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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!

sesame-crusted tuna loin with wasabi

Sesame-crusted tuna loin with wasabi

Tuna is an excellent source of protein and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that help lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis. Moreover, cooked with sesame seeds and herbs, it tastes delicious!


900 grams tuna loin
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
5 to 6 pcs of 2-inch dried chilies
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

For the wasabi mayo sauce:

½ tsp wasabi
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Mix 1/2 tsp wasabi with 2 Tbsp mayonnaise. Serve on the side.


1. Roast the spices (ground pepper, black and white sesame, sweet paprika) in a pan with no oil for about two to three minutes. Take note, you shouldn’t move the spices for 10 seconds. After that, stir and when it appears crisp and the aroma is stronger but not burnt, it’s done.

2. Put the roasted spices on a plate, making sure that it’s well-mixed.

3. Get the loin and brush all of its sides with Dijon mustard, just enough to coat it.

4. Roll the tuna loin in the plate with the roasted spices.

5. Set the spice-crusted tuna loin aside.

6. Using low heat, warm the canola oil and add the dried chilies. You can choose to break the chilies if you want the dish spicier. 7. Cook the chilies for about four minutes or until black.

8. Fry the tuna for two minutes. Use the tongs to make sure that the fish is well-cooked on all sides, with 10 to 30 seconds per side. You can tilt the pan to slightly submerge the tuna in the oil.

9. You’ll know it’s cooked when it’s crispy and brown.

10. When it’s done, set the fish aside for about five minutes before slicing into ½ inch cuts. This will yield about 12 slices per 900 gram tuna loin.

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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