Heart-healthy Filipino dishes from 36 culinary trailblazers

Anthologist Jacqueline Chio-Lauri. ‘Filipino food can be as delicious and healthy as we want it to be.’ Courtesy of Jacqueline Chio-Lauri

Why do Filipinos ask, Kumain ka na? (Have you eaten yet?) whenever they meet?

This book, compiled and edited by  UK-based Filipina editor Jacqueline Chio-Lauri, presents the extraordinary food culture of the Philippines in stories and recipes from 36 culinary trailblazers—award-winning chefs, food writers and social media stars from around the globe. They share not just their favorite recipes for classic Philippine dishes like Adobo, Sinigang and Ginataan, but also their personal family stories about what Filipino food culture means to them.

One of the fascinating stories in this book is James Beard 2023 Awardee Margarita Manzke’s where she relates how she discovers the secret to a great life is no different from the secret to a great Adobo, and reveals her recipe for it.

Another is from two-time Michelin Star awardee Roger Asakil Joya who finds a place truly deserving of the much-coveted star and suggests a clean, light, and delicate recipe for Sinigang sour and savory soup.

Not to be missed as well is the story of James Beard semi-finalist Amormia Orino, who moved to Atlanta in 2018 and started hosting Kamayan communal feasts—she shares a heart-wrenching story about her aging mother and her unforgettable recipe for Ginataang Alimasag coconut-stewed crabs.

The New Yorkers among the 36 contributors are James Beard 2023 semi-finalist chef Paolo Mendoza and his wife Cheryl Baun, the owners of Karenderya—a restaurant in Nyack; the co-producer of Filipino Broadway musical “Here Lies Love” and radio food show host “DJ CherishTheLuv” Cynthia Malaran; cookbook author Benedicto Marinas; Chef Joel Javier and his wife Rachel; and Chef Francis Maling.

‘We Cook Filipino’
Compiled and Edited by Jacqueline Chio-Lauri
October 2023
Tuttle Publishing

Along with insightful stories and 51 different recipes, readers will learn many tips and techniques to balance flavor and heart-health in dishes, such as using Filipino cooking methods to achieve bold flavors without adding extra sodium or sugars to your diet, preparing ingredients to retain the maximum amount of heart-healthy nutrients, managing your sodium intake while still using salt to heighten flavor, using heart-healthy tricks—like how to increase nutrient density and reduce the caloric value of a cup of white rice, quick methods for brewing flavorful broths, whipping up no-fry crispy treats, and so much more.

The 51 recipes in this book are not just “from the heart”—they are also “good for the heart”—specifically included for their health benefits. The result is a cookbook presenting food as something central to Filipino culture and one’s personal well-being in addition to being

nutritious and amazingly tasty.

“Heart problems run in my family, in many Filipino families, and in the world at large,” said Chio-Lauri when reached by The FilAm.  “I wanted to create this book to give us a nudge to take care of our hearts and well-being and to show that we can do so without giving up Filipino food. Filipino food can be as delicious and healthy as we want it to be.”

When she was  in Norway she noted  not a lot of Filipino restaurants despite  a big Filipino community. She received  comments like: “Lack of vegetables in the diet, over-salting and over-sweetening.”

“It made me think and do more research,” she said. “It led to a published academic paper in collaboration with Dr. Youssef Roman, et al. from the Virginia Commonwealth University about health disparities among Filipino Americans and this book, ‘We Cook Filipino.’”

There was no short supply of contributors who were eager to participate, she said. “All the contributors wave the Philippine flag wherever they are in the world and whatever it is they do.”

Jacqueline Chio-Lauri (@myfoodbeginnings) is the editor and lead author of the highly acclaimed The New Filipino Kitchen. Keep an eye out for her upcoming picture books based on the lives of Filipino food icons Maria Orosa and Ma Mon Luk.Cristina DC Pastor

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