Pineapple Grilled Porkchops

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a recipe.  With just another month of summer ahead of us, we MUST take advantage of all the grilling we can get in.  This is a great weeknight grilling recipe.  Serve this with some jasmine rice or a light romaine salad, and you’re good to go.

1 (8 ounce) can pineapple rings, juice
drained and reserved
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 pork chops
1 pinch ground black pepper
1. Mix together the drained pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder together in a large plastic zipper bag, and smush the bag a few times with your hands to mix the marinade and dissolve the sugar. Place the pork chops into the marinade, squeeze out any air in the bag, seal it, and refrigerate overnight. Reserve the pineapple rings.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
3. Remove the chops from the marinade, shaking off excess, and grill until browned, the meat is no longer pink inside, and the meat shows good grill marks, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Brush several times with marinade and let the marinade cook onto the surface of the meat. Discard excess marinade. While the meat is grilling, place 4 pineapple rings onto the grill, and allow to cook until hot and the slices show grill marks; serve the chops topped with the grilled pineapple rings

How do you make your baking healthier?

It’s easy to make your savory dishes healthier because you can just adjust the amount of oil you put in, change the cut of meat you use, or use a different type of binding substance.


It’s hard when it comes to baking, because there are things that butter, sugar and eggs do for our baked goods that makes it moist and fluffy.


Since my husband and I own a health food restaurant, I’ve been working on variations of different baked goods to make them healthier but still taste awesome.  Below are some substitutes I’ve been using on a variations of different items that go into my baking.


Buttermilk – Substitute an equal amount of soymilk mixed with lemon juice.  Allow the mixture to thicken for 5 minutes before using.


Cream – Tofu.  Soft tofu will yield you a light cream when pureed while extra firm tofu will produce you with the thickest options.   For a truly creamy texture, always choose varieties that are labeled “silken”.  For pumpkin pies and cheesecakes, the non-silken tofu selection will give your dessert a more traditional texture.


Eggs.  In order to correctly substitute eggs in your baking, you need to understand what function eggs are playing in your baked goods.  Eggs function in binding and thickening and leavening.  Leavening is what makes baked goods light and fluffy.  Be prepared to do a little experimenting with this.


Leavening:  For one egg: use ¼ cup of soymilk and 1 tablespoon of lemon.  Add 2 tablespoon of cornstarch for each egg replaced.  This will give it a nice soft texture.

Thickening and Binding: For one egg: use 3 tablespoon pureed tofu + 2 teaspoon of cornstarch.

Strictly Binding – For 1 egg: ¼ cup of applesauce, pureed bananas, squash or pumpkin.  This may or may not be desirable for some recipes though.


I’m still playing with a healthy substitute for butter which is the main ingredient in most baked goods.  If anyone has some great ideas, I’ll be very  open to trying it.


Till then, happy experimenting!

Indian Spiced Chicken & Spinach

I defrosted chicken in my fridge and I have no idea how to cook it tonight – since I’ve felt like I’ve gone through an array of all the different palates the last 2 weeks.  Thank goodness I save all my favorite recipes in a folder – so while looking through, I found this recipe.  This is my husband’s favorite recipe.  The texture of the sauce makes it taste like chicken swimming in yummy cream of spinach sauce.  Hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.


  • 2 TBL cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 TBL chopped ginger
  • 1 TBL ground cumin
  • 1 TBL ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ salt
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • ½ cup canned crushed tomatoes, drained
  • ½ cup heavy cream (use half and half or milk for slightly healthier option, but the sauce will not be as creamy)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 2 10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/3 lb)
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until spices are fragrant. Stir in jalapeno and tomatoes. Add the cream, cinnamon stick, and water.  Squeeze the spinach to remove excess liquid and add spinach to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the chicken and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, cover and simmer until just done. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
~Mama Cheryl

Making Your Own Baby Food – Yay or Nay?

I wasn’t the “award winning” mom when I had my first.  She was a “surprise”.  One we of course took really well – but we weren’t necessarily ready for her yet.  After I went back to work from my first, I was working crazy long hours, and it was considered an early night when I got home at 10:30pm.  The little time I got to spend with her was quality time I didn’t want to spend doing household chores or standing in the kitchen.  So when it came time to start Samantha on solids, it was naturally easier for me to order the “Earth’s Best Organic “ little bottles online.  After all, jarred baby food is a million if not billion dollar industry, and I had absolutely no guilt about giving it to her.

Fast forward 2 and a half years, and my son, Tyler turned 5 months yesterday.  I’m once again faced with the jarred food or make your own food dilemma.  Since then, I have dramatically cut back on my hours (getting home now around 7:30, 8pm); and hired help.  I have a live-in nanny 5 days a week – we love her because she keeps me sane and keeps my head from exploding.  But these days money has definitely been a little bit tighter – so I started google-ing about making your own baby food.


Turns out it’s actually not as scary and daunting as it may seem.  Most articles when you read about it talks about how you should make a huge batch and then “freeze” it so you don’t have to worry about making it daily.  I love my freezer, but have always been afraid of freezer burns, it not being fresh enough, and have some ill feelings about “leftovers”, so I wasn’t too keen on doing the freezing it thing.  But turns out making “fresh baby food” really isn’t that hard, nor does it take THAT much longer then you think it would.

A few things I love about making my own baby food is:

–          I know exactly what my child is eating.  No preservatives, no chemicals, no nonsense.  Comparing a jar of fresh cooked peas to a bottle of jarred peas, the color of the freshly cooked peas was much more vibrant and actually smelled like peas.

–          More varieties.  I can actually buy fruits and vegetables that are in season – and pick out the best produce for my child.  I also expose him to more flavors – such as a touch of garlic or onion in his prepared veggies.

–          Much Cheaper.  My baby is too young to be exposed to chemicals and pesticides – so I do end up buying only Organic stuff for him – but even the freshly bought organic stuff is cheaper than the prepackaged jarred food.  Plus having all the extra veggies in my fridge forces the rest of the family to actually eat the food.


A few things I don’t like about making my own baby food is:

–          Time – it does take longer to make.  There will be nothing faster than opening your cabinet and taking out a bottle of jarred baby food.

–          Convenience – Ultimately, it’s not as convenient.  I can’t pop a few jars of baby food in my diaper bag the way I have in the past and forget about it because the stuff I make can actually spoil if it’s not eaten in 1-2 days.

–          More varieties – Since we’re still doing the 3 day rule (where you expose your child to only one kind of food for 3 days at a time), we have to have A LOT of varieties for him; so he can experience tons of different flavors.  In the dead of winter (like NOW), this can sometimes feel frustrating.   Pediatricians tell you to feed your kid the “rainbow” in veggies – but how do we do so sometimes when these rainbows are not really in season?

End result.  I’m going to be doing the best I can with making freshly cooked food everyday – but still keep the jarred stuff handy on those days/nights when I really don’t feel like standing in front of the stove.

~Mama Cheryl

Chicken Afritada…

My favorite dish ever…my daugther’s as well! And it’s so simple to make. I had it the first time ever at my friend’s place when we had a playdate for our kids. After that, I try to make this whenever I get the chance. Here’s the receipe my friend passed along . Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!

Chicken Afritada Ingredients:

Chicken wings & thighs [5 pieces of each]
3 pieces potatoes, peeled and halved
1 red onion, diced
1 head garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 1/2 cups of  chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of cooking oil [olive oil]
Chicken Afritada Cooking Instructions:

In a cooking pot heat oil.
Sauté garlic and onions.
Add chicken and slightly brown.
Pour the tomato sauce and stock. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer [total time simmer on low 5 hours].
Add potatoes and continue to cook.
Add the green and red bell peppers.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with rice.

~Mama Winnie

Abalone with Chicken Traditional Chinese Soup

I grew up with homemade Chinese soups at our dinner table.  They were common sight and for many years Chinese soups were just part of the meal, nothing special.  I took what I knew about the soup for granted and wished I paid more attention to the effort my mother put into it while making it.   Homemade Chinese soups is a form of Chinese medicine that helps an individual balance the yin and the yang in one’s health.  These two forces represent the bipolar manifestation of all things in nature and because of this, one must be present to allow the others to exist.  As balance is restored in the body, so is health.

Making Chinese soup is about learning all these herbs so that Yin and Yang is not combined in the same pot.  Different kinds of soup heals your body in different ways and I’ve been slowly learning what to combine with what from my mom and mother in law.  On Friday, since I was off from work for the Chinese New Year, I made a pot of my favorite Abaolone with Chicken soup.  It came pretty yummy.  Chicken with Abalone soup helps your body restore its Yin to give you a more quiet peaceful state.  It’s also said to help maintain cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well.  Here is a recipe of the soup I made.  It came quite lovely.


–          7-8 Cloud Ear Mushrooms – these are also called Cloud Ear Fungus, or Mo-er Mushrooms.  They are usually found in dried forms.

–          A handful of dried Logan Meat

–          A handful of Wai San – This is also called “Shan Yao”, or Chinese yam.  It is white dried white slices forms of a root – (Wai san has been known to help you if you suffer from: lack of appetite, chronic diarrhea, fatigue, coughing or wheezing or abundance of phlegm).

–          7-8 small abalone or one big piece of abalone.  The 7-8 small pieces are typically cheaper.  You can use both if you wish

–          2 pieces or approximately 1-2 pounds of Chicken Breast with bone.  Use more if you’re making a bigger pot

–          1 pound of Chinese lean pork – this is optional but if added, it’ll bring more flavor and sweetness to your soup.

1 – Place the Mushrooms and Abalone in separate bowls and soak in hot water for approximately 20 minutes or until soften and expanded.

2 – In a pot of water, add all ingredients into the pot and  bring to a boil on high heat

3 – After the pot comes to a boil, lower the temperature to medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, lower the temperature to low heat and let simmer for 3 and a half hours.  Add salt to taste and enjoy.  Note – do not add salt to the entire pot of soup as this would spoil your soup a lot faster, instead – if needed spoon in some salt into your bowl as needed when served.

~ Mama Cheryl

Hiding Veggies in Food – Easy Carrot Cake

I know too well about hiding veggies in food.  Somewhere when my daughter was about 13-15 months, she started to have an opinion about what she does and doesn’t like to eat.  Pizza and French Fries was always on the top of the list of “likes”, and then any form of vegetables was always on the bottom of the list of “no’s” and “dislikes”.  I didn’t even know how French Fries and Pizza even came about with her.  I never even served French Fries and Pizza at home.  So I started doing what every other mom does when they have a toddler who wouldn’t eat a normal balance meal of veggies and protein.  You start hiding them in food and hoping she doesn’t find it.  Except my daughter was smart, and she found it each time and making her eat each night was such a BATTLE.  Some of the times, when I was too tired to continue pushing I would lose.

Then I realize that if anything is in a form of liquid and I call it juice and it actually taste kinda sweet, she’ll have it.  I invested in a Jack La Lanne’s Power Juicer and started juicing carrots and apples for my little girl and well my husband as well.  Success.  I would make carrot and apple juice and she’ll have ALL of it and would want more.

Last night, I took my adventure to a new level.  Everyone likes a bit of dessert, and I read in the Jack La Lanne’s Juicer book that you can use the pulp leftover from the juice to make cakes and muffins from them.   So last night after juicing some carrot apple juice in a pitcher.  I took the leftover pulp from the carrots and apples and made a kick-ass carrot cake. And let me tell you, this thing was not just incredibly yummy, it’s packed with fruits and fiber and makes for an extremely healthy dessert.  Here’s the recipe below.

Easy Carrot Cake


3 1/2 cups carrot pulp

1/2 cup apple pulp

3 cups whole grain flour

1 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 cup honey

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon pure vanilla (don’t get the imitation stuff)

1 1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Blend oil, carrot, and apple pulp together.  Add honey, eggs, and vanilla to pulp mixture.  Sift all dry ingredients and slowly mix with pulp while blending.  Add nus and mix.  Grease pan.  Fill pan and bake approximately 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese

2 cups of confectioners sugar

4 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.  Scoop up and place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes prior to frosting.

When my little girl heard dessert – she was the first to jump up to MUST have some.  Little did she know that it was packed with a lot of the vegetables that I couldn’t get her to eat in general.

~ Mama Cheryl

Curry in a Hurry

I love to cook for my family.  Finding something yummy, quick, and healthy to cook isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.  I love curry and this is a good substitute of curry without using any coconut milk.


10 oz frozen green beans

1 1/2 cup of carrots (I usually get baby carrots in packages that are already pre-washed and cut)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion – diced

1 teaspoon curry powder (feel free to add more for extra spice)

2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup apricot preserves

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup cooked chicken – cut into bite sized.


1) Place green beans and carrots into a medium bowl, cover and place in microwave for 5-6 mins. Set aside.  In a medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally till onions are soft – approximately 5-6 minutes.  Add in ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2) Stir in chicken broth and apricot preserves into skillet and bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and whisk cornstarch mixture into skillet.  Add in green beans, carrots and chicken and bring heat down to medium low.  Cook for 1-2 minutes more.  Serve over rice.

~ Mama Cheryl