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes
3.  Add dissolved kare-kare mixture and peanut butter
4.  Add cooked tofu/tokwa
5.  Blanch all vegetables (eggplant, sitaw and pechay)
6.  Add vegetables on top of the kare-kare before serving. Serve with bagoong on the side

Fish and Tofu Kare-Kare

Hope you get to try these healthy alternatives and please feel free to share what you think. Happy cooking and happy guilt-free eating!