MANILA, April 25, 2005
(STAR) KITCHEN SPY By Heidi Ng - Rachel and Barney Alejandro turn heads wherever they go. With their tanned skin and toned bodies, it is hard not to notice them. The sisters make you feel like you really want to go on a diet after seeing them. However, they are quick to point out that the bodies they have now are products of changing lifestyle habits, instead of just doing fad diets.

In fact, Barney says she used to be 20 pounds overweight, and would nag her friend’s mom why she was so thin and sexy. She later learned that her friend’s mother was a vegetarian and did yoga. Not quite ready to shun meat from her life, Barney then turned to making lifestyle changes that resulted in her desirable body. Both she and celebrity sister Rachel have turned to eating and cooking low-fat dishes. They now buy wheat bread instead of the usual white; they avoid using refined or white flour; and they use olive oil on their bread.

They say, "It is all about choosing the right foods. Let’s say instead of using ricotta cheese, we just use 98 percent fat-free cottage cheese. We eat brown rice and we have learned to substitute bad ingredients with healthy ones."

Incidentally, it was the sexy mother of Barney’s friend that inspired her to change her eating habits. She gave Barney a cookbook and a spice rack as a gift that really inspired her to cook, since she already had her first tools. And Rachel encouraged Barney by buying her more cookbooks, so she could cook healthy dishes for them. After that, more people learned that Barney could cook healthy dishes and started asking her to cook and deliver food to them. Thus, their catering business started to take off.

They do the cooking and delivering to people who want a healthier alternative to homestyle cooking. They also cater to people with food allergies. They are even working on producing a fat-free dessert line. It’s like sort of saying that you can now have your cake and eat it, too! Their specialties include meatballs made with low-fat cheese, and stuffed green bell peppers with melted cheese. Now, they are sharing with Philippine STAR readers their delicious recipes for Japanese sukiyaki and Chicken Capri.

When Rachel leaves for Alaska and Europe soon for a concert tour for The Filipino Channel, her sister Barney will be running the catering business with the help of the many cookbooks Rachel gave her for inspiration.

She now finds her newfound passion more fulfilling than her comfortable former job as a preschool teacher. Rachel encouraged her to go back to school, leave her comfort zone, and make a sacrifice. The sisters both love the movie Million Dollar Baby because it tells people to put their selves out there and that you have to sacrifice to get what you want. "Never settle" is the sisters’ mantra.

Moreover, the play Rent influenced them both with its inspiring message of going for what you want and living life to the hilt because, as the cliché goes, life is too short. Barney is going full blast with their catering business, while Rachel will be having a series of concerts in the States and Europe with dad Hajji Alejandro, going around provincial tours with Ogie Alcasid, following up her demo album and shopping around for a record label in the States.

While working on their business, Barney still finds time to go salsa dancing with her boyfriend, take belly dancing lessons and play badminton. Surely, these women know how to work hard and play hard, too. Isn’t that what life is all about?


1.5 kg beef, sukiyaki cut

leeks, 1-inch slices of white and green parts

1 head Baguio pechay

1 box tofu, cubed

For the sauce:

10 cups beef broth, made with 10 cups water and five beef cubes

1-2/3 cups Kikkoman sauce

1-1/4 cups mirin

1-1/4 cups sugar

Sauté beef and leeks in canola oil and set aside. Combine all sauce ingredients in a pot and add the pechay. Heat the sauce until pechay is cooked. Add the beef, leeks, and cubed tofu. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chicken Capri

20 chicken breasts, big-sized

2-1/2 cups reduced-fat cottage cheese

1 liter tomato sauce

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 cups grated reduced-fat cheese



2-1/2 tsps. oregano

3/4 tsp. salt and pepper, each

garlic powder

Process cottage cheese with oregano, salt and pepper, and set aside. Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides. Place on a Pyrex dish. Pour cottage cheese mixture on top.

For the sauce, sauté onion and garlic. Add tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken. Top with grated cheese. Bake on gas six for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Serves 10.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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