Indigenous vegetables

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FILIPINOS usually use, mix, and cook indigenous vegetables in various methods and call them in different terminologies.

Most often, Filipinos cook vegetables through sautéing (gisa), boiling, or cooked with coconut milk (gata).

Around the country, there are similarities among the dishes that are served at home, in canteens or restaurants.

For example, “dinengdeng” and “law-uy” are two dishes of Ilocano and Visayan origin, respectively.

However, both include several leafy and fruit vegetables as ingredients, cooked by boiling and without the use of cooking oil.

For the dinengdeng, leafy vegetables like saluyot, ampalaya leaves, squash flower, string beans tops, and malunggay, among others, are mixed together.

Grilled fish is commonly added and fish paste (bagoong) is used to enhance the flavor of the dish.

As for the law-uy, leafy and fruit vegetables like okra, eggplant, alugbati, and kangkong, among others, are mixed, and fish and salt are often added to enhance the taste.

Sautéing is a popular method of cooking among the Tagalog people in preparing vegetables.

Vegetables such as upo, sitaw, kalabasa, puso ng saging, and sayote, among others are often sautéed.

These vegetables are cooked in a small portion of oil with garlic and a small amount of meat, shrimp or small fish then seasoned with salt or fish sauce to taste.

Vegetables cooked with coconut milk are more commonly prepared by the Bicolano and Visayan people.

Among the examples of vegetables cooked in coconut milk include gabi for laing, and nangka.

Ginataang nangka is sometimes called salad na nangka by the Visayans.

Another common method of cooking vegetables is by adding scrambled egg, like in tortang talong and ampalaya.

But sad to say, Filipinos, in general, are not meeting the required intake of vegetables in their diet.

Based on the latest National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, vegetable intake constitutes only about 12.8 percent of the total food intake, compared to 12.5 percent in 2003.

Vegetables are needed for proper regulation of body processes. They are rich sources of several vitamins and minerals.

Green leafy vegetables like kangkong, camote tops, malunggay, gabi, ampalaya, and others are rich sources of beta-carotene, iron, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium, and other minerals.

While yellow vegetables such as squash, carrots, and tomatoes are also rich in beta-carotene.

Vegetables are also rich in dietary fiber which prevents constipation by providing roughage for easier bowel movement.

They are also rich sources of anti-oxidants to prevent certain diseases like cancer.

At least three servings of cooked vegetables, about one-half cup per serving, are suggested for daily consumption.

It is highly recommended that Filipinos should eat a variety of food everyday, and to consume vegetables, fruits, and rootcrops.

This can be achieved if the vegetables in the song “Bahay Kubo” are eaten regularly.

This is particularly true for children, to whom we are teaching the song.

“Bahay Kubo” would make them appreciate and become more familiar with the vegetables in the song.

Now, would you like to start singing “Bahay Kubo” and think which vegetables would you like to eat in your next meal?/PN

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