Putting a Healthy Spin on Traditional Filipino Foods

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There is absolutely no denying that a typical Filipino Food diet consists of some of the most delicious dishes to be found anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, these foods are often not as nutritious as they are delicious.

According to a study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), most Filipinos follow diets that are very rich in rice and protein but lacking the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

Luckily all hope is not lost as it is not difficult to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy dishes.

It is also easy to make a diet significantly healthier simply by simply changing some of your ingredients and adapting your cooking methods accordingly.

Putting a Healthy Spin on Traditional Filipino Foods

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Healthy Filipino Foods to try this Year

One of the healthiest dishes that often feature at mealtime in the Philippines is Ensaladang Talong, a fragrant eggplant salad that is often served as an accompaniment to grilled meat.

Not only is eggplant filled with Fiber, Vitamins C and B6, and Potassium but the additional hot peppers, garlic, onions, and tomatoes giving the dish an even bigger nutritional boost.

Another popular nutritional dish is Pinakbet, a wholesome stew made with bitter melon, okra, squash, and tomatoes which is typically served alongside fish or pork.

Other beneficial dishes include Laing (a dish prepared from dried taro leaves), and Gising-Gising (a spicy dish made with green beans, coconut milk, and chilis).

As delicious as they may be, Lechon Cebu, Lumpiang, and Pancit Canton are not the most nutritious food options and should best be consumed in moderation.

Healthy Food Preparation tips:

Although traditional Filipino Foods does not often involve deep frying, Western influences have slowly found their way into many kitchens in the Philippines.

In order to regulate cholesterol levels and promote heart health, it is important to steer clear of frying and use a steamer, grill or toaster oven instead that is not only convenient to use but will also allow you to prepare your food oil-free.

If a recipe does call for oil, opt for olive, coconut or canola oil instead of regular vegetable oil that is typically dangerously high in saturated fats.

Healthy Ingredients to cook with:

Although a typical Filipino Foods / Recipes is often filled with ingredients such as soy sauce and oils that are not necessarily healthy, there are also a number of wholesome ingredients that can be added to your dishes to give them a welcome nutritional boost.

Garlic is one such a healthy ingredient that features often in traditional Filipino cooking.

Apart from adding delicious flavor and aroma to nearly any dish, it is also a powerful immune booster that is known to reduce inflammation as well.

Calamansi, a sour, citrus-like fruit, contains high levels of Vitamin C which are known to give the immune system a considerable boost.

The juice of the fruit is not only delicious to drink but can readily be used in sauces and marinades as well.

Coconut is King

Coconut, in all its wonderful forms, is often used in cooking and baking in the Philippines.

Coconut vinegar, which has similar nutritional benefits to apple cider vinegar, can be used in marinades, dipping sauces, and dressing.

Potassium-rich coconut water is often served chilled as a refreshing drink but can also be used as a soup base and to make icy sorbets.

Coconut milk and cream are healthy, vegan substitutes for dairy products, are filled with vitamins, iron, calcium phosphorus, and magnesium and are extremely versatile.

Coconut oil is also liberally used especially in baking and can also lend a healthy and aromatic twist to a regular stir-fry.

Putting a Healthy Spin on Traditional Filipino Foods

Always make Healthy Foods choices

A lot of Filipino Foods, such as soy sauce, is known to be very high in sodium which can result in an increased risk of heart disease and stroke if consumed over an extended period of time.

Instead of using copious amounts of shrimp paste and soy sauce to flavor food, make your own unique, healthy spice blends, and use low-sodium broths as a base for your dishes.

Switch to low-fat or coconut milk instead of using heavy cream in soups and sauces and use whole wheat, soba, or buckwheat noodles instead of the regular variety.

Try to use fresh ingredients as much as possible, avoiding processed foods as much as possible.

Food is a very important part of Filipino culture.

Luckily a few easy adaptations can make traditional food significantly healthier, reducing the negative effect long-term, high-volume consumption may have on the body.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.