Creative and healthy ways to cook vegetables

Jodesz Gavilan

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Creative and healthy ways to cook vegetables
Tired of plain vegetable soup? Here are some recipes from the National Nutrition Council that turn vegetables into appetizing dishes.

MANILA, Philippines – For most children, eating vegetables can be such a chore. They often finish the greens on their plates to stop their parents from nagging them, and to be excused from the dining table. 

The low consumption of vegetables is reflected in the latest Food Consumption Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

According to the survey results, only 3 types of vegetables made it to the top 20 most consumed food of households in the Philippines: garlic, onion, and eggplant.  (READ: What are the top 20 food products consumed by Filipinos?)

It is high time for the sight of vegetables on the dining table to bring delight – not displeasure – to Filipinos.

Not ‘boring’

Eating healthy should not just be seen as a mere task. It should be embedded in the lifestyle and consciousness of each individual for maximum potential.

This does not mean, however, that eating healthy should be reduced to consuming “plain” meals.

Through the recently released cookbook Mga Lutuing Gulay Araw-Arawin – Simple, Mura at Masustansya (Make Vegetable Dishes A Daily Habit – Easy, Affordable, and Nutritious), the National Nutrition Council (NNC) encourages Filipinos to eat more vegetables – cooked in very creative ways.  

The NNC cookbook is composed of recipes sourced from different regions in the Philippines, giving a diverse selection of well-tested meals. These are also made of ingredients that aren’t hard to find – some can even be planted in a backyard garden – and are also very affordable.

Here are some recipes:


1 cup thinly sliced saluyot leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pieces onion, minced
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon iodized salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg 
¾ cup flour
2 cups cooking oil 

1. Combine saluyot leaves, minced garlic, and minced onion in a bowl.
2. Add sugar, iodized salt, and ground pepper.
3. Add egg and flour.
4. Mix until it achieves a dough-like consistency.
4. Shape into burger patties and fry until golden brown.


3 pieces eggplants
1 cup diced squash
½ cup diced ampalaya
3 eggs
1 tablespoon diced malunggay leaves
1 tablespoon iodized salt
5 pieces tomatoes, diced
2 cups oil

1. Boil eggplants for 8 minutes or until half-cooked and set aside.
2. Boil diced squash and ampalaya. When done, use strainer to remove water.
3. Combine egg, malunggay leaves, and iodized salt. Mix then set aside.
3. Make an incision in the middle of each eggplant then place the boiled vegetables inside.
5. Drench the eggplant in the egg and malunggay mixture, then fry.


1 cup uncooked rice
¾ tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
¼ kilo squash
1 bundle carrots
¼ cup finely chopped malunggay leaves
2 teaspoons iodized salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
¼ kilo pechay Tagalog

1. Cook rice, add salt and vinegar.
2. Boil squash and carrots. Mash the squash and slice carrots into strips.
3. Add malunggay leaves, iodized salt, and ground pepper to the mashed squash.
4. Place pechay Tagalog in boiling water for two minutes.
5. Assemble the sushi by placing 3-4 tablespoons of rice, two tablespoons of the mashed squash, and carrots strips on top of one pechay Tagalog leaf.
6. Roll then cut into pieces before serving.


1 cup flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup water from boiled achuete seeds
2 teaspoons iodized salt
2 cups grated papaya
2 cups grated squash
2-3 cups cooking oil

1. Combine flour, water, achuete water, and butter in one bowl.
2. Add iodized salt and water. Mix until it becomes thick.
3. Add grated papaya and squash into the mixture.
4. Take one teaspoon and shape into circle.
5. Deep-fry until golden brown.

Easy and healthy

Eating healthy does wonders to the body. Vegetables and fruits – a big part of a healthy diet – contain the important vitamins, minerals, and fiber that contribute to the regulation of body processes.

FNRI, through its daily meal guide for adults Pinggang Pinoy, identified a healthy meal as having 33% vegetables for the sufficient amount of nutrients.

This requirement is not a problem in an agricultural country like the Philippines. From rural farmers to backyard gardens, there is no longer any excuse not to eat healthy. (READ: Indigenous vegetables and the Filipino diet)

If you are creative enough, eating healthy is easy – with very important benefits in the long run! –

Do you have any creative recipes for vegetable meals? Comment below! 

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.