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Project 2019 – “Metabolism March”: Vegan Tofu and Pinto Bean Bowl

This vegan tofu and pinto bean bowl (excluding the multigrain chips) contains: 48 g of carbohydrates, 31 g of protein, 20 g of fat, 23 g of fiber, and is a high source potassium, vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. It is a great combination of carbohydrates, protein, fats, fiber, and micronutrients in one bowl! (The recipe makes 2 servings.)

What is “Metabolism March”?

This is an introduction to metabolism in terms of dietary intake. People tend to count calories, but isn’t it better to count your macros if you’re undergoing a closely-followed diet change?

Metabolism comprises of all the chemical reactions that occurs in our body in order to sustain life. The two forms of metabolism are catabolism, the breakdown of macromolecules, and anabolism, the build-up of these complex molecules. Macromolecules include carbohydrates, lipids (fats), protein, and nucleic acid. In order to get the energy we need to live, these macromolecule are broken down into their monomeric form, resulting in the production of ATP (energy). However, we also need to build them up for future use of energy or for structural synthesis. For example, excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen, while excess fatty acids are combined with glycerol to form triglycerides. Although it depends on which part of the body requires energy, glycogen is typically used first as a quick source of energy, while triglycerides are more for long-term storage of energy. On the other hand, amino acids derived from metabolized proteins are first used for structural purposes. Leftover amino acids can undergo either gluconeogenesis or ketogenesis, the formation of carbohydrates or fats, respectively, and are excreted in the form of urea through micturition (peeing!).

Therefore, it is important for people with different health statuses and different physical goals to focus on macromolecule intake rather than caloric intake. Each macromolecule are different in terms of their caloric value, and so counting calories in order to make a lifestyle change is not necessarily the best form towards a healthier lifestyle. The appropriate amount of carbohydrates: fats: protein ratio must be attained for proper bodily function and to help achieve the lifestyle change that you want to make. However, do not forget that micronutrient and fiber intake is also very important in order to attain a healthy lifestyle.

(Sources: What I learned through UCLA’s Chem 153A course and MCAT studying!! Lol but here’s a good overview on metabolism – Nature)

Disclaimer: It is important to note that each human’s lifestyle varies, and many variables (e.g. genetics, health status, etc.) must be accounted for. It is typically best to consume in moderation, and consulting a nutritionist or registered dietician is recommended when trying to find a diet catered to one’s personal lifestyle.

(Camera: iPhone 8+)


  • 14 oz of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Black pepper, to taste

(Camera: iPhone 8+)


Rub the drained, cubed tofu with the coriander. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

After the time has passed, place a pan on medium heat. Once it is hot enough, add the oil, and sauté the garlic and onions until the onions have become slightly translucent. Add the marinated tofu, pinto beans, and bay leaves. Let the pan simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. Then add the zucchini and spinach, mix, and let it cook for 5 minutes on low heat with the lid on to tenderize the vegetables.

Serve the dish with avocado seasoned with pepper and lemon juice. Consume with multigrain chips or celery if desired!

(Camera: iPhone 8+)


Project 2019 – “Flavonoid February”: Vegan Earl Grey Cupcakes

What is “Flavonoid February”?

Flavonoids are a type of metabolite with a polyphenolic structure that have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory characteristics. They are abundantly found in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetable, and tea. This recipe features earl grey black tea. I chose this because, well, it tastes good but also because a research study found that regular consumption may help reduce blood pressure and therefore help positively impact cardiovascular health.

(Sources: Journal of Nutritional Science // PLOS One)

Disclaimer: It is important to note that each human’s lifestyle varies, and many variables (e.g. genetics, environmental factors, socioeconomic status, etc.) must be accounted for. It is best to consume in moderation, and consulting a nutritionist or registered dietician is recommended when trying to find a diet catered to one’s personal lifestyle.

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Vegan Earl Grey Cupcake Batter

  • 4 earl grey tea bags
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 “eggs” (mix 2 tbsp of chia seeds with 6 tbsp of water)
  • 2/3 cup plant-based milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/3 cup (3 oz) (vegan) cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Preparing the Batter

First, make the “eggs” by mixing the chia seeds and water. Let it set for five minutes. While waiting, tear open two tea bags, and let the contents steep in a bowl containing the soy milk. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Cut open the rest of the tea bags, and mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in increments, then place in a baking pan with cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the center has risen. Check with a toothpick to ensure the cupcakes are fully cooked.

Making the Frosting

Allow the cream cheese to warm to room temperature. In a bowl, add all the ingredients, and mix until a homogeneous consistency is reached.


Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a closed-start piping nozzle and the designated plastic bag to decorate the top of the cupcake. Use the ends of the bags for decoration if desired!

7-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Oatmeal Bars


Y’all already know how festive I am, so even though I’ve been MIA for a month, ROVIKAPAPRIKA IS BACK FOR CHRISTMAS!! I hope you guys enjoy this recipe!


  • 1 3/4 cup of steel-cut oats
  • 3/8 cup of white chocolate peppermint chunks
  • 3/8 cup of semisweet dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 “eggs” (2 tbsp chia seeds + 6 tbsp water)
  • 8 dates
  • 1 container of unsweetened applesauce


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Preparing the Wet Ingredients

Soak the dates in hot water for five minutes as this will make it easier to blend. While it softens, combine the chia seeds and water in a small container. Once the dates are ready and the chia seed mixture is gelatinous, add them all in a food processor. Blend with vanilla extract and the applesauce until a smooth consistency is reached.

Mixing It All Together

Transfer the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the oats, dark chocolate chips, and white chocolate peppermint chunks. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Evenly spread the mixture in a glass baking pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let it cool, and drizzle with melted dark chocolate chips and white chocolate peppermint chunks if desired!

Happy holidays!

Fall-inspired Vegan Basil Pesto Pumpkin Pasta

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Okay, tomorrow is literally the last day of November, but this festive fall gal wanted to make a last-minute fall-inspired dish! This homemade basil pesto sauce is vegan and contains lower fats and sodium than store-bought pesto. We also get to use cute pumpkin-shaped pasta to really accentuate the fall effect, heh.


For this dish, the highlighted ingredient is BASIL! Basil is a great herb containing vitamins A and C which are important for vision and anti-inflammation, respectively.


  • Choice of pasta
  • Choice of protein (optional)
  • Spinach (optional)
  • For the pesto sauce:
    • 2 cups of basil
    • 1/4 cup of walnuts
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 3 tbsp of olive oil
    • 8 tbsp of water (more if needed)
    • 3 tbsp of lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
    • 1/3 tsp of salt


Follow the directions on how to cook the pasta you’ve chosen. Let it cool once it finishes cooking.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the basil pesto sauce. Literally just combine all the ingredients in a blender/food processor, and… blend. That’s it.

Cook the defrosted cooked shrimp in a non-stick pan on medium heat for a few minutes. Season with black pepper, and add spinach. Then, add the pesto sauce. Let it simmer, then add the cooled pasta.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bars


Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A and are a good source of fiber! Plus it’s a tasty way to celebrate fall heh #FALLISLIFE


Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Oat Pecan Crust

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar of choice (white, brown, coconut, etc.; OPTIONAL)
  • 3 tbsp of flaxseed meal
  • 6 tbsp of water


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

To make the filling, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the crust, use a food processor to pulse the pecans and oats into a fine consistency. In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal and water. Once a thicker viscosity is reached, add it to the food processor and pulse until evenly incorporated. If more sweetness is desired, sugar can be added, but personally, the nutty flavors from the pecans and flaxseed meal are good enough for me!

Place parchment paper in a baking pan. Put the oat pecan crust in the container, and use your fingers to spread it out until the surface of the pan is evenly covered. Add the pumpkin pie filling and spread it out evenly as well.

Place the pie into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Then let it cool for 30 minutes.

Vegan Tofu Kimchi-jjigae

I love fall weather, but unfortunately, that also means it is flu season. Lately, I’ve been feeling feverish and having body pain, and with my store-bought kimchi almost reaching its expiration date, I was inspired to make my version of kimchi-jjigae or kimchi stew!

(Side Note: This recipe is a modified vegan version from!)


Kimchi is a good source of vitamin A and C, and being fermented means it is also good for your gut!


  • 25 oz of dried kelp
  • 1 pack of silken tofu
  • 2 packs of 7oz enoki mushroom
  • 3 cups of kimchi
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of canola oil
  • 3/4 cup of white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of gochujang (depends on how spicy you’d like it)
  • 1.5 tsp of salt
  • 1.5 tsp of pepper


Making Kelp Stock

Boil 7 cups of water, and once rolling boiling point of water is reached, add the dried kelp. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Cooking the Kimchi Stew

Dice the onions, and mince the garlic. In a medium heated pot, add those chopped ingredients, and sauté in oil and soy sauce. Let the flavors mingle for several minutes, then add the kimchi. Cook for 5 minutes.

Next, add the kelp stock into the pot including half of the cooked kelp. Add the gochujang, salt, and pepper. You can alter these measurements to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Combine the enoki mushroom with the dish, and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add the tofu after, and use a cooking spoon to cut the tofu into desired size. Cook for another 10 minutes, then serve on warm brown rice with spinach.

Chicken Adobo and Kimchi Grilled Burritos with Guacamole

I visited my friend Sam yesterday, and I was telling him how I haven’t posted a savory recipe on this blog yet. I have a lot on my Instagram, but ever since I moved back home after graduating, I usually eat entrées that my parents cook. Inspired by Sam’s and my ethnicity, I decided to combine Filipino and Korean food staples and make a fusion burrito.


Kimchi is packed with micronutrients including vitamins A, B,andC, calcium, and iron. Because it is made through fermentation, it contains gut-healthy bacteria as well.


Chicken Adobo (my dad’s recipe)

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 bayleaves

Guacamole (made by Sam Park)

  • 2 avocados
  • a quarter of a red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • fresh cilantro
  • ground black pepper, to taste


  • homemade kimchi (thank you Sam’s mom)
  • sour cream
  • black beans
  • Spanish rice
  • Mexican cheese
  • flour tortila


Cooking the Chicken Adobo

Slice the garlic cloves, and brown them in a sauté pan with canola oil. Place the cubed chicken breast in the pan, and let it cook for two minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, water, bay leaves, and ground black pepper. Let it simmer until the chicken is completely cooked. Before turning the pan off, taste the sauce, and modify the amount of soy sauce, vinegar, and black pepper to taste.

Making the Guacamole

Deseed and mash the avocados in a bowl. You can leave some avocado chunks in if desired. Dice the red onions, mince the garlic, and chop the fresh parsley. Put those garnishes into the bowl, and squeeze the lime juice over it. Mix and season with ground black pepper to taste.

Constructing the Burritos

Make sure to follow the instructions on how to heat the Spanish rice and black beans if they are store bought.

In a flour tortilla, add the Spanish rice, black beans, chicken adobo meat, guacamole, kimchi, and cheese. Fold into burritos, then grill on a pan (no oil needed). Once the tortilla casing is slightly browned and crispy, remove and place on plate. Add sour cream if desired.


As some of you may know, I recently received my bachelor’s degree from UCLA, and as a graduation gift, I was privileged enough to be taken by my parents to New York for four days. When it comes to traveling, the most important thing to me is eating good food. And I mean good food. Shoutout to Yelp, Worth It, and Jerry Truong for suggesting the following places.

(Side Note: There were unplanned restaurants that happened to be near where we were visiting that we ended up eating at. I didn’t document the food, so they will not be included in this blog!)


Best Bagel & Coffee (in Midtown on W 35th Street)

Photo: Egg Salad on Whole Wheat Bagel

So this was the first eatery we stopped by at upon our arrival in New York. Unfortunately, we arrived at 3:45PM, 15 minutes before their closing time, so only cold sandwiches and a limited amount of bagels were available. We had just eaten lunch, so we decided to snack on a whole wheat bagel egg salad sandwich and a whole wheat bagel whitefish salad sandwich. 

The filling tasted great. The salad contained the right amount of mayonnaise, and the fish and egg flavors were prominent. (Side note: I didn’t try the whitefish salad, but my parents approve.) The whole wheat bagels were very tasty. They were denser and chewier than other bagels I have tasted before but not in a negative way where it’s hard to eat. Given the fact it was almost closing time and that these were probably not as freshly baked, the bagels did not taste stale, and overall, both sandwiches tasted good.

One personal complaint I have about the place is the customer service. Yes, it is 15 minutes from closing time, but it was quite obvious that the server at that time was not pleased to see customers. However, there was still 15 minutes until the place closed, and they still had available products that did not require opening the kitchen which we chose instead.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Ess-a-Bagel (in Midtown on 3rd Avenue)

Photo (from left to right): Banana Nut Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel Bagel, “A Great Any Time of Day Tuna Melt” on Whole Wheat Everything Bagel,  “A Signature Favorite” on Whole Wheat Everything Bagel

The flavors of the fillings in this bagel shop is ridiculously delicious. The banana nut cream cheese had the right amount of sweetness, and the banana flavor did not taste artificial. The nova (fillet of brined salmon) on the “A Signature Favorite” provided the umami flavor and paired really well with the fresh vegetables and the toasted bagel. A Great Any Time of Day Tuna Melt” was also good, but it did not stand out compared to other tuna salads I have tasted. The cheese could have also been more gooey.  The bagels themselves were also dense, chewy, and moist.

One thing to be aware of are the long lines. We arrived around noon, so lunch hour = very busy. The line moved slow, but once you ordered, it was relatively quick to get the food.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


Levain’s Bakery (in Upper West Side Manhattan in Amsterdam Avenue)

Photo (from left to right): Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Chip, Chocolate Chip Walnut, and Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aside from the three cookies shown above which I took to-go to share with my parents, I ordered another chocolate chip walnut cookie to eat right away. It was the BEST cookie I have ever had in life. I remember biting into it, and I literally thought to myself, oooh these textures (dancers understand lol). The outside had a nice crisp, but the inside was warm, moist, and gooey. This flavor had the right amount of sweetness, and the walnuts gave another texture change within the soft interior. This flavor was my favorite with the double chocolate peanut butter chip cookie and the double chocolate chocolate chip tying in second. The full-on chocolate flavor was sweet but was cut by the creaminess and nuttiness of the peanut butter chip. The sweetness of the latter cookies was quite overwhelming, and eating 1/3 of the cookie was enough to fulfill my sweet tooth. The chocolate chip walnut cookie, however… well…. I can eat those forever.

If you’re not going to eat the cookies right away (which is what happened to 3 of the 4 cookies I ordered), just keep them on your counter. Over time, the interior of the cookies become denser and more similar to chocolate fudge bites. Still tastes great to the buds though.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (in Nolita on Cleveland Place)

Photo: Plain (middle and right), Strawberry (bottom), Cookies n’ Cream (left), and Salted Caramel (top) Cheesecakes

I couldn’t visit New York and not have cheesecake. I mean, come on. I found out about this place through Buzzfeed’s series called “Worth It”. These were the best cheesecake ever. I remember diving into it with a fork, and I was able to cut through it with such ease without it falling apart. So texture? Yes. As for flavor, they were ALL good. However, the strawberry and cookies n’ cream weren’t anything extraordinary. Just the plain cheesecake itself was enough to satisfy my palette flavor-wise. But if you want something with a bit more of a kick, the salted caramel stood out the most to me. The right of amount of sweetness and saltiness with some texture change because of the topping.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Bibble & Sip (in Midtown on W 51st Street)

Photo: Earl Grey (bottom left), Black Sesame (bottom right), Chocolate Hazelnut (top right), and Matcha (top left) Cream Puffs

The only other cream puffs I have ever had was from Beard Papa’s. I like the texture of this pastry better which was soft and flaky. As for the flavor, the amount of filling was just enough and paired really well with the outer part in terms of sweetness. The matcha flavor did not have a powdery aftertaste like other matcha-flavored desserts. The chocolate hazelnut had the right amount of chocolate flavor. My favorite were black sesame and earl grey because they were unique and bold.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


Joe’s Pizza (in Times Square on Broadway Street)

Photo (from left to right): “Supreme” and Caprese Pizza

I found out about Joe’s Pizza through “Worth It” as well. This place was quite hyped by other friends, but to be honest, it’s not the best pizza I have ever had. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I enjoyed that the crust was thin, and the tomato sauce base was tangy and tasted fresh. I couldn’t try the “Supreme” because I don’t eat red meat, but the caprese pizza was good. I wish there was more cheese on it, but that’s just because I love cheese and pizza should be cheesessssyyyy.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5


Guantanamera (in Midtown on 8th Avenue)

Photo (from left to right): Seafood and Vegetable Paella

I just found this restaurant through the Hilton hotel on our last night in New York. I have never had Cuban food before this, but it was really delicious. We ordered other food besides the entrées shown above, and they were all good. The rice in the paellas were perfectly cooked, and the seafood were tender and provided a lot of umami.

The highlight of this place was customer service. The servers were so accommodating and kind that we returned for our last meal in New York the next afternoon. I particularly enjoyed the live band which plays every night. I highly recommend this place if you want Latin food and amazing customer service.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Pommes Frites (in Greenwich Village on Macdougal Street)

Photo: “Double” size fries with sweet mango chutney, smoked eggplant with Parmesan and basil, and Vietnamese pineapple sauces (from left to right)

I LOVE potatoes, so when I heard about this place, I knew I had to try it. The fries were perfectly, well, fried. They were crispy on the edges but softer in the middle. But the highlight… the SAWWWCCEEEES. So, freaking, good. I was skeptical of the flavor names, but they allow you to sample them beforehand so no worries. The customer service was also amazing. Got some fellow Filipinos behind the counter. Y’all were so kind!!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

LOW-FAT and LOW-SUGAR (for cake, heh) Strawberry Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Chia Compote and LOW-FAT Vanilla Cream Cheese and Chocolate Frosting


Strawberries are a great fruit for people watching their blood sugar levels because it is low in sugar while being a good source of vitamin C and antioxidantsChia seeds are also a good source of omega-3’s and are good for the heart!


Strawberry Vanilla Cake

  • 2 1/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup of vanilla soy milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp of baking powder
  • 5 medium strawberries

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/4 cup of agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • 3 tbsp of sugar-free cocoa powder

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz of low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar

Strawberry Chia Compote

  • 1/4 cup of agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 8 medium strawberries


Baking the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in segments and then the chopped strawberries. Mix until homogenous. Place in an oiled cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes. Let the cake cool down.

Preparing the Frosting

To make the chocolate frosting, add the milk and agave syrup in a small pot. Once simmering, add the cocoa powder. Continue to simmer until a thicker consistency develops. Remove from the pot, and let it cool.

To make the vanilla cream cheese frosting, first let the cream cheese warm to room temperature. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Making the Compote

To make the compote, read the directions in this post!


It is important to let all the components cool down first before decorating!

Coat the top of the cake evenly with the chocolate frosting. Then, use a closed-start piping nozzle and designated plastic bag with the prepared vanilla cream cheese frosting to form the border on the cake. Lastly, add the strawberry chia compote on the top.

(Side Note: makes 12 servings with 8g of fat each)

7-ingredient Baked Peach Mango Pocket Pies (Jollibee inspired!)

Peach Mango Pocket Pies


Peaches and mangoes are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C which are important for vision and the immune system. Because both are naturally really sweet, using them in baked goods means less added sugar is needed!


  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 3 ripe mangoes
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp thickening agent (flour or cornstarch)
  • 2 puff pastry sheets
  • 1 beaten egg


Cut the peaches and mangoes into cubes, and mix with the cinnamon, thickening agent, and agave syrup. Simmer in a pot over medium heat for 5 minutes or until a thickened consistency has formed. Let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, place 1 puff pastry sheet on a flat surface. The puff pastry should be somewhat frozen to ensure structural integrity. Place 4 spoon-full scoops on the sheet in 6 even parts. Make sure to leave unfilled dough between each 6 segments.

Layer with the second puff pastry sheet, and cut into 6 pocket pies. Using a fork, press down the edges to seal each pocket pie. Beat 1 egg, and brush the top of the pies. Place on a tray covered with parchment paper. Once the oven is ready, bake the pocket pies for 15 minutes.

(Side Note: This recipe makes 6 servings.)