According to award-winning cookbook author Grace “Grace O” Ouano, people should learn how to eat healthy when they reach the age of 40.
She learned this from her father, who was a doctor.
“Actually, my dad taught me that at the age of 40, because our cells no longer rejuvenate, you have to stop eating a lot of meat, but more vegetables and fish. You can do a little tasting of the good food, but you cannot eat things that you’re not supposed to eat, like food that are high in fructose,” she said during the recent Philippine launch of her cookbook at The City Club in Makati City.
The launch was also a tasting benefit for Bright Halls Foundation. Book sales went directly to the foundation, a non-profit organization that helps abandoned infants.
Ouano is a Filipino-American based in California. She and her husband run several skilled nursing facilities in the state and created “FoodTrients,” a website and a series of cookbooks promoting healthy recipes.
Her latest project, “The Age Beautifully Cookbook: Easy and Exotic Longevity Secrets from Around the World,” bagged the Best in the World Award for Innovation in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards last year.
It also won gold in the specialty cookbook category of the Independent Publishers Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in the 2017 International Book Awards under the international cookbook category.
Born in Malate and raised in the US, Ouano combined her love for cooking and eating healthy into a passion for promoting nutritious eats, using Filipino ingredients she grew up with.
She got her inspiration from her parents – her father was a physician while her mother was a culinary teacher.
Through her books, Ouano introduced traditional healthy Filipino ingredients to the US and globally.
“My father being a doctor, I learned how to live a long life and at the same time, eating well. We incorporated good food—not diet food—in our diet, using herbs, spices, and ingredients that that prevent diseases,” she said.
Ouano started creating her own healthy recipes 10 years ago when a magazine in Los Angeles asked her to write a column about cooking healthy dishes.
She accumulated several recipes and compiled them into her first book, “FoodTrients” – now published as “The Age Gracefully Cookbook” by New York-based Skyhorse Publishing.
Her recipes are not considered diet food, but rather nutritionist-approved healthy eats.
Ouano specifically created healthy recipes without sacrificing taste, focusing on ingredients that are rich in specific nutrients like the Philippines’ own malunggay or moringa leaves.
FoodTrients classifies ingredients into eight categories: Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Disease Prevention, Immunity Booster, Mind, Beauty, Strength, and Weight Loss. Ouano provides more detailed information in each of her recipes, which responds to one or multiple categories.
For instance, the Ashitaba Potato Salad categorized under Disease Prevention and Strength uses ashitaba leaves – these are rich in vitamin B12 that is beneficial for the heart and the brain. It also has antibacterial properties, while potatoes are rich in potassium.
Another is the Chicken Curry with Moringa categorized under Anti-Inflammatory and Mind. The dish uses curry powder that contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Moringa, of course, is rich in vitamin c, calcium, and potassium.
Other nutrient-rich ingredients featured in the “Age Beautifully” cookbook include quail, rambutan, mangosteen, and annatto, to name a few.
“I got inspired to more research herbs and spices around the world that we feed our body and prevent diseases. I finished it in six months. All recipes are easy to prepare because it’s really for the working class, only three or four steps,” Ouano said.