Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vegan Flourless Black Sesame Pancakes Recipe

Here's a pancake recipe that's healthy and yummy. I made this vegan and flourless so it's also super healthy and clean. One recipe makes one serving so just double it up if you want to serve more people. This pancake is much softer though than regular pancakes so be careful in flipping them!

Black sesame seeds can be found in a Japanese grocery store. Aside from this, you can also use this to make salads or other Japanese-inspired meals. I buy my flax already pre-ground (it says flax meal on the package) at health food stores.


  • 1/2 cup oat flour (measure 1/2 cup rolled oats, place them in a blender, and process until finely ground)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • a packet of stevia to taste
  • 1/3 cup soy milk (or any type of nut milk) + 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, left to sit for 5 minutes
  • 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water left to stand for 15 minutes until sticky like an egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tbsp. toasted black sesame seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle


  • Whisk together oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and stevia.
  • Combine milk, flax + water mixture and vanilla. add this gradually to the dry ingredients until just combined
  • Stir in the ground sesame seeds. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Heat the pan. To make sure the pan is at the right temperature, sprinkle a few drops of water. They should bounce and sizzle. Spray pan with cooking spray.
  • Place 1/4 c of pancake batter on the pan and cook until the edges are bubbly and the pancake is easy to flip. Cook the other half until brown, but not burnt. Remove from pan and repeat for the remaining 3 pancakes.
  • Drizzle the pancake with nut butter. Top with desired fruit/nuts. I used strawberries and pumpkin seeds in mine. Serve with maple syrup. 

Enjoy breakfast!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Learning Ballet Again

Lately, I've been trying to get myself back to dancing again, as in really dance. I try to include dance whenever I practice pole on my own. In classes,  I tend to focus more on tricks, spins, getting stronger, trying to not fall or get injured, or trying to convince myself to not wuss out of a trick or combo.  There are times where I find music that I would like to dance to, although lately, I kind of feel I'm running out of steps and transitions.

Going back to ballet after how many years and having no less than Lisa Macuja herself refresh my ballet memory.
I really took the opportunity to say yes when I was invited to try out Ballet for Fitness class to be conducted by no less than Lisa Macuja, the country's prima ballerina. This one-time pop-up class was held at Yoga+ Express in McKinley Hill.. I did take a short 30-minute class before in her newly-opened school in Fisher Mall. This class, however, would be longer (yet still beginner-friendly) and have more moves to learn.

Ballet for Fitness is a class developed for people who would want to learn ballet as a form of exercise. just like how we learn Zumba or ballroom dancing. Although pro ballerinas start their ballet journeys at the tender ages of 6 or 8, it's definitely never too late to dance, even ballet! Ballet is actually one of the hardest (if not, the hardest) dances. Ballet teachers would even say that if you can do ballet, it's easy to dance any other dance.

For ladies' ballet, comfortable exercise clothes are recommended, such as leggings or yoga pants and a comfortable top you can dance in. I had ballet shoes with me since I like the cushioning during floorwork but barefoot is also fine.

Since we didn't have ballet barres so we did the moves sitting down as well as some center work (standing at the center of the room). We were reminded of  the proper ballet form also includes proper posture, shoulders and hips forming one rectangle, or as some dancers would call, within the box.  To visually illustrate the box, check out the form of one of my dance idols, Misty Copeland:

Come to think of it, this is actually very good posture. It even makes you look taller and more confident.  With this established, we did arm exercises, or what is known in ballet as port de bras. In moving the arms, we were also taught how to execute the movement well with our lines, our thumbs hidden touching the line on our middle finger, and elbows slightly bent, like hugging a beach ball.

We did plies (bending the knees) and tendus (exteding the leg out) sitting down and already, I felt the activation of my quads and adductors, reminding me to work on active flexibility.

Lisa explains the proper hand position, where we hide the thumbs to maintain a dancer's line. In Russia, young dancers in training hold coins to remind them of the proper hand shape and position. 
So much things to remember even while seated

Resting adductors. Ballet is an ultimate leg workout.
(notice I kept my toes still pointed, My pole dance teachers would be proud)

Standing up, we applied what we learned seated while standing up as well as combining techniques. We also learned other new techniques like the jete (brushing the leg out, remaining the pointes) and releve, which really tested my balance (and reminded me to keep working both sides), and a surprise, the saute in classical ballet, which is a jump. In this jump, we learn to land safely by landing with soft knees and no sound. This technique is useful in our jump-forwards in yoga, in burpees, or coming out of flips.

I was more sore in this class than our last class in Fisher Mall, probably because we did more things and exercises. As my legs were pretty warm, I used this time for a split practice after class.

As a pole dancer, a refresher ballet class such as this can help increase my dance vocabulary and help me work on my floorwork more so I can combine several combos with some dance floorwork to come up with choreography, meaning better Wednesday choreo videos. Hopefully, learning these dance moves can also improve my muscle memory, so that staying within my box would be natural as well as keeping my hands in the proper position and my knees locked for pretty, long lines. 

Do you have to be a dancer to take this class? No. You can even come to class with zero fitness experience. All you have to do is just show up. These low-impact, flowy classes can exercise both the body and the mind, making dance a fun way to stay fit as well as to keep the brain healthy preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease. We all start at level 0 and build up as we get stronger and more coordinated. Just have fun, and make it about the journey. 

Are you curious about Ballet for Fitness classes? Then head over to The Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila at the 4th Floor of Fisher Mall, Quezon Avenue. Quezon City. Try a class and see if you like it!

Image Credits:
Class Photos by Luther Abcede
Misty Copeland Photo: 

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Fit Girl's Floral-y Alternatives

Funny thing is, I was never a fan of flowers. While most girls gush on bouquets of colorful blooms or go to flower markets to buy sprigs and blossoms for their house, I'm one who would be the one to keep the litterbox poop-free or vacuum the house. For me, I didn't really want the idea of someone to spend so much money on something that would be dying in a few days a slow, sad death. I would want something that I can enjoy aside from just looking at its beauty for just a few days.

If you would still want to give something blossomy-pretty, here are a few bouquet-inspired ideas on how to turn random things into something gorgeous and Valentine's-like. Not only are they gorgeous, but they are also yummy and good for our bodies.


Broccoli is a staple in most grocery carts of fit girls. For those allergic to fish, broccoli can be your source of  Omega-3's. It's also got anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It's also good for your digestive and cardiovascular system. Just get good broccoli (organic is best) and tie a ribbon with a short note. It also looks like a bouquet. If you're not a broccoli fan, you can use cauliflower, which can be "riced" and made into gluten-free cauliflower rice or pizza. You can also combine both cauliflower and broccoli.

Enoki and Bacon

A photo posted by Bernice Caruana (@bernicecaruana) on

Happy protein overload. This savory grilled veggie. They actually look like tiny boqueuts. Just grab a bunch of enoki (seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper)  and then wrap them with bacon before grilling. Cool a bit before eating. Don't they look like tiny bouquets in the photo?


Strawberries are also associated with Valentine's day. Let's make this awesome fruit the star of the show.  Did you know that they contain also a lot of antioxidants? They're also great in curbing PMS symptoms and prevent illnesses with the antioxidants. I've seen lots of tutorials on creating a strawberry bouquet. You can create your own and make it as small or as big as you want. For an added treat, dip some (or all) in dark chocolate for a nice treat. Even after dismantling the bouquet, the fruit will still be enjoyed in the form of smoothies, cakes, snacks, and even as it is.

Protein Bars

A photo posted by Lillemor (@lilylove666) on
Nothing makes a fit girl happy than the gift of #gainz or support towards the #roadtogainz so give her a stock of an after-workout muscle-building snack arranged like a bouquet or topiary in a flower pot. Make it one flavor (usually her favorite) or pick out her favorites and some bestsellers if you would want it assorted, Kinda unusual, but it's one happy gift for the one who wants some gainz.

Smoothie Bowls

Not really floral-y but just as pretty, these are gorgeous IG-worthy treats that are great for breakfast. I posted a few smoothie bowl recipes earlier so you can refer to that or your own if you want to go DIY,  This awesome acai bowl I found over at Blogilates looks super gorgeous (it's even got actual edible flowers! Substitute with food readily available and remember to use very little liquid with your fruit base.  Frozen fruit too helps create that icecream-like consistency.

Any ideas for floral bouquet-inspired Valentine's gifts? Post them on Instagram and tag me and I would love to see your creations!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Dream Space

In trying to come up with topics to write about, I thought about writing not really a goal, but a visualization of a space. When I started out with makeup, I thought that I would be needing a makeup studio so I thought about what my future studio would look like. Back then I wanted an all-girly theme, sort of inspired by Elle Woods. However, so many girls wanted that style too, so I thought I wouldn't want that since I would want to stand out. Also, with photographers closing their own studios and with us mostly being in the field most of the time, I thought of not getting one entirely since there's so much things to worry about.

Even now, I do dream of that space, but instead of making it solely a makeup studio, I want it to be a room where I can combine things that I like to do.  This may be a dream vanity to stash my makeup and film tutorials for the blog, work on new techniques. do makeup for my friends, as well as be able to incoporate some training on the side, because, well, you know how much I love fitness and for me you gotta take care of the body too! So let's call this not really a vanity, but a Happy Sacred Space, shall we?

I don't really have drawings of that space since I'm not really an interior designer and the most interior design I did was probably designing houses at The Sims, so I'm just going about certain photos of things I found online and in Instagram of people who already have their awesome workspaces. I won't be doing their exact design, but I would just like these to inspire me.  It's quite a rare design since I'm combining a makeup studio with a yoga/dance/exercise studio but it's somehow something like that.  After all, this is a dream thing, and if it does happen, then at least I have a few ideas jotted down and the pegs saved in this post and then let the pros do their thing and conceptualize my ideas into something more tangible.

Back then, I wanted an all-pink girly scheme, but obviously that has changed in a span of a decade. I considered a rocker chic theme, with hints of black, gray, and animal print (I'm so inspired from my Stellar 3 performance) but I thought, if this were to be a fitness space as well, I wouldn't want a lot of distractions, especially if I would be doing yoga. Besides, clean lines and simple interiors means easy spotting of dirt and easy cleanup. I'm very hands-on in things and I really enjoy doing cleanups and general cleaning myself, no hired help necessary.

A photo posted by kendra.carson (@kendrarae25) on

A photo posted by Carlee Johnson 😉 (@carlee_johnson_bb) on

I personally like warm white or cool grays or ecrus as my color scheme. I may skip carpeting and rugs though, and I would explain why. I would prefer a softer floor that's easy to clean, something like wood or whatever they use in dance or yoga studios as these are more friendly for the joints.

In any space, I always consider light. Sometimes the light affects our mood and energy. Bright lights not only look good in photos, but they also reenergize us, like how the sun hits our faces first thing in the morning, acting like a natural alarm clock. Therefore, in creating a good working space, I want lots of natural light to come in. This makes for better makeup application and photos/videos for documentation purposes. The vanity itself would have the mirror with lights, with the right mixture of white and yellow lights to mimic daylight, should daylight not be available (say I'm filming a tutorial at night, when my creative juices hit me).

 The clean, simple lines of this lamp would be good at a reading corner. It's also pretty stable enough not to be knocked down by cats. The lamp can be dimmable and be the light source should I want to do some yin yoga at night to prepare for rest. I saw this gorgeous lamp over at this site called that sells a lot of things for your home and office space, whatever style you want.

The wall sonce actually looks nice on walls, as added lighting to the ceiling lights, I may have this warmer, so it looks prettier during night.

I thought this would look pretty too on the makeup area, as added lighting on the ceiling. Again, the simple and clean lines go well with the theme. Pendant light from

Since makeup needs to be in such a controlled environment, I would prefer them stored in drawers and cabinets, again, in white, gray, or neutrals to facilitate easier cleanup. I actually have so much makeup and tools that I would ever need, so I need a lot of cleverly-crafted and gorgeous storage areas where I can label where things are.

desks from

Black (such a pro color) and so much storage to fit books and so much more tools and it looks pro enough as well. That long desk can actually be the vanity area. All I need is my director's chair and a smaller chair for hairstyling.

With makeup work done, or during downtime, I can probably devote my sacred space to my fitness passion. Remember that I specifically didn't want carpets or other fuzzy things? that's because I want ample space to spread my yoga mat and do some yoga. I also wanted clean lines in its interior and decor since I don't want to be distracted with a lot of things.

Something like this when the makeup and chairs are tucked away and the lights are dimmed, and probably close the curtains if I want to wind down, or open the curtains to let the sun shine in if I want to reenergize, pretty simple, really.

Of course my personal space has to be a welcome to friends dear to me so I probably can have a few chairs for them to sit down to chat and all, or maybe have some throw pillows and a low table around so we could sit Japanese-style to entertain friends, just like in cat cafes. Speaking of cat cafes, of course, I would want my personal space to be welcoming to my favorite furry creatures - kitties!

I may want to have a cat tower here and maybe a litterbox cleverly tucked away in a little table or storage drawer. Also, with the cats being welcome in my sacred space, I would have to consider as well the furniture (no to leather sofas) as well as no carpets or rugs that may be harder to clean with kitty fur. Of course, I wouldn't forget an ample supply of lint removers to remove kitty hair in clothes, shoes, or bags.

I don't know if this may happen, but if it does, I would probably want a space that's welcoming to things that inspire me, making it a place conducive for learning and inspiration. I was chatting with my friend a while ago, and one advice he gave me was just fill my life with positivity, and positivity can come from the space you have. I want to create a space to be filled with things I like, colors (or absence of colors) that I want, and of course, I would want it to be low-maintenance because I would want to just enjoy the whole thing without worrying about things toppling over or hassle cleanups, and such.

Are you like me who likes simple lines, neutrals, and a place welcoming for cats for their sacred space? Or are you all into girly sugar, spice, and everything nice kind of style? I'm not really good in drawing so I just drew inspiration from photos I found online but if you are good in drawing and have an idea how it looks like, post it in Instagram and tag me and I would like to see your idea. Or you can also post your own mood board or drawing board and let's share your ideas too! Even if we don't have the blank canvas to create our space yet, It's nice to think and dream things like these because who knows, it may just happen. If this may not be the style you want when that time comes it's okay! That's why it's a dream board!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Different Type of Hot Pot

On a cold day, it's comforting to bundle up in sweaters and slurp on chicken soup for a hearty meal to warm you up. Whenever we're sick, we're surely served a bowl of chicken soup. I even have a go-to recipe for a chicken soup that's low in calories and sure to make me heal faster. In many forms, chicken soup has had its benefits in the nutrition and comfort food department.

How would you feel if there is such a thing as a chicken soup that not only contains organic, high-quality ingredients with a lot of nutrients but also something that has also been our best friend in the beauty department? I actually had that chance a few weeks ago when I tried what is known as a Beauty Collagen Hot Pot, which - yes  you got that right, contains collagen, an important ingredient in a lot of beauty products.

Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo gives us an entirely different hot pot experience with its Beauty Collagen Hot Pot. This signature dish is served at Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo, located at the S Maison at Conrad Hotel. This restaurant has a farm-to-table concept, the ingredients are delivered on the very day, fresh and organically grown -with no harmful pesticides, hormones, or chemicals the body doesn't need.

So, anyway, let's talk about the star, the Beauty Collagen Hot Pot:

The chicken used for the broth is the Jidori chicken, a special breed of chicken that's meatier and tastier and richer in collagen. They are grown free-range with good care and a specially-watched diet (again, no hormones!). Cooking the chicken and producing the broth is an 18-hour process of delicate stewing (yes, 18 hours, that's like more than overnight), making the essence of the meat and bones dissolved into the stock.

that pudding when heated melts into a broth

The broth that's presented to you actually isn't liquid-like at first but it looks like a pudding (actually, when it was brought out to us, it kind of looked liked taho).

It would be then heated until that pudding melts into a milky white broth, shown above.

We got a taste of the pure broth in taster cups. The taste of the chicken is very flavorful. It sort of reminded me of essence of chicken but less medicine-like. The chicken meat was melt-in-the-mouth, flaking off the bone. We were provided yuzukoshu seasoning (a paste made of chili pepper, yuzu peel, and salt), depending on our preference. The yellow one was sweet, the green spicy, and the red extra spicy. I personally liked the taste of the green one. It was a bit refreshing with a bit of kick in the end. If you would want the red one, I suggest to put just a little though because the spice is very potent.

The hot pots we know usually have us adding the other ingredients randomly or as we please and letting them cook. Here,  there is a process and specific order in adding the vegetables and seafood and time spent for the ingredients to cook. This process also alters the flavor of the broth, which we take sips to distinguish the flavor,

The vegetables were a sight to behold and arranged prettily it's almost like an art. Well, it is actually an art. After the veggies were served (and eaten, the greens and enoki being my favorites), the broth had a different taste, with the strong chicken flavor mellowing down and the flavors of the mushrooms, greens, radish, and zucchini coming through. Veggies are best eaten with the leek oil but I still liked them with the yuzukoshu paste,

The seafood was served last and shrimp peeled for you, if you requested (since I don't really like getting my hands into shrimp shells). The broth changed into a different, richer flavor. The leftover broth was mixed with rice for a thick and comforting rice porridge. I skipped this part to make room for dessert though. According to my tablemates, it was quite good and comforting,

Since there is a ritual involving how the hotpot would be cooked, the eating process was carefully paced so our tummies were given time to rest and digest so I was full, but not really bursting type of full. A portion can actually serve 2 people, so you can go here with your friend or someone you know who would love hotpot (I'm taking my friend here one time).  Aside from hot pot, you can try out their appetizers like their salad and maximum eggplant (which I highly recommend to try, even if you're not an eggplant fan). Be sure to leave some room for dessert, too because they have great selections.

Try this as a post-workout recovery meal with all the good protein and organic veggies or try it on days when you are craving for something warm for your belly. The farm-to-table concept gives us a healthy dose of good-quality produce raised without chemicals, additives, fertilizers, and hormones so we get the best quality ingredients in every bite.

Let me know your Bijin Nabe experience. Did you have a special sauce combo used? Let me know and I'll try that when I get there.

Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo is located at the 2F of S Maison at Conrad Hotel. Visit their website at or check them out at Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.