Home-made Granola

Granola happens to be one of my favorite things- perfect for frozen yogurt or just eaten by the handful.  But I find granola one of the ridiculously expensive items in the health food stores here in Manila.  I had even purchased granola being sold by weight, only to be disappointed with the hard bits and sugary clusters in it.  Not anymore, since I came upon this wonderful granola recipe by vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli.  Now, I can be sure that my granola is naturally sweetened and made with fresh ingredients, and I can tweak the recipe to make various flavors.  I am sharing here two granola versions based on Coscarelli’s recipe.  Feel free to come up with your own granola flavor too!

Pecan Raisin Granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (add less if you want it less sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons healthy oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (not the imitation vanilla, please)
  • 1/2 cup plump raisins

Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare a baking sheet.  I only use stainless steel bakeware, then I lined the pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt.  Toss them well.  Next, add in the maple syrup, oil and vanilla.  Mix everything very well.  Spread the granola unto the baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the granola often, about every 15 minutes or so.  Your house will smell wonderful!  Be careful not to overbake or you’ll get burnt granola! Cool the granola completely, then add in your raisins.  Store in airtight containers.

Chocolate Almond GranolaGranola- 2 kinds

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons healthy oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cocoa powder and salt.  Toss them well.  Next, add in the maple syrup, oil and vanilla.  Mix everything very well.  Spread the granola unto the baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the granola often, about every 15 minutes or so.  Be sure the granola is completely cool before adding the chocolate chips.  Store the granola in airtight containers.

Make your own granola and give them away as gifts! All these jars need is some ribbon and card or just take these with you as snacks.  That’s it for now!

granola jars

 

love crunchUpdate-  I now know a store-bought granola brand that I love!  I was blessed to be given by my relatives this big bag from Canada and it is wonderful.

Nature’s Path Love Crunch- Premium Organic Granola with Dark Chocolate and Red Berries.

 

A Matter of Time

First week of the new year and I am being sentimental after watching Jollibee’s newest commercial featuring Aga Muhlach and Charlene with their two kids now all grown-up.  See here: Aga Muhlach’s Jollibee ad

My two chikitingsIt made me realize that 2018 is a year when:

  1. I will turn 40- the start of my midlife.
  2. My eldest will be officially a teenager.
  3. My youngest will turn double digit this year.

I often tell my kids that I don’t miss the times when they were babies, like I don’t want to turn back the time.  I tell them I love them more now- at present, at their age and I really do.  But as I clean out their clothes that don’t fit anymore, I become emotional as I see proof that they are ever changing.  I see their independence setting in and my role as their parent evolving too.  No matter how much I hold on to them, they will grow and go.  It is just a matter of time.  There is really nothing to do but this, in the words of Gandalf the Grey:

gandalf

Thank you, Lord for another year.  With the time that is given to us, we will make new memories with the kiddos and make every moment count.  2018 will be awesome!

 

Chicken and Cranberry Macaroni Salad

This is a colorful snack that is very easy to make.  I think the most important ingredient in making salad is the mayonnaise, so choose real mayonnaise and not the popular whipped dressing that is disguising itself as mayonnaise. Get the real thing!  I have also put in a tip to having a pleasant onion flavor without the overpowering taste.  The recipe is basically estimates, so taste as you go and put in little quantities at a time; also, feel free to put in other ingredients you may have in the pantry.

chix-mac-salad

Chicken and Cranberry Macaroni Salad

  • Macaroni pasta- can be elbow macaroni, penne or in my case, shell macaroni
  • Good quality mayonnaise (I used Cadia Organic Mayonnaise, see bottom.)
  • Minced onion (About 1 teaspoon or more, depending on how much you like onions)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Grated queso de bola
  • Pickle relish
  • Shredded chicken (I used organic chicken from leftover Tinola.  Discard the skin and make sure there are no small bones.  You can opt to use boiled chicken breast too.  Make sure the chicken is cool before adding to the salad.)
  • Grated carrots
  • Cranberries
  • Optional: Cubed cheddar cheese, Raisins, Corn, Spring onions, Crushed Pineapple or Tidbits in Can (Drain the pineapple before adding or better yet, use fresh, sweet pineapple cut into small cubes.)

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Make sure to rinse the pasta when it’s done to stop the cooking process then drain well.  Set aside to completely cool.

In a big bowl, put mayonnaise- the quantity of which will depend on your pasta and other ingredients.  The mayonnaise should completely coat all the ingredients, so get a big jar and don’t skimp!  If there is too much mayonnaise, you can easily compensate by adding more pasta or other ingredients.

Add in the minced onions, ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Tip:  I am not really an onion lover, but I find a mild onion flavor delightful to macaroni salad.  In order to achieve this without the strong taste, rinse the onions in a small strainer after mincing then squeeze out the juices. Let dry before adding to the mayonnaise.  Now you get a mild onion flavor without the pungent taste of raw onions!

Add in the quezo de bola and drained pickle relish.  If you notice, there is no salt in this recipe as the cheese lends its saltiness to the salad.  Taste the dressing at this point, and add in quantities to your liking. The pickle relish lends a sweet and sour flavor to the dressing.  If you opt to add pineapple, do so at this point.  Remember that you will still add the pasta and chicken so the dressing should be flavorful enough to coat everything.

When you are happy with the flavor of the dressing, add in shredded chicken and the grated carrots.  Mix well.  Add in the pasta in small quantities, mixing well after each addition.  I do this to ensure that the dressing coats everything properly and to control the amounts I put in.  If there is too much pasta, save it for another dish.

Lastly, add in the cranberries.  Mix everything well and taste your salad.  Put the salad in an airtight container  and chill for approximately 2 hours for all the flavors to blend well.  Taste your salad again after chilling and add in condiments as needed.  Serve as an afternoon snack or as a side dish to fried chicken.

cadia-mayo

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the most important ingredient to good salad is mayonnaise.  I have used the commercially available ones but you really can’t beat the flavor of real mayonnaise.  The best one I have tried so far is Cadia’s Organic Mayonnaise.

 

Thr3e Lessons Why

I scrambled out of bed on this Monday morning, trying to focus on the things at hand, getting the kids ready for school.  It’s like waking up from a hangover of the mind, coupled with feelings of devastation.  These are the feelings one gets upon reading the book Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher.  This book was lent to me by my niece Sophie, who was gushing over how good this book was and how she treasured her copy of the book. And now I know why.  This was the kind of book that one reads in one go, leaving one oblivious to time.  I was totally engrossed. So as I finished the book around midnight, I texted Sophie and she asked how I liked the book.  My reply was that the the book was good, but it was not nice because having to say nice should mean it conveyed happy feelings.  Which this book clearly did not do.  Instead, it gripped my heart, made me think deeply, caused me sadness, and inspired me to write the first blog entry of the year. I was clearly affected by the book.  And I am so glad to have read it.  So thanks, Sophie.

Without giving much away, Th1rteen R3asons Why was about the death of a teenager named Hannah Baker who committed suicide.   The book takes one on a journey to understanding the reasons leading up to her death- going through her suicide note but  in the form of recorded tapes. As I started the book, it was clear to me that this one was targeted for young adults and I would have been discouraged to go on, but I just couldn’t put it down.  What nagged me the most was the truthfulness of the story and its honesty in showing the state of the world, specifically the struggles of the youth.  And as a mother, I  got scared, and these are the Thr3e Lessons Why:

29844228
Image taken from goodreads.com

Lesson 1: Kids go to war every day.  Their battles come in the form of school tests, competitions, peer pressure, bullying, materialism, addiction to gadgets and junk food, gossip, viber group chats, social media.  There are also the physical battles like auditions, try-outs, even assault, violence and abuse. What struck me in the story is the fact that Hannah Baker grew up with loving parents.  She was not insecure of herself.  But because of the troubles she had to deal with, she suffered so much, became a casualty of war.  And this reminded me that children face real problems in school every day, and how they deal with those struggles  will affect their future. So as parents, are we equipping our children enough for these wars in their world? Are they ready for battle?

Lesson 2:  There is a shortage of kindness in the world.  In the book, kindness would have changed Hannah Baker’s mind.  A little act of kindness would have saved her life. But instead of the people around her extending the much needed attention and kindness, they added to the hurt while few ignored the signs and left her alone.  When we see a person who is hurting, do we just walk away?  Do we make it worse?  As I grow older, I feel sometimes that I have become apathetic already.  I have to remind myself that it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.  Kindness is now a choice to be made.  Do we choose kindness?

Lesson 3:  Everything affects everything.  The simple act of posting this article in my FB page about books becoming tv adaptations led my niece Sophie to lend me this book which affected me and now I’m blogging about it. (Fyi, Netflix will release the adaptation of this book this year.) But things aren’t so simple all the time. In the story, Hannah Baker had thirteen reasons that affected each other, making her end her life in the end.  Nobody wants a tragedy in real life.  Do our actions now eventually lead to a disaster or a happy ending?

Whew.  Th1rteen R3asons Why was definitely an easy but difficult book to read.  I would have wanted the 10th anniversary edition’s alternate ending to appease my sadness but then it won’t be such a compelling read if not for the ugly stuff.  So there.

As a final note, I need a fun and frivolous book to read next.

Life Lessons from My Dad

A month ago, I became a half-orphan.  Nothing crushes the heart like going through a death in the family.

My dad was a happy, simple man and I had wonderful memories of him growing up as child.

Me and my dad
Daddy’s girl, eh?

I felt loved by my Dad- he would just call me out of the blue and he would just give me kisses and hugs and off I would go.  I realized I have been doing the same to my kids.

I remember him getting us a cute but snobby Shih Tzu pup called Pepsi, and he was proud of the fact that Pepsi came from a champion breed.  When me and my sister were learning to drive, he would sit courageously beside the driver’s seat and he would give us a score after every drive.  He prides upon himself a good driver.

I consider my dad’s greatest achievement to be building the house I grew up in.  He had so much pride in that house.  He had such attention to details with emergency lights installed in every room, piped in music all over the house, secret closets, spotlights in every corner, intercom in every room, a standby generator and water well.  He loved nature as evident in our gardens with mango trees; he was proud of his orchids and I remember I would pose with those flowers as a child at a photo shoot.  He would cut the orchids, place them in a bottle/vase and give them to my mom.  My dad was a sweet, kind man.

I now hold on to this last memory of my dad smiling at me and my kids at a family dinner, the night before his passing.  I served him a slice of Cafe Mocha for dessert.  I almost did not go to that dinner thinking I’ll just go the following week, but the reality is, no one really knows when is the last time, so take whatever chance you’ve got.  I am missing my Dad, I miss him calling me, “Pams!”  Our family lunch buffets will never be complete anymore.

I end with this list of things I have learned from my Dad.  I thought of listing them down to share some tidbits of wisdom, but more so, I hope not to forget.

Life lessons from my dad:

  1. In the first sign of sore throat, gargle with warm, salt water. (Lok yam tsui…)
  2. Always be prepared- keep spare batteries, emergency lights, spare parts, etc. in good working order. Test the generator every so often.  Make sure there is an alternate water source for emergencies.
  3. Gas up the car before going on a drive.  Have the engine and tires checked.
  4. Always put things back in its proper place after use.
  5. A good side dish perks up any meal. (Century eggs with soy sauce, salted eggs with tomatoes and vinegar.)
  6. Garlic is the cure to everything. (He used to chomp them up like grapes!)
  7. Vinegar is a health drink in itself. (He takes a shot of coco vinegar and makes a very sour face.)
  8. Healthy foods are delicious. Eat your papayas and salad greens! (He taught us to eat healthy by example.)
  9. The best part of steamed fish is its head, especially the cheeks, and fish eggs.  (His favorite meal was mom’s fish in soup.)
  10. Ice cream is the best dessert.  (But he loved my banana bread which happened to be his last snack right before he passed away.)
  11. Help anyone in need, be their champion.
  12. Apply aloe vera (cut-up stem from the plant) to scalp for thick, healthy hair.
  13. Always be presentable- clean haircut, shaven face and manicured nails. (He loved to dye his hair black and he would joke about how people perceived his age to be.)
  14. Keep moving. Do simple squats and stretches.  Walk around.
  15. There is enjoyment and fulfillment in tending your own farm and caring for chickens for fresh eggs and poultry.
  16. When you lend people money, don’t expect them to pay you back.
  17. Give your wife a dozen red roses on her birthday and on Valentine’s Day (and fresh orchids from the garden).
  18. Sneak your wife a kiss whenever you can.  (He did this on his last birthday party to my mom’s happy surprise, caught on video.)
  19. Teach God to your children while they are still young and it will be a lasting legacy.  (I hope to have this as my legacy, too.)
  20. Eat happily, live simply, sing your heart out.

I love you, Daddy.  I miss you.

First Winter Ever

Truly, the first time is unforgettable.  What took months of careful planning has come to a rewarding end- we have finally seen snow!  Coming from a tropical country, the first sight of snow was a splendid feeling.  The kids went crazy, touching the snow with their bare hands and when it started snowing, it was simply magical. I restrained myself from doing what Leo did in The Revenant– mouth open-wide, tongue out to catch the snow- but I did get to taste the snow discreetly somehow!  I was a little frantic when the kids started playing with the snow.  I was afraid their fingers would freeze!  I had to touch the snow myself and I couldn’t help smiling.  Unlike my preconceived notion that snow would feel like crushed ice, I was surprised that snow had a fluffy feel to it.  And when snow fluttered down and got blown around, it was indeed a happy feeling.  Truly, winter is oh so beautiful.  There is a serene calmness looking at the trees in their bare form, knowing that after their death, they will bloom again come spring.  There is wisdom right there understanding the cycle of life.

winter
Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

But to enjoy winter’s beauty, one must come prepared.  The days before the trip, I was overwhelmed with all the packing.  Armed with the indispensable pieces of fashion advice from my friend who now resides in Canada, here are some tips to enjoy winter travel.

  • “The trick is layering,” advised my friend Ian.  “So the answer is not down [jacket] versus wool- more like thermal underwear, wool shirt, then down [jacket].  The air between the layers offers extra heat.”
  • For winter wear, choose acrylic, wool or polyester that offer warmth and doesn’t retain moisture.  Cotton is essentially for summer – cotton absorbs moisture which is a no-no; once you get wet, you stay wet and you start getting cold.
  • Winter accessories are necessary like a muffler or a thick scarf around the neck, a pair of warm gloves and a bonnet that can cover the ears.  I would have wanted to have covering for the eyes too.  The first time we got out, the chilly wind hurt my eyes, causing tears.
  • Water-proof, warm-lined pants were a lifesaver during snowy and windy walks.  Do not underestimate the chilly wind which can cut through regular pants, causing one to shiver and get cold.
    • Uniqlo and GU offer warm-lined pants in their winter collection.
  • Invest in a good pair of comfortable, lightweight, water-proof boots.  Every trip entails plenty of walking, so keeping the feet warm and dry should be a top priority.
    • Be in the look-out for store sales instead of buying at the last minute.  I recommend Merrell boots.
  • Winter jackets can be lightweight.  Gone are the days when everything was thick and bulky.  Opt for a waterproof one with a hood for those snowy walks in the park.
    • The kids wore Columbia jackets with Omni-heat technology which were really light and warm plus washable.  Amazing the clothing technology these days.

 

 

 

Kimchi Fried Rice

Or what can be aptly called “This Week’s Leftover Fried Rice.” photo2

I find it a challenge to give life to leftovers in the fridge. It is through this homemaker’s task that sometimes, a new and exciting dish is born- and no one would ever suspect the ingredients were all leftovers. So for this “Kimchi Fried Rice”, let me tell you the story behind each ingredient in this wonderfully spicy and delicious rice dish.

So here’s what we have in the fridge:

Rice- from last night’s dinner

Kimchi- from Valentine’s lunch that I prepared with an obvious Korean theme

Turkey bacon- from Wednesday’s BLT breakfast

Whole Kernel Corn- from Monday’s salad dinner

Wansuy- from last night’s soft tacos

So since these are leftovers, the measurements are estimated quantities only, which is not a problem at all when you’re cooking. So feel free to tweak this recipe to your liking… or to the leftovers available in your kitchen!

Kimchi Fried Rice

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons oil for cooking
  • Minced onions and garlic
  • About half a cup of kimchi, chopped roughly; do not discard the sauce (Note- add more if you want more kick!)
  • About 4 rashers of turkey bacon, chopped (Mine is already cooked.)
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 3 Tablespoons whole kernel corn (This adds a hint of sweetness and crunch.)
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce mixed in half cup of water
  • Wansuy leaves as garnish

In a sauté pan, add oil and half the butter. If the pan is ready and the butter has melted, sauté onions until translucent. Add in the minced garlic and continue sautéing. Add in the bacon, then the kimchi. Continue cooking, then add in the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly for the kimchi to coat every grain of rice. Add in the corn, then continue cooking. At this point, the rice would start to look dry and some might stick to the pan, so add the soy sauce mixed with water then scrape the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking everything together. As a finishing touch, add in the remaining butter and let it melt through the rice. Yum! Serve right away with wansuy leaves as garnish.

Tip: You can place a fried sunny side up egg on top of the rice for an amazing one-meal dish.

 

 

Lost Babies

what alice forgot
Image from Google Books

Recently finished reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and I have such high praises for this book.  Moriarty often deal with real life problems in her books, usually centered around women.  Her fictional characters have such relatable emotions that one reads them and knows them as if they are actual friends in life.  But more than gaining new friends so to speak, this certain book by Liane Moriarty struck a chord about what women face so bravely at this day and age- the struggle of conceiving a child.  I personally know a number of women who have gone through miscarriages, fertility treatments, unmet expectations and innumerable struggles.  I can never understand the horrors their bodies have faced, the pressure of wanting a baby so much but not being able to conceive, the surge of emotions for every lost baby.  I thank Moriarty for vividly writing about this specific challenge in a woman’s life. I believe women who have gone through such struggles should not be kept in the dark; they should get as much support and understanding as possible to help them cope and recover.  I truly salute every woman who has been through such.

Before I end:  I really recommend Liane Moriarty’s books.  I also have read Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret and they are all so good!  Such books entertained, made me laugh, but more importantly, they touched my heart.  Highly recommended reading, especially for women.  Do grab a copy from the bookstore… or you can borrow from me… 🙂

 

A Punch in the Face

Now that I am over it, I can write about it.

About a month ago, I got a call from the school in the middle of the day.  (Note to self- phone calls from schools in the middle of the day usually means bad news…)  It was my son’s class adviser informing me that my son just got punched in the face by a classmate and his lower lip bled.  My initial reaction was to check on my son’s condition and I was told he was brought to the clinic right away and that the life coach had processed the incident to my son.  I was then assured that he was okay; I got to talk to my son on the phone too and he did sound okay.  But let’s just be honest, it was totally NOT OKAY.

bullying
Image from edutopia.org

When my son got home, I expected a teary-eyed boy who would long for a hug from mommy.  But I was wrong.  Surprisingly, he was really fine with no hard feelings whatsoever.  He got hurt and he cried, but he got over it almost instantly.  I asked him plenty of times about the incident which he retold clearly, but there were no emotional outbursts.  True he had questions about what he will do if it happens again, which I clearly don’t have answers to, but he actually was excited to go back to school.  He also said he still considered the boy who hit him as a friend, and it amazed me to see him handle it so well.  Actually, it was me who was not okay.  I felt a deep anger in my heart, an emotion I haven’t felt before, a feeling of revenge.  Like what Batman probably felt (in a non superhero, minute scale).  The days that followed, I had to convey my emotions and told the school principal bluntly that I was angry and was not okay with what happened.  After more heartfelt talks with a co-parent (whose child got hit by the same kid too) and thorough discussions with the school, I was finally over it.

So how did I get over it?  The insights gained from this encounter with bullying caused this change of heart.

First learning:  I cannot fight my kid’s battles for him.  My role is to shelter him and nurture him as much as I could, but at one point, I have to let go.  We live in a tough world and I want him to understand that.  All I can do is prepare him for life’s battles (like let him take martial arts lessons hehehe) and then watch him handle his own troubles.  So well done, my son.  I am proud of you.  You got hurt, you cried.  But you got over it.  Now move on.

Second learning:  Kids who bully are hurting.  I made myself understand where the other kid was coming from, and I found out some very bad news.  Apparently, the kid was bullied before and had anger management issues.  The worst part was, the kid had absentee parents who just left him in the care of nannies.  No wonder.  So not well done, dear parents.  Are you proud of what you’ve done?  Your son is hurting inside and he is not over it.  Please move on, but only with a commitment and a plan to save your son.

Third learning:  There are more troubles to come.  Bullying can come in the form of verbal abuse too like being told harsh things, being blamed for something you did not do, being ridiculed at, or being cast away from a peer group.  The reality is there will always be nasty kids/folks out there, but that doesn’t mean I will lock the kids up at home under my care all the time.  I have learned that the only way to resolve bullying is to face it head on.  I have learned that the more you spend time with your kids, the faster it is to spot red flags.  And early detection is the way to prevent more damage.  Whatever happens in school, the teachers/ admin should be held accountable too.  There should always be an open communication between us and them, so don’t belittle the parent-teacher chats!  They are our partners in nurturing our children and they should make sure our kids thrive in a safe and happy school environment.

But the truth still remains- I will always get hurt when my kids feel pain.  I just hope and pray that I will have more strength and wisdom in dealing with future debacles.  I end with chorus lyrics to Adele’s song “Remedy”.

When the pain cuts you deep
When the night keeps you from sleeping
Just look and you will see
That I will be your remedy
When the world seems so cruel
And your heart makes you feel like a fool
I promise you will see
That I will be, I will be your remedy.

Pasta al Funghi

Last night’s dinner- Pasta al Funghi.  Got these fresh button and oyster mushrooms as “pasalubong” from my mom who just came from Baguio.  Canned mushrooms cannot substitute for the flavors released by fresh mushrooms while cooking, so I recommend making this dish only with fresh mushroomies.  Feel free to add in other mushroom variants to this pasta dish, whatever is available!

Just some notes about mushrooms before we begin…

Mushrooms should not be washed, but instead, gently pat surface with paper towels to clean.  Mushrooms also reduce in size when being cooked, while releasing their wonderful, flavorful juices, so take note how you cut them up.  Now, to the recipe!

mushroom pastaPasta al Funghi

  • 200 g pasta, spaghetti, linguine or fettucine would be great
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • About 4 cups fresh button mushrooms, stems removed then halved
  • About 2 cups fresh oyster mushrooms, tough part of stem cut off
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock*
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • Grated cheese, I use Quezo de Bola or Edam

Prepare pasta according to package instructions, but under cooking it by a few minutes.  While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan.  Add the olive oil and heat gently.  Add in garlic and saute until fragrant (not brown).  Add in button mushrooms then the oyster mushrooms.  Since mushrooms have a delicate flavor, season generously with sea salt and black pepper.  Simmer gently, while mushrooms release their wonderful juices.  Add in chicken stock.  (Don’t worry if everything looks soupy at this stage.  The half-cooked pasta will absorb it later on…)

Add the drained pasta.  (We want the pasta to continue cooking in the juices of the mushrooms for it to absorb the flavor.)  Continue cooking, turning everything often until pasta is cooked al dente.  Sprinkle generously with grated cheese; the cheese will melt into the pasta.  Taste and season accordingly, then serve to hungry family. 🙂  Perfect with a glass of sparkling mineral water with lemon!

field day*There are days when there’s not enough time to make chicken stock from scratch, so I always keep store-bought chicken stock on hand. I use Field Day Chicken Stock (not the low sodium variant) from Healthy Options.  I have tried many brands- Nash Brothers, Pacific, Swanson, Kirkland- but I like Field Day the most because of its home-cooked flavor.