Think ‘Sleepy Hollow’, think scary trees… Well that’s what I always think of when I look at the native Malunggay trees that are rife here in the Philippines. Sadly, I find that they are not a beautiful tree to look at, but they do harbor an abundance of beautiful jewels; the tiny round malunggay leaves. Rich in Vitamin A, B & C, Iron and calcium they are one of nature’s great super foods.
The trees can be seen everywhere in rural areas and their leaves can be seen in abundance in every market; they are a staple part of every Filipinos diet. At approximately 10 cents per bundle they are a great means for families to meet some of their daily nutritional needs. Commonly here in the Philippines they are added to soup broths. With the growing trends in health foods, many individuals are looking to source international super foods; Malunggay is becoming one of them. Along with adding them to soups and stews, the more Western palate can add them to a bed of salad leaves or they can be dried and sprinkled in a smoothie as a powder. Whilst they are readily available everywhere, we source ours from Forest Camp in Valencia, run by the Vicuna family.
Here at Atmosphere, we add them to some of our dishes on our Healthy Living Menu with the most creative being our executive heads chefs favorite; Malunggay ice cream! When eaten it has a delicious spinach green leaf taste not so different from green tea; I like to believe you can literally taste the goodness in them whilst at thew same time it is a sweet creamy ice cream made with soy milk and natural sweetener such as honey and stevia. We have also added Malunggay cake to our healthy Living Menu and the two go great together! We also cook with Malunggay in our Fish Sinigang and our “Pinoy Pride” and many other delicious dishes at Atmosphere Resorts & Spa.
Yet, the true beauty of these trees runs a lot deeper than just the leaves, other parts such as the seeds and flowers have been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and anti-diabetic properties. Some lay further claims that parts of the tree can be used to lower blood pressure and can be used in the treatment of cancers. Indeed, the Malunggay tree is like an oyster, not so pretty on the outside, but what you cannot see but have to discover for yourself is the true beauty within.
/Rae, Wellness Manager at Atmosphere