DSC00087Recently, I was contacted by Epicurex, LLC to do a review of their product, Cocozia. It’s an all natural, 100% organic coconut water. There’s a lot of hype out there on the internet regarding the almost “magical” properties of coconut water. One article gave a list of 8 benefits of coconut water:

  1. Aids in weight-loss efforts
  2. Picture-perfect skin
  3. The ultimate hangover remedy
  4. Facilitates digestion
  5. Boosts hydration
  6. Reduces blood pressure
  7. Rich in Nutrients.
  8. Compatible with human blood.

Most of those benefits could be achieved by just drinking water! However, a more balanced and credible article pointed out that coconut water does provide an all-natural way to “hydrate, reduce sodium, and add potassium to diets. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets because they don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, or dairy, so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps.” Seems like a great alternative to consuming a sugary sports drink after working out to keep hydrated.

I myself am not a big fan of coconut. However, I am a big fan of pina coladas, coconut creme cakes and coco jam. Growing up in a filipino house, we always had toasted pan de sal and coconut jam spread. It’s pretty amazing. Not to mention lambanog, a seriously strong coconut liquor that will mess you up. I’ve never had it, but what I hear about it frightens me.

But I digress. Cocoa comes in 11 oz TetraPaks so they’re easy to take with you on the go. Poured in a glass, you’ll notice the water is a bit cloudy and smells like coconut. In the Philippines, I’ve had coconut water straight out of the coconut and Cocozia smells exactly the same way. Rather than going through the hassle of finding a machete to hack open a coconut, you simply use the attached straw, puncture the opening in the top of the box and drink away.

I preferred the taste of Cocozia compared to other coconut waters that I’ve tried. It is not sweet but you definitely get the coconut flavor as you drink. There was also no off-putting aftertaste in my mouth after drinking Cocozia, which sometimes occurred with other coconut water brands.

A single serving of Cocozia has only 70 calories, but also gives you more potassium than if you were to eat an entire banana. Additionally, Cocozia gives you magnesium and other electrolytes to help maintain body hydration and muscle function, which I think is good after a workout.

For the past three months I’ve been doing my best to exercise and eat well. I started doing Focus T25 workouts for the physical exercise component. For the nutritional component, I bought a Vitamix and have been making smoothies almost daily. I thought Cocozia might be a great addition to a smoothie. When using frozen fruits like I do, I often need to add a liquid component to help the viscosity of the smoothie; otherwise I end up with what is essentially ice cream.


Here’s the recipe for the smoothie I made with Cocozia:

Strawberry Banana Pineapple Smoothie with Cocozia Organic Coconut Water
Prep time
Total time
A refreshing smoothie to help you stay hydrated and cool after a good workout!
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1-2 people
  • 1 box of Cocozia 100% organic coconut water (11 oz box)
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) pineapples
  • 1 banana
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Non Fat greek yogurt (Chobani vanilla flavor)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups ice (not needed if you use frozen fruit)
  1. Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
  2. Pour into a few glasses and enjoy!

Even if you don’t like Coconut water, or coconut flavor, you won’t be able to detect it in this smoothie. The strawberry, banana and pineapple flavors, combined with the yogurt and honey for a touch of sweetness will be what you taste and enjoy the most. Not only is this smoothie cool and refreshing, but it will also help you keep hydrated after a long workout!

Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies

DSC_0616If I want a cookie, it must be chewy, chocolatey, buttery, and making me want to eat another one. Or three. If you gave me a gluten-free, dairy-free cookie, I’d be preparing my tastebuds to encounter something akin to eating a wafer of compressed sawdust. When I tried these Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies, I thought I was eating a real cookie or brownie. When you taste these, you won’t be missing the gluten or dairy components found in traditional cookies. It looks like a cookie, tastes like a cookie and has a texture like a chewy cookie. They are chocolatey, chewy and most importantly, delicious.

I sampled four flavors: Coconut Almond, Apricot, Orange Almond and Walnut.

Coconut Almond: It’s like eating an Almond Joy candy bar. I liked the almond and coconut flavors in this chewie.

Apricot: Most people aren’t familiar with apricots, and so the flavor will be unusual for some. I have an apricot tree in my backyard and the flavor of apricot came through very clearly and worked well with the chocolate in this chewie.

Orange Almond: This one tasted like those orange chocolate balls that you slam onto a hard surface and eat the pieces. It had a great chewy and sticky quality when I bit into it, and the almonds added a nice crunchiness to the chewie. I helped myself to a few more of these chewies.

Walnut: This one was my favorite. Just like a chocolate brownie with walnuts. I know this is a dairy-free product, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these with a large glass of milk. Because I would do just that.

For those of you who are gluten-free and dairy-free, these are wonderful. For those of us who aren’t, these are also wonderful. Come on…it’s chocolately, it’s chewy, and it’s delicious. So, if you’re craving chocolate cookies do yourself a favor and grab a bag or a box of these things.

Baba Joon’s Chocolate Chewies
4 out of 4 stars. Highly recommended.

Order online at


Traeger Grills

Traeger Junior wood pellet grill smoker

Traeger Junior wood pellet grill smoker

I bought this Traeger Junior Wood Pellet Grill Smoker from Costco for $299. It has become one of my most favorite cooking toys. It’s a magical device in which you put in any kind of meat, and in a few hours out comes the best smoked meat you’ll ever taste. Wood pellets are the source of heat and flavor with this grill. You can get different pellets from Traeger. I prefer hickory and apple pellets when I’m smoking or grilling.

I’ve cooked whole chickens, chicken breasts, ribs, salmon, and steaks on this thing and it simply is wonderful.

My only wish is that I had spent a little extra money and bought a larger smoker. The junior is able to smoke two racks of St. Louis ribs, which is fine if you’re cooking for 4 or less people. I once tried to smoke a 13lb turkey and it didn’t fit inside the smoker.

This little smoker makes the best ribs I have ever eaten. I’m being serious here. And it’s my blog, so you know I’m telling the truth. The smoke ring achieved with this unit is amazing. If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture to prove it.


You can order a Traeger grill direct from their website, or wait until your local Costco has a Traeger Grills event. I’d recommend buying it from Costco as they are typically $100 off list price, and they give you a few extra freebies like a grill cover and spice rubs for free.

Pros: Excellent smoker, good value for the price. Digital Thermostat unit lets you maintain specific temperatures for different meats and cooking styles.

Cons: The digital thermostat doesn’t seem to achieve the same amount of smoke levels when not using the Smoke setting.

Recommendation: Highly recommended, 4/4.

The French Laundry

French_Laundry_01Everything changes after you eat at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA. Your expectations for fine dining at nice restaurants are completely obliterated, forever.

I have been lucky to eat at The French Laundry on several occasions, and every time I have left completely satisfied. And poor. A meal at The French Laundry costs upwards of $270 per person for a tasting menu that changes daily.

Reservations are taken two months to the day on which you wish to dine. Alternatively, you can see what tables are available via OpenTable, which is how I scored my reservations. On the morning of my 32nd birthday I wondered what it would be like to eat my birthday dinner at The French Laundry. I logged on to OpenTable and saw that there was a table available at 8pm. I immediately booked the table and prepared myself for the best birthday dinner. Ever.

Here’s what a tasting menu at The French Laundry looks like.


Amuse Bouche: Gougeres

Amuse Bouche: Salmon Cornets

Amuse Bouche: Salmon Cornets

A play on an ice cream cone. A delicate scoop of salmon tartare served on a cone filled with creme fraiche and chives.

Oysters and Pearls.

Oysters and Pearls

“Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. I don’t like oysters, and I like caviar even less, but I would eat this particular dish every day if I could. Seriously, every day.

Foie Gras Terrine

Once upon a time, we were allowed to eat Foie Gras in California. And then someone passed a law and now we can’t. If memory serves, this is served with a trio of tasting salts. One was from the time of the dinosaurs, one was a french salt, and the last salt came from a volcanic field in the Philippines.


The brioche bread is just one of a variety of breads that are served throughout the meal and baked fresh every day from Bouchon Bakery (the other Thomas Keller restaurant/bakery down the street).