Ginataang Gulay recipe

Long weekend means family time at the dinner table. And when there is time, the family always requests for my cooking. Since we’ve been eating out a lot lately, I thought to try out a healthier dish: Ginataang Gulay for dinner. My toddler loves kalabasa, and my husband needs to learn how to appreciate vegetables, so this was the perfect dish.

Ginataang Hipon, Sitaw, at Kalabasa Recipe

(from Panlasang Pinoy)


  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned
  • 10 strings beans (sitaw), cut into 2 1/2 inch length
  • 2 cups kalabasa (squash), cubed
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 1 cup malunggay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Procedure

  1. Heat oil in a cooking pot.
  2. Saute the garlic and onion until the onion becomes soft.
  3. Put-in the shrimp. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, put-in the bagoong alamang and pour-in the coconut milk. Stir and let boil.
  5. Add the kalabasa. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes or until tender.
  6. Put the shrimp back in the pot. Stir and cook for a minute.
  7. Add the string beans (sitaw) and malunggay leaves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve.
  10. Share and enjoy!

We didn’t have malunggay at the time, but it was alright. The saltiness of the bagoong balanced the sweetness of the gata. The shrimps added more flavor to the vegetables. Very easy to prepare and cook.

Here is the finished product:


Here’s the husband’s quoted review: “had this for dinner! This is one for the books @gladysjpadilla … sarap grabe!! Sarap na healthy pa! ‪#‎sabawsagata‬ ‪#‎healthyfood‬ ‪#‎yummy‬

Thanks for the kind words, Ling. This inspires me to create more healthy meals for the family 🙂


Eat, Pray, Love in Pangasinan

“It’s a road trip! It’s about adventure! . . . It’s not like we have somewhere to go.” ― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

Finally found the perfect day-trip getaway: Visit Manaoag and have a food trip in Pangasinan! It’s been a while since I’ve visited Manaoag and heard Mass there. Milo has not been there yet. And I’ve been craving for good ol’ Bangus lately. Problem Solved!

Rented a van for 8 hours at 8500++ (I already knew we were going to exceed this time frame), and invited the whole gang along. Mom prepared boiled eggs and sweet bananas, while Milo stocked up on drinks for us. At 4 am, we were ready to go.

Picked up Mama (Milo’s mom) at Marilao where she also brought fresh-from-the-oven Pan de Sal. After an early Silog breakfast at a nearby 24hour Jollibee, we were finally on our way to the North.

Going to Pangasinan is easier today, thanks to the connecting expressways. No need to pass by the other towns with the tricyles and trucks on the road. Just take NLEX to Dau, SCTEX, then TPLEX to Urdaneta – dulo to dulo – and you’re now in Pangasinan! That took about three hours from Manila.

At Manaoag, there are early morning masses at 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10am. We were already there at 9am, but since it was a bit crowded in the parking area, we waited for the 10am mass instead. We took the time to take pictures first and take Sofia on a walk. The weather was quite cool and the mass was very solemn, so we were able to pray and offer our intentions. I told Milo that since it was his first time, he gets to pray for his three wishes 🙂 Our Lady of Manaoag has a devout following, as our Lady has been known to grant wishes from the faithful who visit and pray to her.


We almost didnt catch the priest who blessed the crowd with holy water, so we followed him outside where there is a blessing area, near the tank of holy water. He said a prayer for Sofie and our family, and my heart was glad. Everyone offered candles also and said our prayers before heading out.


We passed by a lot of food vendors on our way to Dagupan and Calasiao. Road trips would not be complete without the food trip on the way, so we stuffed ourselves with native tupig, sweet grilled kakanin, and some banana chips on our way to lunch.


Our favorite restaurant in Dagupan is Dagupeña, famous for their best-tasting Bangus! We ordered their Pakbet, Binagoongan Pata and Sabaw na Halaan which were bestsellers too. The restaurant can be quite crowded during lunchtime, so best to come early or call for reservations.


Before heading home, we dropped by Calasiao for their famous puto. There’s a street around the corner near the plaza where all the puto vendors are. A kilo costs about 80pesos only! We “hoarded” a bit for Lola and Tatay, and before going back to the road.

It was a long day, we spent about 15 hours on the trip. But everything was worth it, because we spent the day with family.



Art in Island Family

“I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life.” ~ Barbara Bush

Christmas season starts as early as November in our family, and the traditions follow suit. This includes the house decorations, christmas carols, and the weekend family trips.

My brother organized one trip this weekend, and invited everyone in the family to join. My brother, who rarely organizes, and my father, who rarely joins are both ready to go! I reorganized our Sunday plans and agreed to join the whole gang for a picture taking morning at Art in Island.

The whole venue in Cubao was filled with 3d art installations, where you can be creative in your poses and see the 3d effects in your pictures. Entrance is at Php 500, and it will be better if you come early to avoid the queues at the photo installations. This way you can also have as many takes and poses as you want. (More info on Art in Island here).


Everyone was game enough to pose and have fun with each other. Hope we can have more weekends like this, bonding as a complete family, Christmas season or not.

The Legend of Salit-Salit

“Feeding my children is not like feeding myself: it matters more.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

How ironic it is, that my daughter whom I need to feed more is being a picky eater as of late, and my husband whom I need to diet more is a fan of eat-all-you-cans and second servings?

Mealtimes are always an adventure in our family, as we need to squeeze our creative juices in crafting a variety of healthy and delicious foods that everyone would love. My daughter most especially needs more attention, as she gets distracted from her food and throws a tantrum when she is not familiar with what is laid in front of her.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depends on how you look at it), she smiles at the occasional “salit-salit”, or extra food that she takes a bite with together with her rice and ulam. As a kid, my mom had to give me “salit-salit” too, as my mealtimes would take three hours without it. Breakfast meets lunchtime, so to speak. Our daughter takes after her parents after all 🙂

Right now, she takess bite-sized pan de sal (which she takes after from her dad) as salit-salit for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, she leans towards something savory. Lola has introduced her to crunchy chips (gasp!), so now I have to look for the healthier kind so she doesn’t skip out on her meals.

Discovered this Veggie Chips from my friends’ Local Gourmet Manila (photo cred from their FB page). It’s made up of 8 kinds of vegetables, and still as tasty and healthy for my toddler. She loves it, thank God! I’m grateful for healthy finds so my daughter can eat healthy meals and still enjoy her salit-salit snacks.


Next stop: teach her how to eat by herself 🙂

For more info, click here for Local Gourmet’s official facebook page.

In-laws and Outlaws

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb.

This Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. This communal responsibility in raising children is also seen in the Sukuma (Tanzania) proverb “One knee does not bring up a child” and in the Swahili (East and Central Africa) proverb “One hand does not nurse a child.” Read more here.

extended family

As a working mom, this African proverb rings true. I rely heavily on the support system of my family and in-laws to look after my child while I’m at my day job. Parents working in manila are blessed that the Philippine culture allows for child care support with the extended family. Without the grandparents or close relatives, child care is left with the yayas and whichever day care is available. The latter set-up spells security problems, and I myself am not comfortable leaving my daughter in the arms of a total stranger.

Though we are extremely grateful to have both sets of lolos and lolas extending their support, their way of rearing children in the most traditional sense often clashes with our own modern ways. Take for example, going out to malls: while the oldies believe that children should be safely home before sundown, my husband and I are still ok to bring the kid with us at dinnertime, especially during weekend bonding. Therein lies the conflict–should we follow the parents’ ways because we ask this huge favor of them to look after the children? Whose “law” should be the standard rule?

I think that there is no right or wrong answer to this. Safe to say, each scenario would beget its own solution. Parents like us should weigh which of the “suggested” ways are best for the children–this should be of the utmost concern. Political correctness and sensitivity should be employed as well in communicating each one’s thoughts, so as not to overstep boundaries and hurt the other’s pride or feelings.

In the end, it should not matter whose advice “won” or which is the “better” way of raising the child. What matters most is the child’s upbringing, in that he or she feels that the whole family works together to raise him or her as a responsible, loving and God-fearing person.

Are Women Using Work to Escape a Chaotic Home?

“The hours are long but the coffee is hot, the routine reassuring, the banter comforting. Maybe a mother could come to prefer her life at work.” ~ Mary Otto

working mom2

Sometimes, this is true for me. I blame economics, gender equality, and the terrible two’s. I wish I can lessen the guilt, but it does not take away the truth from the reality. I need my sanity break, and yes, it comes in the form of work. Am I more career woman than mother? Does that make me a bad mother? After a long day in the office, I just shrug off the evil thoughts, and still go back home, to my family.

Read more here.

Home and Away

“Move to a new country and you quickly see that visiting a place as a tourist, and actually moving there for good, are two very different things.” – Tahir Shah

An old friend just recently called up to say that he’s moving to New Zealand, and bringing along his family with him. He’s not alone, and this is not the first time. He’s following the footsteps of 4 other colleagues who seem to share the vision of a “greener” pasture abroad, literally and figuratively.

While catching up with an old friend, she mentioned choosing Australia to raise her kids instead of here in Manila. And while she notes that there are conveniences of community and family here in her hometown, the benefits of living abroad supported by the government (such as free education, hospitalization charges, etc) outweighs her own nostalgia. home and abroad

I have always weighed this choice myself. My husband and I have also discussed this multiple times, and we have considered the options and what-ifs. His family is exposed to the OFW scenario more than my family, as my FIL is a practicing physician in the US and only comes home once a year for the holidays.

While the hubby is open to the idea, I have yet to open my heart to the possibility. I love to travel and explore new places. But moving my life, moving with children abroad is totally different. I heavily rely on my family ties to raise my kid while I am working. I do not have currently the freedom to strictly choose my weekdays only for work–at times, we are called to duty even on weekends. I do not have the luxury of time yet to go home early, as my work demands attention at late hours especially when there are special events. And while the option is there to look for a more “regular” desk job, my family knows that this is best job for me, in terms of long-term health benefits and a more understanding work pace.

Countless times, relatives and friends have tempted us to work abroad. Promises of higher pay and less workload, and more work opportunities would always beckon. But for me, its not always about the money. I want my children to grow up with their grandparents, because the wisdom that they can impart does not have a price tag. I want our parents to enjoy their grandchildren, for time is all they have right now. I want my children to enjoy their Pinoy childhood and a school with Pinoy values. I want us to enjoy all the ups and downs of Manila, because this is where we grew up, and right now, this is home. Yes, I’m traditional and conventional and sentimental that way.

But then, that’s just me. Who knows what will happen in the future. All I know is, as long as we’re all together (for now), we can find happiness and fulfillment anywhere we may be.