By Virgilio C. Ventura
Stranded inside my house and locked inside my village is NOT my idea of a staycation triggered by the corona virus country-wide quarantine or lockdown.
But one needs to accept, cooperate and be imaginative enough to make time for doing interesting things aside from sedentary writing and online surfing in my laptop. Preparing delicious meals is one chore I love to do and for a good reason: To stay healthy is to eat healthy.
As a superfood lover I take delight in buying the healthiest greens, fruits and fish at the supermarkets days before the actual quarantine last March 11, 2020. Superfoods are functional foods that contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that shield our body from diseases and enhances our vitality. Let’s do a quick review of some of my favorite superfoods:
Salmon – is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids that support cardiovascular and brain functions, reduces serum triglycerides, and enhances our dosage of L-tryptophan amino acid contained in melatonin – an essential hormone needed by our body during sleep. I am particularly fond of its taste whether softly cooked in creamy lemon-butter sauce with a sprinkle of dill or thyme herbs, as a grilled topping on quinoa grains and green veggie salad or in sushi/sashimi yummies. Smoked salmon sandwich with lettuce and tomato slices is also an alternative preparation.
Broccoli – is loaded with vitamin C, protein, iron and calcium that help to control blood pressure, build strong bones and fight cancer. Whether stir-fried in sesame oil with tofu or shrimps, simply mixed with oyster sauce or as a soup with cheddar cheese broccoli florets, it is indeed heavenly tasty and nutritious. And did I mention how a concentration of its nutrients are actually found in the often thrown-away stalk and blue-green leaves?
Avocado – is much like salmon and broccoli in providing healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins, fibers and minerals. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, boosts your immune system, aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels, reduces your cardiovascular fatality and improves your hair and skin texture. Avocado is best as a salad mix or as a side fruit to main courses like fish or meat. As a main ingredient in the Mexican dip called guacamole, ripe avocado pulp is mashed with a good balance of salt, cumin, cayenne and lime juice to keep the color from turning into brown. This dip is a perfect pair for freshly baked tortilla chips or chicken fajitas when served.
Spinach – is loaded with vitamins, protein, iron, calcium and magnesium. Regular consumption improves blood glucose control in people with diabetes, reduces the risk of cancer through its chlorophyll content that blocks the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines, helps in building muscle and weight control. It is one of my favorite leafy greens especially the Baguio type for their big leaves that I sauté in creamy butter mixed with minced garlic, chopped red onions and dashed with white wine, a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Oh my gawd, Popeye is hungry now! Yummy!
Sweet Potato – is a superfood that is rich in beta carotene, potassium, and manganese. Beta carotene as an antioxidant is a major element in vitamin A composition and is essential in maintaining healthy vision, fighting cancer, boosting immunity shield, and anti-inflammatory especially for those suffering from arthritis or asthma. Whether fried with brown sugar caramel or baked with cheese, sweet potatoes are much in abundance and cheap in any local food market. In lieu of the usual Irish potato, I use sweet potato chunks as a mix along with green bell pepper in my favorite creamy chicken curry dish.
Moringa – is popularly known locally as malunggay and touted as a wonder tree for its many health benefits. Packed with vitamins A, B and C with minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc, moringa contains more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, more protein than yogurt and more calcium than milk. Filipinos are fond of this vegetable especially in their chicken or fish soup dish preparation or the coconut milk and ginger strips cooked stingray meat called kinunot. Nowadays, the leaves are manufactured as food supplement in the form of capsules or served as tea.