Sunday, 29 August 2010

My Itchy Rashes Called Urticaria

I have Urticaria.  Yes I do have.  Well it’s not really considered medically serious yet it really is very irritating and annoying most of the times.

What is Urticaria?  Urticaria is another term for Hives. defines it as ‘are red, itchy, raised areas of skin that appear in varying shapes and sizes.  They range in size from a few millimeters to several inches in diameter. Hives can be rounded or flat-topped or they can form rings or large patches but are always elevated above the surrounding skin. Wheals (welts), red lesions with a red “flare” at the borders, are another manifestation of hives. Hives can occur anywhere on the body, such as the trunk, arms, and legs.’

Remember Will Smith in Hitch- the scene with his swelly face?  That’s urticaria at it’s extremes, good for him it only lasted for a few hours.  My urticaria most of the time comes in a noticeable dark red, raised, very itchy bumps that comes out of nowhere and for some reasonS  that most of the time it disappears after a few hours and sometimes lasts for weeks (!!!)  The funny thing about hives is that they appear on a part of your body then disappears and then again appear on a different part.  Sometimes I would wake up swollen with hives then it suddenly disappears the moment I get to the doctor’s clinic. 

I’ve been suffering from on-and-off urticaria since I was small (maybe I had  inheritted it from my mama)  but it worsens when I get here in Singapore (because usually, my urticaria only lasts for a few hours but now, it persists for 2 months!!!)

What causes Urticaria?  According to the website of the national skin center of Singapore (www. ‘Urticaria results from some changes in the small blood vessels of the skin. Such changes are brought about by the release of some substances in the body, the commonest of which is histamine. Histamine is released from cells called mast cells by either an allergic or non-allergic reaction.’

Some hives are allergic reactions to foods, medications, insect bites, and exposures to chemicals.  Most of the time, hives are also caused by non-allergic triggers like physical irritation, stress, or emotions.

Here are some “kinds of urticaria” (courtesy of Wikipedia and

  • Acute urticaria  - are hives that last for a few hours to a few weeks (6weeks atmost).  Triggers are allergic reactions to foods, medications, insect bites, and exposures to chemicals.
  • Chronic urticaria – are hives that persists for 6 weeks or more.
  • Drug-induced urticaria – are usually triggered by drugs

  • Physical urticarias are hives produced by direct physical stimulation of the skin and often categorized into the following.
    • Aquagenic: Reaction to water (exceedingly rare)
    • Cholinergic: Reaction to body heat, such as when exercising or after a hot shower
    • Cold (Chronic cold urticaria): Reaction to cold, such as ice, cold air or water – worse with sudden change in temperature
    • Delayed Pressure: Reaction to standing for long periods, bra-straps, elastic bands on undergarments, belts
    • Dermatographic: Reaction when skin is scratched (very common)
    • Heat: Reaction to hot food or objects (rare)
    • Solar: Reaction to direct sunlight (rare, though more common in those with fair skin)
    • Vibration: Reaction to vibration (rare)
    • Adrenergic: Reaction to adrenaline / noradrenaline (extremely rare)

For the treatment of urticaria / hives, please refer to

Why am I posting this?  First of, Well, it’s helpful for me to better understand what I am dealing with in order for me to better manage such condition – my condition.   Over-the-counter antihistamines, itch-creams, a bath, cold, and hot compresses sometimes help relieve the itching, temporarily.  Most of the time, they do not help at all.

I had a chronic urticaria, just recently – a 2month old urticaria on my legs (yes I waited almost 9 weeks to consult with a doctor-that was on Aug 21, 2010)  Here’s the medication that I was given to  treat my urticaria and t’was effective, i’d say that:

- Atarax 25 mg. tablet (1 tablet taken every night for 10 days) – this causes drowsiness

- Xyzal 5 mg tablet  (1 tablet taken every morning for 10days)

- combi-derm cream which contains cortisone (steroid) helps relieve the itch

Secondly, my urticaria triggers are sometimes food and the frequent change of season and temperature (hot-then cold-then hot –then cold again).   I have cholinergic, chronic cold urticaria, and delayed pressure urticaria.  How’s that for me avoid to avoid it’s triggers?

-Sharosem (28August2010)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

White Sauce Recipes for Pasta and Soups

Here are the two variations of basic white sauces for pasta that I usually cook.  The first white sauce recipe had already been used in my previous post  My usual "Pasta in white sauce" recipe   the second recipe requires making roux and we can make two variations out of this depending on how thin or thick you want your sauce to be.

You can also use these recipes as base for your soups.

 Here are  my White Sauce Recipes :-)

A- Easy White Sauce


butter or vegetable oil – 2 tbsp

evaporated milk – 250 ml

all purpose cream (heavy cream)- 100 ml

cornstarch -  3tbsp

water  – 1 to 2 cups

salt & pepper to taste

for the cooking instructions, please check my previous post on My usual “Pasta & red meat in white sauce” recipe.

B- White Sauce - Light                                                                 


butter  – 2 tbsp (30 g)                                                               

all-purpose flour - 2 tbsp (30-35 g)                                          

evaporated milk – 2 cups (320 ml)                                          

water - 1  cup (160 ml)                                                                  

nutmeg - 1 pinch                                                                              

salt & pepper to taste                                                                     

C- White Sauce - Thick


butter  – 4 tbsp (60 g)                                                               

all-purpose flour - 4 tbsp (60-70 g)                                          

evaporated milk – 2 cups (320 ml)                                          

water - 1  cup (160 ml)                                                                  

nutmeg - 1 pinch                                                                              

salt & pepper to taste 

Cooking Procedure for recipes B & C

1) Make a roux.  In a low fire, melt butter then stir in flour, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue stirring for 1 minute.

2) Remove the pan from fire. Mix the milk and water and whisk until mixture is homogenous.

3) Heat pan again and cook sauce.  Let it boil until sauce is thick.

Add any meat, poultry, or seafood you wish. Flavor it with any herbs you choose.  The sauce is good for a 400 to 500 grams of pasta noodles.

- Sharosem(28August2010)

My usual "Pasta in white sauce" recipe

A friend of mine (Joan Zablan) sent me an overseas text message (She's in australia right now) asking me about the recipe of carbonara.  I texted her back "carbonara ba o white sauce na lang? Mag white sauce ka na lang mas madali.  Pag carbonara eh raw egg at yung init lang ng noodles ang luluto sa egg."   I think she got my point "mahirap pag carbonara, iba na lang" :D coz she texted back "sige white sauce na lang".

So i texted her the recipe and a detailed cooking instruction for her to follow.  This is my usual pasta with pork/beef in white sauce recipe. It's simple and easy, there's no need to make any roux.  It's a delicious and creamy pasta dish yet it won't easily get you cloyed due to it's garlicky flavor


Pasta noodles  - 400 to 500 g.

Ground pork or beef - 500 g.

mushroom, sliced - 1 tall can

garlic, chopped - 7 to 10 cloves

onion, diced - 1 medium size

bacon, fried and diced - 200 g.  (optional)

butter or vegetable oil - 2 tbsp

evaporated milk - 250 ml

all purpose cream (heavy cream)- 100 ml

cornstarch -  3tbsp

water  - 1 to 2 cups

salt & pepper to taste

Sharon’s Herb Blend to taste

Only use cooking oil without any strong flavor. Butter is better as it's flavor with the milk and cream blends better making the sauce creamier. Olive oil, soya oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, or any other vegetable oil can also be used.

Cooking Procedure:

1) Cook pasta noodles as directed on its package label.

2) Saute garlic in oil until it becomes translucent.  Never ever toast the garlic or leave it long on a hot oil as it will give a bitter and acerbic taste. Add the meat and let it simmer 'till the meat is cooked. Add the onion, herb blend, pepper, and mushroom; continue mixing.

3) Pour the milk, cream, and water on the mixture.  Stir.

4) Dissolve the cornstarch a small amount of cold water then pour it on the mixture. Continue stirring the sauce until it boils and thickens.

5) Add salt.  Add half cup of water if you want a lighter consistency otherwise add more cornstarch (dissolved in water) until you reach the right consistency you prefer.

6) For added flavor, you can put crispy fried bacon, diced.

You can mix the pasta and sauce before you serve or serve them separately. Top it with Parmessan. Enjoy the pasta.

-Sharosem (28August2010)

Sharon’s Herb Blend

Basil leaves                     - 50 g.

Marjoram leaves          - 50 g.

Oregano leaves             - 50 g.

Parsley leaves               - 50 g.

Thyme leaves                - 50 g.

Rosemary leaves          - 50 g.

These leaves should be dried and crushed / ground.   I usually buy them separately and then  mix them all up together (McCormick is my favorite brand of dehydrated herbs and spices – and NO, I’m not plugging).  Just store them in any sealed jar/bottle.  Blending these herbs makes it easier and convenient for use especially when a recipe calls for some Italian flavouring.

- Sharosem (28August2010)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


This is an article I literally took from the internet.  It's about losing body fats.  The title of this is FIGHTING HORMONES WITH HORMONES,  written  by John Romaniello (New York’s Premier Fat Loss Expert and the creator of the Final Phase Fat Loss program)

 Internet  link :

As you may have heard me say before (and if you haven’t, you’re going to hear it now!), when you are breaking through a fat loss plateau or trying to get to the Final Phase of leanness, things get a bit murkier than they do with traditional fat loss.

Rather than dieting excessively in order to create a calorie deficit, we are now looking to enter into energy debt…and we do this with intelligently designed training protocols. That’s because keeping energy intake high ensures that Leptin levels don’t drop and throw another hormonal monkey wrench into the machinery.

You see, when you’re getting very lean or you’ve hit a plateau, fat loss is not just about calories in vs. calories out. It’s about your hormonal environment and the way that affects fat storage, and thereby fat loss.

When you’ve lost the first 20 or 30 or whatever pounds, you’ve lost the “easy” fat. What you’ll notice about your body is that you’re now holding fat specifically in your trouble areas; and those trouble areas are determined by your specific hormonal environment.

It’s not just about energy debt or cardio or to a lesser extent, diet (although all of those things do factor in quite a bit, obviously). When your fat loss has stalled and you’re trying to break through that wall, or when you’re trying to rid yourself of those last stubborn 5-10 pounds, it’s a hormonal battle.


And there is only one way to win: fight hormones with hormones.

So, let’s look at the three specific hormones that cause the most common types of regional fat storage.

1. Estrogen – The female sex hormone responsible for lower body fat storage patterns.

2. Insulin – Or rather, insulin resistance. This nasty little dude heavily influences fat storage in the love handles and lower back area.

3. Cortisol – The appropriately dubbed “stress hormone” is part of the reason you’ve got more flab than ab.

There you have it…those are your enemies!

Now, I want to talk to you about how you can actually increase the production of other hormones through the manipulation of training methods in order to offset the above mentioned “bad” hormones.


Estrogen vs. Testosterone

Now that we’ve established estrogen is the main reason lower body fat storage occurs, we need to know how to work around that.

Well, how else would you combat estrogen but with testosterone?

To put it bluntly, when it comes to fat loss and muscle gain…


Testosterone GOOD – Estrogen BAD

It’s for that reason that professional athletes, bodybuilders, and the juicers down at the Jersey Shore use illicit steroids that are derivatives of testosterone.

Of course, that’s not an option for us – and certainly not desirable.

Instead, we are going to increase testosterone levels naturally; through training. Not only will this increase the net fat-burning effect of all exercises, but more appropriate to our purposes here, it will also facilitate in getting rid of lower body fat.

I should mention something here to alleviate any concerns. It is NOT possible to produce a detrimental amount of testosterone through training. So ladies, you don’t have to worry about any masculinizing effects.

Instead, training produces what we would term a “high” amount of testosterone from a physiological perspective, relative to what your body normally produces. For the guys, this means that such training will help you put on a bit more muscle – just not steroid muscle.

Got it? Okay, moving on.

At this point, I know you’re thinking, “All right Roman, get to the point, what do I do?”

Great question! Well, the answer is Density Training.

Training in a way that seeks to increase training density is one of the best ways to spur your body to produce and release more testosterone, which will (obviously) help you lose that estrogen related fat storage.

Training density can be defined as the amount of work you do in a given amount of time during a training session. So, if you want to increase density, you can…

(1) Do more work (sets, reps, or both) in the same amount of time
(2) Do the same amount of work and decrease the time in which you do it

However, I’ve come up with a method of Density Training that is specific to radical fat loss! This means that not only will you produce the testosterone necessary to mitigate your regional fat issue, but you’ll also lose more fat on the whole.

Pretty cool, eh? So here is how we do it…

As an example, let’s pick 3 exercises: the overhead press, the dumbbell row, and the squat.

Setting these up in a circuit fashion, you perform them one after another with little rest in between.

Sounds like just about any circuit training protocol, right?   WRONG!

Instead of having a set number of reps, we’re going to be performing each of these exercises for TIME – you simply have to do as many as you can in a given time period.

To make it easy, let’s say you did each of the above exercises for 30 seconds. In performing such a circuit, your results might look like this:


Overhead Press – 25 pound dumbbells for 20 reps
DB Row – 40 pound dumbbells for 18 reps
Squat – 100 pound barbell for 22 reps

Not too shabby. Now, HERE is where it gets crazy.

We’re going to take advantage of some cool things that happen in the body; triggers that will make you more efficient and more capable.

So, to do that, we’re going to INCREASE the weight by 10-20% and try to do MORE reps.

Does that seem impossible? It isn’t.

Due to neuromuscular junction and neural activation, in almost ALL cases, you’ll be able to do just that.

Your second attempt at that circuit might look like this:

Overhead Press – 30 pound dumbbells for 23 reps
DB Row – 50 pound dumbbells for 20 reps
Squat – 120 pound barbell for 25 reps

Now, I know you’re having trouble believing that outcome is even possible (much less common), but I implore you, try it for yourself!

Density Training is fun, challenge-based, burns a heck of a lot of fat, and most importantly, is one of the best training modalities around for increasing testosterone production and release. And that’s why training for increased workout density will help you shed stubborn lower body fat AND more fat on the whole.


Insulin Resistance vs. IGF-1

Insulin resistance is combated very nicely by a hormone called IGF-1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor One.

Producing extra IGF-1 via training will help you (and me!) improve insulin sensitivity and begin to rid ourselves of our love handles and lower back fat.

We know that insulin resistance is very common, particular in people who were previously overweight. So, if you have lost some fat and you’re now struggling to lose a bit more (and that fat happens to be in your love handles), I’m willing to bet you’re suffering from some degree of insulin resistance.

In order to get rid of that fat, we need to do fat burning workouts (obviously) and increase insulin sensitivity to the greatest degree that we can. As a result, we need to employ what I call Dynamic Training.

Dynamic Training is pretty much the over-arching concept of how I design fat loss training programs; it consists of using fast-paced movements to teach the body how to move more efficiently.

Because this style of training is extremely expensive in terms of energy (calorie) demand, Dynamic Training is excellent as a general fat loss modality.

Perhaps more importantly however, is the fact that utilizing these types of exercises and setting them up in a non-competing circuit fashion under the Dynamic Training umbrella is an incredible way to produce IGF-1. And doing that is one of the most effective methods to mitigate insulin sensitivity.

Take it from someone who knows!

Nothing is better for combating love handle fat than increasing insulin sensitivity – and like I said, one of the most effective ways to do that is to produce more IGF-1 through Dynamic Training.


Cortisol vs. Growth Hormone

And now we come to our final bout of the evening–the main event, as it were.

We have touched on cortisol a bit, so I won’t rehash that too much. Suffice it to say that the higher your cortisol levels are, the more fat you’re going to be storing on your belly. Given that fact, it stands to reason that if you store fat primarily in the abdominal region, you’re a victim of high cortisol.

Never fear, though: Growth Hormone is here!

Also known as the “Fountain of Youth”, growth hormone is the single most effective compound your body can produce to affect both fat loss and muscle gain. The more of it you produce, the faster you’ll lose fat and build muscle. It’s just as simple as that.

Now, in addition to that awesome little fact, growth hormone is going to whoop cortisol’s butt AND help you burn belly fat.

Also, you’ve probably heard that one of the ways to reduce your cortisol levels is to get more sleep. That’s something you hear on nearly all of the medical TV shows. What you don’t hear is the reason.

You see, sleeping is one of the main ways by which your body produces growth hormone. In other words, while you’re sleeping, it’s your body’s primary opportunity to produce growth hormone. And, as I stated previously, growth hormone is one of the main hormones that reduces the effects of cortisol.

So, sleep more and you’ll produce more GH! Produce more GH and you’ll have less cortisol! Therefore, sleeping more, results in lower cortisol levels. Got it?

Of course, I’m not suggesting you can just sleep your way past a fat loss plateau (although getting more sleep does help). I’m merely illustrating the relationship between cortisol and growth hormone.

Which leads us to the production of growth hormone as it relates to training…

While nearly all forms of exercise produce both growth hormone and cortisol, some types are better than others.

For example, cortisol is heavily produced in long duration cardio sessions. But let’s not do that.

Instead, we’re going to utilize a style of training that produces more growth hormone…Lactic Acid Training (in order to get to the growth hormone, you must first produce lactic acid).

By definition, lactic acid is a by-product of the chemical reactions that take place during exercise. This substance is wildly irritating to the nerves, and your body responds. Think of lactic acid as a type of oil…igniting fires as it flows through you. Your body will put those fires out by dousing them with soothing, cooling growth hormone.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little simplistic with my metaphor, but it gives you a general idea.

In any event, we must structure training to produce the most lactic acid possible. And because lactic acid is primarily produced in the concentric (positive) phase of anaerobic exercise, we will extend that period, and decrease the eccentric period.

What that means is that we lift the weight very, very slowly. And then we lower it very, very quickly so that we can have a fast turn around.

As an example, if you’re doing a squat, you’ll descend to the bottom of the squat very quickly (drop down fast, but still controlling the weight somewhat) and then lift the weight sloooowly, oh so sloooowly – over a period of 4-6 seconds.

This will create tremendous amounts of lactic acid, which will in turn send GH production into overdrive.

Now, I must mention that training in this way necessitates the use of lighter weights than you would normally use on any given exercise. Therefore, if you’re interested in Lactic Acid Training, I suggest you reduce the weight you’d use on any exercise by about 30% in order to be both safe and effective.

With traditional training methods, you’d lift the weight pretty quickly and lower it slowly. Here we’re doing the opposite, in order to produce the most lactic acid possible…which will then lead to a corresponding increase in the production of growth hormone.

This will result in not only reducing cortisol, but also reducing cortisol related fat storage in your belly. And on top of it all, it’s great for fat loss in general!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Coffee-Milo Hot Drink

This is a favorite afternoon snack in the office when I am not on a special diet J (should I have no choice).  A pack of 3 skyflakes goes well along with this hot drink.



Instant coffee, 3 in 1 – 1 sachet

Milo– 5 tsp

Hot water – 1 mug


Mix them all together.


Saturday, 7 August 2010

Buttered Garlic Shrimp II

One of my sister Kristine's favorite I believe aside from lechon, lechon kawali, and ginataan is this dish.  I took 2 tablets of anti-histamine before eating so I was able to enjoy our lunch :-)

This is actually a variation of the buttered Buttered Garlic Shrimps I posted a year ago.  I used sprite in this recipe that adds a striking sweet flavor that blended well with the flavors of the garlic, butter, and shrimp.


Shrimps, washed and cleaned-  500 g.

Garlic, crushed and minced – 10 large cloves

Onion, diced – 1 medium bulb

Butter – 50 g.

Sprite - 1 cup

Salt and ground pepper to taste

Cooking Procedure:

1) In a wok, melt butter and sauté garlic in it until it is aromatic and it is almost translucent in color.  Add the onion and fry it until it is translucent.

2) Stir in the shrimps, salt, and pepper. Stir it continuously until the shrimps turned orange in color.

3) Pour the sprite on the shrimp and let it simmer.

4) Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Vinaigrette Dressing

This is my usual vinaigrette dressing.  The recipe gives the right blend of tartness and sweetness.  Best for raw vegetables like lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers.

My magic ratio for vinaigrette using apple cider vinegar is 1:1, that enables me to remember it whenever and wherever.  Sometimes I use 1:3, that is 1 tbsp vinegar is to 3 tbsp olive oil, if I wanted to reduce the sourness and if sugar or honey is not available or is opted out of the recipe

Raw vegetable salads with this dressings are healthy as compared to mayo or ceasar salad dressings

Here are the recipes:

Basic Recipe 1:

Apple Cider Vinegar  –  5 tbsp

Extra Virgin Olive oil  –  5 tbsp      

Honey or Sugar   – as desired

Salt and pepper – to taste

Chopped garlic as well as herbs can be included for additional flavour.

Recipe 2:

Apple Cider Vinegar / Balsamic Vinegar  –  5 tbsp

Extra Virgin Olive oil  –  15 tbsp      

Salt and pepper – to taste

Herbs – of your preference

Mix all the ingredients well by shaking them in a jar.  Pour the desired amount on the vegetable salad


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Burnt by Dengue

Three years ago my niece Ambrichie Rose (my sister Farah’s daughter) had been struck with dengue and so are many other kids and even adults not only in Tabuk but also in nearby towns/provinces.

It was distressing and agonizing for us to see our angel suffer,  she lost a lot of weight, she was so pale, and truly weak and frail. She lost appetite and she doesn’t even want to drink her milk anymore. She cried (I mean really really really cried) in pain and discomfort.  Who won’t be if your arms and legs and feet are swollen due to the many IVs that had been connected to her since she was hospitalized (minimum of 10 IVs and counting). Richie was hospitalized for more than a week due to her on-and-off high fever and her blood platelets had gone dangerously low.  She had undergone platelet transfusion thrice.  It’s a good thing she was diagnosed of the dengue virus at an early stage.  Thanks to the good doctors from Tabuk and Carrig hospital in Tuguegarao.  It was a miracle and a blessing she survived dengue.  She was only 8 months back then.

My niece Richie. This picture was taken in 2007 during her battle with dengue. She was only 8-month old.

This time, Kalinga province had been once again under the grip of the dengue virus.  Though I’ve no idea as to how many cases of dengue is recorded, but  a friend and highschool batchmate of mine who is a nurse working at the Kalinga provincial hospital confirmed that they’ve been receiving lots of dengue-stricken patients everyday and that the hospital has been crowding due to these cases.

Dengue usually is more prevalent in rural poverty stricken areas where lack of sanitation is a common condition.  But first world countries like Singapore are hit too.  I had my own dengue fever scare last week when the GP doctor I consulted diagnosed me of having a viral fever.  She said if my fever doesn’t improve in a week time or if it worsens then I have to undergo series of lab tests to check if I have dengue fever or not. 

The good thing is that, the Singapore government have responded well to the dengue problem (they take health issues seriously).  They currently have an active nationwide information dessimination campaign using pamphlets, posters, banners, commercials, and a website solely dedicated to the campaign against dengue -  – the campaign aims to generate general awareness among people living in Singapore and educating them  about dengue, what to do when one had contracted the disease,  how to prevent it, and a daily monitoring report of current dengue cases all over the country. 

I hope the Philippines has it’s own similar program too in fighting dengue, educating its 90M (+++) population about dengue, tackling preventive measures and controlling its spread especially in rural areas like Kalinga. 

Singapore PSA on dengue

Dengue is a serious health concern.  It will not only compromise your health, it will also burn you and your family mentally, emotionally and financially.  We’ve been there. 

- Sharosem (02August2010)

PS :   For more information on dengue, check these websites: