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7 Healthy Filipino Dishes for Everyday Ulam

7 Healthy Filipino Dishes for Everyday Ulam
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You can make your favorite Filipino dishes lighter with a few tweaks.

Do you want to eat more wholesome meals? Go for easy recipes with classic, close-to-home flavors. You’ll feel more motivated to stick to your meal plan if every bite is pure comfort. Traditional Filipino dishes may be typically indulgent, but several lighter options can be just as satisfying. Plus, you can easily adjust your favorites to be more nutrient-focused!

From national treasures like sinigang to regional delights like laing and gising-gising, you’re spoiled for choice with healthy local eats. Lucky you!

7 Veggie-Filled Filipino Dishes for Easy, Nutritious Meals

Preparing your meals ahead makes it easier to eat healthy on busy days.

Get into the habit of eating healthy, balanced meals even on your busiest days. One foolproof way to make it happen? Cook your ulam ahead! Take a few hours out of your weekend to prepare nutritious food for the whole week. Whenever lunchtime rolls around, you can take out a serving, pop it in the microwave, and serve it with rice. It’ll take five minutes, tops.

Start with this list of Filipino dishes. Each one is meatless (except for fish!), packed with veggies, and easy to cook in big batches. Tip: if you’re saving portions for later in the week, freeze them instead so they can keep for longer.

1.Adobong sitaw

Mix different veggies to make a vibrant vegetable adobo.

Globally recognized as a top 10 Filipino dish, adobo is known for its unique balance of sweet, savory, and sour. It’s also iconic for how succulent the pork and/or chicken become after stewing. But you can easily make it with veggies instead, like kangkong or sitaw, without missing out on those familiar flavors.

2.Sinigang na bangus

Sinigang has many similarities to the extra sour paksiw.

Sinigang is another comforting ulam that Pinoys will never get tired of eating, especially during chilly months. Go for bangus or tilapia instead of fatty pork for a lighter, pescatarian-friendly take. The best thing about sinigang? It’s loaded with veggies in various textures, like okra, radish, and kangkong. The unique mouthfeel makes eating it even more exciting.

3.Gising-gising

For gising-gising, you can add as much chili as you can handle.

Gising-gising comes from the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Pampanga. Its name translates to “wake up” (twice!), which alludes to how spicy it can be. This recipe uses Knorr Ginataang Gulay Mix instead of coconut milk, which adds plenty of flavor on top of creaminess. It also calls for tinapa to give the dish a smoky quality. Skip it if you’d like a purely vegetarian wake-up call.

4. Meatless monggo

Ginisang monggo is a terrific side dish for fried mains, like tilapia.

Ginisang monggo is a hearty stew you’ll always want to save room in your tummy for. On top of that, it’s as affordable as it gets for Filipino lunch dishes. Enjoy it as soup for a quick merienda or with rice for a satisfying meal. Third option: have it as a side dish with all your lunches, so you’re guaranteed to get your fill of veggies throughout the week.

5.Pinakbet

Cook your pinakbet until the sauce reduces.

Did you know that pinakbet is an indigenous Filipino vegetable dish? It originated in the Ilocos region, and its name derives from the Ilocano term for “shriveled.” This dish combines local vegetables like ampalaya, kalabasa, and sitaw, and uses umami-rich bagoong as the main flavoring. It’s a tasty way to round out your diet with all the Bahay Kubo veggies.

6. Vegetable kare-kare

The name “kare-kare” derives from curry since both have a thick sauce.

Traditional kare-kare features oxtail, beef tripe, pork hocks, and other not-so-staple cuts. You can easily make a simplified version with just the essential veggies. Banana hearts and eggplants add a meaty texture without actual meat! Let them stew in a thick peanut sauce until tender, and you’ll have an authentic-tasting kare-kare ready in under an hour.

7. Laing

Laing is a coconut milk-based dish made with taro leaves and chilies.

Filipinos use up every edible part of the taro plant in their cooking. While others prioritize the starchy corms for crispy fritters and fries, locals have made delicacies using the leaves. Laing (aka pinangat) from Bicol is one notable example. The leaves simmer in a simple but ultra-flavorful mixture of coconut milk, chilies, and bagoong. You can add crispy pork to finish it off, but it’s just as good without. Top with fresh siling labuyo if you’re feeling fiery.

These Filipino dishes prove that healthy versions of your local favorites can taste just like home, too. Add these recipes to your meal plan and get on track to a more balanced diet.

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