Eating green at Christmastime

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CHIT JUAN

CHIT JUAN

IT’S the start of the eating  and greeting season and we may just do ourselves a favor by eating mindfully. Mindful eating is the secret to staying healthy and checking what we nosh on, what we binge on, and what we just simply avoid.

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Salads and other vegetables
Make sure they’re washed well and have been rid of extra residue of whatever they had at the farm. If you’re not sure, take cooked vegetables. And try to eat local vegetables so our own farmers become sustainable. Why eat “imported” rocket or arugula when so many organic farms now grow this once rare salad green. Even Farmer Kiko can supply you from Sweet Spring Farms.

Meats and other indulgent protein
If you must eat meat like beef, give grass-fed beef a break. Nicolo Aberasturi swears it is alkaline and has helped him maintain his lean bod. Nicolo raises these local yellow cows in Bukidnon and shares them with us in many forms—steaks, burgers, striploin and more cuts you may just try cooking for Christmas.

Fish and seafood
Please say no to sharksfin already. And say no to the fleshy bleached fish in your fish fillet. Try our deep-sea fish, line-caught if possible. Check out Artesmar and Meliomar and check their sustainable tuna (numbered and tagged of where it was fished). Because it is more expensive than regular tuna caught unsustainably, not very many restaurants carry it but hotels do. So if you must have a sashimi binge, check out the five star hotels instead.

Fruits and sweets
Feast on our local sustainably-grown fruits. Try papaya from Cavite, pomelo from Davao and pineapple and bananas of all kinds instead of the usual Chinese oranges and Fuji apples which travel long distances and are not as fresh as what is picked from our own farms.

Choose your sugar
If you must take sugar in your coffee or tea, choose muscovado. It’s healthier and is not touched by bleaching compounds or try palm or coconut sap. Honey is best, of course, but get local honey with its origin or source marked on the label. Check your vendor or purveyor for real wild honey.

Try the colored rice
You will gain a lot of health benefits eating rice that is unpolished like brown. Try the other heirloom varieties from Cordillera or sustainably-grown basmati and lowland red rice from Nueva Ecija. Check the origin. Trace the source.

Coconut milk
Try coconut milk in your coffee, or your dessert. A lot of milk from cows abroad are not organic. Coconut milk, however, is vegan and healthy for the body. If you must take coconut milk in desserts, pair it with natural sugar like brown or muscovado.

Chicken everything
It’s the time for everything stuffed like chicken. Give free-range organic chicken a try. Or our local native “tough” chicken but slow cook it for a new recipe. We have chicken all year round but it’s time to tell the difference between free-range and conventional. You know someone allergic to chicken? Let them try free-range and watch their symptoms disappear.

Eggs, eggs, eggs
Choose wisely. Pay a little more for organic free-range eggs laid by happy chicken that can forage and are not cooped in pens. After all, you can reduce your egg consumption but switch to healthier omelets and egg salads by cooking them in more interesting ways than just fried.

This Christmas, eat mindfully
This may be the best time of the year to switch and treat yourself to all these organic, sustainable, local and fresher food. This is the time to treat your family to what should be our regular fare all year—the less-carbon footprint food. Food that does not have to travel far to get to our tables.

Good, clean and fair food for Christmas is the way to go. Visit www.slowfood.com and be enlightened how we can help farmers preserve their traditions while feeding us well.

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City, Antipolo  and Iloilo. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She is a stauch advocate of the SLOW FOOD MOvement. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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