Six Filipino dishes that won’t make you feel guilty this holiday season

By Ea Francisco

Christmas is near, and we all know what that means: veering away from your diet and making questionable food decisions you’ll probably regret come New Year. It doesn’t have to go down that way, though. Even traditional Filipino Noche Buena fare can still be healthy.


Lumpiang sariwa

If you’re looking for a light snack or appetizer, have lumpiang sariwa. Compared with the usual ubod and toge, it’s made fresh (like the name implies) with no preservatives. The egg wrapper is pretty low on calories and since there’s no frying, it has less fat than, say, lumpiang shanghai. Instead of the usual salads, which people may or may not even touch, this can be your way of sneaking in vegetables while still having a classic Filipino feel.

Rellenong bangus

They say that making relleno is no easy task, which is why it’s usually saved for special occasions. It’s kind of like the Filipino equivalent of stuffed turkey. Except instead of turkey, it’s stuffed fish, and the inside is more fish but with other vegetables too, like peas and carrots. Relleno is often made with pork, but the more health conscious people would go for one that’s purely fish.


This traditional Filipino dish is one that you can definitely have for a healthy Noche Buena. While this peanut stew is often made with a lot of meat, you can easily modify it to make it healthier. You can add in extra veggies and use ox tripe or tuwalya instead of the normal cuts of meat. Actually, you can even opt to have no meat at all if your diet requires it or use meat alternatives.

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Kare Kare For this recipe I use del monte kare kare ready mix powder Ingredients: Pork ribs (you can use pork pata, I don't eat taba thats why I prefer ribs) Pechay Eggplant Long Banana Heart String beans Kare kare mix Peanut butter (if desired) Instructions: 1. Boil pork on 3 cups water until tender. Set aside the broth and mix it with the kare kare powder 2. Saute pork in garlic and onion. 3. Add the mixed powder and broth 4. Simmer for 10 mins stirring occasionally or until the meat is cooked 5. Add the eggplant, string beans and banana heart. Wait till the vegetables are cooked. 6. Add the pechay. Cover. Wait till cooked. Serve! #karekarerecipe #recipe #filipinofood #karekare #foodbeast #xfoodbeastx #foodporn #ulam #yummy #delicious

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Roasted chicken and barbecue

Now, having a healthier Noche Buena doesn’t necessarily mean having no meat, but you can go for ones that aren’t as fatty. Usually, we get things like lechon kawali or crispy pata, but it’s cooked with a lot of oil and fat that’ll give you high cholesterol if you don’t watch yourself. What you can have instead is roasted and grilled meat. At least here, the fat drips off when you grill and roast and not absorb it. White meat is generally preferred over red. With barbecue, you can have the option of leaving out the fat that’s usually added at the end.

Seafood paella

What’s a Filipino celebration without rice? You don’t have to settle for plain rice this season either. Paella usually has lots of different kinds of meat, but it can also hold a lot of vegetables. Seafood has more healthy fats, and you get a lot more variety too. You can even, sort of, trick yourself into eating less rice by putting a lot of shellfish. Mussels, shrimps, and clams take up a lot more space than sliced meat, so normal portion sizes can actually have less rice in them.

Fruit salad

For dessert, there’s always fruit salad. Though sometimes, it can end up having way too much sugar to be healthy. To make sure you don’t go overboard, try not to add too much cream and sweetened milk. It’s best if you cut back on the cheese and macaroni if you’re the type who normally puts those in.

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Festive Fruit Salad with Orange-Maple-Vanilla Syrup Recipe courtesy of Diggy Simmons and Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons Total Time: 35 min Prep: 30 min |Inactive Prep: — |Cook: 5 min Level:Easy Yield:6 servings INGREDIENTS ORANGE-MAPLE-VANILLA SYRUP: 3/4 cup orange juice 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped FESTIVE FRUIT SALAD: 2 seedless clementines, peeled and segmented 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced 2 mangoes, peeled and cubed 1 bunch seedless grapes, halved 1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, segmented and cut into bite-size pieces 1 cup pomegranate seeds DIRECTIONS For the orange-maple-vanilla syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water with the orange juice, maple syrup and vanilla seeds. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let cool. (The syrup will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.) For the festive fruit salad: combine the clementines, kiwis, mangoes, grapes, grapefruit and pomegranate seeds in a big bowl. Add orange-maple-vanilla syrup to taste, and toss well. © Recipe courtesy of Diggy Simmons and Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons Printed on December 17, 2016 from #DiggySimmons #revrunshappyholidays #RevRun #revwon #whatveganseat #revrunssundaysuppers #CookingChannel #JosephSimmons #FestiveFruitSalad #fruitsaladrecipe #saladrecipe #OrangeMapleVanillaSyrup #sidedishrecipe #17December2016 #duronchavisinspired Inspired by @leslieconn

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One thing you have to remember this holiday season that it’s all about portion control. You can choose not to consider these and go with your usual preparations as long as you don’t overeat. It’s a time that you can forget your diet just a little, but make sure you’re not eating like it’s your last holiday.

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