Healthy holidays Vegetarian options for Noche Buena

Michael Rey M. Cortes

CHRISTMAS Day is really close. The breeze is now cooler, setting up the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season is a celebration of family traditions and is known to highlight a grand banquet. It has been a long practice of Filipinos to celebrate Christmas Eve with “Noche Buena”—a night of feasting over good food and drinks together with the family.

Noche Buena is perfectly celebrated with the proverbial “lechon” paired with all sorts of notorious unhealthy dishes. Some health-conscious people consider this special day as a perfect cheat treat. However, for those who give more sober thought to the season’s festivities, there are options to celebrate without compromising health.

There’s no excuse that a vegetarian Christmas feast can’t be as satisfying and fulfilling as meaty dishes. Here is a menu worth checking out for all you health buffs.

Pennette with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti is never absent during a Filipino special occasion. While this dish captivates the taste buds of pasta lovers with its meaty and saucy concoction, the Pennette with Spicy Tomato Sauce is a perfect vegan-dish alternative. Tender penne is blended with a tomato sauce seasoned with red pepper and garnished with parsley. Feel free to add your personal touches.

Vegetable Afritada

Imagine the usual way of cooking afritada but skipping the meat. This tomato-based soup mixes potatoes, bell peppers, and carrots, and is ideally served over a cup of rice. Vegans will still get a taste of the meaty afritada forgetting that it’s an all-veggie dish.

Lumpiang Togue

This here is the most sought-after appetizer in every Filipino banquet. Set aside the fat-rich ground pork and replace it with bean sprouts. The bean sprouts are typically cooked first together with carrots, green beans, or even tofu. Wrap it up with a lumpia wrapper then deep fry until golden brown. Enjoy the mouthwatering combo of crisp and savory vegetable pieces with spiced vinegar.

Tofu Mushroom Sisig

Can’t resist that smoking plate of pork sisig topped with an egg left untouched for you to mix in? Prepare a healthier alternative and add it to your Vegan Noche Buena menu. This sisig uses tofu and mushroom as a healthy alternative for pork. Sizzle it with a metal plate and crack an egg on top of it just like the usual sisig. Squeezing some calamansi juice into it would complement its taste.

Bihon Pancit

They say that noodles are a good dish to prepare as it signifies of a longer life. The Filipino Bihon Pancit is naturally vegan as meat is only an option. Simply mix noodles and vegetables just before serving. You may also add tofu and a bit of fresh lemon juice to add an extra zing to the taste.

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