By Noel Le, RDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Food can boldly be declared as the single greatest unifier across cultures.
Beyond survival and physical health, food is a means of identity, community,
pleasure, and even our humanity. In short, food feeds the soul. The food
culture of the Philippines best embodies this, with traditional foods
inspired by ingredients and flavors from many cultures, including Chinese,
Spanish, and American. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, feed
your soul by exploring new flavors and foods from Filipino cuisine.
In a country that’s made up of more than 7,500 islands, traditional
Filipino food varies widely from region to region. While recipes may vary,
certain ingredients remain consistent throughout. Some of the most common
ingredients that help shape the flavors of Filipino food culture are bay
leaves, garlic, tamarind, and lemongrass. The health benefits of garlic
are well known, from improving blood pressure, to boosting the immune
system, to performing as a powerful antioxidant that helps battle free
radicals in the body. Although not immediately thought of for their health
benefits, bay leaves also act as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory
properties, while lemongrass strengthens the immune system, has antibacterial
capabilities, and acts as a detoxifier.
Adobo, often referred to as the national dish of the Philippines, is both
a style of preparation and the name of a dish. It is one of the most widely
known foods in Filipino cuisine. Unique differences of the dish by region,
province, city, or even the cook, result from the Philippines’ own
ocean-to-farm-to-table foodways. The following recipe channels the dish’s
traditional flavors of bright vinegar and dark soy, and features nutrient-dense
eggplant. Eggplant has an abundance of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants
that support overall health. Additional health benefits include a reduced
risk of heart disease, protection against cancer, and benefits to cognitive
function. As with most dishes in the Philippines, it’s tradition
to enjoy this with a serving of steamed rice—make it brown rice
to add a boost of dietary fiber to your meal.
Adobong Talong (Eggplant Adobo)
Try the following dish to not only reap the health benefits, but also experience
the rich flavor of eggplants in a Filipino way. You will be pleasantly
surprised by this delicious vegetarian dish.
- 4 medium Asian eggplants (1" dice)
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 large white onion (1” dice)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- ½ tbsp. cracked peppercorn
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup achiote squash (1” dice)
¼ cup soy sauce lite
(try liquid aminos for a lower sodium alternative)
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
Garnish: Green onions, Asian cut
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté
- Add diced onions and cook until translucent following up with peppercorn
and bay leaves into the same pan.
- Lower heat to medium then add water and bring to a strong simmer.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt and sugar to the pan.
- Next add the achiote squash and eggplant and lower heat to a slow simmer.
Cook until tender while still maintaining a firm appearance.
Serve over steamed brown rice (optional:
garnish with green onions).
Serving: 1 serving without rice (total 4 servings) | Calories: 164.3 kcals | Carbohydrates:
7.3 g | Fiber: 2.7 g
Food & Nutrition Services Department Recipe Courtesy of Clinical Dietitian
Noel Le, RDN
If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to
help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered
Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office
or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial
Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.