The USDA draws up a list of healthy foods for Americans in their nationwide campaign for proper food portioning, MyPlate. Filipinos can learn from the concept of visually dividing the plate in order to know how to properly balance the different food groups, too. Just take a look at this list of what’s indigenous and available—and the rest comes easy. Enjoy your menu-planning!
- Flower vegetables. Cauliflower, kakawati, katuray, puso ng saging, and bulaklak ng kalabasa are good sources of carotene, vitamin A, and calcium.
- Leafy vegetables. The leaves of ampalaya, kamote, upo, kamotengkahoy, kinchay, sayote, malunggay, saluyot, siling labuyo, gabi, kangkong, papaya, and alugbati contain iron and calcium.
- Root vegetables. Root vegetables like kamote, cassava, gabi, potato, and yam are good sources of carbohydrates because they are used by the plant as storage of food and nutrients. Other root vegetables like ginger, onion, and garlic are not as hefty, but contain anti-irritant and medicinal properties.
- Seaweeds. Indigenous seaweeds like pokpoklo, kawkawayan, and kulot are a good source of iodine.
- Citrus fruits. Dayap, dalandan, ponkan, kiatkiat, and other types of oranges are good sources of vitamin C.
- Beta-carotene fruits. Any orange-colored fruit, such as papaya and squash, is a good source of beta-carotene.
- Potassium fruits. Banana, kiwi, and strawberries contain potassium, which is good for the heart.
- Vegetable fruits. Common vegetable fruits include ampalaya, eggplant, cucumber, okra, tomato. They contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts. Tree nuts like pili and kasuy are good sources of vitamin E.
- Legumes. Peanuts, beans, soy, munggo, and other legumes are good sources of protein.
- Beef. Beef can be prepared in many ways, and the most common preps for sandwiches are roast beef and hamburger. While the fat in beef is marbled in with the meat, it’s still deemed healthier than pork because cows eat only grass.
- Poultry. Chicken and eggs provide a simpler kind of protein than beef and pork. The free range variety is the healthier option. For lean meat, choose chicken breast.
- Pork. This is the meat that almost all the favorites—chops, barbecue, chicharon, lechon, liempo—are made of. Pork without the layer of fat can be considered lean meat.
- Fish and seafood. An even simpler protein than poultry, fish and other seafood like shrimp, shellfish, and crabs provide other essential nutrients like calcium and iodine.
- Soy proteins. Anything made of soybeans is a good source of protein: taho, tofu, soy milk, and bean curds are just some of the ways to enjoy it.
- Cereal. Corn, oats, barley, wheat, and rice are all cereals. Rice is perhaps the most widely consumed grain in the country—it seems a typical Filipino meal is incomplete without it.
- Bread. Milled grain (usually wheat or corn) is baked into bread. The bread with the higher fiber content is those made with whole grain.
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. Milk is the original state of the foodstuff, produced by cows, carabaos, or goats. Cheese is made by separating the curds and whey of the milk and then turning the solids into cheese. Yogurt is milk soured by live bacteria. They provide probiotics to the body.