Nutrition Tips from Francis to Help You with Your Summer Bod!

As the summer season rolls around, achieving your summer body and fitness goals might be difficult with all the temptations lurking around. Not to worry, with these tips you can still stay on track to achieve your fitness and nutritional goals!

11326960_10153097235213052_1205787420_nHello! My name is Francis Tungcol, a fitness enthusiast and personal trainer who just recently graduated with a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Toronto. For as long as I could remember, I have always been passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle. I’m an avid gym goer, dragon boat athlete, and a fitness junkie. I am also an advocate of prescribing exercise and physical activity into one’s daily life as it poses many benefits.

I’m excited to be a guest blogger here, to share my insights on fitness and nutrition. I hope that this post will help you understand the importance of being physically active at the same time give you tips on how to achieve your summer fitness goals through diet and nutrition.

As mentioned, being physically active is beneficial when incorporated into your lifestyle. I enjoy being physically active because I want to reap all the many health benefits it poses. These benefits include: improved physical and mental health, reduced risks of diseases, and increased chances of living longer. Exercise is also a great way to be social. However, exercise is just one part of the equation. Food and nutrition also plays a role.

Food is our source of energy. This energy is broken down into the macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Each serves a function in fuelling our bodies to move. Think of food as gasoline for a car. You have to fill the car with the proper gas in order for it to move and maintain the engine. Thus, food plays an important role in living an active lifestyle. Exercise and proper nutrition goes hand in hand in being physically healthy.

As for my diet, I tend to stick with familiar and staple food items (i.e. Food that are familiar and works well for my body). However, don’t get me wrong, I also like to venture out and try a variety of food. These staple food items include complex carbs and high-quality protein. Proper nutrition and diet allows me to perform in my sports, recover from activities, and fend off illnesses.

As the weather gets better, and we get invited to eat out, barbecues, and food festivals. Here are my tips to keep you on track as you venture out with food this summer.

  • Eat Complex Carbs

Complex carbs such as vegetables, brown rice, beans, and whole-wheat products are highly nutritious, contains lots of fiber and limits insulin response.

  • Eat High-Quality Protein

High protein diet helps maintain and/or builds muscle mass. High-quality protein sources mainly come from animal sources such as eggs, chicken, fish, and beef.

  • Stay Hydrated

Drink adequate amounts of water. Limit sugary drinks such as pop, juice, and sports drinks. Tea and coffee can be consumed moderately as they pose health benefits.

  • Portions

Eat a well-balanced diet and control your portions to prevent over-consumption and excess caloric intake. Consume the amount of calories needed to support your lifestyle.

  • Variety

Variety is the spice of life! Eat a variety of food sources from all the food groups. Remember different foods provide different types and amounts of nutrients.

  • Moderation

At the end of the day, everything comes down to moderation. Eat until you are satisfied and satiated instead of over-consuming and starving yourself.

By no means am I an expert nutritionist and a dietitian. These are my tips and recommendation on how to stay on track to accomplish your fitness goals or to change your diet. I hope these tips are helpful and enjoy your summer of food!

-Francis Tungcol


11268341_10153097234563052_1148100425_nThank you Francis for your tips! I have exciting news everyone! Francis has a Youtube channel for those interested in getting more fitness and exercise tips AND he has been chosen to represent Canada in the U24 Open and Mix National Dragon Boat Team to compete at the 2015 IDBF World Nationals Championships in Welland, Ontario this August! If you can, please help out Francis get to World by following the link below. Thank you so much for your consideration! Let’s help another great athlete reach his dreams!




Turon: Deconstruction of the roll.

Growing up in two different parts of the world, I’ve always thought of reconfiguring this popular Filipino treat. Turons are made of a particular kind of bananas called saba bananas and lanka or jack fruit, then wrapped around a sheet of spring roll wrapper before fried. A generous coating for sugar or brown sugar is sprinkled soon after the rolls are taken out of the pan. These banana rolls are something you can eat sitting down perhaps with a bowl of ice cream or walking around similar to street food.

Let me just talk about the saba bananas quickly. I’ve tried using regular bananas, plantains, and of course saba bananas for the roll just to change it up a bit. But, there is nothing like sticking to the traditional ingredients. The regular bananas would get too mushy once they’ve been fried despite of being wrapped while the saba bananas are able to hold there shape. Admittedly, the plantains are an okay substitute if you can’t find any saba bananas around (you can purchase them like regular bananas in tropical countries or at a Chinese grocery store in a pack frozen) because they also hold their shape if there aren’t too ripe and are relatively sweet. Although, there is a subtle difference in taste, particularly sweetness between the saba bananas and plantains. The heat brings out the sweetness in both cases but you don’t get a more banana flavour equivalent to the authentic taste of a turon. For me that was important; I didn’t want to take away from that taste because it was something nostalgic and comforting. Living half of my life at the Philippines, the joyous childhood memories I had growing up there is something I can repeatedly duplicate through taste. That’s what makes that subtle taste significant in this dish.

It’s easy to make ingredient substitutions but in the process you may lose something so integral about a dish that it becomes unrecognizable. So instead, I decided to compose a reconfiguration of this dish while upholding its cultural and personal integrity; it may not look like the same dish but the spirit of it is one and the same.


I used the same ingredients that would compose a turon before frying it and added a little bit more decadence to it. First and foremost, it is NOT a roll. I didn’t really like that when you eat turons in a roll the wrapper something doesn’t get crispy enough all the way inside, I thought there should be a textural contrast. So, I took the wrapper laid it flat on a baking sheet and let it crisp up in a 375 F oven for 4-5 mins (depending on your oven; for even crisping place the baking sheet at the bottom rack closest to the heat source). Also, sometimes the banana and jack fruit inside could get a little dry and so I took some butter and sautéd the bananas and jack fruit in it until it starts to soften. Once it has started to soften, I added some brown (2/3 cup) and white (1/3 cup) sugar, cinnamon (1/2 tsp.), pinch of salt and a dash of cocoa powder. Keep sautéing as it caramelizes. When you see that the bananas and jack fruit are caramelized add a splash of some almond milk (or cream or milk; I only had almond milk at the time so I just used it). You’ll see it start to bubble up and develop a caramel as it continues to heat up. Make sure that the bananas and jack fruit pieces are well coated by the caramel. This eliminates having dry banana and jack fruit pieces while the caramel coating adds a little sweetness and lush. Now take those spring roll sheets that crisped up in the oven and break them apart in pieces with your clean hands. Sprinkle them on top of the bananas and jack fruit pieces. I sprinkled some cocoa powder and powdered sugar in top but really that’s just to make it look pretty. You could do without it.

When you’ve finished making the dish, make sure that your first bite has all the components. It delivers that similar crunch (if not more) as you would get having it fried while the banana-jack fruit infused caramel elevates the existing flavours of the banana and jack fruit pieces. But you know what the best part is? Aside from licking your spoon because the caramel is just that good… this dish, among many others I will soon enough share, is a collaboration of the East and West; Eastern ingredients meets Western culinary techniques. It’s my past and present in one bite. It’s a glimpse of myself.

Ottawa weekend!

Fruits, fruits, and more fruits!
Fruits, fruits, and more fruits!

Between school and work, taking some time off to visit some awesome friends was definitely much needed. We had some delicious food and strolled around the infamous Byward Market located at the heart of downtown Ottawa. I didn’t quite appreciate all the things that the city had to offer when I lived there over 2 years ago, but I’m glad that I did this time around. These pictures only give a glimpse of some of the things you can experience visiting Ottawa; I concentrated more towards really absorbing the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables sold every summer time at the Byward Market as well as dining in some restaurants.

Visiting the market was great, especially meeting the local farmers and speaking to them about their products. Particularly, when we were in the hunt for sweet strawberries (for a recipe I’ll post later on) one of farmers had some green gooseberries. I’ve had some gooseberries before but there were a light orange colour and usually enveloped inside some leaves, similar to tomatillos. These gooseberries were green, and perhaps he took off the leaves from the fruit itself, the taste was different from regular gooseberries. They were sweeter rather than tart and citrusy. Most of all, I could really feel the excitement in his voice when he was telling us about these green little berries. He had so much passion about the product he’s selling. Often, that is exactly what we miss when products are mass produced and sold commercially. The interaction that you have with the product’s maker gives you comfort in knowing that if he/she takes pride into his/her product then it is a product of quality. Although, that is not to say that you can’t have good quality produce in commercialized grocery stores, because you can. Some people would say that those produce have been grown with some added chemicals and whatnot and perhaps they have been (I’m sure there are a bunch of documentaries you could watch about this around). For me, it’s the pride. These farmers have pride because they know that they’ve taken care of their products the same way they’ve been doing so for decades. That, to me, is the difference.