It’s okay to love carbs

Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck
Carbs are good for us. Don't believe it? Read on.

HEALTHY PASTA PRIMAVERA. Photo courtesy of Rachel Alejandro

MANILA, Philippines – One of the most common resolutions Filipinos make nowadays is to eliminate carbs such as rice, pasta, bread and sugar from their diet in order to lose weight. I’ve even witnessed friends change their Facebook status to, “I promise to never eat rice again.”

Ever since The Atkins and South Beach Diet craze, carbs have had a bad reputation. Gone are the days of low-fat diets. Carbs have now become the new enemy.  

The truth is, it’s important to have carbs in our diet.  

We need them to fuel our bodies, the same way a car needs gasoline in order to run.

Carbohydrates are a primary source of glucose which nourishes our brain, allowing it to function normally and provides our body with energy during physical activities. No wonder we can’t think straight, get dizzy and experience a depletion of energy on a low-carb diet.  

Remember that not all carbs are created equal. 

The healthy ones are found in nutrient dense vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I bet you never thought that vegetables contain carbohydrates, too. Think broccoli, beans, spinach and sweet potatoes. 

Choose complex carbs such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa and multi-grain bread. 

As the VP of Product Development for The Sexy Chef, a healthy food catering company, I make sure to include healthy carbohydrates in my diet programs .  

Complex carbs are an excellent source of fiber, a fat fighting nutrient that makes you feel full longer, so you can resist saying yes to more food. Fiber also lowers bad cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar and aids in digestion.

CAULI-MASHED POTATOES. Photo courtesy of Rachel Alejandro

Like all kinds of food, carbohydrates can make you fat if not eaten in moderation. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy everyday carbs without going overboard with calories:


Make vegetable rice. 

Saute 1/3 cup of brown rice with 2/3 cup nutrient dense vegetables like peas, carrots, green beans and bell peppers to give a 1 cup full illusion. 

Even if you eat this 3 times a day, you are actually just having 1 cup of rice in total. The fiber from the brown rice and vegetables will make you feel more satiated compared to 2 cups of white rice.


Make Pasta Primavera. 

Bulk up a serving of ¾ cup whole-wheat spaghetti noodles with a cup of fiber-rich legumes and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and zucchini. Toss the pasta with your favorite marinara sauce. 

Your plate will look so much bigger and appetizing without the added calories of more pasta noodles.


Make an open-face burger sandwich. 

Remove the bread on top of the burger and replace with vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions and peppers. Top with a slice of low-fat cheese and heat in the toaster until it’s melted and bubbly.


Make Cauli-Mashed Potatoes. 

Cut the calories substantially by replacing half of the potatoes with pureed cauliflower. Add a little low-fat butter and season with salt and pepper. 

I promise you won’t be able to tell the difference!

HAVE QUESTIONS FOR CHEF BARNI? Email them to with subject heading BEST EATS. Photo courtesy of Rachel Alejandro

Before you swear off carbs from your diet, think of the many ways your body needs for fuel, energy and digestion. I think it’s about time we made peace with carbs once again.

Say yes to fluffy rice with sinigang! Let’s face it. Life is just sad without it. –


[Chef Barni Alejandro- Rennebeck is co-owner and VP for product development of The Sexy Chef, OBC 5Star, Inc. Since 2004, she has been creating recipes for diet programs and healthy meals for delivery all over Metro Manila.]