I grew up relishing chicken tinola (chicken in ginger and lemongrass soup, with green papaya) that is never complete without these small dark green leaves floating in the soup, sometimes clinging on plates and utensils. Us Cebuanos, the merry mix of vegetables in utan bisaya is made more nutritious with the addition of this leaves, or sometimes in fish soups slightly soured by kamias. These mighty green leaves go well with other vegetables, in different dishes and in different cooking styles. The tree is ubiquitous; you can notice almost all household have at least one tree growing in their backyard. This is our Kamunggay (Malunggay or Moringa Oleifera), very ordinary vegetable known to many but only few has realized its wondrous potential. What malunggay can do more is unknown to many.
According to Loren Legarda in an article written in www.abs-cbnnews.com Lifestyle section, malunggay is exceptionally good source of provitamin A, Vitamin B and C, minerals (iron in particular) and sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. The Biotechnology Program Office of Department of Agriculture mentioned in an article written in www.agribusinessweek.com, malunggay has been found by biochemist and molecular anthropologists to be rich in Vitamins C and A and high density lipoprotein and good cholesterol. It has 4 times the calcium content of milk the reason why most lactating mothers in our country are advised to eat this vegetable. Gram for gram, the leaves contain two times the protein in milk, 3 times the potassium in bananas and four times the vitamin A in carrots. Health nutritionist claims that an ounce of malunggay has the same vitamin content of 7 oranges. An important function of Vitamin C not known to many is its being antioxidant.
Because of its nutritional content, malunggay strengthens immune system, restores skin condition, controls blood pressure, relieves headache and migraines, manages the sugar level thereby preventing diabetes, reduces inflammations and arthritis pains, restricts the growth of tumors and heals ulcers.
There are more health benefits than you ever think malunggay can give to us. As a kid whenever we have cuts or wounds, our first aid is to grab some malunggay leaves, roll it heavily or pound it until juice comes out. The extract is then dropped to the open wound, and after a few minutes, bleeding stops. The two online journals I have mentioned listed a lot of healing wonders of this lowly green leafy tree.
No wonder a lot of dietary supplements made out of malunggay flourished nowadays, and the Nutrition Center of the Philippines is setting its sight on fortifying different food types. Now we have noodles made out of malunggay, breads with malunggay, and the list goes on.
It is touted by scientist as a “miracle vegetable” and it has been promoted by World Health Organization for the past 20 years as a low-cost health enhancer in poor countries around the world. A proposed Senate Bill 1349 was passed by Senator Loren Legarda at the senate pushing for the production, processing, marketing and distribution of malunggay to maximize the benefits of underutilized crop.
And to celebrate the magnificent wonders of these tiny green leaves can do to us, I am devoting the succeeding blog posts entirely for Kamunggay. The recipes are tried in my kitchen and I'd like to share it with you. We love that in soups (I still remember how my eldest sibling prepares his creamy corn soup with malunggay, and how my Papsi loves the soup from simmering the young malunggay fruit pods) or mixed in stews, or in omelette (my landlord creatively stuffed his rolled egg omelette with malunggay). I hope you will find the versatility of malunggay in your kitchen like I do. Let’s exploit the many wonders of this nutrient-packed, very cheap (almost no cost at all) vegetable.
Plant one now and get a steady supply all year long. Why buy expensive vegetables, health and dietary supplements when you can get all its glory right at your backyard.
Let's elevate and put the spotlight on our KAMUNGGAY!