What Really Makes Halo-Halo Healthy


Image from Del Monte, Philippines.

I and my wife love to sit on our porch together, talk lightly and giggle while enjoying cheap halo-halo we bought at the corner store on a hot summer late afternoon. It’s a cool, delightful and colorful dessert (or snack) and leisurely eating it is healthy. And that’s what really makes halo-halo healthy—eating it leisurely. Here’s why.

It’s actually mostly carbs, with every ingredient cooked and sweetened—beans, bananas, langka, camote, ube—so that most of the nutrients in them have either evaporated by heat or been ruined by the sugar. And then most people add in more refined sugar. I can’t believe how some people just put “shovels” of sugar in their halo-halo. The milk is supposed to be healthy but it’s canned. Sometimes, they put a scoop or two of ice cream, but that too is mostly carbs and preservatives. Leche flan (my favorite) is rich in eggs and milk (that’s protein-rich for you), but it also has tons of sugar.

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Here’s a Healthy Version

Halo-halo only becomes healthy if you eat it relaxed and leisurely. That fights off stress and free radicals that damage good cells in you. The sweet taste triggers endorphin, serotonin and dopamine actions. But aside from the leisurely eating aspect, I doubt if halo-halo would improve your health, even if it has lots of fruits. Don’t be surprised if it makes you fatter. So, remember that eating halo-halo hurriedly or with all stressful thoughts and emotions still intact in you is useless. Being less busy makes halo-halo healthy.

And yes, lots of people do not realize how fun and sweet things can only be enjoyed if you combine them with being less busy. These days, it’s become difficult to learn being less busy because we think busyness makes us productive. But you can change all that and enjoy a new, better you so you can enjoy delightful desserts like halo-halo better, too.

I haven’t eaten this but I hope some creative guy would come up with something like it. Why not use uncooked ingredients? Like uncooked bananas and langka, and then add in some cubed mangoes, red and ripe aratilis (native cherries), tiny scooped melons and some super-ripe papaya slices that melt into a kind of fruity sauce? Watermelons are also welcome. It’s okay to keep some cooked traditional stuff like camote, sago, kaong, unsweetened monggo beans and gulaman. Let the ube jam provide the sweetener. No need to put any sugar.

Then instead of dairy milk, why not try coconut milk? Soy milk is okay but it’s hard to tell if it’s GMO-sourced or not. I’d rather use coconut milk (kakang gata) which is proven to make recipes triply delicious. And it’s healthy, too. Put in shaved ice and top with gelatin (lesser carbs). There!

Well, it’s okay to eat the carby halo-halo now and then. I do, especially when the healthy version above is not yet available. Opt for the kind that’s not too sugary. Don’t add anymore sugar because most of the ingredients have been sweetened. And just eat enough. Eat carby halo-halo just twice or thrice a month. Tall, fat mugs or large bowls of halo-halo are tempting (especially on a hot summer day) but don’t go for them. I’d rather drink cold black gulaman sweetened with brown sugar syrup.

Here’s something you can experiment with. My youngest son discovered Bear Brand powder milk in strawberry flavor. It costs about P100 a pack. Mix a measure of that with boiled saba banana and camote slices and gulaman, sago and shaved ice. Don’t put sugar. Blend if you want to, but it’s okay as it is. Then tell me how you find it.