The Philippines is a country best known for its beautiful beaches and, of course, boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Notwithstanding exotic dishes like balut (duck embryo boiled alive and eaten in the shell), this tropical country of over 7,000 islands also has quite a menu of dishes that are extremely healthy and tasty! What a lot of folks don’t know is the country’s fertile agricultural land is the very best in the world. And being surrounded by all that water makes tasty and nutritious seafood easy to come by.
Here are 15 Filipino foods guaranteed to make you healthy and your taste buds happy!
1. Ginataang Gulay. This vegetable dish has all: healthy shrimp, string beans and squash in coconut milk. Preparation is easy: sauté ingredients together, add coconut milk. Enjoy.
2. Kinilaw. This is the Filipino version of Japan’s sushi. Locals use tangigue or other fresh fish for this recipe. Vinegar, chili and ginger are used to dress the fish and voila! Dig in!
3. Taho. Popular for breakfast, this sweet and creamy concoction is sold on the streets in the Philippines by vendors calling “Ta-ho!” Warm soybean custard is mixed with sago pearls and topped with caramelized brown sugar. And it rocks!!
4. Tinola. Fresh fish or chicken, onions, tomatoes, tamarind, salt and pepper make this simple broth so healthy and yummy to the taste. In some islands, vegetables like malunggay and alugbati are added which make it even better.
5. Laing. Popular in Bicol, laing is taro leaves cooked in thick coconut milk, with meat and chili added for a hotter taste. It tastes perfect with steamed rice. And beer.
6. Pinakbet. In Ilocos, this is the specialty. Okra, bitter gourd, squash, tomatoes are cooked in bagoong which can either be fish paste or shrimp paste. It’s cheap, easy to cook and nutritious. And it’s SOOO good!!!
7. Lumpiang Ubod. This spring roll version has coconut fruit, coconut leaves and coconut pith or ubod. It also contains shrimp, pork and onions and is served with sweet garlic-sprinkled sauce.
8. Champorado. Served hot, “chocolate rice” porridge is filling and makes for an awesome breakfast. Milk and sugar make champorado very sweet and creamy. In some areas, it is eaten with dried fish to balance the sweetness but for the sweet tooth, champorado is on its own is heaven on earth. And I love it!!
9. Halo-Halo. In the summer, this sweet and delicious treat helps Filipinos cope with the scorching heat. This fruit mix (halo-halo is literally translated as mix-mix in Filipino) is composed of shaved ice, gulaman, ube, leche flan, milk, garbanzos beans, ube, langka, banana, sago and topped with ube or vanilla ice cream or both. It’s a treat to see, and of course, even better to eat!
10. Banana Cue. So maybe the sugar content is way too much to call this street food healthy, but hey, it’s still banana! Once you’ve started eating banana cue, one stick won’t be enough. The recipe is also done with camote or sweet potato…
11. Bibingka. The Filipino version of rice cakes, the batter is composed of rice soaked overnight, coconut milk and sugar. Best eaten hot!
12. Suman. Also called budbod in some places, this is sticky rice, flavored with chocolate in some places, are steamed in banana leaves. They are very filling and are best for breakfast or snacks, especially when paired with tsokolate, a native chocolate drink and ripe mangoes.
13. Puto Bumbong. At Christmas time, Filipinos partake of these small and filling elongated desserts cooked in bamboo tubes right after attending Simbang Gabi or the dawn mass leading to Christmas Day. Puto bumbong is served with butter, grated coconut and brown sugar. Sounds healthy, right? It is!!
14. Buko Pie. A specialty of Laguna province, buko pie is pie filled with coconut meat. Not only is this sweet pie good for dessert, it’s also good for the body.
15. Sinigang. This sour-tasting stew is a combination of seafoods like fish and prawns and tamarind fruit, kamias, tomatoes and various vegetables. Instead of seafood, pork or beef may also be used. Best served hot, of course, and eaten with rice.
Some Westerners get the impression that Filipino food is oily and unhealthy and gross. All of these assumptions could not be FARTHER from the truth! So many Filipino dishes are super-healthy and taste so wonderful. Remember: eating is BETTER in the Philippines!