Alugbati (Malabar Spinach)

While we all love to indulge in guilty pleasure dishes every once in a while, there truly is something refreshing about eating healthy food. And especially if you’re a Filipino, you will at one point learn to enjoy and relish in your heaps of leafy greens in one plate. The secret truly is mixing and matching the right components with one another. Through this, we can bring the best out of our vegetables and fruits. A massively nutritious component that can’t be forgotten in Filipino cuisine is Alugbati. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you’d probably recognize its somewhat citrus-y taste and semi-sticky texture.

While I previously mentioned that balanced combinations in ingredients is key to making a delicious, healthy dish, Alugbati is a great choice to add to various combinations. With its mild flavor and satisfyingly crisp texture, it works great with stews, salads, fried meals, and many other recipes. But before I introduce you to them, let me give you a bit of a backgrounder on this pleasant vegetable!

What is Alugbati? 

Firstly, let me answer a commonly asked question about this ingredient. What is Alugbati in English? You may have heard of this component often in your kitchen at home. But have you truly gotten to know its roots? Alugbati is actually known as Malabar spinach, Indian spinach or vine spinach in most other countries, but it isn’t actually a kind of spinach. But when you cook it up, it tastes very much like spinach

And because it grows great in hot weather, cooks love to utilize it when salad greens aren’t available. Most of these, including lettuce, usually thrive in colder tempreatures. And so in the Philippines, we love to grow our own Alugbati, which grows nicely in temperate places, and is also quite perfect for tropical lowlands.

Alugbati benefits for your health:

Integrating a good arrangement of vegetables into your meals has always been a great idea to keep your health in check. And our Alugbati is definitely one vegetable you should think about adding to your diet. Did you know that just 100 grams of this, which equates to about one serving, already gives you 35 percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA)? And it also provides 23 percent of the RDA for manganese. The leaves in Alugbati also provide compounds you’ll need to keep your body away from free radicals. These contain antioxidants such as lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, and they are carotenoids. These help keep blue light away from the deep layers of our retina, and keep your eyes nice and healthy.

, which is why people consider it to be a great alternative to the leafy component.

How to plant Alugbati:

Start off by making sure you’ve got the right conditions for your Alugbati plant. If you live in the Philippines, you’ve got a pretty good setup already, as it thrives in hot and humid climates. But if you live in a colder place, your plant’s development might be a little slower, and yield less produce. Still, you can try making this work by making sure your Alugbati plants get full sunlight for most of the day. Now let’s head on the process of planting this versatile vegetable!

Since you’ll be planting from home, it will be best to use cuttings for your garden. For this, you may want to use stem cuttings that are already quite mature, and are about 20 to 25 centimeters long. It would also be ideal to use with a minimum of 3 internodes. Then when you’ve picked them out, you should soak them in some water overnight. You also have the option of keeping them in an area away from light, and is quite damp for a day or 2.

After this preparation, you’re all good to go with growing some vine spinach! Begin by getting 2 to 4 of your cuttings, and watering them prior to planting. Now place them at 15 to 20 centimeters between hills, and 20 to 30 between rows. After this, you can water the cuttings again if your soil is lacking in some moisture. Then we’ll be mulching this or covering it with a layer of grass clippings or some rice straw.

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