July 31, 2018
A group of Japanese volunteers launched this July a recipe book on healthy food inspired by Japanese home cooking "10 Recipes to Stay Healthy" to help address Filipino nutritional needs.
The launching coincides with the Philippine government's celebration of Nutrition Month this July to raise awareness on the importance of nutrition among Filipinos.
Japanese volunteer Ayaka Takagi under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers Program (JOCV) of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) together with former Japanese volunteers Yui Uneme and Momoe Nishizaki spearheaded the recipe book project along with seven other Japanese volunteers in the Philippines.
"The recipe book is our contribution to the efforts of the Philippine government to encourage parents and children to improve the nutrition status of more Filipinos so they may live healthier and productive lives," said Ms Takagi, who was dispatched to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Tagbilaran, Bohol.
Data from the National Nutrition Survey 2015 showed that Filipinos only consume 123 grams of vegetables and 37 grams of fruits every day. This was lower than the more than 400 grams of vegetables and fruits a day prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Philippine National Nutrition Council under the Department of Health (DOH) has launched "10 Kumainments," a set of nutritional guidelines for Filipinos. Likewise, the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute has been advocating the Filipino Plate or Pinggang Pinoy to educate Filipinos on healthy eating.
The recipe book also introduced said guidelines in the book to raise awareness on balanced diet and healthy living. The volunteers also showed how to use readily available local ingredients to come up with Japanese home cooking-inspired recipes. They also explained how to measure ingredients as some Filipino households do not have measuring implements.
The book featured recipes for okonomiyaki (pan-fried vegetable), oyako-don (chicken and egg bowl), udon (Japanese noodle), kaki-age (fried mix vegetable), and sweet squash.
"We hope to share a part of Japanese food culture with our Filipino counterparts so they may incorporate healthy ingredients like vegetables in their diet," said Sae Tanaka, a Japanese volunteer working in Municipal Health Office in Corella, Bohol.
In 2013, Japanese food was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage citing the traditions and ingredients used for them. The Japanese diet is also considered one of the healthiest in the world, and Japanese people are among those with high life expectancy at 83.7 years old (WHO, 2017 data) that is also strongly linked to their diet.
The Japanese volunteers in the Nutrition and Food Committee published the book. Copies have been distributed to families, students, teachers, farmers, health centers, and government offices in the Philippines where the JOCVs are dispatched, including communities in Bohol, Samar, and Panay.
Japanese volunteer Kaori Nemoto supervised the book's design and Peace Corps volunteer Samantha Jefferys supervised the translation of the book.
The Nutrition and Education Committee of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers launched a Japanese recipe book to boost nutrition in Filipino communities. From left, standing: Tetsuya Kawata, Momoe Nishizaki, Yui Uneme, Ayaka Takagi, and Sae Tanaka; from left, seated: Wakana Horikiri, Mai Tatara, Yukako Abe, Ayumi Asada, and Mikiko Morishita
The Japanese recipe book uses readily available local ingredients to create healthy dishes
JOCV Miho Akai and Ayaka Takagi held a cooking demonstration of healthy Japanese dishes in an agricultural fair organized in Bohol