While many beauty queens choose to shift to acting or modeling when their reigns end, one opted to instead rule the kitchen.
Instead of gracing Filipinos' TV screens, 1985 Bb. Pilipinas-International Sabrina Artadi decided to take a less beaten path and master the culinary arts instead.
"I got myself into so much trouble. To deal with my stress and my problems, I started cooking," said the 51-year-old Artadi, a self-taught cook.
Her efforts to rise from her personal difficulties through cooking has now eventually led to the launch of her "Sabrina's Kitchen" YouTube Channel and website.
DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
Living in a foreign country with her husband and two kids, Artadi described her younger self as a "damsel in distress." It was cooking, she said, that drew her back from the brink of depression.
"We have so many things to worry about. But when you go to the kitchen and you start chopping, sautéing, tapos ang mga amoy nandiyan na...you feel like everything is going to be okay," she said.
Her worries disappeared one by one, she said, with every bulb of onion she chopped, every chunk of meat she sliced, and every handful of spice she discovered.
Thanks to cooking and the support of her children, Artadi was better able to deal with challenges.
"You realize your strength when there are children depending on you. You just do it, and pass with flying colors," she said.
SPICING UP HER LIFE
Artadi lived in the Middle East for two years. It was during this time that her taste buds were exposed to different spices and their corresponding flavors.
"I fell in love with Middle Eastern food...That's when I realized the power of spices. Iyong ingredients mo parepareho--may chicken, may fish, may pork anywhere in the world. Ang pagkaka-iba ay iyong spices," she said.
However, while she loves to explore different flavors, Artadi said she prefers spices rather than MSG (monosodium glutamate), an ingredient that is widely used in Asian cuisine, because of its possibly harmful effects on health.
She recommends the use of spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, rosemary, parsley, cumin, and lemons, which have properties that can promote good health.
"This is the key to health...Just listen to your body, and you will know what it needs," she said.
Healthy food after all, is more accessible than many might think.
Sometimes the healthiest finds can be found in public markets, sold by organic farmers who don't use pesticides and fertilizers, and not specialized stores in air conditioned malls, she said.
Organic meat and produce are actually accessible because they are available in markets and supermarkets, and come from local farms.
Spices and flavorings are also easy to find, she said.
Different spices, even those that are not native to the Philippines, can be found locally and can contribute a lot to different dishes.
She uses her cooking demos to introduce the audience to different spices, which she puts in a variety of dishes from entrees to iced tea.
GOING BEYOND THE KITCHEN
When asked to describe herself, Artadi said: "I'm just a mom who loves to cook."
The success of "Sabrina's Kitchen" enabled Artadi to bring cooking and mothering to the streets, particularly in the slums of Metro Manila.
"One day, I realized that I'm feeding the rich, and I see a lot of people on the streets who have no food and not enough nutrition," she said.
According to Artadi, street kids are also very picky when it comes to food. Most of them hate vegetables. "Nakalimutan na rin nilang kumain ng gulay. Kapag nakita nilang green, ayaw nila. Gusto nila naka-box, naka-can, naka-pack."
It has become her vision to bring healthy food to the streets via a weekly feeding program at the Missionaries of The Poor in Santa Ana, Manila.
Dubbed "Super Caldo Sundays," Artadi's soup kitchen aims to empower children through good nutrition from healthy food. She has been doing this for five years now.
Some of the kids that Artadi met during her first year with the institution are now employable. Now, she's very active in building bridges between the kids and prospective employers. "We need to stop the cycle of poverty by presenting them with opportunities," she emphasized.
Apart from her "Super Caldo Sundays," Artadi is also partnering with local institutions in Bukidnon to feature the lush farming industry in Mindanao. Through her website and YouTube channel, she will feature some of Bukidnon's most promising local produce like the Adlai grains, a gluten-free, high-protein rice substitute.
To support and learn more about Artadi's advocacy, visit her website. You will also find interesting, easy-peasy recipes on her YouTube Channel, Facebook Page, Instagram, and Twitter.
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