Filipino food may not be as famous as the food of other Asian cuisines like Chinese and Thai, but according to top chef Anthony Bourdain, it is bound to be the next big food trend.
Bourdain believes Filipino food is “underrated” but that the Western countries are ready to embrace its flavors: “I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others.” We’ve also been aware of this fact and wrote about it in our Summer 2017 Food Trend Report.
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The famous chef has even selected his favorite Filipino food – sisig, a dish made from crunchy parts of pig’s head and liver and seasoned with chili peppers or hot sauce. Sounds strange? Well, some Filipino foods are definitely not for the faint of heart but if you give them a chance, you’ll be surprised how delicious they are!
The Basics of Filipino Food
Filipino food is a beautiful fusion of flavors influenced by the neighboring Asian countries, Spanish and American colonial rulers from the past, as well as different ethnic and religious groups like Buddhists and Hindus. On top of all these rich influences which make Filipino food unique, the cuisine has managed to retain some of its genuine features as well. Thus, besides paellas and tapas, you’ll find local gems like adobo, sisig, Kare-kare and more!
Filipino cuisine is certainly worth exploring. So, if you are up for recreating some of the most iconic Filipino dishes, here is something to inspire you.
The Most Popular Filipino Foods to Try
It is safe to say that Adobo is a Filipino national dish. The recipe is commonly made with chicken and pork. However, there are varieties made with beef, goat, lamb, and seafood as well. The signature marinade made of vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, salt, and pepper was developed in the pre-refrigeration era as a means to preserve the meat. Serve adobo with rice to balance the intensity of flavors.
Honey Glazed Crockpot Chicken Adobo
It seems like everyone in the Philippines loves pork (with the exception of Muslim communities in the south). This love is elieved to be reminiscent from Spanish and Chinese colonizers in the past. Lechon is actually a whole pig roasted on a charcoal until crispy, golden brown skin is obtained. This Filipino food is probably the most popular choice for parties and gatherings but if you’re not a resident or a very brave foodie, you might not have the stomach for it; namely, after roasting, the meat is usually served with liver sauce. In some regions, however, the pig’s stomach is stuffed with spring onions, anise, laurel leaves, and pepper and in that case, there’s no need for liver sauce.
Lechon Kawali (Filipino Crispy Fried Pork Belly)
This Filipino food corresponds to our chicken soup, i.e. it is the go-to dish when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Moreover, arroz caldo is also one of the most popular street foods. It is more of a thick chicken rice porridge than a soup, cooked with ginger and sometimes topped with green onions, garlic, or a hard-boiled egg.
Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
Lumpia are Filipino spring rolls which can be served fresh or fried. The authentic version is made with lumpia crepes (water, rice, flour & eggs) cooked on gas hot plates. For those that don’t feel like flipping pancakes, there are also ready-made lumpia wrappers available in Asian markets. Alternatively, you can substitute lumpia wrappers with Vietnamese or Chinese spring roll wrappers.
The wrappers/crepes are filled with a veggie mixture and topped with a special garlicky-sweet sauce (shrimp heads, cornstarch, soy sauce, and sugar). Alternatively, the filling can contain shrimps and/or pork, onions, and ubod (the pith of the coconut tree).
Lumpia (Filipino Spring Rolls)
This Spanish food was Introduced by the Chinese colonizers in the past. The term pancit means ‘noodles’ and encompasses a number of varieties like the recipe made with black squid ink (pancit negra). It is believed that this variety was developed under the influence of Spanish Basque cuisine. It contains thin noodles covered with squid ink and combined with baby squid, red onions, cabbage, beans, coriander, chicharron (fried pork belly), and bilimbi (a tangy fruit) that balances the strong flavors in the dish.
Another popular (and less unusual) variety is pancit palabok, a very popular birthday party food. It is comprised of rice noodles and a rich sauce made of pork, chicharron, shrimps, shrimp broth, hard boiled eggs, and oysters or squid.
Pancit Bihon Recipe (Filipino Fried Rice Noodles)
Noodles covered in black squid ink aren’t the only unusual Filipino food. Kare-kare is another authentic example that requires a developed taste for stranger things. It is a traditional stew made of oxtail and a crushed-peanut sauce. Other commonly used meats are pork hocks, calves, feet, and sometimes tripe or offal. Grossed out yet?
There are also versions of the dish made with seafood, as well as ones that completely exclude meat or combine it with veggies like eggplant, green beans, Chinese cabbage, or asparagus beans. The sauce, besides peanuts, also contains peanut butter, garlic, and onions, toasted rice as a thickener, as well as annatto for coloring.
Filipino Kare Kare (Ox Tail and Peanut Stew)
The Tastiest Filipino Desserts
In the recent years, the hipsters’ love for unusual & colorful foods has placed ube on almost every food trend list. Ube, also known as purple yam, is a tubular root originating in the Philippines. The sweet taste makes it perfect for desserts, as well as a flavoring for ice cream, milk, tarts, cookies, cakes. What makes it especially attractive to hipsters and millennials, though, it the intensely purple color, which makes it a perfect natural substitute for purple food coloring.
Halayung ube is a very popular sweet Filipino food made with purple yams, macapuno (coconut preserves), and coconut milk. It is often used as a base for other sweet treats like halo-halo, ice cream, and even ube bread!
Tropical Ice Creams
There are some seriously amazing Filipino ice creams you can’t find in US supermarkets – ube, avocado, mango, jackfruit, as well as different coconut varieties (macapuno, young coconut, sweetened coconut, flavored coconut). Real fireworks of colors and flavors!
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3-Ingredient Mango Coconut Ice Cream
Avocado Pistachio Ice Cream
This is just a small part of what Filipino cuisine has to offer. Do you have a favorite Filipino food that deserves to make the list?
Veganism looks more glamorous than ever! Stars like Beyoncé and Kylie Janner make vegan lifestyle seem not only right but also attractive. Are you considering crossing the line? Then you should know that your love for animals is not enough to become vegan.
The transition to veganism is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not just quitting meat; you’re quitting all animal-derived products. Your organism will react and demand ‘regular’ food. I will hit you with cravings and wake you up in the middle of the night with severe hunger pangs.
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The first step towards veganism is gathering information. Unlike celebrities, you (probably) don’t have a personal chef to cover all your vegan needs. That is why you will need answers to essential questions like:
– What to eat?
– Where to buy vegan food?
– How to cook vegan food?
This post will cover not only these basic questions but also turn your attention to issues like avoiding vegan junk food, as well as finding suitable sources for proteins and vitamins.
What is Veganism Exactly?
Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy and other animal-derived products such as honey. However, the term ‘vegan’ can have a much broader meaning.
Many vegans also avoid foods that are processed using animal products like white sugar (contains animal bones) or foods that are grown in a way that endangers certain animal species like some types of coffee.
In addition, most vegans refuse to use products tested on animals, as well as animal-derived products that are not food, such as fur, leather, and wool.
What Do Vegans Eat, Actually?
What is left after you get rid of meat, eggs, and dairy? A vegan diet includes fruits & veggies, as well as all grains, beans, and legumes.
In addition, there are many vegan versions of popular foods like vegan cheese, meat, ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, and mayonnaise, which allow an infinite number of variations.
Let’s not forget to mention soy products (especially tofu and soy milk) which are widely used among vegans. Furthermore, most breads and pasta are vegan, as is rice and French fries!
How to Become Vegan?
So, you’ve made up your mind about becoming vegan. Where to start from
#1 Find your own pace
Experienced vegans claim that going vegan overnight is the worst way to do it. Start small and go step by step. You can remove one animal product at a time or start off as a vegetarian before switching to vegan. Another option is to first become reducetarian, i.e. start reducing the intake of animal-derived products or restrict their use to weekends only.
Allow your organism to adjust to vegan foods before you make the final cut. For instance, have a vegan smoothie before your regular breakfast or eat an apple after dinner. Next step, start substituting animal products with vegan versions.
Chia Matcha Overnight Breakfast Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Vitamin C Booster Smoothie
Antioxidant Cherry Fruit Salad
Even if you have made a complete transition, it’s OK to give yourself a break from time to time. Don’t feel guilty if you have an occasional slice of cake or fried chicken. Forgive yourself and be patient.
#2 Expect lots of questions
Many people will regard your change of lifestyle as a threat to theirs. You will be asked lots of questions and hear many dissuasions. There are two options here – you can either state clearly that you’re doing this for your own reasons or simply make the transition quietly. This second option will reduce the stress and allow you to focus your energy on adjusting to the new diet instead on explaining why on earth did you go vegan.
#3 Find good protein sources
Speaking of people asking questions, the most frequently asked one is “Where do you get your proteins from?” Proteins are extremely important for our bodies. They’re the building blocks of life. However, despite popular belief, animal products are not the richest sources of proteins. Natural soy, seitan, tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, hemp seeds, and quinoa are perfect plant-based protein sources.
Sloppy Vegan Joe
Vegan Red Beans and Rice
Lentil and Quinoa Chili
Zesty Lemon Macadamia Nut Cookies
Hemp Ranch Vegan Pasta Salad
Moreover, vegetables like cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli also provide a lot of proteins. Let’s not forget about the various vegan protein powders you can use. To conclude, the large number of vegan athletes out there is the best proof that vegans DO consume enough proteins on a daily basis.
Asparagus and Mushroom Vegan Quiche
Vegan Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Fully Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Peanut Butter Protein Buckeyes Recipe
#4 Find good calcium sources
Knowing that dairy products are the best sources of calcium and vitamin D, there seems to be another problem you need to solve. Well, first of all, we get most of vitamin D from the sun so that’s covered.
Here is another fun fact: the pasteurized milk most of us consume is not that rich in calcium. When scientist insists on drinking milk for calcium, they mean raw milk in which high heat hasn’t destroyed most of the nutrients.
Finally, how to make sure your bones remain stronger if your switch to a vegan diet? The list of naturally calcium-rich foods includes leafy greens like kale and bok choy, soy beans, almonds, and figs. Add calcium-fortified foods like plant-based milk, cereals, and tofu to your shopping list as well. All of the above mentioned foods are also rich in vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium.
Vegan Kale and Artichoke Dip
Banana Almond Meal Muffins
Three-Step No Bake Chocolate Coconut Cashew Bars
#5 Avoid the trap called “Vegan junk food”
What’s the point of going vegan if you eat only French fries, rice, pasta, and white bread? These four starchy food items are the most common choices for newbie vegans, along with processed foods with low nutritional value. Eventually, you will end up being hungry and overweight.
Focus on ingredients that will provide enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Translated into simple words, eat more fruits and veggies!
Creamy Vegan Potato Salad
#6 Go easy on soy
You will miss meat and that’s OK. Just don’t make soy a central ingredient in your diet. No matter how bad red meat might be for your heart, eating too much soy is worse. Soy-based meat substitutes are often highly processed and contain lots of sodium and preservatives. The best sources of soy are the fermented soy products like tempeh and natto. Besides being rich in vitamin K and probiotics, these products facilitate the digestion and absorption of soybean proteins. Again, be cautious; no matter how healthy they are, fermented soy products are quite high in calories so make sure to consume in moderation!
Miso tempeh Chili
#7 Consider supplements
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods, so you’ll need to invest in B12-fortified foods and supplements. This vitamin keeps the nervous system and blood cells healthy. Deficiencies can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation, too much weight loss, nerve problems, and mental disorders like depression. Consider stocking up on some nutritional yeast. It usually comes fortified with B12 and has multiple uses in the kitchen. It adds flavor & saltiness to various dishes (think vegan mac and cheese) but is also used as a thickener for soups and stews.
Tasty Grain-Free “Cheese” Crackers
Vegan Pho with Spiced Tofu
Another nutrient you’ll need to supplement is iron. Unlike animal-based iron which is easily absorbed by the body, plant-based iron is less readily absorbed. That is why in addition to iron-rich foods like sunflower seeds, legumes, dried raisins, and leafy greens, you should also take supplements, as well as vitamin C-rich foods (citrus, red peppers, and broccoli), which facilitate iron absorption.
Vegan Thanksgiving Wraps
Vegan Broccoli Raisin Salad
Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Consult your doctor before you include supplements in your diet or even better before you even start the transition to a vegan diet.
#8 Shop like a vegan
Be prepared to change the entire way of doing shopping. You’ll be visiting regular grocery stores and supermarkets less and spend more time touring health food stores & farmer’s markets. Don’t be shy to talk to the staff and ask for advice, new products, or lower prices.
No matter what you might have heard, veganism is not an expensive way of life. Many staples like grains, beans, and nuts are quite cheap, especially in health food stores where they’re sold in a bulk. Most fruits and veggies are also affordable, especially if you buy them frozen.
To save a few more bucks, you can shop at farmers’ markets an hour before closing, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or search for daily deals and discounts online.
You will also need to develop a habit of checking the product labels. Some products may seem vegan but contain animal-derived products. For instance, many breads and granolas contain whey, which is made from milk, whereas gummy bears contain gelatin! You never know what’s hiding in your food, so do your homework and learn all the tricky substances before you go shopping.
#9 Cook like a vegan
Remember that you’re not alone. If you have no vegans or vegetarians in your immediate surroundings, join some vegan/vegetarian groups on social media. You can ask the members for tips, advice, and vegan recipes anytime.
Buying a vegan cookbook can also be of great help. Alternatively, browse for vegan cooking websites and apps. Go through various vegan recipes and save the ones that seem interesting, but make sure to gather a number of quick and easy recipes as well.
You can also take your favorite dishes and transform them into vegan meals. For instance, make spaghetti sauce without meatballs or replace the meatballs with a vegan substitute. If you are the only vegan in the family, the thought of cooking two meals every day might sound discouraging. There’s no need to worry! You can cook the same meal in two separate pans. For instance, cook pasta and meat stir-fry separately. Add the meat to the pasta just before serving for your family and cover your own pasta in a store-bought, meat-free spaghetti sauce. However, be prepared that the vegan versions of your favorite dishes will look and taste differently.
Simple Vegan Meatballs
Some of the vegan recipes you make might taste less than delicious the first time. It is wise to lower your expectations when eating a veggie burger the first time. Don’t give up. Give these foods another chance once you get accustomed to new tastes. Or try preparing the same recipe using different product brands or cooking techniques. Try replacing the quinoa in your burger patty with rice or try grilling the burger instead of frying it.
Jalapeño Chickpea Lentil Burgers with Sweet Mango Avocado Pico
Don’t be afraid to explore. In the course of becoming vegan, you’ll discover a range of new ingredients. Make it your goal to buy a new vegan product every time you go shopping and incorporate it in a new vegan recipe. Eventually, you’ll find your diet richer and more varied than ever.
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#10 Eat out like a vegan
Today’s vegans live in a vegan-friendly world. Not only is there a large number of exclusively vegan restaurants, but even regular restaurants include vegan items on their menus. Even fast food places and cafeterias offer vegan options! Turing vegan is a great excuse to tour the restaurants in your city. Check out ethnic restaurants like Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Thai to taste the various vegan dishes they offer. Veggie tacos? Sure. Indian curries? They’re vegan too. Italian pasta? You got it!
Vegan Indian Sweet Potato Soup
Vegan Seven Layer Mexican Dip
Kung Pao Lentils
Fresh Herb Tabouli
Going vegan is an adventure where you get to learn new things every day. Enjoy it!
On the global gastronomy map, Thai cuisine certainly stands out with its specific set of cooking traditions, styles of preparation, variety of ingredients, as well as its distinct meals. No wonder it is very popular in the Western world.
In 2011, CNN Travel conducted an online poll that resulted in the “World’s 50 Best Foods” list. This list contained seven Thai dishes. There was no other country with more representatives on the list than Thailand! This year, six Thai dishes are among the best in the world, with Massaman curry hitting the top position!
Beef Massaman Curry
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The stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai and the spicy, Thai fried rice, green curry, and sour shrimp soup Tom Yum Goong are probably among the best-known representatives of Thai cuisine. But have you heard of less popular dishes like Pad Mama? And did you know that Thai people don’t use chopsticks when eating? Do you know which food is considered sacred in Thailand?
Vegetable Pad Thai
Tom Yum Goong
Thai food is mouthwatering indeed but not many of us really know about its importance in Thailand’s culture.
It’s time to explore the amazing world of Thai food!
The History of Thai Food
Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Thai chefs aspire towards three features in their recipes: balance, variety, and detail. This means that the food should look as good as it tastes. Colors, texture, appearance, smell, all these traits complement the rich, spicy flavor of Thai food which, on top of everything else, should also contain ingredients with strong medical properties.
Thai cuisine and the culinary traditions have been largely influenced by the neighboring countries, the ethnic groups that live in the country (over 40), as well as western missions in the past. All these have resulted in a number of regional variations of certain dishes. Thai cuisine can be categorized into five regional groups:
- Northern Thai cuisine shows similarities with Laos and Burma, whereas the northeastern cuisine is similar to that of Laos, with minor influences from Cambodia and Vietnam.
- Southern Thai cuisine was influenced by India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, which is shown in the use of ingredients like curry, turmeric, and coconut milk.
- Central Thai cuisine is also known as Royal cuisine and characterizes with great refinement, as well as artistic presentation of the food.
- Bangkok cuisine was under the influence of Chinese and Portuguese cuisines. In fact, many popular Thai dishes, like chok Thai and salapao, were originally Chinese dishes, mostly introduced starting from the 15th century. The Chinese also introduced some staple ingredients like noodles, tofu, and soy sauces but also wok pans, together with the stir-frying and deep-frying techniques. Baking as a cooking technique does not exist in Thailand and most of the household don’t even own ovens.
The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century and are credited for several Thai adaptations of traditional Portuguese dishes like foi thong, where coconut milk replaces cow’s milk in the custard.
During the Columbian Exchange, new crops were introduced from the Americas, the most important of which is probably chili. Other examples include corn, tomatoes, eggplants, peas, pineapple, papaya, pumpkin, peanuts, cashews, and cilantro.
Thai Food Staples
Like in most other Asian cuisines, rice is the staple ingredient of Thai cuisine. It is the first and most important element of every meal. ‘Khao’, the word used to refer to rise is also used to refer to food in general.
Historically, tens of thousands rice varieties have been grown in Thailand and they can be classified into two broad categories:
- Non-glutinous rice like the highly valued, long-grained jasmine rice, which is indigenous to Thailand. Non-glutinous rice is used mostly in the of making fried dishes.
Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce Over Sweet Potatoes and Jasmine Rice
- Sticky rice is a staple food in the northern and northeastern parts of the country. In Thailand, two sub-types of sticky rice are widely used: Thai red rice, with a nutty taste and slightly chewy, and black sticky rice, with rich nutty flavor and mostly used in dessert recipes.
Larb Muang Moo (Northern Thai Style Chopped Pork Salad
Thai people are quite superstitious when it comes to throwing leftovers away since the believe it would enrage the goddess of rice who makes sure everyone has enough to eat. Rice is considered sacred and it is believed that every grain has a divine element in it.
Rice is an integral part of khuluk, a dining practice that consists of mixing different dishes with rice. The food is moved with a fork held in the left hand into a spoon held in the right hand (instead of a knife) and then eaten. Sticky rice is often served shaped into small balls using the right hand only, then dipped into side dishes and eaten.
Rice flour and tapioca flour are often used in desserts or as thickening agents.
Crisp and Chewy Thai Fried Chive Cakes (Kanom Gui Chai)
Noodles are usually made of rice flour, wheat flour, or mung bean flour. Thai noodle dishes, whether stir fried or in the form of a noodle soup, usually come as individual servings and, contrary to Thai dining tradition, are not meant to be shared.
Slow Cooker Sesame Beef Noodle Bowls
Sauces are an indispensable part of Thai cuisine. There are many varieties but we’ve tried to narrow them down to five general categories:
Fish sauce is one of the ‘secret’ ingredients that gives Thai food recipes their unique taste. IT is made of fermented fish and appears in many varieties. Nam pla is a clear and aromatic fish sauce found in most Thai dishes. Another popular type of fish sauce is pla ra, which is opaque and contains pieces of fish.
Tai pla is a sharp sauce used in the southern Thai cuisine, made of fermented mackerel’s entrails. The northern parts use nam pu, a strong, dark paste made of mashed rice-paddy crabs. It is often used in salads, curries, and chili pastes.
Grilled Shrimp with Green Papaya and Mango Salad
Kapi is a shrimp paste made of fermented ground shrimp and salt. It is often used rice dishes and Thai curry pastes.
Yum Yin Gai (Spicy Northern Thai-Style Chicken Soup)
Thai chili pastes are very alike the Indian and Indonesian sambals. They appear in many different varieties and are usually served as dips.
Thai Red Curry Calamari Steak
Thai curry pastes are made of crushed chilies combined with other ingredients like shrimp paste and garlic. They are also served as dips for veggies, but some varieties can be used as spreads.
30 Minute Vegan Chickpea Curry
Thai soy sauces originate in China. They appear in many varieties: dark, light, oyster, and fermented soy sauces. They’re widely used in stir-fries.
Asian Pork Roast
Leaves, Herbs, and Spices
Thai food is known for its elaborate use of fresh herbs and spices, most of which cannot be found in western countries. Leaves and flowers also play an important part in authentic Thai food.
Kaffir lime leaves and zest appear in many soup recipes and curries, often combined with lemongrass or galangal.
Fresh Thai basil differs from basil used in the West by its purple color, among other features, and is used in dishes like green curry.
Thai Green Curry
Banana leaves are used as holders or steamer cups for foods, whereas banana flowers can be found in many salads and curry recipes. Flowers are widely used in Thai cuisine, either as a vegetable (eaten raw or fried) or as a food coloring.
Thai Style Spicy Chicken & Banana Blossom and Herb Salad
The most commonly used herbs are coriander leaves and roots, ginger, turmeric, pandanus leaves, fingerroot, lemon basil, etc.
Asian Meat Loaf
Commonly used spices in Thai food include curry powder, five-spice powder, and peppercorns. The northern parts of the country use a mixture of cumin, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, long pepper, and ash seeds.
Let’s not forget the chili. Thai cuisine uses five types of fresh chili which contribute different levels of hotness to dishes, in addition to two main types of dried chili.
Thai Chicken Chili
- Broccoli, the veggie that is often served in Western adaptations of Thai dishes, has never been used in traditional Thai food and is rarely included even in modern Thai recipes. Instead, it is substituted with khana, a veggie also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale.
Vegetable Pad Thai
- When it comes to veggies, eggplant is certainly one of the most widely used ones.
Asian Grilled Eggplant with Soy Sesame Sauce
- Other vegetables commonly used in Thai cuisine are bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, winged beans, corn, as well as several types of mushrooms.
Asian Chicken Casserole
Fresh fruits are served as dessert after the main meal, individually or along with a spicy dip made of chili, sugar, and salt. Fruits are also included in various dishes like soups, salads, and curries.
The most widely used fruits in Thailand are jackfruit, papaya, mango, mangosteen, durian, longan, langsat, rose apple, Burmese grapes, etc.
Thai Pineapple Chicken Satay
Coconut is one of the stars of Thai cuisine, especially the warm southern parts. Its products, coconut oil, coconut milk, as well as grated coconut flesh, are widely used in both savory and sweet recipes. Besides the nut itself, Thai people also eat the bud of the palm tree and use its sap to produce palm sugar, coconut vinegar, and alcoholic beverages.
Green Papaya Salad
Chicken Coconut Soup
Besides the above mentioned traditionally used fruits, Thailand has started importing some Western varieties like apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, and peaches, which have found their way in many Thai households, especially in the northern parts.
The most commonly used types of meat in Thai food are pork and chicken, but also beef, duck, and water buffalo. Wild game like deer, boar, and wild birds have decreased in popularity in the recent years at the expense of freshwater fish and seafood. In Muslim enclaves, mutton and goat meat prevail.
Coconut Curry Chicken
Certain insects are also eaten, especially in the North parts, where they’re sold on food markets. If you are brave enough, choose among grasshoppers, ant eggs, bee larvae, termites, and silkworms. Insects are usually sold deep-fried and, according to those who have tasted them, quite bland and similar to popcorn. That is why Thai chefs often complement them with herbs and spices.
The Importance of Thai Food
The importance of food in Thai culture is best explained by the fact that, whenever you meet a Thai person, the first thing they’ll ask is “Have you eaten yet?”
In Thailand, food takes the central stage of every social occasion. Moreover, food and eating are often considered a special occasion themselves, a reason to gather the family and celebrate. This is a result of Thai people’s mentality and friendliness, but it also has something to do with how the food is ordered and eaten.
Eating alone is considered bad luck in Thailand but if it has to be done, single dishes like noodle soups or fried rice are the best options. Alternatively, you can have smaller portions of stir fries or curries served together on a plate along with a portion of rice.
Serving Style and Etiquette
Unlike in the West, where each individual orders for him/herself, in Thailand the number of dishes ordered equals the number of people present and all dishes are shared. That is why Thai people prefer more people sitting on the table.
Thai meals typically consist of rice (Khao) with complementary dishes, all served at the same time. Traditionally, a meal should unite the four tastes in order to be considered satisfying: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.
Meals consist of at least five elements:
- dip, the most crucial component of any Thai meal
- clear soup
- stew or curry and
- fried dish consisting of vegetables, meat, fish, or seafood.
In the past, Thai food was traditionally eaten with the right hand while seating the floor, but today people in Thailand mostly use forks and spoons, whereas knives are not used on the table. Also, unlike in China, bowls are used for soups only, while food is served on plates.
Thai people generally take very wholesome breakfasts that usually consist of the same dishes which are also eaten for lunch or dinner like rice porridge with pork, omelet, noodle soup, and chicken & rice.
Desserts and Snacks
Besides fruits and rice cakes, Thai cuisine offers unique desserts made of coconut cream, coconut flesh, and rice flour instead of wheat flour.
Thai Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice
The early versions of ice cream were made of coconut water mixed with ice. Since Thailand couldn’t produce ice, it had to be imported from Singapore. That’s why ice cream was enjoyed only by rich people who used coconut juice and tamarind. Things were made easier after the first ice cream machine was introduced to the country, after which coconut milk was used instead of coconut water.
Ice cream appeared in many different forms in Thailand like ice cream “tubes”, zinc tubes which held the ice cream ingredients and were shaken to solidify before being served on a stick. Another example is the “cut ice cream”, popular in the 1980s, which was sliced into rectangular bars by vendors and then served on wooden sticks.
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As far as snacks are concerned, Thai people really love them. Popular snacks are raw veggies with spicy dips, beef & chicken satay, and spring rolls.
Thai Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce
Similar to Chinese cuisine, the formal presentation of food is another important aspect of Thai culture. It involves serving platters decorated with fruit and vegetable carvings and today Thai food presentation is considered among the most beautiful in the world.
If Lady Gaga says she’s obsessed with a certain food, we have to take her word for it. The singer has revealed that she loves the creamy chickpea paste and eats it almost every day when she’s on tour. This was enough for us to get in the kitchen, experiment with different hummus recipes, and start exploring all things connected to it, from hummus wipes to hummus wraps! Final verdict: the pop star is right, hummus is an obsession-worthy ingredient.
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What is Hummus?
“Even God eats hummus when he visits the Middle East, and you know how powerful he is when it comes to the public opinion.”
This Levantine spread/dip is made primarily of cooked and mashed chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, combined with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The word ‘hummus’ is an Arabic means “chickpea” (the complete name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna which means “chickpeas with tahini”).
Traditionally, hummus is beige in color and usually served on a large plate, often drizzled with some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs, then stuffed in a fresh pita and complemented with cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. Some recipes also call for falafel in the serving combination. Optionally, this tasty paste can be served as an appetizer in a mezze-style or as a dip for vegetables on parties.
In Israel, however, hummus has been promoted to a main dish. The expression ‘hummus wipe’ also comes from this country. The Israeli always start the ritual of eating hummus with the phrase “Let’s go wipe some hummus.” Hummus wipe may also refer to the way in which hummus is eaten (yes, there is a right and a wrong way of consuming this creamy delight). This means that you must never ever use a knife and fork but wipe the hummus off the plate with pieces of pita (shaped like canoes).
Hummus is gradually becoming one of the Middle-Eats most successfully exported cultural-products, mostly as a result of tourists who tasted it while in the region and spread the word.
In fact, if two decades ago people in the US were unable to pronounce the word ‘hummus’, today it is found on the shelves of almost every supermarket and grocery store.
Numbers say that the sales of hummus have quadrupled over the past ten years, threatening to end the domination of guacamole and salsa as America’s two favorite dips!
This rise was accompanied by an increased production of chickpeas in the States – from 25 million pounds in 2009, it has reached 100 million pounds during the recent years.
To support this claim with even more numbers, compared to twenty years ago when annual hummus sales in the States were $5 million, today they are estimated at a whopping $725 million! In other words, while in 2006 only 12% of the US households stocked up on the chickpea spread, today this number is doubled to 25%!
The History of Hummus
The earliest recorded hummus recipes originate from cookbooks written in Cairo, Egypt in the 13th century. The invention of this creamy spread is often attributed to Sultan Saladin, who was the first to combine all the basic hummus ingredients.
However, given the fact that the two main ingredients, chickpeas, and tahini, have been used in the Middle East and Easter Mediterranean for thousands of years, experts believe that hummus’ origins go way back.
Today, many regions and countries around the world claim to be the place of origin of hummus, including Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. The last two countries on the list are especially persistent in their efforts to prove historic ownership of this creamy delight, engaging in a competition of preparing the largest batch of hummus. Currently, Lebanon has the largest serving of hummus. It was made by 300 student chefs and served in 2010 in Beirut. The serving weighed 23,042 lbs. 12 oz. and was served on the new largest ceramic plate, which over 7m in diameter.
As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter who invented it, the very fact that there are so many national and regional hummus varieties makes us jump with joy! The major difference between these different hummus recipes is in the amounts of tahini used. Some varieties include cumin, hot peppers, and/or Greek yogurt; others, like the Turkish recipe, use butter instead of olive oil. But if you keep reading, you will find out that hummus is a versatile spread offers endless flavoring possibilities!
Health Benefits of Hummus
This beige-colored emulsion was further popularized by celebrity health promoters like Dr. Oz and the rising interest in the Mediterranean diet.
People are becoming more and more aware of how important food is to the overall well-being and they turn to healthier options. Nowadays, many modern Americans will choose a tasty and healthy spread like hummus over ranch dip, queso fresco, or mayonnaise.
Hummus is one of those rare foods that offer great taste backed up with amazing nutritive value. Here are the main health benefits of hummus:
- Chickpeas are very high in protein and dietary fiber which make you feel full. This means that, in the long term, hummus will help you eat less and stay slim. Furthermore, these nutty legumes regulate digestion and protect the heart. They are also packed with vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium, three elements credited for relieving PMS symptoms. Garbanzo beans are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, minerals known to boost energy and aid sexual functions, making hummus an aphrodisiac. No wonder they’ve been consumed for more than seven millenniums!
- Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. These seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- The most important nutrients found in olive oil are the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are especially good for the cardiovascular system. To take the most advantage of its health properties, make sure you use extra virgin olive oil.
- Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C which strengthens the immunity, aids digestion, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it acts as a powerful alkalizer and regulates the level of acidity in the body. (Skip the bottled, store-bought versions and use freshly squeezed lemon juice)
- Garlic is rich in flavonoids, sulfur, selenium and many other nutrients that give this vegetable its antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.
- Salt. To keep your hummus recipe healthy, opt for healthier salt options like Himalayan, Celtic, or sea salt. Unlike the highly-processed, iodized table salt, these salts contain a large number of trace minerals which balance the fluids in the organism and facilitate nutrient absorption.
How to Make Traditional Hummus
Homemade hummus is much healthier and richer in taste than the store-bought varieties. You’re just a few steps away from the most delicious summer meal!
2 cups chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Step by step preparation:
Step 1: You can use either raw or canned chickpeas for your homemade hummus recipe.
Raw chickpeas: Raw, dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight to soften. At this point, adding a teaspoon of baking soda will contribute to an extra velvety final product.
After the legumes have soaked overnight, rinse them and place in a pot filled with water. Cook at a low temperature until they’re soft (for about 1-2 hours; they’re done when they start crumbling under your fingers). Skinless garbanzo beans will produce the silkiest paste but peeling them one by one is a laborious task. The addition of baking soda once again in this phase will help separate the skins easily.
Note: Save the water in which the chickpeas were soaked. This liquid is called ‘aquafaba’ and can be added to the food processor together with all the other ingredients to contribute perfect density and some more flavor!
Canned chickpeas: If you don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook your chickpeas, opt for the canned version. Drain the canned chickpeas into a strainer, then rinse under running water.
Step 2: Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor (including some aquafaba).
Note: Some recipes skip the olive oil altogether since tahini is fatty and flavorful enough. This, however, is a matter of personal preference.
Note 2: Having a great processing tool is crucial for obtaining a perfectly smooth and creamy emulsion. Food processors are a better option since they have bigger blades than blenders.
Step 3: Process the ingredients for about two minutes, until you obtain a smooth and uniform paste. Stop to scrape the sides of the food processor’s bowl from time to time.
Step 4: Adjust the taste and texture. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings or, if the hummus is dry, olive oil, aquafaba and/or lemon juice.
Amazing Hummus Recipes
Just when you thought hummus can’t get any better, you realize that there are countless hummus varieties! This creamy dip gives you an opportunity to get creative and make it different every time. You can add practically everything you have in the fridge: spices, herbs, tired veggies to make it even healthier and more flavorful. Here are just a few suggestions to tickle your imagination:
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Spicy Chipotle-Lime Hummus
Cucumber Hummus with Dill
Smokey Sweet Potato Hummus
Bell Pepper and Mint Lentil Hummus
How to Consume Hummus
Hummus will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge. Note: the smear tends to thicken when stored, so you might need to add some more aquafaba or olive oil before each consumption.
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Transfer your hummus mixture into a bowl and serve it as a dip, along with raw vegetables or, make the best combination ever – hummus and chips. When we say hummus and chips, we refer to pita chips. And since this is one of our favorite game night and movie night snacks, here is how to make it:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with some olive oil.
Step 2: Take one pita bread with pockets or two without pockets. If your pitas have pockets, split them in half using a knife. If the pitas are without pockets, cut them into 8 wedges (like a pizza).
Step 3: Brush the wedges with oil on both sides, then season with at least salt (other spices and herbs are optional, feel free to use your imagination).
Step 4: Arrange the pita wedges on the baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pita chips over, then return and bake until crispy and golden-brown, for another 5 minutes (thinner pitas need lower temperatures and, hence, a bit longer baking time, about 7-8 minutes).
Step 5: Make sure you let the pita chips cool completely before serving. Need recipes?
Hummus and Herbed Baked Pita Chips
Homemade Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips
Smear it onto your sandwich or on a pita and make a hummus wrap, combining it with various vegetables, meats, or even seafood.
Quinoa Hummus Wrap
Greek Grilled Chicken and Hummus Wrap
Egg and Veggie Hummus Wrap
You can also add hummus on top of meats and fish before roasting to add extra flavor.
Baked Hummus Crusted Chicken
Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Hummus Sauce
Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Pizza
Parsley Scallion Hummus Pasta
Summer is finally here! We have long been preparing for it by focusing on healthy foods like cucumber salad and tomato soups, as well as avoiding foods with added sugars. Turns out, we’ve been following the hottest trends all this time!
Even though the first association for food trends is probably Instagram attractions like cloud eggs or unicorn foods (we’ll get to them later), research shows that two-thirds of the people DO care about what they eat and how it affects their overall health, longevity, and cognitive sharpness. This means that no matter how good colorful foods ‘grams look, most people would probably pass on them.
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However, after a vast research, we have decided to include both categories of food trends in our summer trend report: healthy and unusual, alongside hot national cuisines and the most popular smart-eating trend at the moment. Give them a try, even if it means just taking a cool photo that will liven up your Instagram feed! Here are a few to start with…
Unusual Instagram Food Trends
We’re happy to announce that unicorn food will not be taking center stage this summer. But even though the amount of color is decreasing (slightly), the level of weirdness is still quite high and mythical creatures continue to appear. And you know what, we can roll our eyes as much as we want, but no one can dispute their prettiness!
Credit: Daria Khoroshavina
Cloud eggs have taken the world by storm! As sophisticated as they might look, these fluffy clouds are very simple to make by separating the egg whites and whipping them until thick and fluffed up. Then, the yolk is placed in the center. Their great taste can be further enhanced by including ingredients like cheese, bacon herbs, or spices into the white.
Cloud bread follows the lead of cloud eggs by looking, tasting, and (let’s face it) sounding great. But it also has one more important feature – it’s healthy. Unlike traditional breads, this cloudy delight is packed with protein and has no carbs!
Inspire yourself: Cheesy Garlic Cloud Bread Texas Toast
It all started with mermaid toast, a beautiful, ocean-inspired creation (relative to unicorn toast -there it is again 😊). Most varieties you see on your Instagram feed are probably not so good for you, made with food coloring mixed into cream cheese, then smeared on top of a toast bread.
However, with a few minor adjustments, your mermaid toast can be made healthier. Enter more food trends: use sprouted bread and color the cream cheese with turmeric root to obtain yellow and orange, beet juice for pink, chlorophyll drops for green, freeze-dried blueberry powder to get purple color, and spirulina powder/blue majik for blue.
Capturing this amazing aquatic look is much easier in mermaid smoothie bowls and, as of recent, the world can enjoy mermaid coffees as well. Cheers!
Blue Majik Foods
This vibrant ingredient doesn’t appear only in mermaid foods. Blue Majik is an extract of spirulina, blue-and-green algae that are full of protein. So, the feelings of satiety that protein produces, together with the great looks will have to be enough to persuade you to try fishy-smelling blue majik smoothies and desserts.
Activated Charcoal Foods
Maybe you’re more familiar with the term ‘goth’ popularized some time ago with the appearance of black goth ice cream. The name is much fancier but it refers to the same thing – activated charcoal, the social media’s new favorite ingredient.
This black ingredient isn’t just cool and unique, but it also offers some serious health benefits. To name just a few: it boosts the digestive system, removes toxins, reduces bad cholesterol levels, and decreases bloating. Besides ice cream, you can enjoy charcoal bread, kabobs, pancakes, cakes, macaroon cookies, and more!
Inspire yourself: Mickey Bento
Having problems detecting your food during midnight craving visits to the kitchen? Fluorescent foods are just for you!
After the huge success of neon foods like cotton candy and ice stream ramen, ‘glonuts’ are stealing the fluorescent show this year. Don’t worry, they are not radioactive. On the contrary, glow-in-the-dark donuts are 100% natural, the glowing glaze being made of vitamin B.
Inspire yourself: Vanilla Doughnuts
If you have seen Tastemade’s series Tiny Kitchen, you know what we’re talking about. It features various tiny foods including mini munchkins, M&Ms, McDonald’s happy meal, breakfast meal, pizza, potatoes… All of them made in a tiny little kitchen equipped with tiny little kitchen appliances, and with great precision. We don’t know about the taste, but they sure look cute!
It all began with the unicorn latte (here it is again), then came the avolatte, now it is carrot latte. What is it? Just a latte poured into a hollowed-out carrot. It was made as a joke and received quite a few negative comments, but it still managed to hit the ‘grams and become a huge hit.
Let’s look at the cons. First, we must assume that there are carrot bits floating inside the coffee (yuck). Second, the carrot probably doesn’t hold the coffee well so the chances of making a mess are quite big. On the positive side, “if it cuts down on the wastage from coffee cups why not?”, as one happy customer said.
If you don’t find carrots attractive enough to replace cups, there are also lattes served in apples or you can try tomato cortado, whatever that is.
Inspire yourself: Frothy Matcha Latte
Buddha Bowls are the perfect transition from attractive Instagram foods towards healthy foods. The name reference is from the book Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind. In terms of ingredients, they include green veggies (fiber), whole grain (good fats), and protein. In addition, they are easy to make at home and contain almost no calories.
Inspire yourself: Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl
Healthy Food Trends
Forget traditional summer barbecues. Plant-based foods are on the rise, especially plant-based protein as a substitute for red meat. So, instead of beef, opt for falafel, chickpea, and quinoa burgers!
Inspire yourself: Veggie Burgers
Chia seeds have been around for some time and their popularity doesn’t seem to fade away! It’s no wonder considering this seed’s nutritional values – it is gluten-free and full of proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, it is quite versatile and can be used in various baked recipes, like breads, cakes, and muffins!
To unite healthiness and popularity once again, let’s mention another huge Instagram trend – chia jars, an amazing creation of alternating fruit and chia pudding layers. Chia pudding is very simple to make by putting chia seeds in a mason jar, then covering them with milk. After a while, the seeds will absorb the liquid and expand. That’s your cue for topping them with nuts, fruits, or whatever your heart desires.
Inspire yourself: Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding
Coconut is everywhere! With alternative milks made of nuts or soy gaining popularity at the expense of cow milk, coconut leads the way as one of the most popular ingredients to embrace this summer. Like chia, coconut is also considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, especially in the form of coconut oil which is credited for preventing a large number of chronic diseases including cancer and diabetes. Besides oil, this tropical fruit-nut-seed (three in one!) also appears as coconut water, ice cream, chips, jam, butter, you name it!
Inspire yourself: Mango and Coconut Tartlets
While at the butter topic, alternative nut butters have really exploded in popularity. To translate this into numbers: The popularity of cashew butter has increased by 998 percent, pistachio butter – 348 percent, and almond butter has increased by 121 percent.
Inspire yourself: Candie Cookie Bites
White bread vs. sprouted bread. Despite statistics claiming that people have started favoring sprouted grains and bread made from them, Matt Preston, an English-Australian food journalist, restaurant critic, writer, and television personality, has shocked the world with his claim that humble white bread is making a big comeback. “Diners are getting tired of jellies and foams, and the fine dining market is saturated with chefs who forage, pickle and ferment,” he said. The question here is do you want to be trendy or in good health?
Inspire yourself: Herb French Bread
Hot National Cuisines
After looking at the summer trends throughout the net we have connected a few dots and united three hot trends under one name: Mexican wave.
First, we have discovered that there is a serious taco fever taking over the world this summer. Makes sense, since this dish is perfect for hot days – simple, spicy, and versatile. When it comes to fillings, feel free to use just about anything that comes to mind, from classic ingredients to yesterday’s leftovers. Or, if you want to stay in fashion, opt for pickles.
Pickled and fermented veggies are another food trend we have identified. They don’t just add flavor to your dishes, but they are also healthy (especially good for the gut). Pickle some sliced jalapeños for your summer tacos and you have the summer 2017’s winner dish!
Savory yogurts. Very simple, buy some plain, unsweetened yogurt and twist it with savory add-ins: feta cheese, grated cucumber, avocado, lemon juice & zest, paprika, mint, toasted pine nuts. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are a must for every combination! Chill your savory yogurt, grab a spoon and enjoy it directly from the bowl, or dollop onto your tacos for a refreshing note.
Inspire yourself: Southwestern Beef Tacos
Another national cuisine to pay close attention to this summer is Filipino cuisine, thanks to top chef Anthony Bourdain. This food connoisseur claims that certain dishes from this underestimated cuisine will win the hearts of hipsters around the globe very soon. Bourdain has a particular dish in mind: pork sisg – a casual, accessible, and crispy dish made from liver and pig’s head!
Inspire yourself: Maple-Glazed Pork
Smart Eating Summer Trend– Sustainable Food
Millennials have paved the road for smart eating choices after making waste-free eating the hottest trend for 2016.
Food waste control is at the core of this year’s smart trend as well. Sustainable foods take into account environmental, health, social, and economic factors. This industry is focused on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. It tries to reduce the use of animal foods as they’re among the most energy and greenhouse-gas intensive food products, as well as endangered fish species. In addition, it promotes healthy eating, fair trade, and food democracy. It’s worth thinking about it!
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If you want to be part of the sustainable food trend, have a sustainable coffee at the McDonald’s or a taco made with sustainable salmon at the Rubio’s.
Enjoy good food and create great memories this summer!
Have you been spending a lot of money on your office lunches? It is estimated that an average person spends between $10 and $15 a day on junk food while at work. Still, the damage done on the household budget is not the only downside that should make you consider switching to home-packed food; there are two more reasons why you should do it:
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– Health. There is no need to talk about how harmful fast food is. Changing the type of food you eat is the first step to creating a healthy lifestyle. Consuming homemade food on a daily basis provides variety and allows you to control portion sizes. Not to mention it tastes much better.
– Convenience. Even though the daily expenses related to food-on-the-go are significant, many people continue relying on fast food due to convenience – order and you have a warm meal in a matter of minutes.
However, packing lunch at home can be very simple and that is what this post is all about. It all comes down to two things: organization and routine. Keep reading and learn how to become a professional lunch box-packer that complies healthy and balanced meals for the whole family completely stress-free!
- Check Your Fridge and Pantry
Make sure your fridge and pantry are always filled with staples like sandwich bread, along with your family’s favorite ingredients. Stock such ingredients in a bulk to be sure you won’t run out at a critical moment. This will minimize the stress and speed up the whole process.
- Use up the Leftovers
By packing leftovers, you save any unwanted food from ending up in the trash (which is another way to save money), providing diversity at the same time. One option is to make extra dinner and pack the leftovers to eat at work. Another option is to re-purpose leftovers – for instance, if you had roast chicken for dinner, use the leftover meat to make a quick chicken salad, wraps, or sandwiches.
- Balance the Meals
When packing your lunch, make sure it contains a wide range of nutrients. Here is what you need to include in order to cover all daily needs:
– Protein to give you enough strength and energy for the day. Plan to include about 2 oz. of protein in the form of meat, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, or nut butter.
– Fruit and vegetables to be sure your meal is packed with vitamins and minerals. We recommend bananas, strawberries, carrots, and broccoli, but anything you choose is fine.
– Whole grains to provide fiber that will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Think whole grain bread or pasta.
– Don’t forget to include a bottle of water for refreshment and hydration and a coffee to keep you awake!
- Plan ahead. Make Sunday a day to prep the meals for the whole week. Draw up a weekly meal plan and shop for the ingredients accordingly. You can make bigger batches of meals and distribute them throughout work days or freeze part of them for future use.
- Another option is to prepare your lunch boxes the night before to prevent being late. You are probably groggy and in a hurry when you get ready for work, so forgetting certain items or even the whole lunch box is very likely.
- Line up. If you really must assemble your lunch box in the morning, the least you can do is arrange all the containers and ingredients you’ll need on the counter. This will save you plenty of time & nerves.
- Whole fruits are great to eat on the go, but veggies are a bit more complicated since they need to be washed and chopped. Do this they day you get them from the supermarket and store them is containers or zip-lock bags in the fridge until ready to use.
The first rule to go by when choosing your containers is: make sure they are high-quality and convenient. There is no need to have a whole cupboard of containers. Here are the essentials everyone needs.
- Lunch Boxes. Apparently, lunchboxes have evolved into portable electric heating containers, heat-resistant glass boxes, and complex stainless-steel vacuum lunch jars. These advanced lunch boxes allow you to heat your meals wherever you are, pack liquid foods without the fear of spilling or place them directly into the microwave, but we believe that there is nothing better than the simple, old-school plastic ones.
Choose a compartment lunchbox that will help control portions and prevent different ingredients clean (you don’t want your pasta spilled over the fruits!).
No matter what type of lunchbox you decide to invest in, you can rest assured that it is a far better option than plastic zip-lock bags. According to statistics, American families spend over $80 yearly on plastic bags, which makes them budget-unfriendly. In addition, plastic boxes are reusable and hence eco-friendly. And finally, they allow for minimum mess and waste.
If you still find it difficult to give up baggies, try reusable silicone ones. Unlike their plastic counterpart, these airtight bags contain no harmful materials such as PVC or latex. They are made of the best food-grade silicone and are safe to throw in the microwave, freezer, even the dishwasher.
- Drink containers. Everybody needs one reusable drink container. We prefer plastic over glass because it is unbreakable and over stainless steel because it is lighter. Plastic containers will enable you to replace store-bought juices full of added sugars with fresh ones but are also perfect for milk, sodas, and water.
Alternatively, you can opt for reusable blood bags. As creepy as these bags might sound, they are quite convenient since don’t take up too much space. Moreover, they are completely food safe and widely used for parties and decorations.
- Coffee thermos or travel mugs are the perfect choices for caffeine lovers. They are leak-resistant and heat-insulated, ideal for keeping your coffee or tea aromatic and warm for hours. These containers are perfect for soups, chili, and other meals that are served hot, but you can also use them for smoothies!
- Mini dip containers might seem too tiny and insignificant but you will soon come to realize how difficult life is without them. Use them for sauces, dips, dressings, and more!
- Lunch bags come in so many shapes, sizes, and exciting colors. Some of them have such cool designs, they can safely pass as regular bags that match your outfit! Besides great looks, lunch bags come with a specific function – they keep your food chilled until you are ready to eat.
Sometimes, good organization is not enough to keep you repeating the same routine over and over again. Here is what you can do to inspire yourself.
- Do a research. Find an amazing cooking app and pack your smartphone with quick and easy recipes. Read through blogs dedicated to packing lunches (yes, such things do exist) to find ideas and resources. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Printables. To make things easier and far more interesting, print colorful weekly or monthly meal plans and pin them on the fridge. They will not only help you stay organized but will also make your kitchen more cheerful! In addition, print some cute notes to slip inside your loved ones’ lunchboxes and brighten up their day.
- Make your lunch containers cooler. If you are skillful, decorate them yourself by sticking fun handmade drawings or turning food into art. In addition to your vivid imagination, owning a few cookie cutters and some food coloring will come handy in this case. Less artistic souls can download some great lunchbox designs online. Not fancy enough for you? Buy a lunch box worthy of showing off.
Explore antique shops for vintage lunch boxes – you might just get lucky and find a hidden gem. But bear in mind that such pleasure comes with a price – lunch containers from the 1900’s are very popular collector’s items and real aficionados are prepared to pay between $1500 – $13000 for rarities featuring Superman, Mickey Mouse, or the Beatles.
However, this is nothing compared to the most expensive lunch box in the world. The Takashimaya Restaurant in New York serves Oscheriyori, the world’s most expensive lunch box meal worth over $230.000 made completely out of gold (of course we know this is crazy and impossible, just sharing a fun fact 😊)
- Partner up with a coworker to share recipes and ideas but also to eat lunch together. Having support when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is very important, especially if the rest of the colleagues stay loyal to fast food and sweet treats. You can also make an arrangement to bring food alternately, which will certainly reduce the pressure since you will only have to pack lunchboxes every other work day!
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In the end, remember: eating healthy is important, but treating yourselves to a guilty pleasure from time to time is definitely not a crime.