Filipino Recipes for the Weight-Conscious


We’ve always been known for our love of food, but for most people, that hearty appetite comes at a price. With our increasingly hectic lifestyles, there’s hardly any time to exercise or get fit. Add to that the fact that Filipino cuisine tends to be high in fat and calories. Yes, it’s great food, but you have to admit it’s not exactly healthy.

But before ditching that adobo or taking out those South Beach cookbooks, here’s some good news: there is such a thing as low-fat Filipino food. In fact, you can make any dish diet-friendly with just a few simple tweaks"without giving up any of the flavor. If all that eating is taking a toll on your waist, start eating healthier with these tips and low-fat Filipino food recipes.

1. Make substitutions

One of the secrets to low-fat cooking is replacing common ingredients with low-fat alternatives. Start with your oil: most people use regular cooking oil, which is made from animal fat and very high in cholesterol. Use vegetable-based oils such as corn, canola, sunflower, or if you can afford it, olive oil. When making salads, replace mayonnaise with mustard or vinaigrette, and use fresh instead of canned ingredients.

A common problem with substitution is that they don’t always work. You can’t expect them to taste the same as the original, but they don’t have to taste bad. It takes some practice and experience to know which ingredients will work together and which ones will not. Feel free to experiment"you’ll learn from your mistakes and get the hang of it in no time.

Fish is a favorite replacement for meat dishes. Try this low-fat recipe in place of steak and meat chops.

Grilled Tuna Steak

Ingredients:

4-6 fresh tuna steaks

1 bottle of Italian dressing

¾ tsp salt

pepper to taste

Arrange the tuna in a large baking dish. Coat each steak with the Italian dressing and cover the pan. Marinate refrigerated for a few hours or overnight. Grill or broil the steaks until done (when the flesh flakes off easily). Season with salt and pepper before serving.

2. Always go fresh

You don’t have to give up dessert altogether if you’re watching your weight. Just choose the right desserts"avoid those rice cakes and creamy salads they serve at parties. Instead, use fresh fruits to make your own Filipino desserts recipes. For a little variety, try some of our native fruits such as lanzones, durian and langka. Mix your favorite fruits together and you’ve got a nice low-fat salad, perfect for those cravings in between meals.

Remember to get your fruits and vegetables fresh. It’s very tempting to get canned or pre-packed food, but those tend to be high in calories and packed with preservatives, not to mention overpriced. Get your fruits and vegetables whole and slice them up yourself. That way, you can control your serving portions and cut them any way you like.
This is great if you like to make quick salads and sandwiches.

3. Grill what you can fry

Most Filipino recipes involve deep frying, sautéing, or other methods that involve cooking in fat. Most of the time, you can do without the frying and use healthier cooking methods. Try grilling pork chops or chicken instead of frying. It helps preserve the flavor and gives a rich, smoky aroma. It also sheds some of the fat off the meat, whereas frying seals it in and makes it even fattier.

Explore other cooking methods as well. Steaming, broiling, and poaching are all excellent methods for low-fat cooking. Their main advantage is that you can cook your food more evenly, a common challenge in frying. If you’re new to the kitchen and don’t know how to experiment, just look for Filipino cooking recipes that you can prepare without the oil.

4. Watch your portions

The reason some diets fail is that the serving portions are bigger than recommended. People tend to overeat when they know their food is low-fat. Don’t follow the recommended portions of Filipino food recipes. If the recipe says it serves 6 people, it often means tiny servings that don’t even feed half a person. Read the nutritional information on your food labels; their serving sizes are usually more accurate. you don’t have to count each calorie every time you cook, but you should have a general idea of each ingredient’s nutritional value. If the dish already has meat or something heavy, balance it out with lighter ingredients such as leafy greens.

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About The Author, Carlo Villamayor
Carlo Villamayor is the owner and co-author of the Filipino food blog, Kusina.ph. A devoted cook, he makes it his personal mission to spread the joy of Filipino recipes with food lovers the world over. Bon appetit!