Did you know that some of your family's everyday ulam to cook at home actually has the stamp-of-approval from the Department of Health (DOH) as the healthiest Pinoy dishes? Put emphasis on the “some” because as Harrel Wong, RND, wrote on Health Promo, the DOH official's blog, “The common Filipino diet is disproportionate and is heavy with fatty meat and sweets which lacks essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs to properly function.”
But it’s not all bad! Quite a number of popular (and delicious!) Pinoy dishes are also packed to the brim with nutrients. Here are 10 of the top healthiest, according to the DOH:
1. Sinigang na Isda
One of the most beloved Pinoy soup dishes no doubt is the sinigang. Instead of going for pork, however, choose fish for the meat. You can go with bangus, maya-maya, salmon and lapu-lapu. “The fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids while the kangkong provides decent amounts of vitamins A and C,” says Wong. Whip up this Sinigang sa Miso recipe made with bangus from Yummy.ph.
“Pinakbet offers several types of vegetables in a single delicious dish,” says Wong. Usually made with bagoong isda with the option of adding pork, pinakbet contains vegetables like eggplant, ampalaya, kalabasa, okra and string beans. Whatever the combination, the dish is generally high in fiber and vitamin A. Yummy.ph has a great recipe for pinakbethere.
If you’re pregnant, you might know folate from being one of the supplements your doctor has prescribed you. According to Wong, “Folate is essential in the production of red blood cells.” The body can’t produce folic acid on its own and must get it from the food we eat. And, luckily, sayote, a vegetable in tinolang manok, is rich in folic acid. It also has malunggay leaves, which is known to boost the milk supply of lactating moms (see more nutrition facts below). Cook tinolang manok with this recipe from Yummy.ph.
Pop quiz: What’s the Philippine national vegetable? It’s malunggay! Not only is it touted as the breastfeeding mom’s best friend, it’s also super nutritious. Malunggay leaves are rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, iron and magnesium. Malunggay leaves can be prepared in a variety of ways and can be used as substitute for spinach. Try this Malunggay and Corn Soup recipe from Yummy.ph.
5. Lumpiang Ubod
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A roll of lumpiang ubod is all about fresh vegetables! Slices of ubod, carrot, spring onions, singkamas and lettuce enclosed in an egg wrapper makes for a dish that’s high in vitamin A, which strengthens the immune system and promotes eye health. Try Yummy.ph’s take on the dish with this recipe that adds chopped green onions to the lumpia batter.
6. Ginisang Munggo
Best served on a Friday per Filipino custom, this dish is prepared using munggo beans and ampalaya leaves. “This tasty dish is packed with folate, thiamine, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus – all of which are needed for the human body to properly function,” says Wong. The ampalaya leaves can also be substituted with malunggay leaves. Looking for other munggo recipes? Check out this Munggo Rice recipe from Yummy.ph.
The main ingredient in a plate of spicy laing is taro or gabi leaves. This dark green, leafy vegetable is rich in vitamin A and C, and iron. Wong says the marriage of spicy and creamy coconut milk is perfect with rice, but he also reminds Pinoys to watch their portions. Yummy.ph puts a twist on this dish with their Laing Pasta with Grilled Prawns recipe here. Trying it out for the first time? The basic laing recipe can be found here.
8. Ginisang Sitaw
Add color to your meal and prepare this dish made with vibrant kalabasa and sitaw. They provide good amounts of fiber and vitamin C, says Wong. It’s also the perfect side dish to fish in our opinion. Find a recipe for it here at Yummy.ph.
9. Gising Gising
Few Pinoy dishes can wake you up faster than Gising Gising (contenders would be Bicol Express and laing). Creamy and hot at the same time, gising gising makes for an excellent source of vitamins B6, C, K, manganese, zinc and fiber, thanks to the green beans. Coconut milk provides the creaminess and iron. Put a twist to this dish by going for Yummy.ph’s Green Curry Gising Gising recipe here.
10. Ensaladang Talong
Filipinos have different varieties of ensalada. There’s one with manga, togue, lato and many others. Made with talong (eggplant), you get a dish that’s rich in B vitamins and manganese. The fresh tomato, on the other hand, provides vitamin C and lycopene. See more ensalada recipes here.