Eating healthful foods in 2014

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

Straight from Carolinas

Friday, January 3, 2014

THE first party I attended in 2014 signaled good vibes for my New Year’s resolution to eat a lot of vegetables in succeeding days. I have to correct my eating habits for health reasons.

The party hosted by Chris and Jean Helms at Mr. Pleasant over Highway 49 was a success since I didn't expect to be served Filipino dishes with plenty of vegetables.

Chris and Jean Helms is a perfect husband-and-wife cooking team. I came to know that they serve lunch every New Year. The party schedule was also perfect since I had the time to attend the New Year’s Mass at St. Mark Huntersville before proceeding to Mt. Pleasant. The New Year lunch was served at 1 p.m.


Consider the food served to us guests; monggos with alugbati (mung beans with veggies) and saluyot with slices of meat, okra, pinakbet and of course the American mixed greens or collards and turnip greens.

What was good was that the meat was cut thinly, not the usual big slices which are the usual thing here in the US. It was the monggo that I loved and couldn't stop eating; to me it was a complete meal.

I longed for monggo, I ate it frequently when I was a child. My father is a farmer who planted monggo. I remembered helping to harvest the mung beans and “copis” or the Philippine equivalent of the pinto beans in North Carolina.

Back then, we cooked monggo with saluyot and coconut milk. We also made ice candy with monggo. It has many uses actually; the best monggo can be hoarded.

There is no question about the health benefits of vegetables including monggo. “I knew that for a fact,” according to Lily of “Peter Rabbit.” It cleanses, detoxifies and fuels our body.

I tell you every Filipino worth his salt would really miss this kind of food. Jean Helms is from Iloilo city and she said all the vegetables she cooks are organic since they are grown in her garden.

In fact I saw “tanglad” or lemon grass in one of the pots outside her house. But back to the party, not only was the food great, the atmosphere was intimate because the guests like me were friends of the host.

I was the only Bisdak since Beth Kremer and Jesett Kelly grew up as Ilonggo neighbors.

Among those who attended were Maria Gwinner, Yulie Armstrong, Faith Minase Springborg, Jesett Kelly, Dorena Reynolds and her mom. Beth Kremer came with husband Brent and sons Jaden and Sean. Of course I met new Filipinos.

Childhood friends and the parents of Chris Helms came. For the Americans the barbecue and the greens with mashed potatoes were the favorites. I also saw them eating okra and pinakbet which I find good since eating healthy food is a problem in the US now.

In fact First Lady Michelle Obama made it a priority in her husband's administration for schools to serve healthy food since March 2010.

The anti-obesity program dubbed as the “Let’s Move” campaign is the Obama administration’s program that seeks to reverse childhood obesity by 2030. There's much debate about it but I think the solution shouldn't have to be legislated.

But enough of US social political issues, I'm eating with friends and it happened to be healthy. Eating healthy is my New Year's resolution and this means eating the right kind of food to sustain me throughout the day.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 04, 2014.


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