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Dreaming of a healthier Christmas

Alternative Noche Buena recipes for the health-conscious.

By Val Calma


For almost every Filipino, there is no other meal so anticipated with excitement than the Noche Buena or the Christmas Eve meal.

While we can’t resist all the traditional sugared hams, lechon, fried chicken, lumpia, and pancit, as well as the endless array of pastries and sweets laid out on the family table for Noche Buena, we should remember that a lot of our traditional Christmas fare can be unhealthy and fattening. This holds especially true for those of us who like to help ourselves to two or three plates.

Nevertheless, since it is Christmas and a time to enjoy ourselves with family and friends, there’s really no need to starve ourselves. Instead, including healthier dishes in the menu or creating a less fatty, more nutritious alternative menu might keep you from piling on the pounds or from feeling too bloated after your Noche Buena.

To help you create a leaner holiday meal, here are wholesome and delicious dishes that are perfect for a Merry Christmas meal!

Hickory Baby Back Ribs

Hickory Baby Back Ribs

Many of us enjoy eating meat and it's difficult to cut back, especially during the holidays when we're supposed to "eat, drink, and be merry."

But instead of going for spare ribs or country style ribs, baby back ribs are a suitable leaner and thinner alternative to the other two--a tasty substitute that'll soon be a menu mainstay in the years to come.


1 1/2 rack pork baby back ribs
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup butter
1 bottle of hickory sauce
3 Tbsp of Dijon mustard


Rosemary twigs


1. Cook the ribs in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes

2. Hang the ribs dry for an hour

3. Sautee the garlic in butter

4. Brush the garlic and butter mixture onto the ribs

5. On a griller, put the ribs on top of the fire for five minutes on each side.

6. After this, place the ribs on the side without the fire for 45 minutes.

7. Brush with hickory sauce, butter and Dijon. Do this every 20 minutes while turning the ribs.

8. Cover the grill.

9. The ribs should be medium-well at about 45 minutes in.

10. Brush the ribs one more time on all sides before removing from the grill.

11. Set aside to cool for 12 minutes.

12. Serve with a side of grilled or boiled yellow corn.

The optional rosemary twigs can be put on the coals to add a nice aroma to your ribs

For more healthy and hearty holiday recipes, grab a copy of the December-January issue of HealthToday magazine, out now in major newsstands and bookstores.

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