Healthy food options for noche buena


Posted at Dec 07 2010 12:31 AM | Updated as of Dec 07 2010 10:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Some 40,000 people in the country get sick after the Christmas festivities as they eat a lot of sweet, salty and fatty foods such as candy canes, ham and crab fat.

These patients usually suffer from high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among others, reported ABS-CBN's weekend health program Salamat Dok.

On top of these dishes are leftovers which are just as sinful such as the gravy-laden lechon paksiw (roast pig stewed in its own liver sauce).

Indeed, it's hard to skip these delectable treats during the holidays. There's a way, however, to make them healthier, according to nutritionist-dietician Joy Wilwayco.

On Salamat Dok, she suggested the following ways to make typical noche buena dishes better for the body, with the help of Banquet chef Christopher Balane:


Healthy food options for noche buena 2Kare-kare, or a peanut-based stew with meat and vegetables, is a staple in many households during noche buena for its rich and unique flavor.

It is, however, usually oily, especially when ox tail or beef is used.

Make kare-kare a bit healthier by using lots of vegetables and lean meat or ox tripe, which are less in oil and fat. When eating this dish, don't pour the peanut sauce on rice -- only 2 to 3 tablespoons of it will do.


Healthy food options for noche buena 3Most people think that they're eating healthy if salads are a part of their diet. That's not necessarily true, however.

If a salad is loaded with mayonnaise, pasta and bacon, among others, chances are it's just as unhealthy as the other dishes.

For a genuinely nutritious treat, use lettuce (the darker in color, the better) and other organic vegetables. For dressing, prepare a simple vinaigrette, which includes oil, vinegar and some spices.


Healthy food options for noche buena 4Make seafood more interesting  for kids by adding them to puttanesca (an Italian pasta dish) or paella, a Spanish rice dish.

Stay away from aligue (crab fat) and shrimp heads, as these are high in cholesterol. White meat from crab and shrimp, as well as fish, squid and other shellfish, won't bring too much of a health risk.

It's best to steam or grill seafood with vegetables to get the most nutrition, as compared to frying, which involves a lot of oil.

Meat dishes

Healthy food options for noche buena 5Just like seafood, meat is most nutritious when grilled or steamed.

Barbecue pork on sticks is commonly served on noche buena as it is easy to prepare and is loved by kids and adults alike. To make this dish healthier, remove the fat and burnt parts.

Also, make it a point to serve fruits (preferably fresh) and vegetables with every dish.