Food intolerance test





A few months ago, I took the Food Intolerance Test at Hi-Precision Diagnostics. I was curious to find out where I stood in the food scale not because I was feeling sick or I had symptoms, but because I wanted to have the information so that I could make informed choices.

Food intolerance is your body’s abnormal reaction to certain foods which can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some people will have one symptom such as severe headache whilst others will be unfortunate to experience irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and skin or respiratory conditions. Unlike the immediate reactive sysmptoms of food allergy, food intolerance symptoms often appear hours or even days later.

Repeated and continuous digestion of these foods may cause inflammatory reactions in the intestines causing incomplete absorption of nutrients your body needs.


My kind of afternoon. Drawing temporary tattoos and tasting new menu of @pinorestobar #pinojupiter. That quinoa salad with berries is a winner!
I don’t have a problem eating “healthy food.” I always try to have a balanced meal. But after I turned 40 I realized that my body reacts a certain way to certain food. There are things that I totally had to stop eating, like shell fish and farmed fish, because my body just outright rejects them. I wanted to know what are the other food items I should be staying away from.


The test was simple. I had my blood extraction done at home. This is an optional service that Hi-Precision Diagnostics provides at an additional cost. I didn’t need to fast.


I had the chance to visit Hi-Precision Diagnostics main laboratory in Quezon City. There were three floors of diagnostic labs. This is where the blood gets studied.


The Food Intolerance Test measures immunoglobulin antibody count for specific foods; the numbers are actual antibody counts with 30 or more labelled in red as highly reactive and between 23 and 29 inclusive as milady reactive marked in yellow. Based on my results, I should avoid cow’s milk, cola nut, egg white, pea, wheat, casein, brewer’s yeast…. I can’t go on. It’s still making me sad.


After a few weeks, I got my results. Then I met with the nutritionist of Hi-Precision. She explained what exactly happened. And what those numbers meant. She also provided me with a complete report with suggested options for my new gluten-free life.

I’m telling you now that I most probably won’t be able to completely eliminate all these red and yellow warning items — especially all the wheat, potatoes, oats, barley. I feel like there is nothing left except quinoa. Oh my. So it’s going to be a struggle. I don’t want to be a sad, deprived person. I love bread too much. I may not be able to go totally gluten-free. But I will definitely be more mindful of these types of food. I will be taking baby steps. And hopefully one day, I can quit cold turkey.

I will try, though, to go dairy-free (except for the occasional good cheese). I’m saying goodbye to lattes and cappuccinos. I’ve started to use non-dairy creamer again (aghast!).

And like with anything in life… it’s all okay in moderation.


The Food Intolerance Test at Hi-Precision Diagnostics is on a special discounted price starting today, February 1 to March 31, 2016.

For more information, visit or call 741-7777 or 0922-8906664



Italian Goes Local



When I decided to move to the Philippines, I had eight Canadian friends visit me during my couple of years. That was eight different times I had to show off the Philippines. It was easy. I was an avid scuba diver then. So we went to different dive sites and islands. In my first visit back to the Philippines, I extended what was supposed to be a three month trip to eight months. I fell in love with the country. I travelled all over from Zamboanga, Davao, Cebu, Palawan, Boracay all the way up to Luzon. Though I haven’t seen Batanes yet, I felt I had seen more of the Philippines than an average Manila girl did.

I’ve been here long enough to consider myself a real local. So now when we get foreign visitors, sometimes my husband and I find ourselves at a loss for places to show them. We have been so jaded. Manila is not exactly the easiest city to love. So when I saw photos of my friend’s visiting-Italian-friend (Antonio) enjoying the things we’ve already forgotten, I got nostalgic about why I moved to Manila in the first place. It’s about the people and the many layers of things to do and see. It’s about local food and our culture of hanging out with food and drinks. It’s our very animated spirit. These are the things that make us endearing to visitors. We make up for whatever we lack in services and architecture.

Antonio was originally from Italy, but he’s been working in Bangkok for a few years. And according to him, he’s “been working but not quite living.” He says in the years he’s been in Bangkok, he’s barely experienced anything. So he decided to take off a few weeks to discover and eat his way through Asia — the sort of thing we did after university, except Antonio already has a job and he’s not your typical backpacker.

Antonio’s travels (which, coincidentally is the name of his social media accounts) focuses around Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta. I’m sharing with you some of the highlights of his Manila trip where he met new friends. These like-minded foodie people showed Antonio some of Manila’s best restaurants to taste and try real local food.


A jeepney ride

Every visitor must see and ride a Filipino jeepney. It is quite a cultural experience.


The colourful streets of Metro Manila.

The colourful streets of Metro Manila.


Like Antonio, I found it both amusing and disturbing to see people's laundry hanging out windows.

Laundry-drying, more fun in the Philippines.


In the Philippines, night food markets do really well. It's just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.

Night food markets do really well here because of our tropical climate. It’s just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.


Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.

Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.


The new Pinoy lechon - crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.

The new Pinoy lechon – crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.


Buko juice.

Buko juice.


This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity - Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.

This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity – Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.


Can't get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.

Can’t get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.


Antonio at Goto Monster

Antonio at Goto Monster


Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.

Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.


Our famous Manila Bay sunset.

I am a sunset snob because of our famous Manila Bay sunset.


The biggest bone I've ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.

The biggest bone I’ve ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.


Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.

Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.


It's always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.

It’s always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.


Follow Antonio Travels in Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check out Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta through the eyes of Antonio. #italiangoeslocal



Lemon Rosemary Chicken



I’ve been meaning to share this Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe for a while but never got around to organizing myself to take photos while prepping. I swear, I do not know how recipe bloggers do it – cook and take pictures at the same time.

This is one of the easiest dishes you can ever make. Prep time is like 5 minutes, as long as your chicken is thawed. And cooking time is less than an hour. My kids love this. It is a family favourite.

I found the recipe online when I was googling anything about rosemary. I recently succeeded in growing rosemary at home. The original recipe I found was here. But I tweaked it a bit.

My recipe does not have precise measurements (sorry). Here are the ingredients that you will need.

1 kilogram chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
2 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
juice of 1 whole lemon
2 to 4 tablespoons of Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Optional – vegetables like carrots or potatoes







Lemon, rosemary and Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil






1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Season chicken thighs with salt. Arrange on a roasting dish.

3, Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together – olive oil, juice of one lemon, chopped rosemary sprigs, chopped garlic.

4. Pour all marinade on the chicken. Make sure all surfaces of the chicken pieces are wet with marinade, though they don’t have to be soaked or submerged in the olive oil.

5. Put chicken and mixture in the preheated oven. Leave for at least 40 minutes. Check if the insides are cooked. Or if you prefer to brown the chicken skin, leave on for an extra 8-10 minutes.

Marinate the chicken for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator
Brown the chicken in a cast iron skillet before putting it in the oven


It is an option to brown the chicken with marinade and salt/pepper in a cast iron frying pan before baking. This gives the skin more colour and flavour.


I transferred the browned chicken and marinade mixture into a deeper baking dish and added some potatoes and carrots.


And here’s what it looked like after 45 minutes.


This dish is Lily approved. Promise, next recipe will be more precise.




Abuelita’s Kitchen



Abuelita’s Kitchen Roast Prime Grade Rib Eye, photo from their Facebook page.


Who is Abuelita? She is Eduarda Cuyugan Lacson, a beloved grandmother with Capangpangan roots. She moved to Bacolod where settled down, lived an idyllic life and held fort in the kitchen. Years after her death, her food is still being celebrated by her granddaughter Marianne Campillo-Legasto, and husband Chef Marco Legasto of Prime 101 Restaurant. Together they have recreated Abuelita’s dishes, now available on order-basis.

Last week, Vicky Tensuan of Whisk Designs — that lovely custom stationery service — sent me a whole order of roast prime grade rib eye. Vicky has partnered with the chefs of Prime 101 and has helped introduce the concept of catering/home service. The roast came in a lovely porcelain platter, ready for serving.

I have to say, this was one of the best roasts I have ever had. And to be sure I wasn’t just swayed by the gift, I invited Patrick’s cousin Raul to taste the roast. Raul is a food snob and even he had a “food coma.” It was that good. We will definitely be ordering this again.


Here is what the roast looked like when we received it. Looked even better than in the file photo. This Roast Prime Grade Rib Eye serves 10-12 and is priced at P6,000.


And look at perfection! Slow roasted US Angus Beef marinated in wine, spices and herbs. This is seared in a wood chip grill and finished off in the oven. Served with au jus (it’s own juice).


Other items on Abuelita’s menu – Japanese A3 Wagyu Sirloin Roast, Roast USDA Prime Grade Beef and Roast Chicken. They also sell frozen cooked food like Tapa, Callos, Chorizo and Korean Beef Stew. There are extras like Bone Marrow with Mushroom Rice and Caviar Pie.

Make sure to bookmark this entry. You may need it for Thanksgiving and Noche Buena (or birthdays, family lunches, pot luck dinners).

For inquiries and orders, email or 0916.475.3547. Place orders 5 days in advance. Orders are for pick-up only (no delivery) at Prime 101 Restaurant, 2/F Zeibart Building, Pasong Tamo, Makati beside Don Bosco.



Bettina Osmeña’s Gourmet Corner





As someone who recently just learned to love cooking, I am constantly on the lookout for realistic and yummy recipes (hello, You Tube). I have a few generous friends who love sharing tips and techniques. My parents also stayed with us for the past three months, so I learned how to cook meat in a tender and juicy way from them. Finally!

You wonder why it took me four decades to learn how to cook. I just never had an interest in it. As a child I was told to stay away from the kitchen because it was dangerous. Growing up in Toronto, my chore was washing the dishes and sorting laundry. My brother was the one who loved cooking, so I willingly gave way to him. As an adult, I found it easier to buy good meals or hire a helper who can cook. Last year, however, I found myself without any help. So instead of panicking I started to cook – three meals at a time. The results were more than edible. It got rave reviews from my husband and children. So that’s how I got started. It also helped that I already had my dream kitchen.

Some people are just born a natural at cooking. Bettina Lopez Osmeña is one of them. “I learned to cook when I was around 15,” says Bettina. “I used to attend the cooking classes of Sylvia Reynoso. Her sister Lorrie who is a Cordon Bleu graduate elevated my cooking and taste level. She has become one of my very good friends today after 40 years of friendship. She is a cooking instructor in a top culinary school in NYC.”

Before I met Bettina personally last year, I knew of her, not just as the wife of Senator Serge Osmeña, but as the woman who shared an amazing recipe for Iberian Chicken in Rica de Jesus’ blog. Recently, Bettina started a home-based business meant for busy people who appreciate good food, yet don’t have time to cook. She began selling her home-cooked meals in frozen packages at the Dasmariñas Village Bazaar. It did so well, it is now a regular thing. The next Dasmarinas Village Bazaar is this Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 from 10 am to 6 pm. And for times when there is no bazaar, you can simply call +63 998 569 6849 and order Bettina’s food. Check out Gourmet Corner in Facebook.


Bettina Osmeña in her garden.


Bettina saw a need in the market. She says a lot of people are living alone in condos — they love to eat good food but it’s not like they have time to make beef stew for four hours. Bettina is a believer in the “slow food” process. She takes no short cuts. I asked her if this was for taste or health reasons, “I cook slow food because it tastes better. Health consciousness just followed. For example, the base of my sauce is real beef broth that has been slow simmered for several hours. No Knorr cubes for me and it makes a difference in both taste and health.”

Then there is the issue of staffing the home. A lot of young families I know (including ours) are having a hard time finding a cook who would stay on. I’ve given up on finding an experienced cook and taken matters into my own hands, as it should have been in the first place. However, I cannot cook all three meals every single day. I work. For busy mothers like me, Bettina’s product is the perfect solution. “There are a lot of restaurants and outlets that sell ready-cooked Filipino meals. There are diet food delivery systems. But very few do good quality, slow-cooked continental food,” says Bettina. Soon she will also offer vegetarian dishes.


I asked Bettina if I could feature her in this blog and she invited me to her home to see how she does things. She has got everything down to an art and science.


Her household staff does the marketing, using only the freshest and best produce.


At the time of my visit, there were four helpers who did all the food preparation. I asked Bettina if having Gourmet Corner changed the logistics and schedule of her staff. Of course it did. And it also increased their pay. So everybody is happy.


After hours of careful cooking and preparation, the meal is properly portioned (by weight) into these freezable packs. Bettina says you can store the cooked meal in your freezer for up to three months. She doesn’t recommend the use of microwave ovens for reheating. You can simply defrost the meal in your refrigerator a day or two before you intend to eat it, then heat it in a stove top… the old-fashioned way.


Bettina’s staff demonstrated how they make spaghetti sauce using canned cherry tomatoes from Italy. Bettina supervises all the cooking, and does the seasoning herself. The staff carefully follow the recipes she has written in a plastic clear book. There is a digital weighing scale to measure every bit of ingredient. Like I said, she’s got it down to a science.


For Gourmet Corner, Bettina only uses top-quality ingredients like these canned cherry tomatoes from Italy, exclusively imported by her company, Euro Fine Foods Specialist.


She does not compromise on the ingredients. Everything is top quality. The cans bear the seals of Italian and European organizations that certify the tomatoes come from organic farms and are of the finest quality.  The only reason it doesn’t have the “certified organic” seal is because these are not even sold in the U.S. yet.


After sautéing, the tomato sauce sits in low fire in her oven for many hours.


P4090581 - Version 2
Bettina’s Beef Ragu, popularly known as bolognese, is incredible. Look at all the ingredients! She says this is the “old-fashioned and expensive way.”


With this ragu sauce, you won’t see any ground beef. All her meats start out as real chunks, cut up into small strips and cubes. And because they are slow cooked for hours –four to five hours– the beef ends up naturally falling apart into smaller pieces.


Yes, that is bacon!


For her ragu, she uses Pomodoro San Marzano tomatoes, from the same Italian farm where the cherry tomatoes are from.


No beef buillons for Bettina. In addition to real beef stock, she uses an all-natural stock from jamon serrano! This Aneto broth and the above-mentioned cans of tomatoes are exclusively distributed by her company, Euro Fine Foods Specialist.


I caught the first half hour of the ragu cooking. Here are the vegetables and bacon, sautéed together.


The meat is then added. When the sauce is put in, the cooking process lasts for another four hours.


Bettina personally adds the salt and pepper in every dish. This way, quality always stays the same and meets her standards.


As a result of frequent trips to Europe, in 2011 Bettina and a friend set up a full-time importing business, Euro Fine Food Specialist.


The first product they imported was Marchesi de Frescobaldi Laudemio Olive Oil, one of the finest olive oils in the market. Then they brought in pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, truffle oils, butter and such. Check out their Facebook page in links I posted above.


They also have these amazing fresh juices from Italy, all from organic farms. These items will be available at the Dasmarinas Village Bazaar this April 17-18.


Here’s what the frozen meals from Gourmet Corner look like. The meals can stay in your freezer for up to three months, as long as it’s totally frozen. A day before using, you may bring the container up to the fridge to thaw.


Love the handwritten labels.


Gourmet Corner dishes are priced at an average of P350 per frozen pack, which serves two (to three) people.


They also sell them in larger batches, good enough for parties. You must order this in advance.


I served Gourmet Corner’s Ragu to my family and they absolutely loved it. Bettina calls it “grown-up bolognese”. She wasn’t sure my kids would love it. But they all did. Looks like we will be regulars. We also had Korean Beef Stew. It was so good, I forgot to take photos of it.



For complete menu and schedule of pop-up sales, check out Gourmet Corner in Facebook. To order call +63 998 569 6849.