By Sierra Borlongan
“Wala munang diet-diet!” “Next year na ko magpapaka-healthy!” “Tis the season to be eat happy!” With all the reunions, parties, and get-togethers during the holidays, it has become so easy to prioritize yummy over healthy. But while the season is oh-so-conducive to non-stop nomming, it’s also important to nourish our bodies with nutritious food. And because we know how challenging that could be, FOOD Magazine partnered with Arla to bring you FOOD Tastings: Healthy Eats, an exciting half-day event filled with fun and fabulous cooking lessons and demos.
[related: Cheat Sheet: These Recipes From "FOOD Tastings: Holiday Feast" Will Amp Up Your Noche Buena Spread]
Its roster of amazing chefs taught us a lot about creating delicious but nutritious dishes. Below, we whipped up a list of the lessons we learned:
1. Include milk and dairy in your daily diet. Our bodies need calcium, proteins, and vitamin B to strengthen our bones, boost our energy, and keep our systems running during the holidays. A delicious glass of Arla’s chocolate or strawberry milk goodness will give you all of that! Not a milk-drinker? No worries. Simply incorporate dairy into your dishes. Chef Portia Baluyut, host of Lifestyle TV’s A Pinch of Portia, showed us how to make her signature Arla Vegetable and Noodle Soup using milk, cheese, and Italian sausages. It’s healthy, it’s hearty—and it’s the perfect dish for the cold December weather.
2. Experiment with new flavors. Healthy doesn’t always equate with boring! Try your hand at exploring new flavors, ingredients, and recipes. Celebrity chef Sandy Daza, host of Lifestyle TV's FoodPrints, believes that “the more exposed you are to different flavors, the wider your taste vocabulary becomes.” And indeed, Chef Sandy exposed our palates to his unique creamy seafood soup—the Lapu-Lapu Dagorno with Arla butter and cream. Who knew a dish this healthy could be so darn delicious?
3. Fruits and veggies are your merienda BFFs. We know, we know—you’re tired of being reminded to eat your greens to “go, grow, and glow.” But think of fruits and veggies as Mother Nature’s year-long aguinaldo for us! They not only keep us filled in between meals, they also give us all the vitamins and minerals we need. The Raw Yogini chef Sonia Astudillo walked us through the benefits of a plant-based diet, and even taught us her special recipe: The Vegetable Delight Wasabi Dip. Just imagine the explosion of flavors in your mouth with every crunchy and healthy bite.
4. Add superfoods to your meals. For extra health boosts during your Christmas break, treat your family to dishes with superfoods! Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that are packed with polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. And Carmela Cancio of The Superfood Grocer showed us a quick and easy way to incorporate these in your diet. She blended bananas, pineapples, kangkong, camote tops, maca root powder, spirulina, flaxseed, camu camu berry and moringa and made us taste her Supercharging Green Smoothie. It’s so easy and fun to make. And trust us—you will feel yourself feeling cleansed and energized with every sip!
5. Store up on healthy home-cooked meals. Planning your meals ahead can cut your hangry moments and lessen your binge-eating. Cook and freeze your way to a healthier you! Prepare creamy soups (a la Chef Portia), dips (a la chef Sonia) and other meals. Portion them in freezer-friendly boxes and store them in your fridge. And when hunger hits, all you need is to pop a box into the microwave or warm its contents in a pan. And voila: Delicious, no-stress goodness!
6. Rethink healthy. Most importantly, we learned that having the right information and ingredients can empower you to level up your eating. You don’t need to resign yourself to eating unexciting, un-appetizing food in the name of wellness. By rethinking nourishment, you can eat healthily and enjoy every bite—you can bet this will be our new motto for 2017!
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FOOD Tastings: Healthy Eats is the third in a four-part series of fun-filled cooking classes created by FOOD Magazine. This event was co-presented by Arla, with official media partners NoInk and ABS-CBN Lifestyle. For more information, follow FoodMag and ArlaPH on Facebook.