On the second floor, above Earth Origins Marketplace in Westgate Alabang, is a cafe that serves delicious, healthy and organic meals. Earth Origins Cafe has quickly become a favorite of mine, and it’s not unusual to see me there with family or friends, eating, laughing, and having fun. Why do I keep coming back to this place? Here are 5 reasons.
1. They open early.
Any place that I can run to for some quiet time after the craziness otherwise known as morning preps and school drop off, gets a great big YASSS from me. The cafe opens at 8:30, which means I can sneak in for a quick breakfast, a nice dose of fresh juice, or even just a hot cup of organic, locally-grown coffee before I face the rest of my day.
Speaking of breakfast, Earth Origins does this amazingly. There are sausage platters, organic eggs, homemade breads, and smoothie bowls. You can get pancakes. You can get Kesong puti. And you can indulge without the guilt. Some of the best breakfast plates I’ve had here are the Organic Bratwurst, the Chicken Pattie on Homemade Camote Pandesal, and the Chicken Sausage.
I love having breakfast at Earth Origins, especially with my girlfriends. We can sit there all morning, and just talk, and eat, and eat, and talk. It’s really a fantastic way to start the day.
3. You can buy your favorite things from the cafe at the marketplace downstairs.
Confession: I have been known to hoard sausages from the Earth Origins freezer because I liked them so much when I had them at the Cafe. I think it’s wonderfully convenient that I can take home the things that I like (like the pork chops, organic chicken for roasting, veggies, and lots of other things,) and make them at home whenever cravings hit.
4. The lunch and dinner options are just as fantastic as their breakfast menu.
When at Earth Origins Cafe, you must try the Korean Style Fried Cauliflower and the Organic Grilled Pork Chop. TRUST ME. Also on top of my list of favorites are the Bleu Cheese Burger, the Crabstick and Mango Wrap (their Probiotic Keffir Sauce is amazeballs), and the Protein Boost Salad (I love that Summer Herb Vinaigrette, which you can buy from the marketplace also!)
I’m the kind of person who asks a lot of questions, and likes to interact with people in a store. The staff at Earth Origins has always been so nice to me, answering my questions and helping me out when there’s something I can’t find. One time, I even left a bag of red rice behind, and I didn’t realize it until I got home. Total Mombrain! When I came back few days later, they gave me my forgotten bag of rice, and even joked that I should really remember to take it home this time. That is certainly my idea of great service!
If you haven’t tried Earth Origins yet, I really think you should! I’ve gone there with my boys, and they both enjoyed. I’ve had lunch there with my mom who isn’t a fan of health food (sorry, mommy) and she happily enjoyed everything we ordered. My friend, Camille, actually came back a few days after we had breakfast there, so that she could try something else from their menu. I really love this place, and I’m glad I’ve been able to share it with people that matter to me, too.
Every once in a while, I get lucky in the kitchen and make something good out of things I just throw into a pot. Yesterday was one of those times.
We had a power outage early yesterday evening. It only lasted a little over an hour, but I was left with barely any time to make dinner. I have this thing about not opening the fridge when the power is out (thanks to my mom and the frequent Manila blackouts of the 90’s,) so I really didn’t move until the electricity came back on. Then the mad dash to make dinner began. It’s a good thing I stocked up on some of my essential pantry staples over the week, and was equipped to make something on the fly.
And so my Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Creamy Chicken and Broccoli was born. This is one of those dishes that’s so simple and easy to make, it doesn’t actually need a recipe. But in case you want to try making it yourself (and also so I remember how to do it next time haha,) I’m writing it down here.
Before anything else, a quick tip when making simple recipes with few ingredients. Quality matters. Because your dish doesn’t contain much, most if not all flavors can and will stand out. So if you put something in there that’s not that good, you’ll taste it. Trust me on this. Okay, moving on.
This recipe starts with 250g of whole wheat spaghetti. I bought mine from Earth Origins, my go-to place for organic, healthier eats. We’re all out of gluten-free pasta at home, and I think that this might be the next best thing. It doesn’t look like our skin is reacting badly to it. Maybe our problem isn’t exactly with gluten, but more specifically with bad, over-processed, commercial gluten. That’s something worth exploring.
Boil the pasta as you normally would. Make sure to salt your water. I didn’t start doing that until my brilliant Pinay-American-Italian friend, MommaNManila Mish, told me to. It has made my pasta so much better. Cook until al dente. I always pull out a noodle and take a bite just to be sure it’s cooked just right. That rhymes. I don’t put oil in my water or on the noodles after they’re done, but some people do. You could, too. That also rhymes.
Set aside the noodles, and set aside some pasta water because you will need it later.
In the same pot (yay for less-mess cooking!) heat some good olive oil. I used Molinera EVOO for this. I recently switched to this from another brand that got voted “Not good” by my trusted circle of cooking mommy friends. It’s worth it. Once the oil is hot, sauté onions then garlic in that order. Onions first so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Next, add one cup of your favorite chicken that’s been shredded. I used leftover Baliwag lechon manok for this. You can use homemade roasted chicken, your favorite rotisserie chicken, whatever. When I buy from Baliwag, I usually take the chicken home whole. That way I can slice it up myself and keep the bones of the body intact for when I make stock. When we’re all done eating, I shred whatever meat is left, put it in a jar, and stick in the freezer for future use. This recipe is what I mean by future use.
Once the chicken is nicely warmed up, add cut up broccoli florets. I have no idea how much broccoli I used here, to be honest. You can just use as much as you want to use. I’m not kidding. I told you this recipe was simple. My broccoli is also from Earth Origins. I like buying this particular veggie organic because it’s hard to clean, and I always worry that there’s still pesticide and chemical residue in there somewhere that I missed. So yes, for broccoli, go organic.
After tossing the broccoli and chicken together for a bit, add liquid to the pot. I used 1/2 cup of homemade veggie stock plus about 1/4 cup of pasta water. The pasta water helps thicken the sauce. I make the veggie stock myself using vegetable scraps. It’s unsalted. I salt as needed when I cook. Don’t forget that the pasta water is salted. Taste as you go along. You can use plain water if you don’t have stock. You can even use all pasta water. It’s really up to you.
Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat, then add cream. I used about half a small brick of all-purpose cream. I also added 1/4 cup of yogurt because I find that it cuts through the richness of the cream, and gives the sauce a tiny hint of tartness, which I really like. I used homemade yogurt but you can use any PLAIN yogurt. Emphasis on plain. Unsweetened. You can also add some lemon juice instead of yogurt. This works, too. Just enough so the cream isn’t nakakaumay. What is nakakaumay in English?
Next, add a teaspoon or two of pesto into the pot. I used bottled pesto for this because I don’t really make everything from scratch haha. This adds a nice herby, green taste to the creamy sauce. Stir a little, then add a some Parmesan cheese into the sauce. Just eyeball it. Add as much as you want. This helps make the sauce thicker, and also saltier. I don’t add any more salt to this dish. The cheese and pasta water are enough for me.
Simmer for a few minutes. Season with pepper and your favorite herbs. Once the sauce tastes right, and is as thick as you want it to be (I wait until it coats a spoon nicely,) add the noodles back into the pot. Mix, mix, turn off the heat, add more cheese on top, and you’re done. The whole process took me 30 minutes, including ingredient prep. How easy is that?
Don’t you just love quick and easy dinner recipes? Let me know if you try making this, okay?
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Creamy Chicken and Broccoli
A quick and easy dinner recipe made with pantry staples and leftovers.
A friend once asked me when and where I do my grocery shopping. My short answer was, “On many different days, and in many different places.”
I know, this does not sound convenient at all. But I’m rather particular when it comes to groceries, so I prefer to get certain things from certain places. The challenge, usually, is working the different shopping trips into my (already complicated) weekly schedule. But I’d rather do that than work with produce and products that I don’t really like. Makes sense?
One of the newer places I’ve started going to is Earth Origins Marketplace + Cafe in Westgate, Alabang. I’ve just started switching some of our fridge and pantry items to organic and free-range, and Earth Origins has proven to be an ideal one stop shop for the things that I need.
Why the change? Basically, it’s for numerous health reasons. My joints are upset that I’ve been holding on to all this baby weight for the last twelve years, for starters. And then there’s the issue of our fussy skin and the never-ending eczema problem we have to deal with at home. I’m also slightly freaked out over how often we get news of family or friends getting sick or passing away.
Improving the way we eat is one of the best ways I can think of to address all of these. Food can heal, you know? I really believe that. And, even if I grew up in a doctor’s house, I don’t believe in the whole, “May gamot para dyan” mentality. Neither does my family, actually. We understand that prevention is much better than having to find a cure. And so, here I am, trying to put that into practice.
Okay, back to Earth Origins. I first read about this store online, back when the only branch they had was in Greenhills. And then, at last November’s Mothers Who Brunch event, I found out that they opened a store in Alabang.
Some people have asked me about this wondrous place, since (as you’ll see on my Instagram) I’m there A LOT. I come to Earth Origins to eat and to shop. I’ll be writing about the cafe soon, but for this post, I’d like to focus on the marketplace. I’m a firm believer that wellness begins at home, and whenever I have the chance to shop at Earth Origins, it makes it easier for me to transform our home into a healthier one.
Like I said earlier, you can get almost everything you need at Earth Origins. They have fruits. They have veggies. They have rice, and other grains like Adlai. You can buy meat, poultry, and eggs there, too, along with wild-caught fish and seafood. For breakfast, they have organic sausages and bacon. There’s a wide selection of snacks and drinks in the store, and even sauces, condiments, and spices. Guys, they even have all-natural home cleaners and personal care products. And organic wine. Yaaaasss WINE!
When you shop at Earth Origins, you can be sure that you are taking home products that are:
Organic and all-natural
Free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Hormone-free and antibiotic-free
And responsibly grown and raised
Everything here is pure, simple, and ideal for those who wish to live and be better. Promoting a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating is really what this place is all about. It’s truly what I need and want in my life right now.
I know that I’m not exactly the poster child for healthy living, but I am trying. Small, sustainable steps towards positive change, that’s what I’m after. And I think I’ve been doing okay so far.
I thought I’d end this post by sharing some of my favorite things from Earth Origins. Obviously I haven’t been able to try everything from their shelves yet, so I’m sure that I still have a lot of fantastic products to discover beyond these. Like the organic wine. Lol.
Let’s be honest, organic produce is a little more expensive than the typical veggies you can get at the market or grocery store. But, for me, some things just have to be bought organic. Lettuce is one of them because you eat it raw, and the leaves are exposed to any fertilizers and pesticides used when they’re grown.
Earth Origins has an awesome selection of lettuce, and other salad veggies like kale, red cabbage, beets, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Trust me when I tell you that they are pretty affordable for organic produce. Bonus: They have an awesome selection of bottled homemade salad dressings too. The Summer Herb Vinaigrette is my favorite.
Come in the morning if you want to try their bottled cold-pressed juices. These disappear pretty quickly. There are three kinds – Red, Orange and Green. I don’t actually remember what’s in each one, but I know the Red juice has beets and apple, the Orange has citrus fruits, and the Green contains Kale. Sorry, kulang info! But I can tell you that they each offer unique health benefits, so there.
Amala Natural Laundry Powder and Fruit & Vegetable Wash
These two, I really cannot live without. I’ve written about my eczema issues before, and how commercial laundry detergent is really bad for my skin. I love that I’ve found an option that is gentle, and smells amazing, too. The scent reminds me of clean baby clothes, actually.
As for the fruit and vegetable wash, I use this on the non-organic produce that I buy. I’d truly like to believe that this makes a difference, and that a lot of the harmful chemicals and dirt that might be in my fruits and veggies get washed away when I use this product.
Organic Sausages and Bacon
I love breakfast, and I love having sausages for breakfast. Bacon, I can actually live without, but not sausages. My boys, they love bacon, and they love that I’ve started buying it again. I’m so happy that Earth Origins has a nice selection of organic breakfast meats. It makes me feel a lot less guilty about our indulgent weekend breakfasts at home.
I don’t buy chicken from the market because I feel uncomfortable about the way they are stored and displayed there. Usually, I go for trusted chicken brands in the supermarket. I recently got some free-range chicken thighs from the Earth Origins freezer, though, and I have to say I’m happy with it. I really think free-range chicken tastes better, which is why I like to use it for dishes that don’t require a lot of seasoning, like simple roasts.
I’m already looking forward to my next Earth Origins shopping trip because, as I said, there are still a lot of things left for me to discover there. I’ve never been so enthusiastic about overhauling our food at home, which is a very good sign. I hope I can keep this going!
Do you guys shop organic, too? Where do you get your stuff from, and what do you buy?
Confession: It’s the day before Valentine’s Day and we have not made any plans. No special menu, no restaurant reservation for dinner, nothing. And our Christmas tree is still up. To say that we are unprepared is the understatement of the century.
I do have an idea of where it would be nice to go for a romantic V-day dinner, though, thanks to the recent In The Mood Food Crawl that Evia Lifestyle Center hosted together with my lovely Mothers Who Brunch friends, Mish and Sab.
If, like me, you are not ready for Valentine’s, read on! If you just want to discover some awesome new places to eat with your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, family or friends, read on, too!
Bright and early on a Tuesday morning, I drove to Evia with my sister, Rocky, in tow. Her plan was just to check out the mall since she’d never been there before. Sab and Mish graciously invited her to join us, though, and of course she said yes. Who says no to brunch anyway?
There were 7 stops mapped out for our food crawl. 7! That’s a lot of eating. And so, off we were, appetites ready, forks in hand, ready to feast with friends.
It’s not easy to find great Thai food in Manila. We only got to try two dishes from the Tigerleaf menu, but man oh man were they amazing. My sister and I had more than one serving of the Catfish Salad and Chicken Satay, each. We were both well aware that there were 6 more stops ahead, but the food was so good that we just couldn’t help ourselves!
I’m no stranger to Mama Lou’s. We’ve eaten at their BF Homes branch many times. I have to say, though, that I was still completely blown away by the spread they prepared for us during the food crawl. Theirs was an Italian antipasto buffet to die for.
I particularly loved the Spinach and Honey Goat Cheese with Truffle Pizza. Actually, there was nothing on that table that I didn’t like. If we didn’t have to move on to the next restaurant, I might have just stayed in Mama Lou’s all day. No kidding.
While it’s been around for years, I’ve never actually eaten at Mesa before. Now I know that I’ve been missing out. I cannot stop thinking about their Crispchon and the soft homemade malunggay crepe they wrap it in. Then there’s the super fresh shrimp cooked over hot rocks in a clay pot. And sarap! Their kamias shake is a must-try, too!
I’ve eaten at Another Story before, so I knew to expect good food. We had an Angus Prime Ribeye Steak and a Grilled Salmon, and I loved them both. This is definitely on my list of places to eat with the boys. And I definitely want to order the steak and salmon again. At the same time, maybe. Is that too much? Lol!
I have never had A5 Wagyu before, and let me tell you, I was not prepared for how melt-in-your-mouth it was. So good! It’s the kind of meat that needs barely any seasoning. Or teeth. You can chew on it even if you don’t have teeth. I’m not kidding! The meat paired perfectly well with the giant Hokkaido Salt Crusted Oysters we were served as well. This stop in our food crawl was really such a treat!
If there’s one rule in life that I totally live by, it’s always make room for dessert. My blood sugar may not be my friend, but I threw caution to the wind and indulged in the different cheesecakes laid out for us at The Cheesecake Fairy. I expected to like the Oreo one best, but surprise, surprise, it was the Salted Caramel Cheesecake that won my heart.
Before we said our goodbyes, we made one last stop at My Mother’s Cupboard. Oh my goodness, this place is a housewife’s dream come true. (Tip: Guys, it’s a great place to shop for a Valentine’s Day gift for your wifey!)
In true Mothers Who Brunch fashion, Mish and Sab taught us how to make some magic in the kitchen, which was perfect for Valentine’s Day – A dessert board! I’m definitely excited to try making one at home (coz we all know how much I love sweets) as soon as my blood sugar cooperates. Hopefully, it will be in time for V-day!
Thank you, Mish and Sab, for having us! Rocky and I really had the best time. Til the next one!
*All photos without watermark courtesy of Mothers Who Brunch