Filipino Flavors | Torrance Memorial

Published on February 21, 2022

Filipino Flavors

Filipino flag

By Maggie O’Meara, MS

Filipino cuisine is often described as a balance between three primary flavors: salty, sweet, and sour. This flavor profile, with its mix of Asian and Western influences, carries much history, variety, and ingredients unique to the country. One way to create healthy habits is to appreciate worldly heritage and embrace cultural foods and seasonings. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, get to know Filipino cuisine by understanding and experiencing its indigenous flavors and traditions.

Rice is considered the ultimate staple in Filipino food. When enjoying this grain, consider choosing brown over white rice to obtain additional fiber with the power to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Aside from rice, most Filipino meals contain a source of protein (often chicken, pork, fish, or seafood) and are enhanced by different spice-packed sauces and marinades to make for a delicious cultural meal.

Spices not only provide strong flavor and aroma but also offer a variety of nutrients and related health benefits. For example, Filipino cuisine often uses Bawang (garlic) which provides manganese, vitamin B6, and selenium. In addition, garlic improves immunity, supports heart health, and even protects brain health. Another common spice used in Filipino soups and stews is Luya (ginger) which provides a pleasant acidity that balances the richness of many dishes. Ginger contains vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium along with anti-inflammatory compounds to aid in pain relief as well as nausea.

Our recipe this week is Pinakbet Stew which features the highlighted spices, garlic and ginger, to enhance flavor and yield many nutritional benefits. This plant-based recipe incorporates garbanzo beans as a high-fiber protein source and ample vegetables for a filling and delectable meal. Enjoy this healthful recipe with family, friends, or coworkers to get the most out of this tasty Filipino dish!

Save the Date!

Join us for a free LIVE virtual cooking class on March 24 at 5pm where Torrance Memorial’s Executive Chef Sam Sellona will teach you to cook a healthy, tasty recipe from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Be sure to obtain ingredients prior to event. Spice packets and recipe cards available for purchase at TMMC cafes.

Zoom Link

Pinakbet Stew

Pinakbet StewServings: Approximately 4 servings (1.25 cups)


  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, and minced
  • 2-inch nub ginger root, sliced thin
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 pinches sea salt
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas (no salt added), drained and rinsed
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 8-10 pieces okra, ends and tops trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh spinach


  1. Heat medium-sized pan over medium heat. When pan is hot enough, add canola oil.
  2. Add garlic and ginger. Sauté until fragrant. Follow with onions until softened and translucent. Sprinkle in sea salt.
  3. Add butternut squash, water, and tomato sauce. Fold in garbanzo beans. Cover pan and simmer until squash has softened.
  4. Add eggplant, zucchini, and okra. Mix well and simmer until eggplant has softened.
  5. Add spinach and cook until leaves wilt.
  6. Turn off heat and serve hot, ideally with brown rice on the side.

If you 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 to schedule a consultation! Located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707. Visit our Nutrition Blog for our monthly recipes and posts: