4 Basic Ingredients For Healthy Filipino Meals At Home

4 Basic Ingredients For Healthy Filipino Meals At Home

Arm yourself with four basic ingredients and easy to make Filipino recipes while keeping healthy at home

Good health starts right in the kitchen. And more so now, with a global health crisis caused by the coronavirus, we have to arm ourselves with healthy dishes to defend against this pandemic. Here are four basic ingredients that do wonders for your immunity and health, together with easy to make recipes that you can try out while keeping safe social distance at home.

1. Moringa: The Miracle Leaf for Salads and Stews

Ever heard of the miracle tree? Well, moringa or malunggay is truly a wonder-thing. First found in the cold Himalayan hilltops, this tree has since been cultivated across Africa and India for its powerful superfood benefits. Its leaves are usually used as is or grounded into a green powder. Sometimes people replace spinach with moringa leaves, or it's simply tossed into salads. For this recipe, I used roughly a cup of its leaves into a beautiful Filipino squash stew, or Ginataang Kalabasa, an all-time favorite of mine, ever since I was a kid! One thing, I usually cook the kalabasa (squash) until it’s mushy- it creates this wonderful fusion of textures, and sweet, intense flavours when the kalabasa and coconut milk simmers into a thick gooey sauce.

How To Make Ginataang Kalabasa (Squash Stew) 

Cook and Prep: 20 mins ; Serves: 5-6 pax


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 whole onion, minced
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb ginger, minced
  • 600g kalabasa (squash), cut into cubes
  • 200g sitaw (green string beans)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 5 cups water
  • fish sauce to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 cup moringa or malunggay leaves

First, heat oil in a pan, then sauté onions and garlic until aromatic. Next, add kalabasa (squash) and cook for about 5 mins. Then, add 5 cups of water and simmer and pour in coconut milk and continue to simmer for about 3 mins. Add sitaw (green string beans) and simmer for about 2 mins. Now, turn off the heat and add malunggay (moringa). Cover for about a min. Finally, season and dig in.

2. Eggplant: A Rich Purple Antioxidant-Boosting Veggie That’s So Versatile

The deep vibrant purple, sometimes almost black hue of eggplants are incredibly rich in antioxidant properties, particularly the kind that’s shown to prevent cell damage, especially in the brain. Another thing I love about this vegetable is that it makes for an addictively quick salad. This Ensaladang Talong recipe, or Filipino Eggplant Salad is so versatile, you can make it on the fly, and serve as a side or an appetite-inducing appetiser before your meal.

How To Make Ensaladang Talong (Eggplant Salad) 

Cook and Prep: Under 10 mins ; Serves: 3-5 pax


  • 5 whole eggplants
  • 3 tbsp calamansi juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 pc siling labuyo (chilli padi)
  • 2 pcs tomatoes
  • 2 whole red onions
  • 3 pcs spring onions
  • 10g cilantro leaves

To begin, heat the grill and poke holes into eggplants with a fork. Next, grill until skin is charred. After removing the skin, use a fork to flatten the eggplants. Next, mix fish sauce, calamansi, vinegar, honey, and siling labuyo (chilli padi). Last, drizzle eggplants with dressing and garnish. 

3. Tomato: Lycopene-Essential Sweet Tangy Fruit

This Filipino Beef Pochero, or Beef Stew is my mother’s go-to dish, and this soupy, saucy tomato-y stew takes me right back to childhood. The essential health benefit in this recipe is lycopene, the brilliant reddish hue you see in tomato, watermelons, and pink grapefruit. The powerful antioxidant has been shown to reduce cancer-risk and more by preventing cell damage, so try out this pretty awesome beef stew recipe with tarty tomato sauce balanced by slight sweetness from bananas. Yum!

How To Make Beef Pochero (Beef Stew)

Cook and Prep: 50 mins ; Serves: 3-5 pax


  • 500g beef short ribs
  • 1/2pc cabbage
  • 1 whole white onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 1 whole potato, cut into cubes
  • 3 whole banana, sliced
  • 2 pcs chorizo bilbao, chopped
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 450ml tomato sauce
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

First, you'll heat oil in a pot and sear the beef until it browns. Set it aside. Next, sauté the chorizo for about 3 mins. Now, put the onion, garlic in and sauté and put the beef back in together with tomato sauce. Then, pour in water and simmer until tender. Put in potatoes, bananas, and chickpeas and simmer for about 5 mins. Finally, add bok choy and you're done!

4. Bell Peppers: One of The Best Sources of Vitamin C

Whether red, yellow or green, bell peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C that come from food, providing over 160% of your suggested daily vitamin C requirement. And the best part? It leaves a slight peppery, fresh taste in any dish. In this Filipino Creamy Pineapple Chicken Stew recipe, or Pininyahang Manok, it’s a much-needed balance to the all-over creaminess of evaporated milk. But be warned, there’s a fair amount of pineapples which not everyone’s a fan of. I love it though, as the pineapples really cuts through the heavy-ness of this stew.

How To Make Pininyahang Manok (Creamy Chicken Pineapple Stew)

Cook and Prep: 1h ; Serves: 3-5 pax


  • 1kg chicken, leg-thigh (boneless)
  • 3 whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 whole carrot, chopped
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 125ml evaporated milk
  • 3 tbs garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • 1 whole green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 whole red bell pepper, chopped
  • 100g cashew nuts, toasted

First, marinate chicken in pineapple juice from the can for 30 mins. Then, heat oil in a pan, sauté onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Add in chicken and cook until brown. Now, pour in pineapple juice and evaporated milk. Simmer. When the chicken is about done, add in pineapple chunks and carrots. Simmer until the carrots are tender. Toss in bell peppers, cashew nuts. Drizzle over fish sauce, enjoy.

Anton Amoncio is a Filipino chef and restaurateur. Back in 2016, he won then Asian Food Channel's Food Hero Competition. Follow his culinary adventures on all socials @antonamoncio

  • All health content on asianfoodnetwork.com is provided for general information only, and not intended as medical advice to diagnose, treat or cure. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. 
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