1. Eat more oatmeal
Just get the day started right with oatmeal. If you’re sick of oatmeal prepared sweet with fruits, nuts, and syrups, ditch the sugar and go for something savory. Why not bacon, eggs, and cheese oatmeal? Just boil oats until tender, or for about eight minutes, and then mix with eggs poached to your desired consistency, mix in grated Parmesan cheese, and then top with bacon, shaved cheese, and eggs.
2. Learn more about adobo
Filipino cuisine has been listed among Bloomberg’s “11 Fancy Food Trends You’ll Face in 2017,” in which it wrote that there would be “an explosion of Filipino food” this year. Get ready to make the best out of your family’s version of adobo. Research on how it is cooked in your province or the province your family hails from. Does it have coconut water and coconut meat added to the mix, which is a culinary quirk of adobo from Southern Luzon? Or turmeric to give it some kick like Cavite’s adobo sa dilaw? Or without any soy sauce, which makes it adobong puti, a Visayan version? For all you know, if only you could identify the secret ingredient, your great-lola’s recipe can produce the protential winner in the Battle of Adobos that the many Philippine islands are likely to wage against each other in search of the adobo that should represent the nation.
3. Be a foodie explorer
Stop sticking to your comfort food and favorite meals and start having taste something new. Out-of-world restaurants are popping up in Manila. On Maginhawa Street alone in Quezon City lies one satisfying food adventure. So set aside the pizza, chocolate, ice cream, or steak and try the sili ice cream at Colonial Grill Tagaytay or the fried frog legs at Estero, Binondo. In a 2017 food forecast on Bloomberg, high-tech cocktails are emerging, along with the “fast-foodization” of cereal and the dominance of meat and artisanal butcher shops. It has been predicted that naan pizza, a reinterpretation of the leavened, oven-baked flatbread found in Central and South Asian cuisine, will also be among the favorites this year, according to Bloomberg’s predictions.
4. Take less caffeine
Too much coffee, though it instantly wakes you up and energizes you for the day, is not good for you. Too much caffeine in your system and that means five cups or more in a day does increase your heartbeat, gives you the jitters, causes palpitations, gastrointestinal disturbance, dehydration, insomnia, even a headache. If you get any of these symptoms, you probably are getting an excess of 500 mg of caffeine daily. Instead of coffee, try alternatives like Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, green tea, or jasmine tea—or just hot water.
5. Appreciate and indulge more in food free of gluten, sugar, and dairy
Whether you were diagnosed with celiac disease, looking to start eating clean, or just wanting to try something new, snack on food products that are free of gluten, sugar, and dairy and are in fact pretty delicious. It’s not as horribly depriving as you think, and definitely not as stringent as going full vegan. There are a ton of cafes and restaurants serving desserts free of sugar, gluten, and dairy like cookies, cakes, muffins, of all flavors imaginable. There are even more recipes available on the internet that you can easily try at home. And before you can say it’s too much hassle to bake your own muffin for breakfast, a fruit smoothie doused with unsweetened almond milk and coconut water is delish and healthy, too.
6. Recognize the beauty and versatility of adlay
It is safe to say that 2016 was the year of adlay, a grain that abundantly grows in the Philippines, a healthy alternative to rice. The Department of Agriculture has been working tirelessly for the past years to promote adlay as not just a rice alternative but a staple food, especially when El Niño hit the country hard last year. And now, adlay has finally gone mainstream as vegan restaurants and cafes are now using them in salads and in main dishes. Other adlay products now available in the market are adlay breakfast cereal, adlay wine, polvoron, puto, champorado, coffee, among many others.
7. Support international food events staged in Manila
For Manila to be considered a real culinary destination in the level of Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, we must strongly support international events that aim to gather the crème de la crème of the world’s F&B industry.
This year, the Madrid Fusion returns from April 6 to 8 to welcome the biggest players in the dining scene. With the theme “Toward a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet,” this year’s Fusion will host superstars Rodrigo de la Calle and Regis Marcon, as well as Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas of El Celler de can Roca (3 Michelin stars, and number two in the World’s Best 50 Restaurants). Other major food events in Manila include IFEX, WOFEX, and various culinary tourism expositions.
8. Go out of your way to taste something different
To the Cordilleras for pinikpikan, to Batangas for pakaskas, to Bulacan for puto, to Ilocos for poqui poqui, to Leyte for lechon—imagine planning a trip that revolves—and is centered around—food! If you’ve always traveled the country for beaches and festivals, maybe it’s time to pick a place based on a food you fancy. This 2017 is the year for the ultimate food trip.
9. Eat more fruits
With the sheer abundance and availability of both native and imported fruits in the Philippines, it would be a sin—and a folly—not to take advantage. The country has some of the world’s most exotic fruits, from rambutan and durian, and the world lines up at our doorstep to buy our bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and papayas. Just recently, Russia committed to buy $2.5 billion worth of our fruits and vegetables. Here, fruits are available all year round. We have suha, duhat, kamias, and other citrusy fruits this season; dalandan, papaya, and watermelon throughout the year; lanzones for the rainy days. We’ll never get bored, too. The regions each can boast of its special harvest. Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas and Zambales in Luzon for the best mangoes; durian in Davao and Negros; the oranges of Nueva Vizcaya and Batangas. It’s a luxury few places in the world can enjoy, plus it’s healthy and looks colorful on Instagram. #winwin
10. Eat well at home
More and more, as our lives get busier, Filipinos tend to pick up on the American style of eating: Grabbing breakfast at a fastfood joint, a hurried lunch, and dinner while stuck in gridlock on our way home. At home, we rarely eat well when not expecting company. Gone are the days parents labored over the stove. Now, ready-to-eat meals and frozen food make up most of our meals. This year, bring back the joy of leisurely eating. Walk to the supermarket to get fresh ingredients. Top off a nice meal with a piece of dark chocolate (and not 10 Snickers bars). Enjoy your dinner of steak with a glass of red. You don’t have to eat out to eat well. When you cherish your meal times, eating becomes a real pleasure.