Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mango Granola Bars

I like oatmeal, so it is no wonder that I love granola bars. It also known as energy bars or snack bars. I usually eat this before or after a cardio workout. Whenever I want something crunchy with a hint of sweetness, this is my go-to-food.  I consider this to be one of the healthy snacks; but there are some granola bars in the market that are loaded with sugar - high fructose corn syrup, melted chocolate, chocolate chips, maple syrup. Since  most of the available bars in the market contain wheat germ, wheat cereals and corn syrup, and with my allergy history (allergic to corn and wheat), I decided to make my own granola bars.  I added a Filipino touch to this version by using dried mangoes instead of the dried apricots or raisins. This is an easy recipe, even kids can prepare this with adult supervision. Health buffs can have these bars without feeling guilty

My Mango Granola Bars Recipe:


2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats (old-fashioned oats)
1/4 cup rice crispies/rice cereals
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed (or any choice of nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried mangoes 

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix the peanuts, oats and sunflower seeds in a greased and lined baking dish or pan with waxed paper. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they won't get burned. 
  3. Prepare another baking dish/pan (preferably 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with wax paper. 
  4. Put the brown sugar honey, butter, and salt into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and mix well. 
  5. Stir the grains, liquid glue and dried fruit altogether in a large bowl. 
  6. Mix everything really well until the grains and dried fruit are coated with the liquid glue. 
  7. Spread the mixture in the pan with wax paper. Press well. Wait 3-4 hours. Wait for it to cool before slicing it into bars. 

If you don't have a convection oven, you can use an oven toaster to toast the grains. You can toast the grains in batches. You can make variations of this recipe. You can use little chocolate chips or raisins or any dried fruit instead of the dried mango. You can replace the dried fruit also with peanut butter if you like. You can make it all nutty-granola bars by mixing 2-3 kinds of nuts. There are so many possibilities for these granola bars. 

If you want healthier snack alternative, try this recipe. I'm sure you're going to like it =)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Tea Series Part 2

As promised, I'm sharing my latest discovery in the milk tea craze. On a hot and humid day, I decided to try Gong Cha which is located at Sky Garden, SM North EDSA. I've been hearing a lot of good remarks on this milk tea station. It has always been in the list of Top 3 Bubble Tea Stores in the country today. So what's really the fuss all about?

Gong Cha, as their slogan says "Tea fit for Royalty," does not scrimp on their ingredients. It uses tea leaves not tea bags in brewing their tea, thereby infusing the flavor even more. It seems that they perfected the brewing process of tea. The drink comes in two sizes - Medium and Large.  It has seven categories to choose from: House Special (Bestsellers); Coffee Special; Pearl Ice Smoothie; Milk Tea; Creative Mix, Ice Cream Special; and Brewed Tea. It has four sugar options - 100%, 70%, 50% and 0%. Their ice options are Normal, Less Ice and No Ice. Gong Cha Milk Cream, Pearl, Coconut Jelly, Coffee Jelly, Grass Jelly, Fruit Jelly, Pudding, Aloe, Red Bean and Ice Cream comprise their extra options. These options make your drink customized to your taste. They offer not just tea, but coffee and chocolate drinks as well. They have kid-friendly drinks, like Lemon Juice with Aloe and Ice Cream Chocolate.

I chose the Gong Cha Milk Winter Melon Tea with coconut jelly, one of their bestsellers, and the Milk Tea with Pearl Jelly. I found the former to be refreshing. The drink is light-bodied even if it has milk cream on top. The latter drink is creamy not a watered-down version of milk tea. You can actually taste the tea in the milk. The pearl jelly in this drink has the right amount of sweetness. Also, it is chewy but has a certain bite. It's like 'al dente' for pearl jelly. 

There are four things that set them apart from the rest of the pack. First on the list is the deep flavor of their tea. You can actually taste the steeped leaves. Secondly, the right mix of tea, milk and flavorings creates a unique blend which leaves an impact on your palate. Their milk tea is really creamy. It's not watered down. You can actually taste the tea and not just the milk. Thirdly, it is their Gong Cha Milk Cream. I think they're the only ones who offer the milk cream as extra option. The milk cream is similar to the milk froth found in your latte and cappuccino. Lastly, it is their Ice Cream Option. I haven't encountered any other milk tea station that combines ice cream and milk tea.

The Gong Cha in Sky Garden, SM North EDSA has a fast and efficient service. The drinks are properly labeled. It indicates the type of drink, level of sweetness, ice option and extra option. I just wish that they will have seats inside the air-conditioned store, so customers will be more comfortable, especially on a extremely hot & humid day. I hope that they'll have more branches in the future.  Other than that, I really enjoyed my Gong Cha  Milk Winter Melon Tea.

If you want to try ice cream with tea or if you want to taste the milk cream (milk froth)  in your milk tea, you have to definitely try Gong Cha!