Monday, March 30, 2009

Ganging Up For Nutrition

There’s more to food than what meets the taste buds.
In fact, health experts agree that taste is not equals to nutrition. Most of the time, the more flavorful the food, the more it is packed with traitorous food ingredients that masquerade behind tasty additives.

“Filipino households are trying to translate their hard-earned money into filling meals for huge families that’s why most people load up with cartloads of unhealthy items like chips and instant noodles,” says Prof. Luchie Callanta, a UP Senior Lecturer and resident nutritionist of Doña Elena Cuisinera Club.

Doña Elena Cuisinera Club is a group of concerned mothers, health practitioners and food enthusiasts who are pushing for a healthy eating lifestyle for Filipinos.
Despite this, Prof. Callanta encourages Filipinos not to be disheartened. "If we admit defeat, our family's lives will be endangered and we will just be another nameless addition to these statistics. But, if we stand up and fight, it's tantamount to giving our families a chance to live healthier, longer, and happier lives."

Prof. Callanta emphasizes that people do have a choice; and if they opt to champion their family's health, the Doña Elena Cuisinera Club is there to support them in their cause. Born as a creative response against the perils of unhealthy living, the Doña Elena Cuisinera Club has the aim of turning Filipinos into full-blown Cuisineras –people who champion healthy eating without compromising the taste and quality of the food they prepare.

Projects of the Doña Elena Cuisinera Club includes the release of 21 Ways to a Healthier Life book, which contains a shortlist of tips to a healthier lifestyle as well as Filipino recipes given a healthier twist and monthly healthy cooking sessions for its members .

“At present, one of the club’s top priorities is substituting the use of olive oil for regular cooking oils in preparing everyday dishes. The olive oil’s positive health benefits, not to mention the richer flavor it provides, make it a good choice for cooking,” adds Prof. Callanta. “For example, they can substitute the regular cooking oil with olive oil when frying.”

Doña Elena Cuisinera Club is promoting this olive oil substitution as one of the easiest yet most effective means by which Filipinos can achieve a healthier lifestyle. In addition to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, other benefits of olive oil include: reducing the risk of heart attack, inhibiting cancer, stabilizing blood sugar levels and controlling asthma and arthritis.

“Of course, the fact that recipes prepared using olive oil (compared to the traditional bland-tasting diet fare) are easy on the taste buds doesn’t hurt either,” adds Prof. Callanta.

And as illustrated by the use of food alternatives such as cooking oil, it’s clear that health is just as important as taste. As Prof. Callanta puts it: “Through The Doña Elena Cuisinera Club, we wish for Filipinos to realize that nutrition doesn’t always begin with how food tastes in our mouths—in this case, what matters is what we put in our dishes.”

If you have any suggestions or comments that will help advance our common cause of healthier eating, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact our Doña Elena Cuisinera Club Secretariat at 713-8144 and email

Photos of the event can be found here

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