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Nutrition

Savoring bibingka a la Digos

Every region in the country has its bibingka variant; but what makes bibingka a la Digos different is the addition of buko shreds within the rice cake itself (instead of as topping).

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Digos in Davao del Sur used to be known as the “big” place that divides Regions XII and XII; the last somewhat-developed place the bus stops at when you’re heading from Davao City to Cotabato City (just before you hit Kidapawan City).

But this place that is located near a once-popular dark-stone-filled beach (that isn’t as frequented now, largely due to bad development of the place) actually has an attraction that has been gaining prominence by the day – i.e. the bibingka sold by the local vendors along the National Highway.

Bibingka is, of course, a type of baked rice cake, traditionally cooked in clay pots lined with (usually banana) leaves. It is a subtype of kakanin/snack foods in Philippine cuisine.

Every region in the country has its bibingka variant; but what makes bibingka a la Digos different is the addition of buko shreds within the rice cake itself (instead of as topping).

The bibingka recipe is somewhat similar… everywhere.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh milk
3 pieces raw eggs
Pre-cut banana leaf

Instructions:

  1. Combine rice flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
  2. Cream butter then gradually put-in sugar while whisking.
  3. Add the eggs. Whisk until every ingredient is well incorporated.
  4. Gradually add the rice flour, salt, and baking powder mixture. Continue mixing.
  5. Pour-in coconut milk and fresh milk, then whisk some more.
  6. Arrange the pre-cut banana leaf on a cake pan or baking pan.
    Pour the mixture on the pan.
    ***It is at this point where the bibingka de Digos sorts of diversifies the approach, with the addition of the shredded young coconut flesh. This adds a somewhat fresh taste to the bibingka, particularly when buck is added abundantly.
  7. Bake for 20-35 minutes, or until the color of the top turns medium brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  9. Serve.

This type of bibingka is, by no means, exclusive to Digos; a similar version is available in Quezon Province. But exactly because the somewhat-similar variety is in Luzon, Digos’ version is… peculiar in Mindanao. And so this makes this a must-try.

So when in Davao del Sur, particularly when passing through Digos City, be sure to grab some along the National Highway…

Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

Nutrition

It doesn’t matter much which fiber you choose – just get more fiber

The benefit of dietary fiber isn’t just the easier pooping that advertisers tout. Fermentable fiber — dietary carbohydrates that the human gut cannot process on its own but some bacteria can digest — is also an essential source of nutrients that your gut microbes need to stay healthy.

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Photo by Nadine Primeau from Unsplash.com

That huge array of dietary fiber supplements in the drugstore or grocery aisle can be overwhelming to a consumer. They make all sorts of health claims too, not being subject to FDA review and approval. So how do you know which supplement works and would be best for you?

A rigorous examination of the gut microbes of study participants who were fed three different kinds of supplements in different sequences concludes that people who had been eating the least amount of fiber before the study showed the greatest benefit from supplements, regardless of which ones they consumed.

“The people who responded the best had been eating the least fiber to start with,” said study leader Lawrence David, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University.

The benefit of dietary fiber isn’t just the easier pooping that advertisers tout. Fermentable fiber — dietary carbohydrates that the human gut cannot process on its own but some bacteria can digest — is also an essential source of nutrients that your gut microbes need to stay healthy.

“We’ve evolved to depend on nutrients that our microbiomes produce for us,” said Zack Holmes, former PhD student in the David lab and co-author on two new papers about fiber. “But with recent shifts in diet away from fiber-rich foods, we’ve stopped feeding our microbes what they need.”

When your gut bugs are happily munching on a high-fiber diet, they produce more of the short-chain fatty acids that protect you from diseases of the gut, colorectal cancers and even obesity. And in particular, they produce more of a fatty acid called butyrate, which is fuel for your intestinal cells themselves. Butyrate has been shown to improve the gut’s resistance to pathogens, lower inflammation and create happier, healthier cells lining the host’s intestines.

Given the variety of supplements available, David’s research team wanted to know whether it may be necessary to ‘personalize’ fiber supplements to different people, since different fermentable fibers have been shown to have different effects on short-chain fatty acid production from one individual to the next.

“We didn’t see a lot of difference between the fiber supplements we tested. Rather, they looked interchangeable,” David said during a tour of his sparkling new lab in the MSRB III building, which includes a special “science toilet” for collecting samples and an array of eight “artificial gut” fermenters for growing happy gut microbes outside a body.

“Regardless of which of the test supplements you pick, it seems your microbiome will thank you with more butyrate,” David said.

The average American adult only consumes 20 to 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber, which is believed to be a root cause behind a lot of our common health maladies, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders and colon cancer. Instead of having to go totally vegetarian or consume pounds of kale daily, convenient fiber supplements have been created that can increase the production of short-chain fatty acids.

The Duke experiments tested three main kinds of fermentable fiber supplements: inulin, dextrin (Benefiber), and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) marketed as Bimuno. The 28 participants were separated into groups and given each of the three supplements for one week in different orders, with a week off between supplements to allow participants’ guts to return to a baseline state. 

Participants who had been consuming the most fiber beforehand showed the least change in their microbiomes, and the type of supplement really didn’t matter, probably because they were already hosting a more optimal population of gut bugs, David said.

Conversely, participants who had been consuming the least fiber saw the greatest increase in butyrate with the supplements, regardless of which one was being consumed.

In a second study the David lab performed with support from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, they found that gut microbes responded to a new addition of fiber within a day, dramatically altering the populations of bugs present in the gut and changing which of their genes they were using to digest food.

Using their artificial gut fermenters, the researchers found the gut microbes were primed by the first dose to consume fiber, and digested it quickly on the second dose.

“These findings are encouraging,” said graduate student Jeffrey Letourneau, lead author of the second study. “If you’re a low fiber consumer, it’s probably not worth it to stress so much about which kind of fiber to add. It’s just important that you find something that works for you in a sustainable way.”

“It doesn’t need to be a supplement either,” Holmes added. “It can just be a fiber-rich food. Folks who were already eating a lot of fiber, which comes from plants like beans, leafy greens, and citrus, already had very healthy microbiomes.”

“Microbiota Responses to Different Prebiotics Are Conserved Within Individuals and Associated with Habitual Fiber Intake” by Zachary Holmes, Max Villa, Heather Durand, Sharon Jiang, Eric Dallow, Brianna Petrone, Justin Silverman, Pao-Hwa Lin, and Lawrence David appeared in Microbiome.

“Ecological Memory of Prior Nutrient Exposure in the Human Gut Microbiome” by Jeffrey Letourneau, Zachary Holmes, Eric Dallow, Heather Durand, Sharon Jiang, Verónica Carrion, Savita Gupta, Adam Mincey, Michael Muehlbauer, and James Bain, Lawrence David appeared in ISME Journal.

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Nutrition

5 Reasons to add lobster to summer meals

In addition to its distinctly sweet flavor, consider these reasons to add Maine lobster to your menu this summer.

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The arrival of summer means favorites like fresh seafood are back on the menu for many families. This year, as you explore new and inventive ways to add variety to weeknight dinners and backyard barbecues, consider including lobster as a versatile, indulgent ingredient.  

Throughout the summer months, lobstermen up and down the Maine coast set off before dawn in pursuit of one of the most beloved crustaceans in the world. As one of the oldest fisheries in the country, the industry boasts a rich history with an unparalleled commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship that has allowed it to thrive for generations.

In addition to its distinctly sweet flavor, consider these reasons to add Maine lobster to your menu this summer:

Sustainability

To help protect the lobster population and the livelihood of those in the fishery, the lobstermen pioneered sustainability and traceability practices before it was fashionable. The sustainability measures developed and adapted over generations, such as protecting egg-bearing females and releasing juvenile lobsters, have preserved the fishery and produced abundant lobster stocks.

Small Business Support

Unlike many commercial fisheries, the Maine Lobster industry consists of more than 5,000 independent lobstermen who own and operate small day boats. Many lobstermen are from multi-generational lobstering families, which, along with a mandatory apprenticeship program, ensure its continued survival.

Front Lines of Science

Mother Nature and science guide the fishery, meaning ongoing collaboration between scientists and fishermen to research the health of the lobster population and adapt to the effects of climate change to help protect the oceans.

Protection of Endangered Species

Sustainability for the industry means taking care of the larger marine environment and the species that rely on it. Since the 1990s, Maine lobstermen have taken proactive steps to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales by eliminating surface float rope, incorporating weak links to allow whales to break free in the event they encounter gear and marking rope to ensure traceability.

Community Engagement

The lobster industry goes well beyond the fishermen on the water; including the dealers, processors, restaurant owners, trap and boat builders and more. The fishery is part of the identity of Maine, which means enjoying lobster rolls, grilled tails or steamed lobsters this summer directly supports the community and the lobstermen who call it home.

To find more ways to support the industry and recipes to enjoy this summer, visit lobsterfrommaine.com.

Chilled Lobster with Orange and Basil Vinaigrette 

Recipe courtesy of Erin Lynch on behalf of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative 
Servings: 4Dressing:

1          tablespoon minced shallots
2          tablespoons olive oil
2          tablespoons fresh orange juice
1          tablespoon fresh lime juice
2          tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1          tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2       teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste, divided 
1/4       teaspoon Dijon mustard
            pepper, to taste
1          pound cooked Maine Lobster meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

1          head butter lettuce, torn
1          ripe avocado, peeled and diced
3          radishes, thinly sliced
            kosher salt 
            freshly ground black pepper

To make dressing: In medium bowl, whisk shallots, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, basil, parsley, salt and Dijon mustard. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Add lobster to bowl; toss to coat. Chill at least 1 hour, or up to one day.

To serve: Arrange lettuce on serving plate and place lobster on top. Sprinkle with avocado, radishes, kosher salt and ground black pepper.Traditional Lobster Rolls

Recipe courtesy of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative 
Yield: 4 rolls

1          pound cooked Maine lobster meat 
            mayonnaise, to taste, for binding
            freshly ground black pepper, to taste
            salt, to taste
            fresh lemon juice, to taste
4          buttered, toasted rolls or preferred bread 
            sliced chives, for garnish

In bowl, combine lobster meat; mayonnaise, to taste; pepper, to taste; salt, to taste; and lemon juice, to taste.

Place 3-4 ounces lobster salad on each roll.

Garnish with chives and serve.

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Nutrition

Revamp your pantry, start living healthy

Eat and live better with products that make healthy living a lifestyle.

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In the past, many Filipinos put wellbeing and wellness on the back burner until major health concerns arose. But since the pandemic began, health has been thrust into the forefront, taking on a new importance for many.

Now more than ever, individuals are finding ways to live healthier lifestyles. Whether that means taking precautions against getting sick, eating wholesome and nutritious food, or managing a healthy weight. 

A quick Google search about healthy living and dieting will result in a ton of information that it can be hard to know what is accurate. Be wary of fad diets all over social media that promise quick and easy results. The truth is these quick fixes don’t work. What does work is a lifestyle change. It’s more sustainable too. Here are a few tips to make a healthy change to one’s lifestyle.

Munch on good snacks

Not all snacks are bad. Go for snacks that include protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Good snacks also help curb sugar cravings. In fact, snacking is beneficial when increasing intake of nutrient-rich foods for a burst of energy. Snacks that are good to have on hand are those that will keep the stomach full throughout the day. Consider the Macro Fruit Free Muesli Bar and Classic Fruit & Nut Muesli Bar for great sources of fiber. 

Eat whole, organic food

Whole foods are those that have not been overly processed. They have many benefits because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help keep the immune system and body strong. Try products that can be used in more ways than one such as Macro Tomato Garlic & Basil Chunky Pasta Sauce which can be used as a sauce for fish or chicken. Another versatile product is Macro Quick Oats which can be used in baking or to make a classic oatmeal recipe or overnight oats. These products promise more than just great taste, but also healthier alternatives to traditional ingredients.    

Stock up on superfoods

Superfoods are those that are rich in antioxidants, good fat, and fiber. Instead of foods that are high in sugar, consider superfoods like Macro Turmeric Latte and Macro Black Chia Seeds. Turmeric helps lower inflammation levels in the body and reduces the risk of health problems. Chia seeds on the other hand are packed with antioxidants and fiber which can help lower high blood pressure and regulate the digestive system.

All Macro products are available in Shopwise, Robinsons Supermarket and The Marketplace Rustans branches nationwide. Woolworths products are also available via the GoCart website.

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